Complacency and parmesan cheese

I wrote this for my company marketing email, and I wanted to share it here as well.


What does parmesan cheese have to do with restaurant management?

The best part of hosting Top Restaurateurs is what I get to learn. Recent guest Tim McLoone told one of the best allegories about unmanaged restaurants I have heard, and it applies to all businesses.

It went like this:

A nice restaurant hand-grates parmesan cheese at their restaurants. They use a cloth napkin and a good, old-fashioned grader. It creates a pleasant aroma and a great customer experience.

Over time, these graters begin to break, so the staff goes looking for the crank style graters they used to use. It’s still a good customer experience, but not the one that was intended by the restaurateur.

After a while, the cranks break, so the waiters ask the kitchen for ramekins of parmesan cheese. It’s not a great customer experience, but the customers still get cheese.

The ramekins get lost, and break, and before long customers are receiving their parmesan cheese in little plastic cups.

The restaurant struggles. The staff doesn’t commit to the high level of service and experience they once did. Complacency sets in. Customers stop coming. The restaurant can no longer afford to buy the little plastic cups, or the cheese for that matter. They are out of business.

When you are not intentional about setting expectations and creating accountability systems, shortcuts will be taken, and business will suffer.

What are the areas of your business that are likely to slip if left unmanaged? What are you doing to make sure that does not happen?

The good news is it’s never too late to start doing something about it.

Unconscious Competence

There are skills you possess which are so natural or innate you don’t recognize them as skills.

Often these are skills you picked up watching your parents or peers. Great speakers and sales people are usually the children of great speakers and sales people.

They are tied to your temperament and personality. It’s easier for people to be assertive, be good at conflict resolution, entertain, or problem solve when their natural tendencies lean that direction.

It’s important to be able to identity these skills because they often point to areas where you can make the greatest contribution. I find this exercise particularly beneficial when I am stuck. If I think through skills of which I am unconsciously competent, I am able to see a path to break through.

So spend 30 minutes reflecting and noticing what you do well. Document the steps you take when you are using those skills. Do work to understand why are you have those skills. What you uncover will open doors for you.

Another podcast, seriously?

Yep. Thanks to my Envoy team, we are producing the restaurant industry’s first podcast dedicated to interviewing CEO’s and Founders about the business side of running restaurants. It’s less back story and more real actionable advice business owners can learn from and apply.

I am having a blast doing the interviews, meeting and learning from really smart business people. You can check out the show, find a great way to subscribe, and binge all of the episodes here.

I would start with one of these:

If you like it, please share with your friends and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

My new podcast

Ever since I heard my first podcast, I wanted to start one. And now, I finally did. It’s called You’ll Figure It Out.

Here is the description:

You’ll Figure It Out is an honest conversation about life as an entrepreneur. You can do anything you want in life, you just have to figure it out. Scott Reyes is the CEO & Co-Founder of three companies, has 4 kids, and an insatiable appetite for learning.

I post a new episode each day of the work week to talk about what I am working on, a story from running my companies, and a lesson I have learned or am learning.

If that sounds interesting, please check it out and tell some friends.

Here is today’s episode.

Complacency kills retaurants.

I've been in client meetings with our LineCheck beta customers over the past 3 weeks. I am so excited about this product because of the problem it solves.

Complacency kills restaurants.

Restaurants don't grow complacent in an instant. They creep that direction, building momentum in every passing moment.

The basics get shortcut because they seem seem unimportant. Maybe they have a time constraint, so they cut a corner…just this once. No one notices. So, the next time the situation comes up, they take the same shortcut. Soon a habit starts.

A shortcut in one area leads to shortcuts in other areas…or bigger areas. Before you know it, these shortcuts have crept into every process in your restaurant until you have a culture of complacency.

Your lines aren’t set up correctly before a rush. Your bathrooms don’t get cleaned. Your equipment doesn’t get the attention you deserve. Things start breaking. Customers stop coming back.

The fundamentals are so important. Get them right, and the almost everything takes care of itself. Ignore them, take shortcuts, become complacent, and you will have a really hard time moving your business forward.

This is what LineCheck is all about. It’s Restaurant Execution Software (RES) designed to meek you and your operations team executing on your fundamentals. You schedule your processes and know when they are not done on time or incorrectly.

It’s the visibility restauranteurs need to be sure the fundamentals are being taken care of.

The fewest devices possible.

I have a dream of having one computer and nothing else. Ideally, it would be a phone that would cast to other peripherals depending on what needed to be done. This would happen wirelessly allowing the phone to still be used on it’s own.

I spend time experimenting with other devices to get down to as few as possible. Right now, that is my iPhone XR and my 10.5” iPad Pro with LTE.

I find that with this setup I can do 99% of what I need to do, only going to a laptop when I have to do something complex in QuickBooks Online or when I need to use Stamps.com. iPad OS is going to take care of the QuickBooks Online situation, and delegating will take care of the Stamps.com situation.

These two devices, an iPhone and an iPad Pro take the place a paper notebook, a camera, pens, a computer, extra chargers, and carrying around paper. The size and form factor make them super portable. Their power makes them super capable.

And thinking about it more, even when we get down to a phone that does everything, I would still probably carry around some sort of external display when I need a bigger screen. So, one device may not even be as convenient as a very powerful phone and a very powerful tablet.

This set up may already be paired down to the fewest devices possible.

What do you think?

What if I had (fill in the blank)?

What if I had kept up with my daily Spanish lessons?

What if I made sales calls every work day for the entire time I have been in business?

What if I kept learning how to program apps?

What if I exercised every day?

What if I never quit eating well?

What if I stayed in touch with all of my friends?

What if I worked on that book I have always wanted to write?

Where would I be now?

The good news is it’s never too late start. You can let these questions haunt you, or you can let them fuel you. It’s your choice.

I am so grateful.

When I think about where my family came from…

When I think about my dad, hearing his third grade counselor tell him people like him (Mexican-America kids) don’t become lawyers…

When I think about how he was able to do it anyway, working all day and going to school all night…

When I think about how my great grandparents were able to help him pay for law school because they worked their butts off and were giving people…

When I think about how I didn’t have to start at in the back of the back because my parents refused to wait for someone to take care of them…

When I think about how I watched them work hard, start business, show us love…

They did not have it easy, but they had path.

There is so much about our country I wish was different. It’s not perfect. Neither am I, and neither are you.

Yet, I am so grateful to have been born in America.

I am grateful to hear “Always do your best!” from my parents every day.

I am grateful that they didn’t let adversity get in their way, that they showed me how you can work hard, refuse to grow cynical, and finish life ahead of where you started.

I am so grateful!

What if you coached instead?

Software should free people to do what people do best: build relationships and solve problems.

Leaders and managers should be spending their time connecting with and training their staff instead of being task managers.

We created LineCheck to help restaurant leaders schedule and monitor the completion of line checks, food safety logs, and other operational checklists because you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

By using software that helps make sure the little things are taken care of, leaders can focus on leading, teaching, training, and building relationships with their teams.

Imagine what you could do if you became a coach instead of a disciplinarian.

Thanks to Carrie Luxem for this post about actually talking to your employees.

Fixing an acute problem.

I have spent the last 7 years building a maintenance management software business. I have learned a lot about business, leadership, software development. The biggest business lesson I have learned is you have to solve an acute problem in order to find success.

Acute problems are only found when you ask why over and over again until you get to something that can’t be broken down any more.

In the facilities maintenance world, stuff breaks. But if stuff breaks too often, it can usually be traced back to operational inefficiencies. Someone did not follow the process or the process that was followed was broken.

One of the greatest challenges when creating consistency is when multiple people are involved. This is especially true when you have multiple locations, and the same thing needs to be done at each one. Chances are there will be discrepancies in how the work is performed.

Restaurants have long used checklists to tackle this problem. You know, the laminated paper on a clipboard. You fill them out with a dry erase marker when you know the district manager is going to be making a visit to your location.

The problem with these lists is they can be faked. You know this because you have seen restaurant restroom cleaning logs. If the form that is out in public is not completed, what do you think is going on with the ones hanging in the kitchen.

We are fixing this problem.