creating change

Creating change in your restaurant: From concept to cultural reality

By Matt Rolfe

Have you or your leadership team ever come up with a concept that you passionately agreed was the best idea or direction forward for your team or business, yet the idea failed or did not get implemented? This is commonplace for so many businesses and it is the difference between average and high-performing teams — and remember, “average” in our industry goes bankrupt in three to five years!

This magazine is filled with amazing concepts and ideas that, if implemented, will make your business stronger. This article is focused on how you create the space, time and focus to take action and create positive change in your operation.

As a hospitality leadership coach, I have had the chance to see behind the curtain of hundreds of operations and have worked directly with dozens of amazing leaders and leadership teams. When it comes to implementing operational strategy, I have found that teams will fail no matter how committed or well-intentioned they are if they don’t execute on the following three concepts.

  1. Start with why

So many of us have watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “Start With Why” and if you haven’t, I suggest you stop reading this article and go to the site and watch it now. This simple and powerful concept ensures that we communicate why we do what we do, not just simply what or how we do what we do.

People often think that getting their “why” statement right will attract more guests or customers to their business. That is true, but I strongly encourage you to start with why with your managers and staff when it comes to any operational initiative that your business is implementing. Consider your audience and how this strategy positively impacts your staff, managers and ultimately your guests. If we start to communicate from the inside out, if you start with why, you will significantly increase your chances for success.

  1. Time allocation must match your priorities

The biggest mistake I see is when a company launches a new strategy or makes change in the business without considering the operational impact. As the old saying goes: “When you say yes to something, you say no to something else.”  If you are launching change for a new POS system, new staff training or a new hiring process, then first you need to decide:

  • Who will own this process?
  • How much time will be needed to properly implement it?
  • Are we allowing them the time to do it?
  • What can we allow them to delegate in order for them to do the job right?
  1. Support the middle

When speaking with hospitality entrepreneurs or senior leaders, I find they often feel that their managers and staff have more hours in the week to do more work. The truth is, in most cases, managers are currently maxed out and adding more work to their to-do list decreases their engagement and increases manager and employee turnover. If we want our managers, supervisors and staff to properly execute on existing or new priorities, we need to support them with proper coaching, training, support and recognition. Missing any of these elements will limit your chance of successful change in your business.

These concepts may seem simple but they do take time, commitment and focus to ensure they become part of your company culture. These strategies can also be the most impactful commitment you can make for yourself, your team and your guests in the coming years.

About the author:

As the CEO for Results Hospitality and Westshore Hospitality Group, Matt Rolfe is a coach, speaker and hospitality industry thought leader. His company Westshore Hospitality Group focuses on helping leaders and leadership teams in our industry gain the clarity, focus and action needed to run healthy operations. The team at Results Hospitality supports their clients in achieving their desired results when it comes to their people, profits and processes. To learn more about how Matt and his team can assist you and your team please contact him at

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