Leading your restaurant with strategic clarity

By Doug Radkey

Being a leader isn’t easy.

It takes a multitude of characteristics to become an innovative, collaborative, and successful leader. Goal-setting, decision-making, and massive amounts of action are vital to rise to the top and it requires vision, self-awareness, collaboration, communication, optimism, and adaptability to lead a team.

As a leader, you will be defined by your next decision, your next motion, your next behaviour – good or bad. Your life, your team, and your business are all defined by what you do next. It is what you do in the moment that will make a difference.

If you’re perhaps facing adversity and finding yourself under pressure to make decisions, improve your business, and pivot under these new circumstances, it means someone cares about what you do. It means others are relying on you.

Perhaps it is pressure to pay rent, meet payroll obligations, provide a safe experience for your guests, or even provide a roof over your own family during an economic crisis. The key is responding properly to that pressure through the act of planning, decision-making, and taking decisive action.

It’s no secret that the pressure can be terrifying. But the truth is that the ones continuing on a path towards failure are the ones running away from pressure and being a leader. Those who perform well under this pressure are the ones that will capture success and celebrate the results.

But here’s the thing: it isn’t about the outcome. It’s about creating opportunities for yourself, your team, and your brand to succeed by adapting to and accepting change. By being prepared, by digitally transforming your business, by setting goals and making decisions, and by having a visualized action plan.

Setting goals & objectives

The majority of us know how to set clearly defined goals. It is something we learned in school or have read countless articles about. But what about objectives? Business goals are typically broad and open whereas business objectives are more precise. Objectives should be incorporated into your goals as a means of attaining them.

Business goals can be summarized as generalized and long-term. Once you’ve established your restaurant’s goals, you can break them down into further individual objectives for your team to execute.

In contrast, business objectives can be summarized as specific and short-term. They are milestones that help you track your progress toward your restaurant’s goals. If one of your goals is a certain rate of customer retention, perhaps you’ll set the objective of rolling out a new limited-time menu item once every three months as a way of keeping customers interested.

Goals should be precise articulations of what your business will achieve within a particular time frame and who is held accountable for achieving the objectives. Through the use of strategies and consistent review, reassessment, and awareness, goals and objectives don’t need to be lost or given up on – unless they no longer serve a purpose to you.

Making decisions

Having goals and objectives laid out on paper is just that: words on paper. It takes decisions and action to make them become a reality.

We all make thousands of decisions every day. All day, every day, we are faced with an abundance of risk assessments and decisions to make, both small and large, which are often tied to the goals that are set.

Ask yourself what needs to be researched, purchased, designed, or developed to make an educated decision that will position you and your team for success? It’s up to you and your collaborative team to clearly identify and define your decision.

If you need to achieve a specific goal or objective from your decision, make it measurable and timely so you know for certain that you’ve met the goal at the end of the process. Perhaps it is to increase profit margins by three per cent over the course of 90 days. Maybe it is to develop a new stack of technology that will create a more efficient workflow thereby further improving customer retention by over 50 per cent this calendar year.

Whatever it is, once you have identified your goals and objectives and made an educated decision to act, it’s time to gather the information relevant to that choice and act on it.

Taking action

You must make your decision tangible and achievable and take extreme amounts of action.  This goes back to preparation (business planning) and execution (collaborative teams).

After a predetermined amount of time, take an honest look back at your decision. Did you solve the problem? Did you answer the question? Did you meet your goal and objective? If so, take note of what worked for future reference. If not, learn from your mistakes as you begin the goal-setting and decision-making process again.

This is how you take a lead, make decisions, and eliminate excuses in business, how you achieve scalable growth, and how your restaurant business will succeed in this new era.

At the end of the day, the art of leadership is the ability to develop both goals and objectives, to make educated decisions, and finally to take action as a team. That’s true for any business, and it’s certainly true in foodservice.

Effective leaders focus on putting simplification in place to help make educated decisions and to achieve consistent results. A true leader is also capable of looking beyond those existing processes, understanding the dynamics of relationships in the chain of command, and making the best use of talent at all levels to help make even more effective, educated decisions towards achieving a goal or objective.

To be successful in building and overseeing a team of decision-makers, you must also understand and share the big picture. The problem, the alternatives, the preparation, and the plan of action.

Ultimately, strategic clarity is the key to success.

Doug Radkey is president of KRG Hospitality Inc., author of the book Bar Hacks, and an international keynote speaker on all things restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels. Being in the hospitality industry for over 20 years has allowed him to become a leading voice in the development of detailed feasibility studies, award-winning concepts, strategic business plans, unique menus, memorable guest experiences, and financial management systems. For more information, visit krghospitality.com

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