(Blogger’s Note: This is the second in a three part series focusing on beginning a family restaurant.)
When a family comes together to decide to open and operate a restaurant the excitement and enthusiasm can frequently cloud the problems that they will face, together, once the development of the concept gathers momentum.
The most crucial step in deciding who will have the vast variety of responsibilities in the company is not necessarily based on what each individual is good at. Yet, it should be based on what each individual’s limitations are.
When Kranston and I decided to open our first establishment we divided the business into two sections the front of the house and the back of the house. I was in charge of the back of the house, and she was in charge of the front of the house. The overall operation was run by the both of us and we both figured out and focused on the business end of the business. But, while we were in the restaurant, we each had our own responsibilities and areas of expertise.
Now this didn’t just happen. We figured out our individual talents early on in the process but knew that we needed to figure out our limitations, also.
Running a restaurant takes a team effort and the coach and manager of the team needs to plug players into each position. Knowing what the players possess in the field of talent is important, however, knowing what each player cannot accomplish is equally important.
This often causes turmoil within the closest of families as few people will stand up admit they cannot accomplish a task. In order to make a smooth transition from friendly family into a soon to be perfect team each member needs to look at their talents and limitations and openly discuss them. This will alleviate problems down the road.
This exercise may seem fundamental, but in reality it isn’t. I know of one family who set out on a great course and months down the road one of the members wanted to become the chef. However, early on in the business process that same person admitted he hated to cook. Yet, the apparent celebrity of being a chef put a gleam in the non cooking member’s eye and he decided the kitchen was the place to be. After a lengthy struggle the non cooking chef almost ruined the business. He eventually was ousted from the team…and the family.
One of the best practices in a family meeting is to write down your limitations. Take a ten minute break from the meeting and give everyone the chance to write down the tasks they are not good at. Then read them in front of the group so everyone knows exactly how each person feels about themselves and the venture.
Remember, the smartest entrepreneur is the one who has the ability to admit their limitations and find someone who can contribute in that area. The same is true for the restaurant business. This task will also let other members know how each individual feels about the business and the future.
Also remember one of the most important points of the restaurant industry: Just because you can cook does not mean you can operate a restaurant. There are two businesses in every restaurant operation: running the restaurant and running the business.
The first is exciting and creative and filled with entertaining moments is a pleasing environment. The second is often stress-filled, and problematic. One person cannot accomplish both goals. One individual needs to run the restaurant and the other needs to run the business.
In the beginning it will seem like the person running the restaurant is having all the fun. However, if the person running the business is doing a great job, everyone will enjoy the environment and the business as your profit and bottom line grows.
You may even have enough money to go on vacation.
Tomorrow: The joys of the business.