A well-thought-out and reinforced company culture is likely to bolster the bottom line through lower turnover, higher guest satisfaction and other positive outcomes, a panel of training experts at the National Restaurant Association agreed.
One of the primary ways an organization sets and strengthens its brand is its culture. The distinctive way a company behaves and the values it espouses is the foundation upon which the company builds its strategy and operations that turn its brand promise into reality. And when a company has a special way of doing business, it attracts attention and draws customers in.
Some of the most respected brands, like Southwest, Zappos, and Virgin, became well known not because of their advertising campaigns, but because of their distinctive cultures. The personality of their employees and the style with which they served customers created a distinctive customer experience that people actually talked about and their brands became known for.
For restaurants with weak or entrenched cultures, it may take some effort to re-invent them, but it isn’t impossible. And if you decide it isn’t worth the effort, prepare to be put on the street in this day and age.
“One person with a great idea can start a revolution,” Jim Knight, managing partner with People Forward, said. “Somebody has to come in and say ‘we have to do things differently.’” And he had a response for anyone who is opposed to new thinking: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate extinction,” he said.
A well-defined and supported culture enables people to make decisions easily and quickly because it helps everyone develop a shared understanding of the right thing to do. It clarifies what’s “on brand” and what’s not, so big, strategic decisions, as well as smaller, daily ones, can be made with confidence and commitment.
Now more than ever, company culture is the right focus for restaurateurs. It’s the most effective way to offset the costs and complexities that keep increasing in every part of the business—and it’s a powerful way to build a brand.