Share this post

🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Being involved in multiple aspects of the restaurant business and finding the perfect location are essential for a successful and fulfilling restaurant experience.
  2. Prioritizing employee support, customer satisfaction, and community involvement leads to increased profits, growth, and opportunities for employees, creating a positive cycle of success.
  3. As an organization grows, its culture must evolve and adapt, while still staying true to its values. Scaling culture requires deliberate action and selecting individuals who embody the desired culture.
  4. Hiring employees with emotional skills like optimistic kindness, curiosity, work ethic, empathy, and self-awareness is essential for creating a successful team and enhancing customer experiences in the hospitality industry.
  5. Emotional skills are essential in building a successful team. By hiring individuals who possess these skills and creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere, leaders can foster motivation, cohesion, and success.
  6. Building a successful business requires a diverse team that aligns with the organization's culture. Assessing employees' willingness and ability to perform and addressing behavior is crucial for long-term success.
  7. To succeed in the hospitality industry, it is vital to strike a balance between standardization and personalization, focusing on both consistency and customization to create a memorable and tailored experience for each customer.
  8. Building a talented team and embracing personal touch are crucial for successful business growth, while also relying on strong systems and off-the-shelf offerings.
  9. The restaurant industry must educate the public on true costs, prioritize fair wages, embrace diversity, and learn from mistakes to ensure a sustainable and equitable future.
  10. Mistakes can be opportunities for growth and customer satisfaction if approached with the right mindset and handled with integrity and honesty.

📝 Podcast Summary

The Benefits of Being a Restaurant Generalist

Being a restaurant generalist allows for a diverse range of skills and experiences that can contribute to the success of a restaurant. Danny Meyer explains that while he initially aspired to be an executive chef, he realized that he had a passion for various aspects of the restaurant business, such as writing, marketing, and guest services. He embraced the opportunity to dabble in all aspects and found fulfillment in being involved in multiple areas. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of finding the right location for a restaurant, comparing it to a winemaker understanding the terroir of a vineyard. The location sets the stage for the restaurant and should evoke a feeling that transports people. Ultimately, picking the best site is crucial for creating a space that makes people feel good.

The power of hospitality: Building success one customer at a time.

Hospitality is the foundation of success in any business. Danny Meyer emphasizes that hospitality starts with the people within the organization. When employees feel supported and valued, they will go above and beyond for their customers. This creates a positive experience that encourages customer loyalty and repeat business. Furthermore, when a business demonstrates its commitment to the community and suppliers, they will receive support and want to see the business succeed. Ultimately, this generates more profit, which can then be reinvested into the business, leading to growth, promotions, and raises for employees. This cycle of enlightened hospitality creates a virtuous circle that benefits all stakeholders and enables a business to thrive.

The Importance of Scaling and Evolving Organizational Culture

Culture is a vital aspect of any organization, and it must evolve and adapt as the company grows. Culture is like a language, clarifying intentions and creating a sense of belonging among employees. While the culture itself should not change, as it represents the organization's values, the way things are done will inevitably change. Scaling culture is a challenging task, requiring intentionality and a focus on selecting and promoting individuals who embody the desired culture. Just as Ray Crock successfully scaled technical systems at McDonald's, organizations must strive to consistently provide a positive human experience that aligns with their culture. It is essential to use growth as an opportunity to advance the culture rather than fearing it will hinder cultural preservation.

The Importance of Emotional Skills in the Hospitality Industry

Hiring for emotional skills, such as optimistic kindness, curiosity, work ethic, empathy, and self-awareness, is crucial for creating a successful and thriving team. These skills, in addition to technical proficiency, contribute to a high hospitality quotient (HQ) which ultimately determines the success of an employee in the hospitality industry. Optimistic kindness and a positive outlook are important as they create a welcoming and positive environment for guests. Curiosity and a desire to continually learn are essential for personal growth and innovation. Work ethic and a commitment to excellence ensure that employees take pride in their work and strive to constantly improve. Empathy, driven by putting oneself in others' shoes, allows for personalized and considerate service. Lastly, self-awareness enables individuals to understand and regulate their own emotions, therefore positively impacting team dynamics. By prioritizing these emotional skills, businesses can enhance customer experiences and cultivate a successful team environment.

The Importance of Emotional Skills and Creating a Positive Atmosphere in Building a Successful Team and Organization

Emotional skills, such as work ethic, empathy, and curiosity, are crucial in building a successful team and organization. While these skills may not be easily learned or taught, they can be identified and celebrated. Recognizing the importance of emotional skills and being purposeful in hiring individuals who possess them can lead to a more motivated and cohesive team. Danny Meyer emphasizes the significance of a high "Hospitality Quotient" (HQ) – the ability to make others feel better – as a differentiating factor in organizations. Scaling a feeling, or creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere, can be challenging but is essential for success. Additionally, a strong culture can help identify when someone is not a good fit and allow for quick adjustments. Leaders should strive to be self-aware and avoid creating an exclusionary cult-like environment.

The Importance of a Diverse Team and Assessing Employee Alignment

Having a diverse team with different beliefs, behaviors, and backgrounds is crucial for a successful business. Danny Meyer emphasizes the importance of sticking with people who can thrive within the culture of enlightened hospitality, even if they come from different cultures and initially struggle to adapt. He introduces the concept of a 4 quadrant chart to assess employees based on their willingness and ability to perform. He suggests celebrating and valuing individuals who have both the capabilities and the willingness, while addressing and remedying the behavior of those who possess the skills but refuse to align with organizational values. Meyer also mentions the significance of long-term orientation in managing talent and warns against short-term thinking that tolerates disruptive individuals like "Johnny." In terms of scaling a business, it remains undecided whether Meyer is a bricklayer or a mason, highlighting his ability to create diverse and successful restaurants.

Balancing Consistency and Customization in Hospitality

Danny Meyer believes in the importance of balancing consistency and customization in the hospitality industry. He recognizes that some organizations operate like bricklayers, focusing on standardization and scalability, while others operate like masons, prioritizing uniqueness and personalization. Danny shares a story about a Japanese business owner who wanted to learn from American hospitality, particularly the art of improvisation. He believes that while systems and regimentation are important for consistency, it is equally crucial to customize the experience for each guest. Danny emphasizes the significance of listening and observing with all the senses to understand and meet the individual needs and preferences of customers. Ultimately, the aim is to create a memorable and tailored experience that goes beyond the off-the-shelf approach, just like a custom-made suit.

Balancing Systems and Judgment in Scaling Businesses

Danny Meyer's approach to scaling his businesses, such as Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern, involved a careful balance between systems and judgment. He believed in having strong back-end systems and off-the-shelf offerings, but also valued the importance of applying judgment and personal touch in the front-end operations. However, he recognized that finding the right people and building a talented team was crucial for this approach to work effectively. He learned from his father's failures and made it a priority to surround himself with talented individuals who could compensate for his weaknesses and enhance his strengths. Through self-reflection, trust, and a willingness to learn, Danny Meyer was able to overcome his fear of expansion and successfully grow his businesses without succumbing to bankruptcy.

Addressing Challenges and Creating a Sustainable Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry faces economic challenges, particularly in cities where there is downward pricing pressure and upward pressure on prime costs. However, the industry also has a responsibility to educate the public on the true costs of running a restaurant, including fair wages for employees. As the industry moves towards higher minimum wages and equal wages for all workers, restaurant prices may increase, but it is necessary to create a sustainable and equitable industry. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of the industry, but it also presents an opportunity for positive change. Moving forward, the industry can become more diverse, pay workers better, and prioritize the well-being of both people and animals. Ultimately, mistakes are viewed as a valuable resource for growth and improvement.

Embracing Mistakes as Valuable Resources in Business

Mistakes are inevitable and can be valuable resources if approached with the right mindset. Danny Meyer emphasizes the importance of embracing honest mistakes and not feeling ashamed of them. He introduces the "5 A's of mistake making" - be aware, acknowledge, apologize, act on it, and apply additional generosity. By following these steps, mistakes can be transformed into opportunities for growth and customer satisfaction. Shane Parrish agrees, highlighting that it's not the mistake itself that matters, but how it is handled in the end. Both speakers stress the significance of integrity and emphasize that mistakes made with malicious intent are a different matter. Ultimately, learning from mistakes and turning them into positive experiences can benefit a business and propel its success.