It’s Always Your Fault: Assume it

Paul Arden, famous writer of the best-selling book: “IT’S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT’S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE” (highly recommended read, very small and easy to read book) has a whole chapter titled: IT’S ALL MY FAULT. This is his first paragraph:
“If YOU are involved in something that goes wrong, never blame others. Blame no other but yourself.”
This seems to go against human nature. Whenever there is a problem, we human beings, try always to find a responsible to blame (other than ourselves, of course, we are always very understanding with ourselves).
Restaurants are unique businesses because of the incredible number of problems that could arise (see my free newsletter Problems and Crisis for some hands-down solutions and strategies to cope with daily problems).
However, as owners/ managers we are ultimately responsible for any problems and to come up with solutions.
One of the worst things that you can do, as a leader, is blaming your people (or even worse, as I saw with my own eyes a restaurateur to do: blaming your clients) for anything that goes wrong.
If the food arrives cold or late, or the service is lousy or your place is not well located… you need to assume responsibility and think of ways to improve it and make it right.
Restaurant business is a people business and as such, subject to human errors.
Your waiters may trip and spill food over your clients, your chef or cooks may have a bad day when the food doesn’t taste as good as usual, five things break at the same time, somebody gets sick and you are short on personnel…
Your job is no to blame people for these problems, it is to find solutions and make your clients happy regardless of what happened. Your clients are not responsible for your problems so blaming your staff in front of them to excuse the problem doesn’t help you at all.
Your clients are also people and therefore understand that things can go wrong. It is only when the big ego of many restaurant owners gets in the middle that things start going south.
If a clients don’t like their food, don’t argue with them. Instead, offer them a solution: change their food, offer them another dish (if they really don’t like that one), give them a refund if they lost their appetite. If the food arrives late, apologize and offer the clients a compensation. Perhaps a free entree if there is a party (you will still make a profit), or a free dessert if they are not spending much money.
People always appreciate the willingness to fix problems.
If one of your waiters trips over and spills food, don’t get mad at them. Offer your client to pay for their dry cleaning and give them a free meal. They will be happy and you won’t make a scene in front of your clientele. Besides, getting mad at the waiter will only make them more nervous and clumsy and can bring more unfortunate events.
Of course, if you see that one specific person is very clumsy, careless and prone to accidents, you should consider replacing that person (probably they are in the wrong job anyway) but don’t deal with this issue in front of your clients when your place is full of people.
At the end, you are responsible for hiring your employees, for training them and for motivating them. If they don’t perform up to the (high I presume) standards that you’ve setup for your place, you should ask yourself why.
Is there a lack of training, of interest, of skills? If so, they are fixable. You can setup a training program, motivate your employees by explaining your philosophy and rewards system…
If, however, an employee is hopeless or dishonest, get rid of them. The world is full of honest and good people willing to do their best to make your clients happy.
So, assume your problems, deal with them and give your clients the best experience that you can. Be honest and open with them if something goes wrong, and explain that you assume complete responsibility and will deal with the problem to make them happy.
Remember, at the end, it is always your fault so deal with it.
As usual, please let me know what you think. I love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco
Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

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