The theme for the 18th annual Restaurant Leadership Conference was Disruption. I’ve always maintained that the Restaurant industry is susceptible to more external forces than many industries, and the conference reflected that thought. From commodity prices and menu labeling to an increased minimum wage and the emerging dominance of millennials, there is no shortage of challenges facing today’s restaurant operators.
But one theme was repeated at the conference that is shared across most industries: people make the difference. This was echoed by Howard Behar, former Starbucks CEO and author of the book It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks, who spoke at the opening session.
Behar stated, “At Starbucks, the coffee has to be excellent, from the sourcing and growing to the roasting and brewing. The vision has to be inspiring and meaningful. Our finances have to be in order. But without people, we have nothing. With people, we have something even bigger than coffee.” Behar maintains that taking care of your employees ensures that they will take care of your customers…and that allows the business to take care of itself.
So while menu innovations and digital marketing may seem more forward thinking and cutting edge, it still comes down to people. In the restaurant industry and probably yours.