Write the "Screenplay" for Your Restaurant

What happens from the time a customer walks into your restaurant, until they pay they check and leave?

Can YOU describe the highlights to me in 30-seconds?

Can YOUR employees AND customers describe the highlights to me in 30-seconds?

Would it be the SAME story or would THEY ALL BE DIFFERENT?

Do you have a set plan and a branded way to do things or – is it Willy-Nilly?

Hey It’s Peter Harman The Food Guru here with your weekly Pep Talk. My goal is the teach restaurant owners, managers and chefs, like you to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to a better life and financial freedom.


Means haphazard, random and completely without planning or any consistent standard.

  • Willy-Nilly is fun… when we are on a unique adventure

  • Willy-Nilly goes with the flow…

  • Willy-Nilly confuses your customers and your employees.

  • Willy-Nilly is not a smart way to run your business…

This week’s message is… Podcast #57, it is part of a 13 week series that will give you 13 actionable steps to move your restaurant forward by giant leaps in the next 90-Days. The series started with podcast number 53… If you have not listened to those podcasts I recommend that you go back and listen to them… in order so you have a frame of context…

Today’s message is –

WRITE THE SCREENPLAY FOR YOUR RESTAURANT… Think of your favorite old movie… Mine is Wizard of Oz…

Now, Think of your restaurant like you would a screen play that opens on Broadway. A play that will play 5, 6 or 7 nights a week for the next 10 years.

  • Your job is to write the screen play so everybody knows –

  • What happens from the time the curtain goes up

  • Until it goes down at the end of the show?

  • What happens in Act One, Act Two and Act Three?

Your job as the creator of your restaurant your duty is to…

  • Write the script

  • Design the set & the lighting

  • Design the costumes & the props

  • Hire the director & explain your vision

  • Hire the actors & train them

  • Work with them until - YOUR play comes alive

  • You cannot walk away or leave UNTIL – your play is alive and well…

· Then, you have to manage the play

  • Manage the building

  • Manage the staff

  • Market the play & put butts in the seats

  • Then, you have to manage the proceeds

  • Your sales must be larger than your expenses.

  • You have to set up standards and management metrics to tell you and the staff and the investors how the restaurant is doing – compared to the goals for the project.

How Would You Do It? How would you communicate your vision to your people?:

  • Would you just sorta explain it to your people –Willy-Nilly…

  • Would you create a manual - a book with all the answers

  • Would you draw pictures, and make checklists for your people to follow?

  • You need to give your people the answers

  • Think of the answers as FAQ’s (frequently asked questions)

  • Write the screenplay and read it to your people – every day – over and over again!

  • Change it and tweak it until it’s perfect…

Pick a Story – Any Story – THEN, Stick to the Story

  • Example: The Wizard of Oz - has Dorothy and Toto, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard, The Wicked Witch and those scary flying Monkeys… Do you remember the flying monkeys?

  • Add the sound track and the awesome stage design

  • Add all the colorful details that bring the story to life

  • Don’t over think it – just stick to the basic fundamentals

  • Then, execute the fundamentals over and over, consistently.

  • Don’t get weird – people hate weird…

  • Different is ok, - unique is ok.

  • Weird is - NOT ok.

Don’t Deviate from the story

  • Do You know what the wizard of oz- doesn’t have?

  • Mickey Mouse or Pinocchio

  • Sure Mickey is cool – but he doesn’t belong in THIS Story!

  • Pinocchio was NOT invited… Because that’s a different story.

Just write a simple story and color in the detail…

  • Just the facts ma’am… Stick to the script…

  • Think, The World’s Best Cheeseburger… or, The World’s Best Margarita…

  • Sounds like a winner to me…

STARBUCKS EXAMPLE: Let’s use Starbucks as an example, because everyone knows what Starbucks is.

  • Some of you love Starbucks,

  • Some of you hate Starbucks

  • Most of us are jealous of Starbucks

  • We wish we had that amount of Power - And Money!

Starbucks is a great story…

  • It starts with Homer’s Odyssey and Greek Mythology

  • Starbuck is the twin tailed mermaid from the island of the Sirens.

  • The Siren’s tried to lure sailors to Starbuck island with their beautiful voices.

  • In the Odyssey, Homer had his sailors plug their ears with wax so they couldn’t hear the song of the sirens. Then he had them tie him to the mast, without wax - so he could hear their beautiful song - BUT not get sucked in to the island where he would be shipwrecked among the rocks.

Starbucks did it!

  • They took the wonderful old Greek story of luring sailors to an enchanted island

  • AND – they transformed it to - LURE – us to drink coffee in their store.

  • The Starbucks Brand stands for a great coffee experience.

  • Maybe not the best, but it’s pretty damned good…

  • AND – they have amazing marketing

  • AND - They can charge whatever they please –

  • AND - we will gladly pay it.

  • Starbucks is a complete idea… AND a small indulgence…

  • When we go to Starbucks, we know exactly what to expect… Because they are all the same.

  • Howard Schultz and his people took the time to create and design the perfect coffee experience.

  • Then, they spread it out across America and - soon the World…

I could easily write the script for Starbucks… And I’m sure you could too…

Look at Dunkin Donuts, they were dead and then, they rebounded and re-branded…

They are copying the Starbucks model. Starbucks is for people who like Dark Roast Coffee - green cups AND mythological mermaids. Dunkin is for people who like light roast coffee and fresh made donuts…

Both brands say a lot about the people who go there, what does your brand say about you?

Can you write the screen play - for your brand?


Who are you and why should anybody care?

What does your brand say about ME - as your customer?

Why do I want to join your brand instead of the brand across the street with cheaper prices?

  • Think of the difference between coffee at Starbucks or coffee at McDonalds.

  • Think of the difference between buying a pair of shoes at Walmart vs Nordstrom’s…

The goal is for you to write the screen play for your restaurant, YOUR BUSINESS…

  • Tell the world - What happens from the time I get out of my car until I get back in.

  • What does the outside look like, what are your branded colors?

  • What does the inside look like?

  • What type of music do you play?

  • Do you have TV’s – if so, who decides what’s on them?

  • Does your experience have a consistent theme or style?

  • Or is it Willy-Nilly?

Who is the first person to greet me?

  • What are they wearing?

  • What are they doing?

  • What is the first thing that a waiter will say to me, when I arrive?

What is your food style? Or your Theme?

  • Are you a full service restaurant with a hostess and waiters?

  • Do I seat myself?

  • Or, Do you have a counter like Starbucks,

  • Or, do I order from a kiosk or an ipad?

  • Do I pay my bill at the table, or do I go to the cashier

  • How do I know what to do?

  • Is there someone there to greet me and teach me, HOW WE DO IT HERE?

  • Or do I follow the herd? And figure it out for myself?

What are the steps of service?

  • Are the steps consistent, from waiter to waiter and day to day?

  • Does Sally remember how I like my coffee and Susan not have a clue?

What does the perfect customer do? This is a biggie so pay attention…

  • What does the perfect customer do – in a perfect World?

  • Order a cocktail, then a starter, entrée – then, dessert and after drinks

  • Or, are you happy with just a quick snack?

STOP… Stop… I need to explain… This in depth…

  • This must be part of the plan… Part of your master plan…

  • This goes back to the first step of your design – Your Budget, your proforma.

  • How many people do you need to serve per day and how much does each of them need to spend for you to hit your numbers?

  • If your budget calls for 1,000 customers a week – with a $50 average check per person

  • You won’t get there with a beer and a burger… or a taco and a margarita.

Think about this – McDonalds used to be happy selling a single burger, if you got a drink or some fries, that was a bonus. That was extra. Then, as time went on and rents got higher and higher and the investors got hungrier... They needed you to get a burger, fries AND a coke… That’s why they always used to say – “Do you want fries with that?”

AND - that’s why today - they say, do you want that as a meal. The implication being that they are giving you some sort of bargain or deal, but the truth is – they NEED you to buy a full meal. They need the higher check average - That is how their numbers work.

Let’s look at that again…

  • The number of people you expect or NEED to serve each day must be Part of your business plan…

  • How many people do you need to serve per day and how much should each of them spend?

  • If you need 1,000 customers a week, at $50 per person

  • You must design your story and your experience and your system to make that happen.

  • The screen play will be about having a fabulous night out with all the bells and whistles.

  • It will not be about, just stop by for a casual quickie and drop $20 bucks while you are here.

Do you see the difference?

Great so, let’s wrap this up with a nice CONCLUSION:

The goal is for you to write the script for your restaurant and then share this vision with your people so they can make it happen over and over again.

  • Who are You?

  • What are you?

  • Are you consistent?

  • Are your people Consistent –

  • Or – is it all just a bunch of Willy-Nilly?

This brings us to -

TODAY’S TIP: Today’s TIP is to Turn your Screen Play into your Customer Promise. The Customer Promise is what you promise to do for your customer in exchange for their money. The Customer Promise will help you and your people stay focused and deliver what you promise. Your unique customer promise will separate you from all the other restaurants in your market.

It will help you stand out… in a sea of sameness.

Starbucks and McDonalds do this with precision accuracy every day and every time we visit. Now it’s your turn.

Oh and here’s another fun thing…

I got an email this week - from a person who is discouraged by several things.

He is the GM of a restaurant, not an owner or partner. We will refer to him as "The GM", because I don’t like to reveal my people; I like keep things confidential, between me and my clients.

The GM says, the original owners have recently brought in some new investor partners. These new investors are interested in growing the business faster than before. And as you might have guessed, the biggest thing the new investors see - is money. The GM feels the people and the quality of the product are getting lost in the equation. The GM loves his company dearly and needs some encouragement to keep going.

Here are my thoughts.

I don’t know much about this particular situation, but I have been in your shoes many times.

Let’s take these issues one at a time.

Thing #1 - Your role –

  • You are the GM, your duty is to manage the company for the owners and investors.

  • I believe you should set up a meeting with the person who hired you and ask real questions.

If your restaurant investors are an LLC (limited liability company) they have rules to follow, such as there is only ONE - Managing Partner. The managing partner is the only partner who should be coming into the restaurant and giving you directions. I am not a lawyer and I am not qualified to give you legal advice… but – five different investors can turn into an unruly mob real quick. I know this from experience, I once had a dozen LLC’s with many different investors / partners.

  • Make a list of your concerns and lay them out one by one, in a professional manner.

  • Just like you did in your email to me.

  • Just the facts, not the emotion.

Then – and this is a BIG point…

  • Listen – very carefully to the answers with your ears – NOT your heart.

  • Be sure to hear the facts – not the romantic story that you fell in love with,

  • The situation has changed and you need to listen and figure out what has really changed and deal with THAT!

  • Get to the truth, no matter how bad (or ugly) it might be, or how much it hurts.

  • Then, face those facts and the new reality and –

  • OWN it. AND FIX IT!

Thing #2 - A restaurant IS a business

  • The owner brought in new investors for a reason.

  • I’m going to guess, they needed cash and couldn’t get it from a bank.

  • The new people have invested their cash - AND they want a return on their money.

  • Remember, my friend - business is about money…

  • If we can’t pay our bills we are dead. Game over.

The big questions is – Are you making money – Are you running the 30-30-30-10?

  • If you are – you are kicking ass, if you are NOT – You have room to improve.

  • I highly recommend that you buy my book and read it.

  • Then, if you like it, buy one for all the owners to read.

Thing #3 - You need to Face Reality…

  • You need to look at this from all sides

  • How can you make this situation better for all the parties involved?

  • Being a manager is like balancing a three legged stool - You have to balance The Owners, The Employees and The Customers all at the same time and this is NOT Easy!

  • What can you do to improve your understanding of what the owners want?

  • How can you do your job better?

  • How can you make the money the owners?

  • AND- be a better coach and leader for your people?

  • How can you maintain YOUR standards – for your customers

  • ALL at the same time…

  • Then, you have to ask the tough question… Is this possible?

Now, I’m going to give you a pearl of wisdom that I learned from one of my mentors, many years ago. It’s about when it’s time to leave… Here it is…

When you feel that you are putting more into the situation than you are getting out - it’s time to leave. It’s time to graduate to the NEXT step of your journey. If this isn’t or can’t be a WIN – WIN – WIN deal for you and the owners and the customers, it’s time to part ways.

AND don’t drag your feet on this one, you need to figure it out – Pronto! Now!

If you are disgruntled and you stay in your job as GM – your performance will start to deteriorate, and you can’t allow that to happen – because then the problem really will be on you. And if the company is struggling and heading for a cliff – maybe NOW is a good time to get out.

Now for the - GOOD News.

You don’t own the restaurant or the business, you can leave at any time – you are not an indentured servant – you are not shackled to the business financially like the owners are.

AND you get to keep everything that you learned in the process. If you have been the GM of a restaurant and that restaurant is growing you are a valuable person to the business – AND if they don’t see your value – someone else will. Running a restaurant is a very hard job that demands sacrifice. Future employers will see your dedication as a good thing.

Sometime we just need to vent and get these things off our chests and sometimes these things are the beginning of the end. As decent human beings we often think we have the weaker hand in the negotiating situation.

My final point on this is – IF you are doing your best and are a valuable manager - I’ll bet that the owners will flip out if they think there was a chance that you would leave them…

Remember this my friend - Good hard working people are worth their weight in gold, especially in today’s market.

I hope this helps… Both you the GM and the restaurant owners who have a GM that is struggling…

If you like this podcast and you have a question for me – please send it to me at (FG at FG . com) and I’ll answer it on a future podcast…

My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner, manager and chef who joins us has the information they need to earn a 10% Profit, create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

If you really want to get to the next level in the next 90-Days, here’s my simple Plan.


a. This weekly pep talk will keep you on your toes and give you inspiration to keep moving forward.


a. I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals

b. It has the power to change your life

c. It's available on Amazon - Buy it Today.

Then, after that you can come to food guru . com and…


a. As a restaurant owner you need someone to talk to

b. Someone who understands your struggles and help you build a strategic plan,

c. We all need a Coach to hold us ACCOUNTABLE for your actions and results.

d. This is NOT a webinar or large group event, I will not pass you off to an assistant.

e. This is you and me working together to solve your problems…

I want to be your coach… When the student is ready… The Food Guru will appear…

This week your homework assignment is to – WRITE THE SCREEN PLAY FOR YOUR RESTAURANT…

Thanks for listening… See You Next Week…

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