How Acting Like A Top NRL Club (The Roosters) Can Transform Your Restaurant… (Yes seriously).

What you probably don't know about me is that I am a big rugby league fan. I've supported rugby league since I was a kid, my dad used to play, he was also a manager, a coach and a referee. And so it's actually in my blood to love rugby league.

Since I moved to Australia, gosh, about 25 years ago, I've been a Sydney Roosters supporter.  The reason I tell you this (and what I want to talk to you about today) is how they have developed a culture where their best team members don't want to leave.

And I think it's incredibly important for you to know about how they do this because you're going to be in a very similar situation where “players” or staff in our case are scarce… and when great players or great staff are even scarcer...

So when you get someone who performs at a very high level in your restaurant it’s like a player at a club.  Now, in most cases, in rugby league, when a player is nearing the end of their contract, they want more money in order to not leave, and the club can't do anything but give in to them because all the other clubs would give these top performers more money. (It's the same in restaurants too, right now good chefs are demanding more or moving on).

Now, what's interesting at the Roosters is that they don't have to operate that way. When these great players in most cases, (there has been the odd exception)... come to their end of their contract, they want to stay at the Roosters. So they don't jack up their wages by 20 or 30%. They know that the club can't afford to do that for all the different individuals on the team... and they want to stay within this club and it’s culture.

So why is it that they would do that?  Why would they sacrifice an increase in wages for themselves in order to stay and benefit the club as a whole?

Well, the reason is that they have an amazing culture at the Roosters. We've heard it recently from retiring players and we hear it when anyone talks about the club from within. They don't just talk about the 17 players on the field, or the coach or the trainer. They talk about the woman at the front desk, the marketing team, the admin people, the people who run the social club where the team celebrates, the matriarch (a woman who they call Auntie who meets them on their first day as a kid and who is still there at the end of their careers). They talk about the fact that everybody in the club is committed to them, and to them performing at their best.

Now, when you think about this with respect to your own business, do your staff get it that everybody in the business (the owner, the managers, the partners and all the other members of staff) is committed to them performing at their best?

And this has to go right down to the pot washer, the person that's sweeps the floor, right through to you, that everybody cares about everybody else, and that they can perform at their best. Now, truth be told, if we get all the BS out of the room. Probably not.

You know that you’ve probably seen your staff as a pair of hands, you have to pay them for X number of hours a week to do the job you want them to do...  When I've said in the past that you need to pay people in order to train them, to get them to come in a quarter of an hour or half an hour before their shift so you can train them on how best to sell specials, promotions, new dishes etc... you've probably thought I can't afford to do that, I don't have the money to do that, I don't want to spend the money on training.

Well now we're in a situation where you can't afford not to. We have a real staff shortage and the shoe is on the other foot. Staff are saying to you 'Why should I stay here?' instead of you saying 'Why should I have you here?'  So you have to look at the culture within your place.  How can you make people feel valued within the business so that they don't want to leave when the opportunity comes up?  Especially when somebody else is trying to poach them to leave.  All of this comes down to your restaurant having a culture that people feel is more important than then going somewhere else for more money.

There are 12 questions that you can ask that will help you form a Roosters kind of culture in your restaurant. 

These questions came from research of a million people when they left their jobs. A million people were asked questions like, "Why did you leave?" and  "What were the specific things that caused you to want to leave?"  You might think that money is going to be on there. It's not even in the 12 reasons.

The reasons that people gave for leaving were... 

  • I didn't really understand what I was expected to do.
  • I didn’t feel that anyone inside the business cared about me.
  • I didn't feel like I had a best friend in the business.
  • I didn't have anything resembling a career plan.
  • No one met with me on a regular basis to talk about my role, job or career.
  • I didn't feel like my input was valued.

And because they didn't feel valued they left. 

So, there's more to your staff than how productive and skilful they are. That's only a small portion of them as a human being. They want to feel cared about, you want to feel cared about, right?  They want to get coached on how to do their job better, you want to be able to do that, right? Of course, they want to know that they are valued, and that they are listened to and understood.

Now you may think, 'Oh, my God, this is bullshit'. I don't want to talk about this. I don't want to listen to this. I don't value people that way inside my business, I just need to make money.

Well, the problem with that approach is your staff know that about you. They know that's how you feel about them and as soon as they get an opportunity to go elsewhere, they will.

And the problem for you is there's a shortage of staff. So you can keep going down that way and lose staff and possibly lose your business. Or you can start to show that you value your people, train them, engage with them, coach them and make them feel like they want to stay.  Then you will have the kind of business like the Roosters, where people actually will forego an increase in wages to stay with you because they feel cared about.  And then you will have a successful business just like the Roosters. Who by the way also have success on the field too, because they have great players. And this same will go for you.

If you want to start looking at how you can improve your culture and make your business one where everybody wants to work and stay, I can email you those 12 questions. Just get in touch... And if you are interested in training on this, we are doing a workshop at the end of August in WA. Get in touch with us through the website, or reply to this email and I'll get those things to you.

This came out from the club today and is exactly what I was discussing in this blog - read the comments from the players so that you see what has been created here in terms of culture