5 Ways to Completely Sabotage Your Restaurant, Nightclub or Bar

Yeah, that should end well. Two thumbs up. Image: photoschmidt / iStock / Getty Images Plus

We’re all looking for the things we should be doing but what about the things you need to stop doing that are truly hurting your business?

Sabotage is subversive. It’s under the radar. It can come from your unconscious mind.

Restaurant, nightclub and bar success and failure comes down to the habits we have...both good and bad. The trick is being aware of the bad habits that aren’t serving you and taking radical action to change them.

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You might think some of these are part of your personality. You know the line: “It’s just who I am!” That’s bullshit—it’s who you choose to be. Now, if these bad habits are working for you then by all means, lace up those shoes and wear ‘em.

However, if you seem to be stuck, if you don’t seem to be reaching your goals, if you seem to drive people away more than you attract them, then take note and make a commitment to make some changes.

1. Talking Smack about Others

You might say that the little sly comments you make are just in jest or a showcase for your sarcasm. It’s really a vain attempt at either gaining attention or diverting attention.

Gaining Attention: You need everyone to know you’re here so say or do things that get attention. The problem is that there are better ways to get attention than being the center of attention by the overuse of your mouth. These people love to tell others of their years of experience and accomplishments. They need to take a note of a quote from Lao-Tzu: “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

Read this: What’s the Big Deal about Culture?

Diverting attention: The other end is the person who talks bad about others to draw attention away from their incompetence. Much like a magician, they use the art of distraction to keep people focused on the issues with others. If these people would just own that they have flaws—like everyone—and work on improving them, they would get further in their careers.

2. Being a Hypocrite

Nothing kills a culture faster than a leader who says one thing and does another. It’s sad that integrity is lacking in many restaurants and bars. It’s probably why the industry has such a jaded reputation; we’ve allowed it to go on for too long. Managers who are hypocrites have higher-than-average turnover. Higher turnover means lower profits. Lower profits increase failure rates.

When your words and actions are in alignment to become centered, you become unshakable. You become a true leader. And here’s the great thing: everyone can have integrity if they so desire. It starts with a personal commitment to honor your word and do what you say you are going to do.

Read this: Stop the Turnover Bleeding

People can take all your personal possessions away, yet no one can take away your integrity—that’s something you give away when you compromise your character. The harsh reality is that it’s shocking how cheaply many sell their integrity. Don’t be that person.

Draw a line in the sand and refuse to sell your integrity because otherwise it’s very much like making a deal with the Devil, and that never works out in your favor.

3. Not Listening

When others talk, we listen...kind of. Most listen until they hear something to which they want to reply. Once their brain locks into waiting for their chance to respond, they’ve tuned out the rest of the conversation.

Active listening is not an easy thing for us to do. Why? Because we want to chime in. We want to tell our story. We want to shift the attention to ourselves. We sabotage our relationships when we don’t give others the opportunity to talk and for us to listen to every word they say.

Read this: Developing the Next Generation of Industry Leaders

Stop the chatter in your head—silence the internal voice that can’t wait to offer up its two cents of advice. Instead, sit back and listen to each and every word those with whom you’re conversing are saying to you. It’s not easy to do at first, particularly if one of your less-than-desirable habits is failure to really listen.

It’s going to take some self-discipline and practice to overcome this personality cliché. Once you start to listen to people with the intention of understanding and not just to reply, you’ll see a dramatic change in the quality of your relationships both at work and at home.

4. Not Speaking Up

You see someone on your staff doing something that might not be to the exact standard for the brand and you say nothing. This is known as silent approval and it’s the number one destroyer of standards. By not saying something you’ve communicated that it’s okay.

Attention to the details is what separates the good from the great from the outstanding. When you let the little things slide, it’s easy for the bigger things to gain downward momentum. Soon, your culture and your brand are average. There’s no money—and therefore no longevity—in being average in today’s market.

When you see someone not upholding the standards it’s your duty as a leader to speak up. Oh, and you can say something without being a sarcastic jerk about it. When correcting staff on the standards, use tact and be professional. Never forget that when you’re a leader you set the example, both good and bad. You choose how you want to show up for your staff, your guests and yourself.

Take pride and be aware that as a leader, you’re the enforcer of the standards. You took the title, you took the pay, and now it’s time to protect the brand. Always protect the brand.

5. Not Taking Care of Yourself

In this industry, we give to others. That’s what hospitality is all about: being a host. We give to the staff, to the guests, to our family, and to our friends. Who gives to you? Seriously. How do you recharge your internal battery?

We hear often that burnout is common in this business. Let’s be clear that burnout is self-induced. You do it to yourself. The cure for burnout is making sure you schedule time to recharge. That could mean:

  • going to the gym;
  • taking a hike;
  • yoga;
  • martial arts;
  • reading a book;
  • listening to inspirational podcasts;
  • writing;
  • eating better;
  • meditation;
  • attending seminars;
  • taking a vacation.

You’re only limited by your imagination. The key is to make recharging a routine and sticking to it. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time—you have time for the things are important. If you want to stop the sabotage to your business, taking time for yourself is a must!

Some of the habits you have that are sabotaging your business will be easy to spot and correct. A few are going to be very hard to let go. To replace a bad habit, you’ll need to substitute it for a positive one. Habits take the place of other habits, so find better habits.

Self-sabotage is your unconscious holding you back and keeping you in your comfort zone. It will only keep you prisoner if you allow it. Sometimes you don’t need to find the key to success, you just need to pick the lock to set yourself free.