Excuses that I find poor restaurant operators hide behind


We all make and use them! EXCUSES! Some can be valid, however, the problem arises when we hide behind them to escape the reality of the situation we are excusing.

Definition of excuse

  1. seek to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offence); try to justify.
  2. to overlook or make allowances for

The issue becomes apparent when people become so drawn into the credibility of their own excuse that they fail to start looking for solutions.

Restaurant owners are fond of their excuses. Behind every failing or struggling restaurant is an owner or manager with a list of excuses why: Why they can’t make money, why they’re not busy, why they haven’t done this or that!

What excuses are you using right now?  Are these excuses holding you and your restaurant back from reaching it’s potential?

Remember that excuses are born out of negativity. Negativity breeds complacency. Complacency invites mediocrity. Mediocrity is the death of a restaurant.

Here are five common excuses that I have come across when speaking to owners and operators about their business.


  1. Buying from the shop is cheaper than buying from a wholesaler.

Seriously, you would not believe the amount of times I have heard this? Let’s put it into perspective, do you really think getting in your car and driving across town is saving you money? And even if the product you are buying is a few pence cheaper in the supermarket or even the cash & carry think about the other costs you have just incurred; What about your time, or the time of your whom ever is running to the shops? What about the cost in running your vehicle (fuel, depreciation etc)? Who’s running your business whilst you are out on your little trip and what is that costing you? What about the liability? Breaking the cold chain and having product needlessly exposed to temperature danger zones?

This all seems like a lot of risk for very little reward. Smart operators limit their risk.


  1. I can't get good staff.

Good staff are the life blood of our business and it is no secret that they are very hard to come by and are probably as rare as the African Lion, but certainly not as extinct as the Dodo!  It’s easy to blame outside circumstances for your inner turmoil. It’s easy to point your finger at others and say it’s their fault. It’s challenging and downright hard to admit it might be you.

Consider this if you are not getting quality applications from potential employees, then perhaps you have created a culture that attracts only the bottom of the employment barrel.  You have to attract good staff in exactly the same way that you attract good customers!  Think about what you are offering, not just what you pay them but also training, development, work environment.  Are you just offering them a ‘JOB’ or a ‘CAREER’?


  1. I don't have enough time.

This is probably the biggest excuse used by many.  Excuses around time have plagued mankind as long as the concept of time itself. It’s so easy to blame because it can’t argue back or defend itself.  But the revelation is, and I didn’t even need to go to church to find this out, we all have the same number of days in the year, month and week and same number of hours in the day and minutes in the hour!  The BIG question is how you spend your 86,400 seconds each day?

You need to come to grips that you don’t own time, it owns you. We don’t have time; we make time for the things that are important. When an owner or operator gives the excuse that they don’t have time, what they really are saying is that it’s not a priority.


  1. I don't need to market on the Internet. My customers aren't on social media.

Denial is an excuse itself.  What I really hear when someone says this to me is ‘I don’t understand the internet and have no idea how to market my restaurant to the target market via social media’.  It still amazes me the number of pubs, restaurants etc that don’t have even a very basic website.  You are just fooling yourself if you think you don’t need this. Your customers are online and on mobile! And the new generation coming up can be described as Internet dependent.

Food businesses that aren’t online are sitting ducks and are doomed to fail!  But I also warn those who are online, you have to keep up to date and engage your customers to stay in the game and continue to succeed.

Stay offline if you like, just remember that your competition is online and they are marketing to that demographic you are ignoring.


  1. I need to have a big menu to have something for everyone.

No, you don’t. When you try to be all things to all men, you are never really going to stand out in your market. Customers today have come to realize that large menus probably equate to lower quality food.  You must also remember that a bigger menu means more stock, more man hours to prep and probably more wastage!  Put simply a bigger menu is going to cost your business more to run.  I advise run a good quality core menu and then advertise specials, these can be changed regularly and also present an opportunity for your chef’s to be creative.


Drop the excuse’s and seek the solutions

It’s time to drop the excuses and seek the solutions.  Nothing about an excuse will improve your situation and move you toward a solution.  Take personal accountability. Your restaurant is where it is because of the actions you did or did not take. It’s on you and only you to change that today!