Posted 5 months ago by Maria Victoria Alcaino

How to Update Your Restaurant Mission Statement for COVID-1915 min read

Why did you start your own restaurant?
Why are you in this business?
What sets you apart from your competitors?

When was the last time you answered these three questions? The answers to these questions fuel business decisions that can have long-term effects on your profit margin. Those answers should also inform your mission statement. Creating an updated mission statement does a few important things for you:

  • Motivates your employees and keeps them loyal to you
  • Increases customer retention
  • Helps you think about your goals, which can amplify customer and employee retention over time

Of course, creating a mission statement that aligns with your values can be difficult. It can be even trickier to update your mission statement to reflect the reality of COVID-19. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this post, we show you how to do that.

In The News

But, as usual, let’s take a look at COVID news first. On Monday, November 16th, the House of Representatives returns to Washington. Perhaps then citizens of the U.S. will collectively release a sigh of relief as serious stimulus package negotiations get underway. But perhaps not. This remains to be seen because Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the amount of money they want to spend.

Since winning the White House, Democrats have gone up on the amount of money they want to spend.

Since losing the White House, Republicans have gone down on their offer.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell is adamant that the government should authorize small, targeted relief packages. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, insists that a large, sweeping package is called for.  Time will tell which side wins.

Fueling this firm stance from Democrats is the fact that President-elect Joe Biden can use executive orders to bypass the Senate if need be—once he takes office.

One thing is for sure: until a stimulus package is approved and dispersed, the American people are missing out.

 

Your Core Values

Restaurant culture has changed in the past few decades. There are five main ways that culture has changed:

Fluctuations in the economy make consumers more cautious.

Think back to 2008. Casual dining restaurants took a big hit because most middle-class consumers were suffering.

 

Organic food raises the bar.

The push for organic food has changed customer expectations about freshness and flavor.

 

Social media changes where and how we eat.

Everything from pictures with friends to mobile check-ins influences our dining decisions.

 

Food is more immediately available.

The COVID-19 situation has spurred some stores, like Wal-Mart, to offer home delivery of groceries. This is unlikely to end once COVID is resolved. This will translate directly into fewer restaurant sales as consumers start cooking for themselves. Restaurants will have to up their game to regain lost consumer interest.

 

#MeToo and similar movements shed light on problematic behavior.

What started in Hollywood didn’t stay in Hollywood. Some former employees have called out restaurant owners on social media for a troublesome behavior. This places the burden on restaurant owners to reaffirm their commitment to workplace safety and employee respect.

Because of these changes, it’s harder to attract and keep skilled staff. This operational challenge translates into lost profit because a high turnover rate eats into your bottom line. To get on top of this, you need strong values that are aligned with:

  • A desire to provide a safe workplace environment
  • A desire to provide an opportunity for advancement and career growth
  • An understanding of why providing competitive compensation is important
  • A sincere appreciation for the importance of equality
  • An interest in helping combat evolving issues like climate change

The truth is consumers are more concerned than ever about these issues. They especially care about employee compensation, workplace safety and environmental issues. Employees, too, are concerned about their contribution to global warming and other environmental issues. For instance, if your operation is inefficient, they may feel as if they’re contributing to climate change by working there.

Why should you care? Well, we want to assume that we’ll come out of 2021 okay. We all want to believe that COVID-19 won’t cause a global depression. If both of these things shake out, employees will have options as other restaurants open up and begin to thrive again. So let’s say your environmentally conscious employee gets an offer from a more eco-friendly establishment. They may jump ship. This means a higher turnover rate for you, which equals lost income.

Some Millennials between the ages of 22 and 37 would think about taking a pay cut to work at a company that has values that match their own. How many? Nine out of ten.

Today’s employees need their employers to share their values. They need their employers to mean it, too—to be authentic about it.

Your operation needs a strong foundation of well thought out cultural values. If, that is, you want to hire and retain quality staff. In other words, you need strong core values that other people will resonate with.

 

The Difference Between Values, Brand & Culture

So, what’s a core value?

Your core values are those things you care about most. Core values speak to what you’re all about. They define you. Values influence your actions and have an impact on your: •

  • Employees
  • Guests
  • Community

In other words, they’re like a guiding light or compass. If you’re sincere about them, they’ll keep you out of trouble.

As such, defining your core values is something you want to spend a good amount of time on. If you’ve never put much thought into it, now is the time. Sit down with pen and paper and jot some thoughts down. What do you care about? What drives you other than the need to earn a living as a restaurateur?

Your brand is a different beast. One way to think of brand is as the mental real estate you take up in the collective consciousness. For instance, what do you think of when you read the following:

  • Just do it
  • They’re greatttt!
  • Mm! Mm! Good!

If you’re like most people in the U.S., you thought of Nike, Frosted Flakes and Campbell’s Soup.

The popularity of these brands doesn’t come down to their catchy slogans. Instead, they occupy an ephemeral space in the public imagination. Another strong brand is Chipotle. Consider the following part of their mission statement:

“With every burrito we roll or bowl we fill, we’re working to cultivate a better world.”

That is good messaging, and consumers respond to it.

How do you want customers to feel about you? That’s another way to think of brand. Both views are valid, and both can be useful. If you develop your brand with care, over many years, your brand will act like a magnet, drawing customers, employees and partners to you. What’s more, these customers will tend to be aligned with your values. As you might guess, this increases customer loyalty and lowers turnover rate.

Ways in which a strong, well-defined brand can draw loyal customers and great staff to you include:

  • By demonstrating to customers and staff how you source food and why you care
  • By showing customers that you put thought into their experience as guests in your establishment
  • Whether or not you partner with local charities
  • Many more…

Finally, we have culture.

We’ve noticed that some new restaurant owners confuse values with culture. Indeed, This one is a bit tricky. The two are not exactly the same thing. Your restaurant’s culture is a set of behaviors shared by everyone at your establishment. This starts at the top, with you and management, and works its way down to hourly employees.

Your values can inform your culture. But culture takes time to build. It’s something you earn. The good news is that once you earn it, it sticks around unless you allow it to erode. While a strong company culture is in place, you benefit in many ways:

  • Increased employee retention
  • Better brand reputation and staying power
  • You’ll be able to hire better talent
  • You’ll be more productive
  • You’ll have better decision-making at the management level
  • You’ll generate more revenue

Tying it all together, we can see that values drive culture and help define brand. Culture and brand are intertwined, and both come into their own over time. Values, then, are the linchpin of the whole endeavor. Ensure that your restaurant’s values are visible in everything you do. This way, your values will contribute to the formation of a strong company culture and an enduring brand.

Make no mistake: one reason that most restaurants fail is that their brand and company culture does not reflect their values. Once COVID-19 resolves, you’ll see a glut of new restaurants opening up near you. So it’s vital to get to work on updating your mission statement as soon as possible.

Why Your Restaurant Needs Core Values

Most restaurant owners focus almost exclusively on mechanics such as:

  • Customer service
  • Speedy service
  • Quality food
  • Hiring talented staff

These are important nuts and bolt aspects of running a profitable restaurant, to be sure. But if you want to jump over your local competitors—if you want to thrive—you have to go deeper than this. Read the above list again. What if you have speedy service, but your customer service starts to slip? Or what if your customer service is above reproach, but your food quality goes south?

Well, if either of those things happens, you’re headed for a heap of trouble. That is, unless, you’ve defined your values ahead of time. If you have, then you most likely realize you’re off track and can correct course. If you’ve defined your values, your company culture won’t support poor customer service or low food quality, either.

Note, then, how your values are like a guidance system. They keep you on track toward your goals. In the above section, we touched on how values can impact your brand, too. Well, your values inform your brand promise. Your brand promise is what customers can expect from you.

The McDonald’s brand promise was quite simple when the first restaurant opened its doors. The restaurant promised inexpensive food, prepared consistently, across the United States. Because it kept that promise, this fast food enterprise became an international business sensation.

Your core values communicate something to your customers, employees and stakeholders. They convey what you hope to accomplish as a restaurant owner. This is referring to, of course, what you hope to achieve beyond monetary reward. Your values should speak to your vision for the operation.

For instance, one of Pizza Hut’s core values is speedy delivery. They stand behind this value by reducing the cost of any pizza that takes longer than 30 minutes to deliver. Pizza Hut openly conveys this core value with their “30 Minutes or it’s free” guarantee. You can do the same. As you do so, you educate potential customers about your brand. This, in time, builds brand loyalty.

Papa John’s Pizza is another pizza chain that has mastered this. Their “Better ingredients, better pizza” slogan, coupled with clever advertising, set them apart from less expensive pizza brands. The chain soared into restaurant stardom despite a higher asking price per pizza because of brand power.

What informed the formation of that brand?

The company’s core values. It’s right there in their slogan.

As mentioned, your core values can be an incredible recruiting tool. If you wear your core values on your sleeve, you will attract like-minded talent. This is especially important when it comes time to hire a head chef. If both of you value quality over penny pinching, you’re in a great position. That is, of course, as long as your chef can deliver scrumptious, crowd-pleasing dishes that customers are happy to pay for.

One way to communicate your core values to potential employees is to hold regular recruitment meetings. Invite interested candidates to attend these events. At the meet up, discuss your core values and why they’re important to you. Then pay attention. Which of the prospective employees are nodding and smiling? Which seem the most engaged? Onboarding passionate employees who align with your values will save you money in turnover-related costs.

 

How to Decide on Your Restaurant’s Core Values

Of course, core values are not a one-size fit all affair. Your closest competitor may hold something dear that you don’t. When it comes to identifying your core values, you need to be honest with yourself. What do you really care about? Don’t pick core values because they sound good or trendy. When restaurant owners get this wrong, it’s usually because they are following this three step process:

  1. Select core values that sound good
  1. Try to make those core values fit into their operation
  1. Try to force a culture to develop around these misaligned or inappropriate values

This is a recipe for disaster. Instead, what you want to do is select core values you care about and then shape your business around those values.

Always remember that culture grows from the top down, like the vines of a tomato plant. Culture starts with your leadership, not with your employees. This is why it’s so important to pick values that you care about—values that mean something to you. Then select managers who agree with those values. This is so important, yet so many restaurant owners get this wrong.

What if you’re an existing operation? You may discover after you’ve spent some time thinking about your core values that you have a manager who doesn’t agree with them. In this case, the best thing to do is make your values known to these managers and ask them to get on board.

This is vital because core values only work for you if every member of staff lives them while representing your brand.

It’s important that you spend some time reviewing your own values so you can come up with a few that will drive your brand and culture. But we’ll provide some common core values to get your creative juices flowing.

  • Quality
  • Authenticity
  • Adaptability
  • Consistency
  • Community
  • Charity
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Employee support
  • Dependability
  • Honesty
  • Credibility
  • Respect

Can you think of any more? What have we missed? If you can think of a value we’ve missed, chances are that value is important to you.

Come up with a list of 20-40 more values. Then let that list sit for several days. When you come back to it, pay attention to any sensations or feelings you get when reviewing each. Then circle or highlight the values that stand out to you the most. At the end of this exercise, you should have a list of 12 or so core values.

Over the next week or so, spend some time thinking about these 12 values. Then rank them from most important to least. Your top six are the values you should focus most on. Once you’ve done the above, get feedback from people you trust within your organization. This can include:

  • Managers
  • Leaders
  • Staff

Don’t overlook your staff. If a server has been with you for several years, you should value their input. They’ll let you know if your current operations are in alignment with your newly identified values—if you’ll actually hear them.

Evaluating Your Existing Mission Statement

Now you know the difference between values, culture and brand. You know what core values are and why they’re so vital to the continued success of your operation. All that’s left to

 

do is to review your existing mission statement. Read your mission statement aloud once. Then read it again, this time non vocally. As you read it the second time, pay attention for any mention of your values.

Also listen for mentions of the values in the above list.

Are you finding them?

If not, you need to rework your mission statement to focus on your values. This isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Just keep in mind that your mission statement acts as a compass for your operation. So rewrite your mission statement to be geared toward those values you’ve identified as most important to you. If you do this, your customers will respond.

 

COVID-19 Update to Your Mission Statement

 If you need to quickly update your mission statement to reflect your response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve got your back. Simply write your own version of the following and add it to your existing mission statement.

The well-being, health and safety of our patrons is of paramount importance to us. It is our highest priority. We are working doggedly, from the top down, to ensure that everyone in our organization follows the most stringent food safety and hygiene practices. We will continue to do so for the duration of this crisis and beyond. These amplified health measures help slow the spread of the virus and help  our employees and customers stay safe.

As the crisis unfolds, we continue to monitor advice from organizations such as the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. We are wholeheartedly committed to caring for the health and wellbeing of everyone who enters our establishment, and we are doing the following to back up this claim:

  • We sanitize all surfaces, including customer touch-points, every 30 minutes
  • We follow recommended cleaning procedures using only proven sanitation products
  • We swap out all serving utensils every 30 minutes
  • We enforce stringent hand washing practices—employees are required to wash hands every 20 minutes
  • We educate our employees on the importance of mask wearing and hand washing
  • We encourage sick employees to stay home until they are well
  • We provide the latest guidance available from the CDC to our employees and managers
  • We have regular, company-wide meetings on the above to ensure adherence across our entire organization
  • We readily make information about our enhanced sanitation and virus-stopping procedures to the public as requested

The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid crisis, so we will update this mission statement as needed.

If you use the above, it’s a good idea to make a few tweaks to it so it’s unique. We hope this post on core values, culture and brand has better armed you to withstand this crisis. If it has, could you consider giving us a like or a share? It makes a big difference. Thanks so much!