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You cannot function successfully in today’s workplace without developing a “people-first, human-centric” company culture.

Ask Jill! Develop Your Company Culture: Why you won’t survive without a culture strategy

Introducing Nation’s Restaurant News’ latest Speakerbox column addressing company culture.

Hello and welcome to “Ask Jill! Develop Your Company Culture,” a monthly advice column for restaurant executives, owners, and managers who want to create a strong company culture and provide a world-class customer experience. Our approach is EX2CX, from employee-to-customer experience. It is all about creating an environment that fosters attraction, collaboration, and retention of employees, resulting in increased revenue, ratings, and repeat customers due to developing your signature brand culture, which is people-focused.

So why is company culture so important anyway? The term culture has been used for decades and may be overused as a generic broad stroke term with no action behind it. Due to the pandemic impact on the restaurant and hospitality industries, it has taken on a new meaning. It cannot be overstated that if you have not reviewed what your company culture truly means to every step of your operations, you will not survive, much less thrive, in today’s restaurant environment.

We are here to help bring you into the current market and prepare you for longevity in the industry. You cannot function successfully in today’s workplace without developing a “people-first, human-centric” company culture. Here are just a few benefits of a strong positive company culture:

  • Employees become your advocates and customer magnets
  • Employee attraction and retention
  • Teamwork and collaboration as “work-family”
  • Productivity
  • Creativity and contribution
  • Strong impact on customer experience

It is essential to define what your unique company culture is to your restaurant and brand for a consistent and positive experience for all people who touch your restaurant, whether employees, vendors, or customers. When your positive culture is apparent, you will no longer have staffing problems because you will attract the right-fit employee who shares common core values. When you give your employees a voice and hear their ideas and input, they will naturally want to grow with your company, thereby increasing retention as well. Happy (and challenged) employees equal happy customers, and happy customers equal repeat business and referrals. For this to happen, strong company culture is a must. It is the foundation upon which everything else in the operations side of the business happens.

A restaurant’s documented core values, vision, and mission is at the heart of its company culture. These are the 3 main items on the menu by which all decisions being made within the restaurant should be reflective and in alignment. Not only does this help internally with your people asset, but it is also crucial to one’s brand identity and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors, so you are attracting customers who appreciate all you offer. A clearly defined culture will also serve as a flexible but strong guideline to create consistency across all operations and multiple concepts for your internal customers, your employees, and your end customers.

At the Jill Raff Group LLC, we believe that a positive company culture is vital to the long-term success of any business. By putting your people first, you create a culture of empathy, respect, trust, and support for employees, leading to much greater success.

We are super excited to provide you a place to ask your burning questions and get advice about how to develop and improve your company culture, impacting your bottom line and deeply affecting how you attract and retain staff and end customers. This advice column is where you will go to get current and relevant insights on what is going on in the industry as it relates to culture. It is an opportunity for you to write in your own specific questions on what your challenges are in the moment, as well as read questions and advice for your peers and fellow restaurant leaders. If you’re dealing with it, it is likely that others are as well.

As someone who has spent over 30 years in the industry, I know firsthand the challenges and complexities of managing people and a restaurant. My journey began as a child growing up in the McDonald's family. In 1959, my parents and grandparents opened their first McDonald's franchise, store No. 150 in Ocala, Fla. My father was my mentor in understanding the values, vision, and mission that drive a positive culture.

I learned that creating a strong foundation of trust, respect, and collaboration within your team is essential to achieving long-term success. I've personally seen how this approach can lead to much higher retention rates, even in hourly-wage jobs. Many former restaurant employees who worked for my dad over 50 years ago tell stories of mutual respect and loyalty that kept them as committed employees, even in a fast-food burger joint. Through my work as a consultant, I've seen witnessed the impact that positive company culture can have on employee satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately, the bottom line. And in today's competitive market, it's more important than ever to invest in your employees and create an outstanding employee experience.

As someone who has graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and worked in several countries across three continents, I've taken my restaurant foundation, education, and experience with me across different industries. This has uniquely positioned me to help restaurants from a diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-industry lens by which to problem-solve.

At the Jill Raff Group LLC, we understand that creating a positive company culture that attracts and retains top talent while also ensuring that every customer has an outstanding experience can be a significant challenge. That's why we're here to provide you with actionable advice on all things related to company culture, employee experience, and customer experience.

Each month, we will address a question sent in by NRN readers and provide you with practical, effective strategies that you can implement immediately. Whether you're a restaurant executive at the corporate level, a small independent restaurant owner, or a multi-unit franchise, whether you’re new to the business or have been in the industry for decades, our advice is tailored to help you achieve success by developing your leadership and teams around a unified clear company culture.

Be one of the first to get your question or challenge related to building your company culture addressed. Email me directly at [email protected] with “ASK JILL” in the Subject line. With our EX2CX approach, you can create a positive company culture that leads to higher employee retention rates, increased revenue, and repeat customers for years to come.

I can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started!

Jill-Raff-EX2CX-Advisor.pngAUTHOR BIO

Jill Raff is the globally recognized EX2CX Advisor, working with executive leaders who recognize the paradigm shift: the non-negotiable creation of a more humanized culture prioritizing their people. She helps organizations that recognize their people are their greatest asset but need help creating new systems and procedures to develop the culture resulting in higher retention and greater productivity. Companies experience employee and customer lifetime value using her methodology connecting the employee experience (EX) to the customer experience (CX) — EX2CX. 

Jill grew up working with her parents, owner/operators of McDonald's franchises, starting with store No. 150. Her customer service philosophy of Transforming Transactions Into Interactions starting with the employee originated from observing her parent's work and their interactions with legendary founder Ray Kroc. EX and CX is in Jill’s DNA. Based on her diverse background working in multiple industries — and living in 7 countries — Jill developed her Inside-Out Framework based on her “3+1 Recipe” to build a culture creating attraction and retention, often described as “where McDonald’s & Michelin meet.” Contact her at [email protected]

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