I’m a huge fan of the greatest movie ever made, “The Godfather.” I’ve seen it countless times, and I often do a terrible imitation of Michael Corleone, the character played by Al Pacino, saying the most famous quote from the movie. You know the scene. He offers to kill the police chief and Solazzo, the men who had attempted to have his father assassinated. After being mocked and told to calm down and not to mix business with personal by his brother Sonny, he calmly utters that famous line, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
Michael went on to become such a shrewd business man that his personal life crumbled all around him. Nothing was personal to him. Everything was business. He even had his own brother, Fredo, assassinated because it was best for business. There was nobody better at separating personal from business than Michael.
Many business people are able to separate personal from business. They are able to ignore the personal element of any business decision. The business comes first, no matter what. But many of our customers who own independent restaurants don’t think that way. They take the personal aspects of their business very seriously. They genuinely care about their employees. They factor their employees’ happiness and well being into every business decision. They value their employees so much, that they say things like what Richard Taubin, owner of Friends Coastal recently said to me: “We are very family oriented. Our employees come first, even before customers.” Or they think like Kiersten Traina of Liberty Market and who thinks about and accounts for her employees’ personal schedules as much as her restaurant’s needs when creating the weekly staff schedule. Or they go out of their way to help their employees, like Chester Kroeger of Fudpucker’s: “We are a family. When times are tough for employees, we go out of our way to help them. Whether it’s with a loan for them to buy that car to get to work or whatever we need to do within reason. You have to be careful not to be taken taken advantage of, but more often than not we err on the side of the employee.” If you would like to hear the genuine affection that Chester, Kiersten, and Richard- as well as a bunch of other restaurant owners – have for their employees, check out our restaurant owner podcast series.
Coincidentally, every restaurant owner I speak to who has a strong connection with the personal side of their business just so happens to run a highly successful business. Their turnover rates are extremely low. They have staff members who work for them for ten or twenty years. And their employees are very dedicated, loyal, and passionate about working for their restaurants and serving their customers.
It turns out that while The Godfather makes for great cinema, if you own a restaurant – or any small business for that matter – it’s not strictly business. It’s very personal.
Keepin’ It Personal,