Top 10 traits that separates successful restaurant owners from all others!

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

We've worked with literally dozens of restaurant owners and those owners have owned and managed hundreds of locations. Some owners have succeeded at an incredible scale and other owners have done the exact opposite but we've learned a lot from both!

Before we can clearly state our point, we feel that it's necessary to first state our definition of success in this situation. In short, its the ability for a non-passive owner (investor) to

  • develop a profitable restaurant business model that operates indefinitely

  • or expand your restaurant model to multiple locations that operate profitably and indefinitely

  • or have a successful exit via the sale of your restaurant(s) to another company

  • or take your restaurant group public.

By non-passive, we mean that you oversee your restaurants activity at least from a corporate level.

In short, our definition of success means that most restaurant owners have been wildly unsuccessful but what about the ones who are?

When most restaurants first open they almost always start off with a bang. You did it! Your idea worked and your restaurant is the talk of the town. Congratulations!! Now its time to prepare for reality. This is it! This is the moment that we start to learn the difference between a good owner and the others!

There are actually a number of differences between successful owners and the ones that eventually flame out but they can all be summed up into this one key trait.


Basically, a successful restaurant owner operates like they want to grow and their first few restaurants is where they start to hone their skills. Here's your 8 must-do's to give you the best chance at success!

  1. Lets start by making sure that you at least have a bookkeeper in the early days. Successful owners not only review their financials at least weekly but they absolutely understand the details behind what they're looking at. They are driven by profits and have an excellent understanding of food cost, alcohol cost, labor cost, shrinkage, cash flow, balance sheet, PACE and more.

  2. Successful owners don't hire managers (especially GM's) simply because they've worked in the industry for 10-20 years. Promoting people is great but if you're going to promote a lower level employee to a managers role, at least spend some money to get them trained on the technical stuff. Its extremely rare that you will see a successful restaurant group or chain hire someone who doesn't understand how to calculate food cost, labor, budgets or marketing.

  3. Successful owners realize that customer service and quality of service is beyond important and they demand a high level of professionalism at every level.

  4. Successful owners will almost ALWAYS have investors beyond just friends and family. You'll be amazed and what can happen when you become responsible for someone else's money.

  5. When a successful owner recognizes a problem, it gets fixed and doesn't linger

  6. Successful owners will grow their brand and not just add another restaurant. Attempting to create a completely new restaurant after you've had success at your first one can be an early, costly mistake that can slow your growth very quickly. If you've been lucky enough to create a successful restaurant and you want to grow it, why not just repeat the process (same name, same menu etc...) and your exposure.

  7. Successful owners don't hide from the public or their customers. Its extremely important to let your customers know who to contact if they have a problem that isn't fixed at the restaurant level. Successful owners even understand the value of annoying sales people like us because they know that opportunity will never knock if opportunity can't find the door.

  8. Successful restaurant owners will always want to know more and this comes in the form of analytics such as sales per seat, sales per sq feet, target market demographics etc.... And nope, just because you're starting out doesn't mean that you're not ready to start reviewing your analytics. As a matter of fact, the earlier the better!

  9. Successful owners are always looking for ways to improve both personally and professionally regardless of how long they've been in the industry.

  10. Successful owners have a long-term plan whether its to have a single location that they can pass on to their children or become a national franchise that's traded on the NYSE, there's always a goal that inspires the thinking associated with traits 1-9.

While these traits are key and will give you the best chance at success, the fact of the matter is that the restaurant industry is tough and competitive. You can have a amazing 20 year run then all of a sudden you're surrounded by competitors that do it smarter, better and faster than you. Never settle, never stop growing and think like the big boys!

Skrible is on-demand or pre-scheduled inventory audits for Restaurants starting at $25 per audit. Skrible can save your restaurant thousands! Like us on Facebook and visit us at


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