Leading From The Front Lines

Author: Erle Dardick

Date: MAR 24th, 2015

Topic: Industry Experts

During my 18 year tenure in the restaurant industry I have had the opportunity to work with many great leaders. For me, leadership shows up at all levels of organizations. As a matter of fact, many of the leaders that I have had the good fortune to work with have been both at the helm of the largest restaurant brands in the world, as well as entrepreneurial franchisees, general managers, catering coordinators and delivery drivers looking to grow sales and increase profits at their own unit level.

I have come to learn that true leadership stems from an ability to visualize growth without limits and more important, the ability to serve others. At the end of the day, true leaders know how to inspire their teams to reach for something bigger. True leaders lead by doing, not by telling.

Whether brand leaders come from the executive office or from the passionate franchisees who can see the best way forward, they are always working toward the good of the whole team. Those who operate out of pure self-interest end up alienating the very people and processes needed for long-term success.

I have worked with some of the best franchisees in the industry who believe restaurant catering is the next best step for both their locations and the parent brand they are committed to. They understand how catering can impact operations and then pitched the idea to their corporate systems. These franchisees led the charge and won, and are now running successful catering programs as a result. Even more compelling is that when a franchisee has success in their catering channel, other franchisees begin to follow. That is true leadership. Build a successful business model and show others how to do it! They will follow.

As a franchisee or general manager, you are in the trenches every single day alongside your employees working for the good of the brand and the communities that you serve. You understand your customers and are aware of the types of services these consumers demand. And this is what makes your front-line leadership all the more crucial. Because you do understand, you have to take charge and show everyone else how it should be done.

You know that every business in your community is vying for the same consumer dollar. You know that competition is tough. You know that in order to succeed, you have to offer the best service, at the right price with a genuine smile. As a business operator myself, I know that some days these things are easier said than done. We all have busy lives. We all have families that depend on us and we all have pressures from outside the office that pull us in other directions.

However, to truly lead from the front lines means that we strive every day to bring the best of ourselves to the table so our businesses can best support the community and the people that depend on us to put food on their tables. Our employees. The real heros in the restaurant industry are the people that are leading from the front lines.

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