Are You an Obsessed Operator? You'd Better Be!

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You’re obsessed!

If someone said that to you right now, how would you feel? Uneasy? Pissed? Shocked? Relatively pleased?

The word “obsession” gets a bad rap. Granted, obsession can be destructive if taken to extremes, like anything else. However, when it’s focused like a laser it will give your brand an edge that few can touch.

Obsession is the cure for mediocrity. Obsession is the path that few will travel down. Obsession is the only way to break out of the red ocean of competition and sail into the blue ocean of market domination!

You want some obsession in your life, starting today!

People will say that you need to be more focused. They’ll say you need to take more action. The’ll tell you that you need to be more consistent.

Well, when you adopt the obsession mindset, all of those traits get rolled into one! Obsession is your way out of a town called Averageville (population: 90 percent of the world). Let’s plot you a map to get you out of this Godforsaken place once and for all.


I know you’re busy. We all are, so let’s drop the bullshit that you don’t have time to take a little better care of yourself. This industry isn’t very forgiving od those who don’t invest in a little self-care. Eating like shit when you work in a bar or restaurant is a serious crime against yourself. Not taking 30 minutes to exercise won’t build your cardiovascular strength or maintain muscle mass, even if you think that being on your feet for 12-hour shifts is doing either.

Lack of proper self-care is an epidemic in our industry. The only way to put an end to it is to become obsessed with taking care of yourself first. The culture of any brand is cultivated by its leader(s), so if you aren’t 100 percent, what chance does your brand have to survive and thrive? Not much of one.

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Get started by just going for a brisk walk or even doing some old-fashioned calisthenics at home. Self-care doesn’t require a gym membership, it just requires you to carve out a little time each day to take care of yourself. If you don’t have 30 minutes in your day for yourself then you have some serious priority issues and a severe martyr mindset. Stop lying to yourself that you don’t have time or that you need to be at your business all damn day. No one wants to hear about your drama or self-imposed limitations. Time to step up and become the leader by taking better care of yourself.


How you train is how you’ll perform, period. There’s a direct correlation between training and sustained success. The more you train and develop yourself (and your team, hint hint), the more success will find its fickle way to your doorstep. Oh, and if you think that those who are successful are “lucky,” let’s break down what the word “luck” means: Learning Under Correct Knowledge. Those who get the bar or restaurant and life they want aren’t lucky, they just became obsessed with learning and training.

To be obsessed in this area, you must, once again, carve out a little time each day to feed that lump of grey matter sitting between your ears. It costs close to nothing to read a blog post, watch an educational YouTube video, or even go down and get a library card in your town. (Yes, public libraries still exist.) It might have been a while since you cracked open a book but it’s never too late to start amping up your brainpower.

Once you get obsessed with learning it’s time to redirect that into training. Think of yourself as an Olympian. You’re going for the gold medal to be the best in your market. There’s no way you can win a gold medal if you don’t train and improve each and every day before the event. You can’t afford to not train every day in the current hospitality market. If you haven’t noticed, the market is over-saturated and competition is fierce! You need to get fierce right back!

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You want to be obsessed with out-training every other bar or restaurant in your market! Starting today, pick one skill your team could improve and then train on that skill. Tomorrow, pick another skill. The next day, another. Keep going with this every damn day and soon your competition will be left behind in the dust. What do you do when you leave the competition behind? You remain obsessed and put even more distance between you and them.

Team Building

Hiring can be a real bitch in a competitive market. It can seem like you’re attracting the bottom of the barrel or worse, your top talent gets poached by the competition. Damn, now you’re down a few staff members. You may feel a little desperate when it comes to keeping your hiring standards high. Oh hell, let’s be honest—you don’t even have hiring standards when you’re short staffed! How do you stop this madness? By becoming obsessed with team building!

Building a high-performance team always starts with (you guessed it) becoming a badass leader yourself! I hate to bust your little dream-like world, but top talent doesn’t want to work with average leaders. Now, if you applied the two previous topics to your obsession journey (self-care and training), you’re on your way to becoming the kind of leader that attracts better team members. If you just ignored that and think you can still get better people on your team without becoming a better person yourself, you need to wake the hell up—it won’t happen.

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When you’re a better leader and you attract better talent, you have to be crystal clear on what you’re looking for (personality over skill); what you expect from them (well-defined job descriptions with expectations); and what you stand for (your core values). Without these three in place, your hiring process won’t be focused and you’ll settle for whatever warm body that shows up for a job. When you become obsessed with building a top team you’ll become the guardian of that team, allowing only the right person on the team instead of just any person!

The Numbers

For the love of all that is holy, you must, must, must become obsessed with knowing your numbers every day! Don’t know them now? Stop running a hobby and become obsessed with running a business! Hobbyists don’t know or care about the bottom line. Successful business owners are obsessed with the numbers on their profit and loss statements (P&Ls).

  • What’s your current food and beverage cost?
  • What’s your labor cost today? For the week?
  • How often do you take inventory?
  • How recently were all your menus costed out?
  • Any strange expenses that are red flags?
  • Any comps and voids that don’t make sense?
  • Are you getting overcharged by your linen company? 

When you’re obsessed with running a profitable business you know the answers to every one of the questions listed above! Obsession means you do sweat the small stuff and you watch the details. You want to develop O.A.D., or Obsessive Attention to Details.

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Now, digging into the numbers might not be your happy place. That doesn’t matter—you need to know the numbers regardless. Does that mean you have to do the books yourself? Hell no! It just means you need to have someone on top of the numbers every single day. That person can then supply the numbers you want to see on a daily basis. Your duty is to take those numbers and create an action plan that sets your brand down the path toward maximum profitability. Obsession with those numbers is your responsibility as a leader.

I feel so strongly about becoming obsessed about your numbers that I’ll go so far as to say this: If you can’t become obsessed with knowing the numbers, step down from your position and put someone in place who will be obsessed with them. It’s that important. 

You also would be shocked how many restaurants and bars are not obsessed with owning their numbers, building a team, training, or investing in self-care. Just look at the failure rate of restaurants and bars. 

Obsession would have saved a lot of them.