My family recently had dinner at a well-known restaurant outside Chicago – Bob Chinn’s Crab House. In July 2012, Forbes magazine ranked Chinn’s as the highest-grossing restaurant in the U.S. ($24 million, not including alcohol). Some statistics – 700 patron seats, average 2500 meals per day (4500 on peak days), staff of 300.
I have been to Chinn’s many times, but had not been for probably 15 years, and I was amazed at what I observed. Maybe it was the time gap and my fading memory, maybe I had too many of their famous Mai-Tais on previous visits, or maybe it was my now well-honed EOS® mindset, but I asked myself – how do they pull this off every day and night? Bob was not there that night (he is 90 years old), so it wasn’t him directing everyone. The answers were their focus on process and structure.
Process discipline is everywhere at Chinn’s from the moment you enter the front door (even before – the free valet). Based on your party size, you are given a card and directed to a particular line. You are then directed through multiple waiting stations as you snake your way through the restaurant toward your eventual destination – your table!! You are waiting, but you are moving and in the midst of lots of action, so it doesn’t feel like waiting. There is a reason Forbes referred to Chinn’s as “the Disneyland of seafood restaurants”.
Team structure and well-defined employee “seats” were also very apparent, from the “line directors” to section leaders, to wait staff, to bus staff, and the people who brought out your food. There was even a person clearly assigned to clean up spills to avoid patron and staff slips and falls (and the resulting liability claims).
There are many other examples of great process and structure in business, from McDonald’s, to the Disney theme parks, to how Southwest Airlines loads and turns around planes. You can also do this in your business, no matter what you do.
If you want to execute in a consistent, predictable way in your business, focus on process and structure.