When you launch your restaurant (or any business) everything is possible. You can pick any menu, hire any staff, promote yourself any way you want.  Anything is possible. Over time you make decisions. And as you make decisions your business takes shape. It stops being anything and starts being something.

Something means you have processes, staff, suppliers, customers. Good things, of course, but over time the sense of possibility you had when you first opened gets replaced by a sense of stability, maybe maintenance.  It is harder and harder to see your business fresh. That’s dangerous.

Looking for ways to be better takes time, and instituting a new process means replacing something familiar. Risky.  But unless you do, you can become one of those restaurants with dusty décor and a menu that hasn’t been touched since the 90’s. Want to avoid be that restaurant? It will cost you about $10.

Invest $9 in a bulletin board and another $1 on index cards. Put the bulletin board up in the back somewhere. People need to see it. Make one row of the three worst selling items on your menu, another with the three most frustrating processes you have; and a third with the three ideas for serving customers better. You control the first. The other two are open to anyone on staff. But here’s the catch- nothing gets on the board unless something comes off the board.

When you have a great idea for customer service- act on it. When you have a process that annoys you and your staff, change it. And when you have an item that doesn’t sell, get rid of it. It costs $10 and will keep you fresh.