Restaurant Leadership: Award Winning Motivational Speaker Shares 3 Simple Ways to Create an Exceptional, Enthusiastic, and Excellent Experience Every Time

Restaurant experiences


My grandpa used to own two A&W drive in restaurants.  I can still remember the smell of the hamburgers cooking and the frosty cold mug of root beer. His philosophy was if you want people to come back and bring others with them, it has to be more than just the food – it has to be an experience worth returning to. If you are in the restaurant or hospitality industry, you understand first-hand that it all starts with attitude.

The attitude we partner with our skills, service, and leadership forms an experience
that ultimately becomes a story in the minds and hearts of those we serve.

Recently, I spoke to the entire staff at one of the most prestigious country clubs in the country. The annual membership dues start at a whopping $250,000!  They gave me the grand tour and the word impressive is not a big enough word to describe the experience. It wasn’t just some building with stuff to do, it literally was an experience. The operations director used to work for the Ritz Carlton, and we had a chance to talk about how and why the little things contribute to the experience you create for those you serve.  Its always important to remember that our attitude is what authors the stories we create.  You might have the best food, the finest location, vendors, and a clean facility, but if the wrong attitude is circulating throughout, it can affect the story you create for others. It can take what was meant to be a great experience and turn it into a flop.  I know you don’t want that, so let me share 3 vital ideas for restaurant leadership.

When you travel as much as I do and eat out with clients, family, friends, and even solo, you learn all about what makes a great dining experience.


  1. Don’t Make Your Bad Day Someone Else’s Bad Day

Attitudes are contagious. I shared this story in my new book, Attitude is a Choice, and this is a shortened version. I was connecting through Chicago O’Hare Airport and was so excited about getting a slice of Chicago pizza. I thought about decompressing from the long day and enjoying a slice of heaven. However, the service was so bad, that by the time I got my pizza, I was more stressed out leaving than when I had walked in.  How did that happen?

The person assisting me (or pretending to) was rude, unfriendly, and treated me like I was interrupting her day.   I kind of laughed and turned to the person behind me who was also in shock by the service and said, “I forgot, am I a stranger here or a guest?”

If you are having a bad day - and we all have them from time to time
– it is not part of your job description to pass that along to others.

This is why it is so important for leaders to educate employees about emotional management skills. (VITAL).  If you do not train people how to communicate with the right attitude, you run the high risk of creating a horrible experience that only inspires poor reviews.

In any service or dining experience, it is not your job to serve up a poor attitude with the meal.  You weren’t hired to do that, and never will be.  You were hired to give your best, not to make someone’s day more stressful.  Choose an attitude that works for you and rewards those you serve.  If something isn’t right, then make it right. That is attitude!  Do the right thing – that is attitude. These are the little things that ultimately create an experience worth returning to.  If you want your guests to return and bring others with them, make it an experience worth returning to – EVERY DAY and ALL DAY.   There are no days off when it comes to creating a great experience for your guests.


  1. Be a Team Player

Have you ever noticed at certain restaurants, that wait staff work together as a team and at some it’s everyone for themselves?  The ones that work together understand something HUGE - teamwork pays!  They are looking out for each other because they know if they do, they get better tips. They turn visitors into fans who eventually become family. In my book, we call that good business!

 My philosophy is this:  A big tip should never be a big surprise. Not everyday is going to be Christmas in the tip department, but it doesn’t mean you stop giving your best.

Recently, I was out to dinner with my family and we had one person take our order.  He was busy helping other tables, but this is so cool – his teammates were watching out for him.  We had one person come over and with a smile and engagement said, “Let me refill your drinks.”   Another person came over to clear our dishes.  We felt like we were on the radar and well taken care of. The experience was awesome, and this place has become a favorite for my family.

Look out for each other and you all win. It’s like in the movie, The Gladiator, in one scene Russell Crowe says, “We have a better chance of survival if we work together!”

I love that.  Work as a team and you all win big!


  1. Get Better!

Albert Einstein said it best, “If you are not learning, then you are dying.”   My translation of that is you need to make the choice to always be on the pathway to improvement.

Your organization or establishment only gets better as much as the people there get better.  If you are not getting better or making wellness a priority, then don’t expect your experience for others to improve. It’s that simple.  It’s the little things that matter like – communicate better, respect each other better, learn from your mistakes better, help others better, be better about being patient, learn better.

If you are in leadership, getting better and creating a better experience for those you serve starts when you can get those around you excited about what they are doing, and motivated with purpose.  With so many things being automated and changing with technology, the one thing that will never change or go out of style is the human touch.  Be real, be human, and be empathetic.  Understand everyone has a story, and you have an opportunity to be a positive contributor to their story.  However, you have to make the choice to get better every day.

A short time ago, I saw a restaurant closed for 2 weeks in Texas, because the owner wanted to focus on how to service guests with a better attitude.  Some of you might think that taking that much time off is expensive.  Imagine how much the expense would grow if they didn’t reinvent their experience process.  There is always a consequence to our choices, so remember this – attitude is a choice that creates and authors experiences.  If you want to create great stories, start by choosing to improve where improvement is needed.



Building a healthy environment for staff is essential for success.  The absence of enthusiasm is disengagement, stress, and negativity.  Happy employees create happy customers. The story we create for others starts by the attitude we choose every day.  Remember, pick an attitude that works for you and rewards you.

To book Sam Glenn to speak at your next meeting, leadership event or conference, contact our office at

Visit Sam Glenn’s website: