By Rachell Newburn
When the Coveys first splashed onto the scene with their iconic Robin’s restaurant in 1980, no one was aware of how much the family’s restaurant business would soon permeate the fabric of our county. Now the owners of five restaurants and juggling 225 employees, the Coveys have learned a lot in their years in business. Recently, the Coveys (Shanny, Robin, and Jai) spoke at the SLO Chamber’s Insight Studio event to discuss their business’ growth and offer tips on how to overcome challenges. Here are their three top tips for managing their restaurants, which translates to any type of business.
Become a Strong Leader
Make sure your partnership is strong, and communicate your vision and expectations with your managers and other employees. Be sure to hire strong people who can be an extension of yourself when you’re not around. For example, Jai is a hands-on manager and feels it helps to have your staff know that you don’t fear getting your hands dirty. He also believes that the little things can go a long way; be sure to always acknowledge your employees’ hard work and make sure they’re happy. Additionally, Collaboration was brought on to outline their management and team infrastructure, which also helped everyone understand their role as a leader or employee.
Manage Profits and Investment
For the Coveys, approximately 95% of their profits goes right back into the operation of their restaurants. As their restaurant management company grew, they realized that they needed to have enough restaurants to feed the management company — so, some of the more profitable restaurants ended up helping fund new initiatives. The Coveys hired Collaboration when they needed help planning financial structures around their fourth and fifth restaurant openings, ensuring stability and sustainability for the long-run.
Combat Employee Turnover
As is the case in many restaurants and businesses, employee turnover is high due to many employees only working while they’re in school, for example. The Coveys combat turnover as much as possible by truly taking care of their employees through support and encouragement. When the Coveys, together with Collaboration, created a mission statement, vision and core values a year ago, they were able to better convey their mission and message to their staff. They ensure each employee is aware of the reason why they’re here, and the core values help them understand what the management team sees as important. They also recognize that the rise of the minimum wage and lack of affordable housing also creates employee turnover issues and leads to a constant challenge in running a smooth business.
The Coveys expressed that their number one reason for success is consistently serving great food in a welcoming ambiance. They also recognized the value of bringing in outside help from Collaboration to ensure their goals were met and they were able to achieve incredible breakthrough performances. By respecting every employee and weathering the storm of challenges, they are able to continue a successful restaurant enterprises for generations to come.