The late Pat Cetta, the co-founder of Sparks Steak House, demonstrated his view of management through a simple lesson on building and sustaining standards of excellence, especially when you are growing a business.
Pat pointed to the set table next to him and his guest. “First,” he said to his guest. “I want you to take everything off that table except for the saltshaker. Go ahead? Get rid of the plates, the silverware, the napkins, even the pepper mill. I just want you to leave the saltshaker by itself in the middle.” I did as he said, and he asked, “Where is the saltshaker now?”
“Right where you told me, in the center of the table.”
“Are you sure that’s where you want it?” I looked closely. The shaker was actually about a quarter of an inch off center. As soon as I removed my hand, Pat pushed the salt shaker three inches off center.
“Now put it back where you want it,” he said. I returned it to dead center. This time, he moved the shaker another six inches off center, again asking, “Now where do you want it?”
I slid it back. Then he explained his point. “Listen, luvah. Your staff and your guests are always moving your saltshaker off center. That’s their job. It is the job of life. It’s the law of entropy! Until you understand that, you’re going to get pissed off every time someone moves the saltshaker off center. It is not your job to get upset. You just need to understand: that’s what they do. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like to you. And if you’re ever willing to let them decide where the center is, the I want you to give them the keys to the store.
The same goes for your linens.
What do you stand for?
What do your linens say about you? Does it say:
Our brand isn’t that important.
We are okay with average.
We are struggling.
We are just like everybody else.
We don’t expect much.
Your job is to determine exactly what you stand for and then let everyone know what linen excellence looks like to you.