5 Really Simple Leadership Lessons from Bar Rescue

26 Aug

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This weekend, I did nothing.

I mean, ZERO. Nada. Zilch.

It was awesome.

I just sat on my couch and binge-watched TV shows.

I was trying to take advantage of some quality TV time, given that starting this Saturday my TV will play one thing and one thing only…  Alabama Football.  Roll Tide, everyone. My man friend WILL hide the remote, for sure.

So anyway, one of the shows we like to watch is Bar Rescue.

It’s a highly-entertaining show where disastrous bars and nightclubs seek the advice of nightlife-expert, Jon Taffer, in order to make a come-back.

Some of these bars have maybe 3.5 customers.

Others are, like, $100K in debt.

The worst ones have fungus growing on the walls.

And that’s disgusting.

But what I really love about this show is that the cause of most of these problems is poor leadership. 

Yep, even the fungus.

So here’s a list of 5 leadership lessons I’ve learned by watching the show. Sure, Jon Taffer nearly punches people, but hey…he gets his points across.

1. You can’t lead if you’re never there.

On the show, a lot of bar owners have been in tears. They’ve cried because they owe so much money and they’ll have to close their doors in a month if things don’t get better. And then when Jon asks them how often they come around to their business, they usually respond, “Oh, I don’t know…once or twice a month.”

OMG and your business is failing? What a shocker!!!…not.

In order to lead a successful business, you need to know what’s going on. And you can’t do that if you’re never there. It’s that simple. Employees need a leader that they feel comfortable talking to and they need someone who’s actively engaged.

Visibility is crucial.

2. If you don’t care, your employees won’t care either.

A lot of times, these bars have closed due to an overwhelming sense of apathy. AKA… no one really cares. There is ZERO passion. There is ZERO pride. And most of the time, it’s the owner’s fault.

If you own a business and you yourself don’t have a sense of pride in your work, guess what?! Neither will your employees. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it’s hard for your employees to want to give 100% all the time. I mean, think about it? Why would you work extra-hard at your job if your boss doesn’t even care?

So as a leader, it’s up to you to develop a culture of wanting to give 100%…a culture of pride in your business…a culture that leads to success.

3. You should be able to pick up the slack when your employees are drowning.

I love the episodes where Jon and his team set up “test-runs” to see how the bars usually function- or well, DON’T function. Most of the time, they end in complete failure because EVERYONE is doing EVERYTHING that they shouldn’t be doing. Hence why they’re on the show.

But my favorite thing to watch is when the staff is completely drowning at the bar. There aren’t enough glasses…there aren’t enough bartenders…there are tons of people waiting on drinks and food…and the owner is just hanging out… leaning against a wall…doing NOTHING.

So Jon screams at him….with good reason.

As a leader, you should be able to help your staff when they’re overwhelmed. Okay, so you own a bar. Does that mean you can’t wash dishes? No. You have hands. That task is not beneath you. When employees see that their leader is willing to help them out, even with the smallest of things, it’s always appreciated. And more often than not, the difference between successful organizations and those not-so-successful, are leaders who aren’t afraid to clean fungus off the wall. 

4. You ultimately set the example.

One of the things that I’ve learned from this show is just how much alcohol goes to waste at a bar. If bartenders don’t pour drinks correctly, they spill the alcohol all over the counter and there goes a lot of money. On top of that, there are a lot of bar owners who just give away tons of drinks to customers.

I guess they think it’ll make them seem cool.

So I love it when Jon shows the owners footage of the bartenders giving away free drinks. Then he shows the owner how much that costs his business. Then the owner freaks out and has a drama-queen tantrum.

“THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!!”…  “HOW CAN YOU BE GIVING AWAY MY MONEY??”

And then Jon shows footage that they’ve captured on hidden cameras showing the owner giving away free drinks all night. Shots…champagne… to everyone.

You can’t hold people to a certain standard if you don’t even hold YOURSELF to it. As a leader, you set the example, like it or not. So if you’re behaving poorly, guess what?! Your employees are going to think it’s okay. And they’re going to behave just the same…. or worse.

The good news is that as a leader, you CAN set the bar high…you just need to know that the bar is for you, too.

 5. Empower your employees for better results.

Some of these bars have epically failed JUST because the owners refused to listen to their staff.

Because, well… if you’re the owner, you obviously know everything, right? Your ideas are obviously the best, right?

Definitely not.

Sometimes, Jon makes a suggestion and the staff says that they had recommended that years ago…but the owner wouldn’t listen.

The staff had taken the initiative to change something that wasn’t working… but then the owner changed it back to how it used to be.

As a leader, you have to know that the greatest asset you have is your staff. So you need to learn how to use their knowledge…and their talent…and their ideas…to make your business better.

Essentially, they’re the ones doing the job on a day-to-day basis. They know what works. They know what doesn’t work.

So empower them to make decisions, and you might see much better results.

I could ramble forever, but I won’t bore you today. What else, though? What other simple leadership lessons do you wish that more “leaders” would learn?

For more on leadership, check out these posts.

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7 Responses to “5 Really Simple Leadership Lessons from Bar Rescue”

  1. Aimee August 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Great post! I’m also obsessed with Bar Rescue and I think it’s important to point out that if you are DRUNK all the time, you can’t get anything done!

    • Kayla Cruz August 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Hahaha VERY true! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. mattissimo August 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Kayla,

    You hit the nail on the head! I’ve noticed that with this show, Hotel Impossible, Restaurant Impossible and even Tabitha Takes Over that the issues are usually the same and fall right back to the 5 points you brought up. It’s amazing when leaders behave this way and wonder why their business is failing.

    Thanks!

  3. DwayneBaptist August 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Another way of saying it is like my mentor John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence; nothing more, and nothing less. All the points you make point toward influence.

    Great post.

  4. Sueyq September 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Great post! I work in local government and they too need to work with the five points in this post. we the workers know the system back to front but never do they listen or ask for advise. your employee have front line knowledge and understanding. it would also make us feel better about our jobs and take a more invested approach to our jobs. the bosses or the supervisors want to find blame and pit each employee against one another. When we just want to do a good job and care about our work and our positions. you are actually made to feel you are less than human. So you start to feel bad and not do or care about the overall company or position. So you punch in and try to survive the day. just for the pay check. when you really want to care about your work. Money is not everything. Respect also goes a long way and the feeling that you are adding value to your job.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bar Rescue: Corking the Hole | only courtney says - August 30, 2013

    […] 5 Really Simple Leadership Lessons from Bar Rescue (lostgenygirl.com) […]

  2. Thursday Tidbits 9/5/13 | More Awesomer - September 5, 2013

    […] Last week, Kayla over at Gen Y Girl wrote an article about something I have a great deal of experience with – sitting down, doing nothing, and watching Bar Rescue. 5 Really Simple Leadership Lessons From Bar Rescue. […]

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