In Part 2 of this 4 part series, Carrie Luxem and the QSR Nation crew continue their discussion on how to get your employees to care. From culture to infrastructure to mindset, these are can’t miss tips! Be sure to list to Part I as well (#079).

QSR Nation Host:  Hey everybody, welcome back to QSR Nation. Listen in as we continue our discussion with Carrie Luxem. You know, no one’s ever going to care about your business more than you.


QSR Nation Host:  So trying to convey that across, sometimes these leaders and owners, they kind of get in that rut and start thinking that nobody cares, which is one of the other points you talk about, how do you get over that feeling and out of that rut that nobody cares.

CARRIE LUXEM:  Exactly, and that’s the second point here. You know, every manager talks about and dreams about having a team that cares, and sometimes I feel like it seems impossible for operators to have that team but it really starts with them. Sometimes it’s funny, I watch restaurateurs, they’re super upset about the fact that they can’t get people to care, yet they don’t put off that vibe like they don’t really care. Maybe they do and maybe nobody is going to care like them, and you’ve got to figure out how to get your people to care like you do, and you’ve got to exude that energy, you know? There’s a lot of people that I know in the business that love their restaurants and they seem to care, but they’re so burnt out and it seems like they don’t, and so it’s just a trickle-down effect.

If you’ve got some decent employees, they may hang on a little bit longer if they’ve got a leader that doesn’t seem to care, either care in general or care about them, but eventually it’s human nature, people are going to want to be somewhere else if they’re in an environment that nobody seems to care. So I think that leadership first and foremost, they need to take a huge amount of pride in their role, and they need to show in many ways that they genuinely care about the wellbeing of the company and the wellbeing of each person that’s on their team, everybody that’s coming in every day. And again, this is like we talked about with them not having a connection to the company, that to put in the time and energy to build relationships, to coach people, to mentor them.

If you think about some of these great brands out there that really seem to have a culture that’s a great one, it’s like they invest and they talk about the people and mentoring them and coaching them, and they take time to train and care and all of that stuff. So I think it’s just really… it can be exhausting to get up every day and to run restaurants, and you feel like you have a team that doesn’t care so you just kind of fold your arms and say, “They just don’t care, I’ve got to find new people,” and that is just oftentimes not the solution.

It’s like really stepping up and standing in front of people and telling them that you know there’s a problem and that you’re going to own it and that you care at this level and you want them to care, whatever the strategies maybe, but definitely as the manager or the leader of that unit or a multi-unit leader, you’ve got to be bleeding the fact that you care. It’s got to come oozing out of you. People that work for me or work with me, they know that I can about this, and obviously it’s my business, but I have the other leaders in my company, and I figure out every day how to get them to care about this at the level that I do, and I would say – and maybe I’m naïve here – but they care it as much as me, they seem to, and if they don’t, that’s fine.

They’re developing people and they see the bigger picture, and I do my best to communicate with them the exciting things that are going on, and you know, honestly, a lot of times getting people to care, when you are a leader and you sit with your people and you tell them what’s not going right and what the struggles are, that can spur a lot of motivation in people. You want to be a part of that solution.

QSR Nation Host:  For sure, and it takes a great effort to do that because everybody can get burnt out from time-to-time, and to bring that energy forward every single day, to still show that you care and bring that to your team, it’s hard to do every day.

CARRIE LUXEM:  It is hard to do, but when you’re really honest – and I’ve coached operators in this a lot – when things just really are not going right and you’re feeling deflated, and you tell your people that and you’re like, “Listen, my strengths aren’t everything and I need you guys,” that is motivating to people. It’s motivating to the right people that “alright, I’m going to be a part of this mission.” Getting people to care is not about ping-pong tables and pizza parties, you know?

Those things can be nice, but it’s really about being real with people, making sure you know who they and that you understand what motivates them, empower them to want to be a part of this great company no matter position they play in your company, and it does take skill to do that, it takes dedication and it takes patience and all of those things, but it’s absolutely doable.

QSR Nation Host:  I know you can make it easier on yourself as well by developing that infrastructure around you to provide that support and everything. I know that’s one of your other seven points.

CARRIE LUXEM:  Um-hum, having an infrastructure, yeah. You know, I think that a lot of times people, when they’re in an environment that’s chaotic and there’s no system, there’s no infrastructure, it can be a not fun place to work, you know, and that’s the thing. I grew with Potbelly pretty quickly, and when you grow a brand, when you have one restaurant and you’re getting to four, and it’s hard because you want to be so people-focused but you’ve got to put systems together, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:06:15] corporate, right, like “oh, do we really want that or do we want to stay a family feel?”

People want, for the most part, people want, they need infrastructure, they need systems, they need to understand how to do things, and if you have these basic systems – and again, we talked offline about the lifecycle of an employee – if you really have simple systems and an infrastructure to how you go about hiring people and onboarding them and ensuring that you’re tracking their performance, and mentor programs or whatever it is, if you have those things in place and they’re simple for everybody to understand, you’re going to improve the consistency and the effectiveness across the board. I mean systems are a lifesaver in my opinion, and I’ve built my whole company on very simple systems on everything I do.

QSR Nation Host:  And those systems help avoid that ownership and that leadership burnout as well.


QSR Nation Host:  Because it doesn’t just provide the support system for the team members to feel engaged and valued but it also helps the leadership be able to delegate things apart so that it’s not 100% on them all the time, help them avoid burnout as well so that it doesn’t create that trickle-down effect we talked about earlier.

CARRIE LUXEM:  That’s a good point.

QSR Nation Host:  So definitely, yeah, having that infrastructure in place is really key and having those systems there to help everyone at every level, from owner to new person, really be able to succeed and be there for a long time.

CARRIE LUXEM:  Absolutely, and the other thing that it does it really provides more consistency and then people are treated fair, fairly. When you have these systems in place, things are being done in a consistent way, and when you don’t have them, it’s not consistent, and that can cause people to feel like they’re not being treated the same or better or worse, and it causes people not to care.

QSR Nation Host:  Which leads right to lower standards.


QSR Nation Host:  I think that’s something that Beth had mentioned offline before about the quality of the environment and people, they can diminish, right, Beth?

BETH OUTZ:  Exactly, and going back to the lifecycle of the foodservice employee, a lot of times there’s that stigma of they’re not going to be there very long because they’re not passionate about their business, but having that accountability factor that you had talked about, making sure like this is how you’re going to be measured, this is what it means to the company, this is what it means for me as an owner and for you as an employee, you know, we don’t have low standards, we have high standards, and we expect every single person to be able to be on this team and contribute something.

I think just having that accountability is just something that it really does hit home with each employee and each person that you’re trying to manage, just to kind of give them that point and that connection that you go back to that company that you’ve been talking about.

CARRIE LUXEM:  Yeah, absolutely, for sure. You know, I took a trip with my family not too long ago and we went into a restaurant, I won’t say the restaurant and the lack of care in that restaurant, and I knew like when we walked in there and saw how absolutely terrible the place was run and the standards were so low, and then you have employees that don’t care, so managers who maintain a low or no standards for themselves or for their employees are absolutely setting the restaurant up for failure, and it starts with the ownership in my opinion.

I mean this franchise restaurant that we went into, all we said when we left there is “the owner doesn’t care about this place,” so you’ve got a person that doesn’t care, there’s probably no systems, and it’s just all about these low standards. Whether it’s related to service or attitude or hygiene, when you are operating a restaurant and you don’t care about all these little things, that are big things by the way, that keep the operation running seamlessly and it’s a clean environment and it’s got up-to-date equipment, you’re employees are going to see that you don’t really care about it, you’re not spending the money or the time.

Some would say, “Well, we don’t have the money to upgrade everything,” but sometimes it’s not even a huge financial investment, it’s making sure that the uniforms are on or whatever it is, but low standards, it is just… I can tell you, I would never want to go to work every single day if I worked for a leader that just didn’t have any standards. The people that I work with, some of my clients that are the most “high maintenance,” their standards are through the roof, and I love supporting them because I know the level they care is so huge because they care about every little detail.

When that starts to fizzle, nobody is going to care, you’re going to lack infrastructure, no one is going to be focused on your vision because it just kind of all… it all kind of messes together, you know?

QSR Nation Host:  Be sure to tune in next week as we continue our discussion with Carrie Luxem. Stop by next week for another QSR Nation episode or visit

Listen to the rest: Part 1, Part 3, or Part 4.

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