The Cure for Common Sense-itis – Realize there is no such thing as common sense

By David Scott Peters

Do you sometimes just want to fire everyone in your restaurant and just do all the work yourself? Do you wonder why people can’t just do it the way you want it done? Do you ever find yourself saying, “IT’S COMMON SENSE!”

If you can relate to any of the above, you probably suffer from “common sense-itis.”

I define common sense-itis as a never-ending headache you have from repeatedly banging your head against the proverbial brick wall known as running your restaurant.

This term is most accurate when applied to restaurant owners who think their managers should just know how to do things because it’s “common sense.”

Look, the definition of common sense clearly states that it’s a shared understanding based on experience. I can tell you right now that your managers, each and every one of them, do not share your experiences. They have not grown up in your shoes. They do not possess the same core values. They are not you and will not automatically do things your way, just because you think they should have common sense.

Get rid of your case of common sense-itis once and for all with an easy two-step process.

Step 1 – Create checklists for EVERYTHING!

Creating checklists sounds so simple, yet I can’t even begin to count how many restaurants don’t have them in place. And when checklists do get drafted, many restaurant owners are not explicit enough in what they want done or how they want it done.

Let me tell you the easy way to avoid this pitfall. Grab a pad of paper, stand outside your front door and start writing down EVERYTHING you see on a daily basis that needs to get done. Especially note the things that really get your blood boiling because they seem so obvious. Continue writing as you walk your restaurant.

Be precise in your expectations. For example, “Clean glass on front door every two hours, starting with opening shift.” Then list the times.

When your list is completed, task one of your managers to customize opening and closing checklists incorporating every item on your list for every position. Remember, you cannot be too specific.

Once you have completed this process you are halfway to curing your common sense-itis. Plus, your management team is happy. They’re happy they no longer have to read your mind or dread your inevitable freak out. With lists in hand, your management team is cool, calm and collected when they see you coming. They can say with confidence they didn’t miss anything if they followed the simple checklist.

Side Note: Your checklists are never finished. You will continue to add all of the new things that drive you crazy as they come up. Don’t be surprised if your checklists are two to six pages long. But also don’t be surprised at how well they work.

Step 2 – Follow up on the checklists.

Now that you have your checklists and have trained your managers and staff to use them, the easy part is done. You will see results almost immediately. I guarantee it.

But here’s what tends to happen. About three weeks after implementing checklists, when your managers see that you are not looking in the designated binder to confirm the checklists are being used, your managers will start to slack off. And once they slack off, everyone else will slack off. Eventually they’ll quit using them altogether.

That is unless you hold them accountable.

How do you hold them accountable? To start, review the checklists daily at first. Find what your managers are missing and point it out. Better yet, show them how you want it done. It’s your job to coach your managers and help them be successful.

Once you see they are following them routinely, you can start to randomly spot check them a few times a week.

These checklists will keep everyone on the same page for as long as they’re maintained, but you must check them or they WILL go away.

When you don’t communicate your expectations to your managers, you’re setting them up to fail. You’re also setting yourself up for endless frustration. Checklists give you an easy way to communicate your expectations and an easy way for your managers to know what is expected of them. This way, everyone is happy.

Cure your common sense-itis today with checklists.

David Scott Peters TheRestaurantExpert (1)David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at


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