Once upon a time, an area manager of a quick-service restaurant chain walked into one of the locations he supervised on a Monday afternoon. He found a line of customers to the door and only register open. Two cooks were working feverishly and the manager was filling in gaps where he could.
It was odd scene, as Monday afternoons are often slow with guest trickling in periodically. The area manager jumped in, helping move the line of customers and the staff get caught up. The manager of the restaurant hung his head and sheepishly apologized to the area manager.
"Why are you apologizing?" ask the area manager.
"Well, we were getting our butt beat when you walked in" the store manager replied.
"This is the number of staff you usually keep on a Monday afternoon, right? " the area manager asked, overlooking the restaurant schedule.
"Yes sir," the store manager answered.
"The store is clean. Food is fresh and up to spec. Right?" the area manager asked.
"Well..yes sir," the store manage replied.
"Then you've done your job and you were doing the best you could taking care of your guests," said the area manager.
The store manager looked at his supervisor with suspicion, seemingly waiting for the other shoe to drop. The area manager sensed his manager's tension and pulled him aside out of earshot of the other employees.
"Look, you can't control what happens on Wall St. You can't control the weather. You can't control a crowd of people walking in at the same time on a Monday afternoon," the area manager said to the store manager. "But you can make sure your restaurant is staffed properly, spotlessly clean and serving fresh food."
The store manager nodded his head in understanding, the tension of the situation melting away.
"You were doing what you usually do and working hard for the guests. How can I be upset at that?" the area manager said. "Now, if the restrooms were dirty and employees were out of uniform, we would be having a completely different conversation. Probably alone in the walk-in cooler," he added, playfully punching him on the arm.
The moral of the story is this-restaurant managers can only control what happens within the four walls of their restaurant. They control their own destiny and the path their restaurant will take. If they would concentrate on everything that happens within their four walls as opposed to everything outside, their restaurants would be more successful.