An interesting thing happened during a recent speech Ryan Turner made at the Cobb Galleria. While discussing the philosophy behind the widely successful four Cobb restaurants he operates with his partners, Turner kept referring to a book that helped guide him in his quest to share food and drink, and make human connections.
Turner had been invited to speak by a Gas South executive who enjoyed his book so much he purchased one for all attendees. Trouble was Turner did not have enough in supply, as the book, “The Unsukay Way – Our Guide to being a Good Human, Leader and Business,” was an internal document Turner had written the employees of the Unsukay Community of Businesses, the umbrella company for its concepts — Muss & Turner, Eleanor’s, Local Three and Common Quarter.
The question prompted Turner to start working on a second edition — one that will be available to business owners looking for inspiration and guidance in defining and redefining their culture.
“We all are a work in progress,” said Turner, founding partner and CEO of Unsukay, which he runs with Chris Hall and Todd Mussman, both partners and chefs. “This guide was written to help us set a high bar — one that none of us will ever jump over consistently. It is meant to hold each other accountable.”
Turner said “The Unsukay Way” was never meant to be a defining document that preaches from a pulpit of how to provide better customer service and/or that your customers are the most important aspect of your business. In fact, if you ask him, he will tell you that your employees are the most important asset of your business.
“If a customer has a bad experience, he will walk away a tell a handful of his family and friends, and colleagues about what happened,” Turner says. “But if you have one employee who is having a bad day, that employee can affect an entire shift, which can change the entire atmosphere and mood of our face to our customers. We only have a couple of times a day that we go live with what we do, and in this business, you are only as good as your last shift.”
The book is an interesting collection of references perspectives, concepts, ideas, declarations and human recipes from Turner’s nearly 20 years of studying humans and business. Inside, you will find references to the “tortoise and the hare,” “mirror, mirror on the wall,” “good is the enemy of great,” etc., — each nugget helping show how you can engage with your customers.
“We are in the business of human connection disguised as a restaurant,” Turner says. “What do we mean when we define the word ‘restaurant’? It is imperfect humans, who surround themselves with a team of imperfect humans, buying imperfect product, creating imperfect dishes, while serving imperfect guests with the expectation of a perfect live performance on stage each shift.”
That’s why Turner focuses on enhancing the “soft skills” of his team as they set out to face their customers every night. “We view our business as part restaurant, part human behavior laboratory, and part incubator for personal, professional and business growth,” he said. “The book is a humble attempt to define what moves our culture — our perspective and behavior as it relates to our primary ingredient, our people.”
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