Dinosaur operators need to adapt or go extinct

Are you a dinosaur operator? A dinosaur operator – is a person who:

  1. Clings to the ways of the past (this doesn’t mean they are old they just aren’t comfortable with change).
  2. Is afraid of new technology – prefers pen and paper to anything digital.
  3. Has lost their intellectual inquisitiveness or doesn’t have the drive to adopt new technologies and best practices.
  4. Hasn’t mastered a new professional skill in years, is doing what they have always done.

Being a dinosaur operator doesn’t mean that the person isn’t successful or good at what they do today. No, not at all. Over time, dinosaur operators will lose their edge as their competition from other businesses and for jobs get tougher, faster, and more experience with the new technologies and best practices of today.

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The new replacing the old is the natural order of things, we are constantly learning from our previous experience and working to make things better. The issue today isn’t change, that has always been constant, it is the rate of change.

Computers, tablets, smart phones, the internet economy are driving change at a rapid pace. The iPad was released 4/3/10 and the same year Square released a mobile payment platform that runs on iPads and in 2013; they released their POS software. Do you think the big POS companies saw Sqaure POS systems being adopted by large companies like Starbucks? ¬†Half of the people I talk to for my company, OpsAnalitica, already have tablet computers in their kitchens. Technology is permeating industries that have remained virtually the same for 1000’s of years; the restaurant industry is one of them.

If you remove computer-driven technologies some of the biggest disruptive changes in the restaurant business in the last 200 years were: cash registers, refrigeration that wasn’t powered by ice, disinfectants, and cans/preservatives. All of those technologies were just improvements on what was already being done. Computers starting with POS Systems, desktops with costing software, through tablets and mobile apps have radically changed the job, and the skills required of the chef and restaurant manager.

I was talking to a professor at one of the top Hospitality programs this week, and I was asking him about Millennials and what they want from jobs and he said:  passionate about causes, they want to customize, they interact differently, and they reject the old ways of doing things.

You can see where technology has affected Millennials with all of those traits. A person born after 1990 has always had: access to the internet; they have always seen mobile phones (the first smartphones were being sold in the mid-1990’s). Technology for them and the rate of change of technology is the norm, and it is not weird or scary. Millennials are the people you see in your restaurant all sitting at a table looking at their phones and not talking.

If we as managers don’t adopt personally and drive our businesses to adopt new technologies, we are going to be at a competitive disadvantage. As our competitors embrace new technologies and start to gain ROI from them, they will be better positioned to grow their businesses and careers.

If you have read this blog and you are a self-identified dinosaur operator, here are a couple of strategies to get you moving out of that category:

  • Get on youtube and start searching out new technologies that you have heard about in the industry. You will be amazed at the amount of free video content on everything. You will be able to educate yourself very quickly on what is happening in the business.
  • Try reverse mentoring where you grab a technology savvy team member, and you have them research something then brief you on it as a side project. It gives them the great experience of running a project, and you get the help you need to learn.

Jump in and you will find that the water is warm and not that deep.

Good luck.


Tommy Yionoulis

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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