Ever since I bought Romano’s in 1995, I have been told by everyone I know in the restaurant business to never become too friendly with my employees. When I first opened, I followed their advice: for about a month. Now, 11 years later, I realize that my friendship with my employees has been one of the biggest reasons for the continued success and growth of Romano’s. I’m sure it is smart in some cases to keep your employees more at an arm’s length, but if you are running a small business, you need to ask yourself, “What kind of atmosphere do you really want to create for yourself and your employees: Do you want them to dread coming to work or do you want to create an atmosphere where they all are treated like family?”.
I have lived by the latter the past 11 years and let me tell you, it has served me incredibly well. I have had moments where it has been necessary to be “the boss” and come down hard on a few here and there, but for the most part, Romano’s is, without a doubt, a very big family. Those are not just words. My employees prove we are a family time and time again. As an example, I had surgery on my leg almost 2 years ago. I was going to be out of work for at least a month. As a small business owner of a very busy restaurant, the stress I was feeling of how I would get through this was astronomical. My employees took it upon themselves to create a new shift schedule, without me in it. They had arranged and covered everything for me so I could rest and recover quickly. They had my back and then some and it warmed my heart. My business survived, and I recovered just fine.
The so-called best practice of “never becoming too friendly with your employees” doesn’t work for me. It probably never will. If I treat my employees as equals and provide them a good paying wage, they feel good about themselves and strive to go above and beyond for Romano’s. If I show my employees I actually care and am not just telling them what they want to hear, they show me they care about me and my business goals right back, sometimes two-fold. The way I see it, is that if you care about someone, then you are willing to do more and sacrifice at times for them. You cover a shift if someone is sick or if your kids have an event you want to attend. Over the past 11 years, I have not missed a single event that my daughter was involved with because my amazing staff has stepped up and let me not only be a business owner, but a good father, too.
I have my incredible employees to thank for this. We truly and honestly care about one another. I would take any one of them into the foxhole with me anytime and I hope to continue that for many years to come.
Thanks again for a great run,
Bob Greatorex, Romano’s Pizza of Haverhill