Fresh Eyes – a Restaurant Practice that helps build a better business, workplace culture, and life

Fresh Eyes – a Restaurant Practice that helps build a better business, workplace culture, and life

My time working in operations and HR and training in the restaurant industry was some of the most valuable development I have ever gained. there are so many practices that I learned while waitressing, bartending, opening restaurants and even cooking, that I use on a daily basis. One of them is the concept of “Fresh Eyes”. This is a restaurant practice that can help you to build a better business and a more fulfilling and happy life.

What is Fresh Eyes?

In the restaurant industry, we used “Fresh Eyes” every day to tour our restaurant as though this was our first time seeing it as a guest. When you set an intention to look at things through the eyes of a new guest or customer, you notice details that perhaps you would miss as you come to work every day – dust in a corner, a burnt-out lightbulb, cigarette butts in the entryway.

When doing a “Fresh Eyes” tour in a restaurant, I would start in the parking lot, checking for litter, making sure snow or ice was cleared away. I would check walkways and gardens and, when entering the restaurant, would think about the first impression I got. I would make sure the host area was friendly and tidy. I would check tables for cleanliness from floor to ceiling, then go through the guest restrooms, checking for any odours and that everything was sparkling clean. In every area, I would use not only my visual sense, but all of senses to get a full picture of how customers might see the restaurant. What do I smell? What do I hear? When I touch the table or chairs, do they feel clean? How do I feel when you enter the building? Of course, tasting sauces, soups and other items was also an important test in the restaurant business (and my favourite part!).

It is amazing how much we miss when we are not intentionally seeing things through “Fresh Eyes”. This practice always led to a better lunch or dinner rush as the impression our guests had of the restaurant was a more positive one once we had taken care of the details.

How can you use Fresh Eyes in your business?

Think about your customer experience. Map out the touchpoints you have with your clients or customers. Perhaps the experience starts with your website, a social media interaction, or seeing your product on a shelf. What’s next? Do they visit a physical building? Call you? Touch the product? Then what? Keep going all the way through every interaction, that you or your products have with them. Each of these moments give your customers a chance to form an opinion of your business. Many customer experience experts call them “moments of truth”. When I work with clients to improve customer experience, we look at each of these moments and come up with ways to differentiate and wow customers at each touchpoint.

When you’re practicing fresh eyes. you will want to put away everything you know about your business and imagine experiencing it for the first time. Go through the entire experience as a new customer would. Consider every interaction or opportunity the customer has to interact with you or your product, and how it could be perceived. Be critical about the details and make notes on how each touchpoint, and each sensory moment, could be improved or made special.

Doing this regularly will keep your business sharp and focused, and your customers engaged and happy.

How can you use Fresh Eyes to build better workplace culture?

Now, think about your employee experience from day one through their career with you. The moments of truth they experience will affect their energy and ultimately, your customers. Your employees will treat your customers as well as you treat them. How can you make your employee feel special right from day one? Consider their entrance to the workplace. Is there a place for a “Welcome” sign? Does someone greet them? Is their first day filled with paperwork and policies or with purpose and people? How are they onboarded and trained? What does the work environment look like? Smell like? Are your employee areas as neat, tidy and branded as your customer areas? Consider the entire employee experience, from hire to exit. How is feedback given? How are meetings conducted? How are promotions decided? Even small things like where people can park, and whether hierarchy is a part of that, affect workplace culture.

When you follow the employee experience from start to finish with Fresh Eyes, you will start to notice cultural idiosyncracies or maybe the lack of them. How can you differentiate the moments of employee experience to develop a unique and awesome culture? When you’re considering these situations, think about your organization’s core values. Are they demonstrated in all of these touchpoints? Doing this creatively is my favourite work to do with my clients.

When you consider your employee experience with Fresh Eyes and then embed your core values across your daily behaviours, you develop the culture you intend to have.

How can you use Fresh Eyes in your life?

If you’ve watched a child wide-eyed with wonder as they enter a park for he first time, or see a new toy, you can start to imagine the feeling of seeing life with fresh eyes. This practice is all about setting an intention before you enter a situation. It is about being fully present and experiencing it with all of your senses.

Take a regular walk in the park as an example. I walk my dog several times a day, but when I set an intention to fully experience the walk, it changes my experience. I look more broadly and deeply at the trees, grass, and people we see. I smell the flowers (literally, I sometimes stop to smell them). I hear the birds and the wind through the leaves of trees. I will sometimes stop on a hill, a rock or a bench to fully immerse myself in the atmosphere and to take it all in. These walks are more fulfilling and fun for me than those when I am simply walking as a task in my day.

If you set the intention to fully experience the next meeting, outing or walk that you participate in, you will feel the difference. In a meeting, you’ll start to realize the nuances of body language and tone of voice in a deeper way. You’ll be more focused on the discussion and hopefully be able to achieve a more effective outcome. On an outing, you’ll notice things you may not have otherwise, and have a richer experience.

When you intentionally open yourself to the full experience, you will feel more happy and energized in each situation.

Alright – now get back to what you were doing… but do it with “Fresh Eyes”!


  1. July 31, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I first learned of this concept when working with the team of event planners. The way they kept an annual conference fresh was to walk through the design as though they were first-time attendee. I have also seen people take pictures of the room they wanted to clean and organize so they could see it with fresh eyes ! thanks for this blog Pam

    Reply »
    • Pam (Author)
      July 31, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Great example Jill! We do the same with our Reinvent Work Summit - we want to create a wow experience from the moment people arrive, and try to think of the little details that could add to that memorable experience. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply »

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