What is it that makes successful restaurants tick? This January, Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) hosted the 21st annual Global Best Practices Conference in Dallas, Texas to honor those in the restaurant community who have gone above and beyond in creating superior workplaces. The 2016 finalists included: BJ’s Restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Dave & Buster’s, Denny’s Restaurants, Eat’n Park, Jason’s Deli, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Panera Bread, Perkins, Raising Cane’s, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, White Castle, Wisconsin Hospitality (Pizza Hut Franchisee) and Zoës Kitchen.

This year’s winners were: White Castle, Jason’s Deli, Denny’s, Chili’s Bar and Grill, and The Cheesecake Factory (read the full announcement here).

We asked our finalists to share the best practices and attitudes that make their restaurants tick. Here are their top 10 tips:

1. We stopped assuming that the telephone game starting with someone at the very top would be successful going all the way down. Every message we send out from our restaurant support office is going to be confirmed by us visiting the restaurants and talking to the front line. — Jamie Griffin, Vice President of Business Administration at Raising Cane’s

2. Build relationships, listen to your people, and take action in a timely manner. — June Weiss, Vice President of Human Resources at Wisconsin Hospitality Group

3. It’s about engagement at all levels. It’s understanding and listening to what our team members and GMs say and empowering them. What’s important to us is cascading our ideas down to every level. — Chris Shaffery, Regional Vice President of Operations at White Castle

4. We try to keep that small, family, “mom and pop” type of culture. We make sure that when we are growing, we are doing it in a way where we can still stock our stores with good quality people and provide good service for our customers. — Michele Kemplay, Director of Human Resources at Jason’s Deli

5. It’s about hiring the right person to start with. Great organizations come from great people. The minute you sacrifice that is the minute everything starts to change. — Larry Kelley, Vice President of Human Resources at Zoës Kitchen

6. At Panera, maintaining the culture is something we think about on a regular basis. We ensure our associates get the training, proper follow-up and time and attention they need in the first 90 days. — Liz Dunlap, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Panera Bread

7. You always have to be relatable to your team members, no matter where they are. If you’re above any job, you’ve lost touch and you’ve lost relevance. — John Miller, President and CEO at Denny’s

8. The more we lean into our purpose as an organization, the stronger our culture gets. — Kelli Valade, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Chili’s Bar and Grill

9. You must identify what has made you successful and continue to reinforce those things. At Cheesecake, it’s all about execution, it’s all about details, and it’s all about how we make people feel special. — Dina Barmasse, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at The Cheesecake Factory

10. One thing that’s consistent is change. You have to change. There’s no standing still on the battlefield, because if you do, everyone passes you by. The one thing that doesn’t change is where we get our information from, which is the field. — Ame Hull, Senior Vice President of Talent and Operations at BJ’s Restaurants

Congratulations to all of our nominees and winners!