Sunday, February 15, 2009
One of the advantages of the consulting business is that, at rare wonderful times, one gets to travel outside of the country and get off the beaten path.
Often trainings and coaching occur away from the tourist attractions and one gets to see how the population really lives instead of the prepacked sanitized experiences ready for human consumption so often on display anywhere where the service sector drives the economy.
These can be sobering times and shout out for action and sometimes all that's neccesary is stepping in and taking a vested interest in people's lives. The reality is that no manager can coach, counsel or train anyone on just how the recipient works. One has to coach the entire soul, so to speak, in order to make a difference in their work life - the added benefit is that the coach-ee has a better life as well; their family benefits, their community and their nation.
Heady stuff considering it all started with proper hand washing techniques; yea that was a bit of sarcasm - but just a bit.
That's why foodwerks inc. has adpoted a new mission statement, and I've found a new focus: 'Making Lives More Meaningful One Dish at a Time.'
Given that's where we start, who knows where we'll end up?
Stick around, we'll keep you up on our progress!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Now some operators never had them in the first place. J Alexander's and Houston's employ what's referred to as the 'Scatter Method' of managing the front of the house. Typically servers have a 3 - 4 table primary station and then an additonal 4 -8 tables in their vicinity that are their secondary stations to which they bring refills of beverages, run food and progressively bus the tables. You might see 'your' server twice during the entire process - once to take the order and then to present the check. I'm making it sound very simplistic but I know it's not. It's fascinating to watch the floor coverage and by the looks of their business - it works. I like the idea of the servers bussing their own tables - it forces them to be proactive and keeps them ahead of the service path; 'marking' tables with a steak knife there - steak MR, or a large dessert spoon designating the person who ordered the creme brulee.
But that's how they started their operation and have created a regimented system that covers all the bases.
I went to a beachside restaurant the other night, which has many locations and can be considered a local institution. I waited patiently with my daughter, our usual Wednesday keeping-up-with-the-child dinner, as the hostess looked around the seating field in desperation for a place to seat us. Most of the tables were still dirty from the last patrons and the girls on the floor looked a bit exasperated as they tried to keep up with the ebb and flow of the guest count.
It could have been that they were understaffed or had been busier than normal; being in the business I made a mental note and practised patience - the last thing they needed now was an unruly guest demanding to be serviced.
A kind and knowing smile is sometimes all that's needed to settle someone down and allow them to catch their breath.
The hostess looked at me, as if to throw her arms up in defeat and says, "We don't have any busboys."
'You mean they all called off on the same day?" I asked.
"No, the manager let them all go and now we're supposed to do it." Again a sad look crossed her face.
Okay, I thought, business decision - I can see why they would want to cut their payroll. Oddly enough though the manager was nowhere to be found and when he did stick his head out of the doorway it was to use that old chestnut of watching the action without actually meeting anyone's gaze or walking the tables. Not an easy feat I can tell you but some managers have it down to an art how they can be 'of the space' but not anywhere 'in the space'.
Two things lept to mind as I bussed an adjacent table so that the four German tourists could sit down and start spending some of their Euros:
1.) It's all too often that operators take a short term approach to bad times. To cut one of the most crucial, and grossly underpaid, positions in the front of the house just dosn't make any sense from a customer service point of view. I watched three groups of customers come in, take a look around, gauging the operations readiness to service them - and walk out.
At a $15.00 per person check average they lost at least $180.00 worth of business, more than three times what they would have paid one busboy for the shift and for those that stayed, they were left - how can I put it? The remaining guests, such as myself, were left with a bad taste in their mouth.
2.) These are the same kind of managers who won't buy the tools in order to do the job correctly, such as forks, spoons and glassware; believing that they can squeeze a few more dollars from the Direct Expenses Checkbook and look like heroes.
3.) If you're going to cut these positions, like busboys and dish washers, at least be present to show your commitment to the decision. Pitch in and support the rest of the staff with the added work; it dosn't have to be all night - just long enough to get the job done and send the signal that these types of decisions affect everyone and as such, everyone gets to jump in.
I heard it said once that 'fools get to be young once too' but hospitality managers who have the livelihoods of their staff and the satisfaction of their guests in their hands have got to be more thoughtful and intentional about how one handles a crisis or economic downturn.
Want a fix? Increase your revenue. If not, then roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty in the pursuit of your convictions. You'll score points with the staff and the guests will appreciate it as well.
I love to mop a floor every now and then; makes everyone wonder what the hell is wrong with chef.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Whether you're in to motorcycles, against facism, up with Schaunzers or down with the military industrial complex there's bound to be a group on the set who's set up their own social networking site. While I can see the validity of something like www.linkedin.com for career minded individuals, our business network is something of real value and can bring real opportunity and connection, some others real use can be a bit dubious at best.
If, like me, you're on one or two, don't limit yourself to one school of thought or slant. The reality is that most people will buy, and read, books that only affirm their beliefs, as if they're gathering evidence on why they feel a certain way about something. 'Yea, see I knew that there was something going on behind the scenes....'
Conspiracy Theorists Unite!
Social networking can be similarly polarizing. It's important to seek out and listen to dissenting views because that's only where real growth occurs - if everyone feels the same way about a particular subject there where is the discourse, the open - mindedness to say, 'You know, I never knew that cats had the same anal glands as dogs, go figure.'?
For someone looking to make a real difference in their's and other life theres www.ideapartyevent.ing.com . One dream is all it takes.
I love www.meetup.com because it gives seekers the opportunity to go out and actually meet, god forbid!, others with similar or different views. I have a meetup group, a book club of sorts called 'The Wolfpack, The Way of the Superior Man', to get real about the work of David Deida. 'When two or more are gathered...'
On the horizon is a social networking site that looks like it may eclipse what's presently available and could be something really significant. If you don't check it out, you'll never know and how often does a website offer equity positions for nothing more than a few minutes of time and access to your sphere of influence. Go to: www.me2everyone.com/84077 and tell em I sent you.
Let's face it people, the real world - and real relationships, only occur out there -in the physical world.
Now stop reading and go sign up for a salsa group, or Libertarians Against Socialism or Mother's for the Ethical Treatment of Teenagers - whatever grooves you - go out and get some.
Pass it on, Play it Forward & Be A River
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
After a complete revamp of the site and the magazine itself, In The Biz Magazine is back in business with Nicole Jenkins at the editor's desk. I'm lucky enough to been asked to submit a monthly piece again. After Feb. 1st the new edition is at your favorite watering hole locally in Ft. Lauderdale or you can view the whole magazine at http://www.itbnation.com/ . Click on the South Florida icon and view great articles, pictures and ads all specifically geared towards the workers of the Hospitality Industry. I've been writing for them since August of 2006 and seen with my own eyes the growth of the brand. They're even starting editions in the NE and Vegas. Send them a quick email and let them know you're looking for them in your area.
For now, enjoy them here.
Please take time and add your name and email address to the 'Followers' tab to the left so that when we release our new, foodwerks inc newsletter 'The Art of Intentional Hospitality' in March, you'll be among the first to get it. This unique newsletter will be geared to F&B operators and will feature timely relevant articles written by industry leaders with tips, strategies and tools to support you in your success.
~ be a river ~