All too often I speak with colleagues in the restaurant or retail business baffled by the loss of customer base. For the life of them they cannot figure it out. They add product, change advertising methods, and make numerous updates to get customers in the door, but the real problem is they can’t keep them—no return interest.
They either refuse to notice or they simply don’t see that the problem is closer than they think. Truth is that it is often their greatest investment—the staff. While lack of training is the first thought that comes to mind, you will find there is another staffing issue that customers find offensive and reproachable. So what is it? Arrogant behavior, too superior to serve, expressed with a haughty facial expression and lack of attentiveness. Read more of this >>
I read a quote recently by John Maxwell, he says “You can measure a leader by the problems he tackles. He always looks for ones his own size.” Well, I should begin by informing those who don’t know me personally that I am 6’8”. Yes, I tend to hit my head often, and in case you’re wondering, the weather is fine up here. Although the quote may lead some to ponder the obvious, given a recent incident I encountered, I looked at it a little differently. Instead of thinking about the biggest external issues I face, I forced myself to look at the biggest internal issues I face. Not anyone’s favorite topic to think about.
It has been said that we are our own worst enemies. It has also been said that we are our own worst critics. I can say both of these things about myself. We all battle character flaws which prompt us to find some sort of handicap to help mask or shine the light away from them. These could be traits we are aware or unaware of; pride, jealousy, fear, inadequacy, the way we react to stress, or even anger can top this list. Read more of this >>
I am glad our fellow trade bloggers are sharing their own experiences about leadership qualities, lax service issues, and trying to resolve ongoing unprofessional ineptitude.
This type of intramural communications volley permits us all to recognize these issues are constant reminders of (most likely) a lax management culture. Guess where all fingers are pointing.
Correct this apathy: business sustainability can only occur when professional standards are demanded. I don’t hesitate to submit constructive complaints on tabletop “comment cards” (for management). Question: do these cards really get to the correct decision-maker, especially when it’s usually the culprit server receiving the cards, and these go straight to the circular file in quick time? Read more of this >>
I have a relative in her eighties. We had a chance to talk for an hour the other day. She was totally amazed by some of my restaurant stories and I with her’s.
• She had never operated a business
• She had never hired or fired anyone
• She never had to make a bottom or top line shine
• She never crawled under an ice machine
• She never unplugged a public toilet
• College was her fifth option
• She had never stopped a bar fight
• “86’d” was never in her vocabulary
• “You-bet-your-boots” has never been in my vocabulary
• I have never gone to night school while working full-time
• I have never served as a nurse
• I have never raised livestock nor brought it to market
• I have never shot a coyote
• I didn’t have to continue anything after my husband died
• My children have not all graduated from college
• My house is not completely paid for
In my job, I have met thousands, upon thousands of people, and maybe 15 would come to my funeral. Read more of this >>
Recently, I was dining at a well known fish house and had a “service moment” like I had never experienced before. The quality and tone of the service was borderline indifferent, and each member of the staff seemed to be laboring under a dark cloud of discontent, as if they were all participants in a sort of global bad day festival. There was very thinly veiled back-biting and sniping going on; angry retorts to one another within earshot of the handful of Sunday mid-afternoon guests. Intermittently, our server seemed to disappear for several minutes at a time even though only a few tables were occupied. When she appeared again, she’d realize that the manager had refilled our drinks or cleared some plates and she would offer some explanation about the cause of her delay, often implying that others had dropped the ball.
The “service moment” that really struck me though came towards the end of the meal when, as my guest and I were just finishing our entrees, someone moved past our table in a blur and, without a word, tossed a dessert menu onto the table as they continued on their way. I was astounded at the overtness of the indifference but, unfortunately, what I find more and more in my service experiences these days is that indifferent or poor are often the norm and just-barely-adequate is becoming almost sought after. Read more of this >>
Recently, I was talking with a family member—we’ll call her Gertrude—who works in procurement for a national grocery chain. She was telling me about some ongoing issues her company was having, with a major vendor, that led them to call in some of the vendor’s top brass for a little heart-to-heart. She recounted how a few years earlier she and her colleagues had come to an agreement with the vendor about the time of the morning their delivery drivers must be at her dock to ensure her warehouse staff could complete their tasks each day. Read more of this >>
Summer is flying by. MLB has just completed its All-Star game, and baseball, like any well run sport or business, loves statistics. Baseball (at all levels) takes a very serious (fanatical?) approach when tracking, measuring and quantifying. In baseball you’ll find categories for RBI, HR, BA, ERA, saves, wins, and many other metrics of the game. If you’re in the F&B business you’d be well served to watch (like a hawk) your ROI, ROA, EBITDA, SpSqF, comps, “saves,” “wins,” and other business metrics.
In baseball, I’ve always been most intrigued by the rarity of a “five-tool” player. A “five-tool” player is thought to excel in all the skills necessary to become an elite player. As you might imagine, these skills include hitting prowess (which some measure as “on-base percentage” plus “slugging” or “OPS”), base-running and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. In each era of MLB, there seems to be only a handful of players recognized as processing all “five tools.” Read more of this >>
While the hospitality business does not cure disease it can be life-altering. Our plight to be there 24/7 lends to soothing weary souls, facilitating dreams, solidifying careers, and more. With spring business approaching and the weight of the world on your shoulders, are you really ready to provide the best in customer service?
Cultivating a healthy business culture requires harvesting the right crop. This starts with understanding your real need and having the right people on board. It’s like the difference between a task-doer and an invested steward, while one will eventually do all of the things you ask of them, the other will look for all of the things that need to be done and will work to satisfy and succeed. Essentially, you reap what you sow; while a cliché, it is also an undeniable fact, and one that can cost you your business if you hire and train improperly.
It is not naive to pursue excellence; yes, there will be challenges beyond control, but I am certain that if you seek and serve the bigger picture, by being the model and providing the proper tools and support, your works will be rewarding.
When it comes to hiring and training, think perennials not annuals – give it the attention and time it deserves to produce something beautiful and lasting.
Carol A. Burns, CTA