How transparent should you be in running your business? What information should you share with your staff?
I’m all for transparency in business, but then on the other hand maybe not every aspect of your business needs to be made public. It’s a tough line to walk when we want to be seen as an open and transparent employer; however there are occasions where employees don’t need to see or hear everything.
Here are three to consider:
This is always a touchy subject in any company and needs to be conducted with the utmost discretion and respect, regardless of the nature of the disciplinary action. Let’s face it, most staff members know who the performers and slackers are. Preserve the dignity of the employee and make sure all disciplinary action is behind closed doors. If someone is leaving and doesn’t know it, do it in a down time of the day to limit the exposure for a departing employee. Your response to other staff members should be firm, fair and final: ‘John no longer works with us and we wish him every success in his career.’ Rumors and gossip my run wild for a few days, but it’s not your job to fuel it in the name of transparency. It is your job to keep a professional, well-functioning team in place to ensure your profits are maximized. Any untoward distractions can keep your staff members from performing at their very best. And please, disciplinary actions should never be discussed with your customers!
Diversity and politics
While we embrace a wildly diverse workforce in the hospitality industry, it is not a venue for you or your team members to discuss politics and world affairs. Many of our employees may share some of our company values, however the workplace is not where you should be extolling the virtues of one political party or system over another. This would run true at the civic, regional, national and international levels. What may seem like a very innocent comment by some may be highly troubling or even offensive to others. Watch what loose comments float around and get a handle on them if necessary.
Keep your wealth at home
This can be a matter of optics more than anything else. As a restaurateur, you have spent countless hours, not to mention thousands of dollars to build the restaurant you have. Employees don’t always understand the cost and effort that goes into your time and financial commitment and may see that hot new Mercedes as a bit over the top. Don’t give your employees an opportunity to say how stingy the wages are so you can afford to buy a hot new sports car. Flaunting it may backfire on you.
Keep it professional and you will have the respect of those around you. Remember your goal is to keep an effective team as professional and profitable as possible and not send them packing to your competitors.
Be professional and share with your staff only what you need to. Transparency in business is good – but only up to a point.
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Should your staff drink on the job?
The food and beverage industry is often characterized by employees that work hard and play hard. Don’t confuse the two. Employees should never be consuming alcoholic beverages before or during (or after!) their scheduled work shifts. I am actually surprised that I’m including this topic, but an alarming number of people in the industry don’t see this as a problem or challenge!
I have heard some owners suggest that in a more casual atmosphere, bartenders and even service staff having a drink with the locals helped customers feel more relaxed, or in a resort location it enhanced comradely spirit. Don’t believe this for a second!
Many jurisdictions around the world have government-mandated requirements designed to protect staff members’, customers’ and your financial health. A business shut down due to alcohol consumption infractions serves no one: lost wages, lost income, lost brand loyalty and lost profit are the end result. It also sets a poor example of effective leadership from management.
Service staff and bartenders needn’t be consuming beverages on the job in hopes that it will help relax customers and make them feel more at home. That’s the job of your frontline training procedures and policies to enhance customer service to a level that exceeds the customer’s expectations. Inebriated staff members don’t enhance any part of your business, and in fact put you at great personal and financial risk that is upheld by the laws in your province, region or state.
Many of the laws around the service of alcohol make you your brother’s and sister’s keeper. Should one of your customers be over-served, leave you in a less than ideal state to drive and have an accident causing injury or death, the server, the bartender, bar manager and owners can all be held legally responsible.
Consider this today! Many provincial and state governments have guidelines and policies directly related to the control and consumption of alcoholic beverages sold at any establishment within their jurisdiction. They also frequently offer resources and courses to instruct staff in service requirements. Issues of over-service, how to identify an inebriated guest, how to handle them and more are all part of the training. Some of these courses may also be available online. Several trade associations either offer beverage service training or can point you to recognized agencies in your jurisdiction that can help. In many jurisdictions some kind of “serving it right” training course is required for all servers that handle alcoholic beverages as well as required training courses for supervisors and managers.
It’s always a good idea to consider updating your staff training in this important area. Things change: if you can’t remember the last time you updated your own training in this area, it might be time for you, too.
Make it a plan today to check on all staff members, old and new, regarding this critically important point of service. Make sure everyone is current and up to date regarding the policies, laws and requirements relating to beverage service in your local jurisdiction. I bet none of these agencies condone alcohol consumption while on the job …
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How do you optimize the costs on your menu? Standardize your dishes.
This is always a favorite item for me to look for on a client’s menu, especially when it uses expensive one-of-a-kind items. All too often there is an item, maybe two items, on a food menu that call for ingredients that are not used in any other recipe on the entire menu.
Okay, if it’s a special, signature dish on your menu that gets a lot of coverage and sells tons, that’s one thing. But an item that is rarely sold and has singularly unique items in the recipe that are not used anywhere else on any menu should be dumped.
One-hit wonders tie up money by carrying seldom-used inventory that is vulnerable to spoilage, potential theft and decreased quality as it ages in the back of the cooler. It also ties up capital in unrealized sales potential. And it ties up important real estate on your menu that could be used to feature or promote items that provide a strong financial contribution to your revenue.
My theory: focus on what you’re best at and leave out the obscure extras that don’t really provide a positive impact to your daily sales. Simply, don’t have things on your menu that you think someone might order one day. It means holding expensive food items in inventory for what amounts to an occasional sale which likely doesn’t enhance your customer’s dining experience or your bottom line. If you want to stand out from your competition, this isn’t the way to do it!
Sit down with your food menus and with a critical eye review them to see if any of your menu items fit this description. Review the recipes, looking for potential problem areas.
If you find a one-hit wonder, check that menu item’s financial contribution to your bottom line. How many have you sold of this menu item in the last week or month? How much inventory are you carrying for this one-hit wonder? Has inventory passed its best before date and turned into dead stock? If you got rid of this one item would anyone ever notice?
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Mike has worked across Canada as a food and beverage professional and currently divides his time between writing and teaching people how to start and run their own businesses.