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How’s the View Up There?

Ivory Towers

Ivory Towers (Photo credit: James F Clay)

This post is devoted to Managers and the struggles that they deal with day in and day out. While I have not been a General Manager in a Hospitality Concept I do hear frustrations from some of those GM’s I have served under. The issue of saving money by decreasing labor hours is all abuzz these days and has been for many years. Seems, just like with our Government, different corporations experiment in different ways with doing this. It seems that regardless of what is done there always seems to be pain points created at the restaurant or retail store level. There are processes that need to take place at the local level to help you deal with each given situation. I want to qualify all of this by saying I am not sure what pain points you will experience because my crystal ball is broken, but I will touch on some areas that will assist you in working through the process. While those in “The Ivory Tower” that may be making the corporate decisions may not be as in touch as Managers at the local level would like them to be they are still making the decisions. Fighting the decisions rarely helps anything; you must be their “Eyes on the Ground” so to speak to help them make appropriate future decisions. If you establish yourself as such you will find more in the long run will work in your favor. Being a voice of reason tends to work better than being a heel biting Chihuahua.

As much as I have felt the crunch of people making decisions for a corporation above me I also understand the reason for it. I am going to try really hard not to side with anyone on this and instead provide helpful insight that will help decrease the pain as it arises.

Training

This is the most critical point I will make, because it seems like this is where I see the most frustration created in the process. I will speak primarily to restaurants in this portion because I have been a training manager involved with creating policy at the corporate level or I have trained staff and walked through the process. You only get a certain amount of training dollars so use them wisely. The two companies that I have worked for that have done the best with this would have to be Olive Garden and McDonald’s.  To be honest, I think most other companies do their best to steal fish from those fishbowls and use previously trained staff from corporations with good training reputations. I think most do it unintentionally; they rather just take the path to least resistance. If you can hire someone that already knows how to cook you can simply just teach them a new menu. A Server that has waited tables previously just needs to be moved to a new station. With this tactic comes certain opportunities. There is probably a reason, and not often blatantly obvious to anyone, why that person is no longer with a previous employer.

English: This is a picture of two Oscar Fish i...

English: This is a picture of two Oscar Fish in a Fish Tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Managers, please check references. This can be done one of two ways. First, call the places they have listed.as a previous employer. The will at least give you an idea whether that person would have been eligible for rehire. Secondly, you may have people that work for you that you trust who may have worked with some of these people in the past. Those people are a good source of referral for you. Use them. I recently worked with a young Manager at a concept I won’t mention that asked me if I had worked with a couple of people that had turned in applications. I did not recommend either of them. I am not in the habit of shooting down new applications unless I know there is a history. Anyway, one of them wasn’t a productive employee where I was working at another job, and the other had been fired from two of the locations they listed. That wasn’t indicated on the applications. Well, we spent training dollars to bring the first in and after two days they washed out. The second made it through training, and I really hope they have better luck than the previous two positions. Often you pull fish from other aquariums and you get diseases that spread throughput your new tank. In Branson, there are a lot of places to work, and many just hop from one to the next without modifying their behavior. It’s simply a process of people taking advantage of the fact that references aren’t often checked. For each person you put through training you will have to pay them for training, so it reflects well on you to hire effectively.

Document Everything

Ever tried calling your Corporate Supervisor and tried to explain a problem and had them come back and ask for numbers? Chances are you realized this information before you read this point. However, for those learning vicariously through those people  – You lucked out.  It’s so much more helpful if you can come to your supervisor with vital statistics to support your observation. If you have a boss who just changes something because you said it needs to change you would probably want to hang onto that job because chances are his job will be up for grabs soon.

Monitor Waste

One of the most effective  training sessions happened for me in Basic Management training when I was with McDonald’s. One day all of us budding new Managers were brought outside to the back parking lot of the McDonald’s to the dumpster. It was asked of us to collect trash from there and from all of the cans that were around the dining room. It was all laid out and all of the condiments that were unopened and thrown away were counted. Talk about a major realization that day. There is a specific reason why you are handed only the amount of condiments you ask for. You can be a hero in your company if you can find a way to control waste. You would be amazed at how often that is taken for granted.

In a hotel, it isn’t that hard to use the backs of old handouts for scratch paper. Obviously if it should be shredded then that isn’t the same. Going paperless altogether is the best way to save there. It takes some doing but it makes life so much easier in the long run.

When It All Goes Down

English: Ellensburg, WA, February 14, 2009 -- ...

English: Ellensburg, WA, February 14, 2009 — A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is set up in Ellensburg at the annual rodeo venue. Disaster Recovery Centers are an important part of disaster recovery. Photo by Ed Edahl/FEMA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All the bragging I do about McDonald’s  I can’t say my experience with losing a main server in a storm is worthy of bragging about. The fact that we made it out alive to talk about it was pretty amazing. We had a major storm in Branson and it created a power surge or two, and took out our power completely for a few minutes. When the power came back on a minute or so later the main server didn’t. Everything was connected to that server. For the rest of that day we took orders and received money without the aid of a Point of Sales system. It cost over 2000 dollars for the new server, and all of that would have probably been unnecessary if money had been spent on an automatic back up system. Those often cost a little less than a few hundred dollars.

Preparing for disaster is essential for your business. and is critical in the digital age. Even if you are a Mom and Pop company your data is important. If you don’t know where to get started with that, I would like to recommend that you call a Data Protection Specialist like DaZZee Integrations. They can help you get started with that. I also have a background there and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Budgets being altered can be worked around as frustrating as it seems. Often it just means you do  a little preparation to make sure you are using your money and manpower hours wisely. I understand that is get’s frustrating, and I also understand that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but that should be more incentive to place a stitch in a possible tear before it rips and becomes a gaping hole.

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Keep Calm – They Go Back To Where They Came From – Part One

I am sorry in advance, but this may be one of the best excerpts from a movie to be used to show the flavor of what I am trying to get across in this post. I will warn you it’s not a G Rated edit; none of the cuts that were G Rated were edited cleanly. However this clip from Roadhouse may be one of my favorite training scenes for the Hospitality Industry. Enjoy!

The one thing that you will find out in the Hospitality Industry is that not every guest that you deal with will have an appealing personality; as a matter of fact, they may be nasty and crass at best. This presents a couple of potential dynamics that you have to deal with. The first thing that can easily occur is you can let that customer cast a tone upon the experience that you may find yourself mirroring shortly thereafter. In addition to that, you may find it has a tendency to taint your disposition for part or even all of your shift. If you aren’t careful it can even bleed over into the rest of your week. These are issuers that you need to learn to tackle to keep it from getting into your mind and eventually your money.Part of being really good in the  Service Industry is being able to shine when those situations arise.

This is such an important subject I am going to cover different aspects over the next post as well. In this post we are going to talk about your guest and their demeanor. This might give you some insight into the myriad of reasons you may be getting bombarded with a cold chill from that icy guest.

Did You Get the Number of That Truck?

I remember walking up to a table and introducing myself. Most days I have no problem keeping a smile on my face when I greet my guest, but this time I was blindsided by a snappy tome. When I asked how they were that evening they said, “You  don’t want to know.”  I was a bit taken aback and could have just tried to get a drink order and let it go; I am sure that the uncomfortable feeling would have ended as soon as they left. I opted for the other option and I simply responded, “If I didn’t want to know, I wouldn’t have asked.” Turns out this guy had just lost his Dad in a horrible accident and they had just dealt with that fiasco. In addition to that their car had broken down on route so they were dealing with that as well. They had a horrible few days and he was taking it all particularly roughly.

In Branson, as in many Tourist destinations, people get great deals on vacations from a Vacation Club or Time Share organization. Being in that industry in the past giving Front-Line tours I know that you work someone fort 90 minutes to earn the next 90 minutes. The guest that sits down at your table may have been the proud recipient  of one of these touContemporary rendering of a poster from the Un...rs and unbeknownst to him he also had the opportunity to sit for three hours or more through this 90 minute tour only to be told he didn’t love his wife and family enough to give them wonderful vacations, and that his Grand kids didn’t deserve such a legacy. With this being said, the mini-vacation he thought he was giving to his family may have just become an attack on his manhood in general.

What about the lady who uses the restroom before she comes through the lobby and drops her cell phone in the toilet, and then when she stands to retrieve it the automated flushing mechanism sucks her valuable communication device into oblivion? (Yes, this did happen while I worked for Olive Garden in Branson, MO) Talk about crappy reception.

There are two things you will find in all of these examples. First, these were all horrible experiences. Next, none of this was your fault. This is something I want you to carry with you into part two. In the post that follows we are going to deal with your side of the equation and how it all factors out for you in the end.  Maybe it isn’t quite the cliffhanger you are looking for, but I hope you will find part two helpful.

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