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A Show of Hands

Hands put over another, palms down.

Hands put over another, palms down. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe that you will find that many of these “nuggets” so to speak are entirely common sense. However you will also find that often they make more sense than anything. I am sure that you would never be guilty of not washing your hands after using the restroom, but this post is for all of those other people. Perhaps this is a good one to refer to someone you know that might be a bit slack in the hand washing  department.

If you work for a company that has common restrooms that are shared between guests and employees it is very critical that you appear to the guest to be overly clean when you are using the restroom. I have spoken of Ralph Lawrence before, my training Manager and GM with McDonald’s. He was always giving me advice that I found myself passing on to others that worked for me. One time I came out of the restroom and was putting on my gloves. He pulled me aside and asked me if I had washed my hands. I told him I not only washed them I didn’t touch the handle when I came out of the restroom. He then told me, “Once fir them and twice for us.” I looked at him like he had two heads, as I often did when he would say something pithy, and he proceeded to explain. I was told that it was good for anyone who was in the restroom to see me wash my hands, and he praised me for it. Then he mentioned it was always a good idea to do it again where managers and others would see you so that everyone knows you did so. That made a lot of sense to me. You want to always give the appearance that the guest and their food is the most important thing to you.

How you appear to them is very important, and trust me, the one time you don’t it will get noticed somewhere. I can think of several occasions that staff members have dealt with documentations or possibly termination because the guest saw something that the staff member saw as inconsequential.

Pardon the expression, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. As Forrest Gump would say, “and that’s all I have to say about that.”

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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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It’s All In How You Look At It

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Mem...

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee. The first self service grocery store, opened 1916. Français : Le premier supermarché Piggly Wiggly ouvert en 1916 à Memphis, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and you just got off work. You have gone to the grocery store to get the one item you needed to finish dinner. After picking up your cart you see an immense stack of Coke strategically placed like the White House, and realized you needed a case of soda because it’s been a long day and you are thirsty. Then you turn the corner and you see all of these beautiful vegetables displayed and realized that you could make a great salad with just a couple more items. Rounding another corner you see dessert  peering through a little glass case at you, and of course that Angel Food cake would be great with some strawberriesand whipped cream. So, back to produce and on to the one thing you needed. Passing the meat counter you see fresh Porterhouse steaks displayed on sale, and “Shazam” you have tomorrow night’s main course. On each end cap is displayed amazing Little Debbie treats and Tortilla Chips.  Turning you go over to the aisle where the salsa is located because you really wanted a different brand. Now you have four more items and you are headed for that one thing… What was it? Oh yeah!  Get milk… Then that takes you past the ice cream, and then another display with sale wines. Excellent… Oh, now you see one of those “Chip Clips” hanging next to the wine. Turning around you see the new Sports Illustrated displayed on the magazine rack. Then before you get to the register you see a display of beef jerky and realize how hungry you have become. With the saltiness of the jerky you are going  to want a soda in the cooler, next to the jerky,  to wash that down. By the time you get through the register, the milk you came for just cost you 83.55, Does  it dawn on you then that you have just been cleverly outsmarted by technical genius of a grocery store team that you thought was well below your pay grade? No, but you do remember to pick up flowers for your wife on the way out so she won’t yell at you for getting the Little Debbie’s.

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by Mc...

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by McKee Foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a commissioned, or tipped, employee I would like to suggest that you need to take the “grocery store” approach to the services you provide. The key to a great haircut, meal, or outfit sale is to give your guest what they want while adding nuances along the way that will enhance their experience. We want them to walk away from that occasion in time knowing this was the best opportunity ever, and that they couldn’t duplicate it anywhere else with anyone else for that price.

When you introduce your customer to the menu they need to see all of the things that made your establishment special – your “Signature’s” so to speak. If it is a suit, they couldn’t have done it just right without one more really nice tie. In addition, the really needed the French Cuff shirts to set off the ensemble.Your job is to be aware of everything available to them with each option and then enhance their experience with such an option. Here’s the tough part – ready? You have to lay that suggestion in so softly they don’t notice they were just sold on it. They key is to never look hungry – like you need the sale, and never question in your mind whether they need something; – assume they do.

If the majority of the people that walk in have a set tip percentage in their mind then it is to your benefit to deliver the best experience at the optimum price point.

English: unrecognized dessert.

English: unrecognized dessert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a trick for a server – It’s a bit of a Ninja maneuver – So, don’t let  just anyone try this. When you approach your table, before you get their drink order, introduce them to some of your favorite items. These items will be a little higher price point than the lower end items everyone else sells. Here’s what happens next. You get their drink order and are heading to the back to get their drinks. The time you are away works for you. Their mouth is now watering for the specialty Filet as opposed to the chopped steak they would normally be looking at. What just happened was you diverted their eyes from the inexpensive items and focused them with a laser fine gaze open the mouth watering top dollar steak. The time you have gone away has turned into time for that steak to melt into their braincells. Try it, and if you do it just right you will have them eating out of the palm of your hand, actually the best part of the menu the majority of the time.

The key to making money as a commissioned professional is to fully educate yourself with the items that are available to you and how to pair them with the accessories that are available with each item. You will find that the more tools you add to your toolbox the more prepared you are to to do specialty work in your job.

Always remember, most anyone can wait a table, or sell an outfit, but it takes a special person to create an experience.

Cheers!

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