Management

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How a Chain Lost My Business Forever

How the Staff at a National Chain Lost My Business Forever

by David Klemt

Chocolate cookie and cookie crumbles

An unfortunate and entirely avoidable guest experience debacle guarantees that I’ll never spend another dollar at a particular national American chain.

What was supposed to be a small treat and excuse to get outside for a bit went downhill quickly.

Now, before I begin, I tend to shrug at poor service. Truly, a front-of-house team member has to go pretty far for me to do more than raise an eyebrow.

Given how the past two years-plus have gone, my tolerance has only grown. Everyone has bad days, including restaurant, bar, and hotel staff. In fact, I tend to assume that someone is simply having an off day due to an array of reasons: working several days in a row, opening and closing multiple times a week; having more responsibilities heaped on them due to being short staffed; a seeming increase in abuse from guests; stress spilling over onto the job; etc.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll always return to be subjected to poor service in the future. What I experienced yesterday falls into this category: I won’t spend my money with this chain ever again.

Third-party Issues

As stated above, my visit to this national chain (600-plus locations) was intended to be a small treat. It was Halloween, they specialize in a particular type of confection, so why not?

Also, the temperatures have been in the 70s and lower in Las Vegas—perfect for a trip on my motorcycle. So, two treats in one, really.

Okay, so I’m going to do something I don’t like doing here: making an assumption or two. I think, however, I’m basing them on sound reasoning.

Additionally, I don’t like to use third-party delivery. In this case, the order was placed via Uber Eats for pickup using a monthly credit. Zero offense to third-party delivery drivers—it’s the corporations behind the services and the fees they charge operators I don’t support.

So, my assumption is that because the order came in via Uber Eats the staff figured I was “just” a delivery driver.

Downhill Fast

I’ll concede that this visit didn’t start off on the wrong foot: I received a decent welcome. Since I was picking up the order, I stood at the pickup counter, and confirmation came in before I arrived that the order was ready.

There were three guests waiting when I walked in, and one by one they got their orders and left. I didn’t think anything was going wrong until people walked in after me and received their orders. In terms of this chain, my order was on the smaller side.

After several minutes of being ignored, I was asked if I was picking up for Uber Eats. I clarified that no, I’m not an Uber Eats driver, I was picking up my order placed via Uber Eats.

Another several minutes went by as I watched larger orders get fulfilled ahead of mine. And then I was asked again—by the same staff member—who I was picking up for. Again, not an Uber Eats driver—my order.

At this point, I had been waiting more than 10 minutes. When I was finally given my order, I noticed another difference. Staff members showed guests their orders to confirm the contents before handing them over. My order, however, was taped closed behind the counter and handed to me.

It didn’t strike me that this is how this staff treats Uber Eats driver until I was on my bike. And that’s the problem.

Standards of Service

If this is how staff treats third-party delivery drivers, it’s appalling. There’s no excuse for treating drivers differently just because they aren’t the guest themselves or fellow employees.

Let’s be clear: anyone walking through a restaurant, bar or hotel’s doors deserves at least decent service. There are several reasons for this, and I shouldn’t have to address them. But, hey, we’re already here, so why not address a couple?

First, standards. If your staff is purposely treating a group of people poorly because they think they can do so without ramifications, your standards have slipped or there simply aren’t any. That’s a problem.

Are team members going to get to know regulars? Absolutely. Are they going to have favorites. Of course! And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s what should happen—every front-of-house team member should cultivate their own regulars.

So, yes, some guests will treated differently. There’s a huge difference, however, between subjecting some guests to poor service intentionally and delivering outstanding service to favorites.

Quite simply, the minimum standard of service should be great service. “Decent” sucks; great should be the baseline.

Regulars and guests who staff have rapport with should receive service that’s above and beyond the standard level. Rock star servers and bartenders deliver outstanding service to everyone, regular or first-timer, gracious guest or grump.

Different Treatment?

Second, your staff shouldn’t be treating third-party delivery workers like they don’t matter. There’s zero room in hospitality for treating people poorly—doing so is in direct opposition to the spirit of this profession.

In fact, they shouldn’t treat difficult guests with anything but your expected standards. Leadership team members should be confronting rude or difficult guests, protecting the rest of the team.

I’ve read and heard about restaurant staff treating third-party delivery drivers poorly. Always, of course, with justifications thrown in: retaliation toward rude drivers, drivers not tipping…pick a reason. Again, if there’s a rude driver, staff should alert leadership and they should handle it.

Look, I’ve made no secret of my view on third-party delivery apps. Their fees and taking advantage of operators, particularly during the pandemic, infuriate me. And it’s easy to point at me and say I’m part of the problem, using a credit to place a third-party delivery. I’ll accept that criticism.

What I won’t do is return to a business with staff who think it’s acceptable to allow standards to slip and treat delivery drivers poorly. Most people seem to take delivery jobs to make ends meet. Hell, some of them are likely service industry professionals themselves working another job or jobs.

The labor shortage isn’t a valid justification for slipping standards or poor service. Dislike of third-party delivery services is no justification, either.

In fact, this chain obviously sees these delivery services as a viable income stream. The fact their staff doesn’t is a problem. If there’s a standard of service for this chain, it certainly wasn’t met when I was there. And if there’s a standard that I didn’t receive, there are several other problems.

Either way, the damage is done.

Image: Andre Moura via Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Viral Post Highlights Real Leadership

What a Viral Reddit Post Reveals About Leadership in Hospitality

by David Klemt

Reddit app icon on smartphone

A text exchange between a restaurant manager and delivery driver posted to Reddit went viral last month.

Refreshingly, it didn’t make the rounds on news sites for the wrong reasons. Rather, the text conversation is a succinct example of emotional intelligence, empathy, and leadership.

Those interested in reading the text exchange in its entirety can follow this link. However, I’ll sum it up here.

Posted to the subreddit Kitchen Confidential, the conversation begins with the manager checking in on the driver, asking, “You doing OK?”

The driver says they’re “doing better but” is still dealing with a lot. After the manager asks if they should cover their shift that night, the driver reveals they may need to quit the job.

Instead of blowing up at the driver, trying to talk them out of their decision, or cutting the exchange short, they say, “It’s alright [sic].”

Going further, the manager says, “You’re [sic] happiness is more important.” They add that the business hopes the driver will return to the job when they’re ready.

Shall I Cover You Tonight?

Now, I tend to believe that most members of restaurant, bar, and hotel leadership teams are empathetic. I also lean toward believing that most are competent problem solvers.

However, we’ve all come across people who don’t belong in a leadership role. In some cases, a person’s lack of leadership qualifications doesn’t manifest until they’ve been in the role for some time.

My business partner Doug Radkey and I have had conversations about leaders who don’t seem to lead. At best, they’re examples of what not to do. At worst, they’re chasing away a business owner’s staff and guests.

Most recently, these conversations have centered around managers insisting that staff solve scheduling problems themselves.

Before I proceed, I acknowledge fully that we’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage. That’s no excuse for poor leadership.

What, exactly, is the leadership team doing that they can’t manage the schedule? Further, with today’s modern scheduling platforms, why is filling available roles difficult for leaders? Several scheduling apps make it a painless, automated process.

The manager in this Reddit text exchange doesn’t demand the driver find someone to cover their shift. Instead, they behave like a manager and handle it themselves.

Don’t Ever Discount Yourself

If you’re active on LinkedIn and have a sizeable hospitality-centric network, you’ve likely seen posts about how the industry needs to be more people-focused. Not in terms of guests—that’s obvious.

Rather, the consensus is that we’re not going to solve the labor problem if we don’t treat staff as well as we treat guests. Some of these posts may be a bit saccharine, but they’re not incorrect.

Let’s review the texts from this manager:

  • “You doing OK?”
  • Your “happiness is more important.”
  • “We love having you here.”
  • “You’re an awesome person.”
  • “Don’t ever discount yourself.”

When’s the last time you and other members of the leadership team asked a staff member if they’re okay? And if you’ve asked recently, did you get an honest answer? Did you want an honest answer?

A restaurant or bar team that doesn’t trust leadership isn’t going to bother providing an honest answer to that question—they feel like the leaders don’t care about them.

Looking at the rest of the texts above, do you and your leaders take the time to recognize and thank staff? Even the shyest team member wants recognition for a job well done.

Those in leadership roles need to develop their skills constantly. Contrary to some in those positions, leaders aren’t there simply to lord their authority over others and dish out punishments.

So, before your next team meeting, gather the leaders. Find out if every member of the team is checking on staff, valuing their health and wellness, and tackling the mundane tasks that are inherent to their roles.

The maxim is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit people. If your leadership team isn’t leading with empathy, you can expect your labor issues to compound. No amount of excuses will turn that around.

This article by KRG Hospitality director of business development David Klemt was first published by Bar Business and can be read in its entirety by following this link.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

by David Klemt

Close-up shot of person texting on phone in a restaurant

Here’s a hot take on the employer-employee dynamic: Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning demanding they come in on their day off.

In fact, let’s compress this piece of advice. Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning.

Really, I shouldn’t have to explain the myriad reasons that doing so isn’t acceptable. However, a post on Reddit shows that this topic needs addressing.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m using a Reddit post as an example of what not to do. And yes, I’m going to assume the post is legitimate for the purposes of education.

Owners, operators, and members of leadership teams need to lead. Micromanaging, assuming staff is at their beck and call, and domineering behavior only lead to high turnover.

A high staff churn rate is costly, and not just financially. Yes, it costs thousands of dollars to replace a single member of staff. However, immediate financial costs shouldn’t be the only concern.

Churning through staff also damages a restaurant, bar, hotel, or owner’s reputation. Should they become known as a bad employer—word gets around quickly in this industry—and eventually an operator won’t be able to hire rock star talent.

Over time, they’ll only draw in workers that chase away their guests. After that, the operator will be closing the doors.

“You Need to Be a Team Player”

Interestingly, the Reddit post that’s inspiring this article isn’t brand new. The post in question is about six months old.

But these days, with the shift in the employee-employer dynamic that’s taking place, stories of “epic” or “savage” quitting garner attention.

Again, there are myriad reasons people are drawn to these stories. Rather than read through those, let’s take a look at this quitting story.

A bartender took to Reddit (again, I’m assuming this is a fact) to share texts from his (former) manager. The timestamp on the first text? 2:59 in the morning.

“I need you to come in from 11a-10p today,” starts the text. The reason? Only one bartender is on the schedule for an event that day.

In response, the bartender says, “No thank you,” stating it’s their day off. And then the manager makes a demand using a term that gets thrown around far too much when some people in a position of authority don’t get the response they want (in my opinion).

The bartender is told they need to be a “team player,” and that “it isn’t all about you.” On a positive note, the manager does then say “please” and asks the bartender to come in.

Putting their cards on the table, the bartender says they’ve had a few drinks and don’t want to work an eleven-hour shift with a hangover. Personally, I don’t think the manager was due that explanation but okay.

This doesn’t sit well with the manager, who now attempts to police the bartender’s personal time. According to the texts, the bartender needs “to stay ready for work.” This is apparently because “getting too drunk is not a good look if you can’t stay prepared.”

“Fed Up with You”

After a few more texts back and forth, the manager fast-tracks this situation’s escalation. The bartender is told that they’re going to talk about the bartender’s “attitude” when they “come in Sunday.”

Well, it’s highly unlikely that conversation ever took place. According to screengrabs of the texts, the bartender replies, “No we’re not.” They then proceed to remind the manager that “dozens” of places are hiring bartenders. They’re happy to go work for one of those businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the manager attempts to backpedal. They say that the bartender is making a rash decision “because you’re drunk” and will regret it the next day. That approach doesn’t work.

Now, there’s one sentence that suggests to me, if this situation is real, that the owner needs to address this manager. Or, if this manager is the owner of the business, that they need to work on developing leadership skills.

That line? “I’m fed up with you.”

Sure, they could mean they’re fed up with them in this instance. However, the line follows the bartender saying that their are several other places they can find work instead.

My interpretation is that at a minimum, these two have a problem with one another. Worst case, this manager isn’t doing the owner (or themselves) any favors with their “leadership” style.

Just…Don’t Do This

Please, please, please, don’t text or call staff at 3:00 in the morning. There are perhaps a tiny handful of reasons to ignore this advice. As I see it, those reasons all involve emergencies.

And no, being short-staffed for an event the following morning is not an emergency worthy of texting or calling an employee to cover a shift so late at night/early in the morning.

There are several leadership and scheduling solutions that can prevent this type of situation. In this particular instance, since the bartender was “fed up with” this manager, they were going to quit sooner or later.

Which brings me to my first point: Operators need to know what their leaders are doing. How are they treating staff? How does the staff perceive the leadership teams?

Secondly, how do the operator and other leaders perceive one another? Is everything running smoothly or is one “leader” not really leading?

And finally, scheduling technology. These days, there’s really no excuse for many kinds of scheduling problems. Several scheduling apps integrate well with popular restaurant, bar, and hotel POS systems.

For example, HotSchedules gives staff the ability to give away, swap, and pick up shifts. Another example is OpenSimSim, which provides an open shift invite feature. Staff can also set their profiles to auto-accept shifts as they become available.

7shifts and Schedulefly can also help fill shifts. And like HotSchedules and OpenSimSim, leaders can message groups and individuals, and vice versa.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is this: The maxim, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” is accurate. Leaders need to respect their team members and their personal time.

Image: Alex Ware on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

by David Klemt

People toasting with a variety of cocktails

Guests are returning to bars, restaurants, and hotels, so you need to prepare now for the new rules of hospitality.

If you’re wondering what those rules are, wonder no more. We have a number of articles addressing them, some of which are here, here, and here.

Phil Wills, owner and partner of the Spirits in Motion and Bar Rescue alum, also has some thoughts. In fact, Wills shared his approach to what he identifies as the new rules of hospitality last week.

 

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A post shared by Phil Wills (@phil_i_am11)

During Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022, Wills presented “The New Rules of Hospitality: What a Post-pandemic Consumer Wants.”

Below, you’ll find what Wills has to say about hospitality in 2022 and beyond in three categories.

Hospitality

Wills kicked off his session with a simple question: How do you define “hospitality”? And yes, he put attendees on the spot, asking them for their answers.

It’s always at least a bit amusing that even the most outgoing operator gets shy in a conference setting. I’ve never seen so many people suddenly need to check their phones, shoes, or the ceiling tiles as when they’re asked to participate in a class or education session.

For Wills, the definition is “making a guest feel welcome, as though they’re in your home.”

Obviously, the answer is different for everyone. As Wills says, the key is considering how you and your brand define hospitality. If that seems easier said than done, Wills has some tips, presented in the context of a guest visit.

First, guests take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your space. They also consume your menu items, and converse with your staff, their party, and other guests.

Look at your business through the eyes of your guests. Now, this can be a difficult exercise, particularly if you spend a lot of time in your restaurant, bar or hotel.

So, ask team members to do the same and provide feedback. We take for granted what our spaces, food, and drinks look like.

To improve the guest experience, pay attention to ticket times and F&B consistency. This will reduce recovery incidents and phrases.

Finally, Wills recommends engaging with guests (if that’s what they want). However, he also suggests facilitating connections between guests.

Interestingly, Wills also says, “Regulars are old money. You want to get that new money.” Then, you want to convert that new money into old money. Rinse, repeat.

Training

As relates to training, Wills categorizes new hires in two ways: toll takers and moneymakers.

Toll takers take a toll on your business. They cost you money, and if they don’t receive the proper training they can chase guests away.

So, you’ll need to spend time and money to convert toll takers into moneymakers.

Speaking strictly in a technical sense, training needs to provide team members with the knowledge and tools to become moneymakers. To accomplish this, Wills has three keys to making training stick:

  1. Don’t make training too easy. If training is easy, team members won’t retain what they’re taught. Challenge your staff.
  2. Vary your training. There are a number of training methods at your disposal. Use multiple methods to engage your staff. Wills suggests combining shift work, book work, and tests, at a minimum.
  3. Turn training into a competition. At this point, we’re gamifying just about anything. So, Wills recommends the platform 1Huddle to gamify your training.

Labor

Simply put, Wills says we need to find new ways to make this industry exciting to new hires.

According to the National Restaurant Association, we’re still seeing significant job losses in hospitality, foodservice, and lodging and accommodation.

In fact, we’re down 14 percent when it comes to full-service restaurant jobs. For bars and taverns, the number is 25 percent.

For Wills, offering incentives, mental health breaks, and even cash bonuses for staying in role for a number of months can draw the attention of new workers.

However, he also has another interesting idea: making people smile. On average, according to Will’s research, people smile 20 times each day. He wants to find ways to make people smile 20 times during a single visit to a restaurant or bar.

Now, Wills admits he’s still working on how to accomplish this lofty goal. I believe a key component is creating a working environment that inspires team members to smile 20 times per shift.

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Reasons Why You Need a Calendar Audit

5 Reasons You Need to Conduct a Calendar Audit

by Jennifer Radkey

Apple iPad and Apple Pencil with calendar on screen

Keeping a hospitality business running smoothly takes an immense amount of organization, and at times you may feel pulled in a million directions at once.

As an operator of a restaurant or bar, your daily calendar may seem like an endless stream of tasks.

You are most likely already using some sort of organizational tool: an agenda, calendar, your phone, or Post-Its all over your office walls. But when was the last time you actually analyzed your calendar?

I’m going to challenge you to sit with your calendar and take a deep-dive audit of just how you are spending your time.

Here are the five reasons you need to do a calendar audit today.

You Aren’t Making Money or Reaching Goals

As the operator of your hospitality establishment, you are responsible for your business’ success. So, dissect your calendar.

What actions are you taking on a daily or weekly basis that directly lead to making money? What percentage of your time is spent on growing your business, rather than running your business? There is a difference.

You are Burnt Out

When you are not at your best, your business will not be at its best. It’s as simple as that.

How many daily operational tasks are you taking on that could be delegated to someone else? You don’t need to be involved in every aspect of the daily operations of your business.

Take a look at your calendar and highlight any tasks you have been doing that could easily be done by someone else on your team. Then, give those tasks away.

Team Morale is Low

Go back and audit your calendar.

When was the last time you scheduled a team meeting? How about individual meetings with employees to go over their successes, growth opportunities, etc.? Is there regular time delegated to improving your workplace culture?

Carve some time out for the people who choose to spend their days working for you, and watch team morale improve.

You Feel Stuck in a Rut

Maybe your business is doing well but has plateaued. Maybe you aren’t excited to go to work anymore. Take a close look at your calendar.

What have you done in the past week or month to create excitement? For example, did you attend any industry related shows or events?

As operators, it is easy to get stuck in a daily routine that doesn’t allow time for creativity. However, it is imperative to schedule time to be inspired.

Your Work/Life Balance is Off

The hours can be long, and with so much to do, you can often feel as if your entire life is your work. Take a close look at your calendar.

Are you scheduling in family time? Time for friends? Time for physical health? Hobbies? Fun?

This can be as simple as scheduling time for something you enjoy that changes up your week:

  • A 15-minute call with your mom every Monday morning.
  • Walking/biking to work twice a week.
  • Meeting up with a friend once a week for a coffee.

We often say that we will do these things. However, unless they are prioritized and written down they aren’t going to happen as much as we need them to.

Performing a calendar audit can be eye-opening and give us an entirely new perspective on how we are using our time. Doing so can help us improve time management, productivity, happiness, and goal achievement.

So, go ahead and mark some time for a calendar audit into your calendar. You will thank yourself later that you did.

Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Omar Al-Ghosson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Incentive Economy: What are You Offering?

The Incentive Economy: What are You Offering?

by David Klemt

Chef's knife and honing rod crossed on cutting board

You know about the gig economy but are you familiar with the incentive economy?

It’s quite simple, and there are myriad ways for operators to engage with it. In fact, you likely already participate in the incentive economy in some way.

To put it succinctly, the incentive economy is all about the perks of a job beyond a paycheck.

The Old Ways are Out

On episode 53 of our Bar Hacks podcast, Chef Brian Duffy addresses the need for changes in our industry directly.

First, he tackles the lack of transparency in leadership by some operators. As Chef Duffy says, “That’s an old school way of doing it. That was an old school way, that was the Eighties.”

According to the chef, and we wholeheartedly agree, we now find ourselves in a “different phase” in the industry.

Then, Chef Duffy takes on how leadership in the industry treats staff.

One effective recruiting and hiring incentive Chef Duffy offers on the podcast deals with scheduling. None of his cooks close both nights of a weekend. He also posts schedules two weeks in advance so there are, A) no surprises, and B) if staff need to swap or drop, they have time to do so without impacting the business.

This simple scheduling incentive is attractive to new hires and existing staff. Why? Because working unpredictable, erratic hours is stressful.

“That ruins your life,” explains Chef Duffy.

If operators want to attract new hires, keep their team together, and reduce turnover, listening to staff about scheduling is crucial.

Things Need to Change

Chef Duffy shares a story on the podcast about his daughter and her experience working at a restaurant operated by a hospitality group.

No, he doesn’t name the group or the concept. The who isn’t the point here, it’s the what.

That what is how leadership bungled not only a scheduling issue but also how they botched Chef Duffy’s daughter’s two-week notice, her final shifts, and her final pay.

For more context, his daughter wasn’t a new hire who bailed after perceiving she had been treated poorly. She had worked at that restaurant for a year, there were ongoing issues, and she finally left.

As we all know, we’re down about a million jobs in this industry. That loss isn’t simply because of the pandemic. Our industry is undergoing a seismic cultural shift and we’re losing people who won’t return to hospitality.

Things need to change if we’re going to reverse this trend and strengthen the industry. KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey addresses the change we need in his latest book, Hacking the New Normal. Chef Duffy addresses some of the necessary changes on our podcast as well.

“We can complain as much as we want, but we created it,” Chef Duffy says. “We as owners and operators and managers, we created what’s happening right now.”

Get Creative

The only limits to incentivizing your staff are your imagination, staying consistent with policies and procedures, being respectful of your staff and guests, and the law. Remain in those confines and get creative.

An incentive doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or prize. In many instances, something that makes a shift more fun and breaks up the monotony is enough to energize the staff.

“I want my staff, I want my front-of-house staff, to know what my sales goal is for the day,” says Chef Duffy. “And then I want to run a contest with that.”

One of the chef’s favorite contests is simple and highly motivating: Follow the Twenty.

Chef Duffy puts a twenty-dollar bill into play against a particular item or menu category. For example, either a specific dessert or any dessert.

Whenever a team member sells a dessert, they get the $20 that’s in play. If a different person sells another dessert, they get the twenty. Follow the Twenty incentivizes the first person to sell more of an item to hang onto the money, and the game motivates the rest of the staff to outperform their coworker to get the prize.

The last member of staff to sell a dessert that shift or day keeps the money.

Offering another creative incentive he’s seen, Chef Duffy shares that there’s a restaurant out there offering a free tattoo to kitchen staff that stays for at least 30 days. Will some staff leave after they get their tattoo? Possibly. Hiring wisely, implementing training policies and procedures, treating staff with respect, making scheduling easier and more flexible, ensuring clear communication is embedded in the fabric of your brand’s culture, and offering further incentives can prevent that turnover.

Offer Ongoing Education

“We live in an incentive world now,” says Chef Duffy. Explaining that he doesn’t operate large kitchens, large bars, or employ large teams, he admits he can only do so much in terms of incentives.

However, his approach to incentivizing staff to stay starts with this example of true leadership: “The one thing I can do is treat my employees well.”

With decades of experience in the industry, Chef Duffy’s knowledge is something he can offer his staff. A big believer in education, passing down information that can enrich team members’ careers and lives is an incredibly valuable incentive.

During a recent training session with a very young kitchen staff, the chef started with the very basics of education.

“Hey, guys, here’s a knife. This is a knife,” he said to the kitchen staff. “There’s seven different parts to a knife. Here’s the most powerful part, here’s the most precise part. This is how you hold it, this is what we do…”

Just reading that, it may seem like Chef Duffy was being condescending. That’s not the case. He wants to share as much of what he’s learned over the years to pass on his collected knowledge.

“I want people to feel as if they’re gaining something from me and the knowledge that I have rather than, ‘Go cut those onions and I’m gonna yell at you if you do it the wrong way,'” says Chef Duff.

Make Meaningful Change Today

Making impactful change can feel overwhelming. Let’s face it, it’s easier to just stay the course. But these days, staying the course can cost you your staff, then your guests, and then your business.

One way to start making change is to look inward at yourself, and at your leadership team.

Are your staff gaining anything from you beyond a job and paycheck? Is your leadership team mentoring and incentivizing staff? Are you, your leaders, and your team happy at work?

If the answer to those questions is “no,” do what’s reasonable to improve your brand’s work culture.

As Chef Duffy says, “The whole dynamic of it has to change and we have to take better care of our employees.”

Image: Steve Raubenstine from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s a Marketing Fund?

What’s a Marketing Fund?

by David Klemt

Vintage cash register in black and white

Do you know what a “marketing fund” is?

Moreover, if you know what I’m talking about, do your managers and staff have access to it?

A marketing fund—not your marketing budget—is a useful tool that can solve guest experience issues quickly.

What it Is

Both Doug Radkey and I mentioned marketing funds last week.

First, I brought it up in my article about communication and staff empowerment. Next, Doug included the marketing fund on last week’s Bar Hacks bonus episode, titled “Empowerment.” There, he shared the story that inspired my article.

Simply put, a marketing fund is a bit of cash kept on hand for use in a variety of situations.

Some people call it petty cash. Others refer to it as an “emergency” fund. We call it a marketing fund.

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a small amount of cash most accessible by a manager or, often times, a bartender.

How to Use It

Operators will have to decide on the amount set aside; how often to replenish it; and who has access to the marketing fund.

For some, $40 may be feasible. Others may find that setting aside $200 for the week may work best.

In most cases, a register behind the bar serves as the marketing fund’s home. A manager or bartender knows where it is and can find it quickly.

Now, you’re likely noticing the word “quickly” is coming up a lot in reference to the marketing fund. That’s the point—quick, smooth problem solving.

So, come up with your rules and expectations regarding the marketing fund. Communicate those expectations. Then empower specific team members each shift to access it.

Of course, this requires trust in the team, their integrity, and their sense of what is and isn’t reasonable.

When to Use It

Again, this is about what’s reasonable and acceptable to an individual operation.

Will buying a round ease tensions and put a guest’s experience back on a positive track? Use the marketing fund.

Is there a promo that’s going wrong for a guest that a manager can solve with cash (a gift card problem, for example)? Access the marketing fund.

Will running across the street to grab an item solve a guest problem? The marketing fund can help.

This works for several reasons:

  • Staff can solve a guest’s issue quickly. This eases tensions and improves the guest experience.
  • Guest-facing or other issues can be solved smoothly. In some instances, the guest won’t even catch on that there’s really a problem.
  • Marketing fund transactions are traceable.
  • The marketing fund holds the operator and staff accountable. Are issues consistently arising during certain shifts or with specific team members? Something needs addressing.

The marketing fund is a practical, useful tool. Its use is trackable and ensures accountability. Consider implementing this fund today.

Image: Evergreens and Dandelions on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

10 Words that Exemplify Leadership

10 Words that Exemplify Leadership

by David Klemt

Level Up neon sign in white and yellow

During episode 50 of the Bar Hacks podcast, Travis Tober sums up restaurant and bar leadership in just ten words.

In fact, this seemingly “small” sentence explains leadership and buy-in for essentially every type of business.

Let’s take a look at what Tober, co-owner of Nickel City and owner Old Pal, says that resonates with me.

10 Important Words

So, what does Tober say during his first appearance on Bar Hacks that embodies leadership?

The following, about his general manager:

“He knows the brand just as good as I do.”

How do those words exemplify leadership and buy-in? For several reasons:

  • They illustrate transparency from the owners.
  • Those words show trust.
  • The ten words put buy-in and mentorship on display.
  • They show that the GM possesses a sense of ownership of the brand.
  • The brand is obviously defined clearly.

Buy-in is Crucial

As an entrepreneur, consider what you’re asking of the people who work for you. You’re expecting others to help you achieve your dream.

So, why would they take their role in your business seriously rather than only seeing it as a paycheck? The answer is simple: buy-in.

Staff want to feel as though they’re a part of something—they don’t want to work just to pay bills.

As difficult as it may be, an operator needs to trust the people they hire.

Why would you want them on your team—and you need to build a team, not just have employees—if you don’t trust them? Filling roles just to have bodies in the building is a losing strategy, labor shortage or not.

In addition to trust, there needs to be brand indoctrination. Every employee should be a brand evangelist for you and your business.

One of the most powerful recruiting and marketing resources at your disposal is your team. People they encounter should want to spend time and money at your business because of your team. They should want to work for you after observing your team at work and out and about.

If that’s not happening, something is wrong. Your team doesn’t trust you; doesn’t feel as though you trust them; doesn’t feel empowered; or doesn’t believe they’re really a part of your brand and business.

So, ask yourself a simple question: Can my GM, management team, and staff say they know my brand as well as I do?

Listen to episode 50 of Bar Hacks with Travis Tober on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Image: Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Why You Should Hire for Grit

Why You Should Hire for Grit

by Jennifer Radkey

Punch today in the face motivation print

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is currently struggling to fill empty positions.

In an industry that suffered immensely throughout the pandemic with closures and restrictions, the desire for workers to return is low. Add in underlying issues such as low wages, unappealing hours, and sometimes undesirable work culture, and it makes the hunt for great employees seem even more daunting.

But what do you do when the resumes do come in? How do you select team members who will make your business stronger and help you strive towards success?

I’m going to suggest that you start by looking for one key characteristic: Grit.

What is Grit?

Psychologist and grit specialist Angela Duckworth states that, “Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for long term goals.” Grit is showing stamina in order to achieve success. It is often a better predictor of success than talent or skill alone.

If you want to do a deep dive into the benefits of grit to learn how and why grit is a better predictor of success than talent or intelligence, I highly suggest reading Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. You can also check out her Ted Talks.

Why Grit?

Gritty individuals are more likely to deal with adversity better. These are the people you want on your team, especially in leadership roles. They are individuals who see success as a marathon and do not quit.

In an industry known for high turnover, the number one quality you should be scouting for is perseverance. Who is going to stick with you when times are stressful? Who is going to push for personal and professional growth? These are the individuals you need to look for.

Hiring for Skill

Many restaurant and bar owners will look at skill first when hiring new staff. I get it. If someone has previous experience and has demonstrated job specific skills, then it means less training on your part. If they “know what they’re doing,” that individual should be a good hire, right?

While finding someone with skill may prove that they can do the day-to-day tasks, it says nothing about how dedicated they will be to your business, what their growth potential is, or what their values may be. Skill can be easily taught; values, grit, and a growth mindset, however, can not.

Hiring for Grit

It starts with your job ad. An individual with grit is on the search for growth opportunities and for challenges.

What are you offering your team members? Are you offering learning opportunities, tuition assistance, training experiences? Are you making this clear from the very start that these opportunities are available?

If you want dedicated employees who are of a growth mindset you need to attract them to you with what they are searching for.

The Resume

Resumes may not be plentiful, and you may need to fill a position ASAP, but you still need to take the time to carefully analyze a resume if you want to hire for long-term success.

When reading a resume there are clues to indicate if the candidate has grit. Firstly, check to see how long they have stuck with previous jobs, teams, hobbies, volunteer positions, etc. Do they have a lot of experience but have switched jobs every one to two years? Have they done a lot of volunteer work but only for very brief stints?

Secondly, what level of achievement did they receive in these? For example, an individual who was on a varsity basketball team for four years, was made captain, and won a championship shows more grit than someone who played recreational basketball for a year and didn’t win any major awards.

One more example: An individual who started off as host, stayed with the restaurant for several years, and during that time made his way to the management team shows more grit than an individual who has more years of experience but it is spread over various establishments and each stint is less than a year in length.

The Hiring Process

A person with grit will not make you hunt them down. If anything, they will hunt you down!

The individuals who go out of their way to research your establishment before an interview, who follow up in a timely way for setting up interviews, and who follow up after their resume is sent and after they have an interview are the type of people you want on your team.

Do not overlook these individuals (even if they don’t have a ton of experience) because they are demonstrating respect, a keen interest in working for you, and dedication. Remember, skill can easily be taught but key qualities such as grit and growth mindset can not.

The Interview

There are some key questions you can ask during the interview process to determine if a candidate has grit:

  • “Tell me about a big goal you had and how you went about achieving that goal.” Look for specific details about how they reached their goal.
  • “Tell me about a time when you gave up on a goal, and why.” People give up on goals all the time. Perhaps it turned out to just not be feasible. Maybe a major life-changing event happened. A person with grit will typically only give up on a goal for a significant reason.
  • “Tell me about a major obstacle or challenge that you recently had to overcome, and how you did so.” The hospitality industry is full of obstacles and daily challenges both big and small. You need an idea of if and how your team members can overcome these obstacles.
  • “Who is a successful person that you admire, and why?” Does the candidate admire someone successful because of work ethic, grit, perseverance, bravery, etc.? Or do they admire the person for talent, success, material wealth, and popularity? What we admire in others is often what we try to achieve for ourselves.

These are all questions that will give you an idea of someone’s level of grit.

The Bottom Line

Turnover hurts everyone, and it hurts our bottom line. In our industry it is inevitable, but it doesn’t need to be a continuous revolving door of employees.

Start by attracting the right people, look for signs of grit during the hiring process, and then do your part by creating a rewarding and positive work environment to create longevity.

Is hiring stressful? You bet. But if you do it right, hopefully you won’t have to do it often! Here’s to personal and professional well-being. Cheers!

Image: Johnson Wang on Unsplash

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