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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

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Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

by David Klemt

Chef plating greens on plates

Staff turnover rates are still above pre-pandemic levels and there’s no silver bullet solution. However, two companies have some helpful advice.

Both Service Management Group and Technomic shared their tips during Restaurant Leadership Conference. Interestingly, each company has a different approach to the current hospitality industry labor problem.

In short, both SMG and Technomic advise operators to engage with vastly different age groups. However, they each have information that supports their recommendations.

Service Management Group

Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, co-presented a session with Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

SMG is a software-with-a-service platform that seeks to the employee, customer, and brand experience. One crucial element of the company’s mission is the reduction of staff turnover.

During the RLC session, Grimes shared several years of hospitality turnover rates:

  • 2017: 72%
  • 2018: 75%
  • 2019: 79%
  • 2020: 130%
  • 2021: 86%

First, some context. The general consensus is that the industry’s average turnover rate has been between 70 and 80 percent for close to a decade. However, in comparison to other industries—10 to 15 percent—that’s stratospherically high.

Secondly, the turnover rate has been on rise since before the pandemic. Per some sources, the rate jumped from 66 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, a trend that continues to this day.

For SMG, the age group operators should seek to engage—generally speaking, of course—is 25 to 34 years old. Per the SWaS platform, this group was the most engaged pre-pandemic.

One reason for SMG’s suggestion is that Boomers appear to opting out of the workforce.

During the presentation by Grimes and Thompson, the latter shared that Chicken Salad Chick predicts the 2022 turnover rate to be just slightly above the 2019 rate.

Technomic

Unsurprisingly, Technomic had some numbers to share during RLC 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Per data provided by Joe Pawlak and Richard Shank, 70 percent of operators are still struggling with labor. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff doesn’t appear to be getting any easier four months into 2022.

Technomic also pointed out that the US saw the lowest population growth in its history last year: 0.1 percent.

Additionally, almost 17 percent of the country’s population is now at least 65 years old. In 2019, 48 percent of people 55 or older retired. That number is now just over 50 percent for the same age group.

Nearly seven million American consumers turn 60 each year, while four million turn 70 or older.

Logically, one may assume that Technomic is saying a significant portion of the US population is leaving the workforce. So, it’s best to focus on the same age group as SMG recommends.

However, Technomic is recommending a different strategy. Per Pawlak and Shank, retirees (mostly ages 55 and up) tend to have valuable managerial skills and experience.

Obviously, those skills and all that experience can be of great benefit to operators and our industry.

Certainly, all groups should be engaged by operators seeking to recruit, hire, and develop their teams. So, as KRG Hospitality sees recruitment, operators should craft targeted, authentic messaging that appeals to each age group.

Image: Sebastian Coman Photography from Pexels

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This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

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Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

by David Klemt

Airplane email icon set against white brick wall

In a stunning example of tone-deafness and callousness, a franchisee executive sent an email that led to severe consequences.

And no, I’m not talking about the termination of the offending exec. That, in my opinion, was well deserved.

In this instance, the email has led to mass resignations and damage to a global restaurant chain’s reputation. What’s more, the negative impact to the brand’s reputation comes from consumers and employees.

Of course, I’m talking about the now-infamous Applebee’s “gas prices” email.

The Email: Labor

Let’s just jump right into the email, because…wow.

“Most of our employee base and potential employee base lives paycheck to paycheck,” writes the executive. “Any increase gas prices cuts into their disposable income.”

This could have been an excellent example of awareness and perhaps even empathy. In the context of this email, it’s appalling.

Why? Mainly because this executive appears to be celebrating the fact that Applebee’s employees, at least those who work for this franchisee, are barely earning a living wage.

“As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living,” continues the author.

In this exec’s view, this franchisee is “no longer competing with the government when it comes to hiring.” He cites stimulus payments and boosted unemployment support have run out. Therefore, he reasons that people will be forced to return to the workforce.

The author further points to competitors increasing wages to recruit and retain employees. This, he figures, is untenable and some will have to close their doors. So, the labor pool will fill up and this franchisee will benefit.

The Email: Wages

Some of what I’ve laid out above is accurate. According to some estimates, about two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Additionally, it’s accurate to state that some employees will seek more hours to combat the effects of rising costs. Further, yes, the labor market is turbulent and challenging.

And, unfortunately, some independent operators are facing incredibly difficult decisions. To recruit and retain, they’ll need to be competitive and raise their wages. To pay for that, they’ll need to raise prices, passing on rising costs to customers. In some instances, for some operators, that will prove unsustainable.

However, an executive in this industry shouldn’t be delighted about any of this. And they certainly shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to potentially pay employees even less.

You see, the author of this email suggests that the franchisee can bring in new workers “at a lower wage to decrease our labor (when able).”

He then recommends monitoring employee morale to ensure that the Applebee’s operated by this franchisee is their “employer of choice.”

For me, however, the most eyeroll-inducing line is this: “Most importantly, have the culture and environment that will attract people.”

Images of printouts of the email reveal that at least a handful of recipients agreed. “Great message Sir! [sic]” reads one response. Another paints the email as “Words of wisdom.”

Clearly, the culture and environment are unhealthy.

The Consequences

Before I proceed, know this: I’m not going to name the author. It’s not remotely difficult to find the author’s name if you feel the need.

However, I will name the franchisee that finally fired him. American Franchise Capital reportedly owns more than 120 Applebee’s and Taco Bell locations in nine states.

So, to be clear, this executive didn’t work for Applebee’s directly. In fact, Applebee’s has disavowed the former executive and the email.

In the interest of clarity, it’s possible the author worked for Apple Central LLC, owned by American Franchise Capital.

As far as fallout, it was swift. According to reports, consequences were realized immediately. A Kansas franchise manager was shown the emails, printed them out for staff to discover, and comped the meals of everyone at the location. Then, he quit and the staff walked out.

Per reporting, four other Applebee’s managers quit, as did several employees. The location remained closed for at least the following day.

If reports are accurate, Applebee’s lost five managers, nearly a dozen employees, and sales from a location for at least two days. That’s just the localized fallout.

Applebee’s, of course, is distancing the company from the former executive. However, that’s not going to stanch the reputational bleeding and turnover.

As we know, a significant percentage of consumers want to know their dollars and support are going to companies that align with their values. The same is true of employees; they want to work for companies with values they can get behind.

A Final Thought

This now-infamous email was sent March 9. Just two weeks later, it was circulated and went viral. The author, gleeful about being able to hire employees “at a lower wage,” was fired before the end of March.

I’ve seen several takes on this situation, and I’ve read some accompanying leadership advice. One in particular caught my attention.

Unfortunately, it’s not because I thought it was great advice: Be cautious about what you send via blast emails.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t be careful about what they send out in emails—that’s good advice. However, that’s not the lesson I’ve learned from this situation.

Personally, I see this as a lesson in emotional intelligence, relationship intelligence, brand culture, and work environment.

At least two companies, one with annual sales in the billions of dollars, another in the hundreds of millions, have had their reputations tarnished. The fault may not lie with Applebee’s but they’ll be dealing with the consequences regardless.

If an operator is going to learn anything about being cautious, it’s this: Be cautious when hiring those in leadership positions. Be cautious about those with whom you enter into partnerships. And be careful about how you view those who work for you.

If you aren’t seeing those who choose to work for you as people worthy of your respect, as human beings, your brand’s culture is poisoned.

Image: Daria Nepriakhina 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

How to Achieve Your Goals in 2022

How to Achieve Your Goals in 2022

by Jennifer Radkey

"Wake up, kick ass, repeat" neon sign on wall

The start of a new year for many is symbolic: Fresh year, fresh start.

With the best of intentions, millions of people worldwide create resolutions and set goals for both personal and professional growth and achievement. These goals are created with full enthusiasm and determination and then….the majority of them never come to fruition.

Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. So what happens? And how can we push forward to achieve our goals instead of letting them slip away?

The majority of us know how to set clearly defined goals. It is something we learned in school, or have read countless articles about. It seems as if it is human nature to want to improve, to do better and be better.

In the hospitality industry, we ask our team members to set goals weekly, if not daily. Goals typically include improving guest retention, increasing sales, improving guest experience, etc.

But once these goals are set, what systems are in place to help your team achieve them? And are you leading by example?

Goal Setting

There are many techniques to goal setting. George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham developed the very popular SMART goal tool to assist in developing clearly defined, task-oriented goals. They state that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-specific (SMART).

Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret, discusses envisioning your goals and life desires to attract them to you. But goal achievement is more than just setting a clear goal, or dreaming about what it would be like to achieve that goal. Those are the starting points.

Goal achievement is a process. It can be nitty and gritty and tough. There is typically no easy way. However, there are strategies we can use to help us achieve them, and the result will almost always be worth the extra effort.

Why We Fail

There are countless reasons why goals or resolutions fail, but the reasons mostly fall under two categories: You either lose your willpower or your waypower.

The concepts of willpower and waypower in relation to goal achievement is introduced in Rick Snyder’s Hope Theory, explained is his book The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get There From Here.

Willpower is the desire to achieve your goal; it’s the fire that pushes us to keep going after what we want. Waypower is the map for how we will get to our end goal; it’s the careful plan we have in place to ensure we overcome any obstacles that get in our way.

When we lack willpower our goal seems unachievable, and therefore we give up. When we lack waypower, as badly as we may want to achieve our goal, we are lost with no clear idea of how to get there.

How to Succeed

Finding Your Willpower

If you have lost your willpower, there are several ways to reignite your desire to achieve your goal.

The first is to have constant reminders of your goal. Have it written somewhere where you will have access to it several times a day. Set reminders on your phone, put sticky notes around your office or house, create a vision board representing your goal as your screensaver or on a wall in your home or office.

Remind yourself of why you set the goal in the first place and how it will make your life better.

Many of us lose our willpower when faced with obstacles. Instead of being deflated by obstacles, look at them as challenges to be defeated. Use obstacles as fuel for your fire rather than water to dampen it.

When faced with obstacles it is also helpful to remind yourself of goals that you have achieved in the past and the obstacles you had to overcome to get there. Remembering this time will allow you to acknowledge that you ARE capable and therefore will keep your willpower intact.

Finding your Waypower

Life is busy, and when you are being pulled in many directions at the same time it can be easy to lose your way towards achieving your goals. To ensure that you stay on the path towards goal completion, there are several actions you can take.

Try breaking long-range goals into smaller steps. Start with the first step, and move on to the next, checking off and celebrating each step as you go.

Before you even begin your journey towards goal completion, map out different routes you may need to get there. Knowing these routes beforehand will make it easier to stay focused along the way.

Lastly, know when to ask for helpand be willing to accept it. If you get lost on your way to your goal, perhaps you need some advice from someone who has already achieved that goal.

WOOP

One of my favorite goal achievement strategies is WOOP, created by Gabriele Oettingen. This acronym stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

WOOP is a straightforward and effective tool to use when setting goals, and has been practiced by everyone from elementary school students to CEOs of major corporations. Once practiced, WOOP can take less than five minutes of your time while providing great clarity.

The first step is to state your wish or goal clearly. Next, envision the outcome of achieving your goal. Take a couple minutes to really picture what it will look and feel like to achieve your goal.

You are then going to contrast that by thinking of what obstacles might block you from achieving your goal. It is important to note that these obstacles are internal not external.

We rarely have control over external obstacles but do have control over internal ones. What is it about you that will stop you from reaching your goal? Is it low self-esteem, laziness, doubt? Are you distracted easily?

Lastly, you are going to plan what to do when met with an obstacle by using “if/then” phrasing. For example, “If I am feeling lazy and want to have a Netflix marathon instead of working on my goal, then I will get off the couch, do ten jumping jacks, grab a drink of water, and start working on my goal.”

If you are interested in trying out the WOOP tool for goal setting/achievement you can visit www.woopmylife.org.

Own It

Goal setting and resolutions should not be a forced activity you do every new year, or birthday, or every Monday morning to start your week. Goal setting and achievement should be a constant, flowing activity that reaches into all parts of your life.

Through the use of strategies and consistent review, reassessment, and awareness, goals don’t need to be lost or given up on, unless that particular goal no longer serves a purpose to you.

Own your goals and take pride in your achievements. In the end, you will always be your number one advocate for your own growth.

So go get it! Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Justin Veenema on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Adding Veterans to Your Team

Adding Veterans to Your Restaurant, Bar or Hotel Team

by David Klemt

Military combat helmet in digital camouflage

Do more this Veterans Day by encouraging those who have served to apply and interview for available positions on your team.

There are several benefits to providing job opportunities to veterans, regardless of the country (or countries) in which you operate.

Of course, there are dos and don’ts that come along with recruiting, hiring and working with veterans.

Benefits to Hiring Veterans

Before we begin, a caveat: Remember that veterans are individuals. “Veteran” is a label, a designation, a descriptor. In no way is one person who is a veteran interchangeable with another.

That said, there are some elements of military service that are similar to those of successful hospitality operations.

Teamwork, a strong work ethic, leadership skills, precision in tasks, achieving goals, consistency in results… When a restaurant, bar or hotel team is operating at its best, it can be said they work with military precision.

Generally speaking, veteran job candidates bring experience to the table that can benefit an operator greatly.

Additionally, it’s commonly said that hospitality leadership should hire for personality because they can train requisite skills. Speaking generally again, many veterans are so used to receiving specialized training that they’ll likely appreciate and respond quickly to yours.

If you want your business to operate with military precision, why wouldn’t you hire military personnel who fit well within your team?

Questions to Ask During Interviews

Obviously, there are definite dos and don’ts when it comes to discussing a veteran’s military experience.

As curious as you may be about some aspects of a veteran’s experience, questions shouldn’t be invasive or offensive.

Some examples of questions you should ask are:

  • “What did you do (in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard or Reserves)?”
  • “Why did you choose that branch of the military?”
  • “How long did you serve?”
  • “Do you come from a military family?”
  • “Where were you stationed during your career in the military? Did you visit any other countries?”
  • “Where was your favorite place you visited or lived?”
  • “How do you think your experience in the military will benefit you here?”

As you can see, nothing in those questions should make a veteran applicant uncomfortable.

Questions and Behaviors to Avoid

Speaking of discomfort, there are many questions that you should never ask a veteran. Not just during the interview process, but ever.

Also, if a veteran informs you they’re uncomfortable answering a question about their service, that should be respected.

Examples of questions and topics you should avoid are:

  • “Do you have PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)?”
  • “Do you find it hard to get back to ‘real/regular’ life after being in the military?”
  • “Did you ever get shot/stabbed/bombed?”
  • “Did you ever kill anyone?”
  • “What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you while you served?”
  • Current military conflicts, particularly if you haven’t served in the military.
  • Referring to elements of work through military analogies.
  • Insulting branches of the military if you never served.

In short, treat veterans with the respect their deserve, as you should any other member of your staff. Veterans aren’t novelties or curiosities—they’re people.

For too long, veterans have faced undue scrutiny and undeserved stigmatization. It shouldn’t be difficult to turn that around when the solution is simple: Give veterans respect; treat them like  people since that’s precisely what they are; and provide equal opportunity.

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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

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