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Top Kitchen Design Trends of 2024

Top Commercial Kitchen Design Trends of 2024

by Nathen Dubé

A young male chef preparing a dish in a clean, modern commercial kitchen

Commercial kitchen design continues to evolve, driven by advancements in technology, an emphasis on sustainability, and the need for efficiency and flexibility.

The latest trends reflect these priorities, offering solutions that enhance both functionality and aesthetics in professional kitchens.

This article explores the top commercial kitchen design trends of 2024, highlighting their benefits and offering practical implementation tips. Going further, I also include real-world examples of successful trend adoption.

1. Sustainability and Eco-friendly Practices

Sustainability is at the forefront of commercial kitchen design in 2024.

Restaurants and foodservice operators are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices. Key reasons include reducing their environmental footprint, and meeting consumer demand for responsible business practices.

Key Trends

  • Energy-efficient appliances: The use of ENERGY STAR-rated appliances that consume less energy, and reduce operational costs.
  • Sustainable materials: Incorporating materials like recycled steel, reclaimed wood, and eco-friendly countertops.
  • Waste reduction systems: Implementation of composting and recycling systems to manage waste more effectively.

Benefits

  • Reduce operational costs through lower energy consumption.
  • Enhance brand reputation by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
  • Meet regulatory requirements and green certification standards.

Implementation Tips

  • Choose ENERGY STAR appliances: Invest in appliances that are certified for energy efficiency to cut down on utility costs, and reduce environmental impact.
  • Incorporate sustainable materials: Opt for materials that are durable and have a lower environmental impact, such as recycled or reclaimed materials.
  • Implement waste management systems: Set up composting and recycling systems to manage kitchen waste efficiently.

Client Story

A farm-to-table restaurant I worked with revamped their kitchen to include energy-efficient appliances, reclaimed wood decor, and a comprehensive waste management system.

These changes not only reduce their operational costs but also enhance their brand’s commitment to sustainability, attracting environmentally-conscious customers.

2. Smart Kitchens and Technology Integration

Technology is transforming commercial kitchens, making them more efficient, safer, and easier to manage.

Smart kitchens equipped with advanced technology are becoming the norm in 2024.

Key Trends

  • Smart appliances: Ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers that can be monitored and controlled remotely.
  • Automated inventory systems: Systems that track inventory levels in real-time, reducing waste and ensuring timely reordering.
  • Kitchen management software: Software that integrates scheduling, task management, and equipment maintenance.

Benefits

  • Enhance operational efficiency, and reduces labor costs.
  • Improve food safety, and quality control.
  • Streamline inventory management, and reduces waste.

Implementation Tips

  • Invest in smart appliances: Choose appliances that offer remote monitoring and control capabilities for better efficiency and oversight.
  • Use automated inventory systems: Implement inventory management software to keep track of stock levels, and reduce food waste.
  • Adopt kitchen management software: Integrate software solutions that help manage kitchen tasks, staff schedules, and maintenance routines.

Client Story

A high-volume catering QSR company integrated smart kitchen technology, including smart ovens and automated inventory systems.

The approach allows them to monitor cooking processes remotely, optimize their inventory management, and streamline operations. The result is significant cost savings, and improvements to service quality.

3. Flexible and Modular Kitchen Designs

Flexibility and adaptability are key considerations in modern commercial kitchen design.

Modular kitchens that can be easily reconfigured to meet changing needs are becoming increasingly popular.

Key Trends

  • Modular equipment: Equipment that can be moved and reconfigured as needed.
  • Multi-functional spaces: Areas that can serve multiple purposes, such as prep stations that double as serving counters.
  • Open kitchen concepts: Designs that promote transparency and interaction with customers.

Benefits

  • Adapt to changing menu requirements and operational needs.
  • Maximize space utilization and efficiency.
  • Enhance the dining experience by promoting transparency.

Implementation Tips

  • Choose modular equipment: Invest in equipment that can be moved and reconfigured easily to suit different needs.
  • Design multi-functional spaces: Create areas that can serve multiple purposes to maximize space efficiency.
  • Consider open kitchen designs: Implement open kitchen concepts to enhance customer interaction and experience.

Client Story

A fast-casual restaurant redesigned their kitchen to incorporate modular equipment and multi-functional spaces. This flexibility allows the operator and their team to adapt to menu changes easily.

In addition, the change increases functional space, and streamlines their operations, leading increases in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

4. Enhanced Food Safety and Sanitation

Food safety and sanitation are paramount in commercial kitchens.

In 2024, new design trends are focusing on creating hygienic environments that minimize contamination risks.

Key Trends

  • Touchless technology: Faucets, dispensers, and doors that operate without physical contact.
  • Sanitization stations: Dedicated areas for handwashing, and sanitizing equipment.
  • Antimicrobial surfaces: Use of materials that resist bacteria, and are easy to clean.

Benefits

  • Reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • Meet health and safety regulations.
  • Enhance the overall cleanliness of the kitchen.

Implementation Tips

  • Install touchless technology: Implement touchless faucets, dispensers, and entry systems to reduce contamination risks.
  • Create sanitization stations: Designate areas specifically for handwashing, and sanitizing tools and equipment.
  • Use antimicrobial surfaces: Choose materials that are resistant to bacteria, and easy to clean for work surfaces and high-touch areas.

5. Ergonomic and Worker-friendly Designs

Ergonomic designs that prioritize the well-being and efficiency of kitchen staff are gaining traction.

These designs focus on reducing physical strain, and improving workflow.

Key Trends

  • Ergonomic workstations: Adjustable workstations that reduce strain and fatigue.
  • Improved ventilation systems: Systems that provide better air quality, and reduce heat stress.
  • Ample lighting: Sufficient and well-placed lighting to reduce eye strain and enhance visibility.

Benefits

  • Increase staff productivity, and job satisfaction.
  • Reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Enhance the overall efficiency of kitchen operations.

Implementation Tips

  • Design ergonomic workstations: Invest in adjustable workstations that can be tailored to individual needs.
  • Improve ventilation: Ensure your kitchen has effective ventilation to maintain air quality, and reduce heat.
  • Enhance lighting: Use ample and strategically placed lighting to improve visibility, and reduce strain.

Client Story

A large-scale restaurant redesigned their kitchen to include ergonomic workstations and improved ventilation.

These changes have resulted in a more comfortable and efficient working environment, leading to higher staff morale and productivity.

Address Your Kitchen’s Design

The commercial kitchen design trends of 2024 reflect a focus on sustainability, technology integration, flexibility, food safety, and ergonomics.

These trends not only enhance the functionality and efficiency of commercial kitchens but also address the growing demands for environmentally responsible and worker-friendly environments.

Are you ready to transform your commercial kitchen with these cutting-edge trends? Contact us today to learn how we can help you implement these designs and create a kitchen that meets the demands of modern culinary operations.

Image: Rene Terp via Pexels

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Difference Between a Plan and Playbook

The Difference Between a Plan and a Playbook

by Doug Radkey

An AI-generated image of a business plan on one side, versus a playbook on the other side

Sometimes AI comes up with impressive images. This is one of them.

You’ve likely heard that 80 percent of hospitality businesses fail within the first five years.

When you ask those in the industry the question of why there is such a high rate of failure, they reply with a fairly predictable list of factors. These tend to be location, concept or brand confusion, lack of service standards, toxic workplace culture, sub-par marketing efforts, and mismanaged funds.

Many operators who fail try to quickly blame external factors, such as the economy.

When you ask the next questionwhat are the other 20 percent of operators doing differently to surpass five years in businessyou get one simple answer. The difference between those who drive a sustainable profit of 12, 15 or 20 percent (or more) and those who don’t boils down to one thing and one thing only: they have strategic clarity.

It’s not that the successful 20 percent did not battle challenges or the same tough economy or labor struggles. What they had was clarity, and a playbook detailing how to overcome a multitude of challenges.

So how do you achieve strategic clarity? Well, it’s much more than just writingor filling out a template fora business plan.

What is Strategic Clarity?

Strategic clarity is the comprehensive understanding and alignment within your hospitality business regarding its identity, direction, purpose, and the means to achieve its goals.

It involves clear communication and consensus on key aspects of the business, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives. Below, the key components that define strategic clarity.

1. Understanding Who We Are

  • Core Identity: This includes the mission, vision, and core values of your business. It defines what the business stands for, and its fundamental purpose.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses: Recognizing the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) aids in identifying the core competencies and areas for improvement.
  • Culture: The shared beliefs and practices that characterize the business’ internal environment, and how it interacts with both staff and guest perceptions.

2. Knowing Where We are Going

  • Vision: A clear and compelling picture of what the business aspires to become in the future. It serves as a guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
  • Long-term Goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that outline the desired outcomes over an extended period.
  • Milestones: Intermediate targets that mark progress towards the long-term goals.

3. Understanding Why We are Doing This

  • Purpose: The fundamental reason for the business’ existence beyond making a profit. It encompasses the broader impact the business aims to have on its community.
  • Motivation: The driving force behind the business’ actions and strategies. This includes the values and principles that guide decision-making, as well as behavior.
  • Stakeholder Alignment: Ensuring that the goals and activities of the business align with the interests and needs of its stakeholders: guests, employees, investors, and the community.

4. How We are Going to Get There

  • Strategy: The overarching plan that outlines how the business will achieve its vision and long-term goals. It includes the allocation of resources and the selection of strategic initiatives.
  • Tactics: The specific actions and steps that will be taken to implement the strategy. This involves detailed planning, delegation, resources, and execution.
  • Performance Metrics: The criteria and tools used to measure progress and success. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics help track the effectiveness of strategies and tactics.
  • Continuous Improvement: The process of regularly reviewing and refining strategies and tactics based on performance data and changing circumstances.

Strategic clarity is essential for the cohesive and effective functionality of your bar, restaurant, or hotel business. This leadership approach ensures that all members understand and are aligned with the business’ identity, direction, purpose, and methods.

By achieving strategic clarity, organizations can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and build upon sustainable long-term success. What we have found over the years that attributes to long-term clarity and success is a series of playbooks.

Understanding Plans and Playbooks

Let’s first dive into the critical distinction between a plan and a playbook, and why this matters for your bar, restaurant, or hotel. Understanding and utilizing both can significantly impact your business’ ability to start strong, stabilize effectively, and ultimately position you to scale successfully.

A traditional business plan, as you may know it, is a document that outlines your goals, and the steps you will take to achieve them. It’s often the number one consideration to secure funding and to set strategic direction.

However, it is, more often than not, missing plenty of crucial information, strategies, and guidance that end up planting a false sense of security.

A playbook, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive guide filled with detailed processes, best practices, and adaptable strategies tailored to your specific operations. Within this dynamic industry, you need more than a standard business plan if you want to be successful.

In fact, you should have eight different playbooks in place to position yourself within the top echelon of this industry.

The Power of Playbooks in Hospitality

While plans are often static or rigid (and often forgotten about shortly after they’re written), playbooks are designed to be flexible and adaptable.

Playbooks provide a step-by-step guide, ensure consistency and efficiency, and offer adaptable strategies and best practices to start, manage, and grow effectively.

Playbooks go into more granular details, and provide actionable steps. In this way, they’re notably different from a singular business plan.

The Eight Playbooks

No matter if you are operating a coffee shop, bar, restaurant or hotel (or any other concept within the hospitality industry), the following eight playbooks should be looked at as non-negotiables.

  1. Feasibility Study/Playbook: The foundational guide for assessing the viability of your hospitality business idea. It involves a comprehensive analysis of the market, competitive landscape, financial projections, and operational requirements. This playbook helps you determine whether your concept is realistic and profitable before committing significant resources.
  2. Concept Playbook: Focuses on refining your hospitality business idea into a clear and compelling concept. This playbook guides you through creating a unique value proposition, defining your target market, and outlining the core elements of your business, including service style, interior design, and internal programming.
  3. Prototype Playbook: A step-by-step guide to developing a tangible representation of your hospitality concept. This playbook helps you create a prototype that can be tested and refined before a full-scale launch. This playbook covers design specifications, operational workflows, fixtures/furniture/equipment, and detailed budgets.
  4. Brand Strategy & Identity Playbook: Defines the strategic approach to building and maintaining a strong brand. This playbook covers the creation of your brand identity, messaging, and positioning to ensure consistent and impactful brand communication. It involves color psychology, core values, mission statements, brand experiences, and more.
  5. Marketing Playbook: Outlines the strategies and tactics to attract, build, and retain your target guests. This playbook provides a roadmap for creating and executing effective marketing campaigns across various channels. It provides a step-by-step guide on content, social media management, database building, email marketing, partnerships, and community activations, along with detailed guest journey maps.
  6. Tech-stack Playbook: Provides guidance on selecting and implementing the correct technology solutions to enhance your hospitality operations. This playbook ensures that your technology infrastructure supports your business goals and improves efficiency. This playbook identifies technology gaps, software solutions, hardware requirements, and integration plans, plus training and support on technology.
  7. Financial Playbook: A comprehensive guide to manage your hospitality business’ finances. This playbook covers budgeting, financial forecasting, accounting practices, and financial performance analysis. It should highlight financial contingency plans, mock labor schedules, daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal traffic reports that align with the business, and financial objectives.
  8. Operational Playbook (a.k.a. Business Plan): Outlines the day-to-day operations in great detail, along with long-term strategies. This playbook ensures that all aspects of your operations are well-coordinated and aligned with your overall business goals, and the other seven playbooks. It should highlight standard operating procedures, labor plans, supply chain management, guest services, and measurable operational metrics.

You’ll notice there are seven other playbooks written before the business plan. Far too often, this is where people start. Without the other seven playbooks, it will be nearly impossible to craft a winning playbook for your day-to-day operations.

When Should You Use Playbooks

  • To Start: These eight playbooks are crucial to craft your success story right from the beginning. Build the foundations before signing a lease or purchasing a property.
  • To Stabilize: If you’re currently underperforming (profit margins under 12 percent for bars and restaurants, and under 15 percent for hotels), use playbooks to generate impactful results.
  • To Scale: These playbooks will help ensure that both your first locationand the next locationare prepared for consistent operations without diminishing your brand equity.

Strategic planning within detailed playbooks is essential for your hospitality business’ success.

Regardless of your current position, evaluate your use of business plans, and consider developing comprehensive playbooks instead. Make the time and commitment to achieving true clarity in your business, and position yourself to be on the correct side of this industry’s statistics.

AI image generator: DALL-E

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Ghosting in the Professional World

Hello, is Anybody There? Ghosting in the Professional World

by Jennifer Radkey

An abandoned saloon covered in dust and cobwebs

We could be transforming this abandoned saloon into an amazing bar and restaurant, but we got ghosted. Also, drink Spork beer!

The act of ghosting may have started in the dating world but this phenomenon has, unfortunately, taken root deeply in the professional world.

In case you haven’t had the (dis)pleasure of experiencing ghosting, allow me to summarize. Ghosting is suddenly becoming unresponsive to all forms of communication without explanation.

Not only is ghosting toxic to business relationships and your brand image, it can be toxic to your overall mindset and feelings of self-respect.

People participate in the act of ghosting for many reasons, which can include:

  • conflict avoidance
  • indifference; and
  • low accountability.

These are not traits that lend well to earning respect from others or yourself. It’s good practice to protect your mental health and set clear boundaries, but this should not include the act of ghosting.

You are a professional. You can deal with uncomfortable situations and be responsible to yourself, your team, and your industry.

Ghosting can feel like the easy route, but it comes with long-term consequences. How you choose to interact with your team, your colleagues, other industry professionals, and your clients/customers is all a reflection of your personal and professional brand.

Check in with these five examples of ghosting in the professional world to make sure that you’re not participating in any actions (or inaction) that may result in a loss of respect.

Not Responding to Quotes and Proposals

You needed a service for your business, so you reached out to another business for a quote or proposal. Then you received the proposal, read it over, decided it wasn’t right for you…and never responded.

Remember, you sought out these professionalsthey didn’t cold call you. They gave you their time to put together a quote or proposal. The very least you can offer is acknowledgement that you received their quote, along with an update on where you stand.

Let’s start respecting each other’s time and effort.

Not Following Up with Job Candidates

We all complain when we’re ghosted by a job candidate and they don’t show for an interview. But that goes both ways.

Make sure that you’re taking the time to respond to job candidates (particularly after the interview process) to provide an update on the position.

You are your brand and represent its values; every impression matters.

Breaking Promises to Your Team

You promise your team a team-building event, or an end-of-quarter bonus. Then you fail to follow through.

Nothing breaks respect faster than not following through on promises. If you can’t make a promise happen you need to take ownership of that and honour your integrity by letting your team know.

They may be upset that the event isn’t happening. However, they’ll at least respect you for being honest and upfront with them.

Not Reading or Responding to Customer Reviews

Ghosting a customer or client will not only result in losing that particular person’s business but future prospects as well.

We don’t succeed without our clients, and they need to feel acknowledged when sharing reviews, good or bad as they may be.

If you don’t have time to read and respond to all reviews on your own, make sure you have someone on your team who can perform this task for you. Thoughtfully, of course.

Being Inaccessible to your Team

If you find yourself hiding from your team in a closed office or behind your computer more often than not, it’s time to acknowledge that you have been ghosting them.

A present owner is an involved owner. Not only will you have a better finger on the pulse of your business, you’ll create stronger working relationships with those on your team.

It Starts with You

If we want to bring clear communication and respect back to the professional world, it’s going to have to start with you. Complaining about being ghosted and then participating in the act of ghosting yourself is not going to change anything.

We all need to take pride in being professionals, and go out there to earn the respect of others and ourselves.

Take pride in becoming an open communicator and demonstrating respect in the workplace. Not only will this aid in your overall success, doing so will create a healthy mindset too.

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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Fast-food Giant Halts AI Ordering

Fast-food Giant Halts AI Order Taking

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a caramel sundae surrounded by pats of butter and chicken nuggets

Ironically, this image is AI generated. So, how many pats of butter and nuggies do like with your sundae?

Roughly two years after first experimenting with artificial intelligence-driven ordering technology, McDonald’s is pulling the plug…for now.

The fast-food behemoth made its interest in artificial intelligence abundantly clear in 2019. In Q2 of that year, the company purchased Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million. Immediately after making the acquisition, McDonald’s implemented Dynamic Yield’s machine-learning tech to an estimated 8,000 drive-thrus.

KRG Hospitality readers may recall that the fast-food company faced a class-action privacy lawsuit in Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that McDonald’s “violated BIPA because it failed to obtain proper consent prior to collecting and disseminating Plaintiff’s and the other class members’ voiceprint biometrics who interacted with its AI voice assistant at its Illinois locations.”

Around six months after making that acquisition, McDonald’s picked up Apprente. Interestingly, the voice-powered ordering tech platform had only been founded in 2017.

Following the purchase, the Apprente team became founding members of McD Tech Labs, a group that fell under the McDonald’s Global Technology Team umbrella. Two years later, McDonald’s would sell McD Tech Labs to IBM.

Put simply, McDonald’s was interested in testing voice-activated “automated order taking” (AOT). In theory, an effective platform could take orders, speeding up drive-thrus and streamlining operations.

Well, it appears that the answer is no. At least, not to the standards of McDonald’s, and satisfaction of the company’s guests.

Speed, Convenience, and Accuracy

A drive-thru needs to be fast. There’s no question about it, that’s the entire point.

The speed, after all, makes a drive-thru convenient. Otherwise, people would just park and place their orders at a counter or kiosk.

However, speed means nothing without accuracy. An LSR, QSR or fast-casual restaurant with a drive-thru could promise a guest will wait in line for no more than ten seconds after ordering. If they don’t get what they ordered, it doesn’t matter.

Poke around social mediaTikTok in particularand you’ll come across some viral AOT moments. There’s the addition of several “butter portions” to an ice cream order. Also, the addition of bacon to an order for ice cream, which I’m not entirely confident I’d correct. At least one guest popping into an AI-powered McDonald’s drive-thru had hundreds of dollars of McNuggets added to their order.

So, by July 26 of this year, as reported by Restaurant Business, the experiment will end. This partnership between McDonald’s and IBM to test AOT will be no more.

However, McDonald’s also said that IBM will remain a partner for other efforts. Further, McDonald’s shutting down AOT (for now) doesn’t seem to have turned other brands off from the idea. Per reporting, IBM says other fast-food chains are inquiring about AOT.

This story makes a few things clear to me. First, McDonald’s is confident that investing in tech is the way forward. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to test and implement new tech solutions. Second, someone has to go first and test in earnest, and it appears that LSRs and QSRs are leading the charge in hospitality.

And third, AI isn’t ready for prime time just yet. It’s wise to keep up to date with AI-powered innovations, but it’s also smart to be cautious.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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Try, Try Again: Creating Positive Habits

Try, Try Again: Creating Positive Habits

by Jennifer Radkey

Two people jogging through a city at sunrise, going in opposite directions

It turns out that some AI platforms aren’t good at telling time, so instead of an image of an alarm clock, here’s the 5 A.M. Club going for a jog.

Ever wonder why some people seem to effortlessly achieve their goals while others struggle? It’s all about the habits they have cultivated.

We all have great intentions to practice healthy habits that are good for our body, mind, and soul…but we face roadblocks in committing to them.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • “How does she have the time to workout, run a business, take care of her family, and have hobbies? She must be part of that 5 A.M. Club. I could never do that; I’m not a morning person.”
  • “I wish I could post to social media daily. I know I could reach more potential customers if I do. I don’t know how to come up with that much content though.”
  • “I want to feel stronger. My friend has started strength training, and he seems so much more confident and happier, but I’m a cardio person.”
  • “I wish I could take a few courses, but I don’t have time for that.”

All of the statements above have one thing in common: They have already given up before even trying.

There’s a wish to become better at something, and then there’s an immediate shut down.

Here’s the thingyou don’t know that a habit will work for you or not until you try it.

You Have to Work at It

Experience eclipses all for learning about yourself. You tell yourself that you aren’t a morning person and you can never wake up at 5 a.m. But until you try it…how do you know that?

Developing new habits takes time and commitment. If you’re serious about making changes to your life and you know that certain habits will help you achieve that goal faster, you owe it to yourself to try.

On average it can take at least two months to actually form a new habit. Trying something for a week and deciding it’s not for you doesn’t do you, your goals, or the habit proper justice. Give things time.

If, after several weeks, you feel that the change really isn’t for you, no problem! At least you’ll know that it doesn’t work from experience, not from your limiting beliefs.

The same advice applies to your team. If you’re trying to encourage daily habits in the work environment, it’s going to take time before everyone’s consistently participating.

Yes, they’re going to need daily and weekly reminders. Yes, it’s going to take more than a week or two. If the habit you’re trying to implement will create a more efficient, successful business, it deserves time and commitment from you.

Mindset is contagious, just as action and inaction are contagious. If you want your team to adopt a new habit, you and your leadership team must show up and participate in the habit as well.

Make it positive. Demonstrate the value of doing it. Have patience while your team practices the new habit.

Positive habits are the powerhouses behind personal and professional success. By consistently doing small things, you can create a ripple effect of positive change.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

KRG Hospitality. Business Coach. Restaurant Coach. Hotel Coach. Hospitality Coach. Mindset Coach.

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The Indispensable Egg: Simple but Powerful

The Indispensable Egg: Simple but Powerful

by Nathen Dubé

Eggs of various color in a carton

In the realm of gastronomy, eggs are indispensable, offering a unique blend of flavor and texture that is celebrated across various cuisines.

These staples of culinary tradition embody the essence of simplicity and versatility. Farm-fresh eggs, known for their rich, vibrant yolks and robust shells, elevate this simple ingredient to new heights.

This comprehensive exploration delves into the culinary excellence of farm-fresh eggs and their broader implications in the hospitality industry, from enhancing the quality of dishes to contributing to business success.

The Culinary Excellence of Farm-Fresh Eggs

The superiority of farm-fresh eggs in cooking is undeniable. Their vibrant yolks, a result of the diverse diet of free-range hens, enrich dishes with deeper flavors and a more appealing visual presentation.

In baking, these eggs contribute to finer, more consistent textures. And in sauces and dressings, their freshness is paramount, forming the foundation of many classic culinary creations.

Crafting Artisanal Dishes with Farm-Fresh Eggs

Embracing the artisanal approach, chefs use farm-fresh eggs to create dishes that showcase their natural elegance and flavor.

From perfectly poached eggs on a bed of fresh greens to innovative egg tarts, these eggs become the centerpiece of culinary craftsmanship, attracting patrons who appreciate the art of cooking.

Seasonal Menus and Farm-Fresh Eggs

Utilizing farm-fresh eggs allows chefs to design seasonal menus that reflect the changing offerings of local farms.

The subtle variations in flavor and color of the eggs throughout the year inspire creative, seasonal dishes, demonstrating a commitment to freshness and local sourcing.

Nutritional Superiority of Farm-Fresh Eggs

Beyond their culinary appeal, farm-fresh eggs offer enhanced nutritional benefits.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, they cater to health-conscious consumers, adding a valuable dimension to menus and marketing strategies in the hospitality sector.

The Business Benefits of Premium Ingredients

Incorporating farm-fresh eggs into a restaurant’s offerings is a strategic business decision. It signifies a commitment to quality and can differentiate an establishment in a competitive market.

This choice also allows for storytelling opportunities, sharing the origins of the ingredients and the relationships with local producers, building trust and a sense of community with patrons.

As Chef Brian Duffy says, operators can charge premium prices, but only if they’re being innovative. Purchasing and using fresh eggs from a local farmer is a step toward innovation and justifies charging a premium.

Ethical Considerations and Consumer Awareness

The ethical sourcing of farm-fresh eggs aligns with the growing consumer awareness and demand for transparency, and humane treatment in food production.

By choosing ethically sourced eggs, hospitality businesses can build a brand image that resonates with these values, fostering customer loyalty.

Implementing Change in the Hospitality Industry

Adopting farm-fresh eggs comes with its challenges, such as higher costs and variable supply. However, these can be mitigated through creative menu planning and pricing strategies.

Educating staff about the benefits and ethos behind using these eggs enhances the dining experience for customers.

Sustainability and the Future of Food

Choosing farm-fresh eggs is a step towards a more sustainable food system. Small-scale egg farming often employs environmentally friendly practices, contributing to a sustainable future.

This commitment to sustainability is increasingly important to consumers and can be a significant aspect of a restaurant’s brand identity.

Conclusion

Farm-fresh eggs represent more than just a culinary choice; they are a statement about quality, sustainability, and the future of food.

For chefs and restaurateurs, they offer a means to distinguish their offerings, tell a compelling story, and build a business that is both profitable and principled.

As the hospitality industry evolves, those who embrace the full potential of ingredients like farm-fresh eggs will find themselves leading a movement that values the entire journey from farm to table. This comprehensive exploration underscores the multifaceted role of farm-fresh eggs in both culinary excellence and the broader context of the hospitality industry.

Image: Kelly Neil on Unsplash

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5 Books to Read this Month: October 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: October 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative October book selections will help you and your team transform your vision for your business into a successful story.

This month, we’re taking a good look at independent hotel operations, including checking out the wonderful guest experience a rustic lodge can deliver. We also dive into operations and brand strategy.

Oh, and we get inspiration from a company founder who turned $50 into a $30 billion-per-year, globally recognized brand.

To review the book recommendations from September 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

INDIE HOTEL: Why Hoteliers Are Breaking Free from Chains and Choosing Independence

I picked up INDIE HOTEL just a day or two after it was released. Written by Jeremy Wells, one of the brilliant minds behind the recently opened Ozarker Lodge, this book examines the shifting hospitality landscape.

From Amazon: “The hospitality industry is exciting and always evolving. One of the most exciting shifts in recent years is the growing popularity of independent, boutique hotels. While chains are here to stay, I believe the days of franchise domination are numbered. Traveler preferences are changing, and technology, once available only to chains, is becoming more accessible. As a result, more and more hoteliers will continue to make the leap into independence—breaking free from chains and enjoying a newfound freedom.”

Order your copy today!

Lodge: An Indoorsy Tour of America’s National Parks

We’re firm believers of looking everywhere for inspiration. Lodge may not be a how-to book for hoteliers but it speaks to the importance of the guest experience. Moreover, it shows that while midscale and luxury hotels and resorts seem to popping up all over, a rustic lodge that encourages disconnecting and recharging definitely still has its place in hospitality.

From Amazon: “Max Humphrey shines a light on 10 rustic National Park lodges in all their airy, timeworn splendor. No historic photos here; the images of the architecture and interiors are as they look today, highlighting these storied places in a fresh, alluring way. Sure, the lobbies are the main stage, but Humphrey touches on grand dining rooms, guest rooms, and rustic canteens alike. He writes about the buildings themselves in terms of the historical goings-on at the time, why they were built, and the players involved, highlighting notable architectural moments and period-specific furnishings. A smattering of pop culture history adds extra bursts of levity throughout.”

Grab it today.

Future Hospitality: Impactful Brand Experiences that Drive Sustainable Growth, Happier Guests, and Inspired Staff

Since the latest Jeremy Wells book kicks off this list, let’s take a look at his first book.

Future Hospitality drives home a simple but powerful principle that KRG shares. Put simply, hospitality is a mindset. This book also explains how an operator’s brand strategy plays a significant role in embodying that important principle.

From Amazon: “The purpose of this book is to help you understand the significance of making people feel good, and how the principles of strategic brand development can dramatically influence how you go about doing it.

“Without the core foundational component of a brand strategy in place at your business, I believe that you’ll be fighting an uphill battle that you don’t need to fight. If your business means anything to you, then you need to make it mean something to others.”

Order your copy here.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Again, we don’t always have to look at the hospitality industry for inspiration or lessons. We can learn from businesses that appear to have nothing to do with our own.

There are several lessons we can learn from Phil Knight and his leadership of Nike. For example, the following quotes are attributed to Knight:

  • “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
  • “Let everyone else call your idea crazy; just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

From Amazon: “In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the boot of his Plymouth, Knight grossed $8000 in his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognisable symbols in the world today.”

Pick up your copy.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

If you have yet to read Bar Hacks, written by KRG Hospitality president and Bar Hacks podcast creator Doug Radkey, you need to pick your copy up today.

Without an understanding and appreciation of the fundamentals, long-term success is essentially an impossibility.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Boutique Hotels. Resorts. Properties. Consultant. Feasibility Study. Business Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

by Jennifer Radkey

Red neon "hotel" sign in Copenhagen

Mindset can dictate one’s level of happiness but what some people don’t realize is that it also impacts their business and everyone in it.

Moods like happiness or hostility. Growth or fixed worldviews. Positivity versus negativity. For operators and leadership team members, mindset doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, one’s attitude affects and influences staff, guests, and others.

So what is mindset exactly?

Simply stated, mindset is an individual’s usual attitude or mental state. It reflects someone’s way of thinking and motivates their actions. So, why is it important to be aware of your mindset?

Well, if your mindset dictates how you show up in your life each and every day, it will influence all parts of your life.

Your thoughts about yourself, others, your business, your opportunities and your challenges… All influenced by your mindset. Your mindset can either hinder or promote your overall well-being and success in life.

The interesting thing about mindset is that it has the ability to changeif you want. It can also be influenced by your environment and those around you. These facts led me to question if the different sectors of the hospitality industry face unique mindset challenges.

To find answers and gain further insight I decided to turn to our team at KRG Hospitality for their thoughts. In turn, I’ve written a series of hospitality mindset articles. To read the first entry in this series, the Bar Edition, please click here.

In this article I’ll explore the hotel industry, with thoughts from hospitality consultant Kim Richardson. Follow the series as I explore mindset in restaurants, hotels, bars, and start-up operations.

Let’s dive in!

The Hotel Industry

The hotel industry is vast and can be segmented into different sectors. These sectors include: lodging and accommodation, food and beverage, travel and tourism, entertainment and recreation, and timeshare and meetings.

Not only is the industry vast in its sectors, there are an array of categories. There are motels, inns and resorts, and independent, boutique and global brands. Budget, midscale, and luxury properties, and everything in between.

Different types of hotels will vary slightly in their management styles and success challenges, but most will share common mindset themes.

Successful Operators

Operating a successful hotel takes a certain mindset. You need to be organized, open-minded to growth strategies, mindful of your sectors and how they interact with each other, and responsive to the needs of your teams.

Curious about what makes one hotel stand above another, I asked Kim what contributes to a successful operator. She responded with the perspective of a general manager of a large hotel, and then from the perspective of an owner of a small boutique hotel.

“One thing that really sets the hotel world aside from the rest of the hospitality industry is the multiple facets of the different departments,” says Kim. “You’re essentially running several businesses inside of one business. All of these different departments’ successes and failures impact the other departments. I think it’s important for operators and general managers to truly have a pulse on what’s going on throughout the building and, more importantly, when a department has a success or failure, how the other departments contributed to that.”

When it comes to smaller boutique hotels or inns, Kim believes that “the ability to wear many hats and jump in as needed” is a crucial success skill for owners as they often work with a much smaller team and may need to be more hands on. Hand in hand with the ability to multi-task and wear many hats is having excellent time management skills.

Whether you are the GM of a large hotel or an owner of a small boutique hotel, it is essential to constantly “have a pulse on the business coming in the door.”

Operator Challenges

Operators need a positive, strategic, growth mindset to be successful in the hotel industry. This is a mindset that needs to be consistently cultivated, as there are challenges that will affect your daily thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

When asked what specific challenges hotel operators face that may affect their mindset, Kim shared her thoughts, again from the perspectives of a large hotel GM and that of a smaller boutique hotel owner.

Accountability

Being responsible for and held accountable to all levels of positions in your establishment can be exhausting, stressful, and frustrating.

“A general manager of a hotel has a lot of people to answer to. They have people above them in corporate making demands of them on a daily basis (budgets, goals, etc.). They have staff that they employ and need to keep happy. They have guests they need to keep happy,” Kim says. “With this many responsibilities, time management alone can be stressful. Finding a happy medium is close to impossible. Not every decision you make is going to please all three parties. This position can suffer from burnout just as much as the rest of their team.”

Overwhelm

Operators of boutique hotels and inns fall into danger of taking on too much themselves while feeling the success of their venue lies entirely on their shoulders.

Burnout, fear, and exhaustion are all possibilities in this situation.

“In a small boutique hotel, the owner and operator wears many hats,” says Kim. “They are often having to jump in and run many departments. If you’re short staffed in one area, you’re going to have to jump in. This can create a situation where you’re spending so much time working in the business that you struggle to work on growing the business. The overall stress of the success of the business is much more when you own your own hotel. Competing against big hotels with larger marketing budgets and known names can be a challenge.” 

Employee Challenges

Your team also experiences their own unique set of challenges that can affect their well-being and mindset.

Being aware of these challenges is important if you hope to create a culture of respect, collaboration, and trust.

When asked what specific challenges hotel staff face, Kim had some insights.

On Demand

It’s no secret that the hotels operate in a 24-hour industry. No matter what time of day or night, a hotel never truly “sleeps.” This on-demand atmosphere can be stressful for your team.

“Since the building is open 24 hours, guests tend to think you are also available 24 hours,” Kim says. “There is always the possibility that you could get a call at any time when you’re not working. Not only does the guest perceive you as always available, some managers expect the same from you, too.”

Broken Telephone

Working in a 24-hour environment means that you may not always be working with the same people every shift. In establishments with several departments, you may never have direct interaction with a lot of your team.

This can all lead toward miscommunication, frustration, and blame.

“Communication can fall short,” explains Kim. “There can be people who work in other departments that you are never in the building with at the same time. There are typically many procedures in place to communicate between departments, but things still get missed.”

Harmful Beliefs in the Hotel Industry

How you feel about the people you work with and/or work for can have major impacts on your overall mindset.

If your daily thoughts regarding your team are negative, it suddenly becomes very challenging to create a successful hotel. Why would they be excited to come to work and proud of your hotel if their efforts are only ever met with negativity?

The hotel industry has a few specific, common harmful beliefs that are prevalent in many establishments. Being aware and knowing how to acknowledge and combat these beliefs is crucial to creating a more positive work environment.

Assumptions

When I asked Kim what one of the most prevalent harmful beliefs operators harbor about their teams, she discussed the assumptions that are often made.

“I think proprietors sometimes think that what they’re asking is easy and doable,” posits Kim. “When a business is not doing well they tend to look at the quality of their staff versus quality of the processes.”

Assumptions without clarity or reason can be extremely harmful to your workplace culture. Not only are operators holding assumptions about their team, but their team holds assumptions about leadership.

Staff often feel that operators and members of the leadership team are out of touch with the reality of their market, and that they place unrealistic expectations on them. There are assumptions made that leadership does not want them to succeed personally.

“Revenue goals are increased just because they want more money but haven’t put thought into whether or not it’s attainable to make the money,” says Kim. “Operators don’t want to see people get bonuses, so in turn they raise goals. Doing well one year will only hurt you in the next year because all goals will be raised. Staff feel overworked and underpaid, leading them to believe that ownership is cheap and always giving a two-person job to one person.”

Toxic Culture

The last thing that any hospitality business needs is a toxic culture. A toxic workplace culture encourages and breeds negative mindsets on all levels.

How can you be successful if your team dreads coming in for their daily shift?

I asked Kim what can create toxic culture in a hotel, and she shared her thoughts and experiences.

“One of the biggest challenges that I always felt in hotels is the divide amongst departments. It’s very similar to the front-of-house, back-of-house animosity that often exists in restaurants,” shares Kim. “One department always feels that another department was not mindful of how their decisions impact their department. What I came to realize is sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not.  There’s always going to be that person who decided to make the decision that was best for their day or made them look good in accomplishing their own job.”

“However, I don’t think that is the intention of most people,” continues Kim. “With so many different types of roles in a hotel, you will never understand all of the inner workings of another department. Each department has to make the decision that best accomplishes their goal for the guest and their department. When the communication breaks down between departments and there is no understanding of how they impact each other, animosity is created.”

Moving Forward

Understanding the challenges that operators and staff are currently facing and acknowledging the importance of a growth mindset and the need for change, what positive changes have been occurring in the industry as a whole?

“Some hotels have increased wages. Some have been more open to hybrid positions of remote and on-property work since the pandemic,” Kim says. “However, there are some that are now trying to do away with those. Also, there are only a few departments in the hotel that can benefit from this as many of them need to be on property to do their jobs.”

“Overall, I haven’t seen a ton of change. There are still so many people struggling with work-life balance in the hospitality industry,” Kim continues. “I just talked to a friend the other day who has told me for years that she’s a lifer in hotels and she’s never going anywhere. She is the last person I thought I’d hear this from, but she’s feeling burnout and is not sure how much longer she can last. This is someone who is excellent at their job. Really understands the business, is a hard worker, team player, willing to go the extra mile. How many people do we find like that, that we are throwing away by putting unachievable standards on?”

Room for Improvement

Although some operators are becoming more aware of the well-being of those working in this industry, there are still many changes that need to happen. Kim believes that there are three simple changes that need to happen.

“We need to stop losing people that want to be lifers over things like burnout and lack of work-life balance. Genuine gratitude and respect from superiors goes a long way. Better communication and accountability are a must,” says Kim.

Final Thoughts

Hotels are a complex entity with many moving parts. It takes a strategic and positive mindset to ensure success and a happy work environment.

The reality is that there will always be challenges that will affect your thoughts and behaviors. You will have bad days but that is all they are: bad days.

It is the leader who can recognize these setbacks as temporary and use them to fuel their mindset towards making positive change who will come out on top.

I’ll leave you with a few last words of wisdom from KRG Hospitality hotel and restaurant consultant Kim Richardson.

“When guests come to stay at a hotel, it is their home for the duration they are there. They are there much longer than grabbing a cup of coffee or a night out to dinner. They can feel the demeanor of the staff,” says Kim. “Positive work environments exude happiness for the guests. When the employees are unhappy, the guests leave unhappy. Mindset can be contagious, and while the internal feelings trickle down to the guests, it starts way before that. If a positive energy is being given off from the leaders in the building, it can have a great impact on the staff, which then impacts the guests.

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fire and Ice: Bring Your Teams Together

Fire and Ice: Bring Your Teams Together

by Jared Boller

Ice on fire inside of a Martini glass

If you want to elevate your concept you need to ensure the front- and back-of-house teams are working with each other, not against one another.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy rivalry and competition, of course. But the key word there is “healthy.” Both teams are crucial to your success, even if they seem like polar opposites.

Analogies are one of the singular greatest educational selling points when you have a group of people in front of you. Not only do they help you get your point across, they also help you to make a topic relatable to the listening novice.

In hospitality there are numerous ways to use analogies as teaching tools. When it comes to mixology or bartending, I like to use fire and ice to represent the kitchen and the bar.

I take this approach because the bar (ice) is the friendly counterpart to the fast and furious kitchen (fire). If you follow my train of thought, you’ll see why I preferthis approach: ultimately, we’re speaking about temperature and its importance in both spaces.

Consider the art of crafting cocktails. You and your bar team should understand dilution and melting rates the same way you know how important temperatures are to steaks. Nine times out of ten, individuals at the table have a personal preference regarding the temperature of their steak.

Guests don’t hesitate to relay this information to the server. Next, the chef and their brigade uses fire and cooking times to ensure each state is cooked properly. Not only that, the mastery of their craft leads to each steak coming out at the same time, cooked to each guest’s preference.

This process is the same for the bar. Stirred, shaken, egg-white cocktails… Bartenders must master their craft to ensure they understand the different types and uses of ice (or no ice) when building drinks. Moreover, they need to use that knowledge to ensure each drink for a table or group comes out at the same time, with the appropriate level of coldness.

In the end, when drinks hit the pass or server’s station, we want drink orders to be delivered as quickly as possible because they’re on the clock. The ice in the drinks start to melt. Hot food begins to get cold. We’re fighting time.

Understanding temperatures and times relates directly to the guest experience. We can tell how well-oiled and skillful front- and back-of-house teams are by watching drinks and dishes hit tables.

Fire

According to Anthropologist Richard Wrangham, who wrote the book Catching fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, people started cooking over open fire more than two million years ago.

Wrangham states that cooking was first seen as “simply chunking a raw hunk of something into flames and watching it sizzle.” Modern chefs may not agree with this style but we are able to see that early human “cooks” came to a few realizations regarding their use of fire. Their food was healthier, tastier, and they may have had more revitalized immune systems.

Obviously, the evolution of modern cooking techniques have advanced through tools, techniques, and vessels over the years. However, regardless of how much innovation we introduce to our kitchens, we’re still using fire and heat to cook our food.

Unless they’re expecting a salad, sushi, or another amazing raw or cold food, guests anticipate their food will be hot or warm upon arriving in front of them. Great chefs take control of their kitchens, techniques, and tools. Their masters of temperature. They have a nearly supernatural understanding of timing.

It’s always a site to behold when someone is masterful in the kitchen. A seemingly endless number of pots and pans raging on burners. Infinite elements of dishes flowing in and out of ovens. Chaos to the novice’s eyes but in reality, flawlessly composed dishes arriving at perfect temperatures.

Ice

We can trace the use of ice in drinks as far back as ancient Egypt. Icy drinks are also well documented by first-century Roman society; emperors, it’s claimed, enjoyed “chilled” cocktails via glacier runoff extracted from the mountains.

Emperors, according to some historians, would store giant blocks of ice in cool cellars, garnishing their tipples with shards of ice. This was both a decadent display of their elite status, and evidence that humans have long appreciated a cold, refreshing drink.

It wasn’t until early 1800s Boston that humankind really began to master ice. A young entrepreneur, Frederic “The Ice King” Tudor, pursued an idea with his brother and launched the ice or frozen water trade. Over the course of just a few decades, the New England-based trade was able to ship ice worldwide.

The Wenham Lake Ice Company, established in the 1840s, harvested giant blocks from the eponymous lake and stored them in a network of ice houses, accessed by a small railroad system. Once a luxury, ice was on its way to going mainstream. Everyone was coming to the realization that drinks tasted better with a bit of dilution and colder temperatures.

Eventually, ice production led to ice harvesting innovations. For example, Clinebell machines that use cold plates to 300-pound, crystal-clear blocks. Along with being clear, the ice blocks are super dense to reduce dilution rates significantly. From glaciers to “harvesting” ice from lakes to full-on factory production, our obsession with ice has led to technological innovation.

Interestingly, however, early 19th century methods of ice extraction are once again in vogue. A cadre of passionate bartenders who view ice as a premium ingredient in and of itself are hand carving ice cubes, spheres, and spears for perfectly curated Negronis or Old-fashioneds.

Takeaway

The bottom line is, temperature is important to anyone working in hospitality. Kitchen and bar teams need to work together to create the best possible products.

Some people think of food or drinks when asked to consider the best restaurants and bars in the world. However, those are products. What sets the best concepts apart is the teams they’ve each built and nurtured.

It’s the passion of each team member and their consideration of the fine details that makes a restaurant or bar notable. So, when we think about fire and ice, we can consider this idea the ultimate geekery in regard to our profession.

Take it from me: When the front of the house and back of the house collaborate, then they’re in sync with one another and nail the small details, they transform first-time guests to repeat brand evangelists.

They may not understand why their experience was so incredible but they’ll become outspoken ambassadors.

Image: Alexander Startsev on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Mixology Training with Jared Boller

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Use this Powerful Communication Style

The Powerful Communication Style You Should Be Using

by Jennifer Radkey

Graffiti that reads, "It doesn't have to be so complicated"

There’s a powerful method of communication operators can learn to use that promotes workplace collaboration and solves problems.

How to communicate with team members is a topic that comes up regularly in my coaching sessions with restaurant, bar, and hotel owners. Most of the concerns center around how to speak to employees when they are not following company policy; their level of service is not meeting company standards; or the quality of their work has decreased.

These are legitimate concerns when you are attempting to not only run a successful business but foster a positive work culture in your establishment.

After coaching my clients through understanding what their current style of communication looks like and how it is or is not working for them, I introduce them to a style of communication that I feel leads to the most effective overall results: the use of declarative language.

The declarative language approach was first introduced to me through a positive parenting online conference I attended. Author Linda Murphy wrote the Declarative Language Handbook, which teaches parents, caregivers, educators, and others how to communicate with children (particularly those with social learning challenges) to feel competent, connected, and understood.

As I dove into learning about this style of communication, I realized just how powerful it would be in the workplace. It is a method that can promote respect, collaboration, and empowerment. It can also, in turn, remove judgment, assumptions, hostility, and blame.

What is Declarative Language?

To answer this question, I’ll need to take you back for a quick grammar lesson.

Sentences can be categorized under four main types: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory.

Declarative sentences are statements. These can be a statement of a fact, an observation, or a feeling. For example: “It is raining out.” “I’m going to open a new bar next month.” “Pineapple should never be on pizza.”

Interrogative sentences ask a question: “Why are you late for your shift?” “How can I make a million dollars this quarter?” “Who ever thought it was a good idea to put pineapple on pizza?”

Imperative sentences give a command. “Go clean those tables.” “Follow me.” “Pick off the pineapple from that pizza.”

Exclamatory sentences show something that we would shout or emphasize with an exclamation mark: “I made a million dollars this quarter!” “Yikes!” “Pineapple on pizza is the best ever!”

Powerful Communication

So, now that you’ve had a grammar refresher, let’s take a look at how declarative language can be a powerful method for communicating, and why the other styles may not be creating the results you want to see.

As an owner or manager, you may often find yourself falling into the use of interrogative and imperative statements. The problem with this is that both styles can stir up negative emotions in the person on the receiving end.

Interrogative statements (questions) tend to incite the fight, flight, or freeze mode. People feel put on the spot and may become defensive or anxious.

Imperative statements (commands) tend to be authoritarian in nature and have the potential to create fear and/or resentment. Employees are looking for team leaders who they can respect and turn to for guidance, not someone who is constantly telling them what to do.

Declarative language, when used to state observations, can be a way to open up discussions without defensiveness or fear. It also leaves room for facts instead of assumptions. The declarative language approach that I suggest my clients use looks something like this:

  • Make an observation statement.
  • Be silent.
  • Actively listen.
  • Collaborate.
  • Actively listen.
  • Proactively decide on solutions.
  • Gratitude/Positivity.

The easiest way to demonstrate this practice is through an example or two. First, we’ll look at an example with “Sam.”

Example #1

Sam just showed up for his shift at the quick-service restaurant he works at out of uniform. His manager notices and approaches him. The declarative language approach would look something like the example below.

Manager: Hey Sam, I notice that you aren’t wearing your uniform. (Declarative observation that quietly gives time for Sam to respond.)

Sam: Yeah, sorry, I spilled coffee all down the front of my shirt on the way here and didn’t have time to go home to change.

Manager: Okay, I understand, life happens. Any ideas on how we can resolve this? (Puts power to solve the problem in Sam’s hands.)

Sam: Do you have an extra shirt I can borrow for today’s shift?

Manager: Yeah, I actually do. Great plan. Let me go grab it for you and you can use the staff washroom to get changed.

Sam: Thanks.

Manager: No problem. Have a great shift! See you out there.

As you can see from this exchange, the manager did not make any assumptions as to why Sam wasn’t in uniform. Instead, they demonstrated empathy and respect. By asking if Sam had any ideas for resolving the issue, the manager provided room for collaboration as a team. Further, this approach empowered Sam to take responsibility and come up with the solution.

Example #2

Now, let’s look at “Lisa.”

Lisa is typically very punctual for her shift working concierge at a hotel. However, the past two weeks she has been regularly showing up 10 to 15 minutes late. Below, how the owner of the hotel would use the declarative language approach to discuss this issue with Lisa.

Owner: Hi Lisa, I’ve noticed that you have been starting your shift 10 to 15 mins late the past couple of weeks. You aren’t typically late for work. I’m curious about what’s changed. (Declarative observation; the owner then waits quietly for Lisa to respond.)

Lisa: I’m so sorry, I had to switch my child’s daycare and it’s on the other side of town. I’m struggling making it here on time with traffic.

Owner: That sounds stressful. What do you think we can do to work with this change to ensure that you can still arrive on time for your shifts?

Lisa: Would it be possible to switch my shift to a later time?

Owner: Let me look into that option for you. You are an asset to our team and I’m sure we will find a solution to this. I’ll get back to you later with some options, and you can let me know what would work best.

Lisa: Thank you so much for understanding.

In this exchange, the owner does not make assumptions as to why Lisa has been late. Rather, they show genuine curiosity as to what’s going on. Again, the owner empathizes with Lisa’s situation and then places power back into Lisa’s hands to think of a solution. The conversation ends on a positive note with gained clarity, respect, and appreciation.

Lead by Example

If you are looking to build a team of empowered individuals who can solve problems and collaborate, you need to lead by example. The use of declarative language can help you accomplish exactly that.

However, it is crucial to note that if you decide to try this method of communication, your intention needs to be positive. Declarative statements will not be as successful if your tone is sarcastic or accusing. Your approach must be casual, caring, respectful, and matter of fact.

Additionally, not every conversation will go smoothly using this method. You may receive “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” as an answer. But for the most part, this method of communication allows for respectful discussion that acknowledges facts, promotes responsibility for one’s own actions, and decreases assumptions.

If you would like more information on how to use the declarative language approach, or would like to set up a coaching session to be coached on how to use this communication style with your team, please reach out to me!

Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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