A 2016 Action Plan from A-Z
by Jim Sullivan
What’s your plan for improvement in the next twelve months? I’ve got an alphabet-full of ideas for you…
A: Action is great, unless it’s the wrong action. So start here with some advice from Guy Kawasaki: Always be selling, not strategizing about selling. Train your customer-facing team to be service-oriented salespeople, not “order-takers.”
B: Best beats first. Master and then excel at executing the fundamentals. Do the common things uncommonly well.
C: Consistency is the backbone of great customer service and value. Habitual consistency is the keystone of foodservice operators that succeed in good times and bad.
D: DIRFT means Do It Right the First Time. Practice with the team, but never on the customer. Assess all processes with this question: “What could go wrong?’ Then have an advance plan to minimize mistakes.
E: Everything you don’t sell has a triple cost. You pay to buy it, store it and throw it away. A dollar on the shelf that you don’t need is a dollar wasted. But remember…
F: Food cost is secondary to menu merchandising. If nobody buys your food or beverage what difference does cost make? (See “A” above.)
G: Government and business do not go well together. Play by the rules. Don’t do anything that gets the local, state or federal government further involved in your restaurant.
H: Hiring the right people will not insure a manager’s success but hiring the wrong people will insure the manager’s failure. Why? See next letter.
I: “If your average server waits on thirty people a night and works six nights a week he or she will be impacting 180 of your customers each week,” says restaurateur Rich Melman. “If you don’t have the right people in the right place, you’re making a big mistake.”
J: Jumpstart every shift with a clear shared goals and an energetic, focused pre-shift meeting. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out our best-selling DVD called Jumpstart here in the Sullivision.com Store
K: Keep cool but do not freeze. A/K/A The Hellmann’s Principle (from the side of a mayonnaise jar)
L: Learning is to the team what service is to the customer. Give it in abundance. Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.
M: Manage in good times as if you were operating in bad times, because eventually bad times will come.
N: Never lower your standards just so a mediocre applicant can raise theirs.
O: Overteach. Managers and employees tend to under-learn and over-forget.
P: Procrastination is the devil’s chloroform. If the task is small, do it now. If it’s big, do a part of it now and a part of it tomorrow and another part the next day.
Q: Quality is a bedrock fundamental of successful operators. Customers will forgive us for a higher price, but never for lower quality.
R: Results, not “effort” call for reward. Get 1% better every day and where will you be 100 days from now?
S: Statistic that Matters: There are currently 11 million people working in America’s restaurants—that’s seven times more than the entire U.S. Armed Forces. Outside of government, we are the nation’s largest employer.
T: Turnover reduction must be a primary goal for 2016. Shoot for 3% less turnover each month, 36% by year’s end.
U: Understand how other industries excel at service, selling, recruiting, training. Study retail, manufacturing and internet companies. The best practices in foodservice are not that great.
V: Value is determined by the guest. It combines quality, price, service, cleanliness and sometimes, speed. It’s made up of a thousand little things we do day and day out that the customer may not even notice…until we don’t do them. Get the basics down pat.
W: “Winning is not a ‘sometime’ thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”– Vince Lombardi
X: X-rays reveal what’s below the surface. Take a good look at the underlying systems and processes that support your operation. Improve each one each week. Don’t wake up a year from now to find yourself 52 potential improvements behind.
Y: Yoda said it best: Do or do not. There is no “try.”
Z: Zealot is defined in the dictionary as “a fanatical partisan.” Create the kind of experiences that transform casual customers into brand apostles for your business. There’s an epidemic of sameness in foodservice today that presents real opportunity for operators focused on passion, purpose and performance, one customer, one transaction at a time.
Once you master the ABCs you realize that the Little things are really the Big Things.