Find out if you are wasting budget on feedback strategies that no longer hold up for your company

Below are the top five that need to be kicked to the curb.

1 Waiting for feedback from post-stay reviews or check-out surveys. When it comes to getting a complete view of your guest or client, relying on the traditional check-out survey is a thing of the past. Information collected post-stay is too late to make any difference. By collecting feedback before guests or client’s check out, staff can respond immediately to comments, requests and complaints.

2 Focusing on most frequent guest problems. Oftentimes hoteliers focus on fixing the most frequent and common problems to improve guest satisfaction. It makes sense to reduce the number of incoming complaints and work on dealing with them first. But the most frequent problems might not have the largest impact on customer loyalty. In fact, it could be extremely costly to fix with a small ROI. Instead of focusing on the problems that occur most often, find out which problems have the biggest impact on loyalty—those are the ones that ultimately affect return rates and referrals.

3 Relying on the four P’s of marketing to drive business. Although aggressive pricing and promotions can be compelling offers, they are not a sustainable strategy. Many businesses are fixated on offering short-term promotions to get immediate results. So they lower prices to get results ASAP.  But having the lowest price in the market doesn’t guarantee you’ll take business from competitors.  Competitors with lower operating costs may be able to beat you on price alone which could force you to take further price reductions that reduce your profits.

4 Leaving decision-making for the HQ. Some hospitality managers are slow to give up their command-and-control approach. They believe the top-down direction is efficient, reduces conflict and maintains alignment with a single-company vision. But sharing information with staff is critical to leverage employees’ experience and let them react quickly to situations.

5 Dedicating company efforts to NPS score. What’s your NPS (Net Promoter Score)? This new loyalty measure has been embraced by companies across the globe as a key performance metric of their business. Indeed, the NPS is a very simple metric designed to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customers. And it’s calculated based on customers’ responses to one survey question: “Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Don’t get stuck in the status quo. Customer feedback programs are transforming businesses. The power of new feedback platforms allow companies to quickly and accurately identify actionable issues and adapt in real time by taking immediate steps that will boost customer retention, differentiate their business and quickly grow revenue.

7 Habits of Remarkably Likeable Bosses


If they like you, really like you, you will actually be a better boss. Here’s how to make that happen.

According to recent research, 86 percent of employees believe that if they like their boss they are more productive. So forget about cracking the whip. Instead, build these seven habits into your leadership persona.

1. Be Friendly

Sounds obvious, but simply taking a moment to greet your employees (by name!) and make small talk with them goes a long way to increasing your likeability as a boss. Be as approachable and accessible as possible. Take time to compliment employees and ask them how their day is going. Be patient; remember that it’s important to set aside time for your people, no matter how busy you are. In fact, that busyness-;yours and theirs-;makes a friendly word even more important.

2. Be Available

Some pretty amazing ideas come from front-line employees, but if the higher-ups aren’t approachable by employees most these ideas will never surface. Employees are more likely to come to their bosses with ideas and potential solutions when their bosses make it clear that they value their employees’ opinions and want to hear them. While not every idea is going to be a winner, it’s very much in your interest to hear people out. Showing employees that their opinions and ideas are important to the company is a wonderful way to keep your team energized and happy–and boost your likeability along the way.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, so try to be flexible whenever you can. Decide what rules you will make exceptions for and avoid putting too much stress on the little things. Be understanding when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. Offer second chances whenever possible. Make sure that the work gets done, but be flexible when it comes to personal matters, weather, or traffic.

4. Be Positive

Just as negative energy can rub off on others, so can positive energy. While negative emotions on your part tend to create negative outcomes in both your people and your organization, positive emotions help your employees open up to a universe of new options and alternatives. Be optimistic and genuine with the people working around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making the workplace a healthy and constructive place to be.

5. Be Dependable

You need to believe that your employees will get the job done, and they need to be able to depend on you to support them in good times and bad. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, no matter how small. Employees must be able to trust you because their future is in your hands. Having a flaky boss will result in unhappy and disengaged employees who would rather be working somewhere else.

6. Be Grateful

Everyone wants to know how they are doing, so give feedback. Praise is just important as criticism, and you should regularly complement your people for a job well done. As human beings, we subconsciously seek praise in all aspects of our lives, including the job. Show your appreciation in a variety of ways. Keep it fresh and genuine.

7. Be Compassionate

Try to see yourself through your employees’ eyes–are you someone you would like? Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and have compassion for their trials and tribulations as well as their accomplishments and victories. Having (and showing) true compassion for your employees may take effort on your part, but the results will be well worth it. Your people will respect you as a leader, and they will find you more likeable–increasing their loyalty and effectiveness as a result.


How To Optimize Your Menu Profit « Menu Engineering »


Let’s face it; everyone in the restaurant industry is looking for a leg up on the competition and trying to maximize profits. Having worked with Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics tools over the past decade, I’ve found restaurant chains are pushing the envelope by assembling an optimized menu mix using a back office technique called Menu Engineering.

When you do a quick search for “Menu Engineering”, you will find a whole host of consultants vying to help restaurants figure out what should be on an optimized menu.  They’ll even suggest how and in what order those products should be displayed to customers. Restaurant owners are quick to see the value in doing this type of analysis, but the first step is always the same: you need the right data to get started. 

The question then becomes, what is the right data and how do I get it? 

First, let’s focus on what is the “right” data. In order to get meaningful results from your analysis, your data set needs to include the following data:

1. Transaction level detail: First things first, you need to have comprehensive data on the number of sales of each menu item, including timeframe and how much they actually sold for. You also need this information captured for all the restaurants for which you want to run the analysis. Lastly, think about how often you are going to run this analysis and for what date range. If you have one year’s worth of data, then you could not only run a quarterly analysis, but also compare the current quarter’s results against the previous quarter to see how the outcomes may have changed over time.

2. Ingredient Cost: This might sound simple, but the ingredient cost for each menu item can make or break the process and is the most essential aspect of Menu Engineering. If you can’t effectively breakdown what your product costs your restaurant to make, then you have no shot at determining what the profitability is of the sold product. Not only do you really need to understand your ingredient costs, you need to make sure that they are calculated and reported the same way across all your restaurants.

3. Menu Segmentation: Comparing apples to apples (pun intended) is important. Menu segmentation into categories like entrees, appetizers and desserts or subcategories such as breakfast, lunch or dinner will give you the option to compare like items. Certainly, you can analyze the results across all segments, but more value can be captured when comparing one entrée to other entrees on the menu, or one lunch item to other lunch items. Again, much like costing, these categories must be consistent across the entire data set so that the results of the analysis will be useable.

Now we focus on the second part of the question, where do you get the data from?

This is where business intelligence and analytics platforms come in. A typical platform will access a comprehensive data warehouse pre-populated with all the data (and a lot more) mentioned above.  This data is accumulated and driven by your enterprise back office solution.  

With a BI tool used in connection with a back office solution, a menu mix analysis should only take a few minutes to complete. You will still need to set up how you want to classify your Dogs, Stars, Puzzles and Plow Horses – or whatever your chosen methodology is.

Simply point it at your data set, pick the date ranges and let the report engine do the work for you.  Then, when you want run this analysis the following quarter (or whenever), simply adjust the date range.

How to Write Amazing Procedures That Your Employees Will Actually Use To Get Tasks Done Correctly !



Are your Employees bored to sleep by your procedures?

Most procedures are boring! The steps are mundane and the result aren’t fulfilling to employees. They have a difficult time seeing the big picture when they’re just a perceived “minor” piece of the puzzle that makes your business successful.

When a business operates with boring procedures failure is usually right around the corner.

 The Promise: Steps to Creating Amazing Procedures

This article will outline steps for creating amazing procedures. Your business relies so much on the great people you have working within the company. But you can’t experience success if you’re employees are frustrated with your boring procedures.

To create procedures that your Employees with actually love to use, you first have to understand psychology. This article will provide you with the understanding and the steps you need to create amazing procedures.


Step One: Use the Four Modes of Learning


There are four modes of learning:

  1. Reading and Writing

2. Auditory

3. Visual

4. Kinesthetic

When creating procedures for your company, figure out how each of your employees learns. This comes through interviews and observations.

Once you realize how your employees best learn you can alter the procedures to give them a better chance for success in repeating the procedure over and over for the success of the company.

For example, the building organization in Australia known as HIA has an apprenticeship program. The case studies discussed shows how two struggling young adults found what they needed by taking part in the program. They were able to learn while on the job and now have bigger ambitions. They want to improve building procedures and find success on their own.

Take Action: Investigate the learning styles of your employees. Fit the procedures you have in place to each employee. Those that want to read should have manuals. Those that are auditory learners should get audio recordings. Visual learners get YouTube videos and so forth.

  Step Two: Use Intrinsic Motivation


The best employees are self-motivated by procedures. They focus on peak performance.

There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is when people are driven to succeed for internal reasons. Usually, people with intrinsic motivation are driven because they are truly interested in what they are doing or they find enjoyment and pleasure in the task.

Extrinsic motivation is when people are driven to succeed for the things like rewards or for the “I told you so” factor. These are external motivations that require something outside of the person’s own control.

People that are self-motivated are driven by procedures because they know it will lead to success.

Ideally, your hiring process will focus on intrinsic motivation for all new hires. You want people that are driven to be part of a team. You want people that show inclination to find joy in repeating procedures in pursuit of the big picture goals (see below).

You want people on your team like Dixie Ross who loves her teaching job. This is an example of someone that has found her passion. Every day she goes into her job with the big picture goal of giving students the knowledge they need for a successful life. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes repeat procedures or lessons plans to accomplish the goal.

Take Action: Figure out what drives your employees and tweak your procedures so they are intrinsically motivated to perform well. Take the time to interview employees. Ask them what drives them professionally. Ask them what they want to accomplish and figure out a way to make each procedure they perform complementary to those goals while also accomplishing the procedure in the best interest of your company.

Step Three: Show The Big Picture


Use your procedures to share your big picture goals

Procedures can be repetitive and mundane. Over time, employees lose interest in repeating tasks because they have already accomplished the task in the past.

To keep employees interested, create short and long-term goals from your procedures. Let your employees know they are doing the same procedure over and over again in pursuit of a larger goal.

In other words, communicate how your regular procedures are part of the big picture. Without every step in the process being completed at the best of everyone’s ability the business will not function correctly.

For example, top athletes in the world often repeat basic procedures. In sports, these procedures are called the fundamentals.

Here is a glimpse at one of the greatest athletes ever and how he handles basic procedures.

“Tiger Woods never leaves the golf course without having made 100 putts in a row. It’s a basic practice procedure, but one that he knows will deliver the long-term goal of winning tournaments.”

Tiger Woods, the best golfer of all time, puts in time working on basic procedures like making short putts. In fact, his normal practice routine goes from shortest shots and builds to the longer shots.

How does Tiger continue to maintain his drive to succeed when he’s repeating these basic tasks all the time? The answer lies in how Tiger approaches procedures. He knows that the big picture is winning tournaments and ultimately winning major championships.

But in order to win those tournaments he has to complete the basic procedures every day at peak performance. If he ever loses that focus the long-term goals will never be met.

Take Action: For your business you need to communicate the big picture with your employees. Maybe it’s a certain level of sales. Maybe it’s becoming the biggest company in your industry.

Explain the big picture goals to your employees so that they know the importance of each procedure in your business. 

Like Tiger Woods and golf, successful businesses focus on the basic procedures in pursuit of the big picture.

Step Four: Give Employees Ownership of Procedures


When your employees are are intrinsically motivated, they simply need only the opportunity to take ownership of the procedures which you create for them in order for them to succeed at their jobs.

Your task is to create this situation where your employees aren’t simply just following procedures. You want them to feel an ownership of the procedure. This will encourage them to improve the procedures for the betterment of the company.

Here is a great article complete with references on studies showing that giving employees ownership allows them to improve, perform procedures at peak performance and give the business the best chance for success.

An example given is an employee who expresses interest in teaching. As part of the procedure, make teaching part of their job, but give them ownership over making it work. The employee will be driven to make the task successful and they’ll create a procedure that is inherently better than before.

Take Action: As a business owner, you understand the power of ownership. When something is owned, such as your business, the owner is compelled to succeed. Give your employees ownership of their procedures. Put the requirement on them to improve the procedure thus improving the business.

Step Five:

Recognize Those Employees Who Help To Improve Existing Procedures


Award Employees who help to improve your procedures


Over time, your employees will become really good at make use of the procedures. They’ll become so good in fact that you and them will each take it for granted. It’s important to recognize hard work even if it’s become easy for the person carrying out the task.

One of the most successful business managers of all time understands the importance of recognition. Richard Branson of Virgin hosts an awards ceremony each year to recognize individuals in his company. Not only does he recognize them, he recognizes them for completing the important procedures that make the business successful.

The goal of recognition is to make sure employees are recognized for improving procedures. These people will be self-driven, but part of their success will be recognition that they are doing well.

For example, create a game-like atmosphere for various procedures in your company. Ask customer support staff to see how many times they can get a customer to smile at the end of a conversation in a row. It’s a game and because they’re self-driven they’ll want to succeed. If they do succeed recognize them. It can be something as easy as checking in every week to review performance.

Take Action: Make it part of your procedure to recognize employees. When employees are recognized they’ll be even more driven to continue to perform at a high level on daily procedures.


Most companies have procedure problems. Well, the problem isn’t necessary with the procedure, but with how the procedure is presented to employees.If you’re struggling to get your team to complete procedures take it upon yourself to learn about each employee. From there you can use the steps above to motivate your employees and ensure they are driven to succeed with the procedures in the best interest of your company.



Research has shown us that more than 90% of top leadership performers have a high amount of emotional intelligence or EI. The higher up the ladder that leaders are, the more people they impact and their EI becomes increasingly important. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates the organization, including the emotional temperature.

Not only does a leader with low emotional intelligence have a negative impact on employee morale, it directly impacts staff retention. We know that the biggest reason that people give for leaving an organization is the relationship with those above them.

Below are five ways to spot an emotionally intelligent boss.


Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.


Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.


A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.


Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.


While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

How To Keep Employees Engaged And Motivated


When it comes to job satisfaction, financial rewards may be lower on the list than most people think. Being happy with your job seems to depend more on the intangibles: feeling part of a team and being valued and appreciated consistently


Many of the following recommendations may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many managers neglect to follow them.  They can allow you to achieve the Holy Grail of the work place: the ability to motivate your employees to move mountains!  (And they’ll be happy with their jobs while they do it.)

Step 1: Clearly define your vision. Make sure that your vision is provided as a roadmap for your employees, and that they know each twist and turn.

Step 2: Give employees what they want and need. Don’t just assume that each and every one of your employees has all the tools, training, and support from supervisors they need –check in with them personally and find out.

Step 3:  Communicate well and often. Training sessions, memos, newsletters, FAQs, and regular meetings can all be used to present your vision to your employees. Make sure to ask questions, and if they are confused, redesign the way the information reaches them.

Perhaps the most important part of a good manager’s job is communicating effectively. Creating a culture of communication in which managers and employees share common goals and work together to meet them can boost a company up and even save it from the gutter.

Goodman and Truss, in the Journal of Change Management (2004), stressed the importance of communication, especially in difficult times or during times of change. Timing is critical in letting employees know about upcoming changes, in order to reduce uncertainty.  You also need to be very clear about your purpose when you meet with them. Goodman and Truss recommend the following objectives:

  • Obtain individual buy-in
  • Obtain commitment to the change
  • Minimize resistance
  • Reduce personal anxiety
  • Ensure clarity of objectives
  • Share information/vision
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Obtain clarity
  • Minimize uncertainty

(Goodman, J., & Truss, C., (2004). The medium and the message: communicating effectively during a major change initiative. Journal of Change Management, 4, 217-228.)

Step 4:  Get everyone engaged. Figure out a way to get all of your employees engaged in planning and decision-making. That way the project becomes their baby: something they’re willing to fight for.

To do this, whenever possible, ask for input and use their ideas.  This way, they have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed.  This can not only empower and motivate employees, it can also lead to new and more productive ways of working that normally would be overlooked during more stable times.

Step 5: Coach for success, and practice random acts of kindness. Feedback is another great motivator. Don’t wait for the periodic reviews; instead, offer feedback as often as possible. Positive feedback should be given right away, to encourage more of the same performance. Negative feedback should also be given a.s.a.p., so that workers have the opportunity to self-correct. If you can, schedule weekly meetings with individual employees, to provide an opportunity to discuss ongoing projects and issues. These meetings don’t have to take a lot of time, and they can build strong working relationships.

And don’t forget to say “Thank you!” for a job well done.  It’s a powerful motivator, and should be done often–in person if possible. Publicly acknowledging your employees’ contributions is even better. In a survey by McKinsey Quarterly in 2009, praise from immediate supervisors and attention from company leaders were found to be just as important or more important than financial rewards.

Step 6: Act fairly, respect, and create trust (don’t be a jerk). Use your judgment, wisdom, and experience to create a supportive environment.  When problems arise, examine the circumstances, understand the context, and only then pass judgment.  Respect and trust your team and you will get the same in return.  If you make a mistake, apologize and admit you were wrong.  This will allow your employees to relate to you better, and they will appreciate your honesty.

Step 7: Trust and verify, but also try to make work fun. Good bosses pay attention to the big picture and the details, and care about both the product and the employees. A good way to show that is be involved in the creation process, and to pay attention to what is going on.  And remember to do this with a smile on your face. Lighten up! Making work fun really pays off, since people often get a lot more done when they enjoy themselves.

Step 8: Give special attention to high-potential employees. “Even in a tough economy, high-potential employees have other opportunities,” according to Douglas Klein, president of Sirota Survey Intelligence.  A study they conducted showed that during an economic crisis, employees who are anxious about their future can negatively affect a company. The reason is simple and obvious: they are less engaged in their jobs, and they may be making plans to leave.

To keep them engaged, consider putting more resources into career development and training.  Or perhaps you can give them new projects that will help the company adapt to the changing market, grow, and develop.

Step 9: Be creative to avoid downsizing. “An employer that treats its employees as true partners makes every effort to avoid layoffs,” according to Klein. The key is for employees to trust that management is doing everything possible to retain them. Voluntary steps to reduce costs, which Klein calls “rings of defense” can be employed to avert disaster.

This step may look like a shot in the dark, but you’d be surprised how reasonable people can be about pay cuts and/or working overtime, as part of a crisis strategy, built with their own accord as a safety net during challenging times. The magic of this approach relies on those few words: built with their own accord.

Step 10: Implement incentive programs.

No matter of what kind of business you are in, you should look into incentive programs. They have been shown to be highly beneficial in motivating employees, and a major benefit is that the cost can be based on actual performance and paid out only after an employee has reached the desired goal. “Do good and you’ll get rewarded” makes a positive impact on the company as a whole, with employees working harder to meet the target.

The following results were found in a study by the International Society of Performance Improvement, on the benefits of incentive programs:

They can improve performance significantly. The study found that performance could be increased by 22 percent in individuals, and 44% in teams.
They can improve employee engagement.  Performances improved by 15% when rewards were offered, and if employees were rewarded again to continue performing well, the improvement reached 27%.
They can attract high potential employees. And these high quality employees are also more likely to stay when incentive programs are in place.

En passant


How to Raise-Up Your Food & Beverage  Revenues


There are many reasons why hotel Food and Beverage profits are not what we would like them to be. Foremost among them is usually the fact that revenues are not as high as they might be. The lack of separate identity and entrances for outlets has a negative impact but for the most part hoteliers aren’t the street fighting promoters our free standing restaurant counterparts are. This is quite understandable, after all why should we focus so heavily on Food and Beverage when for the time and money spent it will never be as profitable as the Rooms Division!

There are some subtle differences that make a lot of sense. Think about how you’d spend your finite promotional dollars if you had a choice between promoting the hotel in its entirety or just a profitable restaurant outlet. Clearly it makes more sense to advertise the hotel and its services or to have the sales staff either build commercial room demand or pursue group room bookings. These items have profit margins in excess of 75 – 80%. 

A hotel’s Food and Beverage department is an exception if profit exceeds 20%. In both cases as hoteliers must admit, administrative, marketing, maintenance and utilities expenses are not deductions from these margins. Unlike our restaurant counterparts who must bear all these expenses directly we shuffle them off as Unallocated Expenses. In the end it makes sense because most hotel Food and Beverage revenues are driven by the Rooms Department’s level of activity and our buildings and operational structures are not such that some expenses can be isolated cost effectively. Can you imagine the time required to allocate the credit card commission expenses for Food and Beverage charged to the guest rooms from those having to do with the Telephone Department and room sales?

So what do I think the answer is to Food and Beverage profitability in a hotel environment? Increase hotel guest usage, increase hotel guest average checks, and increase outside patronage from the community. You say those things are obvious but do you have a mini-business plan for each of your Food and Beverage outlets? Does it address those items? Is it funded, are all the departments’ employees involved and excited about it? Are the key players motivated with incentives to make the plans succeed?

Mini-business plan? You know, like the one you have for the hotel; revenue and expense goals in detail, staffing plan, capital budget, menu plan and outlet market plan. These are not all new things, everything but the menu plan and outlet market plan should be in your hotel’s annual business plan, so preparing a mini-plan for each Food and Beverage outlet should not be a monumental task.

I refer to these plans as mini-plans because they can be three small lists: standard hotel procedures, one time promotions and advertising. Standard hotel procedures are simple things like having the reception staff mention the outlets to registering guests and having the bell staff mention that night’s restaurant specials while the guest is a captive audience. Some hotels chains has a promotion titled something like, « The Winner is… ». Its based on the envelope they open for the Academy Awards and is a small folded over card which the server opens and entitles the guest to anything from a 10% to 50% discount on dinner. These cards are handed out by the receptionist registering the guest.

Other standard items are elevator displays, in room promotions, and promotional cards given with restaurant and bar checks. Why not room service sales messages adjacent to the emergency telephones at the swimming pool? One hotel we work with in Denver promotes its seafood buffet with a tasteful fish- shaped card stock flyer hanging on the guest room shower heads for arriving guests. Nobody misses seeing it and reading it! 

Standard hotel procedures must include services, attitudes and amenities that are very appealing to the hotel’s guests. Services are kind of obvious but attitudes are a little tougher. Rather than exclusively hiring experienced servers look for people with a positive, cheerful outgoing attitude that either have experience or are trainable. A cheerful good attitude will over-come a lot of service and even quality problems, assuming they are short term! Your servers must enjoy their patrons, thank them for coming, ask them if they will be in tomorrow, how their room is, etc. In short they must care. It will help the food and Beverage outlets and the hotel in general.

Amenities are a more exciting and creative issue. Sure there should be an assortment of newspapers at breakfast and with room service. But what about a heated pot of coffee so that the patrons don’t have to wait to be bothered by, « …more coffee? » every few minutes. Can you promote your restaurant or coffee shop as the area’s power breakfast meeting place? Offer cut fruit with every order for the health conscious and thick slab bacon or what ever is locally popular for the heavy eaters. Why not free shoe shines as patrons leave and for people waiting for a table or for joiners? Dare to be different and work hard to find out what your hotel guests and surrounding community want. Who eats at Perkins and Bakers Square and why? What is so good and unique about them that can’t be copied?

One time promotions are tried and true methods of attracting more business. Most people repeat the same ones year after year. Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and the list goes on. Why not start some new traditions for your restaurant or bar that are annual if not monthly? This morning’s paper mentioned monthly and weekly poetry readings at several Twin Cities bars and restaurants. It seemed like most of them were at slow times on slow days. Imagine free unique entertainment where the patrons entertain themselves and spend a little money! Are poets big drinkers? Anita Blatz at the Chart House in Lakeville is an expert at creating and executing promotions. She puts together big promotions around holidays or creates them out of thin air then goes out and gets others to either donate goods or services for the exposure or to buy booths and space from her. She is a hotelier that the restaurateurs stole from us. The only promotion she ever failed at was one I created to name a remodeled hotel restaurant! One of the keys to Anita’s success is a source book she keeps so that she always knows sources for products and ideas, good and bad.

Advertising for food and beverage outlets ranges from the basics like the Yellow Pages and entertainment directories to such media as radio and television. Any media that can be obtained for free is good as long as one has some control over it. Trade outs are always a good idea. The best trade a Food and Beverage manager can arrange is rooms for advertising! Next to that, beverage for advertising is good if it can be obtained on some multiple like four advertising dollars for one beverage dollar. Doing joint promotions with media outlets is especially effective if one can obtain extra advertising unrelated to the promotion at a later time in order to stay in the audience’s mind.

Never forget the power of good press releases. These should be done for all conventions, banquets, menu changes, new entertainment, etc. Invite the press in to try new menus and to witness promotions. Charities are good tie ins. In an Econo Lodge we manage we have a Charity of the Month where we donate 1% of the hotel’s revenues to charity. For the past two months it has been the Shriners Hospital and for the next few months it will be various parts of the Athletic Department at the University of Minnesota. A similar program at a hotel restaurant will raise the outlet’s profile in the community over time and accomplish worthwhile things. There are obviously direct benefits if the charity is selected wisely. Let me be candid, other charities need money, too, but they aren’t next door to our hotel!

As a final point let me emphasize the value of employee involvement. They should be involved in brainstorming sessions to create ideas in every area affecting revenues and expense control. They know more about the customers and the operations than management and owners do. More importantly when they have bought into the promotional ideas they will be good at delivering the product and service to the patrons but also at going out and promoting it. 

Significant long-term increases in Food and Beverage revenues can only be achieved with the staff’s enthusiastic understanding and support. And that’s not limited to Food and Beverage Division employees; Rooms Division employees may be the only employees to have any contact with your in-house guests during their stay if you don’t get them into the outlets. 

How to grow your restaurant business


Every day, people around the world are romanced by the dream of opening their own restaurant. The story goes something like this: “We’ll open our own restaurant, cook the food that we like, hang out with our friends, franchise it and make lots of money.”

The reality is that it takes a great deal of hard work, lots of money and business acumen to initially get a business off the ground and even more to keep it growing. After 35-plus years in the food and beverage business, I’ve experienced just about every conceivable concept and pitfall and have learned what the key elements are for creating sustainable success in the restaurant business. The following are my top ten tips to help you grow your restaurant business:


1. Know thy customer. Take the time to get to know what makes yours customers tick. The best restaurateurs can recall first and last names, spouse’s name, where they live, work, play, what car they drive and most importantly, what they like to eat and drink. Knowing your guests personal favourites also allows you the ability to “up-sell” (restaurant-speak for suggestive selling of higher priced and additional items) to them. Update your local demographic information periodically as the type of person you marketed to five years ago may have changed dramatically. As a result, you need to stay current about who your potential customers may be. Many restaurants also use reservation databases to track preference information to enhance their knowledge of how and what you like to eat and drink, when customers were last at the restaurant and what they ordered, etc.

2. Create signature items. In large cities there are thousands of places to eat, so give customers a reason to pick yours on a consistent basis. Become famous for just one or two items and ensure that these key items are premium quality, easily produced and profitable. Talk about these items when speaking to the media, advertising or creating any type of marketing or PR plan. If you create a demand for the very best [fill in the blank]in town and can produce it consistently, people will drive across the city for it again and again.

3. Treat your customers like gold. There’s an old expression in the restaurant business: “If you have a great dining experience you may tell your close family and maybe a couple of people at work that you had a great dinner last night. If you have a bad meal/service/experience you will make a point of telling everyone you know how bad it was.” Most local marketing yields only a 2 to 3 per cent capture rate of customers who will actually try your place, so you need to look after the ones you already have. Get to know their likes and dislikes and cater to their needs. Everybody wants to be welcomed when they walk into your restaurant. Train your team to treat everyone like they are special and the word will spread that the service (which is 30 to 40 per cent of the dining overall experience) is great.

4. Continually train your staff to excel. Restaurant employees are generally happier when they are learning something new and subsequently give better service to your customers. By providing better service, they also make better tips – which makes up the majority of their income. Their jobs can become repetitive so train them constantly to learn their job to the highest standard and the jobs of everyone else. Cross-training allows you to be able cover the various tasks in your business and can help you create a build a team of future management candidates.

5. Listen to customer complaints and do something about what they say. It’s easy to assume that you know more about food and drinks than your customers do. However, if your customers take the time and effort to let you know that something isn’t right or could be better listen to their comments, thank them for their feedback and bring it up with the management and implement changes as needed. You will only hear about 10 per cent of what your customers really think about, so listen carefully.

6. Keep your menu current. The menu is the key element from which all other details revolve. Research other restaurants in your style of cuisine in all markets to see what they’re doing, study menus, trade magazine and hire consultants to help your restaurant become a leader, not a follower.

7. Promote your team. If your chef, manager or staff members come with a great idea, make sure you reward them and recognize their achievements not only internally but in marketing you create. By recognizing great work, you will be viewed as someone who is surrounded by talented people. In turn, your staff will work harder because you took the time to recognize their contribution in a public forum.

8. Be authentic. If your concept is Paella, then research every element of what it takes to make the very best Paella, hire staff who speak Spanish and have cooked this dish since their childhood. Don’t use shortcuts or substitute ingredients to make a Paella-like rice dish. Others in the business will create a better product than you and steal your customers and business.

9. Create a welcoming and clean environment. The average life span of the dining area of a restaurant is 7 to 10 years, so buy the best quality you can afford and keep it repaired, painted and polished. As your customers wait for dinner to arrive, many look at your decorations, artwork etc. Chipped paint or dirty baseboards stand out and can taint the overall experience and why they will or will not return to your restaurant. Many women choose their restaurant based on how clean the washroom is, so make sure you have a plan to service this area on a regular basis. Talk to professional, experienced restaurant designers and the equipment specialists to ensure any upgrades are going to maximize your space and customer dining experience.

10. Keep on doing it and love what you do. Don’t sit back and think that now that you have a good business that your work is done and it’s time to retire in the Bahamas. It takes just a few loyal customers having one bad experience to kill the reputation that took years to earn. You don’t want your business being blacklisted overnight. Keep your finger on the pulse of your business, encourage your teams to excel and you will reap the long-term rewards.

Building a great restaurant takes years of blood, sweat and tears and the financial rewards are generally smaller than most people imagine. If you don’t love the food business and all that it entails, don’t get into it. It’s a vocation, not a vacation.

High-Trust Culture and Respect

Personal integrity is the foundation of trust in any organization. It’s the pervasive sense that people will do what they say they’re going to do, and that their actions consistently reflect their principles and character.

Integrity, then, is an internal cornerstone of trust. But leaders should also be looking to spur the outward growth of trust across an organization. The way to do that is by practicing the art of respect.

Respect is, in some sense, the currency of trust – the way it’s exchanged and circulated among people. It’s any easy concept to pay lip service to, but like any facet of behavior and attitude, respect requires focus, awareness, and practice. Leaders show and encourage respect when they empower team members, celebrate their contributions, and help them learn from missteps.

You’ll know you’ve got a high-trust organization when you find leaders showing respect to people at every level, especially those from whom they stand to gain the least. Does a CEO view a receptionist as “help,” or as a team member who may rise through the ranks with the memory of being treated well by the chief? Do vice presidents seek out feedback from people well outside their inner circle – and act on it? Do executives remember colleagues’ names, and the names of their partners and children – not because they’ve memorized them to score points, but because they actually care?

With these ideas in mind, here are a few guidelines for creating an atmosphere of respect, where trust can grow and thrive.

1) Positive always beats negative. Steer clear of attacks, sniping, and even trash-talking the competition. Going negative reveals a general lack of respect and self-control. Your culture will be better served by celebrating what your own team is doing than by tearing down the competition. If you talk behind someone’s back, your team will start to wonder what you’re saying about them when they’re not around. Honoring those not present is a good way to show respect for those who are. As described below, it’s not that you have to be all smiles all the time, but that when things get tough, you don’t give in to the devil on your shoulder. Even firing, handled properly, can be done in a way that demonstrates respectful treatment of those who will do better elsewhere.

2) Respect is an investment. Nothing yields greater dividends in team coherence, employee satisfaction, and organizational momentum than advancing the best interests of the people you work with. Leaders know that as an organization’s reputation for respecting everyone expands, so will general trust levels. More trust means fewer politics and personal agendas – and without those, people are more productive, more satisfied, and more likely to come up with and execute new ideas.

3) Root out disrespect. Just as respect can be contagious, disrespect can be a contagion: once it breaks out in a few places, it can begin to spread. You can lose key team members and organizational stability, leaving the business limping for years to come. Vigilant leaders are always looking to nip disrespectful practices in the bud. That means no tolerance for talking behind people’s backs, letting problems fester, or failing to give people the feedback they need to improve.

4) Respect isn’t the same as being nice. Showing respect means far more than being polite or deferential. Indeed, disagreement is key to great decision-making, and people in high-trust organizations feel secure in their ability to disagree — in part because they know how to disagree with respect. There’s an art to expressing a contrary viewpoint without making it personal or petty.

One of the most effective leaders I’ve worked with used this principle by starting any disagreement with a “capture” of the other person’s point of view. He would begin by saying, “If I understand what you’re saying…” and then describe the opposing viewpoint to that person’s satisfaction (he could often say it better than they had). Then he’d continue, graciously, “But another way to look at this is…” He knew it was respectful to listen carefully to his interlocutor so he could summarize the person’s position — but he also knew it was an effective way to disagree.

A vibrant atmosphere of trust is one in which colleagues are constantly showing respect to, and earning it from, one another. Respect starts with the example of an organization’s leaders – but it isn’t a ‘trickle down’ system; in a trust-driven culture, respect is prized at every level. If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is – building a culture of respect is a long-term commitment. But it’s one that will pay off big — on the bottom line, the top line, and every line in between.Image

Easy Ways To Motivate And Demotivate Employees

I’ll put it as simply as I can: There are an awful lot of unmotivated employees out there.  With a recent national study showing that less than 1 in 4 non-management employees is fully engaged (aka, fully motivated and productive), there is, shall we say, ample room for improvement.   And since an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is the single most important factor influencing engagement, the responsibility falls to management to improve motivational levels.  Accordingly, here are 5 easy ways to motivate – and demotivate – employees.

1. Align individual economic interests with company performance – Okay, so this first one isn’t quite as easy as the others;  it does take more doing at the highest management levels than the rest.   But incentive compensation programs that give employees at all levels of an organization a chance to benefit when a company prospers… can naturally boost motivation (always assuming solid individual performance in order for one to share in financial rewards).

2. Take a genuine interest in the future path of an employee’s career  – It does wonders for an employee’s attitude to believe that a manager really cares about where his or her career is headed.  Mentoring, coaching, suggesting additional training or coursework –  all of these can be helpful to employees, and highly valued.

3. Take a genuine interest in their work-life balance – To the extent that managers can offer some flexibility in schedules… and be understanding about family commitments, doctors’ appointments and so on – such sensitivity can be greatly appreciated.  Small gestures often make a big difference.

4.  Listen – This is an easy one: Just listen thoughtfully.   To employees’ ideas for job improvement… or their problems, concerns, frustrations, conflicts, dramas, kids’ issues, parents’ issues, grandparents’ issues – you name it, I’ve heard it.   Okay, so you do have to separate the wheat from the chaff and as a manager it can wear you out at times – but within reason, intelligent listening is an integral part of the job.  (If someone is a chronic malingerer, and carps for the sake of carping, just tell them to knock it off and get back to work.  But if someone is a good employee… well, people appreciate being heard.)

5. Do unto others as you would have done unto you –  When it comes to treatment of subordinates, this is as basic as it gets.  But powerful too – still as valid today as it was a few thousand years ago.   It shows you respect your employees as individuals, and for the job they do.

Now about those easy ways to demotivate someone…

1.  Use your positional power as a manager in a way that shows you don’t fully respect your employees as individuals –  This is the reverse of number 5 and it can be subtle.  Be chronically late for employee meetings.  Don’t return their messages.  Ignore their suggestions for how to improve operations.  These may seem like small things to an executive with weightier issues on his or her mind… but the reality is people resent them.  As noted above, small things can make a big difference in one’s feelings about work.

2. Take credit for a project one of your employees actually did most of the work on –  This is guaranteed to make people crazy.  Good managers are secure enough to give full credit where it’s due.

3.  Lose your temper –  A nasty cousin of  number 1) above.  It’s just human nature: People dislike being on the wrong end of this sort of thing.  Lost tempers are often followed by lost loyalty.

4. Don’t stand up for your employees when under personal or organizational attack –  Assuming the attacks  aren’t merited – just personal or organizational nonsense (which has been known to occur) – your employees will want and expect you to back them up.  If you don’t, they’ll remember it.

5. Be emotionally stingy –  People like praise.  They want to know they’re doing a good job and are valued.  (Assuming they are doing a good job, of course.  If they’re not, then telling them they are does nothing except erode your credibility.)   But if they are doing well, simple words of encouragement are easy, inexpensive and can be motivational.

All of these suggestions (other than the first one on aligning economic interests) have the same cost: nothing.  And this list is by no means all-inclusive.  When it comes to motivating employees, you’re limited only by your imagination.