As we’re almost at the finish line for the challenging holiday corporate catering period that ends just before Christmas, I am reminded by this story told by a long-time Midwestern client:
“One particularly interesting year, we had multiple three shift factory catering events along with a swath of cocktail parties and, of course, our regular deliveries. The last Friday before the holiday marked the day that my wife and I had finished a particularly harrowing week complete with multiple last minute orders, numerous staff issues, and totally adverse weather conditions. We finally arrived home at about 7:00 p.m. Our oldest two sons had come directly from school and were babysitting for our two youngest kids. My wife and I sort of tumbled into to the house, went straight upstairs to our bedroom and promptly fell onto the bed. Soon the rest of the family joined us and said, ‘Mom – Dad, what’s wrong with you?’ We replied, ‘Christmas killed us. We can’t move.’”
Days and weeks like the times described above make us sometimes wonder what we are actually doing. We don’t have normal jobs. We don’t receive regular benefits. We work odd hours. We miss family celebrations. Sometimes we feel like a slave to the business we have carefully nurtured to success.
I’m not heading, however, into the well-trodden territory where you are told that you must control your business before it controls you. I have found that most people who take this approach end up fighting a losing battle. While it’s easy to pontificate about the need to get your business to behave and subsequently make your life easier, it usually doesn't work like that in the real world.
What your business is
Your business is not you. It is not your spouse, it is not your customers, and it is not your employees. It is a combination of all of these forces—things that you had set in motion when you decided to open the door. Your business is a living organism that has needs. It will blatantly tell you what its needs are, and if you don’t fulfill them, your business will die.
Therefore, your business wants to keep its customers happy during the holidays. It wants all the revenue it can get because it knows a slower time is coming. Your business doesn’t care if you are tired or if you are missing your child’s birthday celebration. When your business talks to you, you need to listen.
So when does your business let you know that you can back off? If you listen, you will find out. The balance comes during other times. During the normally slower post-holiday weeks, do you really have to go to the office on Saturday and find something to do like cleaning out the freezer? Rather than controlling your business, you need to control yourself and make a serious effort to take some time off when the opportunity arrives.
Reluctant to delegate?
Are you afraid to let employees handle certain situations? One of my clients hated to get up early so he made sure that his employees knew how to handle all breakfasts. Somehow, all of the food got out and customers were happy. When it came to lunch, however, my client felt that his employees would not be capable enough to get the orders delivered without direct supervision. My advice to him was that if his crew could learn breakfast, they could learn to do lunch. Therefore, use the slower time to let your staff grow into their work—they may pleasantly surprise you.
Hit your spots
As your enterprise grows, you will learn that you can no longer do everything, nor be everywhere. Use the slower time after the holidays to begin to learn how to do this. If you do, your January may be more peaceful as you learn what your real job really is and where you should spend your precious time.
Michael Rosman is founder of The Corporate Caterer, a membership website, training and consulting company for caterers and restaurateurs and who want to launch, or grow their corporate drop-off catering business. Michael has over thirty years of experience in the industry and has built an almost two million dollar a year corporate drop-off catering operation from the ground up. Michael can be reached directly at: [email protected].