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How to Finish What We Start

If you’re like me, you have started initiatives and programs and never brought them to completion. As we start all goes well, but only for a while—then road blocks, detours, and other obstacles appear. What starts out as a dream ends up as a memory of another postponed initiative as the urgent day-to-day activities are moved to the front burner. And another year goes by and we never seem to find time to work on what’s truly important to our success as caterers.

The problem is that we’re all trying to do too much with too little time. Indeed, the more goals we have, the less likely we are to achieve any of them, according to the authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. How many goals are too many? Anything more than three, say the authors, is too much with one and two having the best chance of succeeding.

“There will always be more good ideas than our ability to execute.”

What are the criteria for only having one to three goals? They must be “Wildly Important.” There will always be more good ideas than our ability to execute.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of.

“We say ‘no’ to good ideas every day. We say ‘no’ to great ideas to keep the number of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose.”

Establishing goals

How do we establish those wildly important goals? Simple. Get away from work, gather your team in an invigorating environment, brainstorm, and give everyone a chance to offer their ideas. Then, as a team drill down. More than likely it will have something to do with raising guest satisfaction scores, increasing sales, reducing costs, opening a new venue, bringing on new team members, or perhaps revamping your food and beverage menus.

Remember: Never more than three—and there’s nothing wrong with one.

After determining the Wildly Important Goal(s), you need to identify measurable and predictable actions that will contribute to goal achievement. For example, assume your goal is to reduce overall costs by 2% and raise your bottom line by 2%. How can you measure your progress along the way? Here are three ideas that come to mind, and if you spend some time on this you can probably list dozens of ways and then select the most important.

• Reduce food cost by 2%

• Reduce overtime by 10%

• Reduce cost of insurance by 10% with competitive bidding

Next, keep a compelling scoreboard that everyone on your team can access. It needs to be simple and everyone from your utility team to your management team can glance at it at least weekly and know how the company is performing.

Finally (but probably the most important), is to create a cadence of accountability. Each person on your team must commit to certain actions that they will take during the week and then report back to your team the following week. Everyone participates and tells the others what they plan on doing in the upcoming week. At the next meeting, they report their results and commit to what they intend to do the coming week. Here’s the good news: everyone on your team will be helping other team members staying accountable.

This program has been used by Marriott International Inc., Kroger, Bain, Campbell Soup Company, Whirlpool, and scores of other firms, both big and small. It works and it’s very cost effective. Let me know if it works for you!

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Bill Hansen

Bill Hansen

CEO, Bill Hansen Catering and Event Production, Miami, FL

From catering for four U.S. Presidents, to Pope John Paul II, to champion Super Bowl teams, Bill Hansen brings over 50 years of catering, entrepreneurial and food service management experience to his consulting practice. A published author, Bill’s extensive expertise has made him one of the country’s leading food experts and Founder and CEO of one of South Florida’s top catering firms.

Bill’s areas of expertise are in leadership, and management. In 1980, he founded Bills’ Catering with his best friend Bill Hendrich. In 1990, Bill began teaching Catering Management at Florida International University. After 403 years, Bill’s firm continues to prosper, while spawning scores of South Florida caterers...