Michael Rosman will be teaching two seminars at CSES2016.
While a lot of my knowledge has been gleaned from my 30+ years of corporate catering experience, I continually add to that base as I speak to my clients.
Recently I had a long conversation with a client who pointedly said, “Michael, I don’t really know what my job is anymore. Am I a catering salesman, head of my marketing department, company purchasing agent, cook, human resources contact, or merely the person who puts out all of the daily fires? Each day when I go into work, I don’t know which hat to wear. What is the most important thing I should do?”
Good problem to have
If you have thought about this, it follows that your business is growing. If your business is struggling, you do whatever is necessary to keep the doors open. Maybe you can’t afford a full staff so one day you may need to be the driver and another day you may be the dishwasher. Possibly you cook lunch every day because that saves valuable payroll dollars. When you start to make money, however, you may find that you can afford an extra lunch driver and another part-time cook. As your business grows, every position may be filled with a qualified person and that leaves you time to do something else.
Can’t let go?
This can be a critical point for your business. Those who realize that they, as owners, can move on to more supervisory roles give their businesses the chance to organically grow. Those that can learn to trust and ultimately delegate to others are many times amazed at the way their business expands. I already shared the story of my late-sleeping client who diligently taught his staff to handle breakfast so he wouldn’t have to be at work at the crack of dawn. This client, however, couldn’t trust his staff to get the lunch food out, so he in effect stymied the growth of his business by taking over during the noon hour.
Another client tried to run his business from another state. Unfortunately he couldn’t resist the urge to call three or four times a day just to “make sure everything was going OK.” His staff became resentful, and this client eventually sold his business. His company had grossed a little more than a million dollars per year when he sold it, and three years later, it brought in only half that much.
During those three years my client had little or no contact with his former staff. The new owner was a semi-absentee gentleman and made many poor decisions. Still, throughout messy supplier changes, staff turnover, ill-fated menu re-workings and generally poor management, half of the original clients remained three years later. My client still wonders what he could have accomplished if he had kept the business, enabled and encouraged his staff and consulted with them on a weekly basis rather than three or four times a day.
What’s it gonna be?
The moral of this story is again, that you must listen to your business. It will tell you when it needs you to be hands-on, and it will alert you when you need to back off. Howard Shultz obviously knew how to step back and now he has over 21,000 Starbucks. Owners Joe and Mary are still working at their single coffee shop from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week. Try to act more like Howard and less like Joe and Mary and you will discover exactly what your role is.
Michael Rosman is a member of the Catersource Consulting Unit. If you would like information about these services or to schedule him for an on-site consultation at your location, please email Carl Sacks at [email protected]. His book, Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes – and other war stories from the catering battlefield is available through Amazon.