What’s my job?
I recently sat down for a chat with my colleague and friend, Richard , who founded and operated the largest catering company in Wisconsin for more than two decades. He told me this story about how he got into the catering business, and how he eventually came to understand how much he wanted to grow and how much he was willing to delegate. I think it’s a story that will resonate with many of us.
Richard says: “When I opened my first fast food restaurant, I was the cook and my wife took customer orders. Quality control was totally in my hands. As we grew, it became necessary to teach others how to cook, but when I was at our restaurant, I looked at as many orders as possible to make sure things were done right.
Choosing to cater full-time
We opened during a cold Wisconsin December, but as summer began to arrive, a few customers started to ask about catering. Could we bring food to their house while they watched a game? Could we grill at their company picnic? Since I had a restaurateur’s mentality, I never turned down business, and soon we also became part-time caterers. Eventually, we closed the restaurant and become full-time caterers.
At the beginning of our transition to catering, I was again both the cold food and hot food cook. I also delivered food and performed all of the other jobs that a small business owner must do. I was hands-on and could really never get hands-off, until I sold my business years later.
Defining my job
As we climbed past the $750,000 mark on our way to $1.2 million in annual sales, I began to think about my job description. What was I? A cook, a driver, the HR director, operations manager, an accountant, a repairman, an order taker—or all of those things? I began to think that our business was perpetually stuck in the ma and pa phase, and friends did ask “who is minding the store?” when they found me away from my business. I saw new Starbucks stores opening everywhere and tried to figure out how Howard Schultz could even open five additional units, much less a total of more than 10,000 (these days, there are 27,339 Starbucks stores around the world
Of course, there is no real answer to “what’s my job?” Those who are successful realize that their business will tell them what it needs, and what it needs them to do. There are days when you may have to be the prep cook, chef, delivery person and phone answerer. Other days, you can delegate some of these tasks to others. If you want to deliver 10 orders a day and insist or checking every order, you probably want to stay smaller and more easily manageable. If you can make enough money doing that, it’s fine. If you want to successfully deliver 35 orders a day, you’ll need to let go, refine systems and put more trust in others.”
It's up to you
As Richard says, bigger is not always better, and if you are happy being totally in control and not having to delegate to others, don’t let anyone tell you that is wrong. On the other hand, if you do want to scale quickly, there are many important things to be done, and we’ll be happy to help you get there. Either way, feel free to call or email The Corporate Caterer, as we are here to help you cater better – no matter the size of your business.