How to Build Your Career in Coffee or Cooking – 2 minute advice video

You may find Chris Baca’s enthusiasm annoying, or his message spot on. I like what he’s saying, and he got it out in 2 minutes flat – that’s way quicker than most career advice. And maybe it’s a model for how to share video information in a way that will be watched right to the end.

What’s he on about? If you’re a speedy barista who knows all about flavour, or a chef who can cook blindfolded – congratulations.

But if you want to get ahead in coffee, or become a head chef or manager, the real skills to develop are how you lead, teach and communicate. Simple. Get off the tools and work on doing these better – that’s what business operators are looking for. Otherwise, you’re just one of many in a crowded field.

Another great discussion starter video for a team meeting…

How to Use ‘Strike Rates’ to Improve Sales Performance

Maths is not a strong point for many of your staff – even the manager or head chef. So when you talk about percentages, markups and discounts, they’re probably hoping you don’t quiz them too deeply. A survey of adults some years ago found that 47/100 (almost half) could not calculate a percentage. Chances are, some of them work for you!

Explaining results as a ‘strike rate’ makes the point more strongly: 
Not so clear: ‘only 26% of customers are ordering dessert’
Clearer: ‘only 1 in 4 customers are ordering dessert’

Not so clear: ‘62% of customers have one drink at the bar then leave’
Clearer: ‘3 out of 5 customers have one drink etc etc…’

Here are examples of under-performing businesses I’ve seen:
* At a seafood restaurant, only 1 person in 12 ordered dessert.
* At a pizzeria, only 1 customer in 8 ordered a side salad.
* Only 1 customer in 4 orders herb or garlic bread with their meal.
* At a club, 300 people visited on one day and only 90 ate at the bistro.
* Only 1 wine drinker in 4 also ordered mineral water at a restaurant.
* Out of 120 function inquiries last month, only 20 became bookings.

And sometimes the results are good:
* 2 out of every 5 customers will order a second coffee if asked.
* Complaints have gone down from 1 customer in 100 to 1 in 350.
* 2 out of 5 take-away customers add a drink to the order if  suggested.

The information is in your POS and dockets, but it’s often in a mess of printouts and percentages. When you untangle it and present the numbers as a strike rate, the results are crystal clear, and the basis for comparison and action. And everyone ‘gets it’.

Photo taken at Grounds of Alexandria.

Remember books? Still useful for menu and wine training, gifts etc

Illustrated books can still be useful as chunky visual aids for training, and are very inexpensive if you look for them second hand.

Abebooks is the best source for finding exactly what you want – they will probably come from a bookseller in rural England or Missouri, but the postage is minimal. Here are a few finds that could liven up your food and wine training sessions:

World Atlas of Wine (several editions) – useful for the maps and pictures, and descriptions of varietals. From $5.57, including postage!

1900 Ingredients: Encyclopedia of World Foods – for when you don’t have real life examples of daikon or celeriac or mastic or honeycomb. Most of these are richly illustrated. Only $7.38 including postage.

Larousse Gastronomique – the classic French cooking text, 95% of which is never out of date. Also a good gift for an apprentice (plus a voucher for your local bookshop). From $6.69 including postage.

The Culinaria series of books on the food of Italy, Spain, France, China etc – from $7.38 including postage.

Use books for training, gifts, decoration for the bar or front of the restaurant – excellent value…