Restaurants & Cafes with B Corp Accreditation

The B Corp movement says that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders – it also has a responsibility to the community and to the planet. B Corps meet high standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They ‘aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems’.

In the latest podcast interview, Ken Burgin talks with business advisor Tim O’Brien of about the value of B Corp accreditation, and how to achieve it. This involves assessing your performance in the areas of environmental impact, the workforce, customers, community and corporate governance. Start with the free B Impact Assessment – you may be surprised at how well you do, and B Corp advisers will help with the process.

For more on B Corporations in action, hear how Pablo & Rusty Coffee Roasters became certified, and the value it has added to their business. Plus the interview with Court Desautels of Canada’s Neighbourhood Restaurant Group, on the value of their B Corp accreditation, and Silver Chef founder Allan English on Business as a Force for Good.

Why Employees Don’t Do What You Want Them to Do…

This issue came up again at a recent Smart Operator Workshop, with a frustrated owner venting about ‘millennials’ and their lack of work ethic and motivation: ‘I train them and they don’t listen – just keep doing whatever they want’. And this person is a millennial himself!

In fact, poor performance is usually quite logical, and staff are just doing what makes sense to them. The classic book Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To, And What You Can Do About It covers 16 situations that drive you crazy, and shows the logical way to address them.

Many of the 16 are obvious, and so are the solutions when the issue is clear. Here’s the list, and a solution hint in brackets:

  1. They don’t know why they should do it (explain)
  2. They don’t know how to do it (train)
  3. They don’t know what they’re supposed to do (give directions)
  4. They think your way will not work (demonstrate)
  5. They think their way is better (demonstrate and discuss)
  6. They think something else is more important (explain)
  7. There is no positive consequence for them doing it (reward)
  8. They think they are doing it (explain and demonstrate)
  9. They are rewarded for not doing it (change consequences)
  10. They are punished for doing what they’re supposed to do (change  consequences)
  11. They anticipate a negative consequence for doing it (change)
  12. There is no negative consequence for poor performance (add consequences)
  13. There are obstacles to doing it beyond their control (remove)
  14. Their personal limits prevent them from performing (train or replace)
  15. Personal problems prevent them doing it (train or replace)
  16. No-one could do it (review the task)

Solving all 16 would need a very long article (hence the book!), but the list is a powerful way to start thinking more logically and move beyond the generations blame game.


How to Run an Effective Trial Shift at a Cafe or Restaurant

For a waiter, server or bar position, a trial shift can give a snapshot of the applicant’s abilities and suitability for the job. You want to check their speed, skills, attention to detail and personality, all in the space of a few hours and when they’re going to be nervous.

What you don’t want is to have them doing too much ‘real work’ with customers that could go wrong – taking orders, making drinks your special way, or answering questions about the menu.

Here’s how to check Speed, Skills, Attention to Detail and Personality:

  • Delivering orders and clearing – how they carry plates, cups and trays. Can they clear a table of two or even four in one pass? Do they collect dirty items as they return from delivering to a table? Good tests for speed and aptitude.
  • Watch for bad habits that need fixing e.g. collecting dirty glassware by the rim, or stacking dirty plates?
  • Resetting tables – they should watch how it’s done and follow the format precisely. A good test for observation.
  • Greet and seat a customer – a simple task that doesn’t require menu knowledge. A test for warmth and friendliness.
  • Handle a mistake (e.g. food to the wrong person), how do they correct it and receive your feedback?
  • Food & beverage awareness – this is not the time for menu training, but you do want someone familiar with flavours, food types and possibly wine. Don’t make this a make-or-break issue – it’s trainable.
  • Strength – can they carry 3 heavy plates, a tray of beers, or bulky items needed in the setup?
  • Clean up a mess – we all have to do it, quickly and graciously. Are they OK with checking the toilets or mopping up a spill?
  • Observe the customers. At the end of the shift, ask them what they notice about the people. A good indication of how ‘wide eyed’ they are, and their understanding of personality types.
  • Do a mystery shop – if you have a regular customer in the house, ask for their feedback. They know the place and who will fit in.

If the applicant is good, and you’ve done the reference checks, make your decision quickly. Good people are in demand, and you don’t want them snapped up by a competitor.

Don’t forget to pay them for their time – it sets you apart from most other places. It’s the law, and a strong signal that this is a business with integrity. Once they start, give them a Welcome Pack, organise Induction, and set up their Training Program

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.

How to Promote your Green Credentials for a Marketing Bonus

Whatever you’re doing on the environmental front, it’s worth talking about and publicising. Consumers are very interested, and so are corporate and government clients – in some cases, they’ve been told to make this a priority in their choice of venues.

Put a short Environmental Action Statement on your website, and  keep adding to it as you make improvements. Here’s what to include:

Energy Efficiency: how you work to reduce energy use with lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances, office equipment, and transport.

Green Power: is your electricity supply contract from renewable resources that use wind, solar, geothermal or hydro-electric?

Carbon Offset Program: explain the program you use and the savings made. Comparing the numbers before and after can be very impressive.

Water Conservation: methods used for kitchen appliances, equipment and landscaping, and in a way that does not compromise hygiene and cleanliness.

Recycling: glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, paper, corks, waste oil, ink and toner cartridges are all a part of daily operations. Describe how you recycle them.

Source Reduction: Do suppliers take back the packaging supplied with deliveries or eliminate it altogether? Are polystyrene foam boxes and package still accepted with deliveries?

Sustainable Food: used where possible to support the long-term viability of agriculture, fishing and grazing. Sourcing food locally to reduce the use of fossil fuel in transport.

Tree-free Products: used wherever possible, ensuring that wooden furniture and any wooden items do not come from old-growth forests.

Non-toxic Cleaning Products: are used that are biodegradable, free of hazardous ingredients, and safe for people and the environment.

Employee Education: at the heart of an environmental commitment – how are staff educated and how is their commitment sustained? It would not be possible without their contribution.

Start with what you do now, and update as you add activities – it won’t take long for the page to be impressive! Need inspiration? Listen to this recent Podcast on Sustainability for Cafes & the Coffee Industry.

Payment and Ordering Systems seen at the Fine Food Show…

Credit card processor Tyro were at the recent Fine Food Show in Sydney, well known for their POS integration and keen pricing. For the very small operators, note that you can buy now buy a Square system from Officeworks for $25!

A quick win for every operator is to get onto the merchant services department of your bank and ask for a  rate review – most people don’t even know what they’re paying. Your challenge is to get it below 1%, averaged across all Visa and Mastercard transactions. It can be done.

Order management for the delivery economy had some interesting services on display, especially for people who want to avoid the 30-35% fees charged by Deliveroo, UberEats and the like. Systems like Orderup are now well established  – you can set up an online ordering system on your website with your own branding.  Foodstorm is a similar system  that allows for a white-label ordering setup – it’s more for caterers and has a great reputation. Drive Yellow is a new service that will handle your delivery logistics – another option for reducing hefty commissions. They are the delivery service for MenuLog.

Several generic kiosk systems were on display – McDonalds is educating us about these and many more options will become available. For now, they’re a bit clunky and tied to their own POS system, which limits usefulness. The suggestive selling architecture of these systems is what will make the winning difference.

Also impressive was Ordermentum  – tying suppliers and businesses together for easy ordering and fulfillment.

It’s a dynamic and competitive field with new players and constant innovation…

Plant a lemon, lime or even a coffee tree at your cafe?

Realistically, you won’t be able to grow all the herbs and greens you need in a cafe or restaurant garden – that would need some serious production. But you can still share your enthusiasm for fresh produce with more than just a bowl of tomatoes on the counter: plant a lemon tree, or a lime… even a coffee tree or an avocado!

What makes citrus and coffee trees attractive is that they’re quick growing, can be kept compact, and if you buy an established one, you’ll have them fruiting almost straight away – a great conversation starter. In Australia, Daley’s Fruit Tree Nursery is a great site for sourcing trees and learning how to cultivate them. Now where’s that spare patch of soil?

How to Get Employee Training to Stick!

Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor has shared another excellent training article that will strike a chord: How To Get Employee Training To Stick Like Gum To The Sidewalk On A Hot Summer Day.

He’s not just talking about the skills and awareness staff need to learn, but also the bad habits we need to correct and remove: how customers are addressed, how products are recommended, and essential etiquette. Taught in a way that will change behaviour quickly and minimise resistance – the 5 key training targets are well worth applying with your own staff.  It’s also a reminder that there’s a lot we can learn about restaurant sales from our retailer friends – how they work with fussy and fickle customers, deal with ever-changing trends, keep entry-level staff on their sales game, and handle relentless competition.

It was great to interview Bob for the Profitable Hospitality podcast – he knows hospitality well and shared some great insights with us. Listen and enjoy…

Help Staff with Smoking, Drinking, Gambling and Stress Problems…

We’re preparing for RUOK? Day on 14 September, and sharing some podcasts on handling addictions and stress. Pass them on to a friend who’d appreciate some help, or make time to listen by clicking on the link below. You can find all the Profitable Hospitality on the Podcast app on your iPhone, or the Soundcloud app on your Android.

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…