8 Enterprise Skills – the New Essentials for a Well-Paid Hospitality Career

The New Basics is a very interesting report on the Enterprise Skills young people need for the new work order. It’s been prepared by the Foundation for Young Australians, and they have a steady stream of good articles about work and wellbeing.

Enterprise Skills are transferable skills, and Technical Skills are those specific to a particular industry. It’s a good checklist for people who are thinking about moving into or out of hospitality, and finding a well-paid job.

I’ve had some recent conversations with chefs and managers about where they will take their careers after restaurant work – this is useful to see what they need to strengthen. I’m guessing #1 would be on most people’s improvement list…

I’ve taken the 8 Enterprise Skills they’ve listed (in the order of increased demand for these skills), and added some examples from hospitality – what else would you add under these headings?

  1. Digital Literacy – using business software, POS and cloud-based services, typing, Google searching, managing email, using photos and editing images, managing social media.
  2. Critical Thinking – comparing supplier quotes and proposals, weighing up options for menus and events, choosing between a number of job candidates, examining options for business changes.
  3. Creativity – recipe and menu development, music and entertainment, events, improving restaurant design and atmosphere, motivating staff in new ways.
  4. Problem Solving – handling conflict between staff, managing a sudden growth or decline in business, dealing with critical customers and staff not performing as expected.
  5. Financial Literacy – recipe and menu costing, working out wage costs, using a calculator and spreadsheet, reading POS reports, working out Return on Investment for equipment purchases, understanding a Profit & Loss statement.
  6. Presentation Skills – explaining changes to a team meeting, talking on your feet, presenting a new menu to senior management, justifying the cost and benefit of a proposal, using PowerPoint, talking to prospective employees eg school students.
  7. Communication – having a constructive conversation with staff, writing a report, expressing praise or dissatisfaction to a supplier or staff member, effective emails, having a good sales manner with prospective customers – phone and in person.
  8. Teamwork – organising and running a meeting, monitoring performance and results, supporting staff who are not performing, creating a team with a positive mix of skills and personalities.

The biggest increase in demand is for skills in 1, 2 and 3:  Digital Literacy, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

How to Get Work Instructions & Recipes Written Up Quickly & Cheaply

Two finger typist? You’re not alone, but when it comes to typing up the recipes in your black book, or preparing an instruction manual, it can be yet another excuse to put it off… again.

Two low-cost online services can do the work for you in a few hours – I use them, and find them fast and accurate.

1. Typing Up Notes with Fiverr

Fiverr is a service that does a wide range of small tasks, usually for about $5 each – photo or video editing, logo design, menu translations, fixing spreadsheets, resume writing and lots more. I recently used Fiverr to have 40 hand-written forms typed – it cost $US 11 and was done overnight! A job that would have taken me hours, or more likely never be done – I scanned them as a pdf and uploaded to Fiverr.

Have all your recipes typed: I know of chefs who have scanned their hand-written recipes and sent the images to a Fiverr typist. Use a PDF Scanner app on your phone, and as you photograph each page it turns into a pdf, adding one page after another.

Tip: send the person you are considering for the work a message with a sample page, to see how they handle it – can they read your writing? If you want the recipes set out in a particular way, give a sample with your instructions. The $5 fee is for a short job – expect to pay more for longer jobs, but it’s still way less than the value of your time.

2. Typed Notes from a Voice Recording

An interview with a staff member may need to be written up, or it could be quicker to read aloud instructions for your new Kitchen Systems Manual, have them transcribed, then tidied up in a Word document. Get the words out of your head and onto paper!

For these transcriptions, I recommend Rev.com – a brilliant service that turns transcripts into recordings, usually within a few hours – all for $US 1 per minute! Use their recording app, or upload a recording you’ve done from the voice recorder on your phone. I recently had a 10 min. recording written up for $10, producing an 8 page document – something I could never have done myself. Another time I sent them the link to a fairly technical YouTube video, and shared the transcription with people who wanted to read it.

This is just the start of outsourcing the time-consuming jobs in your restaurant – start here and look around for lots more possibilities…

Also relevant: this Profitable Hospitality podcast on How to Outsource Hospitality Administration & Design Work.

Interviews with Ken Burgin on Restaurant Management and Podcasting

It was great to meet Adam Yee through Linkedin, when I commented on an article he wrote a few months back. He’s a food scientist and also has his own podcast, with the discussion often focused on food flavours. It’s a topic that was on my interview wish list, and now I had found an expert!

Enjoy the discussions I had with Adam on his My Food Job Rocks podcast…

Interview: My Work as a Restaurant Management Advisor

Bonus Interview: Podcasting and How to Build an Online Platform

Reversing the tables, here’s the interview I did with Adam about Food Flavours for the Profitable Hospitality podcast – it’s well worth your time…

Invisible? How to Stop Customers Forgetting Your Restaurant

Unless you’re a major industry icon, or they’ve visited 5 times, most people don’t remember your business name…

True story: 2 people in café, one on the phone. She looks at her friend and asks ‘what’s the name of this place?’…and the friend doesn’t know! Worse, there was nothing inside the café to tell them – no signs, nothing on the table or staff uniforms. Future business lost for sure.

Before you go spending big money on expensive promotion, check that you’ve covered all the small, personal promotional items within your 4 walls. You could double your business if everyone came back at least once!

Increase the number of times your business name is seen:

  • The business name on the wall or menu – make it part of the decoration.
  • Business name on awnings and the front window – if it’s just on the awning, people walking or driving by may not see it.
  • The name on the side and back of your company vehicles – include the website so it’s easy to find you later.
  • Name and contact details on the docket a customer takes away.
  • Business cards for people to keep. Makes sure there’s one with every account.
  • Souvenir menus at the counter, even if it’s just a sample.
  • Auto-response to inquiry emails. It automatically bounces back saying something like:
    Thanks for your inquiry – we will be in touch with you shortly. Don’t forget all our menus are online at wvw.ourwebsite.com’…
  • Business name on staff uniforms – just as important as the staff name.
  • Prominent website address – as big as every other mention of your name. If it’s not logical eg hgc.com instead of HillsideGolfClub.com, fix this – register the easier name as well, and have them both directing to the same website. If you spell the web name with some capitals (like this example), it’s easier to remember and won’t affect search behaviour.
  • Business name used in menu items eg at Café Troppo we had the ‘Troppo Burger’ and ‘Troppo Trifle’ – distinctive and memorable.
  • And of course your website comes up first when we do a Google search – many businesses still don’t have this happen.

Make contact more personal to reinforce the memories:

  • Hand written ‘thank you’ on the docket or account
  • A personal acknowledgement: ‘Thank you Mr Burgin’ – when my credit card is brought back to me, or when my account details are present eg checkout. If Qantas can do it loading 200 people on a plane, so can you!
  • Real faces on the website gallery – happy staff and happy customers, plus busines owners and managers with short biographical details.

Nice place, but where am I?

Is this the real reason we can’t find chefs?

Is the chef shortage a result of work that’s too hard, low pay, a sudden lack of work ethics … or because of a housing problem?

Instead of blaming young people or immigration changes, or even Masterchef, I’d put a lot of it onto the lack of affordable rentals close to the main hospitality and tourism hubs, where the work is. In my city of Sydney, that’s in the CBD, on the harbour and at beach-side suburbs.

At the wonderful Aust Culinary Federation Chef’s Dinner the other night, I talked to a wide range of young chefs. They love their work, mostly in those busy areas, and they live a looooong way away – a couple of them told me about catching the last train home at 1am and falling asleep for an hour until they get off at 2.30am. Then back to work for lunch the next day. Some live with parents, others with friends in cheap housing.

OK those hours aren’t exactly fair (and probably illegal), but at another time they would have found a reasonably-priced house to share or a flat within 5km, with a 20 min. bus or train to work. Adding four hours of travel to every work day is just asking for burnout, and a resignation. This is not just a problem for chefs, but also for teachers, police workers, cleaners and all the people doing the essential middle-level work that keeps society functioning.

Let’s stop blaming young people and social media, and understand that the problem is much more fundamental…

What Profits Are Used For: An Explanation for Restaurant Staff

Sales – costs = profit. It’s simple. If profits are good, there are more smiles and generosity – the fundamentals of hospitality. If money is tight, there’s not much for extras, and shortcuts will usually cut into service and quality.

It’s easy for staff to misunderstand the profitability of a business – they assume that you’re making money on the first coffee sold on Monday morning, and it’s $3.50 profit on the $4.00 price. The financial literacy of staff is another training topic, but in the meantime it’s good for them to learn more about business essentials…

So why are profits so important?

  • Profits mean more tax is paid – which pays for schools, roads and hospitals. If the tax rate on business profits is 30%, that’s $300 paid for every $1000 of profit. No profit = no taxes.
  • The business can afford better (and often expensive) kitchen and coffee equipment, which is usually easier to use.
  • They can afford better-quality ingredients instead of always hunting for the cheapest.
  • Profitable businesses can pay for good uniforms, not cheap ones. Or provide them for staff instead of insisting they use their own.
  • Profitable businesses can afford professional cleaning, so the place sparkles everywhere. They also buy flowers, quality furnishings and good tableware – small things that add up.
  • Pay for staff training and offering staff opportunities for staff development. Hard-up businesses never do this.
  • Profits allow for business expansion, which means more people employed and more opportunities for promotion, and work for your friends.
  • The boss is more likely to take staff to a trade show and dinner afterwards, or take all the staff to the restaurant awards dinner.
  • Managers don’t stress if someone has time off for urgent family reasons – they can afford to be generous.
  • A profitable business shows staff how to operate successfully – a great learning opportunity if they have dreams of their own restaurant in the future.
  • Profit gives the business a value, making it easier to sell. A business that’s easy to sell is usually fresh, lively and popular.

…and finally, a profitable businesses can give the boss a good holiday – making her more generous, smiling and easier to be around!

How to Celebrate the Smart Women At Your Restaurant on International Women’s Day

Use International Women’s Day on 8th March to celebrate staff and customers. There are many simple ways to mark the occasion, and you’ll get top marks for showing you notice and care – this is marketing with a heart. Women hold up half the sky, and as visitors and workers, at least half of your business…

  • Make it a week not just a day – there’s plenty to talk about, leading up to 8th March. Highlight one promotion, photo or story each day.
  • Feature the women who work for you – a group photo, and extra mention of the long-time workers and how they’ve developed. Share photos and stories on Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms – posts like these will be widely shared.
  • Talk about women who inspire your staff: more to post on Facebook. Kate might be inspired by Kylie Kwong, the chef and entrepreneur. Jan the floor manager loves the way Adele the singer has handled her struggle. You get the idea – post the Facebook with a picture of the staff member or their hero – this is easy content to prepare.
  • Ask staff to share ‘About My Mother’ on Facebook: these posts can be an inspiration. You just need a photo of a staff member with their mum or grandmother – ask them what’s special about the relationship in just one sentence. This needs organising a few weeks in advance, and the results can be very moving.
  • Share a food angle: favourite recipes from mothers and grandmothers. ‘Nanna food’ is still popular and something to feature – mention whose mother it is!
  • Support a women’s cause for the week: a local women’s shelter, or an aid project overseas. You’ll find information and photos about the cause on their websites.
  • Push it further and get staff thinking about gender and harassment issues – a conversation that all staff should take part in. It may be a little uncomfortable to start with, but good things come out of these discussions. There are some good interviews on Profitable Hospitality podcasts about Women Chefs and Inequality, and Reducing Sexual Harassment Risks.
  • Hold a special dinner or event: work with local community groups and give them a chance to raise funds by selling tickets. Organise a speaker and showcase the work of your women chefs with pictures in a Facebook album the next day. Start something regular.
  • Learn and share about the history of International Women’s Day – it’s inspiring!

The ‘Stage 2’ Error That Can Fatally Weaken a Cafe or Restaurant

A conversation with a new operator during the week got me thinking about a classic and potentially lethal startup mistake: Stage 1 and Stage 2 thinking.

This approach basically says “let’s get this new place open as quickly as we can, even though we don’t have enough money to do it properly. After a few months when we are profitable, we can afford Stage 2 and get the job finished.”

Stage 2 items include things like:

  • A modern website that will compete with the best in the area, with some great photography to attract social media attention
  • Co-ordinated and regular marketing – interesting social media posts, responsive to reviews, developing an email list, and a calendar of promotional events
  • Professional decoration that makes an immediate impression – not just secondhand, DIY and IKEA
  • Plenty of refrigeration and storage space, including a coolroom, so you can buy in bulk
  • A properly-fitted washup area, so kitchen staff can do the job quickly
  • Cost-saving kitchen equipment like slicers, food processors, a salad bar and a properly-tiled floor that’s easy to clean
  • An effective and easy-to-clean kitchen exhaust system – proper filters, easy-access ductwork, and a regular maintenance program. Otherwise it’s a fire just waiting to happen.
  • An efficient and well-equipped counter with great beverage systems – not just the free-on-loan Coke fridge. Fortunately, a quality espresso machine is usually a Stage 1 choice
  • Staff facilities – lockers, a change area and plenty of regular training
  • Staff recruitment and rostering systems – to attract the best and minimise wage costs
  • Correct staff wages, with all the legally-required benefits
  • Well-trained and experienced staff. Most of the best people actually don’t want to be part of a startup, because they know it’s messy. But after a couple of weeks that’s forgotten.
  • Bookkeeping system (like Xero) and someone dedicated to run it, to accurately and instantly track income and expenses

Unfortunately, the lack of these essential Stage 2 items fatally weakens a business from the start, so the great profits expected when you open  with Stage 1 never come to pass. Most Stage 2 items are essential for a healthy bottom line.

You’re overworked and tired, just managing to pay expenses, and the profits to finance investment aren’t there – it’s not long until you’re looking for the exit. Unfortunately businesses stuck in Stage 1 don’t sell for much, and there are lots of them on the market. Invest carefully.

Alimentari in Melbourne – getting it so right from the beginning…

Yuk Factor – Simple Things That Customers Dislike (and don’t tell you about)

We get busy, or need to cut expenses, and it doesn’t take long before shortcuts start with cleaning, maintenance, repairs and service.

Here’s a bunch of familiar items – we’ve all done it, but please find a better way. Most customers don’t complain, they just stop visiting… and tell their friends – these are the opposite of Quality Signals. PRINT and share with your team – they will find more!

  • Sticky things – unwiped tables, unclean carpet, underneath the edge of tables.
  • Wet things – the table that was wiped, but with a wet cloth. The floor or seat of the toilet – they need an immediate fix.
  • The walk to the toilet – is it clean, tidy and ‘neutral’ all the way?
  • Strange smells – in the toilet, cleaning fluid, bleach and more.
  • Dead or dying plants – I’ve always seen this as a strong indicator of a failing business.
  • Grubby kitchen clothes – chef jackets, pants and aprons that aren’t freshly laundered. It’s a time-consuming process, but less than sparkling sends a negative message. And why doesn’t the kitchenhand deserve better than  street clothes?
  • Worn aprons, especially on front of house staff, plus that awful chux in the back pocket for a quick table wipe.
  • Crazy piercings, hair and tattoos – OK, I’m out on a limb here, but our job is not to compete with customers. If you’re in an edgy neighbourhoood, maybe, but if your regular customers would feel confronted, it will turn people away… and should stop.
  • Grubby view of the kitchen – if it’s open, or visible at any time, the shelves have to be tidy, pots scrubbed top to bottom, and please don’t show yellow buckets of chicken booster!
  • Things on the floor – behind the bar or visible on the kitchen floor. Boxes, pots, trays, food cooling.
  • Crap on shelves and counters – staff cigarettes, a glass of old pens, docket books and things that should be in a drawer. Walk around to the customer side and have a look…
  • Staff clearing dirty glasses with their fingers in the rim – touching people’s spit!
  • Stack-and-clear for plates, aka the ‘nanna stack’. Clear professionally so dirty plates are lifted out of the customer view.
  • Fluorescent light tubes visible – in the kitchen or a bar fridge. Surprising how often a great design is sabotaged by careless lighting.
  • Cleaning materials – the mop bucket (usually grubby) and dirty rags.
  • Excess stock – in the corner there’s the big delivery of mineral water you don’t have room for.
  • Broken furniture – rocky tables and rickety chairs. These items get very heavy use, so invest in strong commercial versions or replace every year. IKEA is not a solution 😉
  • Dirty chair legs – they’re kicked all day, and quickly get scuffed and marked.
  • Dirty bins – why are they always so filthy on the outside? Need a weekly scrub.

Italians sometimes call these small, unpleasant items colpo d’occhio – something that hits you in the eye. It’s time to walk around with someone who doesn’t work in the business and see what you find!