Friday, February 24, 2012

Roman’s Opinion—What Does It Take?

Recently, I got an email from a man who asked a simple question “What does it take to start a successful catering business?” I said I needed the answers to five questions first: How old are you? How much working capital do you have? What is your family situation? What are your three favorite movies? What do you know about food?
Three days later, he emailed his answers. He’s 28, engaged with no children. He has $11,000 saved. His three favorite movies are: Caddyshack, Band of Brothers and Forrest Gump. He graduated from a two-year culinary school and has worked for other caterers for the last five years. With these answers, I could make some assumptions about his potential for success as a caterer.
Catering is mainly a young person’s career, especially if you want to be an owner/operator. As we all know, it is very hard work. My first assumption is that his age is an advantage in starting his own business. If he were 55, he could still be successful-but with a lot more back pain.
The fact that he is engaged is, in my view, a potential strike against him. Caterers may work 90-hour weeks. Personal time is a luxury. It is pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have to work weekends and holidays. Personal plans are often sabotaged by last-minute orders or event problems. My second assumption is that a caterer’s life could be a serious strain on his relationship with his fiancée.
The biggest cause of failure for a start-up business is undercapitalization, but catering is often forgiving on this because events are sold with deposits months ahead of the performance date. Most starting caterers find simple solutions to this and other problems created by a shortage of dollars. My third assumption is that he might be able to make it happen, even with his very limited capital.
His favorite movies tell me a great deal. Caddyshack means that he has a sense of humor, which is invaluable for a caterer. Band of Brothers means that he probably understands the concept of teamwork and loyalty. Forrest Gump means he is a fighter and not a quitter. My fourth assumption is that he has the frame of mind to be a success.
Graduating from a culinary school and working for other caterers should give him the culinary skills and discipline needed to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk of a caterer. My fifth assumption is that he has a better culinary and catering foundation than many.
I emailed him a simple reply. “After reviewing your answers I feel that you have a better than average chance for success. If you can handle the hardships of long hours and the need to be creative with your money, then a career as a caterer might be possible. Please call me and we can discuss your next steps.” The only thing I didn’t tell him was that he won’t be seeing any new movies for a long time.
What would you have told him?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Job Description: Executive Chef/Kitchen Manager

Responsible for all food production including that used for restaurant, bar, catering and café. Develops menus, food purchase specifications and recipes. Supervises food production. Develops and monitors food and labor budget for kitchen staff. Checks in and monitors food and supply inventory. Maintains highest food quality and sanitation standards. Main function-To maintain a well run, cost effective kitchen.

Job Tasks
1.    Hires, trains, supervises & evaluates kitchen staff.
2.    Plans menus for all profit centers.
3.    Schedules and coordinates the work of chefs, cooks and other kitchen staff to assure that food preparation is economical and correct within budgeted labor cost goals.
4.    Approves the requisition of products and other necessary food purchases.
5.    Ensures that high standards of sanitation, cleanliness and safety are maintained throughout all kitchen areas at all times.
6.    Establishes controls to minimize waste and theft and maximize profits.
7.    Implements training of kitchen staff to increase their knowledge about safety, sanitation and accident prevention principles.
8.    Develops standard recipes and techniques for food preparation and presentation which assures consistency, high quality and minimal food costs. Exercises portion controls for all items served and assists in menu pricing.
9.    All recipes are to be written down and kept in recipe book. Pictures of presentation to be taken of all dishes and visible to cooks with portion sizes.
10. Projects weekly food and labor costs and monitors actual financial result. Takes corrective action as needed to assure financial goals are met.
11. Attends food, beverage and management staff meetings.
12. Consults with banquet manager about food production for special events.
13. Cooks or directly supervises the cooking of items requiring skilled preparation.
14. Evaluates food products to assure quality standards are met.
15. Plans and manages employee meal program.
16. Hires kitchen staff, evaluates job performance, corrects, rewards and disciplines staff in a fair and legal manner.
17. Puts procedures in place to assure a smooth running kitchen at all times. Makes sure these procedures are adhered to at all times.
18. Establishes and maintains a regular cleaning and maintance schedule for all kitchen areas and equipment.
19. Motivates and develops staff including cross training.
20. Periodically visits dining areas to welcome guests
21. Hosts taste panels to assess feasibility of proposed menu items.
22. Hosts cooking classes and demonstrations.
23. Alternates closing with the General Manager.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Truth About "Pressure' Selling

Whenever I train salespeople, the issue of pressure selling arises. I hear from salespeople the same old line: “I don’t want to be a used car salesperson who harasses the shopper.” What they really mean is that they don’t want to ask for the order over and over even though the shopper has said, “I want to think it over” or “no.” Because of their worry about not exerting pressure, they don’t ask for the order even once! They take no action to ask for the deposit check so they can avoid making the shopper look upon them as a dishonorable pressure salesperson.
Here is the problem. When I say that a salesperson always needs to try to make a sale today many believe that I’m suggesting that all is lost if a shopper doesn’t buy today. Not true. What I’m trying to prevent is a situation where the salesperson assumes shoppers won’t buy today and so lets them leave with all the information they need to make a decision later. This leads to missed sales.
It is wrong to think that all shoppers don’t want to make a decision right away or that they won’t give a salesperson a check on the first day they meet with them or chat on the phone or send them an email. When the salesperson decides ahead of time not to ask even once for the sale, shoppers who really are ready to give a check don’t because they aren’t asked.
A professional salesperson never beats up on a shopper to pressure them to buy. I recommend making no more than three attempts to get a “yes” from the shopper today. After this, shake their hand, keep them happy, make sure that they leave with all the information they need and let them go. About three in every 10 shoppers will buy today if asked for the order. That means that up to seven more will leave, think and hopefully call back and say “yes.”
Tip: If you don’t ask for a deposit check you will not get it. Once a shopper leaves your mental and emotional energy, there are only three things they can do. Buy from someone else who exerts better sales techniques, call back later and ask how much you need for a deposit, or not buy from anyone. The job of a salesperson is to give the shopper reasons and permission to buy today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Job Description: General Manager

Responsible for all food and beverage production for restaurant, bar & catering. Works hand in hand with Executive Chef, Catering Manager, Bar Manager, Restaurant Manager. Plans and implements budgets, hires, trains and supervises subordinates and applies relevant marketing principles to assure the wants and needs of all guests are consistently exceeded. Main function-to assure all profit centers are run properly and cost effectively.
Job Tasks
1. Develops an operating budget for each profit center. Monitors and takes corrective action as needed to help assure budget goals are attained.
2.    Assures that effective orientation and training for new staff and professional development activities for experienced staff are planned and implemented.
3.    Inspects to ensure that all safety, sanitation, energy, management preventive maintance and other standards are consistently met.
4.    Assures that all standard operating procedures for revenue and cost control are in place and consistently utilized.
5.    Helps plan and approves external and internal marketing and sales promos.
6.    Helps plan and approve the organizational chart, staffing and scheduling procedures and job descriptions for all profit centers.
7.    Approves menus proposed by Executive Chef for all profit centers.
8.    Ensures all legal requirements are consistently adhered to including wage, hour, federal and state, local laws pertaining to alcoholic beverages.
9.    Researches new products/entertainment and develops an analysis of the cost/profit benefits.
10. Develops & implements policies and procedures for all profit centers.
11. Monitors purchasing and receiving procedures for products and supplies to ensure proper quality, quantity and price for all purchases.
12. Reviews new techniques for food preparation and presentation to minimize food costs and maximize guest satisfaction.
13. Consults with Executive Chef, Catering Manager, Bar Manager & Restaurant Manager daily to ensure highest level of service at minimum cost.
14. Helps develop wine lists and bottle/glass wine sales promos.
15. Ensures correct handling procedures to minimize china and glassware breakage and food waste.
16. Oversees appearance, upkeep and cleanliness of all food and beverage equipment and facilites.
17. Approves all product invoices before submitting to accounting dept.
18. Oversees physical inventory verification and provides updated information to accounting dept.
19. Audits and approves weekly payroll.
20. Approves all entertainment.
21. Supervises the remodeling, refurbishment and other building design enhancements applicable to food and beverage service.
22. Develops, implements, evaluates and monitors Bonus Programs & Employee incentive programs.
23. Periodically visits dining room to welcome guests and to assure that all is running smoothly.
24. Handles guest complaints in a timely and appropriate manner to assure guests satisfaction.
25.Approves occasional purchases including but not limited to china, flatware, pots, pans. Makes sure all supplies are purchased cost effectively.
26. Alternates closing with the Executive Chef.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tips From Roman: How Do You Feel About Them?

1. Quality of life is personal and important for all caterers.  They need to constantly measure their actions and energies with respect to their goals.  Will the ends justify the years of hard work?  Is there going to be life for them after catering? 

2. The contract/agreement, or paperwork, needs to be viewed as a "blueprint" or "road map" of what is expected from both the buyer and the caterer before, during and after the event.

3. Catering is a profession and livelihood ... not a way of life.

4. A caterer’s image is determined more by what they don’t do than by what they do.

5. From time to time it is a good idea to list your volume by product lines. For example, how much profit was contributed to your company from weddings, box lunches, cocktail parties, etc.