9 WAYS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR HOSPITALITY BUSINESS AGAIN
1-3, STEPPING BACK
Out of love with your own restaurant, pub, bar or hotel? On or around Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to see the rest of the world having fun and in love, whilst you are there hard at work, feeling a little lonely (as most entrepreneurs do at some point in their business journey) as the only person in charge with no one to talk to about your business pains and woes. It’s easier to fall out of love with your business at this time of year than at any other time. The heady days of Christmas parties are a distant memory and Self Assessment and VAT bills are a more pressing worry, with relatively few people coming in through the doors. ‘Dry January’ didn’t help much, neither did all your regular customers being on New Year health and diet fads.
All in all, it can be a pretty hard time of year for you to stay in love with your business. So, what can you do to re-kindle that love? What really made you start this crazy business in the first place? Shouldn’t you be doing something else instead?
I’ve found that stepping back and looking at the positives is a difficult but essential task for client businesses and my own in the past. Here are my first 3 of 9 ways to fall in love with your hospitality business again:
- Take a Rest –NOW!
Our bodies (and in particular our brains) need regular rest periods. As owners of restaurants, pubs, hotels and bars, it’s all too easy to end up working all hours and in roles in your own business. Hospitality has unique and constant demands. Those of us with the hospitality gene usually end up doing more than is healthy for us. However, in order to be effective as the owner of the business, as a host, an employer and as an entrepreneur, it’s essential to break off and rest. It’s been proven that the brain needs time to recover, or it will become useless. Without this rest, stress takes over and you become a slave to the business and friend to none. I know, I’ve been there myself.
Even when the figures aren’t looking good and key staff hard to find, now could be the right time to take some time off for you and the family, see more of friends and perhaps even take that well-earned but forever postponed holiday. Just make sure you leave the business in safe hands and with systems and procedures in place to ensure the business runs smoothly in your absence. Hopefully you’ll return with your batteries fully charged and you’ll prove to yourself that you can actually leave the business and it will still be there when you return.
- Look at your plan
If you really can’t EVER get away, then you need to look closely at your business and your business plan and start asking some serious questions. However, in 90% of cases, stepping back, taking a rest and trying a few different approaches with a plan and conviction for following it, will work out for the best in the long run.
I believe that only a few hospitality businesses have a real plan. Without a route and a map, it’s very difficult to get where you want to in any walk of life. Some business owners don’t even have an end goal or a destination in mind, so is it any wonder that they rapidly become controlled by their businesses and lives become extremely unrewarding and stressful? It’s never ceased to amaze me that so many people’s dream is simply to “run my own pub” or “own a restaurant”. It’s like an explorer saying he just wants to, “Go on an expedition”, without any expedition plans or an objective in mind – doomed to failure and hardly likely to raise vital sponsorship and investment.
Goal setting and goal GETTING are crucial activities. Likewise, any goal without a plan is merely delusion and highly destructive. Business planning is essential, as is monitoring of progress against your plan and regular updating and realistic upgrading of your financial projections, marketing plan and milestones. Finding your objective, your mission and sticking to a plan can sometimes make all the difference and before too long you’re back in love with your business, like never before.
- Look at the positives
Every week, or even every DAY, you should ask yourself ‘WWW x3’:
- What Worked Well?
- What didn’t Work Well?
- What Would Work better next time?
This is not an original piece of advice from me, but rather some advice I used in my own businesses, which from my restaurant mentor, Ajith Jayawickrema (Founder of Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay), who is one of the most prolific and successful hospitality entrepreneurs in the country.
Ajith made my duty managers fill in a short form each and every night, answering these questions, along with basic operational and financial information, such as sales figures, spend per head and cover counts. But for me, the new engagement and responsibility that all the managers felt, by filling in ‘WWWx3’ was simple yet revolutionary. After initial reluctance from them to spend an extra few minutes each night at the office PC before locking up and going home, the managers became engaged with the whole process, reviewing each other’s reports and, most importantly seeing the business from another, wider, perspective. From my perspective as the business owner, even on quieter days, I was still able to look at the positives. Every single day, things DO work well, you’ve just got to look harder for them on some days compared to others.
By asking yourselves first, ‘What Worked WELL’, you become more positive, a better and more encouraging person to work for. Every hospitality business should have new and exciting projects, concept developments, training programmes, marketing campaigns and seasonal promotions. Without them, a business that is standing still is in fact going backwards. Once the positives have been identified, share them with your team, especially all the managers, as no one wants to work in a business that is standing still. Looking for positives and encouraging the team to move forward, attain previously identified targets and milestones, no matter how many things seem to be going badly around them, is an essential leadership trait.
For your own sake, looking at the positives is essential for your own sanity. Celebrate success and reaching milestones. One of the best things about this business is the people who’ve decided to work in it. You should know by now that people working in hospitality like and deserve a celebration or two, so make the most these occasions as a way to bond the team and enjoy beating targets and reaching those milestones.
When monitoring ‘What Didn’t Work Well?, it’s important to be aware and monitor these events on a daily basis. To ignore mistakes is foolhardy. Instead, have them recorded, LEARN from them and move on to better ways of coping with the inevitable pressures that come with your chosen business. Again, share these with your senior team; you might be surprised how proactive and insightful they can be. Nipping challenges in the bud can be relatively simple when a challenge is shared, especially when drawing on the experiences of those at the ‘coal face’.
So, ‘What Would Work Better Next Time?’ is a chance for you to think of improvements whilst challenges and mistakes are fresh in the memory. Asking for manager and senior staff input is essential here, and this process will trickle down through the structure of your company, so that everyone, including Kitchen Porters, floor staff and housekeepers know that they all have an essential part to play in your well-oiled machine, a business that you, your staff and your customers will love.
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