A Change in Events

Sometimes we stumble upon things unexpected. My wife and I gave a good run at trying to open our restaurant. With everything set up, the only thing left was getting a location. We teamed up with the very best retail brokers but unfortunately luck was not on our side. We failed to sign a lease in time before our one year deadline that we had given ourselves. So are we giving up? For now, we have decided to place it on hold and will try again in the future.

Last week, I received a call from the CEO of one of the fastest growing quick-service concepts in the city. Surprised, I was offered an opportunity that boggled my mind for days, asking myself, should I or should I not, that was the question. I consulted with my wife, family and friends and at the end I knew I had to accept. The position is the Director of Operations, a role that involves more work than anything that I have taken in the past. Is it something I really wanted? Of course, I wanted to operate my own, but I felt this job had immense learning opportunities and most importantly it was something I believe I would enjoy. Who knows where this will lead.

What Happens to The Restaurant Blogger?

First off, I like to thank everyone who have visited and shown interest in this blog. I have decided to keep The Restaurant Blogger going to allow me to share stories when I have the urge and time to do so. Not only will I continue to visit your blogs and drop cards, I plan to post an article every 2-3 weeks or when time permits. Thanks again and stay tuned for my future posts and follow my journey.

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Opportunity in the Hospitality Industry

This is a guest post from Steve Nicolle of SteveTalks.ca.  Among other things, Steve Nicolle is a blogger, book author and hospitality teacher.

The days when someone used to view a waiter or bartender as someone who is uneducated or just passing through till something better takes place are long gone.

In today’s fast paced world the Hospitality industry is flourishing providing a good income and opportunity for those who seek flexibility in both their work environment and how they want to live.

In a recent job market survey by the Canadian Food and Restaurant Association it states the Foodservice Industry employs over a million people or 6.3% of the total employment eclipsing other industries such as agriculture, forestry, pulp and paper, banking, and oil and gas extraction combined.

The young people entering the Hospitality profession are finally being rewarded financially as noted in the same survey with the first 8 months of 2007 citing an increase of 8.2% in average weekly earnings in Ontario as an example.

So when at one time young people entered the profession to earn enough money to get by now they are looking at it as a career option.

With other former industries such as manufacturing that used to provide stability on the downswing because of changing demands and competition, young people are turning to the hospitality industry because of it’s guaranteed growth.

Just a note that the number of times reported that an average Canadian household ate out for a meal or snack in 2006 was a staggering 536 times. This statistic will only increase in the future as the time constraints on families multiply.

The Foodservice Industry has always been looked at with some criticism in the past because of the long and unsocial hours one works.

Not anymore, in fact many people love the industry because they work with other like minded people developing teamwork and social skills, meet new people everyday in most cases as in the people they serve, and then at the end of the day go home  to continue with their other interests.

Some other professions involve working with computers and corresponding via email and cell phones prohibiting the human need to socially interact face to face.  Although these are worthy occupations and some indeed very well paying the link to cell phones and email often means the job even after one leaves the workplace never really ends at all as their availability is with them everywhere they go.

How many cell phones do you hear ring now when you are enjoying a dinner in a restaurant?

Few people in the Foodservice industry a decade ago every achieved any notoriety at all but now that has completely changed.

With the start of Food Networks and the internet young people now can look to someone who is a chef, restaurant owner, or innkeeper whom they can aspire to right in their living room  making the profession inviting and glamorous at the same time.

With the high self esteem of Foodservice personnel everywhere due in part to the constant instant gratification one receives from another meal cooked to perfection, or the gratuity a waiter receives each shift, who wouldn’t dream of having their moment of glory in a show of their own or a cameo appearance in one.

One thing is for certain, the opportunities in the Foodservice Industry are limitless now and always will be for as long as there are people on this Earth there will always be someone willing to serve another.

You can read more of Steve’s work on his blog: Adventures in Hospitality.

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How to Approach Your Employee’s First Day

Have you ever entered a new workplace wondering what the heck you got yourself into? Or, have you ever thought of quitting after the first week because you felt no one cared? Restaurants can lose up to 50% of their newly hired employees within the first two weeks simply because no one bothered to create a proper introductory plan. Employee turnover is so common that we expect it, but sometimes we forget how costly and damaging it is to our business. The first two weeks of starting a new job are always critical. Here are eight steps to approaching an employee’s first day at the job:

The Eight-Step Approach for New Employees

  1. Have Uniforms Ready on Hand. If you provide staff uniforms then make sure you are ready to offer one either prior to the start date or on the very first day of employment. It’s always a good idea to keep extra on hand in various sizes. You just never know when a damaged uniform needs to be replaced. Arriving to work on the first day without having a proper uniform to wear is embarrassing for the company as well as for the employee. Customer perception is everything.
  2. Orientation. Before an employee physically starts work, a proper orientation should be conducted. The orientation is the first step in welcoming new employees and showing them that they are part of the driving force behind the success of the business. Part of the orientation should include a tour of the restaurant as well as the background story of the restaurant.
  3. Provide an Employee Manual. The manual can be separate or combined with a training manual. Policies as well as an employee’s job description and responsibilities should be outlined in the manual. New employees react better to companies that are well organized and are focused on training. Good employees appreciate businesses that take their job seriously. Take the time in creating a professionally designed employee manual.
  4. Assign a Trainer. Good workers are not necessarily good trainers. Designate an employee within the station that has strong skills set in training. The first few days should involve the new employee shadowing the trainer.
  5. Start on a Slower Day. Never start a new employee on a busy day such as a Friday or Saturday. A busy environment is no place for training. It is already difficult to try and focus on the task at hand let alone trying to guide a trainee to learn the ropes. From a new employee’s perspective the operation may appear to be unorganized or overwhelming to the point that the thought of leaving is considered.
  6. Don’t start at the beginning of a Shift. During the start of a shift, things can become hectic. Stations are being prepped in time for service. New employees need time to absorb information. Schedule new employees during a slower part of the day so that the proper attention can be given. Allow enough time before scheduling the employee to take part in the opening procedure.
  7. Set Reasonable Expectations. Depending on the individual, each one has its own pace for learning. Some excel faster while others require more time. Expect mistakes and allow reasonable time for employees to shine. Sometimes it’s the ones who need more time that become your very best.
  8. Follow-up. As an owner or manager, a personal follow-up should be conducted with the new employee to examine progress from the first two weeks of employment. A personal assessment is encouraging for new employees and shows that you are interested in their success. An employee performance review should also be scheduled within the first three months of employment.

Avoid Turnover

Hiring new employees take time and money. Plan ahead and take the necessary steps to avoid the chances of employee turnover from the start. Handling new employees with care is a sure way of making the job and life easier for everyone. First impressions can impact a customer’s decision for returning, the same way that impacts a new employee deciding to stay.

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