Archive for the ‘food & beverage’ Category

Controlling Your Beverage Cart Losses

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Quick fixes usually do not address the underlying causes of problems.  By examining, improving, and documenting the process, you can establish underlying systems that will routinely handle situations.  When the bulk of situations in a business are handled routinely, more time is available for customer service and paying attention to details.

Attempt to follow the 80-20 rule.  If you have established routine system procedures for your operation, you are able to devote 80% of your efforts to 20% of the operation – the most critical details.  Look at how one recurring problem was solved with the development of an efficient system.

Joanne is the beverage manager in a high-end country club.  One of her responsibilities is the beverage cart service provided on the golf course.  The challenge presented by this service is a lack of inventory control over readily consumable and easily pilfered snack items.  Predictably, the club has ongoing problems.  After continually suspecting employees and worrying about unidentified losses, Joanne designed a system of checks and balances.

The beverage cart attendant is required to draw inventory from the golf course snack bar.  The snack bar attendant completes the inventory issue sheet and notes all issues as well as turn-ins at the end of the day.  The beverage cart attendant keeps track of sales on an inventory sold sheet.  Both forms are turned in to Joanne daily, giving her an easy way to compare both sales and inventory consumption.

The system is not foolproof, is subject to daily counting errors, and can be overcome by collusion among employees.  But for the most part, it works well and gives Joanne a routine tool to monitor beverage cart sales.  Systems don’t have to be complex or highly sophisticated; they just have to work.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, Clarity Publications, 2006

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Training on the Go – A direct line to food service profits?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Several years ago, the Peninsula Yacht Club was selected to be the club to implement the Hospitality Resources International Training on the Go (TOG) Program. Initially, the TOG program was met with some resistance from the front of house staff.  They felt that the program was another monotonous program whereby the dining room managers preach F&B mechanics to them for what seemed like hours.  Upon the staff’s recommendation, I changed the program’s delivery and made it involve the servers and bartenders more than the dining room managers.

In this new delivery, the servers studied a pre-determined module and then they were charged with presenting it to the rest of the staff.  This was the key to making the program work.  Now, servers would become teachers and would instruct their “class” in the pre-shift meetings.  There was no way to avoid having to teach a module as we required busboys, hostesses, servers and bartenders alike to instruct a class twice a month.

At first, the restaurant staff was enthralled by the alcoholic beverage information, especially the histories of liquors and wines.  This is the easiest part to teach because the 18-24 year olds seem to have an interest in learning about alcohol.  After they taught the beverage portion, we focused on foods and specifically our restaurant’s menu.  With the help of our chef, we were able to discuss the history of our menu choices, which wines would complement which entrees, and how to sell the daily features.  After the beverage and food modules were taught, we moved on to other important issues such as the steps of service, flow of the dining room, recovery techniques, etc. In the end, 94 modules were taught over a 16-month period.  Some of the more important modules were repeated.  After completing the modules in order, we have now begun to teach them in random order and allowing the staff to choose the module they wish to teach.

Once the TOG program was instituted and the bugs were worked out, several amazing things happened in our restaurant.  The first noticeable change was in the demeanor and confidence of the front of house staff.  Almost instantly, they became more comfortable discussing foods and beverages with members and guests and with making recommendations. Their newly gained knowledge of the preparations and histories of the food and beverages helped them to become more confident in their ability to answer members’ questions.  They looked forward to being asked about the history or preparation of certain items and the social interaction that was created when these questions were asked.

The second noticeable change was that our front of house staff turnover rate declined.  Our servers enjoyed coming to work and were not as apt to move on to another restaurant opportunity.  The restaurant staff felt more a part of the club and they enjoyed getting to know members more personally through their social interaction.  The staff no longer felt they were ‘going through the motions while waiting for the next new restaurant to open in the area.’

The third and most noticeable change was in the number of appetizers, desserts, and after-dinner drinks sold during the dinner shifts.  Just by gaining knowledge of these items, servers were able to discuss daily specials, suggestively sell at every table they were working.  The increase in the a la carte average check was immediate.  The servers’ confidence created an aura of professionalism and also caused a competitive nature in the restaurant.  Personal bets were being made to see who could up-sell the most wine or desserts.  Managers started offering a complimentary dessert to the server who sold the most after-dinner drinks.  The front of house staff loved the competition and it drove our sales to levels not seen in the past.  Of course, revenues followed.

To answer the question in the title of this article; “Is the TOG program a direct line to restaurant profits?” I offer the following evidence:

At the start of implementation, the club’s restaurant was experiencing a four-year decline in a la carte business.  This decline was, at the time, blamed on the poor economy before and after September 11th and a declining membership level.  In hindsight, these were only excuses for a more prominent problem.

Although the club’s membership level was declining, the average food and beverage revenue per member was holding steady at the 5-year average and the cover counts did not show a decline either.  Therefore, members were using the restaurant at a consistent rate in 1999, 2000, and 2001 up until 9/11.  What we noticed when looking at the revenue data was that the average check per member had declined drastically.  The data told us that members were continuing to dine in the restaurant at a steady rate, but they were spending less on each visit.  Our a la carte menu prices had not fluctuated during this period, so it led me to believe that we were doing something different in the dining room or, as I found out later, we were not doing some things that we had done in the past.

The TOG program was started in October of 2001.  Almost immediately, the average check increased and the number of appetizers and desserts increased as well.  Soon after, our alcoholic beverage sales increased, especially wine by the bottle, which shot up 200%.   In 2002, the program really took off.  By the spring of 2002, the up-selling competitions had begun and revenue increases were seen in appetizers, daily specials, desserts, after-dinner drinks, wine by the bottle and wine by the glass. For the 2002 year, the average F&B revenue per member increased 15% to $62.78 per month.  The trend continued in 2003 with revenues continuing to increase in 2004.  It is without question that implementing the Training on the Go program has had and continues to have a direct positive effect of restaurant revenues at the Peninsula Yacht Club.  If you think this program could help your club, visit the Hospitality Resources International website and download the TOG program.  It is a sure fire way to increase your restaurant’s revenues.

Blog written by:  Chris Conner, former General Manager, Peninsula Yacht Club; current COO/GM Cullasaja Club

Click here for individual topics of the food and beverage Training on the Go materials.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations

Monday, June 9th, 2014

All who work in the service business understand that operations are both people-intensive and detail-intensive.  It takes a lot of employees to provide the requisite levels of service and every aspect of service involves many details.  These two facts make detailed, ongoing training an absolute necessity for any successful operation.

There are a wide variety of topics that must be taught to both managers and employees to fully prepare them for their jobs.

  1. Leadership Development Training for managers and supervisors—designed to foster consistent, enterprise-wide leadership skills, which are the driving force behind the organization’s success.
  2. Organizational Culture Training for all employees—designed to foster a thorough understanding of the enterprise’s values and service ethic.
  3. Organizational Systems Training such as Human Resource and Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs) for managers and supervisors, as well as departmental SPPs for employees—all designed to teach the underlying systems that permit the enterprise to operate efficiently.
  4. Legal Compliance Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to provide all required training in matters with legal implications for the operation such as Equal Employment Opportunity, Fair Labor Standards Act, Sexual Harassment, and others.
  5. Liability Abatement Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to limit the enterprise’s liability exposure for occupational safety and health, food sanitation, public health, and responsible alcoholic beverage service.
  6. Departmental SPPs, Organizational Systems, Job Skills and Service Technique Training for employees—designed to give each employee the knowledge and skill set necessary to perform his job and meet standards of service.

Items 1 through 5 above should be developed by the enterprise and provided across all departments for consistency sake; item 6 is specific to each department and should be developed and taught by individual department heads.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

The Value of a Super Service Employee

Monday, October 14th, 2013

For those of us who eat out with any regularity, we’ve all had the experience, unfortunately too rarely, of being waited on by what I call a “super server.”  From the moment she approaches the table we know we’re in for a treat.  Sparkling with personality, she overflows with knowledge about the food, beverages, and accompaniments.  She immediately sizes up our interest in engagement and calibrates her contacts accordingly.  She speaks with confidence and authority, questioning us regarding our preferences and without hesitation recommending what she thinks we’ll enjoy.  The best of the best can even unerringly take and serve orders without benefit of pen and dup pad – an ability that never ceases to amaze me.

Such extraordinary individuals are worth their weight in gold.  Not only do they serve with flair and expertise, but they sell, thereby increasing the average check, while making a distinctly favorable impression of competence and professionalism that brings diners back again and again.  This is true in restaurants as well as private clubs where members appreciate the recognition and special touches that a super server adds to the dining experience.

Far more frequently, we’ve experienced the norm of service – undertrained, inexperienced employees who may understand the basics of service, but little more.  Often lacking in knowledge, personality, and attitude, their service may meet minimum expectations but seldom inspire the diner to sample the extras – appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks – that the kitchen works so hard to create and which enhances the dining experience.  If truth be told, these employees are doing no service to their employers and in many cases are doing outright harm by driving customers away.

The often repeated maxim for employers “to hire for personality and train for technique and competence” encompasses a basic truth.  Attitude, personality, and engagement seem to be inborn skills and are difficult to teach.  While training can provide service skills and knowledge, thereby increasing a server’s confidence and maybe even engagement skills, the best service employees posses an indefinable quality that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

Given the dearth of these extraordinary service employees, they should be recognized and compensated for the rare skills they possess.  Too often though, their presence on an employer’s staff is viewed as simple good fortune with little or no effort made to differentiate them from the common herd.  The result is that in short order they move on to greener pastures where their talents are more fully appreciated.  When this happens the loss to the establishment is often more than can be appreciated at the moment.  Not only has the employer lost a super server, but a money-maker, an ambassador, and an example for other less accomplished workers.

And everything said about food servers applies as much to super service employees in lodging, retail, recreation activities, golf, tennis, administration, and other areas of hospitality.

So why don’t we recognize and reward super service employees for their special abilities.  I suspect it’s a combination of cost consciousness, an unwillingness to go beyond the status quo, and a fear of exchanging known costs for unmeasured benefits.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

 

Standards for Food and Beverage Staff

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Quint Studer in his important book, Hardwiring Excellence, speaks of the importance of establishing a code of behavior for employee service teams.  The purpose is to communicate to employees the basic standards of interaction with customers/guest/members and fellow employees.  Further, Studer expects each employee to acknowledge and commit to the standards by signing a written copy.

With this in mind, here are some basic standards for the food and beverage operations team:

  • Arrive on time according to the work schedule.
  • Meet all requirements of the dress or uniform code and personal grooming standards.
  • Have a complete dedication to customer service at all times; fully and consistently embrace the enterprise’s organizational values and culture of service.
  • Maintain a pleasant and positive attitude at all times.
  • In private clubs, learn and use member names; learn and act upon their individual habits and preferences by providing personalized service.
  • Greet and assist all arriving customers; introduce yourself by first name and let them know you are there to help them in any way possible.
  • Provide relevant information to customers, such as location of facilities; walk guests to events or functions when possible.
  • Provide special service touches and “wow” factors.
  • Interrupt personal conversations at the approach of customers; give them your undivided attention.
  • Solve any problems encountered that are within your authority and ability to do so.
  • Report any problems you can’t solve to management.
  • Maintain the cleanliness and order of your work areas as you go; clean and straighten up work areas prior to departing as a courtesy to the next shift.
  • Work together with other staff to provide a seamless service experience for customers.
  • Thank fellow workers for their help and assistance.  They appreciate it as much as you do when you are thanked.

When employees understand and commit to expected standards of behavior and service, customers and other employees have a richer hospitality experience.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Suggestive Selling – Alcoholic Beverages

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Are your servers simply order takers?  What can you do to help them sell more?  The simple, yet highly effective way is to teach them to suggestive sell.  The more your service team knows about the club’s food and beverages, the better able they will be to make dining suggestions to members and guests.  Alcoholic beverages present a wide variety of upselling opportunities:

Know the Club’s Premium Brands. One of the easiest ways to increase the average check is to suggest premium brands of alcohol.  Not only must they know and correctly pronounce their names, but they should know what makes them special.  Things they need to know include: the age such as a 12-year old scotch or fine bourbon, proprietary flavorings as in single malt scotches or the 10 ingredients in Bombay Sapphire gin, or quality of production and distillation such as in Belvedere vodka’s being distilled four times.

Beers.  For many years, there was a great consolidation of local and regional breweries that resulted in a handful of dominant companies offering very similar products.  In recent years, though, there has been an explosion of small, niche breweries offering well-crafted, artisanal beers of unique tastes.  The more your servers know about beer varieties such as, stout, ales, lagers, and pilsners, and the specific brands you carry, either bottled or on tap, the better able they are to suggest a particular beer with a particular meal.  Often, a member or guest will ask what beers you carry.  This is the perfect opportunity to ask them whether they like a lightly flavored or more robust beer, and then suggest one of the club’s premium brands.  The key to success is knowledge.  Get more ideas by talking to your bartender, searching online for information, or buying any one of a number of recently published beer guides.

Wines.  Wines present an almost infinite body of knowledge to truly master, but servers can start with the basics such as grape varieties, countries and locales of origin, wine terminology, and common wine descriptors.  As with any other body of knowledge, start small, learn the basics, and learn something new every day or week.  In time they’ll be a fount of knowledge and wine information.

Wine Pairings.  Certain wines go best with different foods.  The basic rules are: Sparkling wine and Champagne – appetizers, wild game, caviar, roasted almonds, oysters, and fruit; Rosé wine – ham, turkey, sausages, and pork; White wine – seafood, poultry, shellfish, veal, cream sauces, mild cheeses, and light dishes such as salads; Medium-bodied red wine – pork, wild game, lamb, blackened fish or poultry, pâté, mild cheeses; Full-bodied red wine – steak, roast beef, blackened red meat, heavier dishes, cheeses from mild to sharp; Dessert wines – fruits, pastries, simple desserts; Dry sherry – appetizers and soups; Port and sweet sherry – after dinner and with cheeses.

Liqueurs. The terms cordial and liqueur are synonymous. There are many opportunities to upsell with liqueurs.  Cordials are alcoholic beverages prepared by mixing and redistilling various spirits (brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, or other spirits) with certain flavoring materials, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, seeds, barks, roots, peels, berries, juices, or other natural flavoring substances.  Cordials differ from all other spirits because they must contain at least 2½ % sugar by weight.   Most cordials contain up to 35% of a sweetening agent.  Liqueurs can be consumed straight up, “on the rocks,” diluted with water, mixed with sparkling water as a spritzer, or served over ice cream.  Make sure your team knows the major flavorings of each.  Here’s a free guide to the most common proprietary liqueurs.

Cognac, Brandies, Sipping Whiskeys, Ports.  All of these make superb after dinner drinks.  These are best suggested when it’s apparent that the diners are going to linger at the table over coffee or conversation.

Make sure your service team knows what brands you carry and have them learn as much as they can about each.  The more they learn, the more confident they’ll be to sell, and the higher your average check will be.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Put Special Occasions to Work for Your Bottom Line

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Most membership databases have considerable information of value for the conscientious club manager.  Take for instance birthdays and anniversaries.  These celebratory occasions are a real opportunity to improve the club’s bottom line.

  • Have your food and beverage manager design special celebratory packages for anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Customize birthday packages by gender and age for adults and children.
  • The package should include a cake or special dessert and, in the case of anniversaries, a bottle of champagne or favorite wine.
  • Price the packages aggressively to ensure perceived value.  The benefit of this program for the club is not in margin per meal, but in increasing the overall food and beverage volume, especially during slow periods.
  • The General Manager should send a special congratulatory card to the celebrants, inviting them to the club.  Require an RSVP and limit the celebration to traditionally slow nights by excluding traditionally busy Friday and Saturday nights.  This will build volume on slower nights and will allow servers to give special attention to the celebratory party.
  • If available, the General Manager of Clubhouse Manager should stop by the table to wish the party a Happy Anniversary or Birthday.
  • If servers are going to sing “Happy Birthday,” make sure they can sing, are properly rehearsed, and on key.
  • Children’s birthday parties also offer a special opportunity for a Birthday Bash, possibly at the pool during the swim season or a themed party in some other club venue.  This is a great opportunity for the club’s activities staff to use their ingenuity and creativeness to do something really memorable.

The potentials are significant for the effort expended.  Consider a club of 900 memberships with an average of 3.2 family members per membership.  This translates to 2,880 birthdays a year.  At a conservative capture rate of 25% of the birthdays and an average check of $75 per birthday celebration (and much higher for Birthday Bashes), the potential could be as high as $54,000 in additional food and beverage revenues.  With upselling opportunities, the number could be significantly more.

The same membership with 700 couples could yield an additional $14,000 in anniversary revenues with a 40% capture rate and a $50 average check per couple.

For the small price of an organized system, administered by the club receptionist or administrative assistant, the club can reap significant rewards – not the least of which is the goodwill of members who appreciate the special efforts made on their behalf.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Culinary R&D

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Almost all clubs except those in the Sunbelt and tropics have a winter-related slow season.  For most clubs that season falls after the end-of-year holidays and continues for several months until the weather improves and outdoor activities pick up.

While seasonal employees have usually been laid off for this period, the kitchen will have full time, year-round employees who may be underemployed.  Sure, this is the time to rest, recuperate, and take well-earned vacations, but I would like to suggest another activity to recharge the kitchen staff — Culinary R&D.  Since many clubs have a fairly static, or at least predictable, dining fare, I would encourage the executive chef and sous chefs to use the down time to enhance their kitchen’s skill level by taking on some creative tasks they may not have the time for during the more hectic pace of the busy seasons.

Depending on the club’s usual menus and kitchen skills, the amount of available time, as well as cost considerations, I would propose the chefs explore some of the following skills:

  • Baking unusual artisanal breads, and making made-from-scratch desserts such as tortes, pies, or cakes.  Another thought would be to create fresh made gourmet pizzas.
  • Pickling and preserving.  These skills and techniques offer limitless opportunities to create out-of-the-ordinary offerings for club members.
  • Exploring the art of charcuterie — again, the opportunities to make some really interesting creations is immense.
  • Focusing on a specific cuisine such as Asian Fusion, Indian, Caribbean, Middle-Eastern, or vegetarian, or even regional American cuisines such as Cajun, Low Country, or Tex-Mex.  The skills learned offer some new possibilities during the busy season.
  • Making homemade ice creams, ices, and puddings.  With today’s emphasis on comfort foods, members will appreciate the creativity and effort.
  • Preparing unique, interesting, and even exotic canapés and appetizers.  These may become regulars on your menus or offered for high-end catered events.
  • Exploring the products offered by local artisanal cheese makers or the many uses of yoghurt in various world cuisines.

Some of the skills mentioned here were more prevalent in restaurants and homes of the past but were overtaken by industrial production, time and labor consciousness, and menu standardization.  But if you watch any of the TV food channels you will find that more and more restaurants are making their own items from scratch on premises.

In investing in culinary R&D, the general manager and executive chef can expect some level of higher food costs during this off-season period of experimentation, but the additional skills mastered by the kitchen staff will enhance the club’s capabilities, reinvigorate the culinary curiosity and interest of the staff, and may even add some new and unusual offerings for members.  The additional cost of ingredients, and maybe even specialty cookware and utensils, may be better justified if some of the experimental efforts are used for “wow” factor offerings in the lounge on typically slow nights.

When well-conceived, planned, and executed, the club can build some slow season specialty nights into the club’s calendar of events that may attract additional dining business during the traditionally slow period.

The end result of off-season culinary experimentation is a more talented, versatile, and reinvigorated kitchen team, a more creative year-round food service, and appreciative members who recognizes the off-season efforts of the club’s culinary team to give them the very best.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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