Making a meal of our managing duties

Full course dinner

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I am all for delegation of responsibility to staff. That is part of good management if you are confident your managers and employees are up to coping. Of course it is important that they ask for advice and they are properly trained. Sometimes things can go wrong when we are not in touch with our staff and we have not properly defined their roles.

Last weekend my wife and I were at a pub restaurant we had not tried before, It did not aspire to being a gastro-pub (up-market food) but it was unfortunately trying to cover all the bases rather than concentrating on a few things and doing them well.

We were guests so it was not our place to bring various problems to the management’s notice at the time.

On arrival we were greeted enthusiastically by the waiting staff. We were offered menus very quickly, someone took a drinks order, and two waiters fought over who should take our food order. We had to send them away to start with because the menu was very long and we were faced with too much choice.

I can’t speak for the lunches ordered by our companions. My wife and I both had the same starter which was very good. Though obviously made with bought-in products some thought had gone into its composition.

Our mixed grill main course was disappointing. Only our steaks had been freshly cooked to order, The rest had been sitting pre-cooked for a long while and was dried out. That is the fault of having a long menu. The poor chef cannot cook everything to order because she or he has no idea what diners will want, They have too much choice. The food wastage must also be considerable if a lot of the menu is pre-prepared. By having a long menu they end up not only with a smaller margin on the food due to the amount they throw away but also end up serving poorer quality dishes.

After the main course the service was not only less enthusiastic. It was impossible to find a waitress or waiter or indeed any member of staff for around twenty minutes. Eventually we saw someone in the distance and caught his eye. He called that he would be right over. He then disappeared. Around ten minutes after that we saw someone else and caught her attention. She appeared to be the manager and she did take an order for our companions desserts. These were delivered without too much delay, at which time, having perceived the problem the bill was requested. Over the next twenty minutes it had to be requested twice more.

Clearly like any other business, the restaurant should concentrate on some things it could do well. In its case this would be a shorter menu delivered by a chef who then has the time and is supported by properly trained staff. In other words:

  • Do what you are good at and can deliver.
  • Don’t try to do too much.
  • Avoid waste by using your resources properly and not buying in what you don’t need.
  • Make sure your staff are properly trained and know what is expected of them.
  • Keep an eye on them to make sure they are coping. If not, dive in to support them.

One final necessity: ask for feedback, because people will often refrain from complaining but just not come back. They will tell their friends about your failures so they won’t even try you out. It is easy to fix a problem if you know what it is. Otherwise the reason for your falling sales will escape you until you have no business. There’s something to chew over.


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