I took a drive by Poco’s on the Boulevard today to snap some pictures of Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible crew in action. Poco’s is a Latin restaurant that is near Kansas City, Missouri’s hispanic neighborhoods, and competes with a lot of great Mexican restaurants located just down the street.
When I drove up to Poco’s I expected to see a beehive of activity. Based on the show, the two day makeover is a mad dash to get finished, with Chef Robert yelling that they’ll “never get done on time”. That’s not at all what I saw though. What I witnessed was what appeared to be an organized and calm effort, with most the people helping either sitting or standing around. No running or hurrying and no stress. At least not outside the restaurant. Behind the restaurant, I saw servers in Poco’s uniforms sitting and talking. From across the street, I couldn’t tell what they were doing, whether it was training or helping with the remodel or something else.
As a restaurant and food service consultant, I’ve always wondered what happens when the Restaurant Impossible or Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares crew leaves. The restaurant has a new look, the menu is smaller, fresher, and likely higher priced, there is a boost in business due to the publicity and the owners have a new energy to “make it work this time”. My real concern for these restaurants is what happens next. Are the owners left with their same bad habits, only to revert to what is easiest? Do they continue to cling to the old crowd of customers that wasn’t enough to keep them in business, and alienate all the new potential customers by reverting to old habits and menus? Do they have new organizational systems in place or someone teaching them what information to record and how to organize their restaurant’s data to make sure they can be successful in the long run? Is there support after the reboot?
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, but I do know one thing. More restaurants fail as a result of bad management practices than bad food. That doesn’t mean you can plan on being successful with bad food. The food is obviously very important. It just means that having good food isn’t enough. You have to have management systems in place and a process for tracking and saving important information about your restaurant, to allow you to make better, more informed decisions. You also need to have someone to talk to that knows what successful restaurants are doing that you aren’t, outside of the food.
These restaurants that receive free makeovers from the likes of Robert Irvine, Gordon Ramsay, or the Restaurant Makeover show are getting an incredible gift. The type of remodels and assistance they are getting is worth many, many times the $10,000 budget these shows stick to. The publicity they are getting is absolutely priceless. I don’t expect to be able to get into Poco’s for the next month. Especially in a food crazy town like Kansas City. I just hope the makeover shows are doing something to provide these restaurants with some support after the makeover. THAT is where the battle will truly be won or lost.
Update 8/10/12 - Robert Irvine answered some of the questions raised in this article via Twitter. See his replies here.
Brandon O’Dell and O’Dell Restaurant Consulting provide marketing and operations consulting services to small and medium budget independent restaurants and small chains, and offers downloadable organizational tools on their website. Brandon also operates a home chef service in the Kansas City and Wichita, KS metropolitan areas. Visit visit www.bodellconsulting.com and www.friendthatcooks.com for details.
Maintain complete and comprehensive Employee Files is one of the most important things a restaurant owner does in limiting their liability as a business owner. Properly kept employee files help reduce workers comp claims, lawsuits and even insurance premiums. Take our advice and read the following article to learn what it takes for a restaurant owner to keep comprehensive Employee Files.
There are a lot of human resource management softwares on the market today. Some are integrated into timekeeping and payroll softwares like ADP, but may cost upwards of $10,000. How does a small restaurant on a tight budget track employee information when they can’t afford an expensive employee management software solution?
I would like to share with you a tool we have that helps you maintain your employee records. It is a spreadsheet that allows you to input lots of vital information and calculates employee absence and tardiness. I’ll share a detailed description as to what exactly is on the spreadsheet so you can take with you the knowledge without having to buy anything if you like. If so inclined, you may also purchase our Employee Record & Attendence Spreadsheet download from the webstore at www.bodellconsulting.com/webstore.html to make things simple and easy. I will also cover the other information you need to make sure you are keeping a comprehensive Employee File.
Employee Record & Attendence Spreadsheet
One of the main functions of an Employee Record is to record vital employee data. The following information should be included in any basic employee record:
- Last name
- First name
- Birth date
- Street address
- Zip code
- Cell/Home phone number
- Position hired for
- Direct supervisor
- Department supervisor
- Emergency contact
- Contact relationship
- Contact work number
- Contact cell/home number
- Start date
In addition to all this basic information that you should be keeping on every employee, you should also have a digital or written record of every occurrence of all tardies, unexcused absences, excused absences, sick days used, vacation days used and personal days used.
Our spreadsheet allows you to track every occurence listed above day by day. It also adds all the occurrences into total columns for each occurrence so you can view the total number of tardies, excused and unexcused absences, sick days, vacation days and personal days.
With a spreadsheet, your employee information can be tracked digitally to cut down on paperwork. You can also print it to put a copy in the actual paper file for the employees.
Other information to include in an Employee File
Some other items you should store in your employee’s paper file include:
- Job application and Resume
- Written Employment Offer
- Signed receipt for your Employee Policy Manual
- Signed Job Description
- Employee Contract
- Signed Training Manual receipt
- Copies of completed and signed Employee Evaluations
- Completed W-2
- Signed Reprimandsalong with copies of Employee Policy Manual pages showing which policy the employee violated
- Signed Customer Complaint Reports or Employee Incident Reports involving employee
- Signed Employee Benefit acceptance or denial
- Awards or Bonuses earned
- Any other contract, agreement or receipt signed by employee
- Employee Termination record
One common form that employers make the mistake of putting in the Employee File is the I-9. I-9s should all be kept together in one file separate from employee records. This helps keep the employee records private from federal immigration agents should your I-9s be requested. Medical records should also not be kept in Employee Files to make sure you remain compliant with HIPAA rules on patient privacy.
I hope this article helps you as a restaurant or food service owner to keep employee records that will keep your business safe from fines, lawsuits and other liabilities. Visit our main website at www.bodellconsulting.com to see if there are any other operating, cost control or marketing issues we can assist you with.
O’Dell Restaurant Consulting