Monday, December 8, 2014

Looking in from the outside

You might not know but I am consulting on a few local restaurant and food businesses and it is great fun, meeting all these amazing people who are dedicated and hard working and have a passion for what they do.

I am currently working with a local business that is kind of an institution - I am going here for years and love the laid back atmosphere, the feel that time just stops here and that I am not hurried out to make space for the next guest. The menu rotates regularly with favorites being always on the menu. So if you came regularly, you would know the menu and when what special would be on. Nothing wrong with that but the time has come to adapt to the changing dining market.
Teamwork is essential for success

And this is where the challenge for me and the team lays. You still want the feel of the place to stay the same, want to keep existing diners but need to attract new ones. Food trends need to be considered and of course special dietary requirements need to be transformed into tasty dishes. And all that while a hard working team is unsure if they will like the changes and how guests will react.

What I have to keep in mind is that everyone has a comfort zone and it is not easy to penetrate this zone (I know just too well as I have my own comfort zone and protect it when endangered). Tact and diplomacy is the key here. Trying to convert skeptics into believers - the chef who has worked hard on the menu, the restaurant manager who is worried on being left out and the staff who work hard behind the scenes - is the key to create a team that works towards a common goal.

I am the person who is coming in from the outside looking in - I have a clear view as I am not manipulated by processes, history or worries - but do I know the place? No - not as well as the staff who work here for years, who have seen transformations before, who have built up relationships with diners and who have given their time and expertise. So do they need me?? Yes, they do - to show them different ways to achieve the common goal, to bring expertise that is not bound on processes, history and worries. But I need to keep in mind that I can't do it alone. I need this team behind me to achieve with them the changes needed to bring this amazing place into new territory.

So my job starts with listening - to their processes, history and worries and learning from their experience. This is what I am doing at the moment while doing research into food trends and customer profiling.

I really love this job - watch this space for updates in the coming weeks on how we implementing changes.

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