You ever see you kids walking around with Scareface on it? You ever wonder why some of our youth idolize a fictional character who was a bad guy? Or in this case "The Bad Guy" as it were. I never understood that, maybe it was because that character had made it farther out of the ghetto than they think they will so in that respect he's someone to look up to. You know who another villain a lot of people look up to? Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street. You remember the line right?
"Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works"
So many people who watched that movie took those words to heart forgetting that Gecko is the villain of that story, that the only reason he was there was to fool people into believeing in him so he could take control of the company and sell it off. It's as strange as the people who look up to Tony Montana even though he kills his best friend in a jealous rage because he wanted his sister for himself. It might be time to realize that maybe greed isn't as good as we think it might be, perhaps it isn't always right, it might not even work.
That's not to say we should all start community businesses and not strive to any type of wealth. Of course we should! That's why most of us are in the food biz right?
What I'm suggesting is that with the world changing, with technology changing, with they ideas of what it means to be human changing then we should start looking at new ways we see success.
I don't think the success of a restaurant could be seen solely in a PnL sheet. I think a lot can be seen in the quality of life of everyone in the company. It can also be seen in the turnover of the associates as well as in the guest's faces. This quality of success has been lost in many of the corporate businesses I've worked for in throughout the 20 years I've been working.
Let's get to the whole reason why I'm writing this post. Some of you might have read an article of a popular company selling it's 150+ stores for 8 million dollars. I won't say the name of the company seeing as I still know many people who work for the company and I don't want them to get in trouble for this (myself included). Truth be told I don't even want to lash out at the company itself, I don't think anyone was in a tower somewhere twisting their mustache trying to think of new ways to screw their employees over. They are humans with thoughts and feelings who make mistakes just like any of us do.
That being said, I think it's important for the industry to look at what happened here, what went wrong, and how we all can move forward. I think the first question a company should ask is what is the concept really selling? I know it's selling food, but is it the quality? The freshness? Is it the service? I know we all say that's what all of them do but let's be honest, they don't. If you walk into a Denny's during a dinner shift and only see 3 servers for 40 tables then they don't care about service, if they did they would pay for it. If a fast food concept is using a shit load of chemicals to make the shittiest type of beef edible then they don't care about quality, if they did they would pay for it.
"So what should we do Dave? Just throw money at the problem?"
Absolutely not! Rarely is money the magic bullet that fixes everything, that's not to say that it's not a factor. In the case of the company that was sold, one of the aspects of the concept was service and quality. Both of those aspects suffered greatly every quarter as they cut and cut and cut some more, all the time wondering why their bottom line was sinking. Now I wonder if a lot of this has to do with being a publicly traded company. Perhaps a food concept that depends on having quality FoH and Boh (as opposed to a quick serve or fast food concept) shouldn't be publicly traded? I say that because the full service concepts aren't like a McDonalds where you don't need skilled staff to work in the kitchen as opposed to a saute station in a full kitchen.
A full service kitchen means you need to spend more time training which means more hours and more money. If a company isn't willing to do that then quality is going to dip. You might save money for that quarter but you'll never make that same money again as long as that trend consists.A good example of a publicly traded company who spend a lot of time training their staff would be Starbucks, they have the most comprehensive training I've ever seen in any food concept.
I'm not sure how to end this, I don't want to point out every mistake that company had made, if I were in their position I might not appreciate it, then again I might. I'm a comic so I'm used to failing then picking myself up again and moving forward. I understand a lot of people aren't willing to do that.
You know what would be interesting? If the magazines who wrote the stories on the sale this week would talk with some of the employees. They could ask them what they think went wrong. At least we could get a better picture of what had happened, we could all learn from it, we could all evolve from it. Just a long winded thought.