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Focus your training on understanding

Q: It seems like our training is not as effective as it should be. How do I make my training investment pay off?

A: There is a clear industry slide downward in service over the last few years. there is likely on culprit – understanding the “why” of hospitality. Effective training needs to focus on understanding – not imparting knowledge. Employees can know a lot about something but not really understand the important reason behind it. Why do you want them to offer appetizers, beverages, special entrees, dessert, a legitimate greeting and a thank you? Why do you want excellent product quality, prepared quickly? Why do you want a sparkling clean facility? People can forget what they know but they never forget what they understand. When was the last time you needed a refresher on tying your shoes or brushing you hair? Obviously, you understand how to do these things and will never have to be taught again. When was the last time you recited a few of the elements from the Periodic Table in chemistry? Likely, you would need to brush up on it. What’s the difference? Tying your shoes and brushing your hair have real meaning and application to you life and are more important to you and have a high level of understanding. At one point you may have known the Periodic sign for Iron, yet today you may not be able to recall it at all. The most successful companies continually train their people to a level of understanding and where there is understanding there is breakthrough and paradigm shift. Take the time with each training techniques to move your training to a culture of understanding:

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Four Focus Areas to Improve Product Cost

Q: I’m interested in improving my margins this year.

I don’t want to overhaul my menu, and I think my prices are where they need to be. Where should I start on the cost side?

The largest cost target on the restaurant P&L is prime cost, which is made up of cost of goods sold and fully loaded labor. Cost of goods sold is primarily made up of food cost and beverage cost. The discipline for running great costs in cost of goods is the same whether it’s food or beverage. It begins with the purchase and ends with the sale. Everywhere in between is ripe for improvement. Regardless of restaurant size, any business can be world class and improve margins by functioning tightly in the following areas:

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Proactively manage increasing product costs

Q: I know product costs are going to continue increasing. What are the realities we’re facing in 2013?

A: The summer of 2012 brought a severe drought throughout the mid-west and much of the United States. Though some prices have increased, substantial price increases will hit in 2013 according to the USDA Economic Research Service ( 

Increases are expected to be 3.0 to 4.0 percent. This cost increase is another $8,400 per $1 million in sales with an 80 percent food sales mix and a 30 percent food cost. Beverage pricing will continue to feel pressure as well. Implement these recommendations to avoid falling victim to inflation pressure:

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