Let’s face it. We as business owners are different, and for various reasons we decided to start our own companies:
- We worked for a similar business and thought we could do a better job.
- We became tired of listening to someone else.
- An opportunity appeared and we took it.
- We lost our job and never wanted that to happen again.
- Entrepreneurship was prevalent in our families so it was natural for us to start a business.
- We had a passion for something and wanted to bring it to others.
- We wanted the potential of unlimited income.
You may have started your business for another reason, or a combination of the above, but you get the idea. In my case, I loved restaurants because I felt that some kind of magic happened in those kitchens. I remember our many family visits to Marc’s Big Boy when I was younger; after we ordered our food the wait sometimes seemed interminable—it wasn’t—but what was brought to us to eat just could not be duplicated at home. Everything tasted better, brighter, and different. I always wondered how they did it, so after I graduated from college with an unused degree in elementary education, I got my first restaurant job at Big Boy. It’s a longer story than this, but I had a passion to “do things right” that wasn’t satisfied at Big Boy, so I opened my own restaurant and later morphed it into the largest corporate catering company in Wisconsin.
Employees are Not Like You
As the owner, you have a unique world-view regarding your business. It’s EVERYTHING to you. You always think about it, you dream about it, and you constantly worry about it. Your employees, however do not. It’s not theirs; it’s merely their job and they may not love the food business like you do. They may not get excited about a 37 order drop-off catering day, while you can’t wait for that day to begin.
I remember one busy day at my first restaurant, as we were packing to-go orders, I found an extra order of onion rings and quickly realized that someone had received fries instead of rings. It was too late as the customer already had left with their bag of food, and I said my expeditor, “Hey, that customer didn’t get their onion rings—you gave them fries instead. She said, “so what?” I was really appalled that one of my employees did not have the same passion for getting things right that I had, but it was a proverbial wake-up call.
You need to find a way to balance these opposing viewpoints. First it is necessary to realize and accept that while you may occasionally get lucky, many of your employees will not come to you with the same drive and enthusiasm that you possess. You have to be ready to deal with this positively instead of negatively.
I could have let the rings vs. fry situation forever taint my feelings about employees. I could have gone down the road that many business owners follow as they fully expect their employees to act badly and make mistakes. Remember the movie Raising Arizona where the furniture store owner is asked if he has any disgruntled employees? His answer was, “they’re employees; of course they are disgruntled.”
If that’s the way you feel, then you will probably have a store full of unhappy and uncaring workers, and then you will be the most stifling aspect of your business. Next time, we’ll talk more about different kinds of management styles, and I’ll give you examples of employee development that allowed me to grow my catering business past the $1 million sales mark.
Have a great catering week and please do not hesitate to contact me.