Stop for a minute and consider…
Vertical Management Structure is Dead
Having been in the business world for 30+ years, I have watched the changes. The days of vertical management structure are dead. I can’t even picture life without a cross-functional team… Can some of you remember your boss pulling you into his office and tasking you individually to deliver a result on a deadline? Aaah… distant memories. Today, goals don’t get assigned without group involvement – specialists working together to provide a unique contribution to the whole…
Is Experience an Asset, or a Liability?
Back in the day, the person that understood the whole picture was valued and may have spent a lifetime developing a deeper understanding of broader processes. Today, the average job tenure is 3-5 years. As a result, corporations are no longer able to leverage their investment in training. The organizational structure has evolved accordingly. The lack of focus on a specialty and its contribution to the team, may have an enormous impact on the team dynamic and potentially put the end-goal in jeopardy. The experience that is required today… is having had a role in successful team projects in the industry of your chosen career. NOT, the broader knowledge of the engineering, production management, marketing, account management, or even skill as a personnel manager handling direct reports.
Can Previous Generations Change Their Thinking?
I spent an entire career developing what I thought was a knowledge and skill set that was desired. I have had experience in every role in my industry, from front-line to back-office to executive management. The days of Tom Peters style business thinking are dead. Entrepreneurship in a broader organization is no longer a desired trait (fewer small businesses are being started today too). OK, so how do we re-invent ourselves?
Specialization is the Key
Analyze your most effective traits. Ask yourself, in what role are you most successful? Stop trying to understand the bigger picture, focus on making yourself better at that one thing and hone your skills with different communication styles. While I will never fully embrace this kind of thinking, it IS the reality today and therefore the new path to a successful career!
Formula for a Successful Restaurant
So many restaurant owners ignore the potential of their beverage service. Yes, it requires an investment, but I have run the numbers many times… and it is just too difficult to hit the necessary gross profit margin without at least a 30% revenue and 40% profit contribution from beverage. Business plans become tortured, when based on food alone. I don’t care how good the product is. U.S. business statistics show, only one out of seven new restaurant start-ups last past the first five years.
Attitude and Passion
To run a beverage program at a fine dining restaurant requires an infectious passion and an ability to be a wine ambassador to draw your clientele into wine culture to succeed. The fine dining experience is all about superior service, telling stories and relating to the customer, all with an eye on education – not only regarding wine/beer/spirits, but also appropriate food pairings too. This seems to overwhelm many owners, but the result is worth the effort and may even be the key to long-term survival.
Business Planning in the Restaurant Trade
So often businesses lose sight of the financial viability of their annual budget and business plan (if they have one). I think, especially so in the restaurant trade. As a business owner, the tendency is to focus on a comfort zone and day-to-day operations, while overlooking whether the right plan is in place to achieve success. Having owned businesses and managed organizations in the past, even those with highly motivated employees, it is easy to lose track of the need for financial planning, marketing and experimenting with ways to enhance customer loyalty. Beverage is one of those keys to success.
I see posts all over the internet from Sommeliers talking about their passion for wine and customer service and the challenge of being an ambassador to the industry…
Sommeliers Must Bring Business Management to the Table
There is a key point being missed. A Somm is also a beverage manager. He/she should be a businessperson first and foremost. The job for the owner is to build a beverage program that attracts clientele and contributes it’s share to the profitability of the restaurant/shop. Yes, Somm’s are passionate, wine-loving people… but without a business focus, they are not the invaluable asset they should be. Besides exceptional beverage service, they must be able to manage a budget, negotiate procurement agreements, practice good cellar management, devise effective pricing programs, train wait-staff, etc… exceptional people skills are very important, but a business focus is what will make a career successful.