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Friday, May 08, 2009

Why Did This Week Suck?

In the movie "A Few Good Men", Tom Cruise's character Danny shouts out "I want the truth!" and Jack Nicholson's character Colonel Jessup shouts back "You can't handle the truth!" just before the Colonel offers the entire truth. While sitting in on management meetings at some of my client's offices, I'm tempted to mimic Danny and ask for the truth.

The truth gets swept into the closet at too many of these meetings.

With regard to food cost results, I have seen some major screw ups over the years. Here's the top 2:

1. Manager ordered his staff to cook 200 whole rotisserie chickens (typical demand is 40 per night) since he felt they might spoil. He offered the birds at a $1 discount.

Instead of freezing the raw birds, the staff followed orders and prepped 5 times the usual marinade, prepped the chickens and slow cooked them all day long on the rotisserie. They sold an extra 10 chickens. The additional unit sales weren't enough to offset the discount of $50. What did they do with the other 150 birds?

They never did sell well the next day when they were offered cold for $2 off. More ingredients were wasted when the staff whipped up a mess of chicken salad. Try to imagine the additional labor, the marinade ingredients, the gas used to cook the chickens, the mayo and veggies used in the salad.

Instead of stopping the insanity early and eating the $250 on day one, the mistake was allowed to dominate the week. The manager never survived this debacle.

2. A fast moving multi-tasker put 10 cases of baby back ribs over medium heat and went outside to check on a delivery. Since the restaurant was not open for breakfast, no one was in the kitchen for the next hour. The delivery didn't go as planned and several phone calls were required to communicate with the vendor's main office.

By the time the employee made it back to the kitchen, he realized his mistake. The ribs were all ruined (burned on the one side). The owner came in 2 hours later and asked why the kitchen smelled like something was on fire. He was told how the 300 pounds of ribs were burned and discarded.

This was an honest mistake. The ribs were immediately discarded and the employee never wasted another rib again.

These huge errors were well documented due to the shear size of the hit. It would have been impossible to change a couple of Excel entries to heal these wounds. As crazy as it seems, I found the 2 meetings following these events to be fantastic.

Everyone discussed real issues and developed safeguards to prevent a replay.

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