Meeting with your key staff on a regular basis opens a powerful communication channel, and when executed correctly can greatly improve productivity and profitability in your venue. Meeting regularly will allow you to perform two extremely important business activities: planning and evaluation. Planning and evaluation work hand in hand: planning allows you to set reasonable goals, and evaluation allows you to see how your venue is travelling towards reaching those goals. This type of regular communication is essential in any productive environment. The most profitable venues I have worked in have key staff who meet at least weekly to discuss key business metrics and other valuable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and follow a uniform ‘meeting agenda’ system. Meeting regularly also allows a team to discuss relevant issues and topics which may promote higher levels of customer service, productivity and therefore profitability.
Planning involves examining certain aspects of your establishment (whether it be a financial, sales or other type of aspect), and setting reasonable targets for the positive development or progression (or reduction) of that aspect. For example: examining a sales figure for the previous quarter (the previous three months) and setting a target to beat the previous figure, or examining a particular cost and attempting to reduce it. Strategic planning of this nature can only occur if you have access to relevant data, and have the authority to do so, of course.
Evaluation involves examining certain data or results, and comparing such data to your previously planned expectations. Ask yourself: does the current information conclude that target X has been met? Use all the data you can possibly can, and make sure your data is valid before you make any critical and extensive business decisions. When you are planning for your venue:
Create a three, six and twelve month plan, which you evaluate (and re-evaluate) every three months.
So, at month one, create a three, six and twelve month plan, detailing the goals you would like your establishment to have met within those time periods. The twelve month plan will most probably be your most unrealistic pan, but is an excellent exercise to re-examine after twelve months to see where your establishment is sitting in relation to your long term predictions. Your three and six month plans should be more detailed and accurate in a sense of predictability, and should contain obtainable goals (don’t set your goals to be too easy, or too difficult). When three months have passed, examine your three, six and twelve month plan, evaluate your progress and reset your three, six and twelve month goals. This is the time to perform a ‘check-up’ of your bar-machine and determine if any major changes need to be made to reach your goals.
Some targets to plan for and evaluate are:
- The increase of average weekly gross income
- The increase if Gross Profit margins (the increase of profitability)
- The decrease of staff turnover
- The decrease of Wastage/Spillage/Theft percentages
- The change of Food vs. Drink spend ratio (whichever ratio suits your style of venue)
It’s also a good idea to plan for other goals, such as a renovation or any other ‘project’ that may develop and advance your establishment. I would also recommend submitting your three, six and twelve month goals to your superior (if you have one), for them to examine and (most importantly) keep secure, so you can’t change them. I understand this may seem like a recipe for disaster – but you will work harder towards these goals if you know they are set in concrete.
Submitting goals to your superior (if you have one) allows you to ask for an incentive if you meet and exceed those goals.
In regards to the frequency and style of your meetings, I suggest a cascading style which involves a meeting every week, but not always on the same scope of discussion. Here is an example (I’m going to choose Mondays in this example, but you can choose any day):
- Conduct a weekly meeting every Monday, and cover tactical topics (include your senior staff who then transmit such tactics to the lower echelons of your bar-machine). Tactical topics include micro-management issues which directly affect your frontline staff, and should provide solutions to any problems you (or they) may be experiencing. Tactical topics include creating or modifying any systems in your bar-machine.
- Conduct a monthly meeting on the first Monday of every calendar month, which occurs instead of the weekly meeting (you can cover weekly topics as an extra if you need to). In the monthly meeting, discuss strategies you need to execute in order to meet the three, six and twelve month goals you have set in your planning process. Don’t change any of your goals – you can do this in the quarterly meeting.
- Conduct a quarterly meeting on the first Monday of every quarter, which occurs instead of the weekly and monthly meeting (as mentioned above, you can cover tactics and strategies if you need to). In this meeting, discuss the goals you have set. This is the time to think big and plan ahead for your establishment.
Weekly staff meeting: discuss tactics
Monthly staff meeting: discuss strategies
Quarterly staff meeting: discuss goals
It’s up to you to determine who will attend each weekly, monthly and quarterly meeting – I recommend inviting your superior frontline staff to each weekly meeting (ask them to execute any actionable items), however keep the monthly and quarterly meetings for the upper echelons of your establishment (to keep a sense of confidentiality; you don’t want your frontline staff knowing your sales figures and other sensitive information).
Preparing for your meeting is a valuable exercise.
Create an agenda (or list of items you wish to discuss) including the ‘actioned items’ from the previous meeting. This allows you to quickly address the issues at hand, and progress through your meeting at an efficient pace (a quick meeting is a good meeting). Remember to record who is going to action what so you can follow up each ‘action item’ at the next meeting.
Prepare an agenda for each meeting you conduct. Take notes. Try and ‘bullet’ through each bullet point. A quick meeting is a good meeting.
Even if you are unable to meet so frequently, I would suggest meeting regularly. Make it a regular occurrence. Keep your past agendas on file also, in case you need to cross reference an important topic.