The restaurant to be analyzed in the following is a small, Italian taverna. The menu is Tuscan-based and priced in the medium range. There is a full bar, as well as an extensive wine list, and 16 tables inside can seat approximately 56 guests. In fair weather, four patio tables allow for seating for 16. The restaurant serves lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner seven days per week, and it is closed between the meal times. Staff is minimal. The owners, a married couple, manage the site and do the buying and hiring; four to five cooks alternate on lunch and dinner service; and the service staff usually numbers between five to six. The restaurant has been in operation for four years and remains moderately successful, although the business is marked by random periods of intense activity and lulls.
Cost Control Challenges
The small size of the operation and the minimal staffing present several cost control challenges. Management, for example, purchases supplies randomly; if the owner sees a good price for a product, he will buy it and then decide how to implement it in the menu. Then, the owner is highly subject to influences from wine salespeople, and orders wine based on this influence. Another specific challenge lies in marketing. The restaurant is employing a practice of issuing coupons and discounts through several online sites. Customers pay a bulk figure at these sites and then obtain discounts at a variety of restaurants, which take the form of 20 to 40 percent off of the bill before taxes, or free appetizers, desserts, or glasses of wine. Most restaurants engaged in this type of promotion evaluate the results through performance reports, usually generated by the in-house software (Ojugo, 2009, p. 8). The taverna has no system in place for assessing how these discounts create or reduce profit, save for a general awareness of how many customers are using the coupons. It is strongly recommended that the restaurant have its accountant install the simple program needed to record and monitor how these discounts are actually affecting profit. There should also be a means of keeping track of how many new customers, trying the taverna because of the coupons, return. To date, this is done only through random recognition.
Food Production and Sanitation
The taverna’s kitchen is small, so organization is essential. The kitchen staff, which alternates between cooking and cleaning/dishwashing, is minimally trained in maintaining health standards, although management emphasizes a thorough cleaning after each shift. A larger problem is refrigeration. The house uses two refrigerators and one small freezer, and these are older machines. In the summer, they do not adequately cool the products, and waste is often an issue. This also translates to sudden menu changes, which disturbs the clientele. It is necessary that the owners comprehend that installing new equipment is vital. Reliable refrigeration would greatly lessen waste, which clearly reduces profit. It would also permit the house to better plan and execute the menus presented to the guests.
If the leadership quality of the taverna could be described in one word, it would be that applicable to much of its organization: random. The two owners approach the business in a highly personal way, and their actions are usually based only on immediate and individual inclinations. Moreover, they make no attempt to behave professionally, and frequently engage in abusive arguments with one another in view of the staff. This relates to how personally the owners interact with the employees, and verbal abuse is an ordinary occurrence. In no uncertain terms, excessive familiarity erodes, if not destroys, leadership, as efforts to be friendly and “personal” are out of place between management and employees (Craig, Charters, 2006, p. 28).
Consequently, the following characteristics should be adopted by the owners: a sense of professional courtesy to one another and to the employees; a demonstrating of commitment to the business, rather than disgruntled complaints about it; a willingness to better evaluate the components of the operation on all levels; attention made to making improvements where needed; and the upholding of a consistent standard of behavior in regard to mutual respect and professionalism. Virtually none of these practices is currently in place, and employee turnover is unusually high. Even in a small establishment, effective leadership is essential, and the owners must comprehend that many of the issues confronting them are due to the inadequate, unethical, and unprofessional practices they consistently perform.
Recruitment and Staffing
In plain terms, there is no system or protocol in place in regard to hiring at the taverna. When needs arises, an online ad is posted which insists on experienced and qualified applicants. Those applicants, however, usually encounter a highly arbitrary interview and hiring process. More exactly, an applicant may be hired on the spot, asked to come back in a week, or be set for a further interview to find that no one is there. Then, the owners frequently base their hiring decisions only on the immediacy of need; they will hire a person with little experience, fully expecting to discharge that person once they feel more in control of the service arena. Actual qualifications typically do not have as much impact as personal appearance or attractiveness. Additionally, the owners often answer applicant questions inaccurately. They will often say whatever is necessary to secure an employee needed at the time.
Every aspect of this hiring process is both grossly inefficient and unethical. The massive issue also here, aside from poor conduct, is that the owners are hurting their business in multiple ways through this casual hiring process. Employee turnover is always an expense to a restaurant; not only does it cost money in the time needed for the new employee to learn the systems, restaurants often erode customer loyalty when a favored server is suddenly gone (James, 2010, p. 181). It is then urged that the owners completely reevaluate the ways in which they interview and hire. A set of necessary qualifications should be agreed upon, and one reflecting knowledge and experience as much as personal appeal. There should be a set policy of honesty in regard to pay, schedule, working conditions, and training questions from applicants. Then, it is advisable that a dual interview system be in place, in which each applicant is separately interviewed by each owner. Beyond all of this, an ethical attitude of professionalism must define each step of the process. By observing the above recommendations, the owners enable a more committed staff, reduce turnover potentials, and evince professional standards that must benefit the business as a whole.
Craig, D. R., & Charters, W. W. (2006). Personal Leadership in Industry. New York: McGraw- Hill.
James, J. (2010). Streetwise Restaurant Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Successfully Owning and Running a Restaurant. Avon: Adams Media Publications