Thursday, June 21, 2012

The MFA Is the New MBA

My daughter Alana is an art student entering her senior year of college and she just made the Dean’s List. When my wife and I called to tell her how proud we are, Alana humbly replied that we were making too big of a deal over this.  She declared that every student makes the Dean’s List if they can:
  • Arrive promptly and complete projects on time
  • Be prepared
  • Incorporate the professor's instructions as they progress
  • Ask for additional advice when necessary
I laughed and suggested that these competencies display professionalism at its highest level.  No one is expected to be Salvador Dali or Andrew Wyeth at 21.  However, character traits such as attentiveness, punctuality, creativity, and humility are smart business principles that make a powerful foundation for success in any field.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In the Media:

When if comes to catering sales, there's a short path from contact to contract.  In this interview with Bob Ryals of, I reveal some secrets to new business development including how to identify Good Fit clients for your company.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Swinging For the Fences - Part II

At the start of the MLB season, we looked at the parallels between the roles and responsibilities of baseball team owners and those of catering company owners. We are a third of the way into the season and, for some teams, careful preparation has paved the way for exceeded expectations.  On the other hand, some of the teams who had high hopes during the preseason are struggling just to play .500 ball. Is it because of the chilly weather of April? Injuries? Poor recruitment decisions? Bad coaching? The classic case of unexplained slumps by otherwise dependable stars?  There could be any number of factors contributing to a team’s poor performance, but now is the time for managers and coaches to assess their team’s status and, if necessary, make significant changes.

Department managers of catering companies are similar in many ways to baseball managers and coaches.  (Of course, sometimes the department manager is the owner.  Sometimes, as Mike Roman says, the catering owner/manager is also: dishwasher, driver, chef, furniture mover, plumber, psychiatrist, and more!)

Both baseball managers and catering company managers must:
  • Evaluate and hire the best players.  The talent pool is wide and deep; it is up to managers to recruit those who will make the best team.
  • Manage an eclectic group with varying competencies and experience.  A locker room, like a sales office, kitchen, or staffing office, holds a lot of different personalities and skill sets.  Good managers know how to set a tone that fosters teamwork and encourages big wins.
  • Drill players continuously on the sport's fundamentals.  Just because we've reached the big leagues, it doesn't mean we can skip batting practice.  Catering managers must make sure salespeople are strengthening their negotiating techniques, cooks are fine-tuning their knife skills, and servers are refining their hospitality skills.
  • Eliminate those who don't produce or who cannot blend with the program.  Sometimes, regardless of how well-liked or seemingly talented a player is, they just don't blend with the team.  It falls to manager and coaches to cut these people so they can take their talents somewhere they can be successful.
  • Be ruthless when examining systems.  Be willing to throw out the old and bring in the new.  "That's the way we've always done it" is one of the worst things a manager or coach can say.  Instead, do what needs to be done to win, even if it's new or unfamiliar.
Two months into the baseball season, managers and coaches should re-evaluate what is working on their teams and what needs tweaking.  Thankfully for caterers, our season goes long past October and it’s never too late for our department managers to emulate the successful techniques of World Series-winning coaches.

Next at bat: The Players followed by The Fans.