Strategies for Effective Delegation

Entrepreneurs are detail-oriented people. They know what they want, when they want it, and exactly which steps they need to take to achieve their business goals. This dual focus on big-picture goals and tiny details is invaluable for those working to get their startups or small businesses off the ground. It can, however, sometimes get in the way for entrepreneurs who have made their business dreams a reality and are trying to maintain that iron grip over the venture’s day-to-day happenings. At some point, even the most control-oriented entrepreneur needs to trust that the employees she delegates to can handle the work – maybe even better than she herself can! Here, I outline a few tips I’ve found useful as a delegating entrepreneur.

Prepare

Don’t just throw a task on an employee’s desk and expect it to be done the way you imagine. Before you even reach out to the employee, you should outline the specifics of the task you plan to delegate. Put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes: what would you ask a manager if they dropped this assignment in your inbox? Have a few answers prepared and ready at hand. Remember, you yourself need to have a clear understanding of the task at hand – otherwise, how could you possibly convey it properly?

Communicate Clearly

A worker needs to know what you expect to be done, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done by. By setting clear expectations upfront, you pave the way to a smooth project execution and delivery later on. That said, managers must keep in mind that how information is conveyed matters just as much as the information itself. Check your tone and attitude! Do employees feel willing to ask questions? If not, you may find yourself needing to rectify miscommunications and mishandled projects down the line.

Confirm Understanding and Commitment

Never assume that an employee understands a project without confirming with them first. Misunderstandings can lead workers to complete tasks incorrectly and ultimately waste their time – and yours! Before you formally hand off a project, ask the employee questions about the task at hand to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines.

Follow Up

Effective communication is a two-way street. Periodically check in with your subordinates to make sure that their projects are on-track and that they themselves are comfortable and engaged in their work. Ideally, they should feel comfortable reaching out to you when they encounter a problem or need clarification on project details. Regular communication between manager and employee builds accountability, and accountability prevents last-minute mistakes.

Don’t Hover

Relinquishing control can be difficult for detail-driven entrepreneurs, but it is an absolute necessity for long-term business success. One individual can’t handle every aspect of a business! Don’t try to hover or micromanage projects, but trust that the people you hired can handle what you give them. If an employee seems to be veering off-course, try coaching them through the problem rather than stealing the task back. Remember, taking projects you’ve delegated back only overloads your own plate, undermines the employee’s confidence, and produces a lesser-quality product.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.com

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Tips and Tricks for Training a Restaurant Employee

You walk into your restaurant one morning to find the place slightly…off. Nothing is out of place or mishandled, but you have the gnawing sense that something has been mishandled somehow. So, you get down to it. By the time your staff meanders in for the opening shift, you’ve noticed over ten points of disorganization, messily handled equipment, and more than a few service complaints in the feedback box you keep on the counter. Concerned, you hold an impromptu staff meeting, only to find that a number of your employees have been mishandling or outright ignoring restaurant policies. When you ask them why, they shrug and reply, “I thought we didn’t need to do it that way.”

 

Training is everything in a restaurant given that a food establishment dines or dies by its customer service. Consider these stats: according to HelpScout, a full  78% of consumers will opt out of a product they had intended to buy after a poor customer service experience. Moreover, 94% of dissatisfied customers don’t report their unhappiness – meaning that your establishment’s poor service could be driving away customers, and you would only know when your regular stream of consumers dried to mere trickle. To quote restaurant consultant and blogger Ryan Gromfin, “Bad restaurant onboarding is like throwing money into your oven and watching it burn.”

Needless to say, a proper training program is integral to a restaurant’s survival. Consider the following tips when preparing to onboard a new employee!

 

Set Expectations Early

Your new employee should understand your restaurant’s goals and expectations before they ever don a uniform. Sit down with them for a few hours on their first day to review the role. Outline in specific terms how a successful employee behaves and what they achieve on any given day. The more guidance your trainee receives early on, the less likely they are to perform poorly or lazily later on.

 

Make an Orientation Program

“Go do it” is not a workable training program. Take the time to sit down and write a full-blown, structured plan for employee training. Schedule formal training and recap sessions into their workday so that they have the opportunity to learn and put that learning into action.

 

Designate a Trainer

If you don’t have the time to onboard a new staff member yourself, choose an experienced employee to do so in your stead. Make certain that the person you select is up to speed on all aspects of training; it might even be worth taking the time to assess their performance before asking them to train others. The last thing you want is for one employee to unintentionally pass misinformation onto your trainee!

 

Check In Periodically

Continued training is a must, even for long-time employees. Periodically check in with each employee individually to assess their work performance and happiness. These one-on-one meetings serve as wonderful opportunities for applauding any recent successes or sharing positive customer service reviews. If you demonstrate care for your business and customers, your staff will follow your example!

 

*Originally posted on PhilipWardWashington.net

Not Everyone Likes the Food: How to Define and Appeal to a Target Consumer Base

For hopeful entrepreneurs who invested months – if not years – of their lives in building what they hoped would be a successful restaurant, this defeat can be crushing. However, this dismissal is easily avoidable if a savvy restaurateur markets their food effectively to their defined target audience.

The hard truth is that not everyone will like your food. Sure, you can sweat over your recipes for months, wondering whether this dish needs a little more spice, or that one a little less – but in the end, you will still encounter hungry people who barely spare your hopeful new restaurant a passing glance. For those restaurateurs battling through their first few years losing even a handful of patrons can be nerve-wracking; after all, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell, as many as 59% of restaurants shutter their storefronts within their first three years of business.

For hopeful entrepreneurs who invested months – if not years – of their lives in building what they hoped would be a successful restaurant, this defeat can be crushing. However, this dismissal is easily avoidable if a savvy restaurateur markets their food effectively to their defined target audience.

Think of it this way. Odds are, you won’t find an high-end French restaurant offering meals starting at $100 a plate on a block dominated by working-class, fixed-income retirees. The reason seems obvious; the demographic that would realistically buy the food doesn’t match up with demographic near the food. Any aspiring entrepreneur worth their wooden spoon needs to consider the age, economic bracket, culture, and location of their customer base.

Before opening – or even purchasing – a location, aspiring restaurants need to ask themselves the following questions:

 

What is the demographic of my target audience?

Are your prospective customers teenagers? Families? Upper-middle-class businessmen and women out for a fancy dinner? You will need to narrow your target customer base to determine your menu, pricing, and marketing strategy.

 

Does my location suit my target customer base?

It’s worth noting that the client base that the entrepreneur wants isn’t always the same as the one the entrepreneur gets. For example, if a cafe targeting business professionals is geographically closer to the local high school than to any corporate buildings, its owners may find themselves needing to shift their menu offerings from paninis and lattes to milkshakes and burgers to stay in business. Save yourself the scramble by setting up shop in an area with a dense population of your target consumers.

 

Will my prices and promotions appeal to my target customer base?

If you intend to sell burgers to teenagers, you shouldn’t charge $30 a plate. Think about the financials of your target demographic; what can they afford? A buy-5-get-1-free punch card is appropriate for a coffee house, but a steakhouse might be better rewarded offering a free appetizer to customers who spend over $50. Consider what your consumer base will be able to pay within the context of your establishment, and work within what you would expect their budgets to be!

 

Even the best restaurants can’t please everyone. For many, success is dependent on a restaurateur’s ability to define and market to a specific customer base. If you plan to open a restaurant, make sure that the food and services you intend to offer will appeal to those in the area!

*Originally posted on PhilipWardWashington.net