Stay true and strong to what you do well

Placeholder ImageWhen we are doing one thing for so long, there will be many days that will come and go that we start to question ourselves what we are really doing with our lives. I do, many many times now. As if being lost and unassured of anything. Then we start to look for other things what might be or what could be. I did…I have ventured into agriculture business, I have tried poultry business and raised chickens, I have tried recruitment agency, and did a considerable self employed sales work. At first I thought agriculture is the best idea for business because growing fruits and vegetables will be the easiest business to manage as we can just watch the fruits and vegetables grow and earn money. I was wrong of course. I needed to water them, watch them for pest, and lots of hands to harvest them. Not to mention big expense to transport them. Now, the poultry business I thought was easier. Again big mistake and I will not even write down the horrible details. Recruitment agency business was a very good idea but not just the right time and circumstances. Sales work? No comment.

Although trying to do something different in ones life can be financially disastrous, I can truly say with all honesty that I am a much stronger person and professional today if not for those experiences. You might have heard the phrase before, “I rather have tried and failed than not trying at all in life”. Looking back, would I say if given the chance to do it again will I do it? Probably not if I wanted to save all the money lost. But the experience and lessons learnt is far more rewarding. The people I met along the way gave me the highest respect for all the work we have done together. When money or profit put against the experience and the people I would always choose experience and people. I strongly feel we can’t put monetary value on experience nor price for good people.

I have tried many things in life. Some I can consider a fail but others a success. But now I know I must stick to what I am really good and strong at – the food business and people. I think I already have come into full circle now and found where I needed to be. But without those other things I have done and without meeting all those people I would not know that I am in the right place now.

If there was a chance to try other things in life I would always recommend all to do it. Meet people and do all the things that will challenge you and inspire you. Do all and be all now because in the end you will find out that there is one particular thing that you will be strong and good at. And when you do, stay true to it because this is where you will be happiest – know I am.

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Build people before build businesses

Placeholder ImageOver the years I have met and worked with business owners, directors and many entrepreneurs. They are well-educated and some even can boast considerable experiences to shout about. They have the money, the education and even the experience. They surround themselves with the best people that their money can buy so that they can be presented with the best formula for success. The objective is to make sure they get the best deal, meaning to get high yield profit from their investments with the lowest risk on their part. Of course they have won some and lost some. They will never reach this level in their lives without winning, failing and learning. But in their money building journey and figuring out the best formula for a guaranteed success, one thing I have observed that always get missed from this mathematical formula of making money…and that is people.

People for me is the missing value in the equation to spell out success. Businesses will never be formed let alone be a success without the right people. When I say the “right” people I do not mean the best accountants, the best marketing minds, or even the best managers. What I mean by “right” is how we treat people. How we work with them and treat them as the most valuable asset in our businesses. They are the most important, the most valuable factor in the mathematical equation of success.

Many would say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I am with you on this and I believe this is true”. But if we truly believe this, let me ask you this…why is it that the staff are the first one to be cut out if we are not reaching sales target? Why is it when we increase the product prices due to the increase of cost on raw materials we never increase the salary and wages of staff  and even make great effort to keep it as low as possible? Why is it that company will never spend anything extra on staff but wanted the staff to do more and beyond for the business? I can remember hearing this from a businessman before, ” keep their salary just enough for them to stay and just low enough for them not to leave”. How small we see the value of people sometimes that it makes me feel leaving this business world and going up the mountains to live a peaceful life.

You know those business formula where they account 30 percent as cost and the 70 percent as gross profit? At times they change it to 40 percent cost and 60 percent gross profit. Look at the percentage of profit. It is proven time and time again that in difficult business situations it will always be the staff that gets cut off and reduced but never the profit.

Show me a business that has high staff turnover and I will show you a company that does not treat people well.

If you want your businesses to be successful, invest on your people. Give the best training money can buy, offer them the highest salary in the market, offer them the best bonus schemes, and just treat them well like family. If you are successful doing this, then you have the formula for business success. People makes the business. Without them you just have an empty shop, quiet restaurant, and vacant rooms in your hotels.

Until then, build your people first before building a business. Keep treating your people “right”. When you get the people right, you get the business right.

What we hate but don’t tell our customer

Placeholder ImageIt is funny how it is always one-sided when it comes to customers opinion on staff. But have we ever considered the opinion of the staff of the customers? You may be surprise, please read on:

  • Staff hates it when a customer orders an elaborate and detailed coffee choices like – Skinny, decaf, caramel one shot extra hot no foam latte. Why even bother drinking decaf coffee? Just drink water or juice.
  • Staff gets irritated when you bring your kids, leave a mess on the table and don’t even leave a small tip. Too cheap to get a nanny so let the restaurant staff clean up after meals?
  • It is not good to keep server waiting by your side while you hang on to the menu to decide what you want. At this point, any longer you will get punched on the face.
  • Customer who thinks sounding dumb is cute. Don’t ask, we get them a lot.
  • Customer who always think they are right. No they are not.
  • Customers who bark at the staff for something that is beyond their job description – price of the meal? why there is no car park? no toilet?
  • Customers who stay too long on the table even when they have finished their meals – tables needed to be relayed for other customers or for breakfast.
  • Customers who say they are all together but then ask to split the bill or pay separately after you have placed the orders. You can get killed one day if you keep on doing this.
  • Customers who request for 5 glasses of tap water. When you go out, spend a little on bottled water otherwise stay at home.
  • Customer looking for something that is not on the menu or not on the display. You can get hurt if you keep on doing this.
  • Customer flirting with the staff and keeping the staff from doing her/his job to serve others. The team will put you in the toilet bowl head first if you keep on with this.
  • Miserable customers who dump their problems on staff. Pay for a session to see a psychiatrist
  • Customer who complain about waiting too long for their food only because they are too bored with the company they have. If they have good conversation they would not even notice the time. So remember, if you complain about waiting time it means you are bored about the company you have.

These are just few opinions of the staff of customers. A form of a review of what customers we get. It feels strange how we can evaluate staff performances and the kind of service they deliver but very rarely we hear that we can actually do the reverse as well and review the customers behavior and characters. How does it feel to be under the “microscope” and be evaluated? How does it feel to have somebody say something about you like it’s a licence to criticize, rate and grade a person?

Remember, we always feel we have an opinion of others, but we rarely realise that others might have an opinion about us just because we pay for a service or a product. I think the idea here is mutual respect. Customers to staff and staff to customers should have mutual respect.

Until next time…

 

 

Tripadvisor

Placeholder ImageI am a fan of Tripadvisor. In fact I am a senior contributor to their website. I use them all the time to get information on a holiday destination, or see some reviews about a hotel or restaurants, and I even use this site to book my flights. Tripadvisor is a great information tool for people like me. I read reviews of a certain hotel or restaurant that I would like to go to or before booking a holiday to some resort. After some years of using tripadvisor, I realised that there will always be great, good and bad reviews on one establishment or another.The fact is, some people will like your place or service and some will not and shout about it. But it is up to us still to get the best personal experience rather than just take someone elses opinion. I went to a holiday destination where some reviews were not as good but I still went there and had a fantastic time. What I use tripadvisor for is to pick up useful factual information like price, distance, choices, accessibility and leave personal opinion on the side. Incidentally, this is also my style of writing for tripadvisor. Though I give my personal opinion, the majority of my writing covers factual information. What I did not like or like is kept to a minimum and I try to be objective. We all have different tastes and views depending on our characters. Therefore our views on what is good may be what is bad for others or what is good for others be bad for us. The argument here would be, whose information should we listen to and what information can be useful to us. The danger is that tripadvisor can be use the wrong way. It could be use to “bad mouth” an establishment because they are your competitor. It could be use to manipulate to win bonuses in relation to a company incentive schemes. It could be use aggressively to promote their businesses by self-serving business owners. Or it could be use to destroy a person that he/she didn’t like and write a bad review about the server or manager. We all know that we can always ask someone else to write a review about who,what, how when we want to hide our identity and we all know that this happens for whatever purpose it may serve. Therefore, other than objective and factual information that thrives in tripadvisor that can help you make an educated decision to go to restaurant or book that resort or hotel, there are also dangerous self serving, misleading opinions that can take you to a path paved by greedy, selfish, destructive people.

Tripadvisor now is use to over advertise businesses rather than help people get factual useful information. My fear is, tripadvisor will soon be clouded by self-serving promotions and cluttered by preconceived move to attain some business goals or forward their money driven causes rather than provide information to help people make educated choices.

Now I fear when I read a review on tripadvisor I am in doubt and ask…is this a company driven advertisement written for them? Is this a personal attack on a person that he/she did not like? Is this a move by an individual to gain bonus schemes designed as incentives by a company to promote their business? This will be hard now to follow whether what we are getting is real factual information of an experience or not.

Until then, please be warned and keep on “reading between the lines”.

Funny things we hear

Placeholder ImageI am sure everyday at work you hear and see many situations that makes you laugh. But in the catering and hospitality industry we get those by the buckets. Most of the time they are coming from our customers, but I must admit other times it comes from us. Before we list them down one by one, I  must clarify that these funny things are not necessarily or deliberately set as jokes. Other times, they even came from very serious moments only to realise in some delayed reaction that they were hilarious – well to us anyway. But I will let you be the judge of them.

  • Customer ate everything on the plate but in the end complained about the food after.
  • Hotel guests ordered fish and chips in the restaurant only to complain in the end that she does not like batter coated fish. There were other fish dishes on the menu that night. This guest demanded not to pay the bill.
  • Customer asked server what does pork and apple pasty taste like. Server said it tastes like pork…and it tastes like apple. It could not be anymore simple than that.
  • Staff said he can’t wash dishes because he must never get soap in his eyes.
  • One staff rang in sick Christmas eve and New Years eve – what are the chances of getting sick on those days huh?
  • Staff asked what day Friday the 13th falls on?
  • Customer bought mineral water and told staff that it’s cheaper next door. Staff said buy it next door.
  • Customer farted while drinking in the bar and pretended nothing happened until it stunk all over the place and staff walked away.
  • Server running with steak on the plate and it went flying off the plate and landed straight under the guests’ chair. Server picks it up and went back to the kitchen. Chef said it was the last one. Go figure what happened next…
  • People think if you are fussy in a restaurant the staff will spit on your food…maybe
  • People think if they complain a lot we can’t do anything but give in to them…think again.
  • Customer puts in a review how good or bad the server was. But customers don’t know we give them names if they are bad to us as well.
  • Customer asked server if the products are fresh…staff said it is illegal to sell out of date food.
  • Customer comes up to pay her bill and started to dig into her purse. She took so long digging into her purse that the till went on stand by mode. The staff pictured her being punched by a kangaroo to entertain himself while waiting for her to get the coins in her purse.

I could go on and on but I will keep some nasty ones for the book. Please do share your funny or insane situation at work that will give us a peek of what is it like on your side of the world. Until next time…

What type of a customer are you?

Placeholder ImageAll these years I believe I have seen and met so many customers that I bet I can name most of them. They are:

  • The fast and furious – this type of customers know what they want and want it fast even at the extent of being rude and without concern for others. This type of customer makes you feel truly a “server”. They enjoy the feeling of superiority and the attention.
  • The easy-going – this type of customers are very pleasant and just out to enjoy the day/night. They are easy to please and can pick anything off the menu.
  • Professional complainers – this type of customer we can smell a mile away. They start with a compliant and ends with a complaint. There is no way to satisfy this customer
  • Lovely grandparents – this type of customers remind you of your lovely grandma and grandpa and you just want to give all you best to make them happy.
  • Love birds – this type of customers just can’t get enough of each other and the public display of affection makes others uncomfortable.
  • Demanding customers – this customers are loud with their demands and love the attention they get from other customers
  • Adams’ family – this type of customers bring all their kids and just let them loose to make horrible mess for us to clean.
  • Attention seekers – this type of customers wants the server to be at all times by their side and even ask one thing after another. If possible they want one waiter just to themselves.
  • Executive type can’t be bothered customer – this customer is always on the phone or laptop and can never be ready to give their orders. But then when waiters are busy they keep on snapping their fingers and shout out for service.
  • Appreciative customers – pleasant and enjoys their time.
  • freebie customers – this type of customer are out to complain in the hope they can get free meals and drinks
  • Loyal customers – this customers comes in regularly and gets the same thing off the menu and drink the same drink. They like stability and ask for the same server
  • Your royal highness customers – this type of customers feel they are royals and servers must “bow down to them and give everything they need”.
  • Big “tippers” – this type of customers, when you meet their expectations they reward accordingly.
  • Poor “tippers”- this type of customers never seem to understand excellent service and feel that it’s the waiters job to serve and does not deserve extra.
  • Chatty customers – this customer wants to hug all the time of the waiter/server and totally oblivious to the fact that we have other things to do.
  • Price sensitive – this type of customers are asking for the prices of each items and will express how expensive everything is.
  • The flirts – this type of customers comes in and flirts to all staff and even go as far as to get their contact numbers.
  •  The creapy one – this customer is weird and just ask the strangest questions and tells the most creapy stories about themselves.
  • The sad one – this customers tell the saddest stories about themselves or their family
  • The sharer – this type of customer shares everything about themselves
  • The acting dumb one –  this customer thinks sounding dumb is cute. This cusotmer will ask “what is a sausage roll?”
  • The normal – this customer comes in and just gets his meal and drink with a smile – no fuss to trouble.
  • The friendly ones – these customers know the names of their servers and apprecite their hard work
  • Discount discount – this customer is always asking for discount on everything
  • Suspicious one – this customer is always suspicious about the quality of the food and suspect the waiter spat on the food. They also think that the server is cheating them all the time.
  • Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde – this customer is so pleasant but when they check out they write horrible reviews.

We are all a customer, but which type depends on us entirely. The rule of thumb is – for the server, serve like you wish to be served. For the customer, imagine if you are the one serving.

 

 

Seeing it from customers eyes

Placeholder ImageWe all have been a customer. It was when we dined in a restaurant, when we bought our mobile phone, purchased that great pair of shoes, or when we asked a hotel to organise an anniversary/birthday party for us. All these years I have noticed one thing that really changed being one of those customers, and that is…customer service has gotten worst! I do not know if it is just me and my high expectations to get good value for my hard-earned money,  but it seems like good customer service is like finding a good film on Netflix. Its rare and often it is just same old, same old stuff.

I have been just recently in a mobile store to change my broken phone. When I entered this store, no one even bothered to say hello or offered any form of assistance (it was dead quiet in that store at that time). Stood there for about 5 minutes browsing through but no one bothered to ask if they can help. In short, I got out and just went online to get my new phone. But I opted for my phone to be picked up in that store and not delivered just to find out how they will deal with this. That day came and I went back to that store. Again, no one bothered to say hello or offered to help. So I approached one of the staff and asked if the phone I ordered online arrived. She went and got it for me. Suddenly, like an “on”switch flicked and she became an accommodating highly efficient staff. She asked if I wanted an insurance for my phone, if I needed cover or extra gigabytes. Wow! Score for up selling. I bet she is on commission. Well and good, but where was this interest to the customers at the first instance? I don’t think I will set my foot again in that store. If not for keeping my mobile number, I would switch to another company as easy as going to the toilet – no regrets of releasing that burden and feeling of great relief after.

I am sure all of you had some experiences when you went into a store and the staff are just gossiping and did not even bother to acknowledge you. And when they did, you got a feeling that you had interrupted them from their important conversation.What about when you entered a store or restaurant and everyone seemed to be under stress and very worked up that if you made the wrong move you will get killed? Or when in a restaurant and the staff trying their best to avoid eye contact so that you will not ask them anything? How about when you found a pair of shoes but wanted the right size and could not find a staff to ask? I remember once I took my wife to celebrate our anniversary in this nice restaurant/hotel (hint – many seasons) in London and after our meal the waiter said to me, “I am sure you enjoyed your meal as you only left the bone”. I am not a snotty, pretentious person and could have taken it as a joke but the timing was really off and the attitude was uncalled for.I will leave it to your imagination as to what happened to the rest of that night…

Do you wonder sometimes when you walk on the high streets and find many stores closed or about to close? And they say, “oh the business environment isn’t great anymore”, or “rent is too high”,” I don’t have the right product”, or “I am in the wrong location” or “too many competitors”, and so on. But I think all it is, if they got that customer service right…they will still be in business.

Being in the industry for a long time, I have served so many people from all walks of life and would not dream of insulting my customers or ignore them. Customers will keep our businesses running and in effect keep our jobs going. Also, remember that we are all customers and for this reason we must treat our customers the way we wanted to be treated. When money is hard and nowadays it’s even harder to earn it let alone save it, we put great care as to how we spend it. If an establishment will not make an effort to win us as a customer – do not spend your hard-earned money in that business.

Always remember, great people make great business!