Stack 'em High… and Watch 'em Fly

sodaIs 2015 the year of getting back to basics?

Years ago I was participating in a business meeting with colleagues from around the country. One of the last items on the agenda after two full days of information sharing was... what are your plans for next year?

Around the room, one at a time, a representative from every business, presented their plans. Most of them had major capital projects in the works. New restaurants, concepts to test, expansion plans and other often grand and innovative initiatives. And in fact, many commented that they couldn't wait to get home and implement some of the new ideas and best practices they had learned over the prior couple of days.

Then there was Carol, a manager from a major well established, successful amusement park in the eastern US. And when asked what her plans were for the following year to grow revenue and profits from the food and beverage operation she was in charge of, she said... Stack 'em High and Watch 'em Fly.

cotten candyWHAT?

She quickly explained. We have no expansion plans, there is no budget for new equipment or to remodel current locations. And she closed with;

"They still expect me to grow the business... so I'm going to do what I've always done. I'm going to do what I know works... and do it consistently, everyday, better than ever"

She was going to build corn dog displays like pyramids, show mountains of cotton candy, keep beverages surrounded by ice. Hot food would be hot and cold food cold. And she was going to make sure that every employee knew what they had to do, how it was to be done, why they had to do it, and that they had to own it. It was their responsibility. She was going to accomplish this because she knew these ideas worked to grow sales when consistently done. And she was focusing on what she had control over, and not complaining about what she didn't have.

Her growth plan was simple, basic, not exciting or innovative. But it works!

While there was some laughter in the room, every person in attendance shook their heads in agreement. We all knew those strategies… but it wasn't what we were focused on. I think most of them…of us, believed they had moved past worrying about that "little stuff", and that it was the responsibility of someone else downstream of them on the org chart. My observation was that most believed it wasn't happening at a level that optimizes and leverages the opportunity in their operation. Money was getting left on the table!

cornThere is nothing wrong with large capital projects, expansion plans and testing new concepts. As long as you don't leave the operational basics behind.

In our foodservice business, the "basics" would include.

Menus: Are we selling what our guests want, and are we able to meet our demand capacity.

Menu Boards: Are they strategically laid out, and simple to follow

Signage: Is the message clear, and do they encourage impulse sales.

Value: Are we providing our guests additional reasons to purchase.

Quality: Are we consistently delivering on our food safety and quality standards.

Employee Training: Are we viewing our crew as an asset, and not an expense.

Leadership Development: Are we providing the necessary training, tools and support, to those that drive our operational strategy.

Displays: Are we merchandising our menu items in a way that attracts attention, promotes availability, and communicates quality. Are we "Stacking 'em High… to Watch 'em Fly".

Those are our "basics"... and every one of them is fully in our control to implement and execute. No excuses necessary. And they take very little, if any money to activate... which makes them the best return on investment we can make.

While they may look different from ours, every business within any industry, has tactics, best practices and strategies, that when consistently used, and always reviewed for improvement, keep their business growing and profitable. These "basics" though, are often easily forgotten as attention is pulled towards the latest trends and new ideas.

The best organizations in the world… do them both.

What are the basics in your business… and how do they set you up for success?

Happy New Year. The best is yet to come!

About The Author

ken whitingKen Whiting is an amusement park and attractions food and beverage operator, and industry consultant for improvements in F&B, retail and workforce productivity. Reach out with any questions or comments you may have at: