Thursday, March 19, 2009

Supervision / In the News

I spun the In the News segment of class in a decidedly pizza direction, talking up articles like the one about the Italian pizza vending machine that actually makes pizza from scratch, and news that a beloved NYC institution recently burned down, but will simply rebrick its oven and carry on. More pointedly, the restaurant where I've been working as manager got a very brief mention in New York magazine. I told the class how I'd brushed this mention off as too minor for noteworthiness...but the day after it hit the newsstands, we had a steady stream of visitors who saw the mention and wanted to know what was up. Publicity, ain't it a bitch! We're not open yet, hope to be soft opened next week, so we'll see.

NY Times had a creepy article about too many cooks in the kitchens -- unemployment is hitting the restaurant sector hard. Richard noted that when there was a slump in the 80s, a lot of Wall Street types found refuge in transferring their skills to food service. Now those refugees are getting the pinch again.

Our friends over in Arizona's Heart Attack Grill are offering unlimited free food every day for anyone over 350 lbs. Nice. God Bless America! But we're not the only scary ones... In Milton Keynes, England, the squirrels there are going nuts for....squirrel-flavor potato chips.

We moved on to supervision, looking at the case study of Bernie, a line cook who got promoted to supervisor then got steamrolled by all this coworkers, because he was too nice and wanted to be their friends at the expense of being their boss. We applied scientific management style (shape up or ship out, fire the evil ones), human relations (sorry you don't like me, how can we help you to be happy?), participatory (what do you want changed and redesigned to help you do the work?) and humanistic (using any style that makes sense to the situation.)

We spoke a bit about the difference between management and leadership. The former is all about organization, the latter is all about inspiring with a vision for the future to be worked towards. Upper management needs to have the leadership thing, the lower level supervision needs to have the management thing. We read through a case study of a new supervisor laying down the law to an established crew, leading to the conclusion: leadership is manipulation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Market Segmentation / Supervision

OK, OK, I'm bad -- I kind of dozed off during a lot of today's class. The subject matter was actually pretty interesting, it's just that I've been burning both ends of the candle, at one end is helping manage a soon-to-be-opened restaurant, the other end is a wife in the 3rd term with our first child. So here is what I can's all a bit of a dream...

We shot out of the gate with analysing a case study of market segmentation for a fictional restaurant named the Juicy Rib. Based on census data and in house polls, we extrapolated what age groups we were doing well in, which were underrepresented, and based on projections who we'd want to focus on to stay profitable in the future. By looking at a year of sales of what menu items sold the most and least at what times, overlaid by the nearby sources of customers, told a lot about what could be done to increase sales, what didn't need pushing, etc.

The second part of the class was dedicated to outlining some major theories of management. Scientific Management is breaking it down into rigid structures, demanding obedience to the machine, and generally juicing the worker out of every cent of productivity. Hello, McDonalds and most fast food! Boring drones, they.

Human Relations Theory says that you make the worker happy, you get them to produce. Hello, Google! Hello, Microsoft!

Participative Management has the worker participate in designing the systems that they will use to complete their tasks, which usually gives the worker more interest and satisfaction (and more productivity) in their job. The manager who solicits advice from their workers AND actually acts on it, hello!

Richard described Humanistic Management as a melange, particularly in a restaurant. In the kitchen, a fascistic Scientific method might be best, but if the servers are going to be the first line on the ground giving feedback on what the customers want and say, a participative method might be more effective. Because you don't want the line cook giving his own funk to the chef's dishes, and you don't want a server acting like a robot!

I haven't done the readings, haven't had time, but hopefully this weekend I'll have time and expound here on the juicier details.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marketing / Supervision

We started the day with a rambling odds n' ends. Slovak Ricky Martin went to Perry Street, loved it, and didn't really say anything too enlightening other than impressing on us that he must have real hi-falutin' taste. Based on the pizza restaurant menu layout the class developed, Guy brought our suggestions to his graphic designer, to which the designer got offended and acted really defensive. In Guy's own words, the guy is a serious guinea (ginny?) and is old school. As a designer myself, I suspect the guy's skill set is out of date and his defensiveness means he should have been fired a long time ago. I told the class about the poster I saw in the window of a Burger King (above) for apple fries -- fresh apples cut and packaged to look like french fries, with caramel served in a packet like ketchup. Basically, the least healthy way of serving apples possible. On one hand, cool, they're selling fresh fruit to kids. On the other hand: they're training them to associate french fries with health. It's like trying to make healthy food look like porn food to make it appealing, when really what makes it healthy should be enough. Like sex -- does sex need to be porno sex to be appealing? Come on!

Next we reviewed a marketing case study of a fictional restaurant called the 'Juicy Rib' (ewww!) The place is trying to figure out the best way to roll out new products, but need to know demographics to determine what it should be: cheap? expensive? lunch? dinner? eat in? take out? beefy? veggie? butchie? girlie? By using data sets from the census and in-store polls of current customers, the details of income, age and living area kind of filtered into a logic that answers the questions. Wednesday we'll pick this apart farther.

Richard gave out an outline for a basic restaurant business plan, and reviewed it. It wasn't that big, and we have a whole 4 months to complete it...fictionally if desired....and still some students were twittering like it's so much work. Jeez, people, you don't have to work very hard to write your plan, but don't expect any investor to give over funds to pay for your half-assedness.

We closed out class with a short case study out of our supervision text. A shmoe at a restaurant is a hard line worker for a few years, gets promoted to manager, is determined to be a nice guy, unlike the hard-ass nit-picker who was the previous manager, and promptly becomes hated and steamrolled by his fellow employees who once were his friends. Why? Well, management should have promoted him to a a place where he wasn't working with his ex-equals, they should have given the employees a heads up, Shmoe should have thought more of being effective and less about being nice and, in my opinion, if moving him to another department wasn't an option, they should have given him a salary raise without a promotion. And Shmoe should have quit and gotten a management job somewhere else. Like, say, me!