Thursday, March 26, 2009

We kicked off with the 'In the News' segment -- this week, our table was chosen to lead, but unlike the other scaredycats in class, we got one brave soul to get in front and handle it rather than have the whole table trundle up and act like goons. There was a pretty heated debate about a New York Times article about the state's proposal to license grocery stores to sell wine. On one hand, the system we have now was set up eons ago by puritanical joy-killers that only serves to put barriers in the way of people enjoys the grape. On the other hand, it's a money-grabbing move by the state that'll make low-rent mass-produced wine brands common in all corners while making it harder for smaller, more artisan producers to make a living.

On the cover the dining section, two writers made multi-course meals for 6 people each, for a budget of $50. They came at that number as the lowest price two diners can get a meal at a restaurant. Bruni reviewed the meals very tongue in cheek, not giving it too much seriousness -- if the Times were to take home cooking seriously, the restaurant establishment wouldn't be too amused. Maybe it's time for a new section, like how the Arts is split up between pop culture & movies and fine arts & classical. One dining section for eating out, one dining section for eating in?

To continue the critique of the Times, there were two similar stories about food in Wednesday's paper, one about the new stadium for the Yankees, and another about the new stadium for the Mets.

We went around the class and did presentations of marketing ideas for the fictional Juicy Rib. Most of it was just people talking unenthusiastically, a few people did little adverts and banners, and I was the only one who did a PowerPoint....I thought most people would, but I guess that's my egg-head graphic design background talking. Here is a video export of my magnum opus:

There was more talk of motivation after the break, but I dozed off. We received a new text book dedicated to Food Management and Cost Control, which we'll start in on Monday,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Motivation / Marketing

Today's class started with an overview of the concept of price per square foot of space -- in NYC and any urban area, each square food is costly, and each square foot must be made to pay. Depending on concept and menu, the kitchen is typically 1/3 of the space, though to minimize the kitchen could lead to a more profitable restaurant. A place like Per Se is over 50% kitchen, which makes one wonder if they actually make money over there, despite the high prices.

The first half of the class was a continuation of the discussion of Equal Employment Opportunity law, which I will not parrot here. We discussed an interesting case of a group of men who sued Hooters for discrimination -- they wanted to be servers, but lacked the boobage. Hooters won -- They proved that being a woman for the position of Hooters Girl is a BFOQ -- Bona Fide Occupational Quality. Being that they had a history of discrimination and it was written into their concept from the beginning, from a time before these laws, they were in effect grandfathered in. They also showed that men had other opportunities at Hooters: bartenders were predominantly male, as! Which seems like another case for discrimination against women, but what do I know. Gender, race, disability and religion are protected classes -- beauty is not. Yep, Hooters can not hire you based on your bra size or if you're just fugly.

Next we reviewed our marketing plans to improve sales at the Juicy Rib, for which we will give presentations tomorrow. I'm working on a silly and hopefully humorous PowerPoint that I'll try to post up on in here, y'all.

To end the class, we got further into the supervision book, about motivation. There are various theories of motivation, including but not limited to:
  • Motivation through Fear: Threaten to influence behavior. Good in small doses, but does not work in the long term, like the boy crying wolf. While some people do need an occasional kick in the pants, long term this generates hostility, resentment and revenge.
  • Economic Person Theory: People are economic units that are plugged into the business. Self fulfilling prophecy -- if you treat people like the only reason they are there is for the pay check, they'll act it.
  • Human Relations Theory: People who are happy will be motivated to work. Hello, benefits and insurance!
  • Maslows Hierarchy of Needs: Just like marketing theory, same goes for motivation. From the base of the pyramid to the tip, it's physiological (pay), safety (benefits, pension), social (friends at work), ego (job title) and self-fulfilment (a challenge).
  • Theory Y & Motivation: Work is as natural as rest and play, and should be a motivator unto itself.
  • Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory: This says that for a worker to be motivated, first there must be a standard of 'hygiene', or maintenance, in place -- fair company policy, safe working conditions, fairly compensated staff and helpful supervision. If that is in place, then the following motivators can improve productivity: recognition, responsibility, achievement and work itself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marketing / Theories of Leadership

We rolled open with odds n' ends. A random article on the ins and outs of tipping (our foreign students just don't get it -- are you supposed to tip if the service is bad? And what the deal with tip jars at Starbucks?) Slovack Ricky Martin went to Waverly Inn and was just shocked (Shocked! I say) that the food wasn't very good. Of course it wasn't, it's a an old village stalwart taken over by some pretentious literary scenester-types to turn into a snobby clubhouse, food is beside the point. An article appeared recently that a lot of illegal food carts have been popping up around the city due to the economy -- it's quite easy to get a license to sell food, it's just a test of one's knowledge of food safety, and the city issues an unlimited number of them. A permit, however, allows a person to actually sell food on the city streets, and is limited to 3000 only. The cops have been sweeping up carts with people holding licenses but no permits.

The class broke into groups by table and had us come up with three marketing plans for the fictional 'Juicy Rib' restaurant, based on the demographic and customer stats from the case study. Here are the three we came up with:
  • Goal 1: Maximize lunch time profits. Objective: Raise soft drink sales in the lunch daypart by 20% within 3 months. Strategy: Deeper penetration of target market with core product. Tactic: Offer combo meal, hitching the soda with the popular BBQ sandwich and a side. Budget: Low, just a few new signs for in house promotion, maybe an ad in where ever. Evaluation: Success determined by sales figures generated in house.
  • Goal 2: Increase market share in the underrepresented 20-35 year old segment. Objective: Introduce BBQ by the pound for delivery, particularly to the college market and sell at least 20% of deliveries to that market in 3 months. Strategy: Diversification and product development. Tactic: Late night delivery, advertise on college campuses, co-brand with a beer distributor. Budget: Delivery people, advertising, pay off the beer distributor, cost of keeping the kitchen open late. Evaluation: Keep database of where the new product is delivered. Demographic research will tell us the ages of the areas.
  • Goal 3: Appeal more to women. Objective: Increase sales to mall shoppers by 20%. Strategy Market development. Tactic: a BBQ vending cart in the mall. Budget: High. Cart, permit, license, staff. Evaluation: Keep track of who is buying at the cart.
We spoke more of the definition of leadership. Formal authority is given by the title, the right to command. Real authority, however, must be earned from the subordinates. It's a bad situation when the one with formal authority and the real authority are two different people.

Theories of leadership, there are numerous. The old style boss was autocratic: all carrot & stick, reward and punishment, shut up and do your job as your told.

Theory X & Theory Y supposes that the old style assumes everyone hates work and just want the security of a paycheck -- employees must be ridden, while the new style supposes that work is the same as play or rest, and if a worker is motivated by commitment to a greater goal, work is not inherently despised.

Situational Leadership says it's all, well, situational, with a mix of directional behaviors (show ya how to do it) and supportive behaviors (care & support & praise.)

Transactional Leadership appeals to the worker's self-interest, but is a problem because whenever you ask the worker to do something, there must be a transaction to go with it. I understand why this may not work in the budget-conscious restaurant industry, but when I worked in an animation studio of a major network, whenever I was asked to stay late or do an extra project, it was strictly transactional and very satisfying emotionally and financially!

Finally, Transformational Leadership is all about always looking forward, communicating to in spite, challenge and lead by example. Hello, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates!