As former winner of Best New Business, and Best Established Business, I was asked over the summer to present the Best New Business Award at the LocalShops1 Sixth Anniversary Celebration and Best In Biz Awards. This caused me to reflect on the last five years at Three Birds Tavern, especially the first two. What could I share with these finalists, in just a few moments, which might be meaningful to them? What have I learned? What was the best advice I’ve received? I’ve learned to reflect on successes, failures and shortcomings equally; embrace the experiences, both good and bad, learn from them, but most importantly, move forward. Best advice; work on your business, not in your business. I didn’t get this one at first, but as a new business owner, we often wear many hats, too many hats, because we have to. We can’t afford to hire the staff we need, however, your business will only grow to the limits of your talents. Just as we can over-parent our children, we can do the same within our business, especially when we grow accustomed to having our hands in everything those first few years. But if we want to successfully grow our businesses, we have to recognize that we don’t know everything and we can’t do everything. Once we recognize this, it’s time to surround ourselves with those who do have the answers, those who can do the things we’re not so good at, which allows us to work on our business, not in our business, and grow our business to the level of the talents of the entire team.
As I gathered my thoughts for this presentation, it also reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves as a restaurant owner; friends and acquaintances, who obviously know nothing about working on one’s business as opposed to in one’s business, who say to me, “I was at Three Birds Tavern last Tuesday at 2:30 pm for lunch, and again this Monday at 10:45 pm for a beer and didn’t see you either time. Are you ever there?” For those friends, and for those of you who are just wondering, I decided to write a sample “week in the life of a restaurant owner”:
6:15 am – wake to one email from a customer who didn’t get to hear their last song on the juke box at 1:15 am so the bartender is a loser, dumb and an idiot; one email from a server requesting two Fridays, one Saturday and Labor Day, off in September, and a text from the closing cook to say that the ice maker “quit making ice sometime tonight”
6:45 am – check all social media, respond to comments, messages and posts, and make new post for the day
8:00 am – edit schedules for following week as necessary, send out to staff by email, with updates on specials, promotions, news, etc. for this week
9:30 am – leave my home office to go to restaurant office
10:00 am – check ice machine; call for service, as necessary – run weekend reports from prior week; payroll biweekly, product reports weekly, etc.
10:30 am – retrieve cash box, server cash outs and log book; balance cash outs, cash bags, and respond to notes in log book; Myers Dark Rum ringing up at $2, ceiling fan over table #34 wobbling, change machine out of order, etc.
11:30 am – go to bank and post office, as needed
12:00 pm – place wine and spirits orders
12:30 pm – check emails, social media again; respond to enquiry about a party for 35 in November, reservation for 16 Thursday, employment enquiries, former employee looking for a copy of W2, and a future guest whose mother-in-law is lactose intolerant, gluten free and has a peanut allergy, and will be dining with us Friday, and wants to know what we can make for her
3:00 pm – interview, as needed, meet with vendors, as needed
3:30 pm – mid-day break, which includes a trip to the dog park, and if possible, home for the remainder of the day
7:00 pm – check emails, social media, texts, etc. and respond as necessary
9:00 pm – text from manager on duty that Leffe not pouring properly (example of regular late evening communication)
Same as Monday, with varying issues in emails, texts, etc., at 6:15, 6:45, 9:30 and 11:30 am
10:00 am – work on entertainment schedule; confirm upcoming gigs, review submissions from bands interested in booking, review numbers from past performances
11:00 am – work on website, updating and editing as needed
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm – work on weekly newsletter, blog entries, and future promotions
3:30 pm – mid-day break
6:00 pm – return to restaurant during “season”
9:00 pm – check emails, social media, texts, etc. and respond as necessary
Same as Monday at 6:15, 6:45, 9:30, and 11:30 am
10:00 am – review applications and resumes; schedule interviews if needed
12:00 pm – place beer orders and meet with vendors
2:00 – 5:00 pm – work on accounting; accounts payable, receivable, taxes, verify merchant processing deposits, charges, etc.
5:30 pm – enjoy a beverage at our bar, touching base with FOH staff
Same as Monday at 6:15, 6:45, 9:30 and 11:30 am
7:00 am – create, edit, and send weekly newsletter
10:00 am – confirm interviews, appointments, etc.; set aside time for interviewing, meetings with vendors, etc., as needed
10:30 am – work on policies, procedures, check lists, hand book, new hire packets, etc., as needed
11:00 am – 2:00 pm –check invoices, prepare food orders, write checks, prepare paychecks biweekly, inventory checks
2:00 pm – set aside time for interviews and/or one-on-one staff meetings, as needed
3:00 pm – weekly staff meeting with management team
4:30 pm – interviews, if needed
5:00 pm – dog park visit, if possible
6:00 pm – stay at restaurant, front of the house, during season
Same as Monday at 6:15, 6:45, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 am
10:00 am – walk property; spray for mosquitoes, replace light bulbs, fix loose bar stool, replace broken patio umbrella, etc.
12:00 pm – run errands for restaurant; pens, staples, chalk, crayons, etc.; add change to change machine
2:00 pm – clean offices, take out garbage from upstairs offices
3:00 pm – dog park visit, home for exercise, rest, shower and changing
Everybody’s working for the weekend . . . right? No, never mind. We work all weekend. (you may be too young to get this post and pic)
7:00 pm – back to restaurant for the 2nd shift of the day
10:30 pm – home for the night; check emails, social media, etc., respond as necessary
Sleep in until . . . 7 am, retrieve emails, texts, and messages and respond as necessary
Same as Monday at 9:30 and 11:30 am
10:30 am – touch base with staff, check 86 board, etc.
Work remainder of day as needed
Sleep in until . . . 7 am, then same as Saturday until noon
In season, spend day at restaurant
5:30 pm – dog park visit, and hopefully home for the . . . . week
8:00 pm – check email, social media, messages, etc., respond to requests, needs, etc.
Let me add that I share these duties with my husband, and our staff is amazing, and are willing, and do, help, on top of the pages of checklists of their responsibilities, just as we get pulled in to their duties regularly, for a variety of reasons. We do take vacations, with our phones on 24/7, and checking email at least twice per day. My wonderful husband is more than happy to handle the opening duties at the restaurant by himself at least once a week so that I can grocery shop, clean house, do laundry, get my nails or hair done, take dogs to the vet, etc. I’m not being a martyr here, nor am I complaining, for this is the life we chose, however, the next time you’re wondering why you haven’t seen me sitting on the patio at Three Birds Tavern, sipping on a glass of iced tea and enjoying the gentle breezes, I’m most likely working on our business so that you can enjoy being in our business.
What would your customers/clients learn about you if we were to follow you around for a week?
Thanks for reading,
BIG smile. Love this!!
Robin King says
Thanks, Mary. I know you can relate to much of it.
Juliann McConnell says
Unless you’ve ever owned a business, I don’t think anyone can appreciate the number of hours spent keeping things going! It is an endless endeavor but the benefits are worth it in the end!
Robin King says
Endless but edifying!
Thanks for reading Juliann,
marsha Fisher says
You have done wonders! You and Jack are a great team with love and passion. You aren’t done yet!