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Taken By The Inch, Life's A Cinch

A wise person once said that, "Taken by the yard, life is hard, but taken by the inch, it's a cinch." Folks in the restaurant business should heed that advice when setting their goals for the year ahead. Perhaps more so than people in any other industry, restaurant owners, managers and wait staff can feel overwhelmed by the size of their overall goals—and lose sight of the fact that reaching them happens one service, one meal and one day at a time.

Meeting your 2006 goals means your employees must be engaged with meeting those goals, too. Engaging your employees calls for first sharing your goals and asking their help in establishing an overall game plan, then breaking down the goals into readily attainable inch-long steps.

Think about it: which is easier, getting employees to focus on selling 100 more desserts per week or 5200 more desserts per year? If your restaurant is open six days a week, increasing your weekly dessert sales by 100 translates to selling-17 more desserts per day. With a wait staff of six, each wait staff member only has to sell three more desserts per day to reach the goal. The final numbers will be the same, but inch-long steps make the journey less stressful and more pleasant.

Plus which, it's a whole lot easier to convince six people they can sell three more desserts per day than it is to get them to focus on selling 5200 per year. Pursuing the goal in that fashion puts more profits in your pockets and theirs more easily, too.

Support Others and They'll Support You
Support other people in getting what they want, and they'll support you in getting what you want. Make a point of asking your employees to share their goals for 2006 with you. When they feel discouraged about reaching their goals, help them stay on track by pointing out that taking small steps everyday brings success.

For example, you could support employees who want to have more money in 2006 by providing them with an attractive jar decorated with the words "I'm becoming RICH." Point out that saving rather than spending loose change can easily save $500 a year, that checking out books and videos or DVDs at the local library instead of buying or renting them can net another $500, and that ride-sharing with another employee instead of driving alone one day a week can save $500 in transportation costs. Taking all three of these inch-long steps will make them $1500.00 richer this time next year.

Make Reaching Goals Fun
Reaching your goals doesn't have to feel like work. You could up those dessert sales by running a sales contest in which the winning wait staff member gets first choice of shifts and doesn't have to roll silverware for a week. You might even wash the winning employee's car in the parking lot—that should generate lots of enthusiasm!

Color and creativity are fun. Post colorful company goal charts and ask employees to give you their ideas on new ways of reaching those goals. Give their suggestions a try and reward employees who submitted the top three with a free meal for their families. Run a contest for the best new print or radio ad and offer free theater tickets and a free limo ride to the theater as the prize.

Your good employees are better than gold; they're the geese that will continue to lay your golden eggs. So share your goals with them, ask them to share theirs with you and take the inch-long steps that make reaching those goals a cinch!

Mel Kleiman is the president of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training, processes and tools for recruiting, selection and retention of the best hourly workforce. He is also the author of four books, including Hire Tough Manage Easy. You can reach Mel at 800-218-0930, [email protected] or