June 12, 2015
Ever been seduced by promises that vanish before the words ever hit the air?
Then folks beware the Air Job!
What’s an Air Job: an individual who with seething conviction expresses love, or makes some type of promise to commit, act, or reciprocate, yet when it comes to the crunch, nothing ever happens!
Air Jobs work for you, are customers, are service provider, are friends, are associates… inevitably these people just want something from you or importantly want something more for themselves, unrelated to your needs or outcomes!
At some point intention must turn into physical action or commitment… otherwise one’s credibility is at stake... an old tailor once said: the cloth we cut our promises from results from the outcomes we sew!
Recognizing the Air Job, avoids disappointments, wannabes and time wasters from taking focus away from the people, relationships and actions that do really matter!
June 05, 2015
Joe Villanueva - Master Mixologist/brand Ambassador Metadesign Hong Kong
When we think of a presented cocktail don't we visualise the outcome: the way the cocktail will look and taste.
Do we stop to think about the process or inputs required to deliver the cocktail expected?
Winning at the Point of Pour is the process of understanding the importance and sequence of the inputs required to make a cocktail whether its the brands, the mixers, the bar tools or bartender skills that underline the cocktails outcome.
Let’s re-phrase the conversation; picture this - take the cheapest bulk spirits, low quality generic mixers, non-fresh ingredients, poorly made pouring and measuring tools and then receive the resulting cocktail with a bill for $18!
Are you thinking “oh yeah let’s drink this thing”... or possibly… how far is the closest hospital, will they have a stomach pump and a defibrillator handy?
Rarely will a guest stop to think about the skills of a bartender, the social and contextual environment they’re drinking in, or the inspiring brands supporting that bar, why should they when it's taken for granted
Here in lies the Winning at The Point of Pour Paradigm: a successful cocktail starts and ends with all the inputs required to complete the drink!
Use inferior brands, cheap products, inaccurate jiggers, rusty badly fitting speed pourers and the game’s over even before a liquid hits the bottom of a cocktail tin or glass!
Investment in great brands, professional bar tools, great mixers and skilled bartenders are THE only guarantee to ensure that a cocktail will be perfect!
Winning at The Point Of Pour is the total commitment to excellence - it’s the mindset with no compromise… your guests deserve it!
May 28, 2015
Once upon a time... service was thought of as the great differentiator between businesses!
Now when transparency, customer ratings, competition is everywhere, NO business cannot afford to offer anything less than great customer service.
Yet, great service has become a commodity!
When everyone’s offering great service, do your guests then value or consider your service as a differentiator?
This week l had the experience of going to a local motor registry office… prior experiences were an experience in helplessness and humiliation as a public
(potentate) servant threw my "wait" around.
Things have since changed, today customers have the option of rating their service experience at an exit rating machine.
The arising question: when great service is no longer a differentiator what can one implement as a competitive counter move… the answer
Delivering Exceptional Experiences!
Everything can be copied yet within the 4 walls of a business one can create and own a unique customer’s experience that delivers exception and in the process success. Try it!
May 22, 2015
There isn't a bar or restaurant that doesn't use glass of some type to serve alcoholic beverages.
Glass is our trusty partner... the reliable vessel we hope to repeatedly serve and consistently deliver portion control for beverages... or so we think!
In many instances glass is more an act of faith, equivalent to the expectation that a grocer’s scale or petrol pump is accurate and the value we've paid for is what we’re really receiving.
The glass myth is not a question of glass importers or distributors deliberately misleading the hospitality industry, it's more about under-educating users. The outcome of the issues is that millions of restaurants and bars are unwittingly over-serving/ over pouring alcohol, collectively costing billions of $... yet no one says a word!
THE 3 FLAWS
- Act of Faith - The volumes you think you’re buying are approximates
- Factory marked plimsoll lines or volume level measures on beer and wine glassware are mainly guesses.
- That Oz and/or Metric conversions are rounded up or down.
Every mL or fraction of an Oz over served may cost little on a serve by serve basis yet multiplied tens of thousands of times weekly, monthly and yearly… it adds up!
ACT OF FAITH
Glass is made in large moulds, whereby thick molten glass is high pressured into a mould…during this process the glass will unevenly fill the mould’s internal cavity due to the manufacturing process. At times, there will be fairly large discrepancies in volumes representing 3-5% difference in the advertised volume designation attached to that glass!
To see the results of this issue line up 10-12 of the same volume glasses made by the same manufacturer… check bowl thicknesses at the bottom of each bowl, glass heights and glass diameters... see any differences?
Of course every production run will produce differences or tolerances within each batch and different production runs.
Whilst statistical averages from the manufacturer may indicate volume conformity over millions and millions of units, as we know from the “Claw of Averages”... the greater the number of glass units tested the lower the volume variations appear to be however, the small amount of glass units used in a bar or restaurant the difference in volume inaccuracy increases as the quantity of glass is comparably low.
PLIMSOLL LINES MARKINGS
A line measure means that a glass has a designation line, marked somewhere on the bowl of the glass to approximate where the desired or designated volume level is. Every market has different volume requirements and therefore the lines should be adjusted up or down, by the manufacturer however that may not always be the case.
Above or below the line… Depending where a server stands in comparison to the glass, the line of the glass will appear differently (this is called parallax error)... stand at the same height as the glass and the volume line will probably correspond to the marked line. Look down on the glass or look up at the glass and the line appears different. When one pours into a glass slowly and deliberately a server can hit the line... but given the speed bars and restaurants run at how practical is that! Throw into the equation parallax error... then you’ve got a potential over-pouring issue!
Glass made in Europe is mainly designed to suit metric volumes, local jurisdiction... send the same glasses to the US or Canada the volumes are approximated into Oz, of course there is a difference between US and Canadian Oz’s.
The US use US Oz and in Canada, Imperial Oz’s... each with minor differences 1 Oz/3 0mL approx… in real terms US Ounce is 29.57mL and Canadian Ounce is 29.41mL. Glasses made in the US are made to US volume amounts, converted into mL’s.
So depending on which country the glass is made there will be differences in the actual advertised volumes due to metric/ounce conversions.
WHY IS UNDER EDUCATION GOOD FOR YOU?
When the customer (you) doesn’t understand the ramifications of inaccurate glasses to profitability and consistency on the bottom line, then distributor/manufacturers will never be held to account. They’ll continue doing what they’ve always done… you!
When customers demand better, at some point of time manufacturers will listen and do!
SO WHAT TO DO?
- Speak to your distributor.
- Measure and account for beer, wine and spirits shortages against POS records/inventory control, when you’re trying to find where possible discrepancies live, and inaccurate glassware may be the culprit.
- Buy an accurate measure or pour test kit to randomly check glassware volumes delivery by delivery for consistency… then decide what tolerance levels you’ll accept... reject glasses that do not conform or if you can increase your selling prices accordingly.
Oh yes one more thing!
Want to save a buck or two and buy cheaply made glasses... then consider this: what may be saved in upfront costs, may be lost quickly as these glasses tend to be made to a price not made for accuracy.
Ultimately you pay for what you get!
May 17, 2015
There’s a quiet revolution, it’s a silent tsunami of talent gathering force and if not careful will sweep the arrogant and complacent away!
What we’re referring to is the explosion of knowledgeable bartenders from all parts of South East Asia (SEA), now seeking greater experience and new homes in the developed cocktail markets of the world.
Photo credit: Antonio Lai - Quinary Hong Kong
Significant investment by liquor companies over the last 5-8 years in training, outreach, competition and ambassadors has transformed the marketplace to equip a new breed of passionate SEA bartenders with knowledge and skills... what they now seek is wider experience, maybe at your expense!
Sadly many SEA countries are poor… bartending, mixology and cocktail culture has been for many a way out of poverty and hardship as individuals leap frog futures with no horizons, to land on professions with endless opportunity!
Successful SEA bartenders build and support their families and local communities... funding education, housing and other worthy endeavours, with their success brings hope, safety and smiles to those at home!
Unencumbered by arrogance, a poor work ethic, lack of respect, this cohort appreciates everything. It may very well be that Asian culture is better suited to providing superior hospitality experiences to help, serve and transform thirsty and hungry guests sitting patiently throughout the developed world!
Powered by emotional and economic drivers that many western bartenders fail to understand… the new breed are eager for success; ready for the challenges and rewards that hospitality brings!
The future impact on bartenders in other countries is yet to be felt! But let's be very clear, complacency will be rocked as the competition gets decidedly harder, more willing and infinitely more flexible!
Locals not at the top of their game may one day be felled by the Great Grandchildren of Prohibition; beware the crouching tigers ready to pounce!
May 07, 2015
The kitchen and bar, in a modern hospitality business, operationally speaking pull in different directions, creating a paradigm rather than a clearly defined singularity of purpose and outcome!
This paradigm we refer to is a tug of war created unknowingly between the Kitchen/Bar.
The contrast boils down to:
“What’s WATCHED in the kitchen tends to be WASTED in the bar”.
The WATCH versus WASTE paradigm pivots around 2 different philosophies each altering individual operational imperatives, training and arising metrics.
Kitchens are tremendously expensive enterprises, with tight margins. Produce, protein and labour costs are finely balanced in an economic pas de deux, whereby the slightest hiccup, mis-costing, mis-portioning may very well blow any profit on a meal out of the water!
Bars seemingly operate differently: what costs so little per serve/shot is sold at very high multiples, requiring far less time and energy to produce a profitable result.
Given the economics, management is very focused on closely watching what’s valued the most… things which are undervalued are more likely to be taken for granted and wasted!
The issues between the Kitchen and Bar Operations can be broadly contained to 6 key differences:
- Chefs tend to be formally trained (scientifically) at culinary schools, whereas bar/beverage people tend to learn on the job.
- Structure, measurement, precision are vital to operating a profitable kitchen. Consistency is the outcome sought... yet flip this to a bar and measurement is not critical, drink balance and inconsistency is rife.
- Bars can be notoriously lax compared to strict chef imposed process and controls. A lobster tail goes missing in the kitchen and a wild chef is on the hunt... a bottle of booze goes missing there’s a grunt or huh!
- Kitchens invest in tools which save, assist and control; whereas bar spending is confined to guest facing serve ware. Bar consumables are not compared, cross checked for value, quality and performance; whereas in the kitchen, kitchen consumables are.
- Chefs do inventory daily or multi-times a week, in well run bars this may be done weekly, mostly monthly (if at all).
- Accountability in the kitchen is extremely high... every scrap, drop, grain is watched and accounted for, whereas it’s more laissez faire behind the bar.
If you are an independent or multi-unit operator the news is not all bad as there are specialist inventory control companies such Barmetrics and Bevinco offering intensive on-going management control systems to help.
Compare your kitchen and bar operations... once the analysis is done, it makes sense to impose kitchen discipline in your bar. Try it... what do you have to lose, other than money, inventory and reputation!
April 30, 2015
Japanese inspired barware has captured the imagination of bartenders throughout the world.
The spirit of Zen mastery, now infuses tool-ology in a way we refer to as BarShido™... (see BarShido™, the way of The Bartender).
Tool-ology we define as: the mythology, mastery and mimicry of tool design based on unchanged historical cues.
Ironically many Japanese tool re-sellers love the tools, yet hate the prices and mostly now offer Japanese “style” or “inspired” alternatives sourced from other Asian countries!
Some unwitting buyers feel somewhat cheated when their investment netted tools “inspired by” rather than “originating from”, Japan! The difference measured in terms of quality and longevity, as inevitably you pay for
what you get!
Über has always believed in innovation based on the evolution of human centred design thinking. What this means, as our understanding of workplace need, efficiency and ergonomics improves, so too should the empowering tools used to underpin that work.
It would come as no surprise that Über's re-imagining of Japanese tools such our new Ice Forks, Picks and Jiggers would become the pieces in a reverse selling process back to Japan… the equivalent we think of of selling “ice to the Eskimos!”
Consider Jiggers without a meniscus… ice tools where safety (eliminating hand slippage), modularity (replaceable parts to allow for indefinite tool life) and comfort grips were key elements of our design!
Australian based Japanese bar tender Chiharu Tomizawa… kindly lent her ice mastery talents to the Japanese speaking demo of our new ice tools... it’s worth checking out here... even if you don’t speak Japanese!
As the voyage to reverse sell Über design back to Japan evolves, join us on this journey... if nothing else, it’s guaranteed to be interesting.
April 25, 2015
Jiggers or measures are used to portion control alcohol for consistency, compliance and long term profitability!
Now here’s an interesting question: Why are jiggers round?
Could it be that our design ancestors may have got it: Wrong Way Round!
Let’s take a look.
Why round jiggers?
- History: Context and habit suggest, that's the way it’s always been and therefore mandates the now and near future. For example we recognise today a spoon as a spoon, a saw as a saw because of history going back thousands of years... Humans love certainty and predictability!
- It's always worked, sort of: Over the last 20 years there've been some improvements in materials and minor design tweaks, yet jiggers are still much the same thing, so if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right?
- Why change: For change to occur there must be a compelling reason to think differently; making people want to move to better.
Round jiggers when filled to the top create a lens or dome called a meniscus. There’s no magic to why this happens, it’s just a question of physics or surface tension.
The meniscus adds approximately 10-15% more to a measured liquids total volume, over and above the designated volume marking shown on the side of the jigger... i.e. 30 mL or 1 Oz etc.
Here are some internationally popular volume serves, with the arising meniscus consequences:
20 mL plus 10-15% 2.0 - 3 mL
25 mL plus 10-15% 2.5 - 3.75 mL
30 mL plus 10-15% 3.0 - 4.5 mL
1 Oz plus 10-15% 1/10 - 1/6 Oz (approx.)
Now we know what the meniscus looks like so how can we measure it?
First you’ll need a volumetric scale. We used a scale accurate to
1/1000 of 1 mL or 1/333 of 1 Oz. If you have scales with a digital read out and tare facility then you too should be able to replicate the results (email: firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for the testing process).
We have used a standard 30 mL egg cup jigger to test as it happens to be see through and easier to see the meniscus and arising issues, however as all jiggers are round it really makes no difference as to which one you use. If you try this test on a number of different jiggers you’ll be horrified by the massive range of volume variations!
The before and after pictures above show a 30 mL /1 Oz jigger on the LHS with the meniscus formed at the top. Note: Mils (mL) and Oz are almost identical 30 mL = 29.57 (1 US Fluid Oz).
Note the RHS picture shows the same filled jigger pictured standing further back so we can see the digital read out. The numbers reflect the weight of the liquid inclusive of the meniscus with the actual weight of the plastic jigger zeroed out. 1 mL =1 grm in volume is the same in volumetric weight. In the case above 34.6 mL = 34.6 grm.
Now to work out the weight or volume of the meniscus, in this case 4.6 mL
deduct the read out from the designated volume shown on the side of the jigger (34.6 - 30.0 mL = 4.6 mL).
To work out what the percentage over-serve “measure” is, divide the over-served volume amount and divide by the designated volume i.e. 4.6mL /30 mL to get a figure of 15.33%, over-serve.
The same story would play out percentage wise if we used a 1 Oz, 20 mL,
25 mL or 2 Oz jigger.
What can be done, to solve?
- Buy automated dispensing machines ... expensive, ugly, space eating and prone to issues.
- Do nothing... ignore the problem and loose substantial amounts 365 days a year; staying with the status “whoa”.
- Change the shape of jiggers.
Based on figures of 10-15% over-serve on almost every jigger pour, it’s not very hard to see the cumulative cost to a bar or restaurant business.
An example of what the cost to a business is of the over-served meniscus, let’s do some more math.
Say a bar sells 5 cases of spirits a week… equivalent to 60 bottles of 700 mL spirits. Assuming a shot of alcohol contains 30 mL.
1 bottle contains 700 mL of alcohol divided by 30 mL (the volume of 1 shot) to calculate the max amount of shots can be served from one bottle; answer 23.33 serves.
60 bottles X 23.33 serves = 1400 shots maximum can be served
So what’s the loss per week/pa :
A 10% meniscus loss equals 140 shots lost (1400 X 10%) 7280/pa (x52)
A 15% meniscus loss equals 210 shots lost (1400 x 15%) 10920/pa (x52)
So whilst history is cool, round jiggers we can see are somewhat of an anomaly.
Based on what we now know with science and the needs to save money/generate profits, it appears that when it comes to round jiggers history definitely got it: Wrong Way Round!
April 15, 2015
The closing of Target recently in Canada is just the most recent example of a US based chain misunderstanding the size, value or opportunity of a foreign market!
Ironically a foreign hospitality operator has a far better chance of operating profitably in the US, than the same US Company trying to operate in a foreign market.
The issues for US Chain Operators can be narrowed down to 5 Fatal Flaws:
1. A Buck is not worth a Dollar
It’s surprising how many people overlook that a US $1 may be worth more or less in another market. A US $10 cocktail in Canada must sell for 25% more purely based on exchange rate values, assuming Canadian input costs and gross margins are the same as the US, which they’re not.
2. Perceived and Received Value
Perceived value in one market may be considered fantastic, yet in another the Received value may be considered meagre. There's a very fine line distinguishing Perceived and Received value.
3. Cost blow-outs compare A.L.Ps (Alcohol, Labour, Produce)
Alcohol - is far cheaper per Oz or mL in the US than almost any other major market in the world... how easy to assume that the cost of alcohol in Canada is the same as that in the US or the UK.
Labour - many US hospitality businesses pay minimum hourly rates yet the costs of the same labour in another country such as Australia, Germany etc. can be 2-5 times more expensive.
Produce - costs are considerably lower in the US compared to other markets... a starter valued at US$9.95 may have to sell for CAN $14.95 just to maintain the same value, margins based on local cost conditions.
4. Unrealistic mandated COGs
Higher COGs outside the US drive operators in other markets to be continuously cost vigilant, looking to drive operational/cost improvement.
In the US a 20% COGs is nominated as the benchmark for managing spirit costs, however in another market that same cost could be 25% or more.
In Australia with double the costs of alcohol with similar retail price points as the US, how can alcohol mandated COGs also be 20%
The answer here is pretty scary, US operators operate on super normal margins i.e. low costs and relatively high price points. For averages to fall down to a 20% COGs , would indicate that either heavy discounting via give-aways, over-pouring, floor tips, or worse are occurring ... these losses are hard to see when hidden in the valley between large profits and low costs.
To uncover untoward losses in the US, we’d suggest reducing COGs mandates to 15-17%, whilst many will baulk at the number, the truth would quickly reveal itself.
To better understand averaging issues, sending businesses broke read "The Claw of Averages" blog here.
5. Ignorance is Arrogance
A failure to do due diligence at the deepest level can account for most of the major blow-outs that either better planning and tighter operational mandates would have eliminated.
International hotel groups tend to find domestic partners when opening in new markets, nevertheless whilst this helps, it may not overcome some of the difficulties flagged above.
Some years ago a US Nightclub Operator opened a large property from scratch in a new country using a local partner, discovering after signing the deal that Alcohol and Labour costs were double that of the US, ouch... the question was asked “How do you guys make money in…?”
There's are no easy ways out of opening up outside the US… suffice to say understanding the 5 Fatal Flaws is a great start to not getting caught.
April 08, 2015
The old adage: seeing is believing holds true still today!
Drinking and dining experiences are heavily influenced by what we see
(eyeballs)... hence if a venue or restaurant looks good... or served food looks great the chances are we’ll give it a go (actions).
On the other hand if a bar or restaurant doesn’t look good, then it takes lots of convincing to get us to act and who’s got the time for that!
The rush to open the very latest in drinking and dining offers creates an avalanche of great looking places. Most have design elements, ambiance and other visual cues acting as the invitation, yet the action moment occurs once the experience has been delivered.
Newbies sometimes forget important steps, where drill down mapped into process and execution is completely overlooked!
We understand that a minimal viable product is an opening gambit to be refined after opening... yet nowadays unforgiving consumers with no time, patience or appetite for anything less than very good, care not... so newly minted business beware... being unprepared to be good on DAY 1, creates one-time customer visits only!
Ambiance and design are terrific however the moment of truth rests on innovative offerings, brilliantly and consistently executed. Focusing more on being good (actions) rather than looking good (eyeballs) wins hands down!
April 01, 2015
Every bar and restaurant business must be on Facebook.
Isn't it frustrating when in conversation with a friend or business colleague, when these people trumpet how many Facebook fans they have... if you’re like me... you may feel somewhat deflated!
The good news next time you meet an internet boaster... that “fans” are in some ways just vanity numbers as uncommitted fans can be easily purchased… meaning these “fans” will not engage with your brand or business in any meaningful way!
Social sharing is about sharing posts which provides cache, authenticity and amplification to your story!
Facebook success should be measured on certainty… “likes” are so “meh”… broadly summed: the difference between “likes” and “shares” is the difference between a rather uncommitted pat on the back versus a huge bear hug, backed by love!
Who wants hugs?
March 25, 2015
The hospitality industry is renowned for taking the COO (cheapest option only).
Hey, we all love to save money, however when the supposed saving is measured over the medium to short term, then on reflection the upfront saving may not generate the hooray times expected.
A friend made a rather funny analogy… buying 2 ply toilet paper instead of 3 saves money... yet what about the extra cost in soap, hand sanitiser and more toilet paper!
Purchasing managers are mandated to scrimp, shear and save; that’s what they’re paid to do! Ironically the COO in many instances is akin to wishful thinking… looking for the least cost, hoping for the best outcome!
Operations people tend to be the ones paying the unseen costs of COO decisions; the consequences of upstream purchasing decisions are always felt and unseen downstream by the users and at some point the guest or customer.
Here’s what bar and ops mangers, complain about when going cheap is possibly the least best option:
Reduced turnaround times, increased labour costs
More time spent fixing and rebalancing meals/drinks
Increased production costs as more product is used to achieve the same results
Higher down time and cost due to product failure, breakage, replacement
Increased loss due to over serving, less controls, reduced accuracy
Buying more of less to do the same as what was done before
Consumables are necessary evils. They’re not always the hero of a story but in many instances end up saving the day in ways not always apparent!
Not everyone can be expected to invest in or buy quality- every purchasing decision must be balanced in terms of consequences and outcomes.
The best, most honourable intentions to do the right thing by a business, may not be the win for one’s staff and customers!
Investing in quality does cost more... but usually ends up costing far less... think of it as being fool proof!