Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Best Practices, Repeatable Business Processes, Specialization, and the Restaurant Business

By Dennis D. McDonald

Within one week of coming home after a successful first year at Virginia Tech, Number One Daughter started her Summer job hostessing at a large and popular riverfront restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. While driving her to work one day, I asked her how things were going at the job. The conversation that followed reminded me several things relevant to intelligent management practices.

She said to me, “You know, Dad, I’ve had other jobs where when they told you to do something, you didn’t always have to do it that way. Here when they tell you to do something a particular way, they really mean it.”

I asked her to explain. What she described was an example of a “best practices” approach to management. The training at her restaurant is very specific and informed by a knowlege of “what works.” There are certain things you do in a give situation, and certain things you don’t do. If a customer says one thing, you are expected to respond in a particular way.

This got us to talking about management practices and the impact repeatable processes have on a business and its potential for success and profitability.

I suggested my daughter keep an eye out for other examples of specific processes and how they impacted the performance of the restaurant. In particular, I suggested that she pay attention to things that were specific to the restaurant business and things that were probably more general. What the heck — there’s no reason why a temporary Summer job can’t be a learning experience, right?

This conversation also got me thinking about a couple of other things. One is that it makes good sense now and then to take a look at related areas that interest you and not stay so focused on one topic or one specialty that you lose sight of the bigger picture. One of the impacts of technical specialization is that, given the state of current tools for gathering and screening information from the web, it’s possible to construct a web of bookmarks, tags, and feeds that can inundate  you on a daily basis with information that is directly relevant to your job or work interest.

My own “best practice” related t0 this is to allow myself to explore seemingly unrelated or random areas of interest.  The Web is a good source of input. So is talking with people. So is taking time to visit a public library.

Copyright (c) 2006 by Dennis D. McDonald

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