As the fiscal year winds down, take 30 steps to improve operations in the home stretch

As the fiscal year winds down, take 30 steps to improve operations in the home stretch

September marks the last month of the third quarter of 2009. For some operators, it’s been a good year, despite the economy. For others, the best thing they can say about 2009 is that it’ll be over in three months. Either way, we’ve got about four months of revenue-building opportunity left to either improve upon or salvage our spreadsheets. Now’s the time to “sharpen the saw” and generate momentum for the final quarter of a challenging year so you can hit the ground running in the first quarter of the new one.

Here are 30 daily leadership strategies and tactics for September to keep you both focused and fiscal. Read ’em and reap.

Drive around the five-mile radius of your restaurant today. List all the schools, churches, businesses, senior centers, residences, etc., in the area and plan a specific way to generate more customer traffic from each place.

Teach someone something new today. Knowledge, not time, is money.

Learn something new today. The only person you can truly prod, inspire and improve with any degree of success is yourself. “Work on me first.”

Today, commit to hiring noticeably better people for the rest of the month. Don’t just hire—assemble a cast.

Don’t train “in general,” train in specific today. Ask yourself: Who (or what) is my training target today? Apply this question to the next 26 days as well.

Collect three receivables today. As author Norm Brodsky says: “A sale isn’t a sale until you collect. If you generate receivables, you are, in fact, a bank.”

Prune [3] from your staff an underperformer that you should’ve let go in June.

Re-evaluate how you interact with customers from square one. As Peter Drucker said, “Focus first on where the company and the customer meet and then build your solutions outward from that moment-of-truth.”

Conduct a purchasing audit. You can’t compete on price if you can’t compete on cost. Assess every vendor’s service, quality and resources today.

In today’s preshift meeting, tell your team why we sell instead of just how to sell. Know-why trumps know-how.

Be a brand ambassador today for your team and customers. Purpose and not just personality should be used to lead. If you manage your business’s culture daily, that culture will manage your business.

Get your 2009 holiday business plan started today.

Refine your holiday business plan today with specific tactics and timetables.

Begin implementing your 2009 holiday business plan today.

Today, teach the team the basics of Food Costs 101 in your preshift meetings.

If you’re in quick service, work on improving your speed of service today. You don’t just sell food and beverage, you sell time.

Today, list the top five expectations your customers have when they do business with you and also the top five complaints they have. Define ways to enhance the former and eliminate the latter.

Start a plan to sell more gift cards starting today. Why wait until the holiday season when there are plenty of guests celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions in September, October and November, too?

Assess your entire team of hourlies today. Assign a yellow light to the ones doing the job, a green light to the ones doing more than the job, and a red light to the ones doing less than the job.

With your red-yellow-green hourly team member assessment in hand today, determine to groom ’em or broom ’em. Send a distinct message to low-performers: We will not lower our standards so that you can raise yours.

Now that you’re developing a high-performing crew, assess your current stable of managers. Do they have the leadership skills necessary to help the team develop and excel?

Today ask yourself: “Where is my target customer group when they are not in my business?” Figure out ways to co-market with those other businesses or places.

Find two hourly team members deserving praise or recognition and give it to them today.

Don’t run out of month at the end of your money. You have seven more days and fourteen more shifts to make a sales and marketing push a the end of each month. Design your revenue plan first thing today and begin executing it during the first shift.

Walk in stupid today. What is your restaurant teaching you?

Today, instead of a “to-do” list, make a “to-don’t” list. Time management involves not only efficiently scheduling tasks, it also means eliminating unproductive or diversionary activities.

Resolve to teach the people who do the hiring how to get better at choosing the right people to let on to your team. This skill is routinely overlooked and undervalued but results in huge back-end costs in terms of management time, discipline and service issues.

Write thank-you notes to three customers today.

The first thing that training teaches young workers is what they’re not good at. Find two under-20-somethings to compliment today on their progress and reassure them of their value to your team.

Improve one facet of service today. As author Chris Peck says, “If the only thing to purchase at a restaurant were food, it would be called a grocery store.”

And finally, what did you learn in the previous 30 days that can be applied to the next 90? Leaders know that one day teaches the other what to do.