As business owners, we’re constantly worrying about all of the different hats that we have to wear; owner, manager, complaints department, strategist, accountant (well, hopefully not this one), plumber, builder, web designer, social media expert, and so on.
When we first start out in business, we have to do all of these things as most of us don’t have the budget to hire a team to do any of these jobs. But what happens when we start to generate revenue? Do we bring anyone in to look after the areas of the business that require a bit more experience than we have ourselves? No, we tend to bring in people to take over the tasks that we’re already good at- working in the kitchen, barista style coffee, running the bar, and so on.
Most hospitality business owners believe that by bringing in a team to take over these generalist roles, that they’ll soon be able to reduce the amount of time that they have to spend working in the business. But nothing could be further from the truth. By bringing in a generalist team first, you create all of the problems that come along with having that kind of workplace team- staff not showing up or calling in sick, holidays, people leaving, staff training, and so on.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be building a team, I’m saying that you should be careful with the team that you’re building- instead of building your team with the aim of removing yourself from the business in the quickest way possible, look to build a mix.
Bring in a team that can take away some of the day to day elements of running the business, but keep back an element of your budget for bringing in someone with the knowledge to help you build your business in the most efficient way i.e. you could outsource your website design and social media content for the year for the same cost of having a part-time member of staff for 6 or 7 months. This won’t solve all of your problems in one go, but by having an outsourced team that can design your website, take care of your social media, or run your SEO and ad campaigns, the increased revenue from outsourcing these tasks will allow you to grow your team at a faster pace, which will give you your time back quicker than if you were to hire a full team of chefs and bartenders.
Most business owners tend to do this the opposite way round- they bring in a full complement of staff, and then look to increase their revenue as they believe that they’ll now have time to manage their social media and build that website that they’ve constantly been talking about. But this very rarely happens. Most of the time, hospitality business owners must then fill their time with rota management and dealing with staffing issues, and they no longer have the budget to look at things like SEO optimisation and promoting their business. They end up working more hours for less money than they would if they had a regular job.
What you’ll find, is that people tend to fill their time with the work that they have, and it often gets difficult to put more work on them as the business grows. A prime example of this is Christmas in pretty much every pub across the world- it gets busier and busier the closer it gets to Christmas. The first few weeks are exhausting, and you can’t wait for January, but once you get closer to Christmas, things get easier as you remember how you prepared for it the busier year, and you suddenly manage to fit more into the day, and more often than not, the output of your work is of a much higher calibre as you’ve planned for the festive period and taken action to ensure that your team don’t drown in the heavier workload.
Have a look at one of your previous busy periods- Christmas, Summer, Easter etc, and look at your revenue, your GP and your labour percentage. What most people find, is that their GP is on target, or higher, and their labour percentage often is lower than their target. It’s amazing that despite how busy it was, you managed to hit or exceed your targets because you had no other choice. You managed accomplish more because it needed to be done. You filled your time with the work that you had.
Obviously there comes a point when it’s too busy for the team- you’ll start to see fatigue and burnout in your team, and before long, you’ll see people start to leave which we want to avoid! But my Christmas analogy still stands- you fill your time with the work you have to do. If you were as busy all year round as you are at Christmas, your team would manage. You may have to hire an additional team member or two to cover holidays, but otherwise, not much would change because it’s the norm.
What jobs can I give away?
Delegation is often seen as a dirty word in the hospitality industry, and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s something to do with the old-school thinking of how you need to do everything yourself and not rely on other people. The truth is that you’ll get more out of the team members that you delegate tasks to. Delegation gives people responsibility- something to take charge of.
You can delegate pretty much any task within your business depending on the quality of people that you employ. We have a payroll department, so I employ people with more knowledge than me in payroll. We prepare and file year end accounts for companies, so I employ an accountant with more knowledge and experience than me. The members of my team that I delegate these tasks to can carry them out faster than I can, more accurately than I can, and to a higher standard than I can.
There’s no shame in not being the most qualified person for the job, and one of the main differences between having a good business and a great business is knowing where your weaknesses lie and putting plans in place to remove those weaknesses.
Use our spreadsheet template to list out all of the repetitive tasks that you do- don’t worry about writing the same one down a couple of times over and don’t worry about being specific as there’s plenty of time to go back and change all of this.
Once you’ve written down 50 of them, go through your list and remove any duplicates and then remove any tasks that you genuinely can’t delegate right now for security, safety or GDPR reasons e.g. paying staff from the company bank account, or updating personnel records. You’ll be able to delegate these tasks down the line, but for now, concentrate on what you already have in front of you.
Next it’s time to look through those tasks and group them into categories. Use the colour codes at the top of the sheet and give each category a title or description. For example, if on your task list you wrote down cashing up, locking up, and end of day, then you could categorise all of these as “Opening/ Closing Procedure”. Categorising your tasks will help you down the line when it comes to documenting your processes.