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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 13th Oct 2017 - Friday Opinion
Subjects: Kitchen concept is a game changer, equipping talent with confidence, and thanks for the good times Aidan
Authors: Glynn Davis, Chris Edger and Tony Hughes, and Ann Elliott

Kitchen concept is a game changer by Glynn Davis

Sitting in the reception of Deliveroo’s headquarters in the City of London recently, most people signing in seemed to be starting their first day at the food delivery company.

This is not particularly unusual for rapidly expanding businesses of this ilk, but what made it interesting was these new starters were all heading to work in Deliveroo’s new Editions division.

This is the delivery-only kitchen sector of the business, which used to be casually called “Roobox” until it was renamed something that sounds a little smarter following Deliveroo’s realisation the concept could be a game changer.

It seems the company’s investors also recognised the same potential in this fledgling part of the business, and it was noticeable in the statement accompanying its recent $385m fund-raise that Editions was top of the page and is clearly a big focus. 

Personally, I’ve had a bit of a downer on home food delivery because I’ve heard far too many stories of how it can cause bottlenecks front-of-house in busy restaurants and clogs kitchens with orders that are often generating little margin even if genuinely good incremental business. Also, don’t forget every order heading out to someone’s home doesn’t have the valuable alcohol component that would be accrued from typical restaurant sales.

Companies in this highly competitive field will take part in an ongoing fight to be top food-delivery dog, with the challenge to ultimately make delivering food to the home economically viable for both delivery provider and foodservice company.

Regarding Editions, we are talking about a very different beast to bog-standard delivery from restaurants. Through data accumulated by Deliveroo it is possible to recognise areas that are underserved by certain cuisines. Brands can then be approached to use the Deliveroo-owned kitchens that are set up in the relevant locations to serve specific markets.

The sites are set up on land that might have been a car park, for instance, and are relatively easy to come by – even in built-up London. They typically house between six and ten different kitchens in shipping containers. Among brands on board so far are MeatLiquor, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Busaba Eathai and Mother Clucker.

For a brand to occupy one of these kitchens, it clearly requires significantly less capital than taking a lease on a high street site. It also takes a mere eight to 12 weeks to bring a brand to a new area. And if things don’t work out, it’s not half as difficult for a food operator to extricate itself from the arrangement.

The other smart aspect of Editions is it will genuinely drive incremental business because the restaurant brand will have no actual outlet in that particular area. What the concept also overcomes is the margin that pressure brands have been facing with home delivery. The desire to charge a higher price is a tempting but not particularly appealing proposition for all stakeholders as it leaves the customer feeling disappointed or even cheated.

With Editions, the food can be promoted differently and therefore command a different price to one charged in the regular restaurant. This could involve offering variants of the restaurant dishes that hit the home delivery price-point by having juicier margins. Most interesting is the opportunity to create sub-brands specifically for Editions.

This has been the approach taken by the extremely successful JKS Restaurants. It has created Motu, its delivery-only Indian Kitchen brand, which will be launched on two Editions sites in north London – one of them rather conveniently down the road from me. It will effectively offer a Gymkhana-lite menu (I hope).

The Editions concept has been such a success since its launch in April it has continued to expand, with the plan to have a network of up to 200 kitchens spread across 30 sites in the UK, while an international roll-out is also on the cards to the 12 countries in which Deliveroo operates its standard delivery service. Now let me take a look at that Motu menu.
Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends

Equipping talent with confidence by Chris Edger and Tony Hughes

Following on from hiring and onboarding – generating feelings of desire and awe – the next job for Inspirational Leaders is training; equipping talent with the key skills to do their jobs, enabling them to feel confident. 

Training promotes not only higher levels of competence among team members but also increases feelings of confidence among individuals that they are capable of fulfilling the requirements of both the company and its customers. Making team members feel less exposed and vulnerable – more optimistic about their capabilities – adds “boldness to their endeavours”, unleashing higher levels of productivity, pace and passion. So what do Inspirational Leaders focus on to equip people with skills that will grant them real confidence to expedite their roles?

 Clear role, rights and responsibilities: As obvious as it may seem, the foundation stone for equipping people with the right skills is the clear delineation of roles, rights and responsibilities. Job descriptions are written in plain English, the key purpose of the role is explained – to “keep customers safe and happy so they come back time and again” – and people are made aware they are expected to adopt a “one team” approach

Technical skills for quality: Buttressing this definition of the role are a series of technical skills programmes aimed to ensure individuals deliver a quality product. The essential technical skills for each role will be different. In hospitality organisations, for instance, there will be differing skill requirements for front-of-house, back-of-house, and functional roles. The point is this – there will be specific practices, processes, policies and procedures that pertain to the basic expedition of each role. These have to be trained in, tested, validated and re-tested on a regular basis (either online or face to face), even when job-holders claim (or protest) they have the insight and capability to do the job!

Behavioural skills for EQ – great service: Organisations such as Apple, John Lewis and First Direct recruit talent on the basis of attitude and levels of service. The extra EQ training they provide includes:

Evocative “guest story telling”: Members of staff are set exercises in which they explore the lives of their customers. Who are they? What are their hopes, feelings and aspirations? What is the reality of their daily routine of home and working life? This creates empathy, enabling staff to understand why they are “honour bound” to create great experiences 

Non-verbal communications training: Apple Store staff members are trained to interpret customers’ facial expression, posture, appearance, walk etc. What do these non-verbal communications convey – happiness, desire, sadness, disgust, contempt? What do they really want or feel?

Customer competency training: Staff also benefit from training that alerts and educates them on the levels of customer competency they will be exposed to during service encounters. As a result of these insights, service providers are trained to placate and ameliorate the worst excesses of customer behaviour

Service-provider mood training: Developing the last point, most organisations proclaim the primacy of the customer, their fundamental objective being to “satisfy and delight customers”. Given the harsh reality of many service encounters, where customers are ultra-demanding, staff are trained not only to deal with whingers, moaners, drainers and complainers but also to manage their own feelings, moods and mindset. Learning not to take things personally!

Cognitive skills: Alongside technical and behavioural interventions, organisations should also look at training mechanisms that improve employee cognitive thinking and planning skills. What is this? Essentially, training in problem-solving, prioritisation, decision-making and time management! Why is it important? The ability to organise one’s work and make the correct calls increases an individual’s “capacity” and productivity. It was Flaubert who said: “Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work!”

Line and co-worker delivery: Companies that get their managers to train and coach sub-ordinates and co-workers are likely to be more successful and resilient than those that don’t. For instance, Pret A Manger’s shops all have trainers within their core staff, while Ritz Carlton identifies top performers across its 35 departments, deploying them as trainers and coaches in their area of expertise. Why is this important? First, it is a well-known adage that you “learn as you teach”. Second, the credibility of the teaching is enhanced by the fact it is delivered by people with deep tacit knowledge. Third, it creates a training culture throughout the organisations (not just in HR!)

Prized accreditation awards: How do you make training highly prized and sought after? By accrediting it to increase its perceived value! Recipients can show awards to their co-workers, family and friends, increasing their levels of confidence, pride and self-esteem.

In summary, equipping talent with skills will lead to higher levels of self-confidence among the team. Too often, sadly, this confidence is lacking in hospitality. Why? Staff either learn on the job and survive or struggle on the front line and perish. Senior management might delude itself that a “lean” training strategy will enable them to get by, but business intelligence on quality breakdowns and product inconsistency demonstrates otherwise. Inspirational Leaders often spend far more money on training than marketing, recognising that their staff – as a personification of their operations – are the living embodiment of their service brands. Having the best-trained staff is a source of competitive advantage for many hospitality organisations, given how poorly it is done (generally) across the sector!  
This article is an extract from Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ book “Inspirational Leadership – How to Mobilise Super-performance through eMOTION”. Professor Chris Edger is a multiple author on retail leadership and Tony Hughes is a luminary of the European foodservice scene

Thanks for the good times Aidan by Ann Elliott

Last week, I went to the funeral of Aidan Keane, who founded Keane in 1990. He died aged 49 from a heart attack. He had survived a heart attack years ago, after which he lost seven stone and became uber fit, eventually breaking the Guinness World Record for playing racquetball non-stop for 24 hours.

Aidan was an enormous tour de force with an incredible personality. I first met him when he and his wife Lou came to stay (invited by my husband who had been working with him). I opened the front door to be greeted by a bald (but young, no more than 30), largish, shortish man wearing platform boots carrying armfuls of flowers, beer, sweets and wine. In fact, so many I couldn’t really see his face. He filled our house with his character and laughter and was unlike anyone I had seen before or since.

I introduced him to Whitbread. Back then the company wasn’t ready for someone like Aidan. He walked into the introductory meeting with the management team looking just as he had when I opened the door to him a few months earlier. It seemed as if he had slept (and worked) in his car which, knowing Aidan, he probably had. They were somewhat taken aback. He wasn’t reverential or deferential. He didn’t bow or scrape. Horror of horrors, he didn’t act like a supplier was supposed to act. He was loud, opinionated and funny.

As always, though, Aidan won them over thanks to his immense creativity, his complete understanding of our brands and their consumers, his passion, and his innovation. He thought like no-one else. We then worked together on a number of new concepts and it was a complete joy because he could not only think, strategise and draw, he could also make things happen on time and on budget. And his ideas worked.

He and his business partner Jeremy worked on a huge number of brands in the sector (and Keane still does) but I never felt his ideas were derivative or that I would see his ideas for us anywhere else. He had masses of integrity and great values. I did not expect his funeral to be a full requiem mass but when I really think about it, it’s likely his religious beliefs were central to how he behaved all his life.

Once I set up Elliotts I didn’t see that much of him, although we would occasionally meet if we were working with the same client. It was always a joy to see him and to know he was still delivering brilliant work for people I respected. Losing Aidan feels a bit like losing Tim Bacon – both strong characters with enormous drive and energy who led by inspiring others with their vision. They were true innovators and entrepreneurs who took (calculated) risks believing they would work out for the best. They both surrounded themselves with awesome people and worked with great partners who supported them throughout.

There must have been 800 people at Aidan’s funeral – all paying their last respects to an amazing man who will be sadly missed by those of us in the sector who had the enormous pleasure of working with him, drinking with him, laughing with him and being pleased to be considered a friend by him. Thanks for the good times, Aidan
Ann Elliott is chief executive of Elliotts, the leading integrated marketing agency in the hospitality and leisure sector – Follow her on Twitter: @elliottsagency

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