The restaurant consulting. When does it become necessary?

Everything has changed between us, except our way of thinking
Albert Einstein

Consulting in the restaurant ... Everything is changing

La gastronomic management He has become vulnerable, it is no longer enough to be a specialist in service issues for setbacks to arise that we do not know how to solve without the help of an expert. Yesterday's knowledge is not enough to face today's problems, and hundreds of thousands of gastronomic facilities flourish every day in different formats and sizes, which sometimes make it impossible to keep a list updated; but that, knowing them or not, they constitute a threat to our economic and financial results, because luxurious, small, large, I said, in any format, they become competition and must be taken into account.
The very fact of being exposed to the same environment for hours and hours does not allow us, on many occasions, to realize those problems that started out as insignificant but that with the passage of time acquire intensity as hurricanes, and in order to mitigate them, it will be necessary to great resources that perhaps would not have been necessary if we had detected them in time.
The concept of economic efficiency itself no longer only includes those traditional variables such as cost, income or consumption of customers, but also includes others that were formerly only considered methodological and some that have emerged in the heat of social and technological development and that they contribute to creating value for the organization, becoming a fundamental source for the former to work at the desired level; for example, we can talk about quality, processes, sustainability, sustainability, governance, environment, among others, which allow companies to obtain a more comprehensive vision of the business and, consequently, to establish actions that lead to this concept of efficiency being adapted to the reality of the moment and impact their main objective: the customer.
Rarely is advice accepted with pleasure, and those who need it most are those who least want to receive it
Philip Dormer

Tips help

A few years ago, while I was training as a business administrator, the heterogeneity of the group I was in caught my attention, I think that none of my colleagues knew about gastronomy like I did not know about aeronautics or metallurgy. Each one came from different sectors, that made us different, but at the same time, the very fact of receiving the same content, even if its subsequent application had different destinations, made us the same.
I remember that we were assigned tasks by groups on specific topics in which we had to address our personal experiences and this forced us to learn what perhaps was never of interest to us or we did not believe useful for our professional performance, or perhaps it was totally unknown, However, these “third type” meetings, as I used to call them, are today an important source of work for me, since I have been able to adapt and apply theories and instruments that are very useful for the sector and which, if I had not exchanged them, I would not have known.
I expose this experience because managers often discriminate knowledge that is by their side, simply by believing that they are not useful or by not asking. And it is that in a restaurant many professions converge that contribute to the same objective: hygiene, cooking, logistics, accounting, human resources, etc. In each one there are specialists, people with a mastery of what they do, but who do not necessarily have to know what the other knows. It is like the construction of a building, where everyone assumes different roles, but then they combine and allow it to be built. In diversity you can find equality.
With the above I just want to express a first idea and that for me is essential: Before turning to the outside, look inside first. Maybe what you need is there, just a few meters away. And, for those of us who somehow offer our services to solve problems, we have to be honest with ourselves, because although any job, regardless of its size, gives us some monetary benefit, our reputation and prestige are above of any economic good and it is not ethical that knowing that within the organization itself is the person who can solve it, we assume that role.

The two sides of a coin

Although it is true that we do not always have to know everything, it is true that we must be totally receptive and recognize that we do not know something; That does not demean us or make us incapable, on the contrary, it makes us more aware and committed to the results we aspire to obtain in our organization. Knowing that we lack something and that we do not know how to face it is the starting point for us to look for alternative solutions within or outside the organization.
The foregoing forces me to approach the subject from two perspectives: the first as a professional in the sector and academic and the second as a Consultant. It is quite complex to unfold, it is like acting in a television series and doing two characters at the same time, but I will try.
In the title of the present there is a question: When does consulting to a restaurant become necessary?, and answering it is my goal.
Thousands may be the reasons that motivate you to hire consulting services. But if it is good to have the evaluation of an external agent, who may be able to see a little beyond what you do on a daily basis, it can create a dependency on it. We must be aware that the solution to the problem that arises, or the idea of ​​what we want to implement in the future, requires more than the traditional work of accounting, tax, labor or audit advice; therefore, you should internally evaluate what your problem is and look for as many solution variants as possible so that you can then define whether it is necessary to hire a consultant or not, otherwise you will be giving away your money for something whose solution is within the organization.
It is common, and in other articles I have drawn attention to this, that the manager or owner of the business concentrates more on operational activities than those of an organizational nature, attributing greater value to the former, given that obsolete thought that the guarantee of success is defined by the service. The aforementioned causes a great dependence on the subordinates to the management, limiting the execution of processes without the consent or approval of the manager and as a consequence there is a roboticization of the activities that impact on the timely responses to the moments of truth that occur in service.
Lack of attention to strategic areas such as marketing, finance and operations (purchasing, supplies, personnel selection, among others) produce a congenital malformation in the restaurant, which can be prevented without the help of a consultant, as long as the manager knows how to interpret properly how to implement the mechanisms to generate the timely information that allows you to take strategic in the indicated moment.
An experience that I have been able to experience, and it is something that I suggest to the restaurateurs, is that of evaluating within the organization itself those employees who, due to their experience and mastery of the activity they carry out, can become advisers (internal or individual consultants). ) of the address. This practice, which is not very frequent, has a double impact, first because the worker feels recognized and, second, because that own recognition commits him to work to validate his own suggestions.
This is also not something that can be done that simply, many experts I have consulted about it are of the opinion that not only is practical experience sufficient, which comes to dominate theory, but that, in order for much more effective, it also demands a personality (of character) that must be monitored through observation and psychometric tests (there are many, but one very old but effective is the 16PF). These individual advisers or consultants are very useful when a team of personnel is not necessary to be able to identify and propose solutions, when what you want to implement or measure does not demand external professional support and especially when that person's experience and qualifications are compatible with the requirements.
Outlining ideas and defining roles
To synthesize ideas, here are some that have been very useful to me and that come to define when to hire an external consultant. But first let's define what a consultant is and the differences between an audit and a consultancy, terms that are often confused:
Audit: the word audit comes from the Latin AUDITORIUS, and from this comes auditor, who has the virtue of hearing, and the dictionary considers it Chartered Accounts Reviewer but it is assumed that this virtue of hearing and reviewing accounts is aimed at evaluating the economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources, as well as their control. It is considered as a control technique, aimed at valuing, internal control and the observance of Generally Accepted Professional Accounting Principles. It comprises an independent examination of the accounting records and other evidence related to an entity to support impartial expert opinion on the reliability of the financial statements.
Consultancy: The consultancy not only understands the elements that the audit evaluates, but also crosses the borders of accounting control, assuming with its know-how issues ranging from business strategy to human resources to outsourcing, management change or improvement of operational performance from having specific and practical knowledge of the sector in which they work.
While the auditor seeks to verify compliance with the legal provisions regarding the management administrative and financial by checking the legitimacy and veracity of the primary documents, determining the degree of correspondence between the evidence of what actually happened and the reports presented, the consultant explores, diagnoses, discusses solutions, intervenes, evaluates, tutor and it facilitates with its experience and the results of its investigations so that the company achieves its aspirations.

Benefits of a consultancy

  1. The price for the consulting service is lower than it can cost a company to develop the knowledge independently.
  2. The work is carried out together. Client and consultant have the same purpose and both skills take advantage of essential skills.
  3. Knowledge is transferred
Mental barriers
There are six aspects that a manager comes to evaluate and that come to constitute barriers when hiring a consultancy:
  • That you don't need help.
  • Which is only necessary in extreme situations.
  • That an external agent will not understand the essence of your business.
  • That it does not always have the time to respond to the consultants' questions.
  • What is an expensive service and
  • That work can be done by any company manager
This shows the skepticism and suspicion with which consulting companies are viewed. Most of the time the successes achieved by large companies are not merited management of a company of this type; however, any failure is immediately reported.

The past counts, the present is lived, the future is planned. Reasons to assess when consulting is necessary

La management traditional restaurants It is already a myth, a good menu and an excellent service are no longer enough if strategies are not devised to stay competitive, if one does not act in tandem with the changes that are taking place socially, economically and technologically. Unfortunately we cannot always perceive them or know how to deal with them and those strategies that have been designed on paper differ greatly from what is actually put into practice. The reality of today is that there are reductions of personnel motivated by the crisis that is experienced in the world and this forces the same tasks to continue with fewer resources. And this is where a great conflict begins, as roles merge and they demand knowledge.
When the manager does not master such simple matters as analyzing and interpreting a financial statement, or constantly having to explain the meaning of things, I start to worry, because consulting is not the ideal solution but rather the training or replacement of this manager.
In this sense I am of the personal opinion that exist señales Alerts that guide us to when it is necessary to hire a consultant, I have defined them in groups of warnings that first refer me to the internal solution and then to the external one. In this way I come to understand when consulting is necessary or when those problems are due to lack of control.
I insist that, although in the course of this article I have emphasized it, I am of the opinion that you do not have to know everything, but that is not a reason to constantly think about hiring consulting services. However, there are basic principles that are essential and that define the ability to management of the organization and that if they must be in the domain of the person in charge of the installation and that require frequent monitoring:
The first of these is associated with accounting. The company must have an implemented accounting plan, where each of the operations that must be defined and how they must be registered are defined. Within this group are the items of costs and expenses. When there are inconsistencies in the financial statements, they may be the result of the inaccurate accounting of daily operations, therefore the first warning sign is conditioned on the existence or updating of that accounting plan and its correct implementation. The initial solution is within the organization, if it is not able to respond or solve it HIRE A CONSULTANT.
The second is associated with marketing actions. When customers are lost, many may be the reasons. You must evaluate the competition, search, devise new methods and procedures to attract them, review the existence of a marketing or marketing plan to ensure business survival and growth within the market. However, most of the problems do not lie there but in the sales projection that are carried out mechanically, relying on old results that do not take into account the reality that is lived, so great concerns are generated when the results are compared real with the planned ones. If you don't know how to project income. HIRE A CONSULTANT.
And the third and last one is associated with operations: When the restaurant wants to adopt a new concept or incorporate new technology or software, among others, and you don't have the know-how to do it, don't hesitate: HIRE A CONSULTANT.
However, dear administrator, the act of hiring a consultant is a serious decision for any organization, rules to define when to do it do not exist, exposing ideas becomes subjective because not all restaurants they operate under the same conditions, but if they seek the same objectives, it is for this reason that my suggestion is mainly intended for the individual analysis of the problems and the answers that can be derived from them in correspondence with the available capacity and resources, but One thing I am sure of is that when we turn to a consultant, it is because we have been sold the idea that we will be able to obtain the necessary information, timely advice to achieve our objectives.
Summarizing I can tell you that most gastronomic companies consider that consulting is necessary when:
  1. They want to develop and execute appropriate strategies and action plans, by activity and sets for the food and beverage service process.
  2. Make, drive and control within its framework of action, advantageous contracting, merchandising, sales and benchmarking, which includes the design and implementation of a marketing and communication plan.
  3. Monitor the environment and the reception, service and exit of clients, with a systemic approach, so as to avoid restrictions in the process flow.
  4. Prepare, document, finance and define prices for original, novel and attractive offers and recipes for food and beverages.
  5. Assess how all existing provisions regarding hygienic, sanitary, environmental and sustainable tourism management are complied with.
  6. Design and implement an internal control system
  7. Design, implement and control the accounting plan of the restaurant
My personal advice is to be ambitious and when you want to hire a consultant do not do it for small things, think big and take advantage of all the know-how that is available to you, so that the effect of that consulting has an impact in the short and long term.
I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"