One cup of coffee

Jan 5, 2018

Happy New Year. The theme of this year, for me, is Better Choices. I could say better small choices. Here’s why.

A few years back I was leadership coaching there general manager of a large resort chain. We would meet poolside – as you do – and chat. On my first meeting with my client, Paul, he texted me saying he was running late and told me to grab a coffee and he would be there shortly.

It was 9am. So I chose a table under a large shady beach umbrella and waved at the waiter. “Can I order a coffee please?”

“No sir, I cannot take your order. If you want to order a coffee you need to go to reception – order it – and then the order will come to the kitchen and then I can bring it to the table.”

I was stunned. So I did just that.

My coffee arrived and then so did my client and we started the coaching session. After 90 minutes I started to wrap up the session but asked: “Paul what did you notice anything unusual while we were sitting here today?”

Now, I’m asking Paul to look at a pristine, multi-million dollar resort and spot what’s wrong?

“Er … no … should I have?”

“Paul, OK … what didn’t happen?”

“Im lost … ”

I explained that we sat there for nearly two hours in a designated food and beverage area with four staff on duty and at no time did anyone approach us for a refill. Nor did anyone suggest a brunch menu. They have eyes. They can see guests. But the most they made off me was $3.50.

I admit we could see waiters delivering food and drinks. But Paul didn’t see how those drinks got ordered. Nor could explain why head spend was so low.

Think of it like this. Multiple the wages of four staff by two hours and deduct the cost of one cup of coffee and decide if you make of lost money. I used to do a lot of work with BP with their highway service centres and I got really good at calculating the revenues and costs per square  metre of retail space.

So onto of the wage bill add in the cost of pool side retail space and the covers you need to make that profitable. (For a great read check out Kristen Hawley’s article on restaurant success).

Then I explained how I ordered my coffee.


Paul was stunned. “That can’t be right!”

Paul investigated and it turned out the food and bev manager had a hangover one morning and rather than open the tills he told his team to tell customers to order and pay at reception! That system had been in operation for three years and the guy that started that system didn’t even work there anymore!

I do a lot around systems and working procedures and I can tell you that whatever is going on around your smallest unit of transaction is probably going on around everything else.

Needless to say Paul fixed that problem! The result? Head spend trebled.

In addition to leadership coaching, I am running a couple of 12 week systems boardrooms this year. if that’s of interest let me know.






Leave a Reply