By Mike Bausch
Contrary to popular belief, “do it yourself” doesn’t always mean do it on your own. In a successful business, it also means to facilitate the completion of something without outsourcing it. That means in-sourcing up the wazoo. Not just up the wazoo, but also to the side of it, below it and any other way the wazoo can be sourced. Instead of DIY, the acronym I typically take on when approaching a problem is WCDT—or “We Can Do That.”
Who is the “We?” They’re the people in my business — Andolini’s Pizzeria. That means my brother, my team and every person we have on our staff, along with their cultivated skills. Skills that have either been taught to them by Andolini’s, or skills they had when hired them and that we as a company can use. I’m not suggesting these skills include on-site surgery for an accident, or giving someone who barely knows how to maintain their Myspace page the reins to our company’s web presence. What I am saying is there are ways to maintain and develop skills in-house that can eliminate expenses from outsourcing.
Taking on every task you can is a fast and effective way to save money by cross-utilizing yourself and your team. What drove us to do so many things ourselves? Well, truth be told, it came out of hubris. When we saw big restaurant chains or other successful local businesses succeed via their proprietary systems we thought, “If these bozos could figure it out, we would too.” (Side note: I typically refer to people I have never met who have done well in business as “bozos.” Using 1940s derogatory vernacular, I find, enhances my confidence in my own ability to take on seemingly impossible endeavors while appearing threatening in a mild to non-existent way.)
So what tasks am I referring to in these workflows? You name it, we can make a system for it. Using proven, basic principles of leadership, anything can be sorted out and seen as making headway. These principles are as follows:
- Assess your resources and surroundings
- Develop a plan
- Communicate effectively
- Execute and follow through on the plan
Great staffs are waiting all across America to be assessed properly. They are hungry to see their leader strategize what the best course of action will be. They are desperate to hear that plan and they are even hungrier to carry it out so they can bring meaning and purpose to their jobs.
No matter what the problem is, I have been there and I can tell you this, your team has what it takes to work with and for you.
So what’s the most important system every restaurant deals with? Recipes. Making great food items from scratch creates a unique dining experience that makes it hard for a competitor to copy you. If you and your competitor use the same frozen ravioli it’s extremely easy to re-create your dish. Creating great recipes is just the price of admission nowadays — developing a system that protects the recipe’s integrity is where you make real profit. Keeping it easy and focused is essential to the process. That can only be accomplished through the four principles of leadership, and then maintained with a great WCDT restaurant utilizing DIY workflows.
There’s a lot more to a restaurant than just food and recipes. Labor, cleanliness and every menial task that you would never have guessed could dominate your world when you dreamed up owning a restaurant can easily become all that you know of your restaurant life without great systems to offer order.
This is the story of my first non-food related DIY workflow with WCDT:
In 2005 I was six months into owning a pizzeria, holding on by a thread financially with every dollar counting. Our above-ground grease trap takes in the compost from the disposal and then pushes the water through, keeping the gunk behind. The one and only local grease company charged $135 to pick up the grease once a month for about 15 minutes of work. After blindly paying the guy for six months because “that’s what you’re supposed to do,” I watched him closely the next time he came in. I observed that all he did was open this box, suck the compost out with a vacuum and then close it up. The smell was bad and it was a dirty job, and dirty jobs pay well.
That day I canceled the service, went out and bought a wet vac and never looked back. I did it myself every time—with a few other crew members helping me—until I developed a system to get it done in under eight minutes. Leading by example was key to the success of this program. My crew still does it to this day and by my math that is about $13,000 I’ve saved in that one store alone for that one thing.
Setting the financial gain aside, this WCDT showed my team, and even myself, that we are capable of generating, initiating and facilitating WCDT workflows. We do not need to write another check for something that we can do for ourselves. Better yet, it means we own that, we are that, and when something goes wrong, we don’t have to call for help.
Staff training, menu development, cleaning schedules, monetary audits scheduling, marketing, social media and everything else we as business owners require a system. If there is not a system in play, you are living on the hope, whim and prayer that it will get done. A system that depends on you for everything is not a system at all, and it’s when DIY fails. A system with checks and balances will not fail because it has been built to sustain itself. This system is harder to create, but the tradeoff is a system with less risk and increased success rates. Developing it requires a piece of mind, which might bring peace to YOUR mind. That’s a pun I stand by.
I guarantee only two things every time I do a public speaking engagement: You will learn something that you didn’t already know and you will not regret attending my speech because of the tools you will be able to bring home to your business. I look forward to seeing and meeting as many of you as possible this year at the Pizza Expo 2014.
Mike Bausch moved from California to Oklahoma at 22 to found Andolini’s Pizzeria with his brother Jim. He has since transformed what began as a 1,500-square-foot pizzeria into a restaurant business with two highly profitable high-demand locations in the Tulsa area as well as a mobile food truck. He will speak at International Pizza Expo on Thursday, March 27, on “Do-It-Yourself Workflow in the Pizzeria.” He also is a co-presenter with Doug Ferriman of “Security Issues and the Pizzeria,” scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.
CLICK HERE to read more Pizza Expo Exclusives.
To Learn more about International Pizza Expo, visit www.pizzaexpo.com.