February 23, 2018 |

The Power of Delegation

By Jeremy White

A commentary by Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White

Jeremy White
Pizza Today

I used to think delegating was a task for the lazy. You know, if you want the job done right, do it yourself. Right?

Turns out that isn’t always the best advice.

Your team can accomplish so much more as a cohesive unit than any one individual can accomplish.

I know plenty of small business owners who “just can’t find good help these days.” I know pizzeria owners who won’t let anyone else mix the dough or bake the pizza. It just won’t be up to par otherwise, they claim.

And those pizzeria owners, 20 years down the road, are still mixing every batch of dough and still baking every pie to perfection. While that is fine if that’s what they chose to do,  I don’t feel much sympathy when they start telling me they don’t spend enough time with their kids or spouses because they still have to work 70 hours per week.

Letting go isn’t easy. But it can be done. It should be done.

The beauty of owning a business is that you can literally end up buying your freedom. Too many only buy a job. There’s a big difference between being a slave to your business and running your business. There’s much more reward, ultimately, in the latter.

I get the “I’ll just do it myself” mentality. But I’ve also seen what can happen when you train and empower your employees.

I first met Joe Fugere a decade ago. I’d heard great things about his upstart pizzeria in Seattle, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria. At that time the company had just one location and it hadn’t been in business long. So I casually watched it from afar.

A few years later I was in Seattle and I spent the day with Joe, who founded Tutta Bella. He was up to three locations, with plans to keep growing. As he showed me around each of his stores and told me all about his brand, the passion for pizza, espresso, wine, pasta, storytelling and all things Italian was evident.

But what impressed me the most was how different Joe was from other independent pizzeria owners I’d previously met. Though he had but three locations, Joe was operating Tutta Bella like you’d expect one to operate a 300-unit chain. He had systems in place that you simply do not see in indie operations.

There was someone in charge of the espresso program. There was someone else in charge of wine. A different person was in charge of the cocktail menu. There was a chef in charge of the menu development and execution. There was someone in charge of customer service. Others were in charge of branding, marketing, community involvement, equipment maintenance… Heck, there was even someone tasked with recycling/composting/green restaurant initiatives.

Every single facet of the operation had a champion in charge. No element was neglected.

Joe understood how to delegate. He knew how to relay his vision. More importantly, he knew how to train and empower his people.

There’s a reason Tutta Bella is one of the most successful independent pizza companies in America. And Joe isn’t spending 70 hours a week personally making each pizza to perfection. He doesn’t have to. He’s able to balance work and life in a meaningful way because he knows the value of teamwork and delegation.

The freedom you wanted when you opened your own business is within reach. Delegate and train and let it happen.

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