Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Own Personal Hell's Kitchen...

I pride myself on my ability to stay focused and calm while under pressure. Today was not a good example of that. I completely lost it today.

As a background to what happened, I'll explain how this week has gone. I started this week with only one catering order. Every day, around 4pm, the phone begins to ring off of the hook: "I need to order breakfast for tomorrow. How many? Well, somewhere between 80-100 people".

My books are full and I am turning orders away now. I hate that. Tomorrow alone, I have 12 deliveries before 8am. I have 4 drivers scheduled to help me, and I'm still not sure if I'll be able to pull it off. What looked like a calm week has suddenly turned into chaos.

I pulled off a miracle earlier this week-- I single-handedly hosted the Biscuit's Christmas party. I rented 10 lanes at Midtown Bowl, I had them close the bar for the night for my party, I arranged the catering, the shoe rental and even purchased the door prizes (a flat screen tv, an Ipod and a digital camera). The party was great, but I was in overdrive mode the entire time, having been at work since 2:30am that morning.

So-- there's the background. I have probably gotten 10 hours of sleep in the past 4 days.

Last night I got a call requesting catering for 140 people-- to be delivered at 6:45am. I called everyone and was able to round up 5 people to come in to help me get it ready. I got to work around 4am to get things set up. Everyone else came in at 5am. Everything was so disorganized. Everyone was helping, but hardly anyone was pulling it off. The last straw was when I looked at the clock and it was 6:30am. I was already past my departure time and the food wasn't ready. Miguel brought me the scrambled eggs. As I carried the pans to the van I realized that they were cold. I opened the lids and touched the eggs-- cold as ice. Even though I was running late, I threw the pans of eggs in the garbage (in my best imitation of "Hell's Kitchen's" Chef Gordan Ramsey) and announced that I was not going to serve cold eggs to my clients- remake them!

The orders were remade and I arrived on site 15 minutes late. I received the cold shoulder from most of the staff several hours after I returned from the delivery. I finally called a meeting, apologized to everyone for my behavior and explained that the Biscuit's reputation and my name are at risk every time we send out an order. I can't send out cold food and hope that no one will complain or request refunds. Much less, how can I continue to get repeat business if I send out bad food?

Some of the staff understood-- some pouted, some refused to come in early to help me tomorrow. I don't feel bad-- I stood up for myself and the integrity of my business. I didn't have a choice-- this is my income on the line. If I can wow an audience of 140, I will earn my commission and some of them will think of the Biscuit the next time they need a catering job. If I offend 140 people with cold eggs, I can write off potential commissions.

Anyway, we'll see how everyone acts tomorrow. Hopefully everyone will have understood where I was coming from and I'll have a perfect team. I can only pray!

On a side note, I hired another assistant today. I still have Alex, but now I have Heide, too. She was hired as the catering director of one of our franchise stores. She spent a couple of days with me last week and decided that she liked our store and our busy catering business better and hit me up again for a job. After working with her last week, I got to know her and see her in action.... she's a go-getter and great with people. Her phone skills are incredible and I can finally foresee a future with at least 2 days off a week. I feel confidant that I can hand over the catering cell phone to Heide and not worry about it. I have a meeting with her on Friday to confirm everything, but so far it looks like a done deal.


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