The Stage of Business – Introducing Incidental Risk and the Critical Path

First of all, what is considered a risk? If we are going to identify the risks we will need to know what to look for. I have heard risk defined as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. That definition is all right but a bit too vague. To effectively identify risks for a particular project or initiative, I think you have to be a bit more specific to the objective.

As risk relates to the Project Streamâ„¢, best practices would dictate that each level is completed before the next level begins. As indicated in the diagram above, overlapping levels (as shown) will result in incidental risk and compromised results. This is a common occurrence and typically happens when levels stretch out and do not have a disciplined schedule for milestone start and completion.

“Delays have dangerous ends.” – William Shakespeare

When the project start and finish date are fixed, milestone durations should be planned with contingency durations. Otherwise any expansion of a milestone duration may compromise the adjacent milestones or possibly even the overall project risk.

Risk management scheduling is a critical part of project planning. The more time you spend crafting the schedule, the better chance you will have of project success. If you plan it well, you will be able to use the process schedule to effectively manage the project scope, schedule and budget.

“True nobility is exempt from fear.” – William Shakespeare

Make a Plan, Have a Plan. You will be glad you did!

Don’t be afraid to look to the past when crafting your plan for the future.

Culinary Arts and Nutrition

Imagine yourself in a room full of tempting food, jellies, chocolates, pastries, cakes, pizzas and much more mouth watering dishes. Slurp… I know by now you are too tempted to get to the market and buy yourself a nice, juicy burger, coke and an ice cream tub or are ready to order a pizza, rather than reading.

Just for a moment think of the chefs who stay in the kitchen all day long that is loaded with scrumptious cuisines giving out such enticing and alluring aromas. It must be really tough for them to resist the delicacies they prepare for their customers. One the other hand, if they start tasting every dish they prepare it will be extremely tough for them to sustain good health.

It is said, ‘People judge a book by its cover’, and the same applies to a cook too. A healthy and fit chef ascertains us that he is health conscious and knows all about good and rich cooking. This might not prove true in all cases; some guys do not have such luck. There are many professional chefs are surrounded by buttery carbohydrates, rich sauces, creamy puddings and fine succulent meat but are thin like a Cornish wafer.

The roly-poly chefs that we were accustomed to once, are replaced by much more disciplined, controlled and healthy chefs. There was a time when a thin chef was not trusted but today the scenario has totally changed. The more lean and fit a chef is the more energetic he will be. A chef should be prepared to bounce around the kitchen in order to do everything just right.

Being a chef, it is important to taste every dish and every dessert prepared to ensure it is delicious. In doing so the fats keep on settling on the stomach, in turn making you fat. To avoid this, it is better to take small mouthfuls in intervals. Small meals ensure better metabolism. Some chefs believe in drip free food and indulge in raw fresh fruits, raw vegetables and much water. They also avoid any sort of meal in between lunch and dinner. Lastly, a good 20 minutes walk each day. In case you do feel hungry at night, eat a bowl of cereal.

A chef is however known for his skills in cooking and preparing meal yet his physical appearance and nutritional habits also play an important role. Not only does it attract more customers for him but is also important for his own good.

Nutrition is also an important aspect of cooking delicious foods. And chefs are not an exception to this rule. While pursuing their education in the culinary arts, one of the subjects that these aspiring chefs study is Nutrition. Here, they learn about the amount of nutritive elements present in each ingredient – and how to analyze and determine which foods have how much nutritive value.

No doubt, this knowledge goes a long way in helping these chefs create delicacies that are not only tasty but also healthy for their customers.

Restaurant Training – Waitress & Waiter Training Role Play Tips For Hospitality Education & Learning

Lights, Camera, Action!

Incorporate Role Play for a Winning Training Program

Take one…take two…take three…ready on the set?

Are your teams providing their best performance with every guest that walks through your doors? Incorporating role play into your training programs will help your guests receive an encore performance every time.

Role play is one of the most effective tools in the trainer’s toolbox where participants can experience real life situations and “learn by doing”. Role play can be used to train any level of company personnel including staff, managers, and even company executives.

Role play allows teams to experience real life situations in a simulated and controlled environment. With participants playing the roles of guests, employees, and managers, they can be better equipped to handle situations.

Because of the controlled environment, role play allows the trainer to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and devise an action plan for growth and development. When used to master a skill, role play builds confidence as the skill is practiced and coaching is administered by a trainer. Since the trainer is side by side with the learner, they can easily determine whether the learner has mastered the newfound technique and is ready to work their position solo. When role play is used to emphasize with another person’s feelings, it allows the teams to recognize those feelings and understand the effect of their or other’s behaviors. For example, role playing a guest situation will allow teams to better understand how a guest feels. As a result, they will learn the level of service that should be provided to deliver a quality experience. Another benefit from role play is helping team members understand the consequences of breaking policies, such as, arriving late to work and the stressful impact it may have on the entire team. As a result, they will learn the importance of arriving on time.

How to get started

Prior to the scheduled training date, company assessments should be performed to determine the specific areas of performance/improvement to be addressed. Then, the company facilitator should determine the overall results to be accomplished and how the issues will be best addressed. For instance, the trainer should determine if the issues are related more to emphasizing feelings or strengthening a skill.

Next, the company facilitator should determine the specific characters associated with the issue and the particular roles they will play. There are many roles that can be played such as a guest and service representative, a manager and team member, a service representative and kitchen team member or similar combinations.

Finally, the company facilitator, armed with the necessary scripts and scenarios, can then develop training aids and other training tools to address the overall goals of the program.

As a head start, we have listed some suggested scenarios that will help you role play with your teams. Before starting the role play, always ask for volunteers so the shy or less experienced teams can watch others first to help build their confidence.

Suggested Scenarios

1. Cashier talking on the phone and not acknowledging a walk-in guest

2. Server being abrupt and rushing a guest while taking an order (asks questions in a curt, quick manner and displays rushed body language)

3. Server being overly friendly and talking too much with a group of business guests having a meeting

4. Server scolding a kitchen worker about an order made incorrectly

5. Host/Hostess being sarcastic and short tempered when a guest is asking for menu information

6. Host/Hostess defensively telling a guest “I told you the wait was 20-25 minutes and you only waited 10 minutes”

7. Bartender being cold and unfriendly while a sole diner is looking for attention and conversation

8. Bartender chatting with some regulars and ignoring a guest who obviously needs something (beverage refill, a napkin, condiments etc.)

9. Two bus persons talking about personal issues while ignoring a guest’s signal for service

10. Kitchen team member loudly demanding a server to pick up an order

11. Dishwasher being disrespected as servers throw dirty dishes without scraping them first

12. A problem team member causing coworkers to do extra work; creating disagreements among the staff; undermining management; constantly being late; and similar situations.

13. Manager telling the guest “no” or “we can’t do that” without apologizing, adding an explanation, and offering options

14. Manager pointing his/her finger and arguing with a guest when handling a complaint

15. Manager threatening a team member’s job

Alkis Crassas, President of EVOS USA, Inc., a healthier fast food chain, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, routinely uses role play and says, “Although role playing pushes the envelope by placing participants in the limelight, after the butterflies disappear, it will smooth out and your team will begin to see the big picture goals of your restaurant”.

If role play is designed properly and effectively executed, it can be very valuable to the success of any company. Most important, when role play is interactive and fun, your training goals will be retained and result in a high return on your investment. Role play adds to the life experience of each participant and when people experience something, they will take that away with them more so than any book, video or lecture could ever replicate.

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.