Working on the business

Mike Palmer (left) and Mark Scanlan

Mike Palmer (left) and Mark Scanlan

Work on the business, not in the business. That’s universally accepted as sound business advice, be it for the expansion of a large bank or achieving the full potential of a restaurant. But it’s also the advice most neglected. No matter how good the intention is to set time aside to work on the business, there is always something in the restaurant that needs urgent attention. And it’s the restaurant owner who is usually most capable to sort out the urgency.

However, just as distance makes the heart grow fonder, “making the time to work away from the restaurant makes the business stronger”. That’s the advice from Mark Scanlan who with Mark Dickey established Sydney’s Garfish restaurants in September 2002, with the opening of the Kirribilli restaurant. Garfish Crows Nest followed in January 2004, and Garfish Manly opened in October 2006.

The two Marks incorporated technology into their business from the start, being one of the first to bring cameras into the kitchen to showcase the artistry and skill that occurs during the preparation of the menu. Where they have seen other significant benefit to their business is by incorporating simple and easily accessible technologies that enable them and their team to telework. It is well-charted territory, with Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) having created an industry-specific Digital Business Kit on teleworking, and the Department of Communications providing a free and easy-to-follow Teleworking Kit. They can now be in all three restaurants while actually having the time and dedication to work on the entire business.

“Teleworking allows us to have all the facts to hand on every restaurant, without us actually having to be immersed in the day’s activities,” says Mike Palmer. By teleworking, the owners of Outback Steakhouse have given themselves the ability to set aside time to work on the business, conscientiously working with their teams to improve the operations on a weekly basis. They do so by working away from the rush that is every restaurant. Teleworking can be different for every restaurant. It is merely the ability to perform one’s task from outside of the typical office, particularly when another venue proves to be more productive for the business and/or the individual. All that is required is connectivity, and the appropriate devices that enable the tasks to be performed. The team mostly relies on their tablet computers, laptops and mobile phones, using Skype to even video conference with their restaurant teams.

Teleworking results in significant improvements in productivity. The key is to embrace it, try it and benefit from it.

This great content is produced for members of the Restaurant & Catering Association. Find out about becoming a member here.

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