Book Excerpt – Delegation, The Little Things, and Checking Your Ego At The Door

Emad Yakoub owns Glowbal Restaurant Group in Vancouver, BC. After many years as an executive chef at some of Canada’s most famous five star restaurants, Emad has owned successful restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver for over fifteen years. He started Glowbal in 2002, and the group now owns six highly popular, successful restaurants in Vancouver. You’ll learn so much incredible wisdom from talking to Emad for thirty minutes, that you’ll want to spend a whole day with him. Here are a few of the pearls he shared with us…

Make People Happy, And The Numbers Will Take Care Of Themselves – (Emad is speaking here about opening his first restaurant) We were very happy, because we had money in our pocket. We didn’t care too much to run the numbers, on whether we were running 28% food costs, and stuff like that. We just focused on making people happy, and the money will come after that. And that had a big impact on my philosophy in the restaurant business. As much as we know the numbers, we don’t take shortcuts when it comes to our customers. The customer will always get high quality items, for a very good price.

Save On Labor So You Can Have Great Prices – I will guarantee in our city, that if the restaurant next door has the same steak on the menu, it’s going to be a little bit more than me. Because we’ve found how to save money other ways than saving it on the plate, like saving it on the labor that’s going to serve the plate. To give you an example…I’m going to get back to Schedulefly. Because with Schedulefly, the managers can – in an instant – contact 100 waiters, and tell them something based on how the tables are turning. So we could ask them to come in a half an hour later. Well, that half an hour that’s saved – the customer doesn’t see it because there’s nobody in the restaurant. So it helps us control our labor costs.

Use Technology To Communicate Info Quickly To Your Staff – We also communicate promotions through Schedulefly. So when the waiters come in, they know that today we just got a sixty pound halibut, and we’ve like to move it through lunch. So the waiter goes onto the floor not guessing what they have to sell, because we’ve already told him what we have to move. So it keeps us in touch with every individual. The manager gets so busy with so many things to have time to tell everybody.

The Little Stuff Is Actually Pretty Big – We have a financial meeting with our managers every month, and we go through all the little details, like how much paper has been used. I mean, we’re a small company, but we still run it like a Fortune 500. So how can we save on things like…when do you light the candle on the table? Do you light it at 5:00 in the summer time, or light it at 7:00 when the daylight is gone? Well that two hour difference will save you $400 or $500 per month in fuel.

Lead By Example – “Oh, I don’t know how you get your staff to be that good, or that smiley, or that perfect.” Well, it all starts from the top. If the managers have the same excitement and the same passion that I have, it will flow to the supervisor. And if the supervisor has the same passion and excitement, it’s going to flow to the senior waiter. And the senior waiters give it to the waiters. We think it starts from the top. We’re a very vocal group. Off the cuff. We love having fun at work. At the end of the day, I tell my staff, “Just have fun first.” Fun will make everything else great. If you’re having fun at work, and you’re looking after the customer with the same philosophy, the customer is going to feel it.

Wish For Your Teammate’s Success. Even If It Means Losing Them – I just lost one of my best executive chefs in the company, because he decided to open a food cart on the street. He realized that it’s not about your ego, it’s about the business sense. And he’s trying to do the same sort of steps that we did. So he decided he wanted to start his business by opening a gourmet food cart – and organic food cart – on the streets, selling organic sandwiches. He might go in and fish his own salmon. It’s very interesting, and I was very happy for him, because it showed that what we tried to do…we want everybody to be successful. And I really would not be upset if he left me to open across the street, and become my competition, because it would make me stronger.

Go Above And Beyond For Your Partners – If your partners know that you are very fair with them – and more than fair – they’re going to respect you, and they’re going to be giving more to you than you’re giving to them. My partners know that sometimes when a month is not doing very well, that I sacrifice some of my percentage for that month. And they know that I don’t have to, because there’s lots of fat months to cover it, but at the end of the day I’m making very good money, and it’s not about the extra $5,000 or $10,000. It’s about everybody making good money around me. And that makes your partners very, very loyal to you.

Want To Grow? Learn To Let Go – It’s made me change as a person. In the old days, I needed to control everything. Everything had to be in front of my plate. Everything I had to put my finger on. And then I realized, “O.k., that’s great, but I can only do three or four restaurants. I can’t do more. Physically I can’t be in but so many locations at the same time.” So it taught me how to be a lot more open in terms of giving. I give my partners lots of leeway to run things. And when they call me sometime and ask for my opinion, I say, “This is your department. I trust you.” By letting go like this, it gives me more time to grow as a person. And if I’m growing as a person, everybody around me is going to grow with me.

Check Your Ego At The Door – I always say, “Let’s take the egos out of it. It’s a business. At the end of the day, it a business.” When I interview people, I tell them, “Let’s say I was going to build you a restaurant. It’s going to be forty seats. And you are going to be cooking for superstars, princesses, and kings. And your name is going to be one of the best chefs in the city. With forty seats, you’ll be working six, seven days a week because you’ll be the only one that can do it. Or, we could open a fish and chips stand, and the line will be around the block seven days a week, and you won’t have to be there much. Which restaurant are you going to own?” And it’s funny how the people who pick the first one…we don’t hire them. They took the business sense out of it. We’re in the business to make money. It’s not about egos. There are restaurants that get “Best Restaurant of the Year” in their city, and they end up closing. And the only reason…the only reason this is happening is because the chef and the owner took out of it, the business sense. They only did it to get the award. They wanted to be named the best restaurant in the city. Or the top chef in the city. Not the busiest restaurant in the city. And if they took their ego out…At the end of the day, it has to be a business decision. Decisions need to be made with emotions taken out of them. We do things based on what the customer wants to eat, not what our egos tell us to do.

The Schedulefly Crew