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The best advice is to listen

The best advice is to listen | Contini

I’ve got a great memory for the important things that have happened in my life. I can remember quite specific details from 20 or 40 years ago. I may struggle to remember what Victor asked me to do ten minutes ago but thats been the secret to a happy marriage!

Good advice, is something I never forget though.

The question for all businesses is where to find the best advice.

Over the years we’ve used some of the best and some of the worst consultants in Scotland. I can say I’ve learned from each experience. I can’t say the cost charged always equals the value added. We’ve been working with Catherine Bowie who trains for Visit Scotland and she’s done a fabulous job at refining some of the training tasks we’ve been working on with the team. 5 star for Catherine. She’s helped us fix the problem we know he have but struggled to resolve.

But too often I’ve paid for advice I already knew.

The best advice however, comes from listening to our customers, our suppliers and most importantly from our team.

I always resisted feedback cards as I felt it made our family business look corporate. One of the definitions of corporate is “shared by all the members of a group”. Being corporate and sharing, acknowledging and actioning opinions is one of the most important values of any family.

We now regularly leave feedback cards in all venues. I was surprised at how many people are very happy to complete them. Over 98% of them are reinforcing positive experiences. Anything negative is also allowing us to action an unhappy experience so it’s resolved before it leaves the building. They have added huge understanding to our product and service. I wish we’d rolled this out years ago.

In the absence of written feedback, on the floor learnings have been the backbone to our positioning of the business.

There is a lovely gentleman who has been a customer for years and was so low key it was years before we realised who he was. He is one of Scotland’s most accredited hoteliers with a pedigree of managing some of the best hotels and hospitality organisations in the world. To protect his modesty, I’ll just say his name is Peter.

In the past I’ve taken over from the team. Stepped in, caused trouble and then often leaving them to fix the mess.

On one occasion I went to take Peter’s order and he said – “the boss is here, here comes trouble”. It was funny but he had a point. He then said leave it to the team they do an amazing job.

It was a massive learning. As the co-founder of our business, it’s often very difficult to let go. For many years I thought I could do a better job than the team. When we were small and my skill was needed to take orders, cook the food and anything else required this may have been the case, but as we’ve grown, my job has grown and is different.

So probably one of the best pieces of free advice I’ve ever had is leave it to the team, they do an amazing job.

It has taken time to get to to this stage. We now set a clear vision based on knowing who we are, who we are servicing and what we are selling. We listen to feedback and action where relevant. We agree roles and responsibilities with all of our team. We set achievable targets and monitor and reward positive outcomes. We also have a formal reporting structure so nothing gets lost or forgotten. To use a fancy consulting word we are more functional. So that round of consultancy added value.

But trusting your team to do the job you’ve clearly articulated is key to the success of any business. I’m maybe not on the floor, but I’m in the background, usually on table 50 at The Scottish Cafe or table 15 at Contini George Street or 112 at Cannonball, trusting the team and supporting with some free advice whenever they ask or I feel they need an extra helpful tip.

And Peter, and all you lovely customers who gift the best advice, free, thank you. Your support helps us be happier and do better. The team incidentally said it was the best advice ever!

Grazie molto!

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