Executive Chef Drew Tait is eager to shift his financial focus to the only metric that matters: member satisfaction.
Two weeks ago, my GM came to me with a proposal from our board. This proposal is something most chefs in my position would consider a pipe dream. However, it looks like it may become a reality for Kelly Greens G&CC.
Our board of directors voted to no longer consider F&B a “For Profit Center.” Instead, we will be viewed strictly as an amenity for the membership to enjoy. This is an exhilarating decision that dramatically affects food cost, labor cost, gross profit, and flow-through, with the new primary metric focused on member satisfaction.
As we begin our budget process for next year, this is the new lens we must look through for all aspects of the operation. It’s a challenging direction for me to embrace because it goes against everything driven into me by my mentors, former chefs, and former GMs. It’s almost as if I have to retrain my brain to think about what factors to consider when making decisions for next year.
Instead of hitting the lowest food cost possible, what food cost should we budget to lower prices across the board for members? How many additional front-of-house staff should we add to avoid any service complaints? What average check should we budget for as we begin to lower prices? What about cover counts—will decreasing prices drive a captive audience of members into the club more frequently? If so, what percentage increase should we expect?
These are the types of questions I am now considering. I am trying to think through all of the different aspects of each decision, how it will change things for the better and ultimately improve member satisfaction.
What won’t change is our commitment to maintaining and enhancing the quality of food we purchase while lowering the cost to members. We will be standardizing and expanding our hours of operation to be open later and more frequently. This will help make the member feel more confident in our hours of operation, when they can come in and get something to eat or drink and when they can’t.
Feedback about being open more has been an overarching trend we have heard from many members lately. Deciding to expand our hours of operation without weighing the finical repercussions if the members do not come in more frequently or stay later makes it easier to fulfill their wishes.
The other aspect of this decision that I like is that it will push me to perform at a higher level. Once we make this move with a strict member satisfaction-focused financial outlook, it will remove all excuses for any substandard performance. If a member has a poor-quality steak, it cannot be because of cost. If a member has to wait for a drink, it cannot be because we do not have enough bartenders. Those traditional problems most for-profit clubs deal with will no longer be a factor. It will remove the roadblocks to higher performance, and we will only have ourselves to hold accountable for mistakes.
This will be a sink or swim moment for us here at Kelly Greens, but I believe the team we have is ready to swim as hard as they can.