Fred Harvey

Cover of "Appetite for America: How Visio...

Cover via Amazon

Long before there was McDonald’s or Starbucks, there was Fred Harvey. You probably have no clue who he was but he’s more of an influence on your life than you might appreciate. More importantly, he put forth a bunch of business lessons that hold true today, more than 100 years after he taught them.
There’s a great book which tells his story called Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West–One Meal at a Time that I’d encourage each of you to enjoy.  But I want to take a minute and relate a couple of key things today.

Fred Harvey ran all of the dining establishments on the old Santa Fe railroad.  He established standards and business rules that went far beyond the prevailing standards of the day.  More importnatly, he insisted on the uniform deployment of those standards across all of his netwok of restaurants.  This went down to the servers themselves – all young, attractive women (and the inspiration for The Harvey Girls musical!).

He issued a list of “Fundamentals” to everyone in his system:

  1. Have a sincere interest in people;
  2. Like all your daily contacts with guests;
  3. Radiate cheer and make guest feel at ease and at home;
  4. Remember “Travel Follows Good Food Routes;
  5. Keep well informed and updated on the conditions, origin, and season of different supplies and the serving of same;
  6. Be human and be yourself;
  7. Courtesy and a smile pay dividends;
  8. Real service is without discrimination;
  9. Preserve or create – never destroy;
  10. Tact is an asset and HONESTY is still a virtue.

It seems to me that all of the above are damn good guidelines for good business, even if your business is hospitality.  What do you think?

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Filed under Helpful Hints

2 responses to “Fred Harvey

  1. keith,
    thanks so much for your kind words about the book, and for helping “spread the Fred”–I’m amazed how many business people still don’t know his story. wanted to let you and your readers know the book comes out in paperback on May 3 and I keep a blog at One Nation Under Fred for anyone interested in more Harvey business wisdom (or just tips on history travel in the Southwest.)
    May Fred be with you,

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