Let’s consider, this Foodie Friday, the so-called savory cookie. I don’t know about you but when I think of cookies I think about sweet or maybe even salty/sweet. Savory is not an adjective that comes to mind and yet savory cookies are, apparently, a thing.
There’s a temptation here to revert to the “is a hot dog a sandwich” question we pondered in this space not long ago. When you look at what’s in many of them – flour, sugar, butter – they read like most cookies. It’s the addition of the savory items – herbs, cheese, more salt – that transforms them. Of course, biscuits (in the Southern sense) and crackers have the same butter/sugar/flour components as well, so why are these cookies and not crackers or biscuits?
I’m not here to debate if these cookies are, well, cookies. Instead, I’d like us to think for a minute about our need to label them. Notice how when you affix a label – in this case, cookie – you also affix a stereotype (cookies are sweet!). That’s our business point today.
I’ve found that people tend to label other people. The marketing guy. The accounting gal. The reality is that placing labels on people, or stereotyping them, results from making general assumptions about an individual with little or no personal knowledge about them. I’m an older guy. What could someone my age possibly know about social media marketing or technology? Bad assumption, by the way. Phrases like “OK, Boomer” are manifestations of a stereotype. So is thinking that a woman with children is less devoted to her work and career than a single man. While some blondes may, in fact, be dumb, so are quite a few folks with dark hair.
Labeling people is counterproductive. It may cause you to make assumptions about assigning work, partnering in projects, or buying from someone. I once had a boss who gave me a raise that was lower than my older peers because “what does a kid (I was 26, my peers were in their 40s) need with that kind of money?” I was the savory cookie and he had no clue what exactly to call me so he called me a kid, a kid who obviously shouldn’t be paid like his adult peers.
I’m keeping an open mind about savory cookies. You should too, just like you should keep an open mind about the people you meet in business. Very few of us fit into stereotypical pigeonholes. I don’t. Do you?
I was having a conversation this morning with a fellow who represents a number of the franchises with which I do business. He asked me how things have been going during the pandemic and how I thought things had changed. I thought about it for a minute and this is the gist of what I said.
For most folks, investing in a franchise, or starting a business of any sort, is a scary process. It involves risk, both professional and financial. Oh sure, there are some well-to-do folks I’ve worked with who are just looking to start something up on the side while they keep their day job, but the risk is still there. While the risk is decreased when you go with a franchise (proven system, strong support team, etc.), you’re still jumping out of that airplane. Maybe you’ve got someone strapped to your back who has jumped a hundred times before, but it’s still a scary process.
The pandemic has only intensified that fear. Every person that goes into the process to any deep degree has hit the “stuff got real” moment when they have to make the leap or back away from the door. When almost every news story each day is bad and when neighbors, friends or family might be hurt by the pandemic, it’s a lot more difficult to convince people that they’re making the right move. Couple that with the fact that many 401K’s became 201K’s almost overnight and many people would rather not add to the risk it seems we all take just by waking up each day.
Many of the folks who express interest in learning more are, unfortunately, not good candidates for many brands. They don’t have much liquid capital and due to what’s been going on, their credit may be damaged. Honestly, some are pretty desperate to buy themselves a job which is not a great reason for them to be looking at starting a business. The virus has made it harder to find really well-qualified folks in many ways.
It hasn’t all been negative. Getting financing has rarely been less expensive for those who decide to move forward. The government has been delaying loan payments to help borrowers out. Some business sectors – in-home care, home repair and remodeling, cleaning, and some others – that were good businesses before are even better businesses now. I had one person who was looking at some food businesses shift overnight to wanting handyman businesses. That’s smart thinking because he is looking at the business as something that makes his goals possible and is unconcerned with the means to that end. Shifting on the fly is something we all need to be doing more of these days, right?
Those are my general thoughts about what’s happened to my business over the last few months. What’s going on with yours? How can I be helpful?
Happy Foodie Friday! One thing I’ve learned in my franchise consulting is that people have a fascination with the food business. A significant percentage of the candidates I speak with want to invest in something food and beverage related. I’m generally fairly blunt with them, reminding them that it’s often a business where you’re open for 14 hours a day and are really busy for about 90 minutes. The margins aren’t great, the labor is often unskilled and sketchy, and there are liability issues hanging around everywhere.
Today it’s those 90 minutes I want to talk about. The really busy time. It’s incredibly stressful from what I remember of my days working in foodservice. The stress precipitates everything from accidents caused by rushing to fistfights. It’s not for the faint of heart! That’s why I was happy to read the following this week:
Chipotle Mexican Grill will be providing access to mental healthcare and financial wellness for more than 80,000 employees in 2020 through Employee Assistance Programs and enhanced benefits offerings. This is just one of the many ways that Chipotle continues to enable its workforce by offering world-class benefits.
By simplifying access to mental health benefits and identifying work-related risk factors, Chipotle is trying to minimize the effect of mental health in the workplace.
So many good things here. First, I’ve worked for bosses to whom employees were disposable cogs in the business machine. Someone burns out and isn’t getting it done? Replace them and move on. It’s frustrating as hell when you don’t share their attitude but your hands are tied with respect to offering a solution to the stressed-out team member. Having also worked in places with an Employee Assistance Program I can tell you that they can be literal lifesavers and well worth the cost.
Second, you probably haven’t forgotten that Chipotle had some issues with e.coli a couple of years ago. You know you have a problem on your hands when research showed that 22% of all respondents and 32% of those who don’t currently eat Chipotle said that “nothing” would make them want to visit more often. The food issues have been fixed but the bad taste lingers. Demonstrating concern for your employees is part of rebuilding the brand. Happy employees don’t make stress-related mistakes that lead to bacterial contamination, right?
You can never go wrong doing right for your staff. As a manager, they are your eyes, ears, hands, and voice. Keeping them happy and healthy is doing the same for your business.