I originally wrote this in the spring of 2010. That was still in the middle of the Great Recession in Florida. Today, I feel even stronger about the relevance of what I wrote. I also saw Patrick not too long ago. His business is STILL setting records.
Some people are fans of musicians or movie stars. The people I admire run sales departments or businesses.
And I’m a huge fan of Patrick Caudill. Patrick is one of the partners in Gold Rush BBQ in Venice, Florida, just south of Sarasota.
I’ve eaten at Gold Rush occasionally over the years. But I’ve really been able to study it as a business in the last two years because both of my children have worked there. Before he went to college, Brian worked there as a busboy. Cassie now works at the to-go window.
Brian was home from college this weekend and wanted to go there Saturday night for dinner. Brian’s best friend, another former Gold Rush busboy, was with us. So, we had one current and two former employees at our table, and once again, I had a close-up chance to watch Patrick run his business.
The next morning, I was thinking about what I saw and the word that came to me was “engaged.” Patrick is engaged in every part of his business.
He is highly engaged with his employees. He really knew those kids – asked about their girlfriends, joked with them, talked sports. It was clear he liked them. It was clear they really liked him. Brian told me that even though bussing tables isn’t “fun,” Patrick kept the atmosphere upbeat. With the exception of college-bound kids, his turnover is probably as low as I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.
He is engaged with his customers. Saying “hi” to the regulars. Checking in to see how the food is. (It’s always great!) Brian used to work in another local restaurant. He said that owner never really spent any time in the restaurant. He was always in back, away from the customers. You can’t be away from your customers in any business today.
Finally, Patrick is totally engaged with his business. Every time I’ve been there when it’s busy, Patrick will be cleaning off tables – not looking around for one of the kids to do it – doing it himself. That increases his table turn and keeps customers from waiting too long. It also sets an incredible example of action and urgency to his team. He’s a worker, not just a boss.
He pays attention to the little things as well. At one point on Saturday evening, I saw him on the floor picking up a scrap of paper that had fallen beneath a table.
I think our business today needs a lot more Patricks!!!
You don’t lead people by dictating.
You cannot inspire and excite your team by email.
You can’t be a leader today and stay office-bound.
It’s not about pronouncing things at the sales meeting and then closing the door of your office. (By the way, another subject for another time… doors to offices should never be closed unless you’re discussing private personnel issues. You want, and need, those pesky interruptions!!) It’s about being available – more than available – as a coach, teacher and cheerleader, even sitting in the bullpen making appointment calls yourself if you’re asking your team to do that.
I think engaged means more than just being there. It’s a deep involvement, a passion perhaps.
How engaged are you with your AE’s and support staff? How would they answer that question? Are you talking to them all the time? Cheering their successes and commiserating with them about their challenges? Do they know you care about them and have their backs?
Are you engaged… really engaged… with customers. I talk with far too many managers who have allowed the paperwork requirements of their jobs to keep them away from customers. They tell me they never get out of the office. This is horrible. Some of you can’t even find time to see customers when they’re in your own building. That won’t work today. We don’t have a business without customers. I know you know that. But is it reflected in how you use your time?
Are you engaged with the business? What’s the equivalent for you of Patrick personally bussing the table? Maybe it’s being really clear about the plan you have for these times and then working side by side with your team to make that happen.
Maybe it’s being sure your core processes are strong. Does your group know how to get results for clients? Are we getting better and better at that? The core promise of a business must be honored. The food at Gold Rush is great every time. (I hate baked beans but love them there, and they have the best corn bread I have ever eaten in my life.) Before they opened the restaurant they sought out the best of the best recipes. So every customer has a great experience every time. That’s their core business. What’s yours?
I write a lot about urgency and getting in front of your clients. But, as I think about Patrick, it occurs to me that the answer really is engagement. Are we truly engaged?
One thing a challenging time does that’s good is to make us re-assess everything. We always come out of these times better. One area I’ll be thinking about this week is engagement. How can our company and our clients do a better job of that? I think it may be critical.
By the way, I asked Patrick how his business was since every week another restaurant seems to be closing in our town because of a long real estate crash, so business is tough. But Patrick said his business was “even” with last year, and even is fabulous for this market at this time.
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