Monday, April 6, 2009

A funny think happened to me on my way to the coffee aisle



Despite my lack of enthusiasm for getting caught up in the "current economic situation", I eventually gave in to all the pressure in the media and decided that I had to start worrying and take immediate and decisive steps to minimize my exposure to the global economic crisis. At first, I set my hopes for a bailout, either from the government, the bank or the lottery people. I rushed to the mailbox each day, I checked my voicemail every hour on the hour, but much to my surprise, and chagrin, I didn't receive a priority post envelope with instructions on how I should access my bailout, or a special delivery invitation to attend a news conference about how my bank would be making new forms of credit available to me, or lowering fees, nor did I get a voicemail asking me to contact the lottery office to make arrangements to pick up my massive winnings in front of a live press conference. Undeterred, I decided that I was fully capable of taking matters into my own hands. I implemented a new policy that required all of my department heads to submit purchase order requests to me for approval a week in advance. I also informed my accounting staff that from now on I would be signing all the cheques and reviewing all transactions. It took a little while, but one by one, each of my team members fell into line and gave me back the control that I had so proudly delegated to them over the past 19 years. Everyone that is, except my Chef. As it turned out, our food service supplier (a big multi-national company that has food service supply down to a fine, fine art) had pretty much taken over the ordering process, and they weren't too eager to give it up. As much as I like to be sold by a good salesperson, nothing gets my back up more than when my sales person cuts me right out of the buying process. To force myself into the process, I put a moratorium on ordering from our regular suppliers and invited my Chef to join me at the new Costco store, recently opened in Peterborough. I think my Chef thought I had finally gone crazy, and God knows I was driving him crazy with my new found interest in his purchasing habits. None-the-less, we shared a couple of hours of tense fun pushing big carts from the meat section to the produce section to the canned goods, and back again stopping at every sample table of course. We racked up quite a bill, but it was still significantly less than what we had been spending with our regular food service supplier. Now to be fair, part of the reason for the difference was because we forgot some things, because, as I said earlier, we weren't really in the habit of putting our orders together ourselves, and I didn't think our food service supplier would be too keen to join us on our shopping expedition at Costco. However, there definitely were savings, and I think there was an immediate impact on waste and over buying brought about by my direct involvement in the process. Now, one of the things we bought was coffee. I was a little worried about this purchase, because, although I'm not a big coffee drinker myself, my spa guests are very particular about their coffee. I expected that before long I'd be getting complaints about the cheap new Costco coffee we were serving. So you can imagine my surprise (and glee) when I received an email this morning from our dining room manager asking what we should be telling guests who were raving about our new coffee and asking where we were getting it from. Go figure! I'm still shopping at Costco once a week, and we have an ordering system in place for all departments. The jury is still out as to how much of an impact all of this senior management interference is having, but I have a good feeling about it. Our recession fighting plan is now well underway; it was a bit of a rough road getting there - and we still have a long ways to go. But gosh darn it, we're going to do our part to bring this economic beast to the ground by cutting back our spending, controlling our labour costs, and reducing our credit requirements, and doing our part to contribute to all the fear mongering going on in the media! (Yes, I am being sarcastic, thank you for noticing).

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