Winning is better than just “taking part!”

Young stylish businessmanSince the dawn of the professional era in sports the focus for the spectator has generally been on the spectacle of the event, whether it be football, motor racing or even darts. And as media has become more sophisticated and accessible there is hardly a gap when sport of some kind is not available to be watched and enjoyed.

So you can imagine the outcry across pubs and sitting rooms across the country when ITV decided that switching from the last tension-filled game of the French Open final wasn’t a priority so they turned it off. A “spokesman” was quick to point out that things had gone “… over the scheduled broadcast time etc etc” … but cynics may suggest that there was some technician sitting in front of a darkened console, who was not interested in tennis, who merely just flicked a switch according to the roster he had in front of him instead of actually thinking about the result of his action – after all, public relations aren’t his responsibility.

Perhaps there will be a different, tennis-loving “techie” on duty at ITV while Wimbledon is on.

Gone are the days too, when the result of a match tended to be played along the lines of the Olympic Creed, “The most important thing … is not to win but to take part …” This won’t sit well with many supporters of some teams at the World Cup in Brazil. You won’t get much of a smile from Roy Hodgson’s lads by telling them that it was only a game, and wasn’t it nice to take part?

Professionals who strive for success in any field will tell you that winning is everything. Even in the hospitality trade, success is measured in results and successful results usually translate into profits. Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers can show you many examples of this truth. You can make the best soufflé in the world but if you’re not selling it for a profit it’s not contributing to your success.

Occasionally some strive for success without proper planning or attention to detail and then are found wanting. Like the holidaymakers who thought that climbing up a mountain in the Nevis Range was a bit of a stroll and had only packed their enthusiasm. They had to be rescued. If you happen to find a pair of flip-flops on the side of a Aonoch Mor sometime, they will be the ones a rescuer chucked away in anger as he had to carry their owner down on a stretcher.

But planning and strategy, while vital in any business, can be a bit like smoke-and-mirrors if you’re not careful and want to give the impression of prudential management, while in reality nothing changes. The prime example is the FIFA Exco (sport, again) who have decided that the recommendation of the Ethics Committee should be adhered to and that the awarding of bonuses should be banned. So they have stopped taking bonuses. Instead they have given themselves a 100% pay rise.

One punter commented, “Nice work if you can get it … but why do we even have FIFA Exco members being paid a salary? Oh yes, it’s for the love of the beautiful game.

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Bins, beer and regulations – it’s tough being a politician!

Don’t you just hate dodging bins and bags that are left out all over the pavement waiting for collection? It’s dodge this one and step into the road to miss that one – all as a result of the regulations (don’t even mention Brussels) imposed on the consumer. You can’t do this and you must do that in an effort to recycle or eradicate waste. After a long campaign it appears that plastic bags are now going to be charged for at the supermarket – at 5p a pop – in an effort to deter people from using new ones each time they shop.

They say that the money raised will go to charity. But, small and medium sized businesses with less than 500 employees will be excluded in order to protect independent retailers. What happens when these retailers get so busy with extra customers seeking to avoid the charge-per-bag that they have to hire more staff to cope and then exceed the magic 500 number? But I’m sure the regulators have thought that one through.

Image: Denis Slogar

Image: Denis Slogar

I wonder if Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers are having to start suggesting to their customers ways they can provide packaging that meets all the regulatory requirements but still keeps the customers happy and prevents their purchases from falling on the floor at some inconvenient time?

Having dodged all the bins and bags on the way to work, can you imagine the irritation commuters faced when they had to dodge a hoard of press photographers sprawled all over the pavement outside a pub in London the other day? The gentlemen of the press were excluded from entering as some politicians were in there – no other punters either mind, just the politicos and their entourage as they sought to put on a brave public face in the wake of the election results. Nick & Vince were all smiles and even had some froth on their lips from the different brews they were sampling, mild and bitter.

The pub had possibly agreed to host the event on the off-chance that the press corps would surge in afterwards to take shelter and fortify themselves for the next stage in their busy day of seeking news once the main players had departed in their limos. I suppose the landlord of the Queen’s Head in London had told his stocktaker to factor-in an empty pub for the chaps do their photo-op in, ‘but make sure the keg of bitter is fully charged AND that the press lads have plenty of snacks and ale available for afters!’ It just didn’t seem to be as jolly an affair as when Nigel visits a pub, though.

What the England Football squad will have plenty of though – their stocktaker has seen to it – is their favourite sauce and butter, if they want it. Gone are the dietary restrictions imposed by the previous coach. Roy has rescinded the ‘no sauce’ ban and ketchup is back on the list. Some of the lads also like fast food and it appears that’s okay too. So hopefully, with their concentration off “what’s for dinner, coach?” the games will deliver the desired results too.

Roy might even throw in some of the prize-winning pies from The Chestnut Horse to keep the boys on track. Jon Allen has just won the “Pub Pie of the Year” with his Welsh cob pie (Wayne Rooney would like that). The pub has 42 pies on the menu – all named after breeds of horses!

How does Tom Kerridge get to be a judge at these events, lucky chap?

Here to vote? What colour do you want your pancake?

Rutter Collage‘Politician-speak’ is the use of a number of words and phrases that are designed to placate, pacify and deflect scrutiny. Some people call it ‘spinning‘ or saying things in a way that while no untruths are told, the real story is not revealed to those asking the questions. And while this week may have been a bad week for some politicians don’t think that ‘politician-speak’ is only limited to them.

Renowned chef Marco Pierre White (or at least, his spokesman) was quoted as saying things like, “… we can confirm …” and “… the feedback was provided in an informal way …” and my favourite, “… we have acted on what needed addressing and we continue to work closely with the Birmingham City Council …” All this because the food safety inspectors slapped a zero-rating on the good chef’s four-star restaurant that sits perched on the top of the block in Birmingham known by many as The Cube. But I suppose mouse droppings, mouldy cow carcasses and old and re-labelled chicken will do that to a restaurant. I shouldn’t think that there was much ‘politician-speak’ behind the closed doors of the restaurant when Marco got his certificate and window sticker with a big fat “Zero” on it that is supposed to be displayed to the paying public.

More of the same type of language was doled out too by the powerful and seemingly immoveable Sepp Blatter who admitted that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was “a mistake.” In response Gary Lineker Tweeted that he imagined that “Sepp’s resignation letter was being composed as we tweet” … don’t hold your breath, Gary. Sepp has indicated that he will be seeking election for a fifth term as FIFA President next month. The soccer supremo suggested that his French rival who might oppose him was “… a man of very deep character, he wouldn’t do it.” The maneuvering and discussions that go on in the corridors and boardrooms across the world of football also confirm that “politics” is not always limited to running a country. Perhaps the irony of Sepp’s comments about referring to his rival as being of “deep character” was lost on himself.

The good news for Gary and other supporters of Team England is that London has once again outshone the French. London has been crowned the most attractive city in the world, knocking New York of the top spot, while Paris moved down two places. This has got have a positive impact on attracting visitors to England in general and to the capital in particular. So people like Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers will probably have even more challenges placed on them as their customers plan and innovate to stay ahead of their competition.

Jon is probably hoping that he doesn’t have to analyse the profitability of new technology someone might want to install in their restaurant after having read about personalised pancake designs. If some place that sells pancakes gets it in their heads to get the “design-your-own-pancake” machine it will be one more thing to consider whether it is worth investing in or not. It is a nifty little number though. Apparently you can program in a unique design and then the “PancakeBot” machine uses CAD technology to distribute the design, in batter, onto a hotplate. Flipping the pancakes still requires human intervention.

Knowing politicians, though, come this time next year you might find a slew of tables outside polling stations with activists giving out pancakes in the shape of their party logo using coloured batter that matches their party’s colour.

Give me a pub team anytime! (… so says Roy)

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Any place that runs speed-eating competitions would probably have their stocktakers tearing their hair out over pre-ordering quantities for the event. Especially if the world champion competitive eater is expected in town. But in order to be recognized, she’d probably have to wear a notice saying “I’m the Champion” because the petite, size 8 mum-of-four doesn’t look like she could shovel away a 5000 calorie burger in six½ minutes! The “Stellanator” consisted of six slabs of meat, slices of cheese, six fried eggs, 12 slices of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles, grilled onions, peanut butter, jalapenos and then there was the bun (top & bottom) to keep it all together.

It all started off as a way of proving someone wrong – as one does – and things escalated from there to 9 lb burritos, 54-inch pizzas and more. I’m still trying to get my head around how she manages to work her way through a 12 lb sandwich and 1 lb of fries in 53 minutes!

The question many ask is, “Why?” But Mollie Schuyler does it for the money. In January she scooped £17 800.00 for guzzling 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes.

Money also seems to be the motivation for becoming a professional football player. You’d think that earning 200 grand a week would be enough. But no, Yaya Touré “wants his cake and eat it” too! But Manchester City insist that they did give him a cake to celebrate his birthday. I didn’t realize that birthday #31 was such an important milestone.

Who would be a football coach? Especially when your star player is miffed because no one (allegedly) gave him his birthday bumps? And especially if you’re Louis van Gaal, the new coach of Manchester United when the National Coach has said that he could beat Man U with a pub team if he had six months to prepare! And he’d probably only have to pay them in pints and crisps, too.

But for that matter, who’d be a politician when things go wrong for some of them the way they did this week. You had a leader who didn’t know who he was there to support, nor who was running that particular council – all caught on two separate occasions on TV and on radio. Awkward.

Or the politician that organised for steel band who were all set to play their tunes and entertain the crowds when they discovered that the political party that had contracted them wasn’t who they wanted to support. “Pack the drums away, lads, we’re outta here!” I wonder if they had to return their fee?

Jon Rutter would be the first to tell you how imperative careful planning and good strategy is in running a successful pub, restaurant or club. Sportsmen and politicians could do well to take note of his principles and ethos – if they did, they’d end up with the cake they wanted, knowing what candidate they were there to support and they’d have had music to dance to as well.

The beautiful game showcase kicks off in Brazil in 21 days time – hopefully the hosts have their careful planning and good strategy all in place. 

All it takes is teamwork …

SeatsIt’s only a ten minute drive along the A56 & A57 to get from Old Trafford to The Etihad but even though they’re in pretty close proximity to each other, the similarities in atmosphere within the two giant clubs ends there! ‘City’ are already talking about conquering Europe while Man-U ex-captain, Roy Keane is urging his old club to ‘get tough’ and is also suggesting that some other personalities need to step up to take responsibility for the Club’s showing over the season and not lay everything at Moyes’ doorstep.

A lot of what Keane says can be translated into one word, “teamwork.” Clearly, City was the more successful club of the two from Manchester that gelled as a team and they have the results to show for it. A disjointed team, for whatever reason will result in below average performance and sometimes even cause the whole shebang to leave the rails completely.

Sometimes the main players in a team forget that there are others who are also part of the same team, just not as prominent. Like the chap who carries the drinks, or the one who arranges the bus for the team to travel in, or the person who makes sure that nothing gets left behind in the change-room when the players go back to their hotel. They’re all part of the team but most people don’t even know they exist. And if their particular function breaks down, it impacts on the whole team – sometimes as a minor irritation and sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Well, someone dropped the ball at Jamie’s Barbecoa Butchery recently and the whole team felt the impact. But, it only came to light after a freedom of information request was submitted (I suppose some things don’t liked being aired to the public). It revealed that the establishment had received a ‘hazardous‘ assessment and closed down to remedy the situation. This is not the first time this type of problem has plagued Jamie – last year his Portsmouth branch of his Italian chain paid £17 000.00 after pleading guilty to breaching the Food Safety Act.

Many establishments will agree with Jon Rutter and his team of professionals when they say that their stocktaker is definitely part of their team. They work in the background and most folk aren’t even aware that they exist. But without them the wheels of an operation can come off rather rapidly. Stocktaking services provide all the figures needed to keep up to date with exactly what is happening at the premises. Specialist stocktakers ensure that the their extensive experience avoids unnecessary wastage or losses (whether accidental or otherwise) and recommended action is passed on to the client to keep everything running smoothly. Just what a team needs! 

Some restaurants have had a team member suggest installing fish tanks as they can create an ambience of peace and tranquility. Others have tanks so customers can choose their own particular fish or crustacean to have prepared for them. One hotel in the Maldives has gone to the other extreme and has their restaurant built under water to give diners a view of the free-swimming fish, turtles and other sea creatures all around them.

The hotel is inviting the guests to “dine with the sharks” … hopefully the sharks don’t get confused and start thinking the ‘tank’ is showcasing diners for their benefit.