Thoughts on starting and running a small business

What gets measured, gets improved

As my family and close friends know, I am a bit of a self help junkie, always looking for nuggets of inspiration.

Recently I stumbled onto the free podcasts on the website of Robin Sharma and then bought one of his audio talks. I’ve been listening to them in the car driving to and from work…really that is the only time I drive which is why I have mileage on my car the makes my sons howl. (I do not know where they drive to and from but apparently they have mileage in the 6 figures. I digress.)

I have a couple of thoughts on what I have heard so far. The  first is that it is very easy to hear an idea and think “That idea is not for me”. I am not sure why we do this but I have noticed myself doing it a few times while listening to Sharma.

For example, one of his suggestions is to make a list of the top 10 excuses we use. I immediately thought, I never make excuses…but because he had warned against that kind of thinking I forced myself to think about excuse-making and, oh yea, I do it often.

Just some of my excuses include an excuse for why I’ve stopped exercising in the last few months, why I don’t work behind the counter anymore, and why I don’t eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

And the worst part is that my excuses are so lame that I can’t even share them here  because you’d say “oh that is a really lousy reason!”. Of course the point isn’t to beat up on ourselves, the point is  to come up with ways to get around the things that are stopping us.

Thus my delicious lunch of cauliflower and carrots today.

The other Sharma point that I agreed with immediately is to understand that what gets measured, gets improved.

At PGB  these are some of the things we measure:

  • All Stars – team members who have error-free months. Waste in the kitchen and cashing out errors plummeted a few  years ago when we started measuring success.
  • Leftovers – leftovers at the end of the day add up to thousands in labour and  ingredients. The discipline of the Head Baker recording the leftovers every day really means we can keep them to a minimum.
  • Expenses of all types – every month Andrew, Carly and I meet to review the prior month’s expenses and when we note something is running high – e.g. cleaning costs recently- Carly looks  into ways to get it down. It is amazing how easy it can be to bring a line item down once we are aware it is trending high.

On a lighter note, one of my favourite months kicked off with my sister’s birthday yesterday as well as the Chatelaine Cookie Exchange on Wednesday night! I will attach a photo of just one of the MANY tables of goodies that the generous hosts arranged for the gathering of Toronto “foodies”.


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