In a recent interview with some of the world’s richest people, when asked about the key to their success a majority of them answered with the same word – Focus. The ability to concentrate your attention on what really matters and to continue to focus despite all of the external ‘noise’ that exists around us is becoming an increasingly difficult yet also increasingly important skill in business and in life yet in uncontrovertibly an important skill to master.
Our industry is filled with many moving parts and generally they can be characterised as Urgent or Important and in the real world Urgent always wins unless you create systems that mean the Important does not get continually pushed back or forgotten. The difference between the important and the urgent can be vast. Urgent items are always focused on the present moment: They need attention right now and if they are not dealt with, the consequences also happen right now. Important items on the other hand belong to long-term goals and items of strategic value.
A well-designed dashboard levels up your approach to information management. Everyone in the business, regardless of role, has questions about your company performance, whether it be spend per head, product mix, wage cost or staff hours. Dashboards bring everyone (and your metrics) together in one place to answer these questions and share in the success or clearly see room for improvement.
While Urgent issues are easy to ‘see’ – everything from needing to replace a lightbulb or staff member to putting out a fire or throwing out a drunk guest – the Important tends to be more ‘hidden’ or data-driven and thus needs a different set of tools than your eyes and ears to keep focusing on. With the increasing use of technology inside and outside bars (point of sale systems, reservation systems, inventory systems as well as social media, google, review sites and websites etc) we have access to a huge amount of ‘data’ that if used correctly can transform a business and set it up for future success. And a solution to both keeping the Important in mind as well as applying Focus? A dashboard.
In order to create such a tool certain questions must be considered. Firstly who is this dashboard aimed at? There should certainly be public dashboards available for all to view but individual managers or staff members can be assigned a dashboard to focus their attention and create accountability. Secondly how many metrics should be considered? Consider the car analogy and less than 5 metrics seem to be the norm that can be handled efficiently (ie how long it takes to create and how long to read). Thirdly what format should be used? It’s good to show past and present movement so graphs are better than digits or raw numbers. Finally what time scale should be used and again there can be weekly, monthly or quarterly dashboards for certain metrics.
Using a dashboard to measure what matters in your business will bring instant benefits. Firstly by practising ‘data democracy’ and sharing the mission-critical data for the business with your team will raise staff engagement, allow you to share success and also create a clear rationale for business decisions. Secondly by providing visibility and accountability for the numbers recorded it will inherently focus the attention and the efforts of those responsible and improve the efficiency of your management team. Finally by creating ‘metrics’ one can clearly see if your efforts are working (“it’s working so do it again”) or not working (“we tried that approach and it didn’t work so let’s try something different”).
A typical manager in hospitality is rarely an MBA graduate or often even a graduate at all and is often promoted because they (mainly) can stay sober at work but the job is getting harder – especially as the economic headwinds we are experiencing create new pressures. By looking at improving our business intelligence, both individually and collectively we can aspire to improve and tools like dashboards help focus that aspiration… while we may never be the richest people we can share their methods and focus our efforts.