Bring It On!
November 09, 2017 | 3521 Views
It’s hard to believe sometimes, but the period we remember as the Great Recession officially started 10 years ago in December 2007. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a decade since I first started hearing about the mortgage crisis, plunging home values, bank failures, and business closures, mainly because it was one of the most impactful events of my adult life and I still think about it quite often. I had just turned 25 and was a young manager at Rubio’s, and just like many other people, I was fearful of losing my job after the torrent of depressing news articles about the cratering economy. The restaurant industry was greatly affected by the downturn, of course, and I spent a lot of months working with my team to cut costs as much as possible, saving every dime that we could so that we could to hopefully retain our healthy P&L and continue to contribute to the positive cash flow of the business.
Although Rubio’s had to make some hard choices, the company survived and eventually thrived again as a leaner yet stronger operation once the economy started to grow. Over the last few years, we’ve opened upwards of 30+ new units and expanded our menu offerings beyond our original “fish taco” concept to appeal to a broader range of guests. I’ve also had some personal successes during that time, moving up from restaurant General Manager to my current position as Vice President Training & Ops Services.
But that doesn’t mean life in 2017 has been easy. Quite the contrary. I would say that as an industry, restaurants are facing the most challenging business climate since the recession ended due to factors such as:
- An abundance of new restaurants that have caused same-store sales slumps even though more people in the US are eating out than ever before.
- Competition for diners from non-traditional locations in grocery stores and convenience stores, as well as from home-delivered meal kits from sites such as Blue Apron and Plated.
- New employment laws covering minimum wage, sick leave, family leave, and scheduling requirements that have added operational and administrative complexities.
- Employee shortages, especially in the back of the house.
- Rapidly changing technology trends that are difficult for even the most forward-thinking and innovative companies to keep up with.
My response to these various challenges, however, is different than 10 years ago. Instead of feeling fearful and worrying about my job, I’m invigorated by the opportunity to prove my worth as a training and operations professional and develop solutions that will keep Rubio’s headed in the right direction. Bring it on, I tell ya! My 7 years of involvement with CHART and 3 years serving on the executive board has greatly strengthened my outside-the-box thinking skills and taught me to successfully bring new ideas and initiatives to life, and I’m confident these experiences will allow me to help us weather the storm. If “necessity is the mother of invention,” then in this case CHART is definitely the fuel that will help my inventions grow stronger and more effective.
And more importantly, if I’m not able to come up with the perfect solutions for meeting Rubio’s needs, I know that I can turn to the 500+ eminently qualified and unbelievably smart members of CHART for assistance. Through the networking experiences I’ve had at the conferences and regional meetings, online forums such as Ask My Peers, and special programs such as the Training High Five presented each summer, I have access to some of the best and brightest minds in our industry who are more than willing to share successful ideas that I can adapt for my company. By working together and pooling our vast knowledge, the many trainers of CHART have the opportunity to protect their own concepts and improve the careers of the 3 million members that this organization represents.
As we get ready to move into 2018, more obstacles will undoubtedly be thrown our way, but CHART members know that we will have each other’s backs. We are the visionary trainers who will be transforming the hospitality industry, and I believe that our contributions will be valued more than they ever have before.
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Applaud your can-do attitude and recognition that the industry connections you build, build you up in uncertain times!