Profitable Hospitality Podcast

Meet Simon O'Regan from the EARL Canteen group in Melbourne's CBD - 7 stores and growing! They specialise in breakfast, lunch, coffee and catering. Since opening their first store in 2010, owners Simon and his partner Jackie Middleton have maintained a steady pace of expansion in this very demanding precinct, recently adding a central commissary and catering kitchen.

Their inspiration came from being 'two hungry waiters who, at the end of service every night, watched big chefs do simple things with fancy ingredients. It gave them an idea. Simple, honest, everyday eats made from the finest, locally sourced produce. Good-morning breakfasts, wake-me-up coffee, wholesome salads and fancy sandwiches made fresh every day.' They've also seen the benefit of technology innovation and smart marketing - there's a lot to discuss in this conversation with Ken Burgin.


Ken Burgin talks with chef and kitchen management expert Andrew Briese of Cooking the Books. In the first of two podcast interviews, they had a lively discussion on the initial stages of the food management sequence: ordering, storage and stock control. Topics covered include:

  • Common mistakes people make when they choose suppliers
  • Best practice for ordering methods and deciding on quantities
  • Best practice with storage or dry and cold goods.
  • Managing the ever-present problem of theft
  • Stocktake methods for small operators – who usually never do stocktakes!
  • Managing and measuring food wastage
Direct download: 286_Managing_Food_Purchasing_Storage_and_Stock_Control.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 3:36pm AEDT

Customers want fresh, not stale; inspiration, not gloom – it’s time to turn off the news! One way to lift everyone’s spirits is to share the things that we love, that our staff love, and our customers love. Put a smile on their faces and share the love of food and entertainment, music, customer stories and business success. Now you’re creating great word-of-mouth marketing and conversation starters – and lots to share on social media! Talking about what we love creates a strong personal connection between staff, managers and customers.

In this podcast, Ken Burgin shares themes and ideas to get you sharing the love and reaping the benefits. And like the love between two people, sharing this affection a little and often is more important than an occasional big event and then nothing for months.

People love to be inspired by hard work and commitment rewarded – from you, the community and your employees. They can also love the business owners, so it’s good to share a family photo or some stories from the past. People love their town or local area, so your support for sporting teams, schools and charities keeps customers inspired and connected. People love photos and videos, the modern means of communication, so record and share food, parties, special customers and behind-the-scene activities. Many people also love animals, and you can include them in social media sharing without bringing them into the shop – Facebook and Instagram are great mediums for this. And people love events and celebrations – ideally once a month, not just Valentines and Mother’s Day.

Direct download: 28520How20to20Create20a20Business20That20People20Love21.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:25am AEDT

This is a change of pace for the podcast – Ken Burgin talks with Sally Irwin, director of The Freedom Hub, an organisation that helps people trapped by human trafficking and slavery. This is not the chains and slave markets we envision from the 19th century, but the degradation and restriction of people’s freedom is no less real - Sally shares some graphic examples. And it’s happening in western countries like Australia – this is not just a ‘third world’ problem.

We also discussed the organisation’s Survivor School to help rehabilitate victims and give them work opportunities, and how restaurants and cafes can avoid purchasing food products made by slave labour. There’s a lot to think about…

Direct download: 28420Modern20Slavery_2.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 4:31pm AEDT

Ken Burgin talks with Andre Ursini, owner and founder of Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar. Nine years ago he was also a contestant on the first series of Master Chef in Australia, and then used his love of hospitality to open and develop a highly successful Italian restaurant. He’s about to open a second and much larger business, and also has plans for a wedding venue.

You’ll enjoy Andre’s honest and open approach to business – we discussed his methods for finding and keeping good staff, managing equipment, using reputation as the main marketing channel, and how he finances daily operations and expansion. We also talked about menu styles and content, and how staff have the opportunity to work at the restaurant’s vegetable garden – it’s an inspiring story!

Direct download: 28320From20Master20Chef20to20Italian20Restaurant20Success.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:01am AEDT

Ken Burgin talks with Veronica Fils of Restaurant Lume, a venue that describes itself as “a restaurant reimagined for people who are bored with traditional fine dining. Those fed up with formality and stuffy service, but who want an experience”.

We agreed that for high-priced and high-quality dining to survive, there needs to be a very different approach to managing customers, service and reservations, plus the cost of labour, food and beverages. Restaurant Lume has embraced these challenges, and uses the latest technology to support growth and efficiency – it’s great to hear their optimism.

Direct download: 28220Talking20About20the20Economics20of20Restaurant20Operations.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:23pm AEDT

Ken Burgin talks with Vanessa Cullen, whose business Forward Thinking Design works with cafes, restaurants, fast food operators and retailers. She has a wide range of experience and the discussion covered design for new businesses, shopping centres, main street businesses and renovating a tired or outdated space.

We also covered the latest food and design trends, food courts, landlords, branding, concept development and customer expectations. This business has B Corp accreditation, and their tagline is ‘the socially responsible design studio’ – it all works hand in hand.

Direct download: 281_Talking_About_Cafe__Restaurant_Design.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 2:40pm AEDT

Nadi Elias is an accountant who has bought into a cafe! He has many clients in the cafe and coffee roasting business, and has probably advised many more people to walk away from these opportunities. If he’s gone ahead and taken the plunge, we need to know why!

Ken Burgin talked with Nadi about due diligence and valuation for a business purchase, setting up good systems, building a team, partnership agreements, accounting systems and keeping track of the numbers. His book Count More Beans is an excellent guide to building a successful cafe.

Direct download: 280_What_Happens_When_an_Accountant_Buys_a_Cafe_.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:04am AEDT

Many hospitality operators are not, but nature, ‘numbers people’ and it’s easy for this important area of management to be neglected. In this interview, Ken Burgin talks with Christine Green from Restaurant Bookkeeping Australia about how to get the best results from your account-keeping system.

They discussed cash flow management, the importance of separating personal and business expenses, integration with Point of Sale systems, claiming GST credits and the correct coding of entries. They also talked about preparing a business for sale, how to reassure buyers and the role of accountants.

Direct download: 279_Getting_Better_Results_from_Your_Restaurant_Bookkeeping.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:50am AEDT

Should we regard LinkedIn as the serious, professional side of social media? With more than 500 users worldwide, it can be tremendously powerful as a marketing tool to build your business and your personal reputation.

In this episode, Ken Burgin discusses the three steps for LinkedIn effectiveness – building a complete, professional profile, growing your circle of connections, and expanding your influence by sharing quality content. Small steps day by day will soon lead to very satisfying results.

Direct download: 278_Using_LinkedIn_for_Restaurant_Marketing__Personal_Branding.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:30am AEDT

Ken Burgin talks with celebrity chef manager Karen Lateo of Entrée Management, about the many ways chefs can build a local and national reputation. With the rise of TV cooking shows and the public fascination with chefs and food, there are now many more options for a chef who wants to make a name for them self.

We discussed the value of having your own YouTube, being able to talk and cook at the same time, and developing presentation skills. Plus, the difference between publicity and talent management, how to be paid, negotiation with clients, the right way to use social media, and the work needed to get yourself noticed.

Direct download: 277_How_Chefs_Can_Build_a_Positive_Public_Profile.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 2:04pm AEDT

Ken Burgin talks with bar manager and entrepreneur Daniel Knight about the many factors involved in creating and running a great bar. The small bar sector is one of the most dynamic parts of the hospitality industry, where successful bar operators combine technical skills, leadership and entrepreneurial flare to help them thrive amidst so much competition.

We discussed Dan’s 3 P’s for bar success – People, Product and Passion. We always hear about People in hospitality discussions, and Product is the many things that create the physical experience. Passion can be harder to define, and needs strong and creative leadership – you’ll understand this important element much more from this conversation. You can find Dan at his blog My Bar Secrets.

Direct download: 276_How_to_Take_Your_Bar_from_Good_to_Great.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 2:56pm AEDT

Christine Mathison-Green is a chef, a former restaurateur and passionate about hospitality. She’s employed hundreds of people over the years at her ten restaurants, and worked with many different cooks and chefs. She writes about food and travel, and shares dozens of interviews with chefs on her website Just the Sizzle. She’s also set up Off the Hotplate, a support site for chefs who want to avoid burnout and learn better ways to handle the emotional demands of a cooking career.

In this discussion, Ken Burgin talks with Christine about the background to the command-style management of kitchens - where the classic ‘Yes Chef!’ response started. We also discussed the needs of young chefs, the value of mentoring, the increasing number of women in cooking, and the importance of realistic hours. We all know chefs are in short supply, and I believe we have some answers to the problem in this discussion.

Direct download: 275_Finding_Motivating_and_Looking_After_Good_Chefs.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:37pm AEDT

Corporate Culture Specialist Greg Hawks talks to a lot of employees and business leaders, and they all believe in the importance of a strong, positive workplace culture. But what does that really mean, and how can it be developed?

In this lively interview, Greg talks with Ken Burgin about the four pillars he sees supporting a great culture – honour, excellence, identity and significance. Words that by themselves may not mean so much, but his explanation and examples brings them together into a clear and achievable roadmap for every restaurant, cafe or foodservice business.

Direct download: 274_How_to_Build_a_Culture_of_Greatness.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:52pm AEDT

Craig Macindoe looks surprisingly calm for someone who has opened so many restaurants, and right now he has 10 under his control at the Kensington Street restaurant precinct. Maybe it’s because he can now work on strategy and marketing, instead of being caught up in the kitchen. As a chef, he brings valuable insights to management – cost control, menu development, purchasing and product quality.

Craig talked with Ken Burgin about modern restaurant trends, equipment, partnerships, customer expectations, recruiting staff, social media marketing and the many management skills he has learned over the last 20 years. It was a fascinating interview.

Direct download: 273_Talking_to_a_Chef_Who_s_Opened__Run_42_Restaurants.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 4:32pm AEDT

Simpler is usually better in business – restaurant processes can be done more quickly, there are fewer costs, less need for highly-skilled staff, and fewer mistakes. This is not about ‘dumbing down’, but removing the complexity that can often develop in menus, customer service, management and financial reporting.

Ken Burgin gives you a quick hit list of more than a dozen ways to bring back flexibility and speed to your operation, in the front of house, kitchen, marketing and administration. Your staff, customers and accountant will thank you!

Direct download: 272_How_to_Simplify_Your_Business_for_More_Profitable_Results.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:18am AEDT

It was fascinating to talk with WeChat marketing expert Matthew Brennan about online marketing and e-commerce in China. In many ways the country is leading the world with innovations in social media and cashless payments, particularly through the communication and payment channels of Tencent (owner of WeChat) and Alipay.

We also discussed the integration of menus into apps, ordering and food delivery systems, and how tourists from China will be researching and preparing for their trip to another country. This is the future!

Direct download: 271_Using_WeChat__Chinese_Social_Media_for_Restaurant_Marketing.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:00am AEDT

With the growth of mobile phones, calls to your restaurant are more important than ever – a quick Google search finds your number, and if a call is made, it’s likely to be about an important issue or sales opportunity, rather than just a booking request.

In this lively interview, Ken Burgin talks with Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor about phone answering, sharing information, and handling complaints. We also discussed how to handle staff training, impatient customers, and combining sales with good customer service. And don’t miss her great advice on eliminating 5 Frustrating Voicemail Phrases – we’ve all used them!

Direct download: 270_Smarter_Phone_Management_in_Restaurants_and_Bars.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:44am AEDT

Word of mouth marketing doesn’t work automatically, and it’s not always positive. It can develop slowly and accidentally, or you can take the lead and give people lots of positive experiences to share with their friends, week after week.

In this podcast, Ken Burgin talks about the many different ways customers experience your business, and the five key areas that drive word of mouth – design, speed, generosity, flavour and inside information. You may be surprised that there are so many positive things happening – let’s get the good news out there!

Direct download: 269_How_to_Drive_Word_of_Mouth_Marketing.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:00am AEDT

Join us to learn how an experienced chef plans a menu makeover, taking a good product and making it even better. Ken Burgin talks with Executive Chef John McFadden and hears about the process of menu simplification and cost control he is using for the new menu at Abode Bistro, the restaurant at Sydney’s ParkRoyal Hotel.   

We also discussed flavour improvement, food trends, staff training and the changing popularity of lunch and dinner menu items in a busy city location.

Direct download: 268_Menu_Simplification_Flavours_and_Profitability.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:00am AEDT

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