Archive for November, 2013




image                It has gotten to the point it is FUNNY!!

Research for the book has had me closely following several turnaround efforts. The book, a how to, basic business practices book, teaches principled management and simple basics that work. I am following both winners and losers in several industries. I have blogged many times about professional managers that are best at coming up with grand programs that have clever names but rarely produce results. 

If you are an investor, board member or just inquisitive student of business, I have a quick litmus test for you. Whenever you hear about a grand turnaround plan that has a big clever name and want to predict it’s outcome, drop down to the lowest common denominator of that business and check the basics. In the restaurant business, walk past the remodel, ignore the coupons and check, is the restaurant clean or dirty, is the service outstanding or mediocre and is the food any good (most customers prefer fresh over boil-in-a-bag). There is a film on Mc Donald’s last big turnaround focused pointedly at Ray Kroc’s famous QSC………and it worked.

We keep our boat at Pier 39 in San Francisco. When I first started writing the book a new CEO was appointed. I interview him and tell his story in the book. Let me give you a preview. Pier 39 is the third highest volume tourist attraction in the U.S. They run two of the bay’s ferry fleets and overall is a very big business. It was easy to see Taylor’s impact from the very beginning, you guessed it, the basics. Everything got cleaned up, fixed up and made substantially more attractive. New support was given to the merchants, addressing unnecessary rules and added training in dealing with the various mixes of customers to the pier. Taylor started at the Pier right out of school and worked his way to the top and knows first hand the basics 


In spite of the economy The Pier had a record year. Moral among merchants and employees is high, something that always comes with success. The Basics are so simple and obvious I just laugh at the expensive grand programs! I am still looking for positive results from any of  the  grand programs I am following………


“IF IT WERN’T SO SIMPLE – IT WOULDN’T BE SO                        FUNNY”

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimage It is so refreshing to see EXCELLENT RESULTS!

The FOOD HYGIENE RATING above is a BIG DEAL, as anyone in the food service industry can attest. The rating above is not just for a single restaurant but the entire chain in the UK!!! If you have read the blog in the past, this is further confirmation of the ‘Tale of Two Friday’s’ and the presentation of ‘The Founder’s Award” I made to Karen in London recently. Karen and her Friday’s Family are the reincarnation of the ‘ORIGINAL FRIDAY’S‘. Friday’s UK has achieved what we call LEVITATION which is the beneficial balance between the employe, customer and company resulting in each side increasingly benefiting the other. This RESULTS in increased sales, employe benefits and company profits. Friday’s UK leads it’s competition and the balance of Friday’s worldwide by a large margin in all three areas and continues to accelerate. We call that the ‘Magic of LEVITATION!! Oh, and you can read about it in THE book! (I know but I have to plug the book – I do tell Karen’s story as a happy ending)

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimageWhen I first started racing sailboats I thought I had found the silver bullet to the the winners circle. I bought the fastest boat in the fleet from the Admiral of the fleet, who consistently placed in the top three finishers.  While waiting for his new boat to arrive the Admiral crewed for various members of the club. With great anticipation, I entered my first race. Halfway down the first leg of the race, the Admiral, who was crewing for one of the slowest boats in the fleet was passing me!  I asked him, as he went by what I was doing wrong. He said, Dan, you aren’t doing any one thing wrong, your are doing a whole lot of little things wrong! After 120,000 sea miles or roughly 6 times around the world I am still learning those little things!

Watching many of today’s ‘professional’ executives being passed by their competition or just plain failing, I am reminded of that lesson from my early sailing days. Rather than work on the basics these ‘professionals’ look for the quick fix, magic wand, silver bullet or magic pill. My upcoming book is focused on building a foundation on principles and careful attention to the basics, because there is NO SILVER BULLET!! .

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“Great companies are founded on principles, standards and goals, empowering everyone to act with a common purpose and goal.” – Daniel R. Scoggin

As we put the finishing touches on the book, one of the key lessons that stands out is that the WHY leads to a better HOW. Weak leaders and companies are RULE driven and great companies are PRINCIPLE  driven. Thinking, challenging and discussing are common in a principle driven organization and frowned upon in a rule driven organization. It is more difficult to be challenged as a leader and guide a group of thinkers but the results are worth the effort. Next time you meet a leader unwilling to be challenged, look at their RESULT.

“Rarely do we find men who willing engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sailing around the world is difficult and filled with a constant stream of new challenges and problems. While visiting many ports at crossroads around the world, I was surprised how many skippers were unwilling to ask for advice. I don’t know if it was their ego or not wanting to appear dumb or they just assumed they had all the answers that prevented them from expanding their knowledge base by asking for advice and directions.  Sadly, I’ve witnessed many avoidable problems and near disasters that could have been avoided if the skipper  asked, listened and used the information.

The same problem exists in the business world and life at large. There is so much information, points of view and experience available but yet untapped. Like the skippers described above leaders of all kinds go it alone. Think of the knowledge pool among employees alone.  The common complaint, however, is that the boss won’t listen.  Suppliers and potential suppliers are a great source  of knowledge.  Finally there are those who are  experienced and successful at what you are trying to do.  I can only conclude that weak leaders are worried about loss of control and/or looking dumb.

The colors of the beach ball represents full knowledge. Picture the ball as so big, that standing beside it  you can only see one of the colors and that to best solve your problem or seize the best opportunity,  you need to know all of the colors which represents full knowledge. Picture the ball, surrounded by the assortment of people with whom you are associated. If you ask and listen you will arrive at all the colors or  full knowledge. You have not given up control or looked dumb (to the contrary, most will be wowed by the fact you asked AND listened).  Now you are prepared to make a well informed maybe even, brilliant decision!  Leadership is the wisdom to acquire full knowledge and then make the best decision.


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I was sitting at a car wash, 20 miles from my home, musing about the fact that I had driven past a number of new, fancy car washes, that didn’t have lines to this older less attractive car wash that did. Why? You guessed it, THEY GIVE A GREAT CAR WASH!

While writing the book I have become a student of current business in general and specifically the restaurant business. Most, experiencing declining sales, are focused on all the outside reasons for poor performance. The ‘economy’, fickle consumer, rising cost, and the old tired facility. Nothing has changed these were the same problems identified when we first launched Friday’s, in the early 70’s. Todays answers are no more creative than those of several decades ago. DISCOUNT, ADVERTISE AND/OR REMODEL but don’t take responsibility and look inside the four walls at product, service and cleanliness.

The Four Walls Theory teaches us to look to ourselves and inside our four walls of operation, literally or metaphorically for the answers.While monitoring many, “looking in all the wrong places” I am also happily monitoring some great success stories. The differences are dramatic. You can read about them in the book but doubling sales and profits is not uncommon. Oh, and without DISCOUNTS, ADVERTISING AND/OR REMODELS!!

I threw in a picture of Tadich’s Grill in San Francisco. Like my car wash it’s older but clean, un remodeled but charming, GREAT FOOD and long lines since 1849!

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“Make everything as simple as possible but not Simpler.” – Albert Einstein *****************************************************************************************




It is amazing to me how many games are played with the performance numbers and reports in business. The heartbeat indicators get pushed aside so more favorable but meaningless numbers can be presented. Obscure financial ratios and meaningless evaluations trump vital signs like customer counts. “Our financial ratios looked good right up to our final customer!


“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.” – Albert Einstein

Only the truth will lead to successful solutions in any endeavor. It is more obvious in some fields like medicine, engineering and flying because of the immediate impact of one’s actions. The truth, however, always prevails in the end. Now, a final word from Albert……………….

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein


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