Posts Tagged standard of excellence



Generally associated with the worlds religions or organizations like the Boy Scouts, I relate principles to a life well lived and the best way to run any  business or organization. My years of experience have convinced me that the most profitable,  and fun, way to run any organization is through a foundation of principled core values. These values when put to a standard of excellence, with a clear set of goals make up the management formula we call ‘tricept’. This is the formula that was the basis of Friday’s founding theories and philosophies. My upcoming book teaches this formula which is the ‘why’ part of the equation and then with my legendary metaphors we begin the learning of  the ‘how‘. To  fully understand why this is only the beginning of the ‘how’, you need to read the definition of education in the book. What?!?! of course this is shameless book promotion! 

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One of my favorite compliments was that, Friday’s was an institution not a chain. Cheesecake Factory is an institution – not a chain. When I left for my sailing adventure Friday’s had a 200+ item menu and we made everything from scratch, including the sauces and dressings. Through the insistence of the new owner we had over -expanded and were having trouble with the execution. The clear choice was to slow down and train but not compromise our fresh product. After my departure focus groups knew better and the menu was reduced by 100 items to reduce the degree of difficulty. This of course was the beginning of the end of Friday’s famous food culture.

In a few weeks, I will have the honor, to meet with David Overton, the founder of Cheesecake Factory. In preparation for our meeting I have been doing my homework. As a part of that homework I visited the Union Square CCF. I ordered a dish I knew would require a sauce with  complex seasoning. Wow! It was excellent! My wife and I ordered another dish simply because we have been addicted to it for years, Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes. Everything I believe and teach was being executed in the entire restaurant to a clear standard of excellence.

I introduced myself to the manager, Dave Schaefer, who was kind enough to give me a ‘tour’, which revealed David Overton has taken Cheesecake Factory to a level without peer. Everything is prepared fresh, including 136 sauces. With a menu in excess of 200 items and a back of the house compromised by building limitations, everything sang!  You could feel the energy and pride among the cooking staff online which carried into the small prep area. I mentioned Friday’s departure form the ‘culinary world’ because of the degree of difficulty. I was told that there had been a new VP that wanted to reduce the number of scratch sauces due to the degree of difficulty and ended his career, with that statement!

Friday’s achieved exceptional sales without advertising or discounting in any form.  David has taken this to a whole new level, as well. The store I just visited does $18 mililon in sales.  All of his stores set record volumes ever year without advertising. I will let you know how our beliefs and standards match up but I’ll bet they do.

Excellence comes with a degree of difficulty  but excellence = energy and pride of accomplishment and.. and…the list is endless.


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Friday’s standard of excellence made franchising difficult. My domestic attempts ended with the buy back of the restaurants. It was  frustrating to have people pay you so much money just to ignore your direction. After the buy back, when returned to the founding principles, the restaurants returned to prosperity.

International expansion, however, could best be accomplished with nationals in each country. I established very strict requirements, increased training requirements and was very careful in partner selection. We were very fortunate to have as our first partner Whitbread, a large diversified UK company. The key to their selection and ultimate success was Tony Hughes. Under his leadership Friday’s was incredibly successful. Later, after his departure, things changed and a near failure took place. We tell this story in the last chapter of my book, with a happy ending. The book also establishes the clear pattern going all the way back to our near failure in the beginning of Friday’s history.  Can you say ‘Back to the basics!’

We established a clear and successful template for international franchise expansion. Prior to our entry, many franchised concepts modified their fare to accommodate local tastes and food preferences. It was my belief that even though the British drank their beer at a different temperature, had their salads in a different meal sequence, etc., we  were an American restaurant and would do EVERYTHING EXACTLY as we were doing it in the U.S.  At the time this was controversial it but proved to be a major component of our success.

We have watched Karen Forrester demonstrate CLEARLY  that the founding principles of Friday’s work whenever and wherever applied. We devote the last chapter of my book to her story. You say, but Dan, you are repeating yourself , and I say yes but I AM PROMOTING MY BOOK, so you will probably hear it again.

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