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Daily Archives: February 7, 2010

And speaking of O’Charley’s

Jeffrey Warne, recently named CEO of Nashville-based O’Charley’s Inc. and The Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper, did a Q&A with him in today’s Sunday edition.

Here is just one question, as answered by Warne:

How has the company controlled margins?

If you go back to 2008, we made the tough decision to reduce support staff. We eliminated some positions and through attrition we did significantly reduce the staff by about 20 percent. We also set up in 2008 a labor model that would predict when guests are in the building.

Using eight years of historical data, we mapped when guests were in our restaurants in 15-minute increments. The labor model was very effective at controlling labor costs. When we matched our labor as best as we could to when (guests) were in the building, our guest satisfaction scores took off, as well.

It is an informative series of questions and answers with a “numbers guy” and you can read the entire interview here:

But you might want to hurry, as this article could be archived pretty quickly and might not be available for long.

Super Bowl

The New Orleans storyline in today’s Super Bowl reminds me of the aftermath of Katrina.

I was working for P. F. Chang’s at the time and corporate pledged $500,000 for Katrina relief only days after the event. Included in that was something that the tipped employees pledged – we dedicated one day of tips to be donated to the cause. This was about a week after Katrina.

We had t-shirts printed up (mine is around somewhere; if I find it, maybe I’ll post a picture later.

It was a simple white t-shirt with a halftone screenshot of the radar image of Katrina immediately prior to landfall. Everyone wore the shirt and we told our guests that we were donating all tips to Katrina relief. Many guests tossed in extra money and we as a chain raised beaucoups of money.

If I remember correctly, we called it “The Lucky Cat Relief”. The Lucky Cat is part of P. F. Chang’s culture. Every Chang’s has a large Asian-styled ceramic cat which is holding one paw up. The “Lucky Cat’ is a symbol of wealth and luck and many Asian businesses use it in the hopes of attracting customers and wealth. While predominately associated with Japanese culture, it has been appropriated by the Chinese as well.

We were proud of ourselves, proud of corporate for stepping up to the plate and proud of our guests, who were extra generous in the face of a national disaster.

This is especially resonant in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. With donations starting to dry up, perhaps some restaurants might consider a similar “relief action”

Just putting that out there…