Monday, August 3, 2015

Food tastes better in a clean place

I've been wanting to write this blog post for awhile. 

We're about 78 counties into our statewide journey for guidebook research.  One thing we have really come to appreciate is cleanliness, in restaurants especially.  You still need to have good food, preferably made-from-scratch, but a disgusting bathroom and a dirty kitchen that extends out to the dining area is something that will trump good food and likely eliminate a restaurant from guidebook consideration. 

Whether you're a customer, owner, or employee, it's easy to become accustomed to what you see regularly.  It's even harder to see the grunginess if the owner is likeable. 

I know that it's REALLY hard to find time to clean a kitchen and dining room because food service is such a tough business.  Still, while a customer is waiting for food they are noticing the environment around them.  My bet is that being closed for a week to do a thorough cleaning will garner more business over the long term than letting the layers of dirt grow.

It's not our place to judge a business but it currently is our job to decide what places are guidebook worthy.  To gain the trust of our audience we need to consider many factors about what to include.

I want Kansas restaurants to be the best they can be.  My hope is that some of the hard-working owners will see this and give an extra thought to how a little bit of scrubbing will add some shine to what they present on a plate.

This is one time that I don't want to "dare to do dirt."

Thoughts from the road, KE #2 Marci Penner

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Flash mob presentation

Dena Patte of Ellis Alliance won a We Kan! Award -- but she didn't know it.  The awards are first presented at the Kansas Sampler Festival, held in May.  Those who aren't present are awarded in a variety of other ways in the following weeks and months.
WenDee and I were on our way to Sherman County to do our guidebook research.  We intentionally went through Ellis to present Dena her We Kan! award plate.  About 15 minutes before we got to Ellis we had the idea to call the city office and see who they could round up to be at Dena's award presentation.
We drove into town and parked several doors down from Dena's office.  At the same time people started coming out from the shadows, or so it seemed.  They came from the alley, down the street, out of vehicles.  Within a few minutes, 14 people had assembled. 
We all filed in to Dena's office and everyone just sort of stood around with smiles on their faces.  Dena didn't know what was going on.  WenDee and I walked in last.  
On this Monday morning, Dena had been doing some wrap up of the weekend's event in Ellis and was a little tired.  You see, Dena does everything, all out for Ellis.  She's the kind of person that makes a town click.  People like Dena are the reason why people will volunteer because they want to support her and they know everything will be done well.  The Dena Patee's of the world don't expect or really care about recognition but they are the reason why a small community works. 

It was only fitting that 14 people from her world were willing to drop what they were doing and show up for an impromptu presentation. Dena's award was appropriately titled - Doing Everything, All out.

We all went back to our planned agendas after that with a kick in our step and a light in our heart.  It was pretty neat to have the mayor, the former mayor, the banker, the newspaper, the city workers, and others all show up in a matter of minutes to show appreciation for one of their own.

Thanks for all you do, Dena. 

From the road by Marci Penner

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Is it you?

Is your organization, event, or council thriving?  If not, it may be time to ask yourself the hard question.  
Is it me?
Can you find volunteers for your event?
Do you have enthusiastic, or frustrated workers?
Do you have turnover and don’t know why?
Do you have a growing membership?
Are things really clicking in your daily operations?
Are your meetings productive and end with action items?
When we are the problem, it’s really hard to see, even harder to admit.  And, it’s hard for someone to tell you that it’s you.
If things aren’t working, you probably aren’t happy either.
If you’re on the edge, can you do these things?
  •  Admit to yourself that you might be holding back progress and be more aware of dynamics around you.
  •  Become a good listener.  Ask questions.  
  • Be open to ideas.  If you’ve been insisting that things be done as they have always been done, this may be discouraging those who want to inject some new ideas.
  • Stop micro-managing those who are fully capable of doing their job their way.
  •  Are you crediting people who have good ideas?
  • Are you asking how you can help?
  •  Are you recognizing extra effort?
  •  Are you staying out of the way when you aren’t needed?
Sometime change is needed, and sometimes it starts with us.   Don’t stay too long on a board, as the boss, as the chair of meetings, or in charge of an organization.  Ask yourself the hard question. You’ll be admired for it.

Thoughts by Marci Penner and Sarah Green