the Bones of a Restaurant

the bones of a restaurant by Ryan Crossett

I’ve only had a couple years of experience working in food service, but it is something that I really enjoy.  Even in my free time, I like to watch television programs about food.  One of my favorite shows is Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey where Ramsey helps failing restaurants relaunch.

I recently got the chance myself, to get involved in relaunching a restaurant.  Before starting the relaunch, we took some time to consider who our main customers are.  In this case, they are western tourists wanting to eat local food in a more comfortable setting.  I wanted to be careful to maintain that “local feel” while improving the key elements of environment, food and customer service. (more…)

Accomplishing Tasks in a New Environment

accomplishing tasks in a new environment by Ryan Crossett

Every time I move to a new place, there’s a huge learning curve figuring out how to get things done.  I don’t know where to buy the things I need or get connected with services.

I already talked about how helpful neighbors can be.  Often they are the first people we ask our questions, like how to get drinking water or how to get internet installed.  Neighbors not only know the town, but they know your neighborhood and how it works.  They are your first connection to your new community. (more…)

Websites that Work for you

building a website that works for you by Ryan Crossett

I recently helped redo our company’s website.  I say “helped” because I found someone much more experienced than I am to do most of the work.  We cleaned up what had been a pretty cluttered site and made easier to navigate.

It may be difficult to know where to start with your company’s website.  Your website should work for you.  The time, energy and money you put into it should produce the results you are looking for.  Know what you want your website to do for you and build it off of that.

There are so many articles about what makes a good website.  The website building site, Yola put together a great article that gives very simple and practical steps to creating a good site.  I like simple and practical.

Here are Yola’s tips: (more…)

Teaching Job-Related English

teaching job related English by Melissa Crossett

Months ago, Ryan Crossett developed an English curriculum for the staff.  Twice a week, I, Melissa, have been involved in helping teach that curriculum.  I enjoy working with each of the staff members and watching them progress.  Some have moved through it very quickly, while others have needed encouragement that they are capable of learning new things.  It’s fun to cheer them on and help give them the confidence they need to learn English.

Bridging the Culture Gap

Bridging the culture gap by Ryan Crossett

Entering a new culture is always a challenge, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.  So, how do you move into neighborhood, a new town, in a different culture from your own?

In the years we’ve lived in Asia, we have had some wonderful neighbors.  Some have turned out to be very helpful and some have even turned out to be great friends.  I always wish that when we move into a new place that the neighbors would take the initiative to come over and welcome us.  What is usually the case, however, is that we have to be proactive and make a point to meet people.  I try to put myself in their shoes and realize that it must be intimidating for them to introduce themselves to the new foreigner living next door, especially if they think that they won’t be able to communicate with me.

We have found that we need to be the ones to make the point of meeting people and showing ourselves to be friendly.  Even though those first few meetings can be awkward, it sets us up for good relationships that can be a real asset to adjusting to a new place.  Although I’m sure that we’ve unknowingly offended some at times, we’ve found people to be very gracious and accepting.  Taking the effort to show yourself friendly always pays off.

Knowing your Customer

knowing your customer by Ryan Crossett

Here where I live in Northern Laos, we have some local ladies who are ferocious saleswomen.  They peddle their bracelets and bags to any tourist walking by or trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant.  What they are selling, more than the bracelets and bags, is peace.  Because, if you shell out for one of their products there is the hope that they will be satisfied and leave you alone.  Their technique may not be the best and probably isn’t based on customer satisfaction, but they’ve perfected it.  They know how to get their customers to cave.

Not all customers are the same.  Each person is looking for a different type of product and value.  While some customers look for a good price, others look for quality, convenience or some look at social impact.  I think that most people would say that all of these things are important to them, but not all valued the same.  Take for instance a university student who has limited finances.  He is going to sacrifice quality and convenience for price.  If your customers are primarily university students, you will want to take this into account and provide the best product for the price that they would be willing to pay.  You can have a wonderful product, but if you aren’t paying attention to who your customers are, you won’t end up having very many.

Toolkit Essentials

toolkit essentials by Ryan Crossett

My dad worked in home improvement, so he was always well-stocked with tools.  I got a little spoiled growing up always having the right tool handy.  Working in Asia, I don’t have that luxury.  I’ve had to limit my toolkit to the essentials.  A few years ago, I bought myself the Bucket Boss 16 inch Gatemouth tool bag.  I decided to try to limit myself to what I could fit in the bag. So here’s the list of my essentials:

  •  cordless drill and bits
  • hammer
  • screwdriver set
  • vice grips
  • socket set
  • tape measure
  • needle nose pliers
  • torpedo level
  • square
  • chisel set
  • hack saw
  • hand saw
  • quick grip clamps

I’m happy to recommend particular models or brands if you’re interested.

Making your business legit

making your business legit photo

“Making your business legit is pretty simple:  just do what you say you do and don’t exaggerate.” -Ryan Crossett

I talked a little bit about this in my post about handling customer complaints.  I know that this seems like a pretty simple principle, but I’ve seen many, even seemingly decent people exaggerate the things that their company does to get customers. It’s fine to talk up your company and how awesome you are as long as you are actually doing those awesome things.

I love companies that are socially responsible and are making a real positive impact on their community.  That’s a win-win situation.  But, now that social responsibility is becoming all the rage, companies are using it as an advertising gimmick.  Be real with what your business does – and do cool stuff!

(photo source)

Handling Customer Complaints

handling customer complaints by Ryan Crossett

Handling customer complaints is one of the most stressful parts of any job. People can get pretty charged up when they don’t get the service or product they expected. Potential complaints can be avoided by setting clear expectations for your customer.  Don’t oversell your product, just be realistic, but do over-deliver.

When a customer has a complaint, valid or not, it’s best to hear him or her out and empathize with him.  (more…)