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There is nothing new about setting goals and related action steps for a new year. As markets change, competition stiffens, and foodservice companies expand, the challenge to the operator becomes one of focus. Focus is linked to vision, and vision helps predict a future event or outcome by defining what success looks like. Each new year represents a new opportunity to develop specific goals which will help you fulfill your vision.

Goals are more than numbers. They should be core behavior changes which are basic in terms of change in work and daily task execution. Your goals will create a framework around which an action plan can be fashioned. Here are three examples of this kind of "target goal."

  1. Reduce the number of employees turned over by 15%
  2. Develop one new signature item for each menu category
  3. Implement a guest comment card system

Sounds easy so far, doesn't it? Yet just like the failed New Year's resolutions we optimistically set each year, most of us fail to follow through. By March, we've lost the motivation we had in January, and fail miserably to reach the goals we have set-even with the best of intentions.

How do we change this pattern of poor follow-through? How do we take control of our future vision of success? How can we create meaningful change through these target behaviors?

Remember you need to change. Foodservice marketing guru Jim Sullivan, of Anchor Foods, reminds us of the obvious. He says, "If you always do what you did, you'll always get what you got."

Focus on the right stuff. The hardest goals to achieve are the ones that are set when we are a overly ambitious. Instead of satisfaction , they lead to frustration and a waste of time and energy.


Set your goals, and develop the action steps to achieve those goals, by using the SMART Goal system. SMART stands for::

S = Specific (single, one at a time, incremental)
M = Measurable (quantity, quality, cost)
A = Achievable (actionable, agreed-upon, attainable)
R = Realistic (results-oriented, possible, potential)
T = Time-dated (within a set timeline)

The SMART system is a self-check you apply to every goal and action step you set for yourself in developing your vision for success. Once you have adopted this approach, progress is inevitable. Even if you aren't able to accomplish some of your goals, you'll still make progress. A few small steps toward success in goal-setting creates momentum, which over time builds confidence.

SMART goals are followed by application of the "so that" cross check technique. As a goal or action step is created and smartened up, you always finish the goal with the words "so that." This discipline forces you to refer back to your original purpose for setting the goal in the first place.

Now, let's apply the SMART technique to one of our earlier stated goals: Implement a Guest Comment Card system

S = Specific

Is this goal specific? Yes. There is a beginning and an end to the project, and it is clearly defined.

M = Measurable

We'll need a little more information to meet this requirement. How about defining a specific number of completed comment cards you wish to collect as a measurable goal.

A = Achievable

Yes, you and your company are willing to invest some extra time, energy and resources to implement the system.

R = Realistic

Once the initial set-up is complete, you have a designated person with the time and knowledge to run the comment card program.

T = Time dated

We have a problem here. We haven't specified a due date. Allow yourself enough time to create and print the cards, train your staff on how to distribute them, receive completed cards from the customers and time to compile the feedback.

We finish this exercise by applying the "so that" discipline. Here's the reworked goal . . .

"By April 1 we will have received and compiled the results from 250 completed guest comment cards…

so that we can gain the feedback necessary to exceed our guests expectations."

Once a goal has become SMART, begin identifying the tasks that will be necessary to accomplish your goal. Each of these smaller tasks should also meet the SMART requirements. For example, let's say you will have the comment cards printed in color. You'll need to start by finding a printer who can print the cards within the timeframe and budget you have set. First set a due date for this action step. Perhaps you'd like research four printers by January 31st, and make your final decision by February 5th. Place these dates in your calendar so you can monitor your progress.

You can reap tremendous benefits by using the SMART system. It is an excellent way to manage action steps while measuring proactive behavioral change around pre-set goals. Remember you can't manage results, you can only manage the process. Stop working harder, and start working SMARTer!

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