Many boards and/or committees spend way too much time in micromanaging the food and beverage department at a club. I have yet to figure out why! Maybe its because according to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives and for one-third, it was their first job. As a result, they all think they can run the department better than the professionals they hire to do just that.
My position is that, if you spend 20 minutes at a board meeting discussing food and beverage, you have spent 18 minutes too long. Board meetings should deal with the strategic direction of the club and not the minutia of operations. Hire well qualified and professional employees, give them direction, hold them accountable, and then let them operate.
Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Managers hear the comments: “Why is our food and beverage operation losing money?” “Why are we budgeting to lose money in that area?” “My buddy earns a fortune running his steakhouse so why are we struggling to break even in that department?”
It is because a club is not a restaurant and was never intended to be. It has a limited audience, usually several different venues and members who want service at all hours. This is not an excuse for under-performance but boards need to remember that The F&B department is not a profit center but an ameniti just like any other department. Clubs are in the dues business not the food and beverage business. Bottom line is that even if profitable, it brings almost nothing to the bottom line of a club. Over the 55+ years that we have been publishing Clubs in Town & Country, Clubs have lost money in that department when looked at in a vacuum.
For more information on how a club and restaurant differ see my article in the May/June edition of BoardRoom Magazine. I would be interested in hearing how managers have dealt with the overwhelming board interest in this area.