Posted by: Matthew Molinari | May 20, 2012

The Importance of Processes

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Mark Estee who is the owner and head chef at Campo here in Reno. I went down with the F&B Purchasing Agent and a General Manager for our resort’s restaurants and spent about 3 hours listening to Mark talk about all the aspects of opening and operating a restaurant. He had some really great insights and his passion comes through immediately.

I thought that I would share two of the more prominent ideas that stuck out to me from the afternoon. Really, there were two key ingredients that I think helped Mark become successful at Campo – planning and processes.

Immediately when you walk into Campo you can tell that a lot of planning went into the design of the space. Mark was lucky in that the space was empty when he moved in so much of the set up of the restaurant could be designed to fit the specific needs of CamImagepo. Many place don’t have this luxury but when you think about how you want your kitchen or warehouse to function you need to think about every aspect of your business and how it gets done.

Once everything is in place is much more difficult to rearrange and even little mistakes can cost you time, money or quality of your product. Mark was very deliberate with all of his decisions and was able to accomplish a lot with limited space.

One of the main issues the restaurant faces is storage space. A few pieces of equipment are kept in a back storage area and must be wheeled in daily for food preparation. In some cases, even the best planning isn’t enough due to plant limitations. One thing that Mark mentioned was that having a budget and sticking to it is key. You can probably get everything you want and need if you throw enough cash at it but a benefit analysis should be done to make sure what you get out is worth all the cash you put in.

It was pretty clear that Campo operates using integrated processes across the business. There are systems in place to organize front of house activities as well as the back of house that all flow through to the managerial aspects of running a business. It seems as though they are operating based on the idea that having information available to employees at all the levels of the restaurant will be reflected through improvement on the financial statements.

You get the feeling that Mark is very involved with all his employees and expects that they are just as involved with making the restaurant a success. Personally, I think that this is a great approach to creating engaged employees who will end up contributing more to the business. There are many ways in which Mark achieves this and the most basic is having regularly scheduled meetings where key topics for the week are addressed.

Any business who has the proper systems in place should be able to create a laundry list of topics for a weekly meeting based on the prior weeks data as well as the customer responses on-line and in other locations. The key to filtering the information is determining which metrics matter to your business and which ones are just nice to see once and a while. When your business requires multiple systems and each one is spitting out data, you need to determine which numbers are going to help you improve.

It may take a few months to finally determine which numbers matter but that’s ok. The important thing is to learn what can help you improve and then make sure everyone who comes into contact with creating those figures is aware of where you are at now and where you need to be in a month and in a year after that.

I learned a ton overall and I think Mark really has a grasp on what works and why but also isn’t afraid to change things if they stop working. What things in your business would you change if you could rework your plant or equipment?



  1. Love it, Matt. Keep up the great work. Bret

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