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Saturday, June 30, 2007


Honestly, from a retailer's point of view, cell phone use is at best annoying and at worst plainly rude. What do I mean? A customer comes into the store looking for service and are tied into a conversation on the cell phone. Often, with the use of wireless Bluetooth connections, it is not clear whether the person is talking to themselves, another person or the clerk that they would like to engage service from. Then, in between, pauses in the conversation they try to order something.

Does anyone remember when we were little and our parents would chide us for interrupting a conversation they were having with an adult. "Can't you see I am talking to someone", they would say. "Please be polite and wait your turn, or say excuse me". What ever happened to that rule? It is hard to give service to a person who is talking to someone else. It is just not nice.

It rates highly with people who call with phone orders, usually in the middle of a rush time, and either are totally unsure of what they are ordering, or get a beep-in for another call and ask if we would mind holding while they take the other call. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT FOR US TO GIVE GOOD SERVICE TO YOU, YOU MUST REALIZE THAT WE ARE BUSY WITH OTHER CUSTOMERS AT THE SAME TIME. AND IT IS DIFFICULT IF YOU ARE NOT RESPECTFUL OF OUR TIME, TOO. Ok, I said it.

We also have customers, usually men, who cannot come into the store to shop without walking the aisles with the cell phone attached to their ear describing items for purchase, usually to their wives. Twenty years ago there must have either been no men shopping, more independent minded men, or many product returns because of inept shopping. MAKE A LIST, TURN OFF THE CELL PHONE AND PURCHASE THE PRODUCT. If you are unsure, ask us to help you choose what to get and we will gladly take all responsibility and further we will freely allow you to refund the product. Guess what you will also reduce the time to shop by half.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fridays are a thrill.

Fridays are a thrill. We do a volume of business second only to Thursday, but in a 7 or 8 hour day vs. a typical 12 hour day. It starts immediately, with people often waiting for the doors to open to buy their challahs. Our bakery staff have been up all night baking our batch of challahs. Fishman's challahs have definitely made it big. We have a tremendous following that has been growing every year. We now sell challahs to the pre-schools at Adath, Beth El and the JCC. We started making cinnamon and chocolate challahs about a year ago and that is now catching on. We even have a customer who for three straight months has had six plain challahs and two cinnamon challahs shipped FedEx overnight to Tuscon, Arizona. The shipping is about $90. That's a testimonial.


Oh, I forgot to say that our challahs went to Hawaii not too long ago.

Fridays are a thrill. Every Friday, Rabbis J.B. Borenstein and Moshe Koval do a "Lunch and Learn" here. Between 8 and 18 people show up for lunch and stay to learn Torah. Everybody buys lunch, so it gets busy from noon to 1:00pm. The group is very eclectic and draws people from all Jewish backgrounds- men and women. The Rabbis keep them captivated. On top of that business we continue to have a lot of deli and last minute grocery business. I have been the only counter person pretty much from the beginning. I have occasionally hired a person to help on Fridays, but it never seems to last. My last guy was Matt, who is our butcher. He opted to work Friday instead of Sunday and the spot that I had for him was at the deli. That worked until Angel, our other butcher, was let go and we needed Matt in the meat department. Yesterday, I hired a summer employee. His mother had mentioned him to me, so I was prepared when he walked in. I had him fill out an application. His email noted Stanford University. I asked if he was a student there and he said yes. I decided very quickly that he was teachable and that I could use the help in the deli. I barely asked him a question and hired him on the spot. I have been so used to mostly little educated or seeming untrainable employees that I signed him up right away. So far, after two days, I think it will work out nicely. I still have not decided what to do about our evening mashgiach slot. At least, Jeff, our new employee will ease that transition when it comes.

Fridays are a thrill.

Besides the busy restaurant and deli counter, we often have a catering events on Friday nights or Shabbos day meal or kiddush. That puts additional strain on our already tight staffing. They say that volume cures all ills in this business, but I have not seen it yet. We are getting better, however, on pricing profitably. We recently added catering prices that include time consuming activities such as Signing and Sealing product going out the door for off premise consumption. We also started adding in fees for equipment wear and tear, and additional delivery and staffing costs. Hopefully, this will continue to provide the revenue we need to grow and higher skilled staff.

Fridays are a thrill. When the day ends at 3:00 pm (winter) or 4:00 pm (summer) I feel like I worked a half day. The day is so compacted that it feels wonderful to close the doors while there is still daylight outside, and then sit at the computer to do odds and ends, like write in this blog. Have a good Shabbos.

Friday, June 15, 2007

add to Covering It All

Well, it was only one day and my bookkeeper Luiza called in sick. So today I had to do the bank deposit, count the cash and checks and enter on the computer. Thank G-d that I don't have two who miss the same day very often. Al Tiftach Pe LeSatan!

One of my employees who works at night told me the other day that he may be leaving in a few weeks. It has prompted discussion with Ron, the Chef, about closing at 6:00pm. We have entertained the option before-thinking that we could save money when things were really tight. (Now at least we can breathe.) Anyway the thought is that we would close at 6:00. The "Cons" are obvious. We would lose our dinner business and lose some convenience shopping business in our other departments. Psychologically we could lose also, because customers start to think this is the beginning of the end. Remember Zarrof's. And people don't like to shop at a place they think is closing. The "Pros" include a leaner payroll. We would keep our best people and clean out the chaff. We would then focus our efforts more on catering, bakery, wholesale and grab-n-go. It would also be a tremendous lifestyle change. I would most likely cover the whole day for hasgacha, but be done at 6:00. It would be a simpler business perhaps.

Any thoughts anybody?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Covering It All

I already know I do too much, but when my meat cutter overdoses on 90 degree weather playing softball every night, I gotta step in. I arrive Thursday morning with a note that he is dehydrated and can't come in today. Well, because right now he is my only cutter, it's me. But I am also the daytime counter person in the deli as well as the mashgiach until 1:00 pm. Get on the phone. I finally work out that Frank will come at 10:00 am and Michelle will come at 5:00 pm so I don't have to stay until 9 pm. Not bad. It's 7:30 pm and I am finally checking my email and sitting writing this entry. We have a catering gig tomorrow, so it is a bit busy upstairs. I hope Matt comes tomorrow. One day I will have enough sales so that I can comfortably have backups and managers in every department.

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Blog

Last week I re-launched our Website I have been teaching myself HTML programming, so it was fun to see my new skills in action. I am working on adding a Google map and Adsense links to the site. Those thoughts led me to launch this Blog. Mainly, my hope is that this can become a marketing tool for us. I am bit reticent about bearing all in this type of forum. I don't think that I would be able to do such a thing, but the stories that occur daily with customers, employees, vendors and banks certainly would lend themselves to diary type entries. Maybe the use of anonymous entries would work for some situations.