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Consulting Advice in the Restaurant Biz

A timeless lesson on how consultants can make a difference for an organization…

Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant, and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket.

It seemed a little strange, but I ignored it. However, when the busboy brought out water and utensils, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket, then looked around the room and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked, “Why the spoon?”

“Well,” he explained, “the restaurant’s owners hired Anderson Consulting, experts in efficiency, in order to revamp all our processes. After several months of statistical analysis, they concluded that customers drop their spoons 73.84 percent more often than any other utensil. This represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our personnel is prepared to deal with that contingency, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift.”

As luck would have it I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it with his spare spoon. “I’ll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now.” I was rather impressed.

The waiter served our main course and I continued to look around. I then noticed that there was a very thin string hanging out of the waiter’s fly. Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. My curiosity got the better of me and before he walked off, I asked the waiter, “Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?”

“Oh, certainly!” he answered, lowering his voice. “Not everyone is as observant as you. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the restroom.” “How so?” “See,” he continued, “by tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out over the urinal without touching it and that way eliminate the need to wash the hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent.”

“Okay, that makes sense, but . . . if the string helps you get it out, how do you put it back in?”

“Well,” he whispered, lowering his voice even further, “I don’t know about the others, but I use the spoon.”

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