Today Jim Lopolito joins Jerry to review the book he just wrote, Focusing On Expense Loss, where Jim's forward-looking thinking reduces some of the errors made by restaurant and hospitality managers and other businesses.
With an expense loss methodology, readers and listers can condition their foresight to achieve their desired solutions.
Jim is a full-time Hospitality Consultant offering sustainable solutions and a great source of information.
#hospitality #growyourbusiness #solveyourproblems
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Hospitality Cleaning 101
Hello, and welcome to “Cleaning Processes with Jerry”. This is a podcast dedicated to building an online community of like-minded individuals and businesses in the cleaning industry. We will share ideas, tips and solutions to solve problems and expand our markets. Please join me every week when we introduce a special guest that just might be you. I am a 40 year veteran of the chemical industry, specifically dealing with food, beverage and hospitality. I work for the largest refillable chemical company called ChemStation, where I'm based out of Boston.
Jerry Bauer: Welcome, everybody. Today at “Hospitality Cleaning with Jerry”. We have Jim Lopolito. Jim, did I pronounce that correctly again this time?
Jim Lopolito: Lopolito, it's fine. Lopolito, either way.
Jerry Bauer: I apologize. Welcome in. For people listening, Jim has been on the show before. And at that time, it was about a year ago, I was not aware of that Jim was writing a book. About two months ago, I believe, Jim, it came out on LinkedIn. You were starting to promote the book. It was coming out. It's been out a week or two couple of weeks, I tried to order the hard copy through Amazon, I know it's not there yet. I have been able to read partial, I've been able to skim the whole thing. And my first reaction and I say it from the heart, you've done a great job. It was really excited. I come out of the hospitality industry, I come out of selling to the hospitality industry. And you are nail on. And I also congratulate you that it tells a lot more than just about running a restaurant for profit. There isn't a focus on the expense, and it's more than the profit and the P&L statement. I'm gonna let you get on tell us more about that. But before we started, Jim, when did you decide to write a book?
Jim Lopolito:It had to be almost 10 years ago when I decided I wanted to start writing it. Because this is a method that I had been using since my early years in hospitality back in 1990. The method itself was a theory that I started working with and I started trying different things. But about ten years ago, eight years ago, I started thinking, let me start writing some notes. And about four years ago is when I actually started writing.
Jerry Bauer: And then I imagined during COVID, you could be able to increase. Now did you write a little bit each day? What was the discipline for writing your book? Because I've thought about it, but I don't think I'm gonna get to it, but it's on my bucket list.
Jim Lopolito:Well, the original version was about 187 pages. So they knocked it down to about 126 in paperback. And the reason for that is they wanted to be a quick read, and something that you could implement very quickly. So the writing of it, one week I would write something and then I go a month without writing anything. So it really had to be inspiration time when I had available. My wife would tell you we'd go on vacation, I'd be sitting at the pool with my computer on vacation writing the book. So it just depended upon when I had a moment of time to do it, a lot of it was writing down notes. I could be on a job in Oklahoma. And I’ll be like, “You know what, let me just write something down”. I want to put this into the book. I want to put this in the book. So like I said, it started out like 180 something pages, and there was too many stories in it. And so I knocked it down a little bit. It was the progress, but it was fun and it just took time. And I think it took a little longer than I wanted it to but in the end, I'm happy with the way it came out.
Jerry Bauer: In on the book of the different chapters, I know the one book talks about, I'm gonna look it up the expense loss manager. Am I correct by reading it, it truly forward thinking? It makes people look at more than just a profit and loss statement, am I correct?
Jim Lopolito:It's like an upside down version of what people do right now. In the book, you may have read it already. There's this theory that I have that from watching people run their business. Everyone thinks what's it going to cost me? What's it going to cost me? I hear that all the time. I've heard it for years. You've probably heard it what is it going to cost me? I don't want you to look at cost, I want you to look at what are you losing in the decisions that you're making? And that's really the focus that I've been working with all many years in hospitality is what am I losing depending upon what decision I make? So it's really your behavior conditioning, proactive. Again, I think you read it, I talked about budgets. I don't believe wholeheartedly in budgets. I mentioned in the book, 10 people will make the same budget different, for the same place different. It's haphazard, you can't rely upon those things. Where you can rely upon his making decisions today that you know will give you better numbers at the end of the month. We work backwards in this industry, many industries do. They wait till the end of the month report. They look at the numbers. They say, what do we have to make things better? I get that. Let's make things better today. So the numbers at the end of the month are better than they were and then let's work from there to make them even better. But it's a lot of knee jerk reaction. There's a lot of gut reaction. Any chefs work on gut reaction, I walk into places what is the most profitable item on your menu? They don't know, not one person, not one chef has ever told me what may have correctly, what their most profitable item is on the menu. Because they don't know this gut, how much does this cost? Oh, that menu, that recipe cost about $5. And then we'll calculate it, and it’s $7. Like you said, there's a lot of different chapters, they cover different aspects of running the business and different focus, what it's all brought back to what you're losing. So if you know what you're losing, it’s going to have a different mindset to say, wait a second, if I'm losing this money here, and this money in this, I can gain those profits. So it's just an upside down view of what we're doing now.
Jerry Bauer: Right. I know one, this was many years ago, when I was studying to be a chef when I was just a cook and something happened. I don't know, if I burned something, it fell on the ground waited to dispose of it. I remember something along that line. And a manager brought it to my attention. I said, it only cost this much. I apologize to pay yours. I don't look at what the cost is, and look at the value of what I could have sold it for. And I really opened up my eyes, and he wasn't rude or mean or anything like that. But he said, “We look at things different with the value of what we could have sold it for, rather than just that”. And I think that I saw that within your book on many occasions where you were trying to come out same thing were frequently. I'm a vendor, everyone talks about costs, but it's more than the cost. It's the value, or the true costs of the total package stuff like that.
Jim Lopolito:Well, that's true. And another area that I hit on when lot of restaurants, they give things away. You have to calm things and walk through, and I find that a manager will comp a meal or the cup of drink. And what they think is, if I cup of drink is cost me $2 and ingredients where it's not, it's actually costing you the content of the ingredients, but you're also losing the sale. Because when you do your percentages on your beer, you do a percentage on your alcohol, you do percentage on your wine, if you don't take out what you caught then it's included in what your costs or see your cost percentage are going to be higher because you didn't sell the item you gave away. So that's another aspect of the hit on. So it covers a lot of different things. I'm really proud of how I think what I did was a good thing with writing it. And I think people will like it. And you say that you appreciate what I wrote. And you never know what's going to happen if you write something until it gets up to the marketplace.
Jerry Bauer: Now, I also saw that in your book, and this comes back two years ago. I know the gentleman has passed away, Zig Ziglar. And he was one of the things I remember from his presentation. And it was not on sales, it was on leadership. And he was saying this was an auditorium, this was in the old Satan’s Arena, then it was the checkered dorm and stuff like that, where they used to play the hockey and had rodeos still good at showing you my age. But I remember it was packed and we're saying, this theory works for everybody in every business. And that's theory is, you have to go ask your employees, what it takes for them to be successful. And I saw that throughout your book as well, and you even said those exact same words.
Jim Lopolito:I have a whole chapter on that where else.
Jerry Bauer: Correct. Because you need to know what the employee. Because if you don't ask them, then they won't tell you and you you're losing both revenue. And you the employee is not a happy employee. There they feel they can't do their job professionally. And when they can't do their job professionally, it shows in their work and helps, it doesn't matter repeat business.
Jim Lopolito:Before it gets to Chapter 14 is my review process. And before you get to that review process, the 13 Chapters before that hit on all different ideas and methods and theories. And then when you get to the Chapter 14, where has my review process, and you can go down each page and look at their review process on what to do from there. I think I cover a lot of different things that you can use in your business. And I appreciate that you think that also.
Jerry Bauer: Now you had talked about reporting. And now through both of our careers, from stuff that used to be on three by five cards now has made its way onto computers. Do you believe people because you are a consultant? We're going to talk about your business in a second. But do you think they're getting too many reports? They're not reading the reports correctly, or what's your opinion about all the reports that computers generate? You walk into a place, is the chef reading the stuff? Is the housekeeping manager at the hotel, are they reading the reports or not, or is it garbage?
Jim Lopolito:Every place is different, but I think you'll see all the variations of what I'm about to say. You see locations that they read all the reports. They sit down, they have the monthly meetings, they have the weekly meetings, they look at all the reports, and they look at the numbers. I don't think everyone fully understands what they're reading, because they concentrate on certain things. As perfect example, is there was a country club that I was at in Cedar Rapids. And they have in their report giveaways that they give to the membership, they have all these parties, all these alumni give these things away to the membership. And they have the costs that these things are in the report. However, it only accounts for the food and beverage. So when I told them, I said that's great that you have this in there, but it doesn't take away the labor that's in another area of the report that it costs you to do that party so that employees shouldn't be charged for that labor. They shouldn't be charged for the cleaning chemicals, they shouldn't be charged for all the other factors that go into tablecloths and all the things that go into doing the party. They have the food and beverage in there but they don't have all the other things. The trumpet about it they do a lot of member events. And the percentage of all those separately doesn't account for maybe more than 2% of the entire budget. But still, when you look at the way that managers look at reports and they say, “You're not doing a good enough job, you're not doing a good enough job, or you aren't doing a good enough job”. Sometimes they don't understand all the factors that go into the report. So some people read everything in the report. However, I go into locations that I'm doing. I'm doing a drop down in Virginia with a chef. I'm teaching him food cost and everything that they're reporting there, they have no reports whatsoever, other than what the sales are. They had no idea that they had a steak that they were buying at $29 a pound from their friend, they have a friend who's a purveyor. The steak that they were buying, it was $29. I got them the same in Pennsylvania for $9 a pound from another vendor. They had no idea. So they fired their vendor immediately, and this was their friend. So people look at these things, but they don't understand what they're seeing.
Jerry Bauer: I know that throughout the book, I get the overtones and you say it in the previews, you're not trying to get any industry. And we're go back to the hospitality industry to cut corners to decrease the quality of what they're serving, and such. And I will say it's more than just look for a better before we talked about the price, or the cost because there's a big difference between price and cost. But that one thing I'd like to add is that, frequently, I don't see businesses leaning on vendors. Vendors like myself, for their expertise to try to help them. You know many different people who sell food, you know different people who sell chemicals. I am delighted when someone calls me in and says, “Look, I need this and I need this. How can you help me?” They're not asking me to drop the price. They may be wanting to do for dilution. Maybe they want a different dispensing. Maybe they want something on cost control. They're looking for help, and I'm giving them advice as a consultant. I have Andy Reese whose work is for performance food. He loves it and it could be any Food Company. But when a Food Company gets a phone call, and they arrive and they say, we don’t asked you to drop our price, hope that adjust our menu to make it more profitable. Because you're right, there's different things on the menu that the owner is not making as much profit on. And you really need to share that from the employees down to everybody else, and you need to ask for help from the vendors. Don't you agree?
Jim Lopolito:I wholeheartedly agree. Restaurant owners, and especially if they're chef restaurant owners, they're very proud bunch.
Jerry Bauer: I'm starting to laugh. You can see the smile on my face, I knew you were going with that.
Jim Lopolito:They are very, very proud. They do not like to ask for help. They just don't. And many of them, especially if they're struggling or not doing as good as they could be, might just struggling, maybe they're doing fine. It's in my book, because I see it all the time. If businesses coming in and look busy, I think I'm making money. That's not always the case. So they are very proud bunch. It's good when a loved one or someone calls me and asked me to come in and take a look at what they're doing. I can always find something, you can always find something. I know you can. I look at some of the posts you make. And I know that your barrel block rains, it’s just fantastic to be able to put a barrel in instead of all these containers that are going on. You're absolutely right. They really more places need to ask for help. Because the methods that are out there today are different than they were 5 years ago, 10 years ago. And many of these businesses who have been in business for many years are operating under the old assumptions. So it's time to bring things. I've been in this industry for 50 years. I keep up to date on what's going on in the industry. I know you do. And some people look at me, you have all the methods. No, I don't.
Jerry Bauer: Because I know you're reading and you're staying up on top. I'm in my 60s and I try to read every day. I've tried to listen to a podcast, not just so that I learned to do this better. But there is a lot of information out there you can learn and to help people to elevate me to my next level. Because when someone does call me and it just raises them where the respect for one another. I knew where you were gonna go with that, I didn't know. It's very true pulling outside of restaurants, pulling outside of chefs, I just believe that while too many people just have too much pride and aren't willing to ask for help. I don't care what industry they are. They feel they've been doing it this way for so many years, they're going to continue doing it that way. And I believe that that's a big problem.
Jim Lopolito:You have to give it to them. I get it. There's the restaurant appear I was working with for a long time and they're very, very busy. It's actually in the book the one that talks about the working light if you got to that.
Jerry Bauer: Bring that up.
Jim Lopolito:So many things that you can do for a business to help them out. And oftentimes they don't see the things that they're missing. And that's a perfect example that parking lot one.
Jerry Bauer: And that happens while I'll admit it happens to me personally, because sometimes when someone comes in and let's say they repair something, then they will give you advice of how to keep it up so that doesn't break again. Basically you bring that point out in your book as well where especially in a rush out that a waitress tell the chef, the owner, the table, something's wrong with the table, something's wrong with the door, the ice machine starting necked up. It’s always cheaper or less expensive I should use, odor uses less cheap but it's less expensive to fix it right the first time rather than let it go on and on. We're all guilty of that, I know I am.
Jim Lopolito:Well, I'm happy to hear that you really did read the book.
Jerry Bauer: I really did read it. Yes, I did because as we spoken for a couple of minutes before I started taping this, when you were using certain sentences, I felt I was saying certain sounds. She had all you need to do that because we all see that doesn't matter what industry is if an employee sees something broke and they've taken it to the manager or owner two time to four some similar and they just said never mind, never mind, go away. Well, they see something else. They just don't tell him, then the manager and owner gets upset. No one told me this was broke because the way you reacted last four times.
Jim Lopolito:You touched on. I mentioned that I don't use methods of reducing quality or services and that's true. You do not have to reduce the quality of your product, and you do not have to reduce the services like labor and stuff like that. And I actually, very clearly talk about payroll, what you should not do is just randomly change your payroll, because there's so many factors that go into. There's one staff person that has these qualities, and this is another staff person that has these qualities. And if you don't understand the differences in each person that you have in your team, and just randomly say, they talk to the customers too much and let them go, it severely impacts upon your business. You can lose a lot of customers, because that's the person that brought in most of your business. So if you don't know what's going on your business 100% and that's clearly what my method does is you sit down with employees, you sit down with staff, you sit down with managers, you sit down with your guests, you sit down with people that are walking past your business, that's the method. And you find out everything that people are thinking, and you sit down and look at all these reports. I have 18 pages of reports, and that you look at of asking questions and observations, and you sit down and compile that and then say, “What's going on in my business?” I have a manager that doesn't have as much experience in food and beverages as they thought. And I thought my chef had more experience in management and I just learned this. And you don't understand that unless you actually sit down and ask the questions. I see all the time, chefs and managers have fired just because they were recommended, or because they have the qualifications you were looking but they don't have the background for the specific things you need in your business. And then once you get them in there, wait a second, they're not doing the job. I thought they were because you didn't understand the role in the first place. So I don't recommend anybody ever firing somebody, whenever I do these reviews, I don't recommend. I always recommend, let's train the people you have. If you think they're good people, let’s train the people you have. The book is focused on taking a manager that's experienced and give them better tools. But also take the manager that isn't experienced to help them understand that there is a way that they can learn from my book to do a better job and what they're doing.
Jerry Bauer: Now, going back to the story about the parking lot, where you went to the employees and told them that they had to park further away. Nobody likes to walk far. And I know that they put up. I won't say, of course they weren't happy about it. I know you mentioned that. But at the end of the day, I was waiting for one more sentence in that paragraph. Like, at the end of the day, they applauded you for coming up with the idea because actually they might have park a block away, or 100 feet away. And, at the end of the day, it was going to put more money in their pocket. Do you have that when you review the different measures with employees? I know they don't always go over very well about changes, but I imagine sometimes you get standing ovations as well.
Jim Lopolito:Yes, I do. That particular situation of the employees had to park down the block on the street, but there was also a parking lot further down that they could use. And that's what they had to do. And there's customers that knew that they could park on the street, but still even the street got busy. But you don't want to make it difficult for your guests. You want to make it difficult for you, you want to make it so that your employees have a place to park what they don't need to park in the parking lot and that was really the focus. At the end of that meeting, they did applaud the fact that we're going to make more money by using this method. We're not parking here and we'll get busier and they did get busier. And they're able to do more with the parking lot when they do get busy. And that was two years ago, or three years ago and it could be that the manager doesn't pay attention anymore. And they went back to the way he was, who knows? But, at the time, I show them how to do a better job. I can send you 100% at every location I've ever walked into, the employees are very, very happy with the work that I do. I get calls constantly, or emails or texts constantly from people that I worked with six months ago. Managers in hotels or clubs, they'll text me “Hey, Jim, remember you talked about this? Could you give me some more information or you can help me with this?” And I don't go back and charge the client again because their employee that I work with is contacting me. I try to help them out. I get those kinds of texts and calls. I get them often. And I cannot call any business that I've ever helped that I didn't get those kind of accolades from the employees that I work with.
Jerry Bauer: Well, it's great. So tell us a little bit, I hope I've given a good introduction on your book. Tell us where the people can buy the book as well as a little bit about your consulting firm?
Jim Lopolito:They can buy the book at bookbaby.com. And you can get it very quickly. I think they sent it out, it's a print on demand. I think you can get it within five or six days. That's the only location the moment you can get it pretty quickly. But as of February 10th, you can pre order it on Amazon. You can preorder it on Barnes & Noble. I think, if you type “Focusing On Expense Loss” into the computer, and then Google it, it comes up on a bunch of places. But February 10th is when those books will be distributed from those locations. So Amazon holds on to the books until it knows what it can sell. And then it starts shipping him out. So the book was published on December 16th. And they wait a couple months before they actually put it out in the marketplace. So you can preorder it, but it won't go out until February 10th. And that's with most of them out there right now. But as of February 10th, you'll be able to get in anywhere very quickly. As far as my business goes, I still having a lot of fun. I did a lot of traveling last year. I did a lot of work in hotels last year, country clubs, a few restaurants, this year has been a little slow this first month. In fact, the January I did not do any jobs this January. So I just been concentrating on getting the book out there and letting people know about it, which is fine. I wanted to get that done because it's a lot of work to mark it. I think starting to have a couple of jobs that are coming up and then we'll just see how the year goes, but I think that would be another busy year.
Jerry Bauer: Well, I appreciate you being on here today. Tell the people who are listening what's the best way to get a hold of you. I know you're on LinkedIn, I follow you as well as Twitter and Instagram. But what's the best email address somebody could write you or your website?
Jim Lopolito:email@example.com. And if I move this way you can see right there firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is lopolitohospitalityconsultants.com. If you just type my name in the computer Jim Lopolito, you're going to come up with so many avenues for reaching out to me. So just type my name in the computer. There's so much out there about me, and it's all good.
Jerry Bauer: I know.
Jim Lopolito:I have five global reviews now which is great. All 5-Star Google reviews. I have a restaurant down in Virginia that just wrote something about me. I have a gentleman who wrote about my book on Google. So actually, he's a guy I've known for a long time, and he read my book. And he helped edit my book. So he wrote a little Google review about it. He was very pleased with it.
Jerry Bauer: I appreciate you being on here today. And if I did ever help you, and you've helped me, let me know. And you have a great day. And I will finish the book, and I will give you the first review on Amazon.
Jim Lopolito:Thank you very, very much, Jerry. You can't give a review on Amazon, I think until February.
Jerry Bauer: That's right. I know that.
Jim Lopolito:But I appreciate that. I hope that I get a lot of reviews. I need to sell and I'm hoping the book gets me out there a little bit more than I am.
Jerry Bauer: I'm sure it will. I'm sure it will.
Jim Lopolito:Thanks for bring me in today.
Jerry Bauer: Have a great day. Thank you.
Jim Lopolito:Good to see you. Bye, bye.
Jerry Bauer: Take care. Bye now.
PODCAST OUTRO: Wow, what a great interview. I wish to thank each of the listeners today for joining me as we're slowly adding subscribers to our show. If you have any questions concerning this podcast, or others, please reach out to me at email@example.com. Have a great day. Continue to wash your hands 20 seconds and stay safe. Bye.