Relative Problem

Here goes:

I own a small restaurant in West Texas, just a few tables and most of my business is delivery. A few months ago, to keep peace in the family, I hired a distant relative (too complicated) to work and help prepare food.

I’ve noticed a couple of things. This kid, Pete, doesn’t follow the recipes exactly and so the food isn’t exactly as I taught him to make it, not precisely what I mean by the menu descriptions. I track repeat business in my database and I have noticed that some long time customers aren’t ordering like they used to. My question is, are these two issues related?

I haven’t gotten any complaints from customers, but my own experience has been, when I’m not happy with a restaurant, I may or may not tell them, but I definitely don’t go back any time soon.

I’ve been harping on Pete that he needs to follow the recipes, use the right cheese, put tomatoes and olives in the salad, etc, but he still keeps doing it.

Am I losing business because of him? I was thinking maybe I ought to follow-up somehow with the missing customers, but I’m not sure how they’d take to being pestered. In the meantime, I need to know if I absolutely have to start a family war and fire Pete, no matter what, if he won’t do the job correctly?

Got any advice?

Will H

Don’t see what the dilemma is or why you have to consider if its affecting business. He’s not doing what you are asking him to do. Only you can decide if loosing business is worth keeping some people in your family happy.

Simple - pick up the phone; talk to them - tell them you would like to know about your service and product and that if they wil spare you 5 minutes you’ll give them xyz next time you order.

a) this may help you find out why they haven’t ordered
b) you will hopefully get an opportunity to serve them again when tey take up your offer

HOWEVER think carefully about your questions and about what you want to give them. If you guenuinely want them back then offer something really good - they must percieve value in this.

Get ride of him, he is not more important than your own family which might be partially depend on your pizzeria.

If Pete was not a relative it would be easer for you to say, “yes he is not up to my standards” Just because he is a relative it is taking you more time to accept he would do such thing. For God sake he is your relative, he should take care the business better than any other employees. But it seems like he doesn’t care.
Also it could be vice versa, because you expect more from him for being a relative.

Bad behavior, not fallowing the standard routine will create other employees to act that way too. Soon everyone will act same way.

You don’t need to fire him, “Oh business is slow why don’t you work 3 days 4-9 fri, sat, sun” Let him quit.

Economy is the other reason affecting your business.

Ironic isn’t it…you are afraid to fire him because you think there will be a family war, but yet Pete could care or less if there is a family fued because he won’t or can’t do his job.

If I was in this situation I would write down clearly every morsel of issue which needs to be addressed. Have a meeting. Go over in detail the issues and expectations. I would give him a copy and a week to address the issues or clearly let him know he will not be working for you.

Don’t beat around the bush. Be specific. Don’t be ignorant, be encouraging on how this situation could be good for both of you, but right now it is clearly not working out.

As for customers…at this point what is the point of calling…to find out what you already know? Why not fix the problem and then send a postcard with a deal on it when the problem is resolved.

If pete can’t get with the program he needs to go…period and end of story…if your family explodes then I would say there are some other under lying issues that have nothing to do with pete. Sure they may be upset but over time…if they can’t get over it encourage them to hire pete at their job.

Whenever we make a BUSINESS decision based on fear…we can be assured it will be the wrong one.
In the future any family members who “just need a break, having a hard time, treated poorly, needs to just get on their feet, hasn’t found the right job, etc” keep you mouth shut unless you are going to say “we aren’t hiring right now”


I agree with Kris. We have had similar situations in the past. Some we have just rode out until the person left and looking back that was not the best idea. They cost our business quite a lot. To avoid this in the future, we have adopted a blanket policy of 'if I can’t fire you, I can’t hire you" . We no longer hire people who we already have a relationship with if that relationship would be affected by firing them. Some times this policy has even included customers who we have waited on for years or that frequently spend large amounts of money. We always explain this when a friend/relative asks about employment. I have found that even if someone is offended by this, their offense only lasts a few minutes. If you hire and later have to fire them you will most likely end the relationship. I know it doesn’t help with your current situation, but I hope it helps in the future.

I think you’re seeing why “Pete” had to get a job with a distant relative in the first place. I hope I’m a generous, open kind of guy, always looking to help the other where I can, but this is business. Bye Bye Pete.