Investing in your Business

  • By: Lorraine Salazar, Owner of Sal’s Mexican Restaurant Group

Each new year is typically a time for reflection and resolutions. Business owners and leaders also prepare plans and budgets for the upcoming year.  Those include capital expenditures—renovation, upgrades, new equipment—we believe will enable us to be more successful and competitive in our marketplace.

As I was reviewing our finances for my family business, Sal’s Mexican Restaurant Group, I looked over last year’s expenditures for employee training. It is a considerable chunk of change. Some training is mandatory; food handling and safety procedures are a very big deal in our industry. New employee orientation and training are a constant in retail businesses where turnover is relatively high. Those are, in my view, “Costs.”

What I’m writing about are “Investments.” We often hear and say “People are our most important assets.” And that’s absolutely true. But how much do we choose to invest in our people compared with our buildings, equipment, vehicles, supplies and so on?

Sal’s Mexican Restaurant has for years chosen to invest in our people’s development and growth. Our investment focus has been on “people skills”—effective listening and feedback, performance improvement coaching, creating great experiences for our customers and hiring great employees.

We’ve learned from the feedback given by both customers and employees that such investments can really pay big dividends. But not all investments are equal. Many available training programs are either so generic and elementary or so specialized and complex that they have limited value for most employees and even managers.

What we’ve found works best for our small company is buying and then adapting specialized training modules to our employees’ needs and skill levels. Lacking the resources to employ a large HR and Training Department, we rely on local business consultants who understand our industry and business well. They develop the training materials, prepare and lead training sessions and help us monitor and evaluate implementation.

Continual monitoring of employee performance and follow-up reinforcement are critical for ensuring your investments really pay off. We regularly survey our customers and employees as well as looking at the financial results of the business.

How much will you choose to invest in your business this year? Which investments will reward you most quickly and have long term benefits as well? Our experience is your best investments are those you invest in your people.

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