You've all seen the situations vacant adverts in Caterer: "Vacancy exists for… send personal details and CV to Box No… " I'm still gainfully employed and happily married, so why apply for the vacancy of diary writer?
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time and anyway, I was sure I could pen a few lines of diary every four or five weeks.
To help you get to know me, here's a little background information: I started in the industry straight from college in the late 1960s, joining the old Forte motorway services group at Newport Pagnell. They were happy times, working hard and playing hard but enjoying every minute to the full. From there, via KFC and others along the way, to here has taken me 30 years and a few grey hairs.
"Here" is JayDees Restaurants, a group of three restaurants based in Lincoln with branches in rural Louth and urban Scunthorpe. We have a total of 280 seats and a team of 45 people offering table service from an extensive menu - similar in some ways to Little Chef but in the high street.
Business is quite difficult to come by at the moment. It never really picked up after Christmas and so thoughts inevitably turn to the questions, "What could we do better? What are we doing wrong?"
We have recently invested thousands of pounds in refurbishment, including converting an underused restaurant area so it can double as a meeting room, and we believe our premises are in good shape.
Yes, we could change our image, paint the walls yellow and buy trendy designer furniture, but I'm not convinced that spending vast sums competing in an entirely different market with the plethora of new pubs in the city is necessarily the way forward.
Working towards Investors in People is definitely helping to bring our team together, although in many instances the requirements of accreditation are similar to those that should already exist in any business. We are involving our team in the whole process, including a long discussion about a name for the obligatory mission statement.
The last thing we want is something that hangs on the wall but is never mentioned because it's not "everyday speak". Top of the suggestion list so far is "Our commitment" and it looks as though that will go forward as the heading.
Last Sunday we started a "Two for a fiver" promotion, with the customer choosing from a selection of meals on a blackboard. The main objective is to maintain or increase our customer count, and the promotion seems to be a success judging by the number of people who stand outside, read the offer, have a discussion and then come in to eat.
The sad part is that everybody - and that includes you and me - wants a deal these days. To survive and succeed, we have to give the customers what they want - so what's new?
Next diary from John Downs will be on 16 July