Club Reviews: A Slice of the Pie

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nick Sarillo

A SLICE OF THE PIE: How to Build a Big Little Business by Nick Sarillo.

In the book, A Slice of the Pie, the author Nick Sarillo provides a clearly explicit picture of how he created a culture in his pizza restaurant by using positive behaviors, attitudes, teamwork and honest open communication to create a culture of trust with his employees by treating others with respect and dignity.
It reminds me of the song with the lyrics "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative"
Employees are motivated to ensure good behavior by being acknowledged when it is happening. Mistakes and deficits are reframed in a positive way as a learning opportunity. Employees are asked how they can enhance their behavior rather than how they can do better when something is wrong, The "Nick Experience", as it is referred to, creates a positive environment for both employees and customers who are called guests.
Employees are encouraged to learn all aspects of the workplace in the restaurant creating a true learning community and the opportunity to move up in the company. The focus is to encourage self-development serving a higher purpose making it look more like a school masquerading as a restaurant.
Nick is always reaching out to the community and giving back to it and he encourages his employees to do the same. The business has fundraisers and other activities that involve the community.
There is no need for advertising.
Nick is so transparent and the environment in his restaurant is so positive and enjoyable to be in, it is no surprise that the community freely reached out to him in order to help him work out and overcome his financial problems.
What a joy it would be to have the opportunity to work in such a positive atmosphere and learn at the same time!
Being a guest experiencing "The Nick Experience" must be delightful!
The purpose of the book is to share his ideas and experience with other business people and encourage them to use his methods. How magnificent it would be if more businesses followed his positive environment model! Mr Sarillo"s book  is well written and  easy to comprehend for any one who is interested in enhancing their business. Margot Byrnes, Miami

As a general comment, I found this book easy to read with lots of good information that is helpful.  I think after 50 years in my business, Nick is right saying if you practice the right management/leadership skills you can "Build a Big Little Business."
Specific comments:
Without a doubt the days of "command and control" cultures are gone.  As Nick says, today it is "Trust and Track" to be successful.
Today it is also true that being honest about the "health" of your business (any organization) with staff, investors, customers, is essential to the needed transparency in order to be successful.
I loved the discussion of being nice and being kind.  All too often we see them as the same.  They are not!  Good leaders can be kind without being nice.
As Nick points out the key to organizational success today is CULTURE!  We must nurture, our staff and our customers so they will have great experiences.  That is true success!
Great leaders take no credit for success, it is the culture and the people that make great things happen.
Of course, the "Track" part means we must have the right metrics.
We reap the benefits of a world-class culture by making culture part of every decision you make and action you take.
To achieve really high performance, the culture must be shaped.  The culture must be our focus and our guide in every business decision made.
A key point that Nick repeats is that we have to manage from the inside out.  Top down management died sometime ago!
A strong culture is built around a purpose.  Why are we here is the key question?
Managing by fear is no longer successful.  Success come from "Trusting and tracking."
People have to have a purpose they can subscribe to in order to do their best.  Purpose is what we are all about.
To create a successful organization we start by identifying what we are doing right and then we focus on deficiencies and solutions.
Purpose is the why and values are the how.
To build a high-performance culture, you mjust have single-mindedness and your teammates must adopt your purpose as their own.
As we communicate our purpose to our team members, we must remember that actions speak louder than words.  Our teammates will be watching to see if our actions are in sync with our purpose.
Nick provides us 8 useful tools we can use in everyday life.
Trusting our people is really key if we want our purpose to be lived out from the heart.
Good leaders find they have to let go of some control and employ the trust part of "Trust and Track."
KEY point-it is team members, not managers, who drive the business.  Top down does not work anymore!
In a purpose driven culture, people advance by skills mastery and training.  This puts people in charge of their own advancement and allows them to determine how much they make.
In our purpose driven culture, we need coaches, not managers.
We have to work hard to teach managers that their greatest contribution does not come from some whiz bang idea but rather in helping their team members perform at their very best.
Nick uses his Dad many times as an illustration of how Top Down and Command and Control do not work.  It is very insightful to see how when Nick started his business, he was determined to do everything completely different than he had seen his Dad do it.  Command and control, top down do not build high-performance cultures.
There is lots of discussion about mindfulness.  But this simply means being fully aware of all that is going on around you.
Bottom line is that we find that in a purpose-driven, high-performance culture, the smallest behaviors send messages about the organizations purpose and values and whether they support the culture.
I highly recommend this book for all leaders and managers.  It speaks to both the new and old organizations and and had some very important ideas to offer. Doug Newberry, Cane Ridge, TN

The story of A Slice of the Pie is an excellent example of how relationship building, through a solid team of employees and customer loyalty is beneficial to the whole community surrounding the business.  Sarillo's emphasis on communication, accountability, and trust — both management’s and employees’ — is key to delivering the unique and meaningful experience for the employees, customers and the community at large.  His goal of integrating the company's culture of dedicated service to families and community into every decision made, and every action taken, is clearly demonstrated throughout the book.  
When pursuing the purpose, the employees subject anything they do or say to the Grandma Test (would your grandmother approve of it?)  when mastering the disciplines necessary to share the Nick's experience with the guests. The realization that " the company is really a school disguised as a business" becomes apparent as the team members are trained by their peers. The book gives examples throughout that would help any leader see how they can build purpose into their own companies.  
The restaurant helps the community in numerous ways that aligns with their purpose.  Some examples of this are a Library Incentive Program that rewards kids for reading, sponsorship program for local youth sports teams, and programs that allow nonprofits to hold fundraising events in the restaurants and receive 15% of the net profits during the event. These events and programs allow Nick's to communicate their purpose to the community in a very authentic way. Throughout the book there are many examples and stories to support the process utilized for bringing the purpose of this restaurant to life.  
I would recommend this book to any entrepreneur or leader who would like to see an example of how a foundation of trust along with excellent communication of purpose and values can create a great business where the entire community benefits.  I personally found this story very motivating and hope to visit the restaurant and meet the CEO, Nick very soon. Bari Schanerman, Miami

Just finished reading it. Nick is a Master at creating and building his restaurants. I knew Tom Monaghan and observed how he grew Domino's Pizza before finally selling out. Another friend is Tom Feltenstein, who is top consultant to restaurants too. Neither of them have gone to the extent that Nick has in empowering his employees to think for themselves, express their individual behavior, while adhering to the philosophies he has established, which resulted in the high grosses and volumes at his locations. This is a must read for not only any restaurant operator, but can be applied to a number of other industries too. Barry Epstein, Boca Raton

Nick Sarillo has found a very practical approach to convert his command and control operation to a “Carefully Select, Trust, Track, Respect and Share” philosophy.  Apparently this works in a relatively small operation with limited numbers of employees and one in which the owner has the time and money to screen, train and supervise them. The restaurant business has a huge turn over rate and if Nick can cultivate and inculcate followers that maintain high moral and cultural  standards, retain them as team players, and give community charity and make a profit. Welcome a new religion in Illinois. God Bless him. Marvin Stein, Coral Springs

I enjoyed this read. I agree wholeheartedly with Nick about establishing a statement that sums up the organization's mission (or current purpose, as he insists is more meaningful) by which decisions can be best made. I also commend his philosophy of empowering employees through "Track and Trust" rather than "command and control."   
As a frequent restaurant diner, I too appreciate interactions with staff who "get it."  Too often, those charged with customer service just don't. It can break a business. I would recommend this book to owners and managers of businesses who depend on their staff creating an experience that keeps customers happy and returning for more. Kelly Reid

Hungry to develop a unique corporate culture within your own small business? Craving a higher purpose that can become the engine that drives your company onward and upward? Consume “A Slice of the Pie,” and you may find nourishment. But, you’ll also get some extra cheese.
Nick Sarillo rolls out a compelling case for defining a clear company culture that governs policy and behavior. His book begins as a “How To” guide to articulating company culture and uniting employees around a common purpose. I found this valuable, and expect to apply some of his advice to my own business, organizing it better around passion and conviction. But, once the author has laid out his thesis, “A Slice of the Pie” rapidly becomes far too specific to his own small pizza chain. His advice on hiring and management may not apply unless you employ an army of low wage hourly workers. While the lessons of respect, openness, and community resonated, they were delivered with an air of corny self-promotion verging on smugness. Sarillo is all too willing to illustrate his own superior system by throwing his competitors, his ex-wife, and his poor, foolish father under the delivery truck. I came away from the book not entirely convinced that I, or anyone else, could ever be as excited about Nick Sarillo’s business philosophy as he is.  But it did make me hungry. Robert Kirkpatrick, Miami Beach

I found the book to be very good.  This was not a typical "how to" business book, this book was more like a novel of Nick Sarillo's journey to save his business.  He went with the unconventional principles of treating his employees with respect and making them feel like they were part of a long term team.  This is unconventional in this type of industry.  The restaurant business is typically a revolving door for employees that are told what to do and used until they quit.  One of the most important messages I took away from the book is the concept that Nick first tells the "why", rather than just tell employees what to do.  The why is the part that really makes it personal to the employee and makes them feel valuable and important to the overall experience for the customer.  Nick also provides advise on how to motivate employees, which is especially hard to do in a typical pizza place.
Nick give many examples of how to deal with conflict and solve problems.  He mostly uses open communication, listening, and transparency into what he is doing.  These simple and basic concepts make others want to work through things with Nick.  He does this both with his employees and his customers.  This message really stands out when he asked his customers to help, and they all came to the restaurant to dine and brought as many people with them as they could find.
Even though this book is written with the small business entrepreneur in mind, I would say the concepts work equally well even with the largest company.  Looking at the cover of the book, one might think it only applies to small businesses.  But I would encourage anyone from any sized business to read this book. Frank Donn, Miami

I would not recommend this book. A person would get the same information watching a Tony Robbins video or by attending an Amway meeting. Ron Groce, Miami

I find the book a joy to read.  It has a more “connectedness” approach to the reader. As compared to the more established TQM gurus such as Deming or Juran, or established TQM business models such as Disney or Six Sigma, this book brings a special “freshness” to the subject due to the focus on human connection rather on the process which most often TQM books give a clinical presentation.The human approach to management is highlighted by “culture warriors” instead of “black belts”. The purpose to give a “mi casa, su casa” family atmosphere in a pizza place, is perfect for a staple that ranks high on children’s list. Management also features embedded intrinsic values of respect, recognition, and transparency as presented by narratives and actual illustrations of implements. These values are not new and actually basic, but most often implementation is forgotten by leaders due to their focus on ROI and drive to reach the top too soon without a solid culture base to support it.  Human resource is the most expensive part of business cost but, when handled right, it is the driving force of success. Mr. Sarillo got it right. Lily P. Orticio

Nick Sarillo says that he never got a college degree, but his book shows that he has read a lot on entrepreneurship, adult motivation (including Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, including intrinsic motivation), and readings of popular books by Malcolm Gladwell (Blink), Daniel Pink (Drive), and Stephen Covey (Speed of Trust).  He also has shown himself to be motivated to attend workshops on any subjects that might affect the operations of his business, including Tough Love, Zen classes, and common sense techniques such as the Grandma Test (would Grandma approve?) It seems to be working.  Nick is able to hire young people and groom them for better jobs within the company (and in other companies).  I do wonder how many older people he has in the organization, or how this will play out as the present employees grow older… I peered through my bifocals to see if I could find anyone over 45 on the group photo on the back flap of the book – guess I’ll have to get the old magnifying glass out to check again! Betty G Hubschman, Burlington, NC  

This book was a pleasant surprise.  My first impression of just another entrepreneur saga, was soon revised when I found a much more personable approach.  It was not just about marketing, advertising techniques, or mobilizing modern tech methods to reach people. No, this book was worth reading for the personal elements found at its core.  Yes, they wanted a successful business plan but with character, that set it apart from others.  The best part though, was about how to base your organization on the concept of a "meaningful purpose" statement, which for this restaurant company could be favorably described as "a foundation of community values" with respect for the individual employee.This was a welcome change from the corporate messaging that gets carried away with pricing, image and strict budget values, in standard business books. Before I knew it, I'm reading a "feel good" book about co-operation, grown-ups learning through affirmative training, to manage with love, leadership, and "good behavior".  The empowerment of employees, and supporting teamwork, for the common good and self-development,  made me think I'd like to develop this cultural vision  of mutual support. Unfortunately, it came off a little lacking from the reality check standpoint when he finished the book calling for employees to be "coached"  The company purpose if altruistic, would speak for itself, I think. A few better examples of community building for the common good might have supported the case for unity of purpose;  rather than the disappointing last chapter on  becoming a "cultural warrior". Jim Swaner, Miami Shores

Good story reading. Some useful tips, but the subtitle "How To Build a Big Little Business" should be changed to "The Nick Sarillo Restaurant Success Story". There are some useful tips, but they are certainly not enough to make it into a how to book for building "any" big little business. It still was enjoyable to read. EJ "Henry" Ventura Jr., Coral Gables

This book was interesting and informative howto-book for making it in todays business environment. Mr. Sarillo shares with you his formula of creating a successful business even in tough times. Though slow at first, it picks up with interesting personal stories. I will read over sections of book as it also reads like a text book. Being a small business owner also I can appreciate and learn from having read this book. Greg Silvera, Miami  

Before speaking about the book, I must say that the level of training and the extent of developing corporate culture for a company which primarily operates in two restaurants is truly remarkable.  The focus on purpose, coaching, leadership, transparency, and training/development is amazing for a company that size and should be considered for not only small businesses but large ones as well. In regards to the book, “A Slice of the Pie”, I felt it was written by more than one author, or had a style which went from real world to leadership theory. Nick has had success by developing this amazing corporate culture and the real life stories are truly his to write about and share. However,  I felt there were many training models illustrated--such as: the materials on purpose statement, four stages of competence, synergy model,  certification feedback, Karpman Drama Triangle—some of which were well explained and some not, that appeared to be written in a more academic fashion than the CEO explaining about the practical issues of running a restaurant. More practical situations and how they were dealt with, rather than spending more time on training and development methodology, would have been more valuable than focusing on the training methods. I wondered also if there was a training consultant who co-authored the book as a ghost-writer as it doesn’t seem like one person writing and organizing this book based on Nick’s description of his background. Aside from the inconsistency in writing style, I do agree that “A Slice of the Pie” is an excellent book to read and see how small businesses can promote leadership and effective relationships with their staff.  I do recommend it for the many ideas and the effective principles on which the book is based. Randy Lichtman, Miami

I own a small business and was hoping to find that "Magic" formula to take it to the next level.  In "A Slice of the Pie" there were many ideas and worthwhile tidbits but I feel that we are already practicing what Nick is preaching.  We are a team and just want to get even better.  We are active...we are definitive...and we do have fun.  However, I appreciated reading about Nick's struggles and his successes and I was inspired.  There are so many businesses, especially restaurants and similar direct contact service type groups, that really need to read this book and see what they are missing.  The last five years have not been easy for owners/operators of small businesses and some are now closed when they might have had a somewhat easier time if they had read "A Slice of the Pie".  Thanks for the opportunity of reviewing this book. Jeannett Slesnick, Coral Gables

Nick Sarillo created a place where people go to feel good, similar to the show Cheers. Nick thought outside the box and did not listen to those who told him he would fail, he went on to pursue his dreams, similar to the story of Walt Disney. Nick finds the right team members, he trains them his way using core values and not only teaches them, but inspires them and gives them opportunities and future hope, then puts them in place in his restaurants where they become one with "Nick's experience". A good pizza is not that hard to find, but a great dining experience is priceless, and that is what Nick's strategies are about. Trisha Molina, Miami

A Slice of Pie introduces readers to the inner workings of a pizza shop yet the basic priciples taught in this book is applicable to every level of business and management. There are many books that inform us of the need for clear visions and missions yet very few actually provides the instructions and strategies of how to make that possible. This is what distinguishes this book from many others in its class. It gives anyone the tools to get their own slice of the pie and that is why I give this book an A. Deidre Campbell, Miami
It seems that Nick
Sarillo didn't spare money or time to make sure that his clients experienced a family dinning experience bar none. And he created a culture that nurtures individuality and leadership, that is also unparalleled in corporate America. His book goes into such detail that it could be used as a manual for company owners and HR directors that prefer a cookie cutter approach to employee management rather than going through the time and expense of reinventing the wheel themselves. Liliana Delara, Miami


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