Never Leave Internal Communications To Chance In Midsized Companies

July 17, 2014


Internal communications in midsized firms are often irregular or absent, causing bad decisions and bad execution.  A Towers Watson study (Capitalizing on Effective Communication – How Courage, Innovation and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times, 2010) concludes that companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared with the firms that are least effective at communicating.

Here’s a case where poor communications destroyed value.  One software firm created an IT development tool (after many months of effort) and pressed it into service for its global development teams.  It caused an uproar; most of the teams ultimately refused to use it.  Within a few months, the company backed down and had to shelve the tool.  What a waste.

Internal communications should be strategic, planned and regular for the growing arms and legs of a midsized company to work in unison.  Midsized firms ought to create, publish and execute an internal communications plan so that the right people are communicating in an efficient and effective manner.

Small businesses communicate naturally.  With only a handful of people, they all hear about new ideas quickly; as a result, feedback and discussion happen organically.  However as companies grow to midsized (generally regarded as $10 million to $1 billion in revenues), work is compartmentalized, employees are housed in many locations, reporting structures are developed that separate people, and ongoing  projects are multiplied to the point that the natural flow of communication ceases.  Without good communication, leaders make decisions in a vacuum.  Crucial input is missing.  The people who must execute the decision haven’t been asked for input and consequently haven’t bought in. Their potential resistance and slowed or poor execution all harm results.

Or consider the case of Hurricane Grill and Wings, a franchised restaurant operation based in Florida.  Just after acquiring the restaurant, management decided on a limited time offer (discount) and so informed the franchisees (whose profit margins were thus reduced).  They pushed back; it took a lot of time and effort persuading them to move forward with the program.  Their President Martin O’Dowd said, “We had failed on several levels because we just rolled it out and didn’t pre-sell it.  We hadn’t set any expectations.”  Hurricane knew they had to change communication procedures.

Internal communications form a crucial element ofleadership infrastructure, the set of people and processes used by the leadership team to create stability and predictability throughout the business.  A midsized company ought to design the optimal communications process for their particular business, write it down, then execute it like any other project.  For example, in a ten million dollar revenue firm, it might be as simple as weekly 1:1 meetings between the leaders and each direct report, a weekly operations meeting, a monthly business plan review meeting, and a quarterly all-hands meeting.  But one solution does not fit all companies.  Consider the following approach to constructing and executing a thoughtful internal communications plan.

Start by calling a meeting with the senior leadership team with the sole agenda item:  how to optimize internal communication.  Display a straw man proposal as to the type of meetings, the frequency of those meeting and who should be in which meetings.  Listen carefully to see if there is alignment on a clear path forward.  Think about all the constituencies who would be ideally involved in the company’s decisions.  Ask each functional leader to construct a similar plan for what they plan to do in their own function.

Hurricane established three standing committees which met on a twice yearly cycle:  the food and beverage committee, the marketing committee, and the president’s advisory council (PAC) composed of their top 20 franchisees.  In addition to the meetings, frequent communications are ongoing via e-mail and phone when feedback is sought.

Standing meetings form only one element—albeit a crucial element—of your communications plan.  Commit your plan to  paper, starting at the top with board meetings, cascading down through all hands meetings.  Schedule repeat invitations for everyone’s calendar extending out a full year.  Use RACI as a framework for thinking about who is essential to the meeting versus who simply could be updated through meeting notes.

Today, when Hurricane plans a limited time offer, it goes through a set of procedures involving both the food and beverage committee and the PAC.  O’Dowd says, “When we roll them out now, everyone is already on board.  It’s seamless.”

Communicating status updates to the broader team is important too.  These might be e-mail updates, video announcements, or even conference calls/webinars.  Sometimes a monthly “state of the company” address from the CEO makes a broad and growing team feel included and involved.

Unfortunately, it seems that much of the time internal communications are far too much output and not nearly enough input.  Good meeting procedures should include asking for input (especially from quiet people).  Another crucial element is the weekly one on one meeting between leader and subordinate where feedback can be actively solicited.  Setting aside time for teams to connect informally (read “Social Time”) can be critical as well, but may only happen if it is part of the plan.

Just like anything new, too many communication processes innovated too quickly can backfire.  Avoid over-doing meetings!  Keep them short, focused,well facilitated, and with as few people as practical for the purpose.  The meeting either should be very valuable, or should not happen at all.  Giving more time for communications may in certain circumstances only slow things down:  generally a bad thing.  You can avoid that result by starting projects sooner, and by multi-threading, having a number of projects running simultaneously.  With a good project plan and active management, all projects can finish in time. In fact, plan execution will happen more quickly with fewer objections and problems.

Leaders take great pains to develop products, launch sales and marketing campaigns, and serve customers flawlessly.   So stop leaving internal communication to chance.  Create and execute an internal communications plan that will support a growing midsized company.


Ten Best Chicken Wings In Broward County

June 23, 2014




Nothings screams sports like chicken wings. Whether it’s breaded and fried, tossed in fat-laden sauce, or fired in a coal oven, chicken wings are the perfect accoutrement to watching the game.

It actually makes perfect sense. The handheld athletic favorite is so greasy, there’s no need to worry about wiping in between bites, giving viewers the perfect option for maximum flavor and minimum eye contact — no need to lift your eyes from the screen while munching on these little pups.

Just as the style of wing can differ, so can the actual sport. Wings don’t discern against football, baseball, basketball, or, heck, even the World Cup.

No matter which sport your currently paying attention to, a chicken wing is most appropriate. Head to one of these places for the next athletic-viewing endeavor.

Here are the ten best wings in Broward County.


5. Hurricane Grill & Wings

Don’t get us wrong, we love mild, medium, and hot wings. But after a while, you need to change things up a bit, you know, throw a curveball in the game. That’s when we come here for the wings. There’s nothing like putting on a new suit: teriyaki glaze and raspberry sauce when you’re feeling mild and sweet, mango BBQ and lemon pepper glaze when you want to step it up a notch, ancho chile lime sauce and Thai ginger and garlic glaze when it’s time to get serious about heat, and extra-hot hurricane sauce or volcanic lava glaze when you’re ready to feel the burn shoot out of your eyeballs. Look, we all have moods, and they change. Come here when you have a hankering for something other than ordinary.



Hurricane Grill is a Category 5 for beer lovers

June 12, 2014

hurricanecraftbeerselectionHurricane Grill and Wings in Coconut Point seems an unlikely spot for a great craft beer selection. However, this franchise location owned by Chris Levy is a craft beer lover’s paradise with eight craft beers on draft that rotate at least weekly and dozens more available by the bottle.

This Hurricane Grill doesn’t even offer choices of traditional American beers like Budweiser. Servers ask each customer who enters what their favorite beer is and try to match them with an available craft beer that will suit their style and palate. This approach has paid off for Levy too as he has the highest beer versus food mix of any of the approximately 60 Hurricane Grill locations.

Being that wings are included in the name of the restaurant, the Wing Appetizer seemed an obvious start. The wings are fresh and according to Levy are brought in three times a week. The challenge with the wings is in choosing a sauce or rub as there are over 30 to choose from ranging from extremely spicy (Category 5) to mild (Category 1). Levy recommended several of the most popular. The Boss Sauce was actually designed by a Hurricane Grill bartender and is a combination of spices, garlic, Parmesan and herbs. The Dynamite Sauce features a foundation of “boom boom” sauce with some added Cajun flair. The Thai Ginger and Garlic sauce won a national Buffalo wing competition in the “sweet and creative category.” The Garlic Parmesan and Herb Sauce is a very popular mild sauce that is added to fries for the “Hurricane World-Famous Garlic and Parmesan Fries” featured on the appetizer menu.

For the wing and beer pairing, Levy suggested the Habanero Lime Toss Rub to pair with the Six Point Bengali Tiger IPA. This rub had heat right up front but lime on the end which paired well with the citrus and bitter of the beer. The wings were juicy, not dry, and after eating several of them, the rub left a warming burn on the lips and tongue. Six Point Bengali Tiger was an interesting IPA as there was a malty flavor that came out at the beginning followed by the hops and bitter.

For the entree, a selection of sliders was paired with various craft beers. The Barrel Burger Sliders are made of fresh Angus beef served on a toasted bun and usually dressed with peppered mayo and sauteed onions. Levy added Cajun spices and blue cheese to the Barrel Burger Sliders to create a delicious combination that paired well with the Racer 5 IPA brewed by the Bear Republic out of California. The nose on this IPA is light with hints of malts and citrus. The taste, however, is hop and bitter on the end, a perfect pairing with the tanginess of blue cheese.

The Crab Cake Sliders were also served on a slightly toasted bun but seasoned with a garlic aioli sauce. The butter in the roll was evident in this dish. Being a lighter flavor on the palate, these sliders were paired with a lighter beer. The Swing Saison from Victory Brewing Co. is light and crisp with the herbal flavors typical in a Belgian-style beer. There were definite flavors of lemon and orange in this beer. Being that lemon is a traditional condiment to seafood, this made a sensible pairing.

Finally, the Pulled Pork Sliders were paired with Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper Black IPA. Black IPAs combine the best of toasted malts with piney and grapefruit flavors of hops — and this beer did not disappoint. The roasted flavors in these malts paired perfectly with the smokiness of the barbecue sauce added to the pork sliders. By far, this was the best pairing of the night, as toasty met smoky and created a bold flavor sensation.

The menu features more than just traditional bar food such as wings and sandwiches. Chicken and fish entrees are available, as well as a selection of wraps, burgers, salads and Southwestern style entrees. Prices here are very reasonable, with entrees ranging from $8 to $13. The restaurant also offers a large selection of items for takeout.

However, if you are a craft beer lover, you need to go for the beer selection. Taps rotate quickly so you never know what will be available and Levy tries to get selections that are not necessarily available anywhere else.

Hurricane Grill and Wings is located in the Coconut Point shopping area at 8017 Plaza del Lago Drive, #107, which is in the courtyard near the European Wax Center and in front of Pagelli’s Italiano. Hurricane Grill can be reached at 498-1536.

Restauranteurs – Adapt Or Get Out Of The Kitchen

June 12, 2014

There was a very nice article in today’s Nation’s Restaurant News “Casual Dining Report” about how Hurricane Grill and Wings has changed their menu to adapt to their customers (and attract new customers). That’s what it is all about, right? Adapt or be forgotten…change or die…etc., etc. The war in foodservice isn’t about fast food versus fast casual, versus casual full service, versus fine dining. Instead, it’s about adapting to consumers’ needs and then letting them know you’ve adapted. Of course, adapting in business transcends all industries. Think records, eight tracks, cassettes, CD’s, iPods, You Tube, streaming live events, and on it goes. My parents used to say in a somewhat frustrated manner, “What will they think of next?” And again, my parents were exactly right. What will they think of next? (Of course I wish they had said, “You should buy Microsoft stock,” but that’s another story.)

If you’re in the food business or the hospitality business, you have a distinct advantage because your customers have to use your products every day, actually several times each day. Autos are bought every few years. Weather reporting is viewed all day on Smartphones. There’s another example: Smartphones! They all adapted. And, if you can systemize your business and adapt on an “as needed basis,” then you can sell it…or better yet, franchise it! Adapt! Don’t be forgotten. Read the Nation’s Restaurant News article on adapting. Great food for thought. After you read the article, leave a comment or e-mail me at to let me know what you think.

Hurricane Grill & Wings® Launches New Core Menu

June 3, 2014

Award-Winning Wing Restaurant Adds More Diversity To Its Menu

June 03, 2014 // // WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – Hurricane Grill & Wings®, an island-inspired, family-friendly franchise announced today the launch of its new core menu just in time for summer. Featuring a wide variety of new menu items combined with tried and true Hurricane Grill & Wings classics served in a tropical atmosphere, guests will truly be able to take a Flavor Vacation.

Hurricane Grill & Wings is known for their more than 35 flavors of award-winning, jumbo With flavors ranging from traditional buffalo sauces to an array of unique options including Maple Pepper, Ancho Chili Lime and Raspberry, guests are encouraged to create their own unique flavor sensation. The new core menu gives Hurricane Grill & Wings fans the ability to customize their own mouthwatering with the Build-A-Burger feature, to both meat eaters and vegetarians. Beginning with the option of a 100 percent Angus Beef Patty or Veggie Burger, customers can create a burger that is truly their own with an assortment of sauces and rubs and toppings to choose from.

The new menu at Hurricane Grill & Wings is also offering calorie-conscious choices that are under 575 calories like the Island Grilled Shrimp and Hurricane Salmon with delicious side dishes such as Simple Steamed Broccoli and Fresh Cilantro Tomatoes. Also available upon request is a gluten-sensitive menu with a variety of options including delectable hand-held sandwiches such as a 100% Angus Beef Burger, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Mahi Sandwich and a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich all served on a gluten-free bun. Hurricane Grill & Wings also offers 19 gluten-sensitive flavors including signature favorites: Gold Rush, Coco Loco, and Honey Garlic.

“It is extremely important to the Hurricane Grill & Wings brand to offer our guests the most creative, flavorful and on-trend menu items,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “Our new menu expands upon our classic favorite dishes, and gives our guests many more selections when dining at our locations.”


The Restaurant Industry Is Growing Strong – Full Of Opportunities For You

May 29, 2014

Growth is like oxygen … That’s the message I’m receiving as I read through the May 12th issue of Nation’s Restaurant News. It’s loaded with snippets and stories of growth …innovate, invest, work-your-tail-off kind of growth. The issue is titled “Next Steps: Maintaining Momentum at Every Phase of Growth.” It is loaded with stories about upstart, growing chains as well as tips from subject matter experts, which are interspersed with ads from brands looking to sell franchises. We’re yelling, “Sell! Sell!” at the same time as “Schnell! Schnell!”

Is it any wonder that the recent National Restaurant Show in Chicago is up in attendance for the third year in a row…for both exhibitors and attendees?

The restaurant industry is flush with opportunities of all sub-varieties: fast, fast casual, casual dining, franchised, corporate owned, independent. The main link among them is if you have something new and can offer excellent product quality and service, then growth is yours for the taking (or grabbing). Growth can also be fleeting. Expand too fast, drop quality and service, lose innovation, well, we all know what happens next – you run out of oxygen. The proverbial canary in a coalmine.

The restaurant industry, and franchising in general, is healthy and alive. We are open for business! Just make sure you are aligned with an innovative, proven concept with experienced management so you can enjoy the success of sales and unit growth and also weather the occasional ebb tide.

What do you think?  Leave a comment or e-mail me at


New Hurricane Grill & Wings® Expands into Niceville, FL

May 27, 2014

UnknownAward-Winning Wing Restaurant Opens Its 38th Florida Location with a Brand New Menu

May 26, 2014 // // WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – Hurricane Grill & Wings®, an island-inspired, full-service continues its home state expansion with a new location in Niceville. The family-friendly restaurant invites local residents to come in and Live with Flavor®.

This will be the fourth Hurricane Grill & Wings restaurant for franchisees Mike Dravo and Bill Luebbert of KOL Hospitality Management with their first three located in Pensacola, Fla., Orange Beach, AL. and Fleming Island, Fla. KOL Hospitality Management has plans to open an additional 21 Hurricane Grill & Wings locations in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

While Hurricane Grill & Wings is known for their more than 35 signature flavors of award-winning, never frozen, fresh jumbo the Niceville restaurant will be the first in the system to offer the brand’s new core menu, featuring classic favorites as well as a variety of new dishes cooked to order in a vibrant and relaxing beach atmosphere. Hurricane Grill & Wings gives guests the ability to customize their own with the new Build-A-Burger portion of the menu, featuring a wide variety of toppings and flavors. The brand is also offering calorie-conscious customers menu selections that are all less than 575 calories and include delicious sides such as Simple Steamed Broccoli and Fresh Cilantro Tomatoes. Furthermore, the Hurricane Grill & Wings now has a Gluten-Sensitive menu for those with allergies upon request.

Hurricane Grill & Wings newest location features an indoor dining room that seats up to 190 and an outdoor patio that seats a total of 24 people. The restaurant has 24 beers on tap and locally brewed selections to choose from Abita Andygator and Terrapin Hopsecutioner, giving customers an eclectic mix of over 24 beers to choose from.

“KOL Hospitality Management is proud to be opening our fourth Hurricane Grill & Wings location in Niceville,” said franchisee Mike Dravo. “We look forward to expanding our business and receiving a positive response from new and existing Hurricane Grill & Wings fans in this community.”

“We are delighted to work with KOL Hospitality Management to open Hurricane Grill & Wings Niceville restaurant,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “They operate their existing restaurants exceptionally, and look forward to the group playing a pivotal role in the growth of Hurricane Grill & Wings.”

Hurricane Grill & Wings is located at 4579 East Hwy 20, Suite 105, Niceville, FL 32578 and open on Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. To reach this location, call (239) 800-3141. For additional information about Hurricane Grill & Wings, please visit


Hurricane Grill & Wings Featured In Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies

May 19, 2014


Hurricane Grill & Wings Executive Team Welcomes Kevin Kruse

May 6, 2014

UnknownMay 06, 2014 // // WEST PALM BEACH, FLA – Franchise restaurant Hurricane Grill & Wings, announced today that Kevin Kruse has joined the executive team as the new chief development officer. Kruse will bring fresh ideas to expand upon the current rapid growth that the full-service, tropical brand has seen in past months. With over 20 years of extensive franchise development experience, Kevin will work to expand upon Hurricane Grill & Wings’ current growth trajectory.

Most recently, Kruse served as vice president at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group managing franchise development and real estate site selection for the Einstein Bros. Bagels and Manhattan Bagel brands. Previously, Kruse worked for International Dairy Queen, where his team generated $3.9 million in multi-unit development deals. Kruse also worked at Arby’s, where as the vice president of franchise development he successfully negotiated 54 development agreements resulting in 500 new restaurant locations. As chief development officer, Kruse will work closely with the Hurricane Grill & Wings executive team to plan and execute development strategies as well as provide support to new and existing franchisees. “Hurricane Grill & Wings is a very unique concept with incredible potential,” said Kruse. “Our compelling unit economics, relaxed beach atmosphere and focus on flavors and fresh menu items will certainly attract seasoned restaurant owners to our brand.”

“Kevin is an expert in the industry and it’s a pleasure to welcome such a skilled professional as the newest addition to the Hurricane Grill & Wings team,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “We look forward to continuing our expansion and achieving more milestones with the aid of Kevin.”

For more information about franchise opportunities, please contact Kevin Kruse at (877) 769-9464 or by email at, or visit


Three Hurricane Grill & Wings Restaurants to have benefit this evening for Autism Speaks

May 1, 2014

WPTV 5 Logo

BOCA RATON, Fla – Hurricane Grill and Wings in Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Boca Raton will be holding a benefit tonight for Autism Speaks.

The restaurants will donate 20% of the checks from customers who bring in the flier. It will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

During those hours the restaurants also will provide music, face painting and balloon artists.

hurricane grill flyer_1398871269824_4306212_ver1.0_900_675

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