Efficiency... or lack thereof

20 July, 2007
The civil service mind-set has spilled over into the baking industry, the result being a slow decline in efficiency, as small firms struggle with legislation, says Tony Phillips
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Recently I read in my daily newspaper that the government considers that mini-brothels would be a good thing. That is just typical of politicians and civil servants - they know nothing about the economies of scale, yet they dare lecture us on efficiency.
The civil service and local government are over-staffed and under-worked, but they really believe they are over-worked and hard done by. They are not stupid people - in many cases, they are very well educated - but they have a totally different mind-set from the rest of us, who produce the wealth.One of the principal reasons for their mind-set is the fact that it is virtually impossible to dismiss them, no matter how poor their attendance record or inefficiencies. Thus, they lack the disciplines of the open marketplace.Decline in efficiencyNow, of course, the government has brought the same potential disaster to us in industry. The result is a slow decline in efficiency, as small companies do not have the resour-ces to deal with all the legislation and, in many cases, are terrified to dismiss a poor worker in case they end up in an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal.Only recently, a friend phoned me to say he had a member of staff who has been taking a day or more off almost every week and, rather than have the hassle of trying to dismiss him, he had made him redundant, at the cost of a few thousand pounds.How dreadful! An employee who is not doing the job he is paid to do gets rewarded with money, rather than a quick kick up the rear. Thank goodness I do not have to deal with these problems any more.I have always found that about 85-90% of our staff are fine but that last 10% is always a problem. When mentioning this to other bakers, I am always surprised that they have the same problem. high salariesMany senior managers in large national companies have far too high a salary, as well as pensions and perks, then have the gall to take a bonus when their firms do badly. But people who own their own companies have a perfect right to take a high salary, because when the company does badly, their salary falls in conjunction.Some fast food outlets are now hiring older people; I think it's great that they can now earn at 80 what they earned at eighteen. There was a time that, if you were good at your business, you could make a good living. Now, however, we are near the point that just being good is not enough. Customers are getting more and more demanding and appear to always want something new. Yet when we keep making new products, they very rarely sell well.I know you will say that is because we cannot be making the right products; that may be true, but again most bakers agree they have the same problem - the old favourites sell the most volume.The only consolation we have is that, in a recent survey of the chocolate market, eight out of the top 10 best-selling lines were introduced in the 1930s. It seems we are not alone with our problems. n



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