I’m a Restaurant Consultant. Here’s what you should know.

Welcome back to our CAREER SPOTLIGHT series, shedding light on the hugely varied routes you can take into so many wonderful corners of our industry. We’ve spoken to private chefs, Head of People, TV food producers and loads more, all proving that your food career doesn’t need to revolve around late nights or working restaurant services.
This week we’re hearing from Ugne Mikucionyte, Restaurant Consultant and director of Bar Restaurant Solutions. She’s telling us all about her journey from low-paid waitress to starting her very own business – and how she went from leaving a salaried job with zero plan to setting her own salary.
The first step to getting the career of your dreams is knowing what’s out there, and we’re helping you do just that.

What is your job title?

Director at Bar Restaurant Solutions, although probably easier understood as Restaurant Consultant.

How did you get into your current role, and what were you doing before?

Honestly, by total accident. As you do! I worked for a large organisation for about 7 years, dealing with multiple restaurant brands in various sectors, from quick service casual to premium casual. This is where I gained lots of experience in a fairly short time.  I’d worked very hard – but also been lucky and in the right place at the right time to have that opportunity.

Credits to my business partner, who is way more experienced than I was at the time, everything was pretty smooth. The business set up was straightforward, we also had a strategy and a business plan to ensure we knew our direction of travel. Setting up a ‘service’ driven company is easier than ‘product’ to some extent.

What made you take the decision to move into this role?

I like freedom, which made leaving my previous role easy because the business was growing fast and getting exponentially more and more corporate, forcing me to specialize in one discipline.

I am a curious person and a specialist-generalist by heart, so that was a strong no-no! My personal values were also clearer – doing more things that have a soul (as well as profit! – not the other way around).
 And who doesn’t like an extra hour in bed!?

I always have a plan and a safety net. For the first time in my life I didn’t: I had left my previous job without a plan. I started Bar Restaurant Solutions to utilise the skills I had gained over my previous roles and the business grew organically and speedily from there.

What’s the pay like in your sector?

Hah! My career started with exceptionally low pay as a waitress at 18:  think – the lowest legal wage possible.

I quickly learned the trade, and it was devastating to be paid lower due to age rather than performance (different NMW brackets up to 18, 18-20, 21-22, 23 and over). Thankfully, my manager was an awesome human being who appreciated my graft and treated me according to my performance rather than age, as soon as company policies allowed it. From there, each role was rewarded with a better rate/salary.

Currently, I can set my own salary, ‘freedom with responsibility’ at its finest. Obviously, this comes with a big responsibility of exceptional quality service, and a constant client search to ensure the stability you normally have when you work for someone else.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your role?

The ratio of how many business owners are in total denial about the realities of their business VS the number of people who acknowledge what they excel at, but realise they need a different kind of help. I guess it’s human nature.

What’s the best thing about it?

Results. Whether they be very black and white: the improvement in EBITDA on the P&L (Profit & Loss) account or something intangible – like someone at 22 years old in a management position starting their training hating maths, but getting really excited about numbers in the business after we complete Commercial Training. You just see people’s eyes sparkle when you empower them with knowledge and confidence, which is beautiful.

What’s the worst thing?

The pressure that the Hospitality Industry suffers these days. And I think the hardest part in setting up was the unknown, the lack of security for where the next client is coming from, what if someone cancels the contract early etc.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Honestly, I value my sleep, so I rarely have meetings before 10 am. I normally clear my emails mixed with a few online meetings and visit one or two of my clients for meetings at their locations.

Every day or week is different, as I work with a few clients at a time on various projects. Some of it is online/digital work, and some might be in-person training, site visits etc. That’s why I like it – organising a little chaos at all times – that’s what I am good at.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to get into your profession?

My advice is very general, but it goes a long way in life – be kind,  work hard and be in control of your own personal development.  We all have a learning ceiling – hit yours.

If you’re setting up your own consultancy, the things to consider are:
– What’s your capacity, how many clients can you have at the same time.
– Contracts – retained basis, short VS long projects.
– Payment terms.

All these factors impact your cashflow and thus your state of mind – but that’s a normal day in an entrepreneur’s life. I think selecting your business partner is key, because then you are not alone against the world!

What’s the best piece of advice that YOU were given?

At Uni a lecturer gave a few excellent pieces of advice in Entrepreneurship class that really stuck with me: Do not open a business if you don’t have 10 clients lined up for your service/product. Cashflow is the lifeblood of the business.

What did you want to be when you grew up? And how is this similar?

I struggled to decide because I was a generalist-specialist before I knew it, and it took a while for me to accept that. I went for a marketing degree and dreamed of working for Coca-Cola, but I couldn’t be happier with my choice to keep marketing as my competitive advantage and pursue a career in hospitality which was surprisingly natural to me from Day 1. Restaurants and bars are much more fun than Coca-Cola!!

Tell us the weirdest thing you’ve had to do in the course of your work.

Eat Bugs. That is actually very recent. I could never have imagined going to eat crickets would be part of the job, but here we are – what wouldn’t you do for sustainability? Haha.

About Ugne:

An operator and marketeer, bringing expertise, energy and enthusiasm to our clients. A proven track record of embedding processes and procedures that impact profitability. Her expertise in authoring and implementing training programmes delivers cultural as well as financial benefits. As a marketeer, driving positioning, promotions, strengthening brand equity, retaining and building consumer base, inspired to deliver business solutions.

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