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Larry Struckman

Passionate about setting up systems and procedures that assure success, training, consulting, growing sales, strategic planning, creating "raving fan" customer service and just about anything related to food service. 25+ years in food and sales as well as growing hundreds of concepts with different operators (I have seen them all). I enjoy cooking, computer software, Taekwondo and spending time with my family. We started ShiftNote in 2007 to help organizations like yours create a better platform for shift-to-shift communication across their organization. Our purpose is to serve you with the best online digital logbook and employee scheduling software on the market so you can spend more time focusing on growing your business.

8-Hour Shifts: Pros, Cons, and Opportunities for Your Business

Operating a nearly non-stop business may be undertaking. The demanding excellent leadership, foresight, and planning from management, as well as commitment, dedication, and flexibility from staff members all come into play here.

Making sure that your staff is healthy, happy, and productive within this type of environment while also dealing with complex financial issues is associate with running such a business. The most complicated part is managing the shift schedule of the around-the-clock workforce.

The solution? Implement an 8-hour shift schedule with rotating work shifts.

A rotating 8-hour schedule has multiple benefits for the restaurant and hospitality businesses. While many industry veterans understand how it works, others are new to the idea. This post will dive into how 8-hour schedules work: including the pros, cons, and how to implement this 8-hour shift schedule. Let’s dive in!

What Are Rotating 8-hour Shift Schedules?

8-hour shifts provide 24/7 coverage for your business by maximizing the number of consecutive days employees have off, while still maintaining that 40-hour workweek. There are multiple types of 8-hour schedules you can implement at your place of business: including 8-hour days, 8-hour swings, and 8-hour night shifts. It’s really about magnifying your schedule for efficiency for your business and your employees.

Pros of 8-Hour Schedules

There are many advantages of 8-hour shift schedules, for both the employee and you the employer or shift manager. 

  • PROS FOR EMPLOYEES
    • Employees receive two consecutive days off and one weekend every seven weeks.
    • Employees earn at least two days off after working a week.
    • Employees typically may have three days off after working seven consecutive nights.
    1. It’s more equitable to everyone scheduled:
    2. Employees know what they are working on because it only changes each week. 
    3. Better work-life balance.
  • PROS FOR EMPLOYERS
    1. You are able to run a 24-hour operation.
    2. You can get around-the-clock coverage between as little as four employees. This can be a huge benefit for a small operation.
    3. It can be easier to create schedules.
    4. Scheduling fewer employees may help in reducing extra costs with insurance and healthcare fees. 
    5. There is a likelihood of a reduction in staff accidents or errors due to the amount of rest time in between shifts.
    6. Your staff will gain better attention spans, reaction times, motor skills, fewer memory lapses, and less irrational decision-making all due to less overwork and fatigue from only working 8-hour shifts rather than 12. This results in a better customer experience.
    7. Simplified scheduling. More shift switches mean operational slowdowns, resulting in less efficiency in dealing with more staff.
    8. Fewer missed alerts and communication breakdowns will happen between excessive shift changes.
    9. You can set performance expectations for an 8-hour shift, such as sales, parts per min, etc.  Whatever is tracked as your KPIs has to be taken into consideration for your performance ratio.
    10. Allows you to plan more proactively when you hold team meetings and helps with the rollout of new protocols and agendas.
  • Considerations
  • It’s always good to evaluate both sides, so here are some of the potential negative impacts of 8-hour schedules:
    1. It requires up-front planning, but it pays off in the long run.
    2. It is not conducive to employees who like working longer hours, but fewer days.
    3. For optimal efficiency, rotating 8-hour shifts requires the right software in place.

How to Keep Track of Schedules

We’re here to save the day. ShiftForce’s state-of-the-art technology allows you to customize your operation’s scheduling to accommodate 8-hour shift schedule blocks or any shift-scheduling model that works best for your business.

Our cloud-based employee scheduling software is a workforce management tool that makes creating schedules for any size business simple. Set and forget your scheduling process, saving you energy, time, and money. In fact, you can create a set of schedules and duplicate them as many times as you want, keeping important shift information and employee specifications all in one place.

Then you can use our Online Manager’s Logbook to log all your shift notes electronically, so you can access them anywhere -- even on your phone! It allows you to improve communication with your staff, maintain accountability, and measure important data for future insights.

 

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How To Be a Constructive Manager During the Holiday Season

Jingle Bells bring happiness and joy to kids and adults, but to anyone in a managerial role, it signals for the dreaded holiday season. It is an exciting time for family and fun for all, so it is important to stay connected to your team about the happenings and tasks needed to get done for a successful season beforehand.

 

As a manager you do not want to be painted as a Grinch, so make sure to ease up on some rules that might not necessarily matter during the season. It is important for companies to provide a happy working environment for their employees, as happy employees can help to improve productivity which makes the company survive in the market. If you are in a brick and mortar building chances are you are not having too many formal meetings or having to impress the big bosses between now and Christmas, so let loose a little on the dress code maybe throw in an ugly Christmas sweater day just for some giggles throughout the day. Here are some more ideas to keep you and your team happy, productive, and jolly!

 

1. Make it fun for everyone!

People want to have some fun this time of year, especially after the year we’ve had. Maybe it is wearing a Santa hat, the aforementioned ugly Christmas sweater, covering the break room in Christmas wrapping paper, or other harmless pranks to keep spirits up. Letting them push the envelope too much, on the other hand, could be detrimental. Do not necessarily let the Christmas Chaos take over, but being a Scrooge and not letting loose could do more harm in the long run. In the hospitality industry, employees are the ones that shape a customers’ service experiences, thus helping improve an employees’ emotions and moods should be considered equally critical for a company’s success.

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2. Don’t forget to have fun yourself!

The holidays are a perfect time to show off that you have a fun side too! Just be wary not to get suckered in to being the “cool manager” and forgetting your role. It really is a balancing act of keeping your leadership team happy to keep the rest of your team happy. Contribute to the conversations and festivities, but make sure to do so as a coworker and not a boss. Share a laugh and let yourself be part of the fun, talk about that new TV show you binged during quarantine, or bring up holiday or vacation plans you know employees asked off for. Now is a time to really enjoy the company of your employees and really let their personalities shine!

 

3. Be flexible about time off!

This time of year always puts a lot of pressure on people, especially on their scarcest and most valuable resource: time. We are all also scrambling for gifts, splitting time between families, teaching kids from home, attempting to make travel arrangements during COVID 19, and trying to attend a host of safe social functions–all while doing our best to stay productive at work. Do your best to help and alleviate that pressure where you can as a manager.

The holidays are the time of year to be a little more flexible than usual about time. Switch schedules around so people can let off some steam when they need to and take care of the responsibilities in their personal lives that tend to stack up and loom over us. Using an Employee Scheduling Software will allow you to view the entire week's schedule and make shift changes in seconds. You can easily communicate with your staff in the app about their scheduling needs and stay up to date with text messages and alerts. Write shift notes online, assign tasks on the go, and follow up on shift planning goals from anywhere to always keep your team on track and productive!

 

4. Listen to what your team wants!

If you have the freedom and funding to do so, involve your employees in the planning of the holiday fun, see if they are actually excited about the proposed ideas or if they are just going along with it. Ask for their opinions, input, ideas and they will appreciate being heard and that the celebration is inclusive.

You can let your team pick where to cater food from if you are at work, or improvise a fun Zoom or Skype office party to stay connected remotely. The more it is to their tastes, the more fun they will have fun with it, the more they will engage with it, the more they will relax, and you will have less employee turnover. All of this adds up to better productivity within the business and their performances once the party is over.

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5. Always look ahead!

The gloomy mood of December is usually negative, we end up looking back on the lack of accomplishments and shortcomings of the year that somehow flew by already. With that kind of attitude towards wrapping up old business, it is no surprise that so many employees look forward to the end of the year as a time to slow down, disassociate for a week, and stop “being busy.”

Managers can bring a positive light to cut through and remind everyone that it is also a time to shed this old, exhausting year and look forward to new beginnings and a clean slate. Highlighting some of the year's accomplishments, no matter how small, can boost enthusiasm and morale and make employees feel appreciated for the smallest efforts they make!

 

 

How To Reduce Your Restaurant Employee Turnover

ShiftNote Employee Scheduler Reduce Turnover Save Money

Did you know... the average voluntary employee turnover rate is 12.8% for all industries, while involuntary turnover rate is 17.8%, according to Compensation Force? Employee turnover is on the rise, and it has a huge impact on your business financially and emotionally.

Financially speaking, every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months' salary on average, according to the Society of Human Resources & Management. What goes into this estimated cost?

  • Loss of productivity: It takes time to get new employees up to speed with existing employees, and that can take time.
  • The hiring process of a new employee: including the advertising, hours it takes to interview, screen, and hire new candidates.
  • Onboarding: along with the man-hours involved in training programs and training the new employee. In fact, over two to three years, a business likely invests 10 to 20% of an employee's salary into training.
  • Customer-facing errors: New employees are less capable at solving problems and may even create more.
  • Loss of engagement: Other staff members who see their peers quit on a regular basis will disengage, resulting in a loss of productivity – or will quit themselves.

What’s Your Company’s ROOT Problem?

If employee turnover is a problem in your restaurant, take the steps to recognize the root problem. Your restaurant turnover rate is a symptom of a greater problem. In fact, restaurant expert Jim Sullivan said in a recent article published on Nation’s Restaurant News, “It’s hard to shake the nagging notion that we may be systematically treating symptoms and not root causes, resulting in the constant re-occurrence of the same issues over and over again.”

Consider these somewhat common scenarios:

#1

  • The problem: A restaurant General Manager is asked to reduce labor costs 10% each year. After discussion with her management team, she realizes that the hourly turnover rate exceeds 75%.
  •  
  • The solution: She assess what part of the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding budget she could cut back on to hit the 10% reduction cost and realizes that in order to reduce this line item she needs to KEEP her current employees and invests more heavily in the recruitment process to spot employees who are trainable, have passion, and do not have common red flags of a low-quality hire, she needs to invest in reducing hourly turnover.

#2

  • The problem: A chain restaurant’s head of accounting was number crunching the previous month’s sales and saw that revenue year over year was down 15%.
  •  
  • The solution: While the accountant attributed the decline to a recent snowstorm, the root of it was something completely different. It was the employees. He realized that this year’s staff were all “green” members, and had not been there longer than three months, on average.

#3

  • The problem: A restaurant host is new, and while she is super friendly, she has no idea how to properly seat a restaurant. She arbitrarily sends guests to different tables throughout the restaurant, paying no mind to the wait staff on staff or volume in particular areas.
  •  
  • The solution: While originally attributed to the new and somewhat dense host, the real issue is the lack of training she was given for properly filling the restaurant up. Thus, this is another turnover issue.

The three problems are faced commonly, and have managers in a scramble to find. While seemingly three different issues – training, hiring, and sales – the root of each issue stemmed from one thing: TURNOVER.

Turnover has suddenly accelerated, especially in the restaurant and hospitality industry. In fact, voluntary turnover in the hospitality industry is the highest of all industries, at 20.7%. Sullivan said, “Our industry averages 100-percent annual turnover among hourly teams, we are also inching toward a $15 per hour wage but not getting $15 per hour skill competencies or equivalencies in return.” Competitors, regulations, the up-and-coming younger workforce, and stagnant unemployment rates have progressed the issue further in recent years.

With so many contributors to your restaurant turnover rate, it may seem like a battle that can’t be won. No one can follow it anymore; no one knows how to win; but everyone knows this much: the hospitality industry can’t continue to trend upwards with voluntary turnover rates.

Where Do You Start?

The first step in reducing restaurant employee turnover – is to identify the cause of why your staff leaves in the first place.

  1. Disinterest: If employees are not interested in their jobs, they will either stay away or leave.
  2. A high-demand employee: If the skills the employee possess are in demand, they may be lured away from your company by better pay, benefits, or title. While the employees’ decision to flee the coup is out of your control, there are things within your power to make that employee feel more empowered and productive.
  3. A job requisite mismatch: When you hire for a specific job, it’s important to be very transparent about the job level and duties because oftentimes employees who are under- or overqualified will soon realized there’s a skill/experience level mismatch.
  4. Poor working conditions: If your business’ facilities are sub-par – the worst case is the facility has health and safety provisions – your employees will not put up with the inconvenience for long and will say “adios”.
  5. Under-appreciation: Every employee wants to know they are valued. Management who does not acknowledge upstanding efforts or employees going above and beyond will have employees who are dissatisfied and angry – and will leave.
  6. Inadequate training: Believe it or not, training is a key lever in employee turnover. Employees crave guidance and will follow direction if given. Employees need guidance and direction. The lack of a training program may cause workers to fall behind in their level of performance and feel that their abilities are lacking.
  7. Poor pay: Low pay or unequal pay can drive employees to leave. To combat this, put together an extensive job evaluation and review plan for each employee.
  8. Lack of modern technology: Technology has a “shift potential” to grow a business in many ways, and lack of technology will deter employees -- especially younger ones. Instead of having old-school spreadsheets and Post-It notes, invest in cloud-based employee tools and technology that fosters collaboration and efficiency. Of course we are partial to our Employee Scheduling Software and Online Manager’s Logbook, but there are tons of different options out there!
 
 

New Hire Tips for Younger Workers - How to Spot and Treat Them

By internet research counts, 75,000,000 millennials are joining the workforce.  In 2017 this group may have become the majority of your workforce. Young workers are a new breed of employees that managers in any industry frankly don’t quite know how to identify, manage, and communicate to. It’s a generation that defies the rules governing the workforce, making workplace situations more difficult and leaves other generations feeling confused and sometimes even disgruntled.

Fear not and listen up! The following article offers new hire tips on how to find a high-quality millennial workers, and how to keep and reward them.

1 - How To Spot Them

The best way to find the right younger candidate is to take time to seek people with the right soft skills, like passion and commitment, and also skill set and track record.

Soft skills: When looking to hire new employees who are younger, probe them to vet their interpersonal skills. This is especially important for the restaurant and hospitality industry. “If the candidate nervously reaches for their phone, has trouble making eye contact, or trips over simple answers they may lack the competence your company is looking for,” notes Jantzen Pahl, author at Idaho State University.

Commitment: Then, ask questions to vet their level of commitment to an employer. Many younger workers are apt to find the next best thing. So, ask them about previous professional roles and length of service to gauge their experience, and for lack of a better word, flightiness.

Passion: The enthusiasm a candidate brings to the interview will be evident. Look for young employees who have the right mindset, not just those who have the skills you desire. Passion is a highly desirable soft skill in any industry. These employees are positive, eager to learn, trainable, and loyal. Ask questions designed to spot passion:

  • If money wasn’t a concern, how would you spend your time?
  • Who has been the most inspirational person in your life?
  • What excites you about this position?
  • What scares you about this position?
  • If you were the boss for a day, what would you change about our business?
  • What do you do well naturally?
  • What areas are you looking to improve?

Look for red flags: Negativity like going into an elaborate story about a past boss or co-worker should be an immediate red flag. “Speaking well of former jobs translates to loyalty, integrity, and class,” notes Pahl.

Track record: Never leave a job interview without going into detail about a candidate’s previous and related work experience. Younger workers will naturally have less relevant experience, so ask them to associate skills from previous jobs to the job they are interviewing for, bridging old experience to a new industry.

Spot check: Thanks to the internet, you can go further into researching a candidate’s past. If it seems as though a candidate may be fluffing their experience, search their name on social media networks and search engines to gain a better perspective.

Recruitment bonus tips: Also, instead of looking to an internet job posting to find younger, talented employees, think about using the following “birds of a feather” tactics:

  • Offer a “new hire bounty” of $200 for all hired employees.
  • Ask your regulars, who understand and appreciate your customer service, for referrals.
  • Listen to what qualities your employees feel are valuable in addition to your own standards. Use this input to narrow down candidates.
  • If you can’t fill your spots, put out a boosted Facebook post for your area that you are hiring with a description of your culture and your top requirements.

2 - How To Treat Them

Be a leader: Young employees seek leadership and structure, but do not mistake this with micromanaging. They like the wings to fly, yet want to be bound by leadership that challenges them, keeps them honest, and helps them grow. “Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you, and receive daily feedback from you,” notes The Balance. Invest in their success, and they will, in turn, be loyal to you.

Be connected: Young workers, or millennials, are the most technologically connected generation in history. The new crop of workers offer a unique breed of skills, having grown up with access to technology, swift advancements, and immediate access to information. In particular, young adults have a firm grasp on the newest productivity tools, mobile devices, and even employee scheduling software. Get your business connected to modern technology, and your younger employees will value you.

Flexibility: Young workers are multi-taskers, and thus like to balance work and fun. To this end, they value workplaces with a good understanding of work/life balance and who offer flexible scheduling options. (Using employee scheduling software makes it easy to do this.)

Fun: Play in the workplace reduces turnover, boosts morale and improves employee engagement for the younger workforce. Remove the notion that work is tedious and “just for the paycheck.” You can plan all-staff activities like mixers or holiday parties, celebrate each one of your staff members’ birthdays, hold daily touch bases al fresco, or just keep the mood light when it’s right.

Go the extra mile: Take advantage of the opportunity to make your new employees' first-day special. One way to do this is to create a new employee welcome kit to show the new hire they are appreciated and are already a valued member of your team. Here are some welcome kit ideas:

  • A greeting card signed by every staff member.
  • Offer vouchers for free meals (if you are a restaurant), or other products or service related to your business.
  • Branded merchandise, like a t-shirt, hat, or other branded merchandise.
  • Create a welcome packet with all of the above materials.

Remember, an employee only has one first day. How they are welcomed sets the stage for their experience at your company. So, try it out. Add a welcome kit to your training and onboarding program and see how it improves the employee experience.

If you enjoyed these new hire tips for younger workers, share it on social media or comment below!

 
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Simple Menu Changes to Capture More Lent Sales

daily managers logbook Lent menu ideasThe Lenten holiday can be a tough menu month for restaurants. There are many food limitations for those who observe this holiday and some may be frustrated with the lack of menu items for them to choose from when dining out. But there is a reason to love this holiday (and not just because it is the same day as Valentine’s Day!) - it is a great opportunity to capture sales. All you need to do is make some simple changes to your menu during this time frame.

Go Beyond Fish

The first menu change that most restaurants go to is to add more fish options. These are definitely important to add to your menu, but take it a step further. Along with refraining from eating meat, many people who observe the holiday also give up unhealthy items like carbs, chocolate, or alcohol. You can offer dishes that give up some of these common vices so patrons can observe without guilt.

Include Vegetarian Options

There are many people who observe the holiday and do not like to eat fish, but who also do not want to eat meat. Increase and promote the vegetarian dishes you have on your menu. You can even go a step further and take your most popular dishes with meat and replace them with vegetarian options.

Try Adding Pasta Dishes

Even though there will be some people giving up carbs during this time, you can still capitalize on providing alternate menu options like creative pasta dishes. Offer a variety of fish options to go with your signature pasta sauces, or get creative with alternative protein options in the pasta to replace meat.

Serve Breakfast for Dinner

Another alternate menu option to provide is breakfast! Many restaurants stop serving breakfast after a certain time, but attract more people to your restaurant during this holiday by serving breakfast all day long. This gives you an opportunity to show off your breakfast/brunch menu for future sales as well.

Don’t Forget the Specials

Once you have your menu changes to help attract more people to your restaurant during the Lenten season, you now need to get people in the door to order! With each of these menu changes, you can create a feature that will encourage people to order it. Here are some ideas for each.

  • Fish Friday. Since a lot of people who observe this holiday switch to no meat on Fridays, it is a great time to offer a featured fish entree, offer your fish dishes with a reduced price or offer buy one, get one fish dishes on Fridays only. This will ensure your restaurant is packed and sales are generated!
  • Veggie Discount. For all the vegetarian dishes you are adding or highlighting, offer an incentive to try the dishes with a vegetarian discount. Offer a small dollar amount off, or 10% off all vegetarian dishes.
  • Pasta Happy Hour. With many people giving up alcohol or sugar during this Lenten holiday, provide a different type of a happy hour during the holiday. You can do half off pasta during happy hour or offer bottomless bowls for a certain time frame.
  • Free Breakfast Side Dish. You can either extend your brunch to a night time breakfast happy hour for those observing the holiday. Or you can encourage late night breakfast ordering with a free side dish with their breakfast meal. This could be an extra free pancake or a side of fresh fruit.

Just by having these different options, you will already help encourage people to indulge and eat out during this religious holiday. But adding the additional specials for each of these items will help your restaurant take advantage of extra sales.

Looking for more ideas to provide to your observing patrons in your restaurant? Check out this blog from last year on 3 Ways to Attract Patrons to Your Restaurant During Lent.

 
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Bringing Thanksgiving Menu Nostalgia to Your Operation

Unlike other holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving is all about the food. Each person has their own idea of Thanksgiving menu staples that must be included on their plate every year. From stuffing to cranberry sauce, without certain dishes it would simply not "feel" like Thanksgiving! Even if your restaurant is closed for the holiday, you can capture that dish-centric Thanksgiving nostalgia by making a couple of changes to your restaurant for the month of November.

Craft New Drinks and Dishes for a Thanksgiving Menu

Nostalgia around the holiday all comes down to what mom or grandma put on the table for dinner. With this in mind, consider crafting a few traditional Thanksgiving influenced menu items that people will be excited to try. It doesn't have to be as simple and straight-forward as turkey and stuffing, either. Consider some of the savory flavors that seem to only belong to Thanksgiving.

  • Cranberry. Love it or hate it, cranberry sauce is a traditional staple on the menu. Get creative with ways you can inject cranberry flavor into your menu. Try a new cocktail with that warm cranberry flavoring or see how you can add a cranberry garnish onto a regular dish to accentuate the flavor.
  • Gravy. While you don't need to smother everything in gravy (but really, who would not enjoy that on their dish), think about the flavors that are contained in gravy and how they interacts with the favorites of mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. See if you can capture that flavor with an offbeat holiday dish.
  • Pumpkin. What would Thanksgiving be without some pumpkin pie? With pumpkin being such a hot flavor trend, there are a million different ways you can add that pumpkin nostalgia and excitement to your holiday menu.

While you can absolutely host the full-on, traditional Thanksgiving dishes, by incorporating the standard holiday flavors in new and exciting ways you will draw more people in the door to see if they get that same nostalgia with a spin on the classic.

Run Specials on Holiday Favorites

Many times the singular dinner on Thanksgiving is not enough for people to truly feel the spirit of giving and thanks for the season. Not only can you draw more people into your restaurant by simply advertising a Thanksgiving menu, but you can inject that dish nostalgia to even more people by running specials on the holiday favorites.

When you create your specialties menu, decide how you want to get people to order more of them. First, advertising that they are only available for a limited time should draw people in the door. Check stuffers and table tents work great for this! Then watch how you can get a family to order off the Thanksgiving menu with a buy two or four dishes for at a special "low cost" price. Feature any new holiday cocktails during happy hour specials and perhaps provide day long happy hour pricing on your Thanksgiving drinks. These special deals will draw more people into your restaurant who did not realize what a festive mood they were in!

Update Design for a Homey Harvest Feel

The decor and design of your restaurant is likely pretty standard throughout the year, but to provide that Thanksgiving holiday spirit, consider adding some harvest accents. Suspend fall leaves from the ceiling above tables. Add a pumpkin or gourd as table centerpieces. Provide little accents of traditional Thanksgiving imagery, such as a tall hat or turkey tail feathers, on the host podium or at the bar. Creating this Thanksgiving imagery welcomes people to get in the holiday spirit, making them more likely to try out your Thanksgiving menu and specials.

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How to Write a Business Plan

Many people dream of owning their own business one day. To turn your dream into reality you’ll have to write a business plan. This is a lot less fun than daydreaming about your flourishing business, but it is a necessity.

Your business plan will serve as a blueprint for all areas of your business. The U.S. Small Business Association notes, “A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business.”

Additionally, your business plan can help when applying for financing. You can bring it to your loan officer when you make a proposal. The projected profit margin is key because the lender will expect to be paid back. A completed business plan communicates ideas to others and provides the basis for a financial proposal. “The process of putting a business plan together forces you to take an objective, critical, unemotional look at the business project in its entirety,” notes Michigan.gov.

Now that you understand the importance of this document, here’s how to write a business plan from end to end. To create a comprehensive plan, include the following elements:

Executive Summary

An executive summary provides an overview of your business plan. In this section, convey who your company is, and why it will be successful. Include an overview of your products or services, a mission statement, key leadership involved, employees, and a location, if applicable. If requesting financing, you can include high-level financial information, including projections. This section brings together significant points of your business and should convey excitement and positivity.

Expert tip: Even though it will be at the beginning of the plan, write it after the rest of the plan is completed.

Company Description

Your company description offers the opportunity to describe your business’ products or services in full detail. In this section, illustrate your company, and be specific about the problems your business aims to solve and consumers you will serve.

Use this section to boast about your business’ strengths! The most critical component of this section is listing your company’s differentiators. To do this, list the advantages you have over current businesses operating in the vertical. Your competitive advantage can be related to place, product, price, or promotional strategies.

Market Analysis

In this section, report on industry trends. To do this, select a handful of the most similar businesses to yours, and then perform a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of them. Communicating your industry outlook is key here. If possible, include a one-, five-, and 10-year projection of your business and its corresponding industry.

Organizational Structure

This section reveals the legal structure of your business, as well as who will lead your company. Before you write this section, gain a good understanding of the legal structure that exist for U.S. businesses. You have the option of formalizing as a sole proprietorship, corporation (C- or S-corporation), a general or limited partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Once you have defined the structure, lay out an organizational chart. Use this as a visual cue to show who's in charge of what in your company. Identify each contributor of your business -- list their title, skills, and experiences, and how they will contribute to the success of your business.

Expert tip: Take this section a step further and include headshots and resume’s of your team’s key members

Product of Service Information

In this section, list your products or services. Then, explain them in detail by articulating the customer benefits. If you plan on filing for a copyright or patent, include it here. If you're doing research and development for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and Sales

It’s no secret that today’s business landscape is competitive. So, use this section to lay out a full picture of your business strategy. The prerogative of this section is to articulate how you will find new customers -- and keep them. Begin by identifying your target market. Describe demographic and psychographic traits, and then specify unique ways you intend to reach them. While traditional methods like billboards, magazine spots, and postcards are effective, online marketing tactics like leveraging online reviews, social media, mobile apps, influencer marketing, an optimized and responsive website, and a rock-solid visual brand are a must!

Financing or Funding Requests

In this section, assert your business' financial requirements – or how much money you need -- and where you intend to obtain the financing. Convince people that your business will be a financial success. The section should include estimated costs, projected revenues, and estimated profits to interpret your business’ cash flow, break-even points, and financial volatility over time. Last, describe your long-term future strategic financial plans, like how you plan on paying the financer of your business or selling your business.

Expert tip: If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Appendix

If you have supporting documents, add them here. Items could include credit histories, resumes, images, licenses, permits, patents, or legal documents.

All elements are important to include in a business plan, but some may be omitted based in the industry you serve. Hopefully you’ve now learned how to write a business plan. If you have additional tips, add them in the comment box below!

 

ShiftNote is an Online Manager’s Logbook and Employee Scheduling Software available to make all those hairy management tasks easy to control in one simple interface.  Start your research and see how technology can help your management by exploring ShiftNote!

 

Exciting Food Trends

One of the best ways to create buzz about your restaurant and draw people through your doors is with your menu. When you have delicious and creative dishes that patrons cannot find anywhere else, people will remember and spread the word. It is not easy to find that flash of creative inspiration. However, one way to jumpstart your dish planning is to take a look at the latest food trends.

Poke

Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. Some are calling it the next wave of sushi. This hawiian dish is quickly becoming a fast trend and you will see it emerging as a major trend in 2018. Poke is served over flavored rice, sesasoned vegetables and accompanied by various dressings and sauces. Basically Poke is all the great elements of sushi served in a bowl.

Sourdough Bread

Grains are slowly losing their claim to fame thanks to the rise in dietary restrictions and clean ways of living. Sourdough bread is the exception to this rule. People who have sensitivities to gluten or who are choosing a gluten-free lifestyle for general health can eat sourdough thanks to the fermentation process. Sourdough bread does not have the same peptides that other bread has that causes gluten.

To attract the growing number of people who are abandoning gluten, adding sourdough bread recipes will help. Combine a sourdough bread with a delicious spread with a gluten-free soup. Or add a sandwich selection with the sourdough bread for the perfect lunch option.

Egg Yolks

The egg yolk has been a trend for over a year now thanks to an announcement that egg yolks do not increase cholesterol like it was once believed. In fact, eating egg yolk as the bulk of your protein can help trim fat. Now people are clamoring for the delicious eggy flavor in all their foods. Of course, you can get very creative with egg yolks in your dishes, Especially during lunch and dinner.  Stretch your imagination and create ways to utilize egg yolk as a focal point in your plates (like on a flatbreads, pizza or even as a bernaise topper over chicken, fish or beef).

Alternative Pasta

Wheat pasta had its day for the past few years as a healthy alternative to the carbohydrate-filled traditional pasta. Now the newest trend is to take pasta down an even more alternative route. People are experimenting with vegetable-based pasta such as zucchini, squash, and quinoa and are loving it. Now there are people who are also trying out lentils and beans in a pasta format as well. These alternative pasta methods are attractive to your patrons because they are low carb and incredibly healthy, making them feel like they are indulging in a big dinner without the caloric side effects. 

Vegetarian “Meat”

While we are talking about alternatives using vegetables, the trend of the veggie burger is getting a facelift with alternative vegetarian meat options. Culinary experts have found ways to make veggie meat look and taste more like real meat, making it an attractive option for vegetarians and carnivores alike. By combining lentils, beans, peas, peppers, and other vegetables into a mixture that can be made into burgers, ribs, steak, sausage, and more. Utilizing properties in certain vegetables, you can make the veggie meat react like real meat, such as adding beets to a veggie burger to make it “bleed” like medium rare beef. This food dish trend is exciting because people can feel like they are eating real meat with a good chunk of protein and additional health benefits, like more iron.

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Manager Notes 101: How To Effectively Log Notes for a More Productive Organization

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Manager notes allow owners and managers to document and communicate critical information pertaining to day-to-day or the long-term. Thankfully, cloud-based technologies like ShiftNote’s logbook allows you to avoid writing multiple Post-its to communicate important operational and personnel-related notes.

Logging manager notes aids in communication between managers and other leaders within an organization. It also streamlines the process of communication, making decisions easier, and information clearer. Systemizing log notes also allows managers to keep your team on track & accountable. And, with a tool like ShiftNote’s logbook, you can measure important stats/data within the dashboard to inform future decisions with quantitative data.

Who Can Benefit From Online Manager Notes?

Single or multi-unit businesses can benefit from using cloud-based management notes. In fact, this type of solution can be used at restaurants, retail stores, hotels, country clubs, golf resorts, manufacturing companies, business facilities, healthcare, and just about any place where communication is needed to share from shift-to-shift. Really any business with a lot of moving parts can benefit from an online logbook tool.

What Types of Manager Notes Should You Log?

Here’s a running list of 25 different types of notes you can log:

  • 1. Day-to-day operational notes
  • 2. Issues that occurred during your shift, or ideas to make the next shift run smoother
  • 3. Personnel issues
  • 4. Employee notes to support a bi-yearly or yearly review
  • 5. Employee feedback
  • 6. Customer feedback
  • 7. Maintenance and repair issues
  • 8. Sales forecasting
  • 9. Operational costs
  • 10. Estimated labor percentages
  • 11. Upcoming promotional ideas or marketing initiatives
  • 12. Task tracking
  • 13. Inventory analysis — things you may have run out of, or have just ordered more of
  • 14. Industry or product trends
  • 15. Meeting documentation and notes
  • 16. Weather
  • 17. Upcoming events
  • 18. Maintenance or repair work necessary
  • 19. Storing food safety standards and procedure information
  • 20. Develop employee recognition programs
  • 21. Technical/system improvements for software or computers used within your organization
  • 22. Staff action items
  • 23. Pricing notes
  • 24. Short- or long-term staff action items or goals
  • 25. Store documents

Manager Notes - Best Practices

Now that you understand the types of activities that can be logged, now you should gain insight on best practices for logging notes. Here are a few tips:

Critical Details Needed

  • Each entry should have enough detail so that someone else who reads the posts can get a clear picture of what happened without asking for further information.
  • Detailed log notes are also important because they can assist when legal issues arise. To this end.
  • Avoid using nicknames on your log notes. Clearly state whom the entry involves.
  • Stick to factual log notes. Personal opinions should be avoided. Instead, log your manager notes in a very analytical way. Answer the “5 W’s” -- who, what, where, when, and why.
  • Log notes should be for business purposes only. It’s not the place to communicate casually. Use the messaging system, or email for non business matters.

Confidential Information

  • Be cautious of posting confidential financial or medical information.
  • Don’t label guests or employees using any of the Federally Protected Classes including race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or age. This is important in the event of a discrimination claim.

If you follow the guidelines above and write clear, yet detailed shift note entries, then you should find ShiftNote to be an amazing tool to help make your life much easier!

While there are other manager logbook tools in the market available, we believe our solution far exceeds the rest. Our features include:

  • Ability to create shift notes electronically
  • Accessible anywhere
  • Instant searches
  • Easy document attachment
  • Multiple location management
  • Weather feed
  • Stat & sales tracking
  • Daily reports & alerts
  • Event calendaring
  • Task tracking
  • Deposit drop & cash counts
  • Customizable

 

5 Ways to Create More Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Have you heard of the fable of the chicken and the pig?

When cooking a dish made of ham and eggs, the pig provides the ham -- which requires his sacrifice. The chicken provides the eggs, which are not difficult to produce. Thus the pig is really committed in that dish while the chicken is only involved, yet both are needed to produce the dish.

Who is more committed? (Answer: the pig.) And how do you get the level of commitment from your own workforce?

Less than 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Engaged workers are the lifeblood of a profitable and successful organization.

What’s an Engaged Employee?

An engaged employee is highly vested in your organization. They bring consistent high performance, passion, and a connection to the company. They help support new initiatives, cheerlead other employees to perform at top levels, and champion customer relationships. Disengaged employees can be a huge detriment to a company. They have a tendency to have low performance and customer engagement levels, and truly see a job as just a paycheck – and not a way to support an initiative or better the lives of others.

Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

In Gallup’s Q12 Meta-Analysis, researchers studied nearly 1.9 million employees and found a connection between employee engagement and the following performance outcomes:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Absenteeism
  • Accountability
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Employee turnover
  • Theft
  • Quality

Now, how can you create more engaged employees and turn the collective group into a highly engaged workforce? Here are five ways:

1 - Offer Continuous Performance Feedback

A two-way communication loop is important in any aspect of life. This is no different in a workplace. Employees who get constructive and regular feedback from managers and business stakeholders are more likely to be a committed member of the workforce.

  • Leaders learn how to lead not manage
  • Provide bi-annual performance feedback; that is transparent, fair, clear, and actionable
  • Upskill employees with skills like social selling
  • Offer coaching or mentoring opportunities within your company
  • Have activities where peers can openly share learning and provide each other with feedback

2 - Let Employees Make Meaningful Contributions to Your Company

Employees who view their job as a means to offer a meaningful contribution to the betterment of an organization are more likely to be committed and engaged employees. You should aim to provide an atmosphere that allows them to collaborate on the process of building your business, and in turn, they will feel like they are making an impact on a greater scale.

  • Ensure employees understand the vision and goals of your organization – and are collaborative in the process of defining them
  • Create personal growth goals with broader business goals
  • Drive ideals of corporate social responsibility and community-based initiatives by company-wide volunteering programs
  • Remove unnecessary rules and streamline processes – like logbook or employee notes

3 - Take Time for Play

While you may associate play with children’s activities, taking time for play removes the stigma that work is boring, mundane, and a ‘job”. Take time to introduce fun into your organization to gain a more engaged workforce.

  • Get outside! Hold meetings or touch bases al fresco
  • Plan activities for the staff to give them an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the regular work environment. This could include mixers, barbecues, or other all-company functions

4 - Reward and Praise Employees

Appreciation is a fundamental human desire. Employees respond positively to reward and praise because it validates the work they’ve put in is noticed and valued. And when your employees feel valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises. And this has a favorable effect on a business’ bottom line. Make a list of employee engagement ideas and implement some of them every week!

  • Offer standard performance bonuses for quality work
  • Creating standardized recognition plans
  • Focus on giving employees positive feedback, not just negative

5 - Make Technology a Priority

Ease and efficiency is important to the modern-day workforce. Technology allows businesses to scale and work smarter. In fact, employee scheduling and online logbooks offer ways to improve communication between managers, keeps a team on track & accountable, and it measures important stats/data to inform future business decisions.