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Malayna Struckman

Malayna loves the hospitality industry, event planning, social media and outstanding customer service. She has spent the last 25+ years inspiring both FOH and BOH staff members to perform at higher levels. Malayna is passionate about ShiftNote and how it can help grow your business and improve your day to day operations with shift to shift communication. When not at ShiftNote, Malayna enjoys spending time with her family, socializing and exploring new restaurants.

Shift Scheduling and Management: The Ultimate List of Resources

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As a manager, you wear a lot of hats. A jack of many trades, one trade you have to perfect is shift management. Anticipating trends, matching the volume to staff, and maintaining order between your staff and management team is paramount. Yet resources on shift scheduling are few and far between, making your job all the more difficult. Beyond the lack of resources, time, and surplus of tasks, you realize that creating an employee schedule is an essential part of running your business. But for a lot of managers, the task is cumbersome, disorganized, frustrating, and a total time suck. But, it doesn’t have to be as painful.

Luckily you have come to the right place. This article will offer resources on shift management and employee scheduling:

On Shift Scheduling Resources

1 - Scheduling Secrets Revealed - 5 Secrets to Success: As a manager, you dictate your most valuable assets and how a change in personnel can impact your bottom line. But, the secrets are revealed! To help you make the best scheduling decisions possible, we created a blog post with five basic tips for scheduling employees.

2 - 8-Hour Shift Schedules: Pros, Cons, and Opportunities for Your Business: A rotating 8-hour schedule has multiple benefits for restaurant and hospitality businesses. It provides 24/7 coverage for your business by maximizing the number of consecutive days employees have off, while still maintaining a 40-hour workweek by including 8-hour days, 8-hour swings, and 8-hour night shifts.

3 - Managers Can Schedule from Anywhere With Technology: Still not convinced of the benefit of using a cloud-based, online scheduler? Know this -- being locked to this singular method of creating a schedule means restaurant managers are glued to their desks. Any time a manager receives a question about scheduling changes away from their schedule, they have to remember the change in order to make the update later on. What a pain! Beyond that, it offers extra employee visibility and transparency, allows for easy access, and reduces headaches!

4 - Staff Scheduling for the Holidays: The holidays are the best time for marketing opportunities for your enterprise -- and ones that can help capture big sales. There are three tips for maximizing holiday season sales. First, hold a training session that focuses on the customer experience. Then, confidently go forth in scheduling your employees to avoid burnout. Lastly, be more flexible with your staff scheduling and consider employees may want time off during the season.

5 - Creating A Schedule Template: When you are creating a schedule, you can choose to use a template to help you know what shifts you need to fill for that time period. There are two ways to create a template, you can create one from scratch, or you can turn an existing schedule into a template. This will help with scheduling in a timely manner each week, if shifts may be the same. 

6 - All too often employee scheduling is a constant struggle between putting out fires and staying organized. Employee Scheduling Software for Industry Vets helps you learn some of the secrets to scheduling and how to get more time back in your day. With the right scheduling system, you can reduce labor costs and create a better customer experience.

7 - The old way of scheduling with an excel spreadsheet and hand-written papers is slow, tedious, and just downright inefficient. With the new technology available today you can turn scheduling communication breakdowns into breakthroughs. With this newly created technology, you can allow the software to do the work for you while focusing on other more results-driven opportunities.

Management Resources

8 - The 80 / 20 rule is present everywhere inside your organization including your scheduling process. 80% of the time you spend on scheduling yields 20% of your results. The key to this principle is finding your 80 / 20 and focusing your attention on the right activities that drive more results.

9- Communication with staff can be even trickier than normal everyday conversations. Check out the most effective communication strategies for managers and learn how maintaining two-way communication loops with your team will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Learn how to use verbal and non-verbal cues to get the most out of your team.

10 - Easy Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover: According to Nation’s Restaurant News, cleanliness, labor costs, maintenance issues, and unexpected sales dips all have one common denominator – employee turnover. Your employees are your #1 asset. Combat the negative trend of losing employees and figure out how to find employees that are the right fit for your organization, avoid burnout and how to empower employees so you can do less with more.

11 - Manager Notes 101: How To Effectively Log Notes for a More Productive Organization: Anyone who has a shift-to-shift change-over should definitely be using a shift change-over logbook to log the day's activities. Logging notes aids in communication between managers, owners, employees, and anyone else who is engaged in the business. Notes allow managers to document and communicate critical information and important operational intricacies pertaining to day-to-day business as well as long-term issues. Having a system for logging manager notes allows you to keep your team on track and held accountable as well as streamlining the process of communication thus making decisions easier and information clearer.

12 - Create More Engagement in your Organization: Engaged employees are highly invested in your business. They bring consistent performance, support new initiatives, and champion other employees to perform at higher levels. The secret is communication and offering continuous feedback while allowing them to make meaningful continuations to your organization.  Allow them to take ownership and help drive their results with rewards and praises. Creating a more engaged employee will help grow your organization faster than you ever expected.

Are you already a user of Shiftnote’s employee scheduling software? If so, check out our Help resources on shift scheduling. Scroll to the middle of the page where you will see “Scheduling Tool”.

TIPS FROM THE INTERWEB

“The Schedule Book”: This book offers 75 schedules for every work environment. Whether you are an employee or a manager, this book will help you guide your company and even your industry to make critical changes to provide stability or growth in key market areas. Each schedule has tips that will give the reader ideas for implementation and success.

“Schedule Your Success”: Our lives are run on schedules. But, where is your current schedule taking you? Gain some tips on scheduling from this. This book teaches you to learn how to master a schedule to make everything else in your life easier and more productive.

The above resources will give you more guidance on shift management and employee scheduling. Remember, we can help! Try Shiftnote’s employee scheduler for 45 days for free to see for yourself! It’s cloud-based, convenient, flexible, and suits any sized organization.

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!

 

4 Ideas to Increase Mother's Day Restaurant Sales

ShiftNote_Mothers_Day_2018_lgWhat better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to take your mother out for a special meal? This is the thought that many dads and children have when planning the best way to shower their mother with appreciation and affection for the holiday. Capturing Mother’s Day sales can be tricky with the stiff competition from other restaurants advertising special offers and new dishes. To help stand apart from the competition, here are four ideas to help increase your Mother’s Day restaurant sales.

Create a Special Mother’s Day Restaurant Menu

Creating a new menu offering is an excellent way to attract families to your restaurant for Mother’s Day. The new offering does not have to be anything extravagant - just a selection of two to four dishes that you are only offering on Mother’s Day weekend. To appeal to moms, focus on unique ingredients that will make traditional dishes have a little more zing.

To go above and beyond, consider what special offers or pricing you can pair with the Mother’s Day restaurant menu. The dishes themselves can be discounted or come with a free appetizer or glass of wine. Likewise, you can provide special family pricing for moms eating with their spouses and kids. Of course the ultimate offering that will draw patrons to your restaurant would be offering a free meal from your special menu to moms, but pairing any special discount with the menu creation will be appealing.

Treat Mothers with Delectable Treats

Mother’s Day is all about treating moms special, so why not create some delectable treats that moms can indulge in for the holiday? Offer a featured smaller portion dessert menu that gives mom a taste of all those indulgent flavors such as chocolate, caramel, fruit, cream cheese, etc. You can even create a dessert sampler that gives a small taste of each flavor.

Another treat for moms is a relaxing glass of wine or unique mixed drink. Create a suggested pairing of different wines for your dishes and consider offering a free or discounted glass when ordering certain meals. You can also create a Mother’s Day restaurant feature drink with champagne and other spirits to let mom kick back and relax on her holiday.

Utilize Social Media for Free Dinner

Not only should you utilize social media and other marketing avenues to advertise your special offers, but you can take it up a notch by holding a Mother’s Day contest for a free dinner. Ask people to submit a story about how great their mom is and why they want to show their appreciation for all mom does on the holiday. They can submit their stories via social media by posting to their accounts and tagging your business. You can select a winner with the best story and award them a free dinner for four in your restaurant on Mother’s Day weekend. Not only does this show your winner that you appreciate them, but the attention generated to your profile from the contest tagging can help drive patrons to your restaurant for the holiday weekend. This is especially true if you are advertising your special offers on your page during the contest.

Partner with Local Flower Shops

Another common present that mothers receive for the holiday are flowers. This is the perfect opportunity to generate more sales by partnering with a local flower shop. The florist can provide a small flyer with every bouquet they sell in their shop with a unique special offer to help drive patrons to your door. Likewise, you can provide free flowers for every mom that eats at your restaurant that weekend to give your guests an extra gift. Attach the floral shop’s business card to the flowers to help promote their business. This allows you to support each other’s business and drive extra sales opportunities.

 

The Traditions and Best Dishes of Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! The holiday has gained popularity in the US and Canada for the delicious dishes and tasty frozen beverages. But the origins of this holiday go back further. The food traditions and history that helped establish the holiday outside of Mexico give us insight into why Cinco de Mayo is so popular and so delectable!

History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is celebrating the Mexican victory of a battle in Puebla against the French army on May 5,1862 during the French-Mexican War. The reason this particular battle is so celebrated is because the odds were not in Mexico’s favor. The Mexican army was greatly outnumbered by the French who had been undefeated in battle for over 50 years. President Juarez made the day a national holiday in September of that same year and we still celebrate Cinco de Mayo today!

Common Traditions

Every year in the town of Puebla where the battle took place, there are action-packed reenactments of the Mexican victory over the French. It begins with a parade of men dressed in Mexican and French uniforms with women in brightly colored skirts dancing along. Then the battle reenactment begins with sword fights and cannon smoke. Along with the parade, the streets are lined with colorful decorations and there is mariachi music and dancing.

Outside of Puebla, the colorful decorations and mariachi music continue throughout Mexico, Canada, the US, and some tropical islands. They are paired with traditional Mexican dishes and a huge pouring of tequila to celebrate the victory.

Our Favorite Dishes

While enchiladas, tacos, and margaritas are commonly consumed in the US for Cinco de Mayo, the cultural dishes associated with the holiday in Mexico have a rich history. Puebla was considered a culinary capital in an ancient city before Spanish explorers invaded the area. It was home to early versions of streetcar vendors who would sell delicacies to those arriving to the Cholula pyramid for worship. To make your holiday more authentic, check out these dishes from the historic city where the battle took place.

Chalupas. Unlike the American-ized chalupas that you find on the Taco Bell menu, authentic chalupas are more like tostadas with thick fried tortillas topped with meat, queso fresco, salsa, and onion. This was considered a quick dinner to serve after spending all day washing clothes in large baskets called chalupas.

Chiles en Nogada. Chiles en Nogada are very patriotic as they are colored red, green, and white like the Mexican flag and has become an iconic dish in Mexico. The dish combines sweet and savory perfectly with a picadillo stuffed poblano pepper fried in egg batter and topped with a walnut sauce, parsley, and pomegranate seeds.

Tamales. Tamales are a very traditional dish to make to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but not so much because of the flavor. The act of making tamales is labor intensive and is an activity that brings the whole family together. The anticipation of making the tamales all day with the family tops off the flavor and joy of eating them.

Pastel de Tres Leches. Of course you have to have desert on Cinco de Mayo! Pastel de Tres Leches, translated to three milk cake, is a very moist cake made with egg whites and soaked in three types of milk. Part of the tasty-ness of this cake is a homemade whipped cream topping!

To keep the party going, get some of our tips to make the summer patio season more successful for your restaurant.

 

7 Tips to Make Your Menu Design Even Better

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Note: We recently published a post on menu design. We thought we’d take it a step further and offer additional tips to make your menu design even better. Tune in!

As a restaurant leader, driving profits is your goal. While many areas of your business impact your bottom line, believe it or not, menu design is one of the biggest opportunities for sales increases. Why? There are a few reasons:

  • It’s an element of your restaurant that is fully in your control. (While top-notch customer service and delicious food can make or break the customer experience, these things are often out of your control.)
  • It’s a small effort that scales into big wins. Making a few tweaks to your menu’s format, can impact your bottom line.
  • It is your #1 sales tool and can be your fastest way to increase profits and create repeat customers

Here are some ways you can feel the love even more with better profits using a stellar menu.

1 - Limit the Number of Items Available

  • How many options are on your menu? Restaurant patrons get stuck in analysis paralysis if there are more than 40 options on a menu. Limit the number of options to no more than 10 per category -- appetizers, main entree, dessert, etc. In fact, 10% to 15% of the menu items are items that are troublemakers and could be eliminated.

2 - Keep it Simple

  • Similar to item quantity, intricately designed menus overwhelm customers, causing them to keep their standard choice. Focus on design simplicity and readability to give people more time to browse the menu and decide on what they want. Use a lot of white space, and make sure the font style is legible.

3 - CRAP?!

  • Have you ever heard the acronym C.R.A.P.? Believe it or not, it’s an easy way to remember key design principles.
  • C - Contrast: Avoid elements (type, color, size, color, line thickness, shape, space) that are too similar adjacent to one another on a menu. Your eyes are visually attracted to contrasting elements, like black and white or light and dark.
  • R - Repetition: Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. This helps develop the organization and strengthens the cohesiveness of the menu.
  • A - Alignment: Align menu selections under the subhead. Keep similar justifications for each menu panel.
  • P - Proximity: Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. This helps organize information and reduces clutter.

4 - Add High-Quality Photos

  • If a picture speaks 1,000 words, why not use them in your menu to induce some drool? Find a local professional photographer (there are even professional food photographers) who can shoot your top-selling and highest profit items. People purchase products based off the image alone. Have them prioritize shooting top-selling items with a high profits.

5 - Enlist a Pro for Menu Copy

  • We suggested in the previous point to hire a professional photographer. Beyond that, you may also want to hire a professional copywriter to write the item descriptions. Your menu is an effective sales tool when written professionally. Different wording impacts appeal and sends different messages. Often times, a chef will write the menu. While they might have good insight about the menu items, a freelance can take information given from your chef and turn it into persuasive descriptions. If you’re going to write the menu yourself, follow these tips:
    • Don’t over describe your items. Don’t list every ingredient -- that’s information overload.  Choose a few descriptors and differentiate.
    • Reread the copy. Does the description make you hungry? If not, revise it!

6 - Placement Matters

  • A restaurant patron looks at a menu for an average of 109 seconds on a constant loop, in a horizontal motion. 109 seconds is not that long for them to make a decision.  Don't make it easy for them to just scan for the price but rather have them read the description first and then include the price after the description.  Customers start reading the top of the right side of the menu first when browsing for menu options. Lay out your menu so your most profitable items will be placed in highly visible areas. Customers will remember the items placed in the 1st, 2nd and last positions so put your highest profit items there.  Also make sure to give priority placement to appetizers, sides, and put desserts on a separate menu. Virtually every customer will order an entrée, but not everyone will order extras. Be sure your staff is trained in the steps of service so you don't miss out on selling apps and desserts.  Last, make sure to divide your page into columns. A patron will be able to scan that information faster than a one-column layout.

7 - Utilize Prix Fixed Menus

  • Fixed price, or prix fixed menus help maximize on profit opportunities. Why? This multi-course option comes with a set price. Include an appetizer, entree, and dessert for one set price seems affordable to the customer, but believe it or not, you are increasing the dollar amount the patron spends by combining items at a set price. Your prix fixed options can even be a menu insert.

[BONUS]

  • Beyond the above elements listed, it’s advantageous to update your menu at least once per year. “Every item on your menu should be popular,” remarks FoodNewsFeed. “If a dish is not, it should be evicted and replaced.” As you update your menu, look at extending the menu of popular items. For instance, if a high-ticket item like a salmon entree is popular, consider adding variations of it to the menu.
  • Beyond that, think about removing Items with low sales and high food cost, like those that require slow preparation or need several special ingredients. To quantifiably do this, determine the gross profit dollar and average weekly sales of each item. (Multiply the average weekly unit sales by unit gross profit dollar to determine weekly gross profit dollar contribution.) Take out all items that contribute less than 3% of the total contribution.

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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

 

Fall for These 4 Ideas to Grow Sales on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday full of love and adoration for that special someone in your life. One of the most common ways to celebrate this love is to go out for a nice meal and exchange presents, perhaps even experience a proposal or two! For restaurant owners, this holiday is not only about welcoming love birds into your restaurant for an excellent night. There are many ways to grow sales opportunities with key holiday-centric strategies. So grab a box of heart-shaped chocolates and get ready to fall in love with these strategies that will help you grow your sales on Valentine’s Day.

Focus on Getting Reservations

Many people expect restaurants to be packed during Valentine’s Day. Encourage this thought process by promoting that your establishment has reservations available for the holiday. As you advertise that you have reservations available, showcase some of the unique meal offerings and specials that your restaurant will provide to couples who make a reservation. Remember that every reservation is a booked sale. Once you get them in the door, you have an opportunity to grow these sales more with your offerings and trained waitstaff.

Create Pre-Fixed Menus for Two

It is all about the menu when it comes to a great Valentine’s Day dinner. Patrons will fall on the razor edge of wanting an amazing meal without overpaying for it. This is the perfect opportunity to maximize your sales. Creating a pre-fix menu for two will provide a complete multi-course meal with delicious options at what the patron considers a great deal for all they receive. Ensure this menu has an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert option for one price. You can increase your sales by coming up with a main dish that uses an inexpensive cut of meat that you can make money on, such as beef short ribs, tri-tip, or heavily marbles top sirloin cap steaks. The menu should also have upgrade and additional dish options to further increase your sales opportunities.

Offer Specials on Beer and Wine Pairings

Put some time into different wine and beer pairings to go with your pre-fix menu and decide what special offer you would like to present to couples eating at your restaurant. It could be a bottomless option for one price, or a discounted price if they purchase a certain meal. Likewise, you could offer a beer and wine happy hour on Valentine’s Day for the hours where you have few reservations or less traffic, such as 3pm-5pm.

Infuse Your Restaurant with Valentine Motifs

For some extra fun, try including these facts about the holiday throughout your restaurant! These can be callouts on your special valentine menus, created as table pieces, placed as signs, or shelled out by your waitstaff as they are serving meals. Don’t forget to also set the mood with candles, flowers, and notes of red and pink throughout your establishment! Setting the mood this way makes your atmosphere more fun and romantic, encouraging people to splurge more on wine or go for a dessert.

  • The holiday is named after a 3rd century priest named St. Valentine who performed secret marriages against the wish of Roman Emperor Claudius II. At the time, it was believed that single men would be more likely to enlist in the army.
  • St. Valentine, whom the holiday is named after, healed a jailer’s blind daughter. Before he was executed, he sent the daughter a letter signed “From your Valentine”. This is where the tradition of sending love notes is believed to have originated.
  • King Henry VIII declared Valentine’s Day a national religious holiday in 1537. It was decommissioned as religious holiday in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.
  • The Italian city of Verona where the play Romeo and Juliet was set receives around 1,000 letters every Valentine’s Day addressed to Juliet.
  • There was a superstition in the middle ages that said if you were single, you would end up marrying the first single person you met of the opposite sex on Valentine’s Day.
  • 8 billion candy hearts are produced every year, enough to stretch from Valentine, AZ to Rome, Italy and come back again.
  • While women buy 85% of valentine cards sold, men spend twice as much on valentine gifts.
  • 50 million roses are given on Valentine’s Day around the world and 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate are sold.
  • 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year in the US alone.

Are you looking for more ways to grow your restaurant sales throughout the year? Check out our blog about selling the sizzle, not the steak to increase sales.

 
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The Most Effective Communication Strategies for Managers

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Think of any situation from your personal or professional life that has gone sour. Most every instance stems from one thing… Lack of, or poor communication.

Communication can be even trickier in the workforce – especially as a manager communicating to team members. You need to communicate high-level company initiatives, changes, updates, bad news, good news, feedback… The list goes on.

Why Invest in Effective Communication Strategies?

Maintaining two-way communication loops with your team ensures everyone is on the same page and creates a seamless flow. In fact, it helps your profits too. Communication impacts every area of your business, from customer relations to employee scheduling!

So, How Do You Do It?

Here are seven effective communication strategies to put to practice:

1- Listen First

You may not associate this concept at first, but listening is actually the first step to communicating. Think about it… Your favorite manager, leader, or even friend probably initiated a resolving a conflict or having a discussion NOT by accusing their employees, by listening to your perspective first.

Another mistake made in the workplace is thinking about the next thing you are going to say, versus focusing on the words coming out of the communicator’s mouth. This is when really important information could be missed.

So, focus intently on what your employees are saying, and then follow up with questions. What information was missed? What points of clarification do you need?

2 - Master Non-Verbal Communication

Communication is half verbal, half non-verbal. Learn how to control your body language as you communicate with others. Your facial expression, stance, and gestures give a visual signal to the speaker that you are actively listening to what they have to say. When communicating, make direct eye contact, stand tall, and don’t cross your arms.

3 - Who Are You Talking To?

The world is comprised of many types of people – some are introverts and some extroverts – and both whom require very different kinds of communication. For example, introverts prefer one-on-one communication, not a group setting. If you call on them to speak in a group, for example, they will likely not say much. Very different though in a one-on-one setting. Extroverts, on contrast, will speak freely in a large group and freely talk through their feelings. They prefer getting input from as many people as possible.

4 - Online Or In Person?

There’s also the way that people prefer to receive information. For example, younger generations prefer getting a text, email, or message via an internet app, while older generations might still like to hear something straight from the horse’s mouth. Generation aside, someone’s personality type would also impact their preferred method to receive information. CIO Magazine even reports that, “Collaboration tools help streamline project management and facilitate the process of collaborating with team members and other stakeholders.”

Cloud-based apps like ShiftNote’s products, allow businesses to improve communication between managers, too. For example, our manager’s logbook makes it easy for managers to log specific notes to make a swift and efficient transfers from shift to shift, keeps a team on track & accountable, and also measures important data to inform future business decisions!

5 - Keep It Regular

Daily, weekly, and monthly employee meetings are necessary for keeping your entire team in the loop. Connecting as a team informs employees of changes or updates and gives them a level playing field to voice ideas concerns and share status updates. So, what makes an efficient meeting? A few things to consider implementing:

  • Have a clear-cut agenda (and stick to it)
  • Ask team members to collaborate on the discussion, but table non-urgent items
  • Have a standing meeting, so people can plan on it
  • Offer follow-up notes or conversation

6 - Make Yourself Available

As a manager, it should be your mission to be available to employees. Take the time to sit down with them and communicate. In the long run it will circumvent further problems.

7 - Know When To Get To The Point, and When To Elaborate

The modern-day worker is very busy. Don’t waste their time and elaborate on things that can be communicated quickly, yet make sure to clearly offer a background when it’s needed.

Communicating well and often can help your business build strong relationships with your employees. It can instill confidence in employees, improve engagement and accountability. Take the time to master these seven strategies and you’ll be on your way to smoother communication in your workplace. Good luck!

 

Holiday Marketing Ideas To Drive Foot Traffic This Season

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While the stores are slammed over the holidays, sometimes restaurants have a harder time drawing guests. ABC News reports 40% of a store’s annual revenue may come during the holiday shopping season, but restaurants might slowdown due to dining at home. While not every restaurant will suffer from a holiday slump in sales, every restaurant wants to maintain a steady flow of patrons this holiday season. With just a few simple holiday marketing tactics you can achieve high-impact results in December.
Here are seven key holiday marketing tips:

1 - Send Holiday Cards

Create and customize holiday cards to neighbors, local businesses, and previous customers to remind them that your restaurant is the perfect dining option over the holiday season. Include any holiday promotions or offers and note if your restaurant has holiday decor or entertainment. If you want to avoid paying for postage, give an envelope to your customers and don’t have them open it until they return later in the month. This holiday promotion attracts repeated business because it creates suspense. Customers don’t know what type of deal is inside the envelope but will come in to see, no doubt. Learn more about the “ No Peeking Promotion”.

2 - Email Last Year’s Guests

If your restaurant has an email subscriber list or uses OpenTable, it’s likely you have a good list of previous patrons’ email addresses. Contact them and offer to book their place in your restaurant. You can even provide a specific incentive for them for their loyalty. Include a link or contact information to make it easy for them to make a reservation, and include a special promotion for them to show your appreciation. 

3 - Hold a Ho-Ho-Holiday Event

Create a unique event such as brunch with Santa, or a special four-course meal at your restaurant, for New Year’s Eve or Christmas Eve party. Or host a New Year’s Eve soiree with wine, music, and dancing or specific nights throughout December.

4 - Market A Large Space for Big Parties

If your restaurant has a separate dining room or event space, capitalize on the opportunity to market the area as a holiday event space for large family get-togethers, corporate events, and private holiday parties. Post promotional materials to promote your event space throughout your restaurant, advertise in magazines and newspapers, and on social media. Don’t forget to decorate your event space to create a holiday haven.

5 - Serve the Greater Community

Offer a promotion that serves the greater good. If there is a food bank in your area, offer a discount when customers bring in a non-perishable food item(s) to your restaurant. You could even organize a charity dinner for a local non-profit or cause, with a percentage of the dinner’s proceeds going to a charitable organization

6 - Offer Gift Card Incentives

‘Tis the season for giving, right? Gift cards are great gifts to give -- and can be used throughout the year. To make gift card packages more enticing, offer an additional gift card when they buy a gift card. (Common options are $10 when you buy a $50 gift card, or $25 when you buy a $100 gift card.) The person who purchases the card may keep them for themselves, or give the cards to others.

To further promote the gift card incentive, set up a display at the entrance of your restaurant. Package them with holiday decor, like within boxes with bows. You can play a little bit and make them by yourself, or throw them into pre-made greeting cards. It is essential that it looks nice and that is a gift.

7 - Create a Holiday-Themed Menu Items

Feature special holiday-themed drinks, dishes, or desserts that incorporate holiday favorites, such as gingerbread, eggnog, Christmas cake, mulled wine, cinnamon, and home-cooked favorites. Then, promote the new, limited-time options to entice guests with seasonal dishes. Display front door signage, promote the entrees on social media and upload enticing pictures on your website

Like these holiday marketing tips? View more marketing strategies for holidays like Mother’s Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Halloween.

 
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Comment on additional ways to promote your business this holiday season below. 

How to Celebrate Veteran's Day All Year Long

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Veteran's Day is November 11th, a holiday that honors the brave men and women who fought for our country. Veterans are a rare breed of people that were willing to sacrifice everything for the good of the nation. While the holiday is an important one to say thank you to this group of people, your organization has an opportunity to say thank you to these courageous folks with discounts and special offers year round. Since these men and women put their lives on the line for our freedom, you can provide the perfect atmosphere to show appreciation to all of these individuals (and their families!) To say thank you to vets every day, check out some of our suggestions to honor veterans in your operation.

Consider Holidays

Of course you will want to provide special offers during Veteran's Day to say thank you to vets, but there are other holidays throughout the year that are important to the vet community. Create special offers for veterans and their families during Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. While your location may have larger special offers for each of these holidays, it is good to have an sub-emphasis on the specific special offer you can provide veterans who stop into your restaurant with their families on these important holidays.

Offer Discounts

Many restaurants honor senior citizen discounts, but there are few that provide an ongoing discount for those who served the country. Establish an ongoing discount throughout the year that is provided to customers who show a military ID or VA card. This can be a nominal amount, such as 10-15%, but every little bit of discount you provide is a wonderful way to say thank you.

In addition to an ongoing veteran discount, consider establishing vet days throughout the year. Every few months, hold a Veteran Appreciation Day at your restaurant. The discount can be higher than your normal vet rate, such a 30% off the total bill, or it can be a special offer, such as BOGO meals so vets can take their families out for a nice meal. Not only is this a great way to say thanks, but it is a good way to drive more people into your restaurant during slow days or spotty times of the year. Offering these discounts help your restaurant build a rapport with the veteran community to create regulars at your restaurant for little off your bottom dollar.

Vets Eat Free Days

On Veteran's Day, there are many restaurants that will offer free meals to veterans. This is something you can offer as well, although it will be competitive. Also, vets may only stop into your restaurant for the one free meal and not make it a point to come back any time soon. To get a foothold of veteran regulars, try offering a quarterly Vets Eat Free Day (including Veteran's Day). This can establish your restaurant as someone who cares for veterans and make your location a destination for vet get-togethers and family meals.

Veteran Inspired Dishes

Showcase your love for veterans by having a special marker on your menu for dishes inspired by vets. This can be a twist on dishes that were popular during wartime, from WWII to the modern Iraq and Iran wars. Throwback dishes provide a sense of nostalgia and home for veterans and can become a favorite at your restaurant. Likewise, you can begin to monitor what dishes veteran customers order often and create a marker for vet favorites. For both of these options, you can provide a special price or discount for ordering these dishes to help show your love for the men and women of the military.

Go the Next Step - Support Local Veteran Charities

One of the most contentious topics in politics is the quality of life veterans receive when they return home from war. If you want to truly say thank you to vets and showcase your support, consider having your facility support a veteran-focused charity. This could be funding or providing volunteers to build tiny homes for homeless veterans, having employees volunteer at a local VA, or becoming a patron for a veteran group.

These ideas to honor those who served can make your facility a veteran destination. Not only does this create loyal customers who will continue to come back and provide revenue, but it also helps give back to those who served our country and helped secure our freedom.

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6 Facts About Daylight Savings Time

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It is that time of year again, quite possibly everyone’s least favorite time of year (besides tax season). Daylight Savings Time ends on November 5th, meaning we all have to “fall back” and gain that extra precious hour of daylight (and of sleep!). With the irritation of waking up an hour earlier and being more tired than usual for a couple of days, people always wonder, “Why do we even do this?” To celebrate the day, here are six facts about DST that you may not have known.

Only 40% of Countries Use Daylight Savings Time

As of today, 40% of countries around the world follow DST rules. Countries in the tropical regions do not have a need as the sun is consistent throughout the year. Likewise, many countries used to participate in DST and have chosen not to for a variety of reasons. Visit Time and Date to learn which countries currently participate and which countries have in the past.

DST Used to Be for Energy Conservation

The countries that do still participate are not only doing it to torture people into waking up early. Originally, many countries opted into DST to conserve energy. The thought was that, by “adding” an extra hour of daylight in the spring, people would use less artificial light. This started in 1916 in Germany two years into World War I when the people of the empire set their clocks forward an hour in the spring. This ultimately led to the conservation of "fuel for the war" cause. Other countries in the war effort copied Germany’s efforts, yet many reverted back to standard time before it became commonplace during and after World War II. With the prevalence of screens from computer to television screens to cell phones, that theory is not effective any longer.

Canada started Daylight Savings Time

Many people believe that Germany started DST, but in reality a small town in Ontario began DST eight years before Germany in 1908. Other provinces and towns in Canada followed suit in the next few years and it became so popular that people naturally set their clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall.

Benjamin Franklin is Wrongly Thought of as the Father of DST

Many people have the incorrect assumption that Benjamin Franklin invented the concept of DST in 1784. However, that is incorrect. Benjamin Franklin was actually making a joke about French people being able to conserve their candles by getting out of bed earlier. Really it was a dig on how lazy French people were.

A Scientist and a Builder Started DST

If you think falling back an hour is bad, remember that it could have been two hours! In 1895, a New Zealand scientist named George Vernon Hudson and a British builder named William Willett submitted a paper outlining the benefits of DST. In their proposal, however, they suggested a two hour shift forward in October and a two hour shift backward in March.

There had been interest in the idea but nothing occurred at the time. In 1905, Hudson went on his own to offer an alternative. He suggested rolling the clocks forward for 20 minutes each of the four Sundays in April, then rolling back 20 minutes each of the four Sundays in September. Again, nothing came of this idea, but it was a more gradual adjustment to a time change.

Not All States Participate in DST

While 40% of the world participates in Daylight Savings Time, there are certain states that do not follow DST. The only states that do not observe DST are Arizona and Hawaii. The exception to Arizona is Navajo tribal lands do observe DST. In addition to those states, the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands do not follow DST either, due to their location and having a majority of sunny days year round.

There are quite a few states that have strong opposition to Daylight Savings Time and have legislation in progress to end the practice in the state. These include Alaska, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington.

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Restaurant Experts You Must Follow In 2017

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Running a restaurant is not easy. Every year the challenges seem to increase from ways to get people in your door to how to train and retain your staff. Finding time to do the research to make the best decision for your business is difficult. Instead, leave it to the experts! There are hundreds of restaurant industry experts online that are willing to share the latest trends, tips for success, and great ideas to make your restaurant more profitable and sustainable. Here are some of our favorites.

Writers and Editors

Peter Romeo, Editor at Large: Peter Romeo is a renowned voice in the restaurant industry since the 1980’s. He is the editor of RestaurantBusinessOnline.com and FoodServiceDirector.com. Following Peter Romeo is an absolute must if you want the latest insight on pains and gains in the restaurant industry, new innovations, and solid advice on being successful. Definitely do not skip adding him to your list!

Danyelle Freeman, Author and Blogger: Danyelle Freeman is an all-star blogger and author focusing on experiencing the flavors of the world without having to leave your home. Her feed brings delicious food inspiration with recipes and ingredients inspired from around the globe. She also features some great restaurants that will help inspire you to innovate your restaurant.

Barbara Castiglia, Executive Editor of Modern Restaurant Management: As an executive editor, Barbara Castiglia knows the latest and greatest ways to take your restaurant management to the next level. Her Twitter feed is a curation of some of the best articles online, giving tips and guidance on improving your restaurant management through marketing, new strategies, menu ideas, and even more.

Celebrity and Personality Influencers

Grant Achatz, Celebrity Chef: Grant Achatz is a renowned chef that has gained fame through his molecular gastronomy food experiments at his Chicago restaurants. You will want to follow him on Instagram where he shares the latest dishes and experiments. His passion for food and the restaurant industry shines on his feed; following him is sure to inspire!

Ted Allen, CHOPPED Host: If you are a Food Network fanatic, you no doubt know who Ted Allen is. CHOPPED is a show where chefs compete in three challenges, creating dishes using a mystery ingredient. As the host of CHOPPED, Ted Allen understands the creativity it takes to make dishes stand out and to put a spotlight on your restaurant. On his feed, Ted shares interviews with eclectic (and delicious) restaurant chefs all over the country as well as some of the creative dishes chefs are sharing on social media for inspiration. His dry sense of humor is also used to comment on current events, giving you a good giggle as you scroll through Twitter.

Stephanie Izard, Chef and Top Chef Alum: Stephanie Izard become a celebrity chef after appearing on Top Chef. She has two restaurants - Girl and the Goat and Little Goat Diner - in Chicago. Her feed is full of some of her delicious dishes full of quirk and personality. She also can provide insight into some great ways to market your restaurant online.

Industry Experts

Michael Chernow, Restaurant Owner: Michael is the co-owner of The Meatball Shop and the owner of Seamore’s. On Michael’s feed, expect to find daily motivation to help you conquer each day in the industry with success. You can also afford to learn a lot from his social media marketing strategy as he shares a combination of reviews, articles, personal photos, and guest posts about his restaurants.

Paul Barron, CEO, Founder, Editor, and More! Talk about a busy guy! Paul Barron loves all things restaurants and has an incredible pulse on the latest trends in restaurant service and categories. He is the executive producer of Foodable, author of The Chipotle Effect, and founder of Fast Casual. Paul’s feed is a treasure trove of restaurant insights, especially for the latest fast casual restaurant trend.

Chris Hill, Entrepreneur and Restaurant Branding Expert Chris Hill has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to restaurant marketing and management. When you follow him, expect to see in your face opinions that will make your restaurant better (for example: "Sure, there is the shortage of cooks and all, but if I need to replace you, I can. Sorry to break the news."). As an entrepreneur, he conducts many interview both in articles and podcasts giving solid advice on the cutthroat attitude you sometimes need to have in the business.

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