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Matt Thompson

Matt has let his lifelong passion of food and people lead him to 15 amazing years as a restaurant manager and another 9 years working as a Director with a major food service distributor. He has channeled this passion to help create and run ShiftNote. When he's not dominating the food service industry, he's spending time with his 4 children and cheering on the Tigers as a Mizzou Alumni.

Shift Scheduling: A How-To Guide From ShiftNote

What is ShiftNote?

ShiftNote is a shift scheduling software with a built-in manager log book. It's easy to use and great for restaurants, retail stores, hospitality, healthcare facilities, manufacturers, and more. Any industry that works on a shift-to-shift basis will benefit from ShiftNote. With 75% faster scheduling techniques, managers can save time creating schedules. You will have all the tools to build your employee work schedule each week with just a few clicks while streamlining communication and managing your workforce better than before. ShiftNote will improve your shift-to-shift communication all around and reduce time creating your employee shift schedules. 

Did you know? Managers can save 80% of their scheduling time (which equates to 6 hours a week scheduling) when utilizing modern employee scheduling technology.

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The mission for a shift-based work environment is critical when investing time and energy into scheduling 8-hour shifts. But all the time and energy that goes into creating schedules will ensure your business will be in the right place. Some other things employee scheduling may impact are employee productivity, labor costs, legal compliance, and employee & customer satisfaction. Here are some tips to help you guide your scheduling workflow plan: 

How-To Guide with 4 Tips Below!

  1. Construct Your Schedule Template
    • A master employee shift schedule or schedule template defines who, what and where resources are needed at a high level, known as an overview. Identify and anticipate the necessary resources by making sure they support your business's needs. Then identify existing regulations, processes, and policies that may impact your schedule building opportunities. 
  2. Assign Shifts
    • Once the employee shift schedule is mapped out, it's time to assign shifts. Places and times should be determined if the schedule template was made correctly, so all you have to do is select the right individual for each shift. Some pro strategies include figuring out who is in charge of creating shift schedules, finding out how employees request shifts, and how much each shift may cost, referring to the labor costs, which will guarantee you stay on track with your company’s income. 
  3.  Make Changes
    • You may think the perfect shift schedule is all set now, but there may always be something that needs to be edited or changed. Reasons for editing the 8-hour shift schedule could be, someone calls in sick, no-shows happen, or someone’s availability changes all of a sudden. Don’t think as soon as the schedule is made and published you can forget about changes! This is what ShiftNote is for. Daily Notes and communication between employees. 
  4. Measure, Learn & Adjust!
    • Compare analytics to know when the best times to schedule employees are, so you have enough help during busy times, and not too many employees during slow hours. Sometimes the on-call method could work here, but it is a tricky solution to implement with an 8-hour shift schedule. Once you know the busyness and downtimes, you will be able to have a more set-in-stone schedule each day and each week. Just keep track of times and adjust your schedules if needed. 

For a more in-depth look at the tips and tricks for shift schedules, follow this link here!

Why Going Paperless is the best option for you?

Going paperless means streamlining all of your shift scheduling-related communications into a single software, which is the most efficient and organized way to go. Employees that have a shift change will see it automatically as a notification either on their mobile device or computer, making it super easy to communicate any changes that arise. Employees can also submit their availability virtually anytime, while managers can update the changes and availability without having to spend countless hours figuring out the schedule via pen and paper or excel spreadsheet. ShiftNote even has a mobile app for users to access their schedule anywhere and at any time. ShiftNote's online software will reduce the complicated and messy communication that used to be while growing businesses' sales and profits. 

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Check out how ShiftNote’s shift scheduling software is the best fit for your business here.

If you want to test it out and see if ShiftNote is a great fit, we have a 30-day free trial available just for you!! 

START FREE TRIALIf you are looking for the ultimate list of resources for shift scheduling, click here!

Leveraging Independence Day Sales Strategies

ShiftNote_July_4th_2018Ready to add a little spark and boom to your restaurant profit? Independence Day is not only a fun holiday celebrating the freedom of the United States. It is also an excellent opportunity to increase restaurant sales. When you brainstorm and implement Independence Day sales strategies, you will both increase sales on the holiday and create an opportunity to draw more new patrons into your restaurant, converting them to repeat customers. To help you create a strategic sales plan that is perfect for your restaurant’s budget and forecast, here are some ideas to help kickstart your 4th of July creativity.

Go Full Patriotic

The most important thing you can do to increase 4th of July restaurant sales is to make your establishment look the part. This will help with promotions and to create a better experience that will encourage people to buy more. The decorations should be red, white, and blue everywhere. Think about flags in centerpieces, foil decor, changing the lighting, colored candles, and more. Focus on creating a fun patio atmosphere as well to really reflect the outdoor spirit of the holiday.

Not only should the decor reflect patriotic colors, but the food should as well. Create special menu items that are centered around patriotism. To attract families, try offering inexpensive desserts and snacks that are red, white, and blue for kids to munch on. Likewise, you can create a special patriotic dessert menu that features the red, white, and blue colors and reflects the summer season by being chilled. Lastly, what is more American than grilling out for Independence Day? Focus on creating a delicious grilled menu offering that is celebratory of the summer. To get ideas for some great patriotic menu items to celebrate the holiday, check out our blog on July menu options.

Implement Marketing Sales Strategies

One of the cornerstones of your Independence Day sales strategies should include marketing. Promoting the features, decor, and 4th of July party at your restaurant is what will help draw people in to increase those sales. Here are four ideas to get you started.

  • Focus on a key image for all marketing. In addition to including patriotic colors in all of your promotions, choose a key image to create consistency across all of your Independence Day marketing promotions. Try photographing a dish you will be serving with an American flag or other patriotic imagery in the dish. Bonus points if the dish itself is red, white, and blue!
  • Pair up with other businesses. Find another business in the community to pair up with for your 4th of July bash. This could be in the form of co-sponsoring the event at your restaurant or offering their goods throughout the holiday. By partnering with someone else in the community, you will receive extra cross-promotion to your establishment.
  • Promote online ordering. Some people are very busy on the holiday and may not have time to sit down for a meal in a restaurant. Likewise, they may not have time to cook themselves. This is where online ordering comes into play. Promote the items on your menu in conjunction with your online ordering capabilities so families can take their meals with them to a fireworks show.
  • Run a social media contest. Take to Facebook and increase visibility to your restaurant by running a social media contest. Encourage people who visit your restaurant to check in to your Facebook page with a photo in your establishment. To create incentive, offer a 10% discount on their meal when they check in. You can also randomly select one photo to be the winner and receive a free meal. The more people who post photos and check into your Facebook page will allow word about your restaurant to spread to others.

Ensure Complete Scheduling Coverage

There will be an increase in traffic to your restaurant during the holiday as well as many of your employees taking off work to go celebrate with friends and family. This creates a tricky scheduling balance. You want to ensure you have enough coverage to handle the increases in traffic (especially if you are promoting online ordering) without having to call people in who are off. Consider scheduling waitstaff to be on call during the holiday promotional period or offering incentives to those who were previously scheduled off.

Record and Forecast for Next Year

Hopefully your manager’s logbook goes back to last year and you can see what kind of sales, weather, coverage, and promotions you had last year. If not, or if the information is incomplete, ensure you are recording all of these data points this year. Having this information on the books will allow you to improve your Independence Day sales strategies for next year.

 

Slow Sales Problem vs. Symptom

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Here is the deal - often restaurants blame problems they are having on slow sales without looking at the reason for slow sales. Some restaurant owners even resolve themselves to believing that their restaurant just has an ongoing sales problem. But slow sales are always a symptom and never, ever, the problem. There is a huge difference when it comes to terminology. Labeling declining sales as a problem instead of looking at it as a symptom is an incredibly critical distinction to make, and here is why.

Problem vs Symptom

Viewing sales as the problem means that restaurants will hyperfocus on solving the problem. Their objective to solve the problem narrows in on only sales which ignores other issues that are contributing to it. Usually this tunnel vision produces only one plausible solution - more marketing to help increase sales.

Don’t get me wrong - marketing is absolutely an important part of generating sales! But trying to use marketing as a solution to fix declining sales is like providing electricity to a dead frog. Sure, it will jump, but the frog is still dead. You may seem random bursts of sales increases in marketing, but that is not an ongoing solution to your sales symptom.

Marketing changes when there is already an existing issue will not build guest loyalty, repeat business, and positive word of mouth marketing. More likely, the situation has more to do with what you are doing correctly or ignoring in your restaurant every day and how the overall experience is perceived by your guests including food quality, service, and atmosphere.

Look Objectively at Your Restaurant


If your sales are too low at your restaurant, it is not just happenstance! There is a reason behind the low sales and fixing that problem will be the solution to improving your sales. To figure this out, it is important to step back and take an objective look at your restaurant operations as well as the temperature of the local restaurant market. Consider the following:

  • Food Quality: Is your food not only high quality, but consistently delicious? It is important not to rely on your own opinion here and instead find people who will tell you the truth. Ask your servers to test it out and give their honest opinion. Or leave survey cards at the table for guests to fill out. You can offer rewards for both of these to be completed.
  • Service: Is your service staff friendly and responsive? Using a software that helps track sales and staff performance will give you a good view of how the staff is doing as whole since you can’t be there every second of the day to visually watch how they are doing.
  • Guest Experience: Are you giving your customers what they want for the ultimate guest experience? Look at the quality provided, the choices customers make when ordering, prices on your menu, cleanliness of the restaurant, service provided, and the overall atmosphere.
  • Competition: How does your restaurant's value proposition and experience proposition compare to what customers get from your local competitors? Send some of your servers to competitor restaurants in the area with the goal of analyzing their guest experience and overall quality. You could learn a lot!
  • Word of Mouth: What are you customers saying about you? While you can’t be a fly on the wall in their homes, there are many places you can check (and monitor in the future) to look at how customers view your restaurant. Supply comment cards and read each one submitted. Check all of the review sites online, including Yelp and Urbanspoon. Explore restaurant blogs and forums as well as local news stations with articles discussing restaurants in the area. Sometimes people will comment about other restaurants in your market that they love or hate.

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Whenever you take the time to look at every aspect of your restaurant and your local market, you will learn valuable information that will help you identify factors that you may be missing out on when you believe the only problem you have is sales. Without identifying the symptom of low sales, you are missing out on the big picture of your restaurant.

This is why throwing money at marketing when you have a low sales symptom is not the answer. This will make things worse if you spend time bringing in new customers to a restaurant that has problems. Instead, you must look at the restaurant from an intellectual perspective. Thinking objectively about all these factors that are keeping customers away will help you identify the real problem with your restaurant sales. When you look at the symptoms of low sales, it is the only way to come up with effective and lasting solutions. 

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!

 

Employee Scheduling Software Tips From Industry Vets

Restaurant employee scheduling can quickly become a nightmare trying to balance between shift planning,  employee’s personal schedules and the restaurants needs. While the task of employee scheduling can become daunting quick, you can focus on the things you can control. With these employee scheduling software tips and online employee scheduling programs like ShiftNote your shift planning and scheduling life can definitely be easier and you may even be able to go home earlier!

The Shiftnote team, Matt T., Leigh Ann, Kevin, Matt H., Larry and Malayna reveal top considerations a restaurant or hospitality manager should make to create the perfect schedule using an employee scheduling software. From challenges and opportunities, to issues related to under- or over-staffing this information will give you greater insight into the restaurant scheduling process and help identifying the right solution for your needs.

What are top challenges with employee scheduling?

  • Kevin: A few things: Balancing your time with the demand of employees, Time spent on schedules, Remembering employee’s time off requests and availability, Being understaffed, Forecasting labor spend and sales, Communicating the schedule effectively, Finding a place where your employees can request time off and release shifts.
  • Matt T: Balancing the business’ needs with your employee’s ever-changing work availability is a major challenge. In fact, much of the labor pool are students with activities, thus finding a balance between making sure you have enough staff to not only service your customers, but also cater to their needs caan be a struggle.
  • Malayna: “No Shows” presents challenges for restaurant managers, so it’s important to have a backup plan as part of your shift planning.

What should a restaurant manager consider when creating a shift schedule?

  • Malayna:  Requests off in order of seniority, making sure you have enough key people for busy nights, new hires shadowing with well trained staff
  • Kevin:  Events, Weather, LY information – it’s better to be overstaffed and make cuts early, than understaffed and your service goes down with the ship. Also, certain employees will make a restaurant busy or slow. Don’t staff your weaker employees all in one day. You have to have a mix of strong employees with newer ones. Your veteran employees can nurture newer staff.
  • Matt T:  A manager should consider forecasted sales (by day or week), budget (labor dollars), and employee pool resources. Employees are the difference makers in your success. In the restaurant business, finding, retaining and training quality staff never ends. As you create a schedule with your scheduling tool and assign shifts, it’s helpful to know your employee’s strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by ranking employees by their:

What mistakes do managers make when scheduling staff?

  • Matt T:  Not allowing time-off requests during high-volume restaurant sales days, Allowing too many people to take off, and then being understaffed, Not using a budget or forecasted sales to make a schedule, Not scheduling your best employees to capture better sales.
  • Kevin:  Not setting clear guidelines with new employees during the hiring process or taking into account upward or downward trends.
  • Leigh Anne:  Local events – like school schedules, teacher workdays, festivals, and sporting events – can greatly impact your business and staffing needs. Be prepared by knowing upcoming local events, but maximize on any sales opportunities. For example, your high school football team plays every Friday night. While this could deplete your high school staff, rent a big screen and offer 10% off to anyone who wears the school colors.

What should you do if you are consistently understaffed or overstaffed?

  • Leigh Anne:  It is better to be overstaffed than the other way around. Empower your management team to be in control of shifts and sales dollars earned. If sales are not what they should be, cut your employees at the appropriate times. Keep you aces in their places in case there is a late-night rush, but stop spending labor dollars when it’s not necessary!
  • Malayna:  Give shifts to senior employees or see if they want a vacation day when you are overstaffed. When understaffed, look to your current staff and friends, and keep restaurant recruitment strategies in your back pocket.
  • Matt H:  This is where ShiftNote comes into play. ShiftNote is a scheduling software solution to schedule week in and week out. Our ShiftNote employee scheduling software recognizes employee availability, RTO requests, job codes and more, so you are not scheduling staff in the wrong places. It’s an easy-to-use system, perfect for businesses that do not want to spend an arm and a leg…. It’s also easy and intuitive. A question you can ask yourself is “Can my grandma write a schedule for my restaurant not knowing anyone? With ShiftNote's scheduling tool it is certainly possible.
  • Kevin:  There are two things here to understand:
    • Being consistently understaffed will hurt your business. Guests will not return and you will burn out your team.
    • Being consistently overstaffed will impact your bottom line negatively with high labor costs, servers and bartenders will not make the money they need and will look elsewhere for work.

What should you look for when choosing employee scheduling software? 

  • Larry:  Easy to use – staff scheduling software that doesn’t necessarily need a manual, Can be used to communicate between employees and managers, Is quick - doesn’t take long to make a schedule, Is mobile and user friendly with a scheduling app, Has a request time off option, Can automatically schedule employees quickly so you don’t have to work as hard, Takes into account employee capability, Works with a POS system and can pull POS information for historical data, Shows cost by day, week, and or month, Can run reports from any time period, Can show schedule by day, week, month, bi-month or any other view – along with the cost for that time period, Dependability, No set-up fees, Ability to test-drive for free, NO Contracts involved, Ability to forecast and configurable settings.
  • Matt T:  Also, you should start with your needs. Think about your budget and balance that with the software’s functionality. Some scheduling tools will have everything you need but if you are stuck on looking for one thing could minimize your choices quick!

How does a well-thought-out schedule affect overall restaurant operations?

  • Larry:  It’s the key to the entire scheduling process. Not only does it control labor dollars and hold employees accountable but it helps with staffing during your busiest times and so you can have a keen customer focus.
  • Malayna:  Everyone gels together and helps each other out more so the guest experience can be the best it can be.

What's the solution for managing the difficult task of employee scheduling?

  • Larry:  Of course, we are partial to ShiftNote, but additional strategies are:
    • Having great notes from last year (# of servers, # of Shifts, Sales Dollars by day part)
    • Creating a template for different levels of sales.
    • Starting early
    • Having request for time off in a minimum of 2 weeks before the schedule is made.
    • Using an on-call system and let employees know as soon as they call if you need them.
    • Having one place for all the RTO’s to go.
    • Scheduling the busiest day first and then work to the next busiest day and on down the line,
    • Using a schedule that worked in the past and duplicate (Check for RTO or availability challenges before you complete and post it.)
    • Scheduling staff at the same time on the same day each week so that you are consistent and so your employees know when to check it.

 

TIPS: How to Increase Restaurant Sales and Profits

There is a number of ways how to increase restaurant sales, yet the profit-generating strategy many restaurant owners or leaders overlook is training. Everything comes down to teaching your staff how to succeed in your restaurant with excellent customer service, product knowledge, selling strategies, and unparalleled service behavior.

While there are many resources available to restaurant leaders, some training programs are hard to digest and put to practice. At ShiftNote, we believe it’s all in the acronym: “TIPS”. Taking the following approach to employee training will make your wait staff experts at providing and increasing restaurant sales through customer service:

  • Training employees
  • Income generating
  • Product knowledge
  • SMART service behavior

T = Training

Focus on ongoing staff development. Highlight service tips that will make a difference for the customer. You can structure some pop-up training sessions around the following concepts to instruct servers on learning how to stand out and earn more. So, how do you do this? Here are some ideas:

  1.  Set standards for customer service.
  2.  Take care in your restaurant’s presentation.
  3.  Make each guest feel valued as a patron of your restaurant.
  4.  Pay attention to glassware – small details go a long way.
  5.  Discuss going above and beyond the call of duty with things like maintaining table cleanliness, table greeting frequency, and creating an all-round welcoming environment for patrons.

I = Income

The key to earning this income is through exceptional customer service, and, in the eyes of the guest, the service standard is set by a server. Profit lies in the server being able to provide an exceptional guest experience. To inspire staff to do this, you need to:

  1. Create salespeople out of your servers.
  2. Teach them about zone selling – or upselling items during beverage, appetizer, main course, and dessert serving times.
  3. Understand the value of a dollar. (For example, a server who works 40 hours per week could see a potential 10,000 guests per year. If they could sell a soda or a cup of coffee to every guest they see, earning a dollar more on each sale. That’s $10,000 right there!)

P = Product Knowledge

For a restaurant to reach the next level of service, your staff needs exceptional – and innate – menu knowledge. Knowing the menu like the back of your hand is important – and beyond that so is menu details, like ingredients used, common allergens within the dish, portion size, and more. The goal is equip your wait staff to know as much about the menu as possible so they can answer any patrons question!

S = SMART Service Behavior

To earn more tips and see greater success at work, servers have to be SMART about the steps of service with:

  • Seating: Greeting patrons immediately leads to better restaurant turnover times.
  • Making a positive impression: A server’s personality can go a long way and a way to do this is customizing the guests’ experience.
  • Arranging delivery times: Avoid gaps in service times – especially the main course.
  • Revisiting the table: Servers need to make sure they are visiting the table enough and keep the table tidy.
  • Treating the close with the same importance as the greeting: A well-done goodbye is a server’s last chance to leave a lasting impression. And if a good impression is left, it’s more likely the patron will leave a good tip!

The Next-Level of Service To Increase Restaurant Sales

Now it is time to take the training, income strategies, product knowledge, and SMART service behavior to the next level by creating an experience for the customer. Combining these tactics into a superior service delivery will differentiate your restaurant from average guest visits to an exceptional and recommendation worthy experience. Here are four ways to do this:

  • Customize guest interactions
  • Listen with appreciation
  • Become a better salesperson
  • Showcase caring and hospitality

 

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7 Easy Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

Do you know what the root of a business’ problem is 90% of the time?

It’s employee turnover.

That’s right. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, cleanliness, labor costs, maintenance issues, and unexpected sales dips all have one common denominator – employee turnover.

Within the restaurant industry alone, there is 100% annual turnover between hourly teams.

Your employees are your number one asset. (And tools to help you perform your job – ahhem ShiftNote). So, how do you combat these negative trends and keep employees for the long haul? Here are seven ways to reduce turnover...

1 - Find employees who are the right fit

The best way to eliminate the chance for them to leave is to take time to find people with the right values, skill set, and track record. During the interview process, define the job duties and expectations, and make sure you ask behavioral questions to get a full picture of how the candidate would fit into your overall organizational mix. As you speak with them, use your gut. If you get a bad vibe from a particular candidate, don’t ignore that hunch… It’s usually right.

2 - Realize compensation and retention go hand in hand

When employees feel valued, they tend to stay longer. And this has a favorable effect on a business’ bottom line. While it might seem like a no brainer, many companies don’t realize that monetary compensation and benefits go hand in hand. Here are a few ways to put this to practice:

  • Offer standard performance bonuses for quality work
  • Create standardized recognition plans
  • In the service industry, most employees’ bread and butter comes from tips, so train them on how to maximize tips using social selling techniques.
  • It’s also adventageous to offer real-time recognition. So don’t wait til the next month or quarter to reward an employee for something they did today.

3 - Respect all levels

Did you know a startling 50% of employees don’t feel respected in the workplace? A study of nearly 20,000 employees conducted by Harvard Business Review and Tony Schwartz revealed that being treated with respect was more important to employees than offering recognition, communicating a vision, providing feedback, and even supporting professional development. This is arguably the quickest fix for retention. As a manager, make it a daily duty to offer respect to all levels of your organization and operate by the Golden Rule “To treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

4 - Play at work!

Take time to introduce fun into your organization to gain a more engaged workforce. “A day without laughter should be abnormal” notes The Balance. Take time for play to remove the notion that work is boring 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 outside, or just keep the mood light when it’s right. Play in the workplace also boosts morale and employee engagement as well!

5 - Offer professional development

Knowledge is power. When employees get the feeling management is stifling their ability to grow and learn, they may look elsewhere for a job. Here are some easy ideas to offer professional development within your organization:

  • Start a mentoring program. Pair a new and seasoned employee together and create a strategy for the newer employee to learn the tricks of the trade.
  • Provide opportunities within the company for cross-training and career progression.
  • Employees like to know their career trajectory. Outline this to them.
  • Offer a professional development credit of $100, $250, or even $500 per year and let them use it on a fitting online course, in-person seminar, or conference.
  • On-the-job training sessions and presentations are key.

6 - Avoid burnout

Are your employees exceeding the 40 hour per week mark? Doing this week after week promotes burnout. To fix this, make sure you leverage an employee scheduling software to staff adequately so overtime is minimized and you have a 10,000 foot vision on staffing at your organization. Balance is important in all aspects of life, and staff scheduling software can help you and your employees achieve this.

7 - Empower Employees

With this understanding about accountability in the workplace, you can set up your organization’s structure to empower your employees. This should start with leading by example. When you make a mistake or when something you asked for doesn’t turn out correctly, make a point to own up to your mistakes in front of your employees. Not only should you hold yourself accountable, but you should demonstrate how you plan to correct this problem from occurring again in the future.

As you demonstrate this behavior, empower your employees to begin holding themselves accountable. This can be rocky at first as employees are worried about consequences of admitting they made a mistake. Yet you should use the notion of accountability to encourage your employees to be proud of their achievements and own them. Empowering employees towards accountability will allow your organization to be more positive and uplifting as well as correct mistakes quickly with minimal repetition.

Have any tips you’d like to share to reduce turnover? Share them in the comments below!

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6 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Efficiency

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In manufacturing, a more efficient business means a safer environment, increased productivity, and potentially larger profits. Here are six ways to increase efficiency at your manufacturing business -- and see lasting results.

1 - Review Existing Procedures

Examine the current processes within your business. Use a fresh eye to evaluate the people, technology, procedures, communication tools, and resources. Then, find problems and pinpoint changes that you could make that would create a domino effect and positively impact the entire system.

2 - Update Ineffective Processes

Organization is a key part of an effective process. Lack of organization can result in huge amounts of lost revenue and wasted man hours. Productivity is directly tied to an organization’s process. When there is a place for materials, documents, and tools, there is no time wasted looking for those things. Think about the layout of your equipment when choosing a place for these stations in order to maximize efficiency and to create a smooth workflow.

Once you have identified and mitigated workflow problems, create an improvement plan. Possible solutions include reorganizing resources, evaluating budgets, or obtaining additional training.

3 - Collaboration Is Key

Gone are the days of disjointed and job-specific tasks. Today’s manufacturers are a part of a team. Your entire team needs to feel like they are working together towards the same goal. When this is achieved, there is less conflict, wasted, and lost revenue. To create a strong team, make sure that your staff knows that they have an open line of communication with management and can enjoy meaningful incentives. In manufacturing, collaboration is tightly tied to staff morale.

4 - Put A Price On “Congestion”

What area of your business has a cog -- and what is it costing you? If you don't know, figure it out. Having a dollar value assigned to your business’ bottlenecks will help you determine the severity of the problem. Is it one that warrants investing in new tools or machinery? If it is not costing you a significant amount of money, perhaps a new workflow process would be a better and cheaper solution.

5 - Set Goals

If it’s too difficult to get your business to operate at peak performance all at once, take it in stages. Set goals, then assign teams to roll out tactical changes that will help you meet the goals in stages. Making staged changes versus one fell sweep can also prevent a complete interruption of workflow for the entire business. During new process implementation, check on progress regularly. Are the changes fostering results? If not, quickly re-evaluate and come up with a new goals and solutions. Sometimes it might require just a small tweak to the original plan.

6 - Reward Your Staff

Your employees need to be invested in working on and seeing these changes through. They might have a huge part in process change, and if they are not invested then efficiency can be lost. Verbal praise and mass company-wide communication are good ways to keep your staff invested. Reward programs can work as well. This can shape the collective organizational behavior within your organization for the better!

BONUS: Use the Right Technology to Increase Efficiency

Process and efficiency improvement are best aided through technology. For example, you can source cloud-based tools that allows you to create manager logbook notes and streamline employee scheduling tasks. These solutions -- provided by ShiftNote -- are used by countless organizations around the world -- and have helped streamline effort and improve communication within organization just like yours.

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2017 Solar Eclipse: Hotel & Restaurant Manager Tips

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On Monday, August 21st, thousands upon thousands of people are going to be in prime eclipse viewing spots to experience the literally once in a lifetime occurrence. While this is an exciting event on its own, it is even more exciting to restaurants and hotels that are in central eclipse viewing locations.

People are willing to drive long distances to get to a prime viewing area and need a place to stay while they are waiting for the big moment. Likewise, restaurants are becoming a hot spot to grab a bite before moving outside to watch. When people are trying to find the best place to watch the eclipse, you want them to choose your establishment. Here are some tips to attract crowds to your hotel or restaurant.

Advice for Hotels

First and foremost, the most important thing you need to do as a hotel is provide the solar eclipse viewing glasses. Without these special specs, viewing the eclipse is dangerous. Include a pair of solar eclipse glasses for every guest that stays in your hotel. It is also a good idea to create a solar eclipse guide to hand out to guests. Include some history of the solar eclipse, the science behind it as well as a map for the best places in the area to view the eclipse.

Now you want to think about the rooms you have available in your hotel. Are there any with large windows that would provide a great viewing spot for where the eclipse is going to pass your location? If so, create a "special offer" for these rooms. You do not necessarily have to reduce your rates for these rooms (in fact, you may be able to get away with charging more), but you can advertise the convenience of watching the eclipse from their room. As a perk, include some solar eclipse swag as a complementary feature. Or offer meal vouchers to keep your guests well fed and happy during their solar eclipse stay.

As hotels in prime viewing locations are already being booked, it is time to advertise that you not only have rooms available, but that you are giving one night only room discounts. This will allow you to fill your hotel with people that may end up booking additional nights. Likewise, once they stay in your hotel, they will remember it is a great place to lodge. They are sure to come back for future trips.

If your hotel has roof access or if you have an outdoor restaurant or pool, you could consider throwing an eclipse viewing party for all guests with appetizer, beverages, music, and chairs to view the experience. Another idea to get people to your hotel for the eclipse event is to offer free or discounted transportation to prime viewing areas in your location.

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Advice for Restaurants

Just like with hotel owners, restaurant managers need to ensure they have plenty of complimentary solar eclipse glasses. There will inevitably be people who either don't have glasses or didn't know they needed them. Have a basket at the front for people to snag their specs and encourage everyone to get some for their safety.

Before you can start drawing people to your restaurant for the solar eclipse viewing, you need to decide what is your most attractive restaurant feature for this event. Do you have a stellar outdoor patio? Do you have enough lot space to create a picnic atmosphere for guests? Are you within walking distance to a park or other great viewing area? Whatever your selling point is for coming to your restaurant for the eclipse, you need to focus all of your efforts around that.

If you do have a great spot for viewing the eclipse, then it is time to throw a once-in-a-few-hundred-years watch party. Set the stage with solar eclipse themed decorations and hype up music. Consider rearranging your tables within the viewing space to provide the most visibility. If you do not have a great spot for viewing the eclipse, you need to make your restaurant the destination before and after. There will be a lot of people off work ready to witness the event. Create specials that entice people to fuel up for the eclipse or stop to discuss the experience with fellow viewers.

When you want people to attend your restaurant for the solar eclipse, going the extra mile will help set you apart from competition. Consider creating special eclipse-themed menu items that are fun and tasty. Advertise specials that will draw people in the door, such as eclipse happy hour pricing all day long and BOGO appetizers or entrees.

The solar eclipse is not only a once in the lifetime experience, it is also a huge opportunity for your restaurant or hotel. You will be able to take advantage of hundreds of extra patrons that are looking for a place to go during this occasion. Make sure your hotel or restaurant is the desired destination!

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The Power of A Dollar: A Guide to Increase Restaurant Sales and Profits

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When it comes down to it, every restaurant business should be profit-driven… Your restaurant needs to turn a significant profit to thrive as a business, and at the same time, restaurant staff want to earn a good income to build or maintain a comfortable standard of living.

A server’s paycheck will only get them so far, so the key to making good money as a restaurant server is through tips and upselling. As their leader, you need to coach staff to become customer service-oriented, and above that, exceptional salespeople. How do you motivate your servers to become better salespeople – and ultimately increase restaurant sales and profit? Here are two key strategies:

1. Invest The Time and Energy to Train Your Servers on Selling

It’s a pretty easy concept: when a server provides excellent customer service, they are also selling at the same time. Selling comes down to their menu knowledge, personality, and ability to customize a patron’s experience.

So, coach your staff to ask questions and listen to patrons to discover their preferences and customize smart recommendations. Offering suggestions has no detrimental effect on a sale; it can only lead to more profit – so why not suggest to your servers to try it?

Guest believe your staff know what the best things are to eat and drink, so why not offer suggestions of the best items before they even ask. Once servers have mastered “the helpful pitch” you can have frequent training sessions to strategize on what menu items you would like suggested based on the time of year and which dishes make you the most profits.

2. Share the Lesson of “The Power of a Dollar”

To help inspire servers to become better salespeople, break down some numbers for them. It’s one thing to tell them it’s important to be sales-focused, but another to offer proof.

If your servers increase their average check by $1 per person, have them think about how that would impact their weekly, monthly, and yearly income. This is what we call “The Power of a Dollar”. If you can show a 2% revenue increase by training your staff to become better salespeople and coach to them to see what is in it for the salesperson (server), then your restaurant will likely see a lift in sales as well as profits. For example:

  • Say a server works full-time at 40 hours per week. They might serve 10,000 per year. If they are able to upsell each ticket by $1, that would be $10,000 more in sales for the restaurant and at a 40% food cost would equal about $6,000 a year in profits without doing much extra work except asking for the sale. How many servers do you have on the floor? What does this mean to your service staff? On the low end with an average of 15% tip on each table that would mean an extra $1,500 more dollars in their pocket.

ShiftNote founder Matt Thompson was previously a manager of a Kansas-City steakhouse. He trained his staff on “The Power of a Dollar” and immediately saw an increase in productivity and sales. He said, “The results were amazing. I found that by focusing on the power of the dollar an average server became a good server and instead of a typical 18% tip I was seeing 19 and 20% tip averages. So, by selling more we added service and it reflected in the tips earned.”

Here are some easy items to increase restaurant sales:

  • Beverage specials
  • Appetizer
  • Entree sides
  • Coffee with dessert

Matt broke down the Power of a Dollar in this example:

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Final Words About Increasing Restaurant Sales And Profits

Operating a sales-focused business is important, not only for a server’s income potential but also for your business’ profitability. Training your staff about the power of a dollar is a mutually beneficial endeavor – your servers make more and so does your restaurant. Remember: good customer service is all about creating a memorable interaction with patrons. This is the determination point if a guest comes back and spends again – bringing in even more money down the line.

Good luck! Soon you will see money signs in your staff’s eyes – and a money-motivated employee is good for them – and you!

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How To Hire The Right Business Operations Manager

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Hiring the right business operations manager can make or break a business, particularly in the hospitality industry.

Common duties for a business operations manager are wide ranging and multifaceted. Business operations manager duties might include hiring employees, negotiating client and supplier contracts, assisting with marketing, maintaining customer satisfaction, and really anything that helps a business function.

An effective business operations manager should be able to communicate effectively, be diplomatic, organized, adaptable, self-driven, and a strong leader. Because the position can be so flexible, a great operations manager should be able to learn quickly and have a broad range of skills.

Consider the Value

The goal of this role is to ensure that your company provides the highest quality product and services across all areas of your business. The value comes from having a “boots on the ground” leader who has a big-picture view while still being in the trenches.

The ROI of a good leader within your business can be massive – from increased sales and productivity to a lower employee turnover rate. The far-reaching responsibilities of a business operations manager is one reason finding the right candidate is so important.

How to Find the Right Fit

Finding the right fit for your business requires looking at the experience and the hard skills a candidate has, as well as their soft skills and ability to learn. Consider what skills can be trained, for example, how to use your POS system, online manager's logbook, or your employee scheduling software, versus soft skills that cannot be trained, such as leadership qualities, problem solving, or , the ability to adapt to new situations and accept criticism.

Make a list of must-have skills and nice-to-haves, and don’t turn down a great fit if the skills they are lacking can be trained.

How to Retain the Right Candidate

After you identify the right candidate, your next step is to make sure to retain your business operations manager. A competitive salary, solid training, and clear expectations are the most effective methods for keeping good employees happy.

Start by offering a competitive salary, which averages around $57 per hour, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If budgetary issues make offering a higher salary an issue, consider offering a better than average benefits package or bonuses based on productivity.

Make sure you give your manager the tools they need to succeed by ensuring they learn about the inner workings of your company. Consider having them spend a week in every area of your business so they have a clear understanding of how all the pieces work together.

What goals and metrics will your operations manager need to meet for them to be deemed effective? This information should be communicated clearly when they are hired and updated during their annual review. Without knowing what is expected, it is impossible for any employee to be effective.

Final Thoughts on Hiring a Business Operations Manager in Hospitality

Your business operations manager serves as your brand’s backbone, connecting all the arms of your business and making sure they work together effectively. Hiring the right candidate takes time and should include multiple interviews. Remember, when effective, this leader can increase your bottom line and make sure your customers and employees are happy. This isn’t a hire that should be taken lightly.

Have ideas on how to hire the right business operation manager? Please share them with us below in our comments section. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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