ShiftForce Blog

Posts by:

Nate Winans

Tips for Servers to Make More Money

As a server, the majority of your income comes from tips. And we're sure you already know, you aren't just a server. You're a party host, you may host from time to time, you manage customer service requests, you have to upsell items, run here and there at the same time, you're never standing still! Every customer you come in contact with is judging you and hopefully pays you based on the service you provided them. Some will tip less than others, and hopefully, we can show you a few ways to reduce that number even more.

Please keep in mind that these are all suggestions on possible ways to make more tips. These suggestions shouldn't be taken as a definitive way to make more money.

Know Your Restaurant

Yeah, pretty simple. Know your restaurant's ins and outs. Understand the menu, where everything is, who everyone is, and the most efficient route from point A to point B. If someone asks for a refill on water and another customer is asking for a straw, rather than running two errands, find a route that allows you to accomplish both tasks at the same time.

This comes down to understanding your restaurant and its clients. Is there an average time that tables turn over? Is there a certain checklist you should run through when a new part is seated? Is there a new special or off-menu item that could pique these customers' interest? Simply knowing your restaurant and its processes can go a long way in helping you increase the amount you receive at the end of this customer's experience.

Get Smaller Groups When Possible

Contrary to popular belief, smaller groups are actually more profitable than larger ones. This is because people in the party often assume that whoever is splitting the bill or taking the check will leave a tip covering the full amount for everyone else. Sadly, more often than not that's not the case.

Another element to smaller versus larger parties is that when the person, or persons, paying for the large bill leave a tip, they may leave a smaller amount because there is no personal responsibility. They did their part for the group and everyone else could and should have added their own tip. While the second element is becoming less common due to Venmo, PayPal, and other mobile payment apps, it's still something to take into consideration when choosing between large or small groups.

Be Prompt and Confident

One of the worst feelings is being seated at a table when you're hungry and waiting for what seems like forever to be taken care of. Although it depends on how busy the restaurant is, stopping by a newly seated table just to say hi, introduce yourself, and let them know that you'll be with them shortly goes a long way.

When you are able to give the table your full attention, be confident in yourself. You know the menu, you know the specials, and based on what they're looking for, you have the perfect suggestion for their meal. Be confident, smile, be polite, and most importantly, be prompt. If you feel like one of their requests may take a little longer than expected, let that be known. They should be able to understand that something may take a bit longer if it's an odd request or the restaurant is very busy. Being upfront about these items can go a long way in improving your customer's experience.

A Token of Your Appreciation

A small token of your appreciation can go a long way in increasing the amount of tips you receive. Leaving a mint, thank you card, or something else as a way to remember you enhances the customer experience to make it more memorable. It's a way for you to show your gratitude for them spending time with you and being great customers.

When you check in with them throughout their meal, try to create a connection with them so when they think of excellent service and delicious food, you pop up in their mind. Creating a stronger connection with guests is something that is often quite easy, but overlooked. Leaving your customers with a small gift, a mint or piece of candy, or even a joke, shows a token of appreciation and thankfulness for serving them.

Make Things Simple

Keeping things simple in a complicated industry doesn't have to be a distant dream. There are processes and tools that are available for you and your team to help simplify your operations, track actionable items, and increase employee accountability.

ShiftForce is an all-in-one workforce management solution designed to help shift-to-shift businesses run better, more efficient, and more profitable businesses. Get started with a free trial today to see how!

Start My Trial

 

How to Make Scheduling Employees Easier

For managers who schedule shift-to-shift employees, there is a lot to be taken into consideration. Each week presents itself with new opportunities and challenges- shift changes, availability changes, time off requests, events where more or less staff is needed. You always want to make sure you have enough staff to meet the demands of each shift, but you also want to ensure you aren't overstaffing and increasing your labor costs.

To help you make scheduling employees easier, these tips will help you identify where you currently stand, what an efficient scheduling process looks like, and how you can cut down on labor costs.

Understand Your Needs

Before scheduling employees, you need to understand what your needs are. You need to know which hours, days, weeks, and months are your busiest. This helps ensure that you aren't approving too many time-off requests during time periods when you need all hands on deck. It will also help you schedule employees who can better accomplish important tasks without additional support. You want more capable employees at your busier times and less capable at times when additional support is available for them.

Using a scheduling solution that allows employees to enter their availability, time off requests, schedule changes, and more is a great way to help you understand your scheduling needs each week.

Understand Your Employees

Know your employees, their lifestyle, and most importantly, their availability. If you have college students who can't work Friday nights but you need them for early mornings on the weekend, they may not be at their peak performance. If you have parents of young children, last-minute schedule changes may be impossible to accommodate as there is more coordination needed on their end.

Understanding your employees will help you create better schedules and know who to turn to in the event of a last-minute schedule change and preferences of shifts.

Questions to ask your employees to better understand their scheduling needs:

  • What type of shift do they prefer? Morning, evening, night, overnight?
  • How many hours a week are you able to work? (If they aren't full time)
  • Which holidays are you able and not able to work?
  • If there are open shifts or last-minute shift changes, do you want to be automatically scheduled with short notice?

Having a database where your employees can request to swap, drop, or pick up a shift can help. It would also allow your employees to update their availability and request time off. This way if a manager goes to create a schedule, they'll see that an employee is unavailable even before trying to add them for a time slot.

Implement Best Practices

Don't create a schedule and make multiple changes once it's been published. Don't publish schedules and continually make last-second shift changes and fully expect employees to be able to show up without hesitation. Some employees may have another job, some may plan on not being available and aren't in the area. Have a best practices for scheduling outline created for employees and managers so everyone is on the same page.

Best Practices for Employees

When you hire an employee at your business, you expect them to be fully capable of handling the duties they've signed up for. You trust them to show up on time, be ready to work, and effectively communicate ahead of time if they can't make a shift or they need a last-minute change. Stuff pops up and things happen outside of people's control. But when changes aren't communicated or trust is broken, that can harm your bottom line.

If an employee is constantly showing up late because they forgot when they worked, they ask for a last-minute schedule change, they constantly try to get out of scheduled shifts. You may have an employee who isn't cut out for your business. There may always be circumstances where they have a lot of moving pieces on their end and that could cause last-minute changes. But more often than not, if you have an employee who is very demanding but isn't a good employee, you're allowing their schedule privileges to be abused.

How to tell if employees are abusing your scheduling practices:

  • They have the same emergency when they say they aren't able to show up for a scheduled shift.
  • They never want to work weekends and constantly try to swap or drop shifts so they can keep their weekends free.
  • They want to get out of shifts that have less "fun" tasks. (Stocking shelves, managing inventory, cleaning, etc.)
  • They're wanting to leave their shift early when it's getting towards the end even though there are still unfinished tasks.

Best Practices for Scheduling Managers

Your scheduling managers are not immune from best employee scheduling practices either. As a business, it's your duty to effectively communicate with your employees to schedule them appropriately, accommodate their schedules and lifestyles, and provide ample time for schedule changes. Amongst other things.

When it comes to creating your schedules, it should be done at least two weeks in advance to allow your business to plan accordingly and to provide enough time to your employees for any changes. If you have on-call shifts, you need to make sure they truly are on call, and not just a way to keep employees attached to you without ever having the intention of actually scheduling them.

Employees may have other jobs that they could work or miss out on plans because you want them to be available just because. There are times when this is necessary, but if you've made it a routine of not scheduling on-call shifts, you'll need to internally revise that to rectify that.

Last-minute shift changes or cancellations are no way to regularly treat your employees. Although there may be certain situations where things change in the blink of an eye, regularly canceling or altering shifts becomes frustrating for employees, and for your management team. It loses morale with your team because they may feel like they may not actually work, or, that their shift will change at the last second without being communicated. Everyone likes a little bit of consistency and a lot of communication. Communicate and build good habits between your employees and scheduling managers.

Make Scheduling Easier

Sure you could use an Excel spreadsheet or a printed template to create your schedules. But where the real power lies is within an employee scheduling solution. This will allow employees to enter in their availability, request time off, request to swap a shift, drop a shift, or pick up a shift. All with managerial approval. You'll be able to keep track of requests, log activity, and hold employees more accountable.

Start scheduling the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with ShiftForce.

Start My Trial

 

How to Write Shift Notes

Shift notes help keep everyone updated and provide a record of what happened. Knowing who, what, when, where, how, and why something happened is crucial for your shift-to-shift business' success. It's an easy way to record everyone in one location for managers to review. There's an old saying for someone starting their shift, "don't go looking for the fire until you've read the daily log notes." Something may be happening for a reason and before jumping right into a shift to take action, take a moment to absorb the information and get a sense of what's happening and why.

The Importance of Daily Log Notes

Daily log notes could be equated to eating your vegetables. You could get by without eating them, but really, you'll suffer the consequences down the road. Properly logging daily activity gives managers and other team members an overview of what happened, what's happening, and what's going to take place. They also help hold people accountable for items throughout their shift. Keeping high-quality log notes isn't just to keep everyone updated, it provides a written record for your team to reference at any time.

What Types of Log Notes You Should Record

Just logging notes will never be enough. It won't provide your team with any value. If someone writes "customer at table 12 told me they had a delicious meal." That's nice, but it raises more questions than answers. What did they eat that they loved so much? Who was their server? Was it their first time ordering that dish and they said they'd come back specifically for it? There are certain in-depth elements that should be logged.

  • Daily notes of what happened, by who, how it happened, why it happened, where it happened
  • Customer feedback - what was an awesome tidbit that you can share with your team to continue to improve upon?
  • Employee feedback - if an employee provides a suggestion on how to improve a certain element or that there is something slowing down their efficiency. That should be recorded and tracked.
  • Maintenance and repairs - if something broke, who will fix it and when.
  • Training information - is a new hire thriving at one element over another? Is there something that they can't grasp that should be reiterated in the next training session?
  • Inventory - if something is running low, does the right person know about it?
  • Meeting notes - if you have a meeting, who is keeping track of the notes? There's nothing worse than having a productive meeting only for no one to record the conversation.
  • Events - is there an upcoming event that your team needs to prepare for?
  • Promotions - is there an upcoming marketing initiative that people need to be aware of. Is there a new idea for a promotion or results from one that shouldn't be tried again?
  • Personnel tracking - did someone show up late, did someone do something to brighten everyone's day? This information should be tracked internally to prepare for next time.

It All Comes Down to Organization and Communication

At the end of the day, it all comes down to organization and communication. Logging daily activities means nothing if nobody is tracking it and utilizing it to their advantage. The goal is to observe what happened, report what happened, and take action going forward. This is crucial data that your team has access to every single day. Use it to your advantage!

One way to help your team improve logging daily activities is with ShiftForce. ShiftForce is an all-in-one workforce management solution designed for shift-to-shift businesses. Included is a digital log book, employee scheduling, task management, team communication, and more. Start logging daily activities more effectively and improving your team's efficiency today.

Start My Trial

 

Ways to Improve Shift-to-Shift Communication

Shift-to-shift businesses heavily rely on effective and efficient communication. Without effective communication, shift changes, swaps, drops, updates, you name it, fall through the cracks and people are left wondering what was, and what could've been. Improving your team's shift-to-shift communication shouldn't be a daunting task. It should be a welcomed opportunity to find where you currently stand, how you can improve, and how you can run a more efficient shift-to-shift business.

Benefits of Effective Communication

Shift-to-shift employees rely on their management team to communicate when they're working, where they're working, the role they'll be in for the shift, and any other important notes for that shift. When schedules are created without any details, or display inaccurate information, employees are forced to contact a manager to find answers. This not only creates confusion, but multiple people are now involved in what should have been a five-minute task.

Increase Employee Engagement
When employees' voices and opinions are heard, it makes them feel valued. When employees feel valued, they become more engaged with their work and have a better relationship with coworkers. Striking up a conversation with someone in a different department or just saying "hey, how are you today" can go a long way in fostering a more engaging work environment.

Consistently and Frequently Provide Updates
Consistent messaging from shift to shift helps keep everything...consistent. It's nice to know that when one person finishes their shift and another replaces them, there is a smooth transition of log notes, messages, and other pertinent information. Consistently updating employees and sharing information helps foster a well-informed and great environment.

Help Resolve Conflicts Before They Arise
There are times when situations could have been prevented if only someone picked up on the signs. In your business, there may be issues that have gone unattended or unnoticed. Consistent, frequent, and effective communication helps resolve conflicts before they arise. When employees have the opportunity and platform to communicate the highs and lows of your business, they can present elements that need attention or could be addressed by a manager before it ever becomes a larger issue.

Ways to Improve Shift-to-Shift Communication

There is a multitude of ways you can help improve your team's communication efforts. However, it's important to note that there isn't just one solution that will work. It may be a combination of practices that leads to improved communication throughout your team.

Staff Meetings
We know, we know. Meetings can often be boring, monotonous, and sometimes pointless. But when run properly, they're an extremely powerful tool for your team to utilize. Having a meeting bi-weekly or once a month can help keep everyone aligned and updates communicated effectively and efficiently. They don't need to be long, drawn out meetings. They can be 15-30 minutes and give a high-level overview of recent high notes, where the team may have fallen short, the plan going forward, and what's coming in the pipeline.

Logging Daily Activities
Logging and tracking daily activities can help improve your team's communication. This will allow employees to enter what happened, when, how it happened, and anything else so a manager can review it and create a course of action. While using a paper log book is a start, implementing a digital log book will help keep everyone aligned at all times of the day.

Employee Messaging
If you choose to switch to a digital log book, not only will all records update across all platforms, you'll also be able to message and communicate with employees. Create announcements, send messages, create notifications, and more with a digital solution.

 

Utilizing a digital solution isn't a must-have in today's world, but goes a long way to help keep everyone aligned and improve your team's communication. ShiftForce is an all-in-one workforce management solution designed to help improve all elements of your shift-to-shift business. Included is a digital log book, team communication, employee scheduling, task management, and more.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how you can improve your teams communication with our all-in-one workforce management solution.

Book A Demo

 

What's New in ShiftForce

We're hoping you've already heard the news, ShiftNote is now ShiftForce! It's exciting stuff! If you're already a ShiftNote user, please don't worry. Your account isn't going away any time soon. ShiftForce is a newer, more powerful, more awesomer workforce management solution designed to help you accomplish even more than you could in ShiftNote.

What's the Difference Between ShiftNote and ShiftForce

The biggest difference between ShiftNote and ShiftForce is that it's newer, faster, sleeker, and has more advanced features than ShiftNote. ShiftForce has integrations available so you can run everything through one system, rather than many. In short, ShiftForce was developed with existing feedback to build a tool that's super powerful for your shift-to-shift business!

What's New

ShiftForce has been in development and been rigorously tested over the past several years and the time was finally right to release it. With ShiftForce, you'll better be able to observe, direct, and follow through on key elements of your business. Observe what happened and record it with daily log notes. Direct employees with actionable items with tasks and checklists. Follow through with accountability tracking to ensure tasks are being completed and progress is being made.

A few of the newest key features in ShiftForce from ShiftNote include:

  • More customizable elements on the daily log
  • Task manager - checklists, more interaction with staff, improved communication
  • Sales and labor forecasting
  • Drag and drop scheduling and priority shifts
  • Integrations with POS systems

Why Did Our Company Name Change?

The company name change was simply to rebrand ourselves as ShiftForce. We were not acquired or merged. We wanted to rebrand ourselves as a newer, sleeker, more up-to-date workforce management solution provider. It's also easier to say our company name and it reflects our product.

Ready to See More?

Want to see what ShiftForce is capable of? We'd love to show you! We have a free trial available so you can test out our workforce management solution for your shift-to-shift business. There are no hidden features or any catches. Simply sign up, log in, and we'll help set up your account how you'd like. Get started today!

Start My Trial