ShiftForce Blog

Your Business CAN Improve During COVID-19... Here's How

Let’s face it, the entire economy has been impacted by COVID-19. Many businesses have been or still are unable to function and others are operating at limited capacity. So it’s extremely easy to feel disheveled, disorganized, and unproductive. Luckily, there are a few things you can be doing to improve your business right now! This blog will outline a few different ideas to start implementing asap.

While there are definitely many things outside of our control, it doesn’t mean that we should sit back and wait for everything to return to normal. Because, when will that happen? And what will the new “normal” look like?

There’s a long list of opportunities you can take advantage of to inject some cash flow, streamline operations, retain customers, and bring your business back to life.

This way, when things do return to “normal”, your business will actually be in a prime position to hit the ground running. Here’s a few strategies and actions you can launch to improve your business.

............yes, even during a global pandemic. 

1. Start Sending Surveys 

Since you probably have a bit more time on your hands, you can focus on things that you might have neglected in the past. There’s no better time to gather feedback from current and past customers than when most of them are also stuck at home! A little feedback goes a long way. You can begin improving your product or service offering in a way that aligns with your top customers - so you will then attract more customers as a result.

If you have an email list of customers and you aren’t using it, then launching an email campaign to gather feedback would be one the wisest things you can do. Ask for testimonials and quotes regarding their experience or customer satisfaction - which you can then turn around and use on your website and social media accounts. Also consider guiding them to leave you a review on a third party site like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Facebook to share their feedback.

A solid way to gather quality testimonials is to give guided prompts and have your customers fill in the blanks Mad Libs style. Ex. I really love going to (your business' name) because ________. They really make things easy by _________. They're my favorite place to go for ____________. 

You get the point.

Write directed and intentional sentences stringed together to make an epic testimonial. This makes it easier for customers, so you may get a greater response! 

If you already have a survey gathering strategy in place, find ways to leverage your time to incentivise customers even further. Maybe sending out handwritten notes, small gifts, redeemable coupons/gift cards for when you open, and even cold calling larger customers. Any of these activities can go a long way to getting amazing feedback and bringing in repeat business.

2. Uplevel Your Social Media Presence

If your restaurant, store, or business is currently closed to customers - consider using this time to upgrade your social presence. Start by taking high quality pictures - the camera on your phone is likely good enough to do the job but investing in a DSLR camera or hiring a professional photographer can really upgrade your social media game.

Interior and exterior photos are an great place to start. Include some products shots as well, of course. Either relating to your menu items, products you sell, services you offer, etc. Batch a ton of photos within a few days and then upgrade your social media posts over the next few weeks and even update your website with the new images.

Also, don’t forget about your listings on sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook - which can help you reach and engage with more customers. Include as much information as possible about your business and ensure everything is up to date. Think about optimizing SEO while writing your business description as well.

Further, if you don’t have a content plan in place - it’s time to make one! You have the high quality pictures now, so PLAN how you will use them. Consider giving people a behind the scenes look at your operations with short vlogs on social media, giveaway some industry secrets on your website's blog, and make sure you tell the story of your company everywhere!

If you’re stuck on content ideas, checkout what your most popular competitors are doing. Search out their highest performing content and then revamp it to make it your own.

3. Setup Other Sources of Revenue

Do you offer gift cards? If not, now is the perfect time to start. Gift cards are like interest free loans and can give your business some much needed cash flow right now. Use them to build customer loyalty through repeat business, as giveaways in social media contests, or as a response to customer complaints (hopefully this one doesn't happen too often). 

Consider offering additional coupons with the purchase of gift cards to keep incentivising customers to come back. These work especially well if you make the usage date a month or two in the future.

If you happen to sell high dollar items, explore alternative payment options and offering installment plans. Remember, it’s likely that people still want your high dollar products, they just may not have the means to afford it all right now. Payment plans could bring in more customers and more sales.

If you're a restaurant, consider offering frequent discounts or free appetizers with the purchase of an entree! Also, you NEED to connect with online delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEats to spread your reach while people are eating at home more.

Remember that your customers want you to succeed and they will find a way to support you if you get creative with these revenue sources.

4. Give Your Business a Face Lift

An empty business has one advantage: it’s easier to clean and decorate!

Use this down time to do some deep cleaning (and not just because of COVID-19). Steam clean your carpets, power wash your entrances, have your floors professionally buffed and waxed. These are all things that are difficult to schedule when customers and employees are always on site.

If you’ve been wanting to remodel, now’s the time! If it’s not in the budget, consider investing in items that save you a bit of money long term like CFL light bulbs, LED lights, and solar energy. It’s a great time to upgrade appliances to more energy efficient models as well.

You could also consider rearranging your restaurant or store to change things up and give it a fresh start for reopening! This wouldn’t cost you anything. If you do have a little room in your budget, look into redecorating your table tops, display tables, etc.

Another area of improvement that is often neglected is security. Changing out locks can be a pain in the you know what when people are always in and out. Good thing is, right now you can get it all done in one go! Consider upgrading to something more modern like keyless locks and adding camera systems to reduce theft and protect yourself from liability claims in the future.

5. Streamline Communication and Operations

There’s no better feeling than upgrading your efficiency and finding a better way to operate your business. Take this extra time as an opportunity to uplevel your operating procedures. Audit your marketing spend. All inefficient processes must go!

Finally, consider shopping around for software that can make your business more organized and efficient. Modern point of sale systems with touch screen interfaces and emailed receipts cut costs and speed up check out times (which will be very nice when you are up and running again).

Whether your business is shut down currently, utilizing remote work, or operating at a low capacity - team communication is VITAL for you to survive. Look for a communication software that can keep your team in touch and up to date. Of course, ShiftNote is my go to recommendation for upgrading communication and employee scheduling to streamline operations and reduce payroll costs.

 

What are you doing to strengthen your business right now? Share your story in the comments below! Let’s help each other out during this time of need.

COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide

 

This guide outlines everything you need to know about disaster relief funds, preventative measures, and ways to keep the orders coming through delivery services, take out options, and other creative deals. Keep reading to learn how your restaurant CAN and WILL get through COVID-19 successfully.


covid-19 restaurant sales survival guide

Disaster relief resources:

Here’s a list of disaster relief help for restaurants, employers, and employees. 

There’s all sorts of different funds to help those in need during this time. 

Take a look at each one, pass the information along if you know someone who could benefit, and apply for anything that could help you or your restaurant!

  • Another round, another rally fund: $500 relief grants for hospitality workers who lost their jobs or had their hours slashed because of COVID-19. 

  • USBG Emergency Fund: Bartender emergency assistance program available to all bartenders and their spouse and/or children. 

  • RWCF Crisis Relief Fund: A crisis relief fund to direct money to organizations leading on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community, to provide zero-interest loans to businesses to maintain payroll during closure or re-open once this crisis has passed, and to establish a relief fund for individual workers facing economic hardships or health crises as a direct result of COVID-19.

  • CARES Act: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The plan provides $349 billion in cash flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations during this emergency. 

  • OFW Emergency Fund: Providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery drivers, and other tipped workers and service workers who are seeing their income decline during this disaster, or aren’t able to work because of quarantine/health concerns. 

  • CORE Gives: Grants support to children to food and beverage service employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Rent Assistance: Provides a directory of rental assistance agencies and organizations that can help you pay rent. 

  • U.S. Small Business Administration: Offering low interest loans up to $2 million through the Small Business Administration for states impacted by COVID-19.

  • Facebook: Offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. 

  • ROC United: Provides resources and financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by COVID-19. 

  • Spill the Dish: A database of financial aid options for restaurant owners and workers. Users can search by state and job position to find resources from government agencies or nonprofits. 

  • James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund: Is gathering donations from everyday diners as well as corporate donors to distribute micro-grants to independent businesses.

Checkout this website for more disaster relief funds. It's updated every business day and includes all sorts of fund available to several different countries!

Preventative measures to implement:

There’s always been cleaning and sanitation protocols you have to follow, but now’s the time to go above and beyond. If you want to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep your restaurant running, follow the guidelines below. 

  • Accept all sick requests without a doctor’s note required
    • If an employee says they’re feeling sick, let them stay home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a common cold or potentially COVID-19 - they need to stay clear. 

  • Put up posters about proper hygiene
    • Such as washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, mouth, face, and properly sanitizing

  • Keep employees 6’ away from each other if possible

  • Enforce short quarantine periods for any staff returning from travel 
    • Symptoms should be monitored for 14 days after returning home

  • Send announcements to your team about any updates on the local situation or new protocols in the workplace

  • Maintain restaurant cleanliness and hygiene
    • Put sanitizing dispensers in prominent areas around the restaurant
    • Ensure that face masks and/or tissues are available at all times
    • Supply your staff with gloves while working

  • Create a proactive cleaning/sanitation schedule for the kitchen areas for employees to follow throughout the day

  • If any employee exhibits symptoms of being sick, send them home (fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties)

  • If any employees simply feel uncomfortable working right now, respect their concern and let them stay home

Cleaning protocols

  • Enforce strict cleaning protocols to follow each day
    • Properly sanitize all surfaces and tables several times a day
    • Clean the floors several times a day 
    • Staff should have a regular hand washing schedule throughout each shift
    • Staff should wear gloves while handling any food 

  • Consider having yourself and staff take additional courses on safe food handling through ServSafe 

Review more online resources provided by state and local health departments

Reduce costs as much as possible 

Many landlords have stepped up and have already forgiven April rent payments for their restaurant tenants. Remember that your landlord doesn’t want an empty space to lease - so ask if there’s anything they can do to help you stay in business. 

Another way to reduce cost is to reduce your inventory. It’s time to be smart about forecasting and only buy what you’ll use. You don’t need to stock up the kitchen for a full dining room anymore. Are there any menu items you can temporarily eliminate? Focus on your highest performing meals and best meals for takeout. Simply get what you need for delivery and take out orders. 

Start or revamp your delivery and takeout services:

It’s time to refocus your restaurant to provide exceptional delivery and takeout options. Delivery and takeout are the only ways you can retain sales during this time. 

If you don’t already offer these services, here are some steps to get setup and get more orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

        1. Get takeout supplies 

Get everything necessary to get food from your restaurant’s kitchen to your customers' tables. If you don’t have the items needed, Sysco is a great place to order from and is very experienced serving restaurants with all sorts of supplies. 

What should be on your list:

    • Food containers
    • Dressing and sauce containers
    • Takeout bags
    • Wrapped plastic utensils
    • Condiment packets

  •  
  • 2. Adapt your menu
    • Focus on making foods that are most likely to entice your biggest group of customers to make orders
    • Best selling menu items should be front and center, with an emphasis on comfort food
    • Consider offering family platters or combo orders
    • Create fun kid-friendly options


    3. Alter your staff and scheduling 

While your back of house staff may not need to change too much, your front of house staff will be taking a hit. 

Make sure to alter your scheduling, adapt, and try to keep your employees working. 

    • See if front of house staff would be willing to:
      • Make deliveries
      • Facilitate orders from third party delivery services
      • Work as a dishwasher
      • Take phone orders
      • Monitory online orders 
      • Counter work and giving guests their takeout orders
    • Ensure your back of house staff is prepared for online and take out orders and consider cutting back on dishwashers since you won’t be seating any guests for the time being  

    4. Choose your delivery platform 

There’s two options you can choose from - either third party services or in house delivery.

Here are some third party delivery options:

Third party delivery services are a great option, but could still be a bit costly given the current circumstances. Restaurants would still owe a percentage based fee to these platforms for connecting them to the customer. 

That’s why in house delivery may be a better option for you. 

You could do this by employing willing waiters and waitresses as delivery drivers, walkers, or bikers. 

You can charge a delivery fee on each order to go to the restaurant, plus deliverers can benefit directly from tips. 

Make sure your insurance covers delivery drivers, and have employees notify their insurance of the situation as well. Many insurance companies are being very lenient and helping restaurants stay active however they can.

Direct delivery can be implemented almost immediately, and you can keep current employees involved before paying third party deliverers. 

It’s a win for your restaurant, your customers, and your employees until you can open your doors to the public again! 

        5. Set up curbside pickup for takeout orders

To help address health concerns and avoid contact with customers, offer curbside pickup and give customers the option to pay online or over the phone. Setup a designated drive up spot for customers to easily pick up their food without ever leaving their car. 

        6. Optimize your kitchen and order process

If you’re new to third party online ordering and delivering, you probably won’t have an integration setup to send orders directly to your POS. If this is the case, it’s totally doable to send them to the kitchen manually! 

Encourage employees to enter orders only when the driver is within cooking distance. So if it takes 10 minutes to cook what is ordered, make sure the kitchen starts making it when the driver is 12 minutes away. That way you can ensure all food leaves the restaurant fresh so your customers get as close to a dine in experience as possible. 

        7. Spread the word 

The most important thing is for your customers to know about these services you’re offering! 

Spread the word on as many platforms as possible so everyone knows you’re open for business and ready to make amazing meals. 

Update your website, notify your email list, try online ads, and social media to communicate with your customers. Always link them to the best place to make orders, whether that be online, over the phone, or through a third party service. 

Since people are understandably concerned about sanitation right now, make sure to include in your ads and posts all the ways you’re keeping your kitchen properly clean beyond the normal standards.

 

covid-19 restaurant sales survival guide


Other great ways to retain sales: 

  • Dining bonds

It’s no secret that restaurant sales are taking a MAJOR hit, even with functioning delivery and takeout services. It’s time to get creative to keep sales moving. 

A Dining Bond is like a savings bond, where you can purchase a “bond” at a value rate to be redeemed for face value at a future date. 

These bonds can bring in some much needed revenue for restaurants. 

Basically dining bonds are like gift certificates that are sold at a lower price but are redeemable at normal prices once restaurants open again. 

If you’re not currently getting in on the dining bond trend, it’s time! 

  • Discounted menu items

While people are having to stay home, they still need to eat - remember that. Some people don’t want to cook for themselves every single meal every single day, and maybe they’re missing their favorite restaurant. 

Offer discounted menu items of popular dishes! Have a new dish discounted every day to boost take out and delivery sales. 

If you have an email list, now is the time to USE IT. 

Update your customers on current offers and keep things interesting by changing them every day if you can. 

  • Offer a free appetizer or extra sides entrees

Another popular way to increase sales is to offer a free appetizer or extra sides with the purchase of entrees. You can make it a minimum of two entrees and create a package deal out of it. This is a great deal for customers, because who wants to say no to free food?! 

  • Kids eat free

Don’t neglect the families out there that are stuck at home finding ways to entertain themselves. Offering FREE kids meals with any adult entree purchases is a great way to increase sales and provide value to your family customers. 

  • Meal kits 

Put together meal kits for customers to pick up (curbside, of course) and cook themselves! Advertise these as a fun activity to do as a family. People can cook their favorite restaurant quality meals, all from the comfort of their own home! 

  • Grocery items

Some restaurants are offering common grocery items for delivery or pick up with meals. Think bread, gallons of milk, coffee, etc. Test this out before creating too high of an inventory though. 

  • Sell merchandise 

Do you sell tee shirts, bottled dressing, beer glasses, sauces? Make sure you focus on advertising and posting on social media if you do! It’s a great time to promote revenue options other than your great food. 


Communication is vital

This is definitely a hard time for restaurants, and sales will be low. Just remember, you DO have loyal customers that want to support you. 

Make sure you communicate all offers and services, as well as the precautionary measures you’re taking to keep your restaurant extra sanitary and safe. 

The restaurant industry will survive this by adapting and getting creative with sales strategies.The best way to overcome these next few weeks (or months) is to come together. 

Team communication has never been so vital within your business. 

Do everything you can to help support your team and your community, and your loyal customers will stick by your side!

 

How To Use Employee Availability Forms + Free Employee Availability Form Download

employee availability form You’re trying to schedule next week’s shifts. Employees keep informing you, at the last minute, that they can’t work certain days. You’ve also noticed a lot of shift swapping lately. Basically, scheduling is a nightmare.

How long has it been since you’ve had your employees update their availability forms? And, do you even refer to the availability forms while you’re creating schedules? 

Employee availability forms (that are updated and current) reduce your shift scheduling nightmares. Make sure you’re using them the right way so they aren’t a waste of time. 


CTAs (19)


What Are Employee Availability Forms?

They’re exactly what they sound like - forms for employees to tell you when they can and can’t work. These availability forms should be used as a reference when it’s time to build schedules. 

Employee availability forms should include the following: 

  • Employee contact information 
  • General availability - what days and times the employee is available 
  • Shift preferences - what is the employee’s preferred schedule 
  • Unavailable - when can the employee absolutely not work
  • On call availability - when can the employee be on call 
  • Future adjustments - sections for future availability changes 
  • Notes - designated area for explanations and notes 
  • Signatures - for the employee and manager 

If this seems daunting, there is an easier way to keep track of employee availability. Investing in a scheduling software takes care of all the availability tracking for you! This saves time, money, and paper by eliminating human error and the inconvenience of getting out a form every week. 

Employee Availability Is Never “Set It And Forget It” 

Usually employee availability forms are filled out during the hiring process. But for many managers, it ends there. They leave it, file it away, and never revisit the forms. People’s personal lives and schedules inevitably change, and that means their availability changes as well. 

So the big question is - how often should employee availability forms be filled out?

Your employee policies or handbook should have employee availability issues built into it. Making the right policy means knowing and observing your employees. 

  1. Know that school schedules change. If you have high school or college students as employees, they should fill out employee availability forms at the beginning of each semester. Their class schedules, extracurricular activities, and other involvement will be changing periodically - meaning their work availability will also change.
  2. Use employee reviews. Take advantage of employee review time or any time you’re meeting individually with an employee by discussing availability changes or issues. If the need arises, have them fill out a new form right then and there. Lots of communication is key. 
  3. Keep an eye out for consistent shift conflicts or changes. If you notice employees consistently swapping shifts or are late during particular shifts, revisit the employee’s availability before taking disciplinary action. You probably still have a great employee, who was trying to make their schedule work when availability became an issue. 
  4. If your business changes, it could affect the schedule. Anytime you make changes to your business, your shifts could change. Some shifts may need more availability than others. Holidays, sales events, a change in management, or store hours are all important times to consider availability. 

Planning for the unplanned availability changes.

Your availability policy obviously can’t account for every situation that could affect an employee’s availability. To account for the unknown and unplanned, you should make a “change of availability” form available to your employees should their schedules dramatically change. 

These forms are optional and up to you - they can really help avoid availability conflicts though! There are a few rules you may want to put in place when employees use these forms:

  • Limit how many can be filled out within a set time frame. This ensures employees only use the forms when absolutely necessary, instead of filling them out on a whim. 
  • Requirements for discussing new availability. Rather than having employees drop off the form and move on, it's a good idea to ask them to a meeting to discuss why their availability has changed. It’ll help you understand changes and give you a chance to uncover any problems within your work environment. 

Of course, with a smaller team these steps may seem a bit much. Simply having them fill out the form and leaving it on your desk might be perfectly fine if you touch base every shift. When you’re in charge of a larger team or complicated shifts, it's a good plan to have some sort of conversation about availability changes when they occur. 

Make sure you USE the forms.

Seriously. What good are availability forms if you never use them? 

  1. Use them when creating schedules. The more employees you have, the harder it gets to handle availability. Find a system to use while creating schedules that actually factors in employee availability for every single shift - whether its referring to an excel spreadsheet while building schedules or using an employee scheduling software that automatically factors availability in. It’s not feasible to open every single employee file for building every schedule, so don’t leave all the vital availability information stored away on a form. 
  2.  Use them to hire more effectively. Knowing your current employees’ availability will help you when it comes time to hiring new employees. You’ll know what you’re looking for in new hires. Having multiple great employees who can’t work morning shifts doesn’t help you much. If you know where you need the coverage, you can factor that in your job advertisements. 

Get your employees to fill out availability forms and make sure they’re current, then actually USE them! 


Scheduling Unavailable Times

It can be tempting for a stressed manager dealing with a tricky schedule to drop an employee name in a time slot even if it’s outside of the employee’s available. Shift scheduling is time consuming and verifying every shift with every employee seems too tedious. Anything to finish the schedule, right? Wrong. 

Don’t do it. Never schedule an employee without knowing if they can work the shift. 

Always check with employees before scheduling them outside of their documented availability. Here’s why: 

  • It’s courteous. If you have received and accepted an employee’s availability, it isn’t right to demand more from them out of the blue. Think about it, your employee assumes their availability was acceptable and not a problem. Scheduling at a time they’re unavailable without communicating it first is faulty management. 
  • You’ll cause less stress. While some employees are fine saying “no”, others will bend over backwards just to have a happy manager. Causing employees pressure to readjust their non-work life in order to make you happy scheduling is damaging to employee morale. Sure, you can rely on those employees to fill in when needed, but they’ll end up being overworked and overstressed. 
  • You avoid bad scheduling habits. After a while it’s easy to start scheduling employees when they aren’t available “just this one time.” In reality, you end up scheduling them multiple times on the wrong shift just because it’s convenient. Eventually your employees will find employment elsewhere if they’re able to. At the very least, employee engagement will decrease. 
  • You learn when employees need to fill out the forms again. If you discover that your employees are available to cover these shifts when their forms say otherwise, that’s a good sign that it’s time to refill out the employee availability forms. 

Focusing on employee skills and qualities is easy while seeking new hires and while managing your team. On the other side of things, availability is usually forgotten until it’s time to build a schedule. 

Having employee availability forms and policies, and revisiting them when needed, keeps availability issues from straying too far out of mind during hiring and management considerations. 

If you don’t have a current process in place, sign up for ShiftNote’s Scheduler to take care of availability for you OR download this free employee availability template

5 Steps To Building An On The Job Training Program

What is an on the job training program and why do you need it? Let’s start with the universal fact that high employee turnover negatively impacts a business. How do you reduce employee turnover? One way is to have an on the job training program set up. Investing the time and money to create an on the job training program means you’re investing in your employees. You know, the people who make your business happen! It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, creating and implementing an on the job training program will benefit you. 

What is On The Job Training?

On the job training (OTJ) is a hands-on method of teaching skills, knowledge, and competencies needed for new employees to perform their jobs. 

The point is for the employees to slowly integrate into their new position while training at the same time. OJT uses any and all workplace softwares, tools, machines, equipment, and knowledge to teach an employee how to effectively do their job.

Typically, managers or more experienced coworkers will provide the training. 

 

Benefits of On The Job Training

1. It’s customized to your business

Creating an OJT program for your specific business means training will be completed more efficiently and your business needs will be met more quickly. 

2. It creates happy and loyal employees

New employees will feel more prepared and confident when their training is complete. They’ll be more committed to growing their careers at your business and will be more excited about their work. 

3. It builds a team of “promotable” employees

Using an on the job training program creates highly skilled employees and ensures your team is constantly learning and helping each other improve. 

When it’s time to promote employees to managers in the future, you’ll have a loyal and skilled team to choose from who already know your business!

4. It attracts new hires

It can be difficult to attract and retain valuable employees - but on the job training can help. OJT is an attractive benefit for employees who are interested in working for your business. It highlights the fact that you value your employees and want them to feel capable and confident every shift!

5. It fosters a team oriented work environment 

No more “that’s not part of my job” attitudes! When you have a well trained team from on the job training, everyone helps each other learn and improve.

 

5 Steps for Building an On The Job Training Program 

1. Evaluate Employees and Skills Needed

Determine and write down your long-term goals you’d like this OJT program to accomplish 

Better productivity? Loyal employees? Community reputation? Continued business growth and expansion? Keep these in mind as you begin building your program. 

Know what each job requires

What are the specific needs of specific employees and jobs? 

Make a list of any qualifications, knowledge, and skills each job requires. The goal is to create a vision of what an ideal employee in that specific job is able to do. 

Next, list the skills most employees have when they’re first hired. 

Finally, look back at times you’ve repeated yourself or asked employees to redo a task. Pinpoint the miscommunication that slowed things down. 

Do this for every position in your business. Once you have a better picture that compares what employees need and what they generally have, the gap is what your OJT will fill in. 

Figure out the necessary tools and systems

Look at the list you made from above and analyze the gaps in employee performance. Was it due to a lack of skills, education, or was it a lack of tools and systems? 

Before you can create a training program, you’ll need to ensure all the tools and systems needed to perform each job well are put in place. 

Common areas of breakdown:

  • Communication software. Is your communication process too complex or too vague? Communication breakdown is usually fixed by simplifying your system and enforcing adherence to it.

  • Technology. Make sure you have updated technology before investing in training for outdated tech. 

  • Job boundaries. Are employee work boundaries (or the lack thereof) made clear? 

Be sure employees aren’t hassling with broken tools and systems. Get things streamlined and up to date so training feels like forward motion instead of a waste of time. 

 

2. Create the Training Program

Which formats and materials fit best with your objectives and workplace? Classroom style training, mentorship, and more structured programs are common options. 

Structured on the job training programs are basic, task-oriented, and useful for employees that perform the same tasks each shift. 

For structured programs, the trainer (usually a coworker in that same position) works with the new employee through the task checklist. 

If the job duties could be different shift to shift, you’ll need a trainer who is also a skilled teacher. It’s important to determine how an employee learns in order to train effectively. 

Here’s some tips for being a great trainer:

  • Have the employee practice doing the actual tasks that come up

  • Utilize role playing, group activities, team building activities, and talk about personal work experiences that relate to the job

  • Have mini quizzes and activities to test the employee’s knowledge

  • Let the employee shadow and observe coworkers shift to shift

The more hands on you can make the training program, the more effective it will be!

 

3. Get Specific and Develop the Program Materials

Once you know how your training will look, it’s time to outline your training objectives. Get ideas from your company handbook, employee knowledge base, online resources, and anywhere else relevant to your business. 

Decide how often the training will occur

On the job training is not a one and done type of event. It’s periodic, takes time, and the employee is constantly learning. Technically, the training never ends!

Employees learn a lot of key things through periodic training such as:

  • Company policies

  • How to work the factory line

  • How to respond to customers

  • Using the new inventory system 

  • How to fill out business expense and financial reports for reimbursement 

  • Updates on changes to communication softwares

  • How new laws affect their jobs

  • Teamwork training

As your business changes, employees need to stay updated on their training.

Use an outline

Finally, develop your on the job training program like an outline. Each main section being the objective you want the employee to achieve before moving to the next. 

Decide how to measure employee success. Do they need to demonstrate a skill? Pass a test? Role play scenarios with pretend customers? Each objective should have a defined success that must be met before the employee continues down the program.

 

4. Choose the Trainers

Find the best people to conduct the training, whether it be a manager, coworker, mentor, or a designated training coordinator. 

Many companies find success in having mentors/trainees setup. So more experienced employees are paired with and in charge of training new hires within the same position. 

 

5. Gather Employee Feedback

The best way to determine how successful your on the job training program is to ask! 

Use a survey

Use anonymous surveys during, immediately after, and several months after the training. 

Look for improvement in work performance

Improved employee performance will positively impact profit and growth. How do you measure and compare employee performance? Analyze your productivity markers from before training to after (ex. higher commissions from sales, more items sold, etc.).

Monitor employee retention

Are your trained employees staying on longer than what you’d experience before training? 

Some things, like customer service and attitudes, can be difficult to measure. Observation and conversations with other managers will help you become more aware of what’s happening across departments. 

Overall, trust your gut! If you notice an improvement in workplace culture that in turn helps with hitting company performance goals, that’s what you’re looking for. 

On the job training helps you build your business with your employees as the foundation. After all, they run the show. Hopefully this guide helps you get started making your own on the job training program.

10 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Restaurants and Retailers

holiday marketing ideas for restaurants and retailers‘Tis the season to.... draw in more customers! The holidays are fast approaching, they’re basically already here. The holiday season is naturally a busy season, so why not jump on the opportunity to draw more customers in and blow your sales goals through the roof? Not having any holiday promotions is like giving up before even trying. We don't want that! Here are 10 holiday marketing ideas for restaurants and retailers to bring in more sales. 

1. In a digital world, paper stands out 

The world has gone digital, which means everyone is being flooded with emails about holiday promotions. How do you cut through the noise and stand out? Make your own holiday cards! Send them to neighbors, local businesses, and hand them out to customers. Remind them why your restaurant or store is the best place to go over the holiday season. If you’re having any holiday promotions or offers (which you should), include them on your holiday cards. Having festive music and going all out with decorations? Let people know your business is the place to be! Sending out customized holiday cards makes your customers feel more like family and will result in repeat business and customer loyalty. 

2. Reward top customers

Do you have tried and true loyal customers that come in every week or month? Or have been customers for years? Reward your most loyal customers with deeper sales and savings, extra perks, or let them book time at your business outside of regular hours so they have a truly personalized experience. Whether you’re a restaurant or a retailer, rewarding your top customers is important to bring them back in during the holiday season!

3. Host a kid friendly event

During the holiday season, parents are on the lookout for events to take their kids to. Hosting a free event with holiday festivities is a sure fire way to bring more customers in the door. You could have a coloring contest, cookie decorating contest, photo booths, pictures with Santa, pin the tail on the reindeer, a kid’s book reading - the options are endless! Whatever you decide, make it easy for parents to have a meal together (restaurants) or do some shopping (retailers) while the kids are entertained. 

4. Take advantage of holiday traditions

There are so many holiday traditions to capitalize on if you’re a restaurant or retailer. Instead of “12 Days of Christmas”, you could have twelve days of sales. Or release 12 holiday menu items a day at a time. Be festive and have fun with it to provide your customers with the ultimate holiday experience!

5. Use your email list

Do you have an email list for newsletters and promotions? Take advantage of it and email your customers about holiday happenings in your business! If you’re a restaurant, email customers and see if they’d like to make a reservation. If you’re a retailer, email customers and invite them in for a special day of shopping (maybe provide some drinks and festive snacks in your store to make it a little event). Whatever you do - thank your loyal customers and provide an incentive for them to come back and visit during the holidays.

6. Have a holiday event 

Hosting a holiday themed event is a great way to bring in more customers and give them a unique and festive experience. Some event ideas for restaurants would be a brunch with Santa, or reservation only 4 course meal, or a party on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. Some event ideas for retailers would be a holiday sale, pictures with Santa, or a holiday party with drinks and festive snacks. Whatever it is - be festive and let customers experience holiday fun with your business!

7. Promote private parties 

This one is mainly for restaurants to take advantage of group dining. If you have a separate dining room or event space, capitalize on the opportunity and market the area as a holiday event space for large family get-togethers, corporate events, and private holiday parties. So many people could benefit from booking an event with you, so make sure you promote your event space throughout your restaurant, advertise on social media, and send emails out if possible. Remember to decorate your space to be a festive and fun holiday haven!

8. Giveback to your community 

Another important thing to remember around the holidays is the importance of giving back. Think about ways your business can help the community. Maybe offer a discount when customers bring in a non-perishable food item to be donated to a food bank. Organize a charity fundraiser for a local non profit - giving back a percentage of your sales. Both of these ideas work for restaurants and retailers, and are a great way to give back during the holidays and raise your reputation to customers!

9. Offer special gift card packages

Name one person who doesn’t like gift cards. You can’t. Because everyone loves them. They’re especially helpful during the busy holiday gift giving season! To sell more gift cards, make a package out of it and offer an additional gift card with every gift card purchase. Common gift card deals are: get $10 when you buy a $50 gift card, or $25 when you buy a $100 gift card. The customer is basically getting free money! Which they can give away as a gift or keep for themselves. 

Make sure to set up a holiday inspired display area at the entrance of your restaurant or store so it’s easy for customers to stop and shop! Package the gift cards in little boxes with bows to make things even more festive and appealing. Don’t forget to promote these deals as limited time, for the holidays only, so customers know they need to act fast!

10. Create a holiday-themed experience

For restaurants - feature special holiday drinks, dishes, or desserts. Incorporate holiday classics like gingerbread, eggnog, Christmas cake, mulled wine, cinnamon, and home cooked favorites. After you make a little holiday menu or at least a few menu items - promote them as limited time options for the holidays only. Post about them on social media and have special signage around your restaurant. Guests love a seasonal menu and will come in just to try it out!

For retailers - change your mannequins to fun and festive holiday outfits. Make sure to put all your holiday things on front display and make it easy for customers to shop! Be ready for the customer that comes in looking for Christmas gift ideas and the customer that comes in needing a New Year’s outfit. Having little holiday themed sections throughout your store make it easier to shop and makes your business feel more festive! Have a special sale for holiday items only - like buy two, get one free. Customers will start filing in right away to prepare for the season.

Remember, not having holiday marketing campaigns is like giving up before even trying. The holidays are such a busy season already, why not rise above your forecasted goals by simply trying out a few holiday marketing ideas? Get your festive face on and make your restaurant or store a holiday themed success this year!

50 Employee Appreciation Ideas Every Manager Should Know

Want to reduce employee turnover? Don't we all! When employees don’t feel recognized or valued at work, they’ll often leave their job or just do the bare minimum as a result. One sure fire way to reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction is actually pretty simple - it's showing appreciation! The good news is, showing employee appreciation doesn’t have to be hard. We have 50 ideas for you to pick from, just keep reading.

50 employee appreciation ideas

1. Birthday celebrations

When an employee has a birthday coming up, plan to celebrate! Cater in a delicious meal and get a cake made so everyone can take part. Birthdays are a great and easy way to show employee appreciation throughout the whole year.

 

2. Birthday days off

Go the extra mile and allow every employee to have the day off on their birthday! Or, if they’re planning a weekend trip for their birthday, make sure they get the request off. Birthdays are for gifts, and there’s no better gift then free time! If you’re planning a work birthday party, just have it before or after their special day. 

3. Rotating trophy

Create a trophy that’s recognized as a symbol of staff appreciation. Pass it around the workplace to employees who have accomplished something good, either each shift, day, or week! 

 

4. Give out end of shift goodie bags

You know how parties or big events will sometimes give out goodie bags at the end? Why not do the same for your employees at the end of a random shift? It’ll surprise them and brighten their day! Fill some goodie bags with candy, salty snacks, giftcards, etc., and hand them out at the end of each shift for a day. What’s better than a random bag of goodies?

 

5. Celebrate daily wins

Sure, it’s great to celebrate birthdays and big sales goals that are met. But what about small daily wins that often go unnoticed? Like employees completing all their tasks for the day, or side duties, or having a tough sale turn into success. When an employee accomplishes something seemingly small, but still significant, let them know they did a great job! Also let other employees know, because team recognition goes a long way.

 

6. Let them choose their next shift or whole schedule

This is a great way to let your employees feel empowered as a reward for doing well. It means one less employee for you to worry about scheduling. And the employee gets to be excited about choosing the exact days and times to work!

 

7. Wall of fame

Put up pictures of your whole staff to make a wall of fame. It may seem silly, but a little recognition does wonders. It’s also a great way for employees who don’t often work the same shifts to learn each other's names and faces!

 

8. Spontaneous treats

Treat your employees, because you appreciate them! Pick up pizza for lunch for no reason, leave cookies in the break room, it can be simple. Who doesn’t like a little surprise on a random day?

 

9. Extra vacation time

Always encourage work life balance and taking time off when needed. No one should miss family vacations! Go the extra mile to show your employees appreciation and give out extra paid vacation days as a reward for high performance. 

 

10. Plan a team retreat

Plan an annual team retreat to show appreciation to all your employees at once. It can be as big as flying everyone to a luxury resort to simply renting out a local country club or event center for team activities and dinner. This can be hard to coordinate, especially for restaurants or busy retail stores, but it’s worth it! Big or small, a team retreat helps build a strong team and makes employees feel valued. 

 

11. Shoutout on social media

If you have access to your company’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn - take advantage of it and recognize your employees online! Highlight who they are, what they’ve done, and why they add value to the company. This not only uplifts employees’ moods, but allows customers to see how great your staff is too!

 

12. Employee of the month

Implement an employee of the month program and let your staff nominate each other! It’s a great way to get everyone to participate.

 

13. Pizza parties

What says you appreciate your employees better than a pizza party in the break room? Do we really need to explain? 

 

14. Give out non work related awards

You can get creative with this and give out funny, spirited awards! Like, “Always Brings Fanciest Lunch Award” or “Fashion Expert Award” or “Chatty Cathy Award”. Remember the Dundie Awards in the Office? Yeah, kind of like that, but nicer.

employee appreciation ideas - rewards

15. Start a suggestion box for team activities

The best way to show your employees appreciation is to let them have some input! Start a suggestion box for employees to drop in fun team activities and workplace ideas. Go through it every week and choose one of the suggestions to do. 

 

16. Also have a suggestion box for shift related ideas/concerns

While we’re talking about suggestion boxes, it’s also a great idea to have one for shift related ideas, suggestions, or even concerns. This can give employees an anonymous way to express their feelings or ideas without having to be in the spotlight! It could also help uncover workplace problems and inefficiencies that need your managerial attention.

 

17. Mentoring program

A mentoring program helps experienced employees to feel important and new employees to feel more comfortable at work. Remember, the mentored will someday become the mentors! A mentoring program is an exciting way to show your staff you trust and appreciate them. It also helps employees get to know each other better and builds a strong team.

 

18. Track team wins

What goals do have every week? Do you have seperate employee positions or departments? Make some teams (or work as one big team) and track a goal - whether it be related to daily sales, or maybe the number of items sold. Use the classic print out thermometer or another visual to physically show the team progress on your chosen goal! As your employees keep climbing towards the goal, congratulate their hard work and remind them there’ll be a reward for reaching it! Or if you have several teams, make it a competition and the first team to reach their goal gets the reward. 

 

19. Use real thank you notes

We live in a digital world and traditional thank you notes are soon to be extinct. An actual piece of paper thanking an employee for hard work goes a long way in showing appreciation. It can be a quick post it note, or even a little certificate on their locker door! Thank you notes always brighten someone’s day. 

 

20. Celebrate work anniversaries

A study by Harvard Business Review found that employees tend to leave their jobs after about a year, with most quitting right on their one year anniversary. This trend continues for each work anniversary too. So, show your employees extra appreciation leading up to their anniversary with your company. Have hire date anniversary parties, reward the employee for staying, and get other employees involved! This recognition and validation could potentially keep your employees around longer. 

 

21. Take employees out to lunch

An easy way to show employee appreciation is taking your staff out to lunch or having lunch catered in the break room! If you work in the restaurant industry, you could also have a family style lunch and make it in house. Everyone loves free food, but treating your employees to a nice lunch also allows everyone to get to know each other better. Strong teams have lunch together!

 

22. Help with commute

Depending on where you’re located, you may have employees with a long commute, or employees that have to pay for parking. Of course it’s not your job to handle transportation costs, but helping employees by paying for parking garage passes, bus tickets, or other travel expenses is a great way to show appreciation! 

 

23. Create a staff appreciation holiday 

Why not create your own holiday dedicated to employee appreciation? Some fun ideas include having a joke awards ceremony, a staff barbeque, or going to an amusement park! Whatever you choose, make it a day of the year that your employees always look forward to. 

 

24. Recognize non work achievements

What do your employees do outside of work? Many probably have hobbies that include creativity, volunteering, and all sorts of other activities. Get to know what your employees are doing and share it with the rest of the team. Brag on them and recognize them for being not only great employees, but great people outside of work! 

 

25. Boss for a day

Reward employees with the chance to be “boss” for a day. Let them sit in on your meetings, join you in your office, learn what you do day to day, use a prime parking spot, and experience any other perks managers at your company have. Let them be a part of staff meetings and decision making throughout a shift. This is a fun and unique reward to make work a little more fun!

 

26. Simply say THANK YOU

Can you remember the last time you simply said thank you to an employee? Some managers believe that employees are there to do their jobs and no thank yous are necessary. A thank you, whether the work is required or not, is the simplest way to show employee appreciation. Think about it, saying thank you won’t hurt those who don’t need to hear it to do a good job, but it will mean so much to those who do! Being a thankful manager leads to happier employees all around.

 

27. Decorate your break room

Be honest, would you be embarrassed if a customer walked into your break room? Is it dingy, dark, and has a smelly microwave? This room is to give your employees a break. Make sure it has nice furniture, appliances, and appealing decor. Have a system in place so everyone works to keep it clean and tidy. Make it a place employees actually want to spend time in (on their break). Think about making a mini library, a gamer station, or even have some board games ready. Have comfortable chairs and create a welcoming break room to get away from work and refresh! Your employees deserve it. 

 

28. Give out company swag

Many companies have tee shirts, water bottles, stickers, pens, cups, and other items made for events. If yours doesn’t, get some made yourself! Make sure you give out things that are useful for your employees - like travel water bottles and comfortable tee shirts. 

 

29. Make it easy to volunteer

When you have employees interested in volunteering, make it easy for them to help others! Whether it means helping them start a food drive at work or letting them have a week off to build houses - encourage them. Show how you appreciate their concern about the world around you. A bonus is you can talk about what your business and employees are doing and let your customers know that doing business with you has a positive impact on the community!

 

30. Create memorable moments

Do you have an employee that goes above and beyond every shift? Maybe they’re cleaning up after other employees because someone has to? Or maybe they naturally lead every shift because employees seem to come to them with questions? When you have employees that naturally do outstanding jobs, especially when it’s outside of their job description, acknowledge them. Simply calling an employee into your office to say “I’ve noticed and appreciate what you do every shift” can mean so much! These small moments of acknowledging high performers shows great employee appreciation. 

 

31. Give career based rewards

This type of reward is great for employees and will benefit your business too! Send employees to leadership trainings or let them choose an online class they’d like to take. Even if it’s not directly related to their current position, you can show your employees you’re invested in them and their career.

 

32. Party all the time

We’ve mentioned celebrating birthdays and holidays, but why not celebrate together, as a complete staff, for no reason? Holidays, staff meetings, sales goals, Thursdays, because it's five o’clock somewhere…. You get the point. Celebrations for non-obvious reasons are the most fun! Better yet, choose a day when your employees are struggling to get through the week. Maybe it’s been extra slow? Liven things up with a little staff party and show your employees appreciation!

 

33. Put your employees on your website

Are there any employees on your website? Can customers get to know your employees before they show up to your business? It might not be feasible to put your whole staff on your website if you’re a large company, but consider putting a fair number of employees on your website and letting them write their own bios! Or, have a spotlight section highlighting a different employee each month. 

 

34. Give employees a choice and voice

Employee appreciation should be built into your culture. One way to do this is to give employees real choices and voices. Do your employees ever get to choose their own projects to work on? Or are they always assigned tasked? Do you actually listen to their ideas or concerns and take action? Or do you let things go in one ear and out the other and continue on as usual? You can give an employee a birthday gift card, but if they’ve come to you more than once with ideas or concerns and you’ve never taken action - the birthday gift card is a pretty empty gesture. Show employee appreciation at the foundation of your culture, and listen to your employees! 

 

35. Offer long lunches

You know how hectic lunch breaks can be. Rewarding employees and showing appreciation could simply mean doubling their lunch break! This is such an easy yet impactful gift to give to high performing employees. Come on, they deserve an extra long break!

 

36. Encourage employees to spend time on hobbies

Showing interest in employees’ lives outside of work is a great way to show employee appreciation! Give them gift cards to places that actually matter to them like certain bookstores, cafes, cookware stores, sporting good stores, etc. Figure out what they’re interested in and how they spend their free time, then encourage them to continue pursuing their hobbies! 

 

37. Stock up the breakroom

Is your break room empty and void of joy? Stock it up with sweet snacks, salty snacks, and water bottles! Let employees know everything is fair game, and you’re stocking it FOR them. 

 

38. Casual dress days

If your employees have to abide by a certain dress code every single day, think about letting them have a casual dress day once a week, if possible. Even once a month would be better than nothing! 

 

39. Throw an end of year party 

I’m sure you can tell that staff parties are a huge staple for employee appreciation. At the end of your financial year, show employees some love and throw them a party for being such valuable assets to your business! After all, your company couldn’t function without it’s employees.

 

40. Offer gym membership discounts

Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a great way to show employee appreciation. If you can, offering discounted or full gym memberships to employees is a great way to encourage healthy habits! 

 

41. Turn employee appreciation day into a whole week 

Did you know there’s actually an unofficial holiday for Employee Appreciation? It’s the first Friday in March! It’s a day for companies to thank their employees for their constant hard work and effort throughout the year. So definitely celebrate this day, but why not make it whole week?! Show up with a special treat every day in the break room, have pizza lunch parties, or take your staff to the movies! 

 

42. Plan a fun outing

Team potlucks and lunch parties are always fun and pretty easy to plan. But have you thought about changing things up and taking your employees on an outing like bowling or laser tag? It’s such a fun way to show you appreciate them and their time!

 

43. Offer come in late or leave early coupons

For employees that work extra hard, give them a coupon offering the option to either come in late or leave early one shift (that is planned ahead of time). Of course, you’ll need to find someone to cover that time, or do it yourself! This is a pretty simple and easy way to show your hard working employees appreciation.

 

44. Write a LinkedIn recommendation 

Show how much you value your employees by writing them a recommendation on LinkedIn. This is a great way to recognize an employee for exceptional work as well as show them you’re invested in their future!

 

45. Offer spotify premium or apple music subscription 

Of course, this isn’t always feasible with a budget. But, if you can offer employees spotify premium or apple music (or gift cards to go toward it), it’s a unique way to show employee appreciation. If you play music throughout your business, it’s also a great way to get employees more involved - let them make or contribute to your company's playlist!

 

46. Get employees personalized gifts

We’ve mentioned company swag, but another good way to show employee appreciation is getting personalized items made for your employees! Get stickers and travel cups monogrammed or personalized in some way and give them out to everyone, either during a staff party or better yet - for no reason! Surprise gifts are always the best.

 

47. Bring in a catered lunch spread for no reason

Celebrating your employees for no occasion other than appreciating them daily is the ultimate goal. Bring in a catered lunch to the break room for employees to enjoy on their breaks. Do it “just because” and it’ll definitely brighten their day.

 

48. Host a fundraising event for a charity of your employees’ choice

Do you have employees interested in certain charities? Having a fundraising event for a charity of their choosing is a great way to show you appreciate them and are invested in their happiness!

 

49. Employee gamification

Making games out of daily activities is a great way to liven up a shift and show employee appreciation. Either work as one big team or split up into smaller teams depending on how large your business is. See which team can sell the most of an item or who’s the fastest at a certain daily task. Offer gift cards at the end of the week to the winning employees or teams! 

 

50. Encourage actual work life balance and give employees the time off when they need it 

This could be one of the most important ways to show employee appreciation. Working in a shift based industry, like restaurants or retail stores, can make it hard to have time off. Encourage real work life balance and, PLOT TWIST, actually give your employees time off when they need it! They shouldn’t miss a family holiday because you’re understaffed. Be prepared and make sure your employees aren’t missing out on big life events because they’re stuck at work!

Always remember - the best way to show employees appreciation is ensuring quality communication throughout all levels of your workplace.

15 Team Management Skills To Have For Shift To Shift Success

team management skills for effective managersTeam management skills are crucial to run efficient and profitable shifts day to day. Sadly, many managers don’t see the value in these skills and neglect to practice them. Here’s one good reason to improve your team management skills - employee turnover. Poor management also leads to poor employee health, decreased productivity, reduced morale, and a damaged company reputation. Remember, employee’s don’t leave jobs, they leave poor managers. So, here’s 15 team management skills to focus on that will improve overall performance every shift! 

1. Effective Communication

The cornerstone of any business is quality communication between managers and employees. If communication is struggling - chances are so are sales, customer satisfaction, and employee morale. 

How to work on it: 

Learn your employees’ different communication styles and start tailoring your own communication to meet their individual needs. Wondering how to do this? Here’s a Guide for Effective Team Communication.

2. Navigation of Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations are bound to happen in your management career. Whether it involves letting someone go or performing a write up - it can get awkward. As a manager, you need to have confidence in your conversational skills to be successful. 

How to work on it: 

Have a game plan for common negative work related conversations - such as write ups. Write out (or think of) a few key points to use as a guide. Do your best to stay calm and keep the conversation slow and steady. Remember to actually listen and understand the other side. Always keep the goal of resolution in mind, as your main objective should be finding a solution to the problem. The more you practice preparation, the easier it will be!

3. Spotting Skill Sets

As a manager, one of your responsibilities is directing a team of employees to do the best job possible. In order to do this, you need to see what each of your employees are good at and make sure they’re in the right position. 

How to work on it: 

Keep communication frequent between you and your employees. Listen to their ideas and solutions, give them some authority to do their job in their own way. Recognize their strengths and give them tasks that align with what they’re great at. 

4. Proactive Problem Solving

Want a highly productive team? Then your mission as a manager and leader is to find and eliminate team problems before they fester.

How to work on it: 

The best way to seek out any potential team problems is to have weekly one on one meetings with each of your direct reports. That way you can hear about any problems and detect issues that your employees might be overlooking. Communication is key when it comes to problem solving.

5. Functionality

As a manager, you need to have a skillset that aligns with your industry. How can you effectively manage a retail store when you don’t know how to work the sales floor? How can you manage a restaurant when you don’t know the first thing about waiting tables? You need to have the basic skills of the industry to be an effective manager.

How to work on it: 

A good way to start is taking a class on leadership and management. The next step is to study and understand the roles of each position in your industry. After all, each and every employee is vital for your company's success. So learn exactly what needs to be done by each position, each shift. Lastly, communicate key tasks to all of your employees. 

6. Team Centered Mindset

Does the cliche “there’s no I in team” come to mind? While you may be the leader, you’re also part of the team. Always put the team’s needs before your own. This could mean picking up the slack for a late employee during a busy shift or going to bat when someone asks for a raise and you need to speak with one of your own managers get it approved. 

How to work on it: 

To have a team focused mindset - think of yourself as a team member before thinking of yourself as the manager or leader. Be willing to do things outside of your job for the sake of the team. Just because you have more power as a manager, doesn’t mean you’re better than your team members, aka employees. Remember - everyone starts from somewhere!

7. Strategic Thinking

Taking on tiny projects without thinking of overall strategy is frustrating for yourself and your team. The best managers understand bigger picture company goals and find ways to achieve them or work toward them each shift.

How to work on it: 

Take time to reflect on company goals and initiatives. These can be shift to shift short term goals, or long term. Then look at how you can improve or add to your current processes to help reach those main goals. That way employees are never doing mindless, pointless work. Everything is done with reasoning behind it. 

8. Adaptability

In any shift based industry like a restaurant, hotel, or retail store - things are always changing. As a manager and leader, it’s important to adapt to any changes in your business and keep the team steady.

How to work on it: 

Be optimistic toward change. If someone suggests leading team meetings in a new way, don’t shut it down. Consider the options and be open minded about a new way of doing things. The same goes for new company attendance rules, dress codes, or even just change because of seasonality. Be ready to adapt and keep your team going. A positive mindset is a successful mindset!

9. Respect

A good manager and leader will treat others with respect and kindness, even when employees disagree with something. You must show respect before you can be respected!

How to work on it: 

Instead of being defensive when an employee disagrees, ask them why. Respect their opinions, even if you disagree yourself. Remember everyone is entitled to their opinion, as long as everyone is being respectful.

10. Fairness

Favoritism is harmful to teams in any industry. If we’re being honest, of course there will be employees that you like more than others. Maybe some are much harder working or have never been late to a shift. But favoritism can actually demotivate your other employees and hurt your team. 

How to work on it: 

Create boundaries and keep your professionalism in check. Treat all employees equally - especially when it comes to disciplinary actions for attendance and other work related policies.

11. Confidence

A manager who lacks confidence will have a hard time getting employees to follow along. Understand your strengths and leverage them for success. Learn to be confident in your leadership abilities, so you can build a strong team of employees.

How to work on it: 

It’s usually a good idea to take a personality test like Myers-Briggs, DISC assessments or Fingerprint for Success. These help you understand your strengths and weaknesses so you can apply them to your job as a manager. Practice your manager skills every shift, and you’ll gain confidence in yourself quickly. 

12. Organization

Being a manager gets hectic, to say the least. But if you’re an unorganized manager……. That’s just a nightmare. Organization is essential to running efficient shifts. 

How to work on it: 

Set up systems for everything that feels cluttered. Messy desk? RTO requests on sticky notes everywhere? Organize your documents and get a filing system in place. Or, better yet - find a system that makes organization effortless. 

13. Vision

A great leader and manager has a clear vision and knows how to communicate it to employees. Getting caught up in day to day tasks that have no real long term impact only leaves employees feeling confused about their purpose. Afterall, employees are essential to any company - so they need to understand WHY.

How to work on it: 

Take a step back from your everyday routine and think about what your vision is. If you’re in middle management, it’s a good idea to meet with people above you to help you understand the big picture goals that you can contribute to. If you’re top management, write down a plan. Managing a company isn’t the right time to “wing it”, you need to pinpoint achievable goals and make a game plan.

14. Delegating Effectively 

No matter how great of a manager you are, you can’t do everything yourself. It’d be impossible and you’d never stop working! Micromanaging is also exhausting. Delegation is key to reaching big, long term goals. Plus, a little delegating can make shifts more productive all around!

How to work on it: Trust your employees and their abilities to complete tasks for you, so everyone wins. The goal is to build and manage a team, right? So starting acting like a team and help each other every shift!

15. Mediating 

As a manager, it’s inevitable that you’ll face difficult conversations and circumstances between two or more employees. When employees aren't getting along with each other, what do you do to resolve the issue? Being a good mediator is an often overlooked, yet incredibly important manager skill to have.

How to work on it: 

Learn how to be an effective manager AND mediator. Have one on ones with each employee to try to pinpoint the underlying problem. Once you do, have a meeting with both (or all the employees involved) and communicate. Talk through the issue and help your employees resolve it. Or, it could be the case you need to make some scheduling changes. Either way, communication is key - as always. 

As you can see - there’s so much more to being a great manager than simply telling employees what to do every shift. Focus on these 15 team management skills and you’ll become an effective manager in no time! 

 

An Effective Restaurant Marketing Strategy Needs More Than Just Great Food

effective restaurant marketing strategyEvery restaurant needs to have a great menu. But for great restaurant marketing, restaurants need to offer their guests more than just great food to be able to compete. Added value, genuine storytelling, and engaging marketing strategies are also essential for your restaurant to succeed. We’ll take a look at how you can add some magic to your restaurant’s marketing mix; creating a loyal base of customers that keep returning.

Tell your restaurant’s unique and compelling story

Restaurant marketing is all about what makes you unique. Customers don’t buy food, they buy brands, and what they’re really looking for is the story behind your restaurant. They want to know the reason you started your restaurant, as well as your values and vision. Crafting compelling storytelling instantly creates an emotional and engaging connection with your customers, giving you an edge over your restaurant’s competition. Guests who connect with your story are much more likely to keep visiting you, so it’s a really important way to begin creating loyal customers too. Strong storytelling makes it much easier to create compelling restaurant marketing campaigns on social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. It also ups your social proof too, so take the time to develop and tell your story!

Restaurant marketing needs guest engagement

Guest engagement is also essential for any successful restaurant. That’s why social media is a vital part of any restaurant marketing strategy; it makes lasting engagement creation much easier. Customers in every industry now want (and expect) engagement and interaction with brands without simply being marketed ‘to’. Restaurants are no different. Social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook let you share your restaurant’s personality and values while connecting to your customers.  Use Instagram Stories to share behind-the-scenes videos of your restaurant, tease new menu offerings on Snapchat or use the Instagram Ask Me Anything feature to ask for customer feedback or suggestions. Taking the time to develop updated, interesting social media profiles is vital for every restaurant marketing strategy, creating lasting interaction with your guests.

Amplify your restaurant marketing through added value for your guests

Really knowing and understanding your guests is an essential way to give your restaurant marketing a boost. Use technology such as guest WiFi and email capture to start building useful, data-rich profiles of your guests. For example, capturing email logins, mobile numbers, and birth dates through offering guest WiFi gives you the tools to start segmenting and contacting customers with communications that are always relevant, useful, and timely for every guest. Emailing them with a special birthday offer, or asking them for their feedback on a recent visit will start to build engagement with your brand, associating your restaurant with added value and great experience. Crafting this added value is an important extra ingredient for any restaurant marketing approach.

Loyal customers must be rewarded

As every restaurant knows, loyal and returning customers are the most profitable diners, so it’s important to create a restaurant marketing strategy that recognizes and rewards loyalty. Instead of solely going after new customer leads, develop a loyalty program that offers great value. Recent guests can be sent coupons for return visits, or you can create a VIP rewards program for guests to participate in every time they visit based on total spend. You can also use Snapchat as a way to create a ‘digital loyalty card’, giving your Snapchat friends ways to unlock discounts and freebies and creating an extra layer of reward. Rewarding customers is a great way to build an effective restaurant marketing strategy; it ensures your customers feel valued and special, as well as constantly promoting your restaurant brand.

Add a bit of creative spice to your restaurant marketing 

Every restaurant can benefit from a bit of added spice to their marketing strategy. Creative restaurant marketing strategies are important ways to increase your brand's visibility and awareness online, as well as generating new customer leads coming through your doors. Think about hosting competitions on social media, or create an Instagram-only dish that will get attention and shares. While this will boost your restaurant marketing, you’ll also be able to increase user-generated content shared by your followers. This is essential for creating lasting social awareness and engagement, increasing that all important loyalty overall.

Restaurant marketing is more than about great food

Great food for every restaurant is obviously important, but it’s not the only thing to attract new diners and convert them into loyal guests. To develop a killer restaurant marketing strategy, make sure you invest in creating stand-out social media profiles, develop opportunities for real and lasting engagement, and reward loyal customers. The result? Increased footfall and lasting loyalty.


How to Handle & Prevent Employee No Call No Shows

Many shift based industries such as restaurants, retail stores, and hotels (just to name a few) have a problem with employee no call no shows. These dreaded last minute dropped shifts usually leave managers in a frantic state of trying to get the shift covered while also handling all other normal responsibilities. It can be overwhelming to say the least. Keep reading to learn what to do when experiencing an employee no call no show AND how to prevent them for the future. 

What is a No Call No Show? 

A no call no show is when an employee does not give prior notice before missing a shift. Meaning the employee doesn’t inform management that he or she isn’t going to show up to work that day. 

This often leaves management stressed and frantic to fill the open shift on the spot. During busy seasons, no call no shows can be detrimental to a business - affecting sales and employee morale.

Every manager has been there - thinking Jane is just a couple minutes late. It’ll be fine. She probably got stuck in traffic. 

...Okay, it’s been 30 minutes. 

Now it’s been an hour, she obviously isn’t showing up. 

Customers are starting to file in since it’s a busy friday night. Crap. Now what. I need to find someone to cover this missed shift ASAP.

So what do you do about it?

The best way to deal with no call no show employees is to be PROACTIVE. Try to stop the problem before it even happens by creating a no call no show policy. Yes, you’ll probably still have the occasional incident. But, if you have a policy in place - you’ll have a protocol to follow, know what disciplinary actions to take, and other employees will understand that a no call no show absence is NOT okay.

employee no call no show free guide

Define Your Expectations 

The first thing you need to do is define your expectations for attendance. These will be unique to your business since all industries have different expectations. 

We all pretty much know what no call no show means - but regardless, you still need to define it. Also keep in mind not all missed shifts or absences are no call no show. Everything related to absences needs to be clearly defined so there’s no miscommunication or excuses due to a lack of understanding.

Things to define related to missing work:

  • What a no call no show means

  • What is considered an absence

  • What is considered being tardy

  • What kind of absences are excused or unexcused

  • Will you require documentation for excused absences

Defining your expectations will ensure every single employee is on the same page as you. After you decide on what everything means - you can create a no call no show policy fairly quickly. 

Create a No Call No Show Policy (& Make Sure Everyone Understands It)

Whether you have an employee handbook or not, you definitely need a no call no show policy in place so employees (and managers) know the rules and consequences beforehand. Since you’ve already defined your expectations, creating a policy will be easy.

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Outline the expectations and definitions that you’ve decided on (listed above)

  2. Decide on the consequences for tardies, unexcused absences, and no call no show absences

  3. Explain the proper way to request time off

  4. Explain how to call in and what types of scenarios warrant calling in

It’s a good idea, though not necessary, to have an employment lawyer look over your policy to ensure you’re legally covered if you have to deal with any of the mentioned circumstances. 

After you complete the no call no show policy, print it out! Tape it in the breakroom or anywhere that employees will be reminded of it. Email it to them. Have a team meeting explaining the new policy and guidelines for handling absences. During this meeting, handout a waiver for employees to sign, acknowledging that they have read and understand the policy.

Communication is key for best results. Explain your reasoning for the policy, and the effects that no call no show absences have on the business and employee morale. 

Enforce the Policy

Whether you’ve decided to have a zero tolerance no call no show policy or have specific consequences - stick to it! 

Be consistent in your discipline. Apply the consequences to everyone - even if/when your best performing employee is no call no show one day. 

It’s also important to set realistic disciplinary actions. If you can’t feasibly fire an employee for a first offence no call no show, then don't write that in the policy! Many businesses follow a “3 strike” process - meaning an employee has three chances before they’re terminated. 

Here are some tips for enforcing your policy:

  • Meet with the employee privately for a discussion about the no call no show and reasoning for it. Explain how no call no shows affect the business and even employee morale.

  • Explain how each and every employee is important to have a successful shift.

  • Remind the employee about the policy rules (whether that means you have a right to fire them now, or you’re simply writing them up for a “strike”). 

  • Ask the employee to explain what happened. Was it an emergency and it wasn’t possible to call in? Or was it deliberate? Is there anything you can do - schedule wise - to help?

  • Follow through with your consequences defined in the no call no show policy. Document every incident and write up for explanation if necessary. 

The main point is to enforce your policy equally to all employees and management. This sends a message that you will not tolerate no call no shows, for anyone. 

Make Scheduling Easier

One huge factor for absences, tardies, and no call no shows is employee scheduling. If you improve your scheduling process and make things as easy as possible, no call no shows and other scheduling conflicts will be reduced!

Here’s a few things to consider about your scheduling process:

  • Is it easy for employees to actually view the schedule when it’s convenient for them?

  • Is it easy for employees to set their availability? And change it (with approval)?

  • Is it easy for employees to request time off?

  • Is it easy for employees to ask for shift coverage and shift changes (with approval)?

Basically - IS IT EASY FOR EMPLOYEES?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, then some employees will simply skip work rather than try to work with you because it’s easier. 

Employees should be able to see exactly when they work so there’s no more scheduling mix ups or excuses for no call no shows. Getting a scheduling software that sends text or email shift reminders to employees is also a great way to reduce scheduling conflicts.

There should also be an easy process for requesting time off. Since the world is basically going digital, it makes sense that employees should be able to request time off through their phones. Having a scheduling software with an RTO feature is the easiest and fastest way to accept or deny RTO in one organized place. Making employees write out their dates on sticky notes, that end up getting lost, is not efficient or effective.  

Lastly, employees should have a simple process for communicating with each other for shift coverage or shift swaps. Again, a scheduling software that has a feature for this is your best option. An employee no longer has to text 10 different other employees to get a shift covered. Instead, the employee can just drop the shift and other employees will be notified that there’s an open shift for pick up. This saves so much time and is easier for the employee to find coverage. Of course - everything needs manager approval in the end and the employee dropping the shift isn’t off the hook until it’s covered. 

Teach New Employees

It’s vital for new employees to understand your no call no show policy from the get go. Setting new hires up for success right away helps ensure that they’ll be reliable and make your policy guidelines a habit. 

One way for making sure new employees have all the information they need is to host a little orientation on their first day or at least have a meeting to review your expectations and policies (remember to have them sign your policy waiver). During this process, teach new employees how important it is to show up for scheduled shifts. Make sure they learn how to properly request time off, call in, and get shifts covered. If you use a scheduling software - teach them how to use it so there is never any confusion.

Teaching new employees during their first few shifts will ensure that they know the policy AND understand your reasoning behind it. You’re setting them up for success!

Improve Team Communication

There’s usually a build up of factors that contribute to a no call no show employee. Getting to know your employees can help prevent these absences. 

Remember, a no call no show employee could be having personal problems relating to school, family, friends, or stress in general. Or it could be a work related problem with another employee. Either way - you’ll never know what’s going on if you don’t foster team communication. Once you talk to your employee and have a better understanding, you can do your best to help them and avoid further no call no show absences. 

Does the employee need to go from full time to part time? Or change from a morning shift or evening shift? Or have a certain day off every week?

It’s important to know when an employee is having problems at work, otherwise the employee may feel underappreciated or unimportant.

Not understanding and knowing your employees will lead to poor team morale and will result in unexcused and no call no show absences more often. 

Let your employees know they can come to you with problems or scheduling issues - and then work them out together. This is effective team communication that will improve employee attendance and morale!

Stay Calm & Follow Your Plan

Despite all of your hard work trying to prevent no call no shows - they will still happen from time to time. What do you do in the moment? Stay calm, don’t freak out! 

Remember that your employee knows the rules - so there could be a legitimate reason they couldn’t call in (like an emergency). Never jump to conclusions and assume the worst. Give your employee the benefit of the doubt. Because, sometimes life happens and the employee could have a really valid reason for missing work without calling. 

What you need to do when a no call no show happens is focus your energy on finding someone to cover the shift. A great way to be prepared for a no call no show is having an on call list of employees that always want to pick up extra shifts and hours. That way you already know of a few good employees that may be available to cover the shift. If you’re using a scheduling software, you can broadcast an open shift to all employees available and eligible to cover it! This feature makes finding a replacement effortless. Sometimes it's a great back up plan to even schedule an on call employee. Ask them to be ready to work and call in 30 minutes after the last person is scheduled for the shift to see if they're needed - if you're still waiting on a late employee or dealing with a no call no show, have your on call employee replace them for the shift.

Next - call the no call no show employee after you find coverage. Ask if they’re okay - figure out what happened. Go into the call like you’re trying to help in case they’re hurt, in trouble, or dealing with a real emergency and simply forgot to call in. This behavior will show that you care about your employees and will strengthen your manager-employee relationship.

However, if the employee doesn’t have a good reason - you simply plan a meeting for their next shift and go over the consequences (whether it’s a write up, termination, or whatever your policy outlines). 

Benefits of a No Call No Show Policy

While creating a no call no show policy takes time - it’ll be worth it in the long run of your business. 

With less no call no shows you’ll see:

  • Better employee morale 

  • Increased employee productivity

  • Better communication between managers and employees

  • Improved company culture

  • Improved scheduling and organization 

Not to mention you’ll be less stressed when a no call no show does occur - since you already have a plan of action in place!

Just remember - employees will still get sick, have emergencies, or just need specific days off from time to time. But they’ll know that a no call no show is unacceptable and should make every effort to inform you before missing a shift. 

Now you have all the tips to creating and implementing a no call no show policy, so stop reading and start doing!

 

6 Things to Include in a Restaurant Business Plan

what to include in a restaurant business plan

Setting up a new restaurant is no easy task. There's a lot to consider in order to ensure your business will be successful. So let's start from the beginning, one of the most important aspects of opening a restaurant is creating a proper business plan.

If you don’t know how to set up a business plan for your restaurant, no need to worry - we got you covered! Keep reading to learn what to include in your business plan before opening your new restaurant.

1. Your restaurant concept

The very first thing you should know when it comes to creating a business plan for your new restaurant is the description and purpose of your business. Once you nail down the main purpose of your restaurant, creating the rest of the plan will be easier.

First of all, be certain about the type of restaurant you want to create before moving on. Do you want to open a smaller diner, a high end restaurant, maybe a quick serve style, or a casual sit-down restaurant? When you're starting from scratch, the sky's the limit! However, this needs to be decided before moving on further.

Once you decide, it’ll be easier to set expectations for the quality of service and the budget necessary to put it all together!

2. Location and target customers

Once you decide on the type of restaurant, the next step in your restaurant business plan is finding a proper location. Your restaurant's location is vital to its success since it determines what type of customers are going to be coming in every single day. So, think about who your ideal customers are. Are you targeting college kids? Find a location near a university. Are you targeting families? Find a location near some prominent family-oriented neighborhoods. Are you targeting young couples? Find a fun location downtown. Basically, be strategic about your restaurant location so you draw in the right crowd.

Another thing - your restaurant's location also impacts what's on the menu. If you're close to the ocean, seafood is an obvious choice. If you're based in a metropolitan type downtown, you'll have a huge variety of styles and menu options to choose from (these areas are usually quite diverse). So while you're deciding on a location, always think about who will be visiting your restaurant and what you want to be serving!

3. Restaurant layout and design

The indoor design of your new restaurant is also something to consider when creating a business plan. If you have any investors, they'll want to know the specifics of your plan. Deciding on your restaurant design helps you express your overall ideas and goals. This is especially helpful during the hiring process. You want to find the right employees, that support your restaurant and its goals!

Restaurant interior design basically involves everything inside. Think about the walls, the table layout, the decorations, any additional furniture. All of these add up to create one cohesive restaurant design - which makes a huge impression on guests. Restaurant design also involves any equipment you need (like registers), the kitchen appliances, and even what's in the bathroom! I know it sounds crazy, but if you've been to a restaurant and are impressed with the bathroom, that's always a good impression. Every inch of your restaurant sends a message to customers, so make it count.

The design of your restaurant can really impact the way your customers view the space they dine in. Not only will it affect whether they feel welcome and comfortable in your new restaurant, it will also help them enjoy the experience as a whole!

So what’s the point of adding indoor design ideas to your business plan? These details allow you to create a budget and help you get a better view of the restaurant vision. Not sure how to decide on a theme? Sharing your ideas with those you work with, new hires, or your trusted family members will help you get a second opinion and improve anything you’re not confident about.

4. Your employees

The employees you hire can determine whether your restaurant will be a success or failure. Think of who you’ll be working with on a daily basis: cooks, back of house employees, servers, bartenders, and hosts. It’s important to hire people that align with your restaurant's purpose and mission. Employees that are passionate and ready to work will always perform better than ones just getting by job to job. Find your people, and your restaurant will be successful.

All of your hires will shape up your team of employees and will help put your restaurant business plan forward another step. Building your team means taking serious steps toward making your restaurant come to life!

5. Marketing for success

Marketing is important both before and after the opening of your restaurant. If you want to attract new customers and have a full house, marketing is the answer. It's important to lay out some marketing strategies in your restaurant business plan so you have actionable steps to take.

There are many different ways for you to promote a restaurant. One of the most common ways is creating and spreading flyers through your town, which can contain a small coupon for visiting your new restaurant. This is especially successful in smaller towns! Customers always love supporting local businesses.

A soft opening with friends and family can also help you determine whether your flyers will be successful or not with the public. This is an easy and inexpensive way for you to test out your marketing strategy to see if it will be a success.

Another very successful means of marketing your new restaurant is through social media. This will not only help you promote your business without adding costs, it will also allow you to reach more people and therefore attract an even bigger crowd!

Last but not least, some additional ways to increase customer attraction is through SMS marketing and email marketing. By collecting some basic information about your customers such as their first and last names and their birth dates, you can easily reach out to them via messages and offer them discounts on special occasions such as their birthdays and national holidays.

6. What’s on the menu?

Your menu is the number one thing that every customer is interested in when trying out your restaurant. The meals you offer and the quality of ingredients is what keeps customers coming back for more. You'll need to have an idea of the menu when creating your restaurant business plan since it's an integral part to any restaurant.

When it comes to writing the menu, you should consult with your chef or cooks and come up with items that are unique to your restaurant. Make sure the menu is well-written and the design of the menu is appealing. It’s also a good idea to include images of certain dishes unique to your restaurant so that the customers know what to expect in advance!

One more important thing is to make sure you take the time to edit and proofread your menu and anything else that involves written content. There's nothing more embarrassing when you open than a customer pointing out grammar issues.

Following these tips will ensure an easy to read menu and will also make your restaurant appear more professional, which will result in boosted sales!

In order to minimize the risk of grammar and spelling errors, you can proofread your menu by using online tools such as GrabMyEssay, Grammarly and Studicus.

You can also use tools such as HemmingwayEditor and TrustMyPaper in order to ensure the written content of your menus and fliers are edited, polished, and ready to be viewed by customers.

Making your new restaurant a success

Whether you are a new restaurant owner or not, having a solid business plan will help you set goals and expectations and know exactly what to expect once your restaurant is up and running. It will also help you achieve a better level of communication with your employees and foster a strong workplace culture.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the more effort you put into shaping your business and making it as close to your vision as possible, the more successful it will be. Do you have any past experience in creating your first restaurant business plan? Share it with us in the comments below.