ShiftForce Blog

10 Contest Ideas to Increase Employee Engagement and Sales

Blog images (2)Any successful manager knows that happy employees are what bring a business the most success. When employees are happy, that means increased employee engagement and productivity. Which leads to higher customer satisfaction - and ultimately more sales. Need ideas on increasing employee engagement? We’ve put together 10 employee contest ideas that will make shifts more enjoyable for employees and more successful for your business. As a bonus - these ideas also foster team communication. 

Prize Ideas

Before we go into the 10 different employee engagement and sales contest ideas, let's talk prizes. For each contest, it’s really up to you whether you want to give a bigger or smaller prize. A common prize that everybody enjoys is to give gift cards to the winners, either for a restaurant or store (even your own). Employees also enjoy work related prizes - such as no cleaning duties, side work, or stocking for a shift (or longer, depending on how big you want the prize to be). Another popular prize option is a free lunch or even a lunch party in the breakroom. It’s also a good idea to recognize the winning employee on his or her success. A little recognition can go a long way when it comes to increasing employee engagement and employee productivity! Now that you have some prize ideas, it’s time to choose a contest. 

1. Highest Check or Sale Average

Have a competition to see which employee can reach the highest check average (for restaurants) or highest total sales (for retail stores) during a shift. This will drive sales for that shift and encourage employees to become more knowledgeable about your products in order to sell more. It also creates a powerful sales atmosphere and increases employee productivity. 

2. Promote a Particular Item

Basically, take a specific item and sell the heck out of it. So for restaurants, maybe that’d be a new meal on the menu, a special, or drink. For retail stores, that’d be a piece of inventory that isn’t selling well, one that’d you’d like to sell out faster, or a new arrival. See which employee can sell the most of the chosen item within a shift. Or, you can make the contest a longer and increase it to a whole week. This is a fun way to boost sales and get employees engaged and motivated to work hard. 

3. Cleanest Area Wins

Give each employee a station or area to “own” for the shift - meaning keep it clean and fully stocked. Whoever keeps up with their area the best during the shift wins! Since any one area probably won’t get that messy during a single shift, this is a good contest to run for a week. This contest helps keep your business clean and encourages each employee to work efficiently.

4. Loyalty Program Contest

Have a contest to see which employee can get the most customers to join your store’s loyalty or frequent buyer program. Most stores have sign up goals each day, so this contest will help you go above and beyond that goal! It’s also a great way to motivate employees and help grow your customer reach.

5. Gift Cards

Who doesn’t love a good gift card, right? Always good to have a few on hand for when you don’t have time to go shopping before a birthday! See which employee can sell the most gift cards during a shift. This is a great incentive for employee productivity and will keep customers coming back. Or bring in new customers (using the gift cards). This contest is best around the holidays - since more people are interested in buying gift cards then. 

6. Sales Lead of the Month

This is an oldie but a goodie. Implementing a “Sales Lead of the Month” every month will encourage employees to work hard each shift. Whoever has the most sales at the end of the month - gets a prize and recognition throughout the restaurant or retail store. You could even go so far as displaying their picture at the register or in the break room. Recognition always helps increase employee engagement and morale. This is a good ongoing contest to have, just remind your employees at the beginning of each month!

7. Add On Sales

This contest is based on add on sales - so getting someone to add on dessert or a special drink to their meal, or adding on small merchandise to their purchase. Whichever employee that gets the most add ons during one shift wins! This will boost sales for the day and help employees learn how to up sell more comfortably. It will also foster that competitive atmosphere and make the shift more entertaining - which will increase employee engagement.

8. Managers vs. Employees

Okay, this one is a SERIOUS competition. Throwing the managers out onto the floor to compete with employees will turn the energy up for the day. Whichever team makes the most sales wins. If the employees win, they get a collective prize (like a lunch party in the breakroom) or get to skip cleaning/stocking for a shift. If the managers win, the employees have to hear them brag! But in seriousness, if the managers win, maybe have pre shift meetings and make employees practice role playing for sales. 

9. Sales Bingo

This one is probably the most fun. Print out bingo cards and write certain items in each box. The employee who sells a line of items in a row wins the prize! This can be easy or tough, depending on what’s in the boxes. Try to keep it challenging by requiring some more difficult items in the boxes. This is a great way for employees to increase product knowledge and push for sales they wouldn’t normally try. It’s also a competition that can last several shifts - depending on the difficulty! This sales bingo contest will also make shifts fun and entertaining, since it’s an actual game. 

10. Everybody Wins

Competitions are always fun and will foster great employee engagement and employee productivity. But, sometimes it’s nice to have a store or restaurant wide competition. Get all your employees working together to outperform past sales. This is a great one for a week or month long competition. See if you can beat last year's numbers, or beat the forecasted goal. This team competition fosters collaboration and can result in amazing sales!

These 10 contest ideas will ultimately increase employee engagement, sales, and improve your team communication. Competitions are a great way to keep employees excited and interested in their jobs. Most are based on sales goals as well, which will help your restaurant or retail store boost sales! Try some, or all, of these contests out and watch your culture improve all around.


Restaurant Marketing Promotions for Back to School That Actually Work

Blog images (1)It’s back to school season yet again, which means families are busier than ever. Here comes the fall activities and parents turning into taxi cabs. And don’t forget about all the busy teachers grading homework and coaching football. How does this relate to your restaurant, you ask? Well, you can take advantage of the back to school season and increase your restaurant sales if you adjust your marketing! Keep reading to find out what works to increase sales during these busy bee back to school days.

Easy Comes First

Everyone seems to be very busy during the back to school craze. So busy, that home made meals are usually an afterthought. Which is the perfect opportunity for your restaurant to come to the rescue and make meal time as easy as possible for parents!


  • Offer family specials where kids can eat free, or discounted
  • Offer two main dishes for a cheaper rate (great for parents)
  • Have a parent’s day out lunch special the first week of school
  • Build a reputation of fast and high quality service
  • Advertise your to-go service more to give families a quick option
  • Offer a family style to-go box so bigger families won’t need to order so many meals

The recurring theme here is: EASE. Make it simple and quick for families to go to your restaurant. With all the events happening - they don’t have time to think about dinner. So do the thinking for them.

Family Friendly Happy Hour

Attract more families into your restaurant during the back to school season by creating a family friendly happy hour - and call it a family hour! This is a perfect way to increase restaurant sales by advertising quality family time without the stress or mess of cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen after school and work. Provide half priced kids meals or discounted appetizers from 3-6 PM and you’ll see an influx of hungry families. You get more sales, and families get to spend more time together in your restaurant. Try it out!

Target High Schoolers and College Kids

Families are going to be eating out more during the back to school season, but don’t forget about the high school and college kids in your area. Everyone will be looking for easy and affordable meals.

Here’s a few ways to focus restaurant marketing for more school aged sales:

  • Provide specials for major athletic events going on in your community
    (like home football games)
  • Offer discounted appetizers or unlimited free sodas to draw in a crowd before and after games
  • Offer a discount to college kids who show a student ID 
  • Team up with universities near by and ask to include restaurant coupons in new student packets that are handed out
  • Offer a late night study hour where coffee and other caffeinated beverages are discounted, or free with purchase of a meal

The common theme here is: AFFORDABLE. Find ways to make your restaurant appear more affordable to your community, and you’ll be sure to increase restaurant guest volume and sales. Restaurant marketing promotions like these will also foster relationships with your community, and create long term customers.

Focus Restaurant Marketing on Teachers

Last but certainly not least, the teachers! Similar to the student ID discount, it’s a great idea to have a standing discount for teachers and their families if they show their staff ID. Go even further the first week of school and offer free appetizers for teachers. I’m sure they’ll appreciate that more than the apples they usually get! Get it...? This will help foster your relationship with surrounding schools, and restaurant sales will increase as a result. 

The more you help your community by offering these kinds of marketing promotions, the more people will turn to your restaurant when they need an easy and delicious meal. By marketing yourself as a hub for special offers during the busy back to school season, your restaurant sales will increase and you’ll gain more lifetime customers as well. Everyone wins. 


Top 8 Hospitality Trends Impacting the Industry

Keeping up with what your competitors are doing is important in business. While you don’t have to follow every trend to the letter, it’s worth having an idea of what the trends in your industry actually are. If you’re wondering what’s changing in the hospitality world, take a look at these top 8 hospitality trends impacting the industry:

Maintaining a social media presence

Relying on word of mouth for business simply isn’t good enough anymore – not with all the competition. If your business isn’t on social media, you’ll have a much harder time engaging with new customers. Existing customers like connecting with their favourite brands and restaurants, too. Run giveaways in exchange for post-sharing, and you’ll be able to reach new customers and appease the existing ones.

Offering perks

It’s not exactly new, but perks have stood the test of time in hospitality businesses. These range from offering customers a free coffee once they’ve bought five, to weekly business card draws. Getting things for free – or at a discount – will keep people coming back time and time again.

Considering a changing demographic

Many businesses who traditionally cater to older adults have come to similar conclusions. They understand that capturing the millennial market is important for growth. In general, millennials love to travel, try new things, and share their experiences with friends. Many hospitality businesses are changing their offerings to reflect this.

Trends to follow in the hospitality industryImage Source: Unsplash

Using technology

Technology, especially internet-enabled technology, has made a place for itself in every facet of modern life. The hospitality industry is no exception. Hotels around the world are focused on ease of use for their customers. This might be through providing smart technology in hotel rooms, or enabling contactless check-in. 

For many restaurants, gone are the days where waiters were forced to write orders by hand for the kitchen staff. These days, they often take orders using devices. Many other time-consuming processes, such as ordering stock, have also been made much more convenient through technology-enabled processes.

Focusing on sustainability

Becoming ‘green’ is a positive trend that’s taken hold in all sorts of industries. The hospitality industry is no exception. Many hospitality businesses are making steps towards a greener future. Adapting may take the form of offering more diverse meat-free dishes that cater to different dietary requirements, or focusing on renewable energy sources. You can also move towards choosing sustainable furniture to make your brand more eco-friendly- today’s customers will definitely appreciate this.

Catering to international visitors

With air travel being so much cheaper than in the past, people from countries all over the world are now able to visit new places affordably. This means that hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality venues need to consider how best to appeal to new guests. It also means that it’s becoming wise to hire multilingual staff, or at least to provide information in languages other than English.

Being ready for damage control

With customers able to leave reviews – both good and bad – in just a few minutes, hospitality providers need to be quick to counteract negative reviews. It’s become increasingly common to have a staff member responsible for responding to reviews. To keep your brand responses consistent, it might also be a good idea to have the same employee manage the company’s social media accounts as well.

Trends to follow in the hospitality industryImage Source: Unsplash 

Providing for a healthier populace

While people still enjoy fried food and sugary drinks, a growing number of diners and travellers are concerned about health. Restaurants have had to adapt and provide the calorie contents of their food, as well as offering healthier substitutes. The most successful businesses are also offering healthy break room alternatives to employees as well. This goes for activities, too. The emphasis on physical health, for example, means that some hotels with gyms and pools see increased use. 

With so many emerging trends, it’s more important than ever to keep a streamlined communication process. This will ensure that your staff are always given the latest updates, enabling them to perform their jobs with ease.

#ManagerLife: Schedule Anywhere with Technology

Schedule anywhere with ShiftNote Employee Scheduling SoftwareWe all know being a manager comes with endless responsibilities. And I’m sure we can agree that scheduling employees is one of the most dreaded responsibilities of them all. Using paper calendars or Excel sheets that have to be constantly updated every time an employee needs to make a shift change (which happens too often in shift work) is a dying trend. Why? Because this ancient method means that managers are glued to their desks, always working on the schedule. What’s even worse is being asked scheduling questions when you’re not at your desk. How do you remember every employees’ shift change request when you won’t be by the schedule for another few hours? It’s a hard job.

I’m sure you get the point - trying to maintain current schedules and manage communication in this way is not sustainable and really makes a managers’ job more difficult than it should be. But the good news is - employee scheduling CAN be simplified with the use of technology!

Thank you 21st century, amiright?!

Instead of having the schedule in one location (on a desk), technology allows managers to schedule anywhere and schedule faster! What’s even better is some of the responsibility can be given to employees to manage their own shift changes (with approval, of course).

Implementing an employee scheduling software that does all the heavy lifting can alleviate common manager headaches by offering the ability to schedule anywhere, quickly and easily! 

Scheduling Technology Is The Cure To Communication Headaches

Think of all the emails, phone calls, and text messages that occur in a week with questions about the schedule, requests for time off, concerns about shift availability, and the list goes on and on. Any manager can relate to the chaos. These messages are literally like playing the telephone game where the details get lost in the passing of information throughout staff. 

Thankfully, employee scheduling technology eliminates these time sucking questions. Technology allows for complete communication within a single scheduling platform, which prevents the slew of random messages from getting lost in translation. The entire team can communicate via the online software so everyone is always in the loop (it’s like a dream come true).

Managers can relax a little more when employees have the ability to communicate using group messaging and text features within the technology to view and request updates to the schedule anywhere, anytime. Having all the information and communication in ONE place makes life a whole lot easier.

Employee Scheduling Software Makes Work Simple

In addition to easier communication all in one place, an employee scheduling software provides complete transparency for all information a manager needs to complete the schedule. For example, no more hunting down employees with specific availability questions - it’s all in the software!

A scheduling software also allows employees to see the current state of shifts and submit requests for time off or schedule changes for approval. Managers’ lives get a whole lot easier when all these employee requests are in the same place instead of scattered through texts, emails, and sticky notes.

And, if there’s not enough availability to fill the schedule, technology can help discover that it’s time to hire more staff.

Basically, an online employee scheduling software allows managers to schedule anywhere, see all availability, and helps prevent scheduling problems before they even occur.

It’s a fail proof way to schedule.

It's a Win-Win When Employees Can Schedule Anywhere Too

Not only does scheduling technology allow managers to schedule anywhere, it gives the employees power to submit requests and changes anywhere as well. Employees can view their schedule online, drop shifts, swap shifts, and pick up shifts with manager approval. This eliminates any shift swap books, writing on a paper schedule, and requiring signatures for everything.

It saves TIME.

Seriously, technology provides a gateway for employees to do all the manual scheduling work on behalf of their managers! Plus, this autonomy also means happier employees that will be more productive and engaged in the long run. It’s a win-win.

All in all, managers can save 80% of their scheduling time (HOURS per week) when utilizing technology. Employee scheduling software can magically turn hours into minutes when it comes to creating schedules!

No more needless texts, emails, notes, and phone calls that make scheduling stressful.

This technology gives employees more responsibly, alleviates stress for managers, and saves time - so managers can spend more time focusing on growing sales and profits instead of scheduling.

If you’re finding yourself dreading scheduling every single week, it’s time to join in on the fun and start scheduling anywhere with the use of a scheduling software. 

10 Causes of Employee Turnover and How To Correct Them

website design & development for infinite brewing company

Employee turnover. Every employer’s nightmare, amiright? If you think turnover rates are improving, I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total turnover rates in 2018 were 44.3%. Yes, you read that right. But that’s an average of all the industries. Total turnover for the hospitality industry was 76.7% in 2018. If you’re internally crying right now from those statistics, don’t worry. Let me wipe those tears and fears away by explaining 10 common, but fixable, company turnover mistakes.

Firstly, why is turnover even important? Well, for one thing, you can’t have a business without the people. Employees are a necessity to function, and GOOD employees are a necessity to profit. Turnover affects both your profits and workplace culture.

Every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs the business 6 to 9 months’ worth of that person's salary, according to the Society of Human Resources & Management. Don’t have salary employees? You’re not off the hook (sorry). On average, replacing an hourly employee costs around $3,328 once you factor in recruiting, interviewing, and training time.

On the other side of things, high turnover also negatively impacts employee morale, loyalty, and productivity. It should be clear by now that a smart goal is to reduce turnover. It's a sneaky little devil that will destroy your success if left unattended.

Causes of Turnover and How to Fix it

1. Disinterest

When employees become bored and uninterested in their jobs, they’re on the path to leaving.

Turnover Tip: invest in your employees' professional development. Challenge them, let them have a say in decisions. Always find room for them to grow and flourish. Work on improving your employees' overall satisfaction with their job! The more you can involve your employees in your business, the longer they’ll stay.


2. High-demand employees

Skilled employees have more potential to leave for better pay, benefits, or title.

Turnover Tip: Keep your most talented employees by ensuring open communication on their career development. Be honest with them, acknowledge their value, show the impact they have on the company. Evaluate their performance, always give tips on improvement and offer more cross-training opportunities to keep them engaged and constantly growing. Investing in your employees shows your value and respect for them.

3. Job requisite mismatch

Over- or under-qualified employees will realize the skill level mismatch and move on to a more fitting position elsewhere.

Turnover Tip: While recruiting and interviewing, make sure the candidate knows exactly what the position entails. From day-to-day expectations and schedules, to how they will contribute to the company. Being on the same page will prevent this mismatch mistake in hiring.

4. Workplace culture

Similar to job requisite mismatch, some people just aren’t fit for certain work cultures. If the cultural fit isn’t there, the employee will feel disengaged and left out. Even worse, this could affect current employees as well.

Turnover Tip: When hiring, discuss company values and your mission statement. Make sure the candidate’s values and goals align with the company’s. Also think about how a candidate will fit in with other employees. The goal is to create a team so strong that company culture is never questioned or hindered. You want all your employees to thrive working together. A unified team means increased employee productivity too!

5. Poor working conditions

Employees don’t often stick around when their workplace environment has health violations, safety hazards, or bad behavior from co-workers and upper management. Poor working conditions results in low workplace productivity and unhappy employees.

Turnover Tip: Make sure you deal with any “toxic employees” that could be wreaking havoc on team morale. It’s a common fact that employees quit due to bad managers, supervisors, or even fellow employees. I know sometimes this employee could be valuable, but is he worth your entire team? Nope. Of course, also always ensure your business is up to par on health codes and safety procedures to ensure a safe work environment as well.

6. Under-appreciation

Lack of acknowledgment creates dissatisfied or even angry employees.

Turnover Tip: Make sure your employees consistently feel appreciated. To do this, integrate recognition into your weekly activities. Bring achievements up in morning meetings. A little recognition can go a long way when it comes to employee morale. Even if you aren't spending money on training, encouragement and acknowledgment are a way of investing in your employees' well-being. Your employees are helping your business, so make sure they know it!

7. Being overworked

When an employee is continually working back to back or longer shifts, frequent overtime, or has trouble when asking off - they will not stay around.

Turnover Tip: Don’t schedule your employees more than they can handle. Be considerate and respectful of their desired hours and availability. And remember, they have lives outside of work. So be flexible when your employees request time off.

Happy employees = productive employees = profitable business. 

8. Inadequate training

Training is key for improving employee turnover. A lack of training can cause new employees to be confused and then continually fall behind in their level of performance.

Turnover Tip: Employees need proper guidance and clear direction from the start in order to thrive. Be clear on what you want them to do from day to day. Show them how to do it. Give them time to ask questions and learn at a comfortable pace. Assign them to a more experienced co-worker to follow along and learn from. Again, invest the time and effort to ensure they're confident and comfortable working every shift.

9. Poor pay

Low or unequal pay will drive employees to leave.

Turnover Tip: Minimum wage isn’t going to cut it in most scenarios anymore. Make sure you're offering competitive wages to be fair to your employees. Reevaluate at least once a year for raises (most employees will begin looking for new jobs if they aren’t consistently receiving raises annually). Don't fret if there isn't enough money to go around. There’s also other ways to compensate outside of paychecks - such as more flexible work options or extra paid time off. You can get creative to make your employees lives better!


10. Lack of modern technology

Companies not up to date in today’s technology deter employees - especially younger ones. Everyone knows technology makes lives easier.

Turnover Tip: Invest in cloud-based employee tools and technology that fosters collaboration and efficiency. Online scheduling and communication softwares can save you and your employees’ time. Employee scheduling can be a turning point for turnover. Good scheduling means reduced turnover! Times are a changin' and companies need to follow suit in order to reduce turnover, increase employee productivity, and have a growing business. 

Want to calculate your own employee turnover? This article from Qlicket will show you how!


This Simple Rule Massively Impacts Your Sales

Upgrade your restaurant sales strategy. Less work, more results.

Sales forecasts can be stressful to say the least. But what if we told you that you could be focusing on less and achieving more? We've heard many theories over the best way to manage sales forecasts - some can be helpful, others not so much. Here at ShiftNote, we believe in Pareto's Principle - also known as the 80/20 rule. Trust us, this rule can be seen everywhere in a business. In fact, it's so prominent that it can and will help managers focus on the most important contributor to success (profits, of course)!

80/20 Rule Explained 

Have you ever heard that the richest 20% of the world's population controls about 80% of the world's income? Or that 20% of your activities account for 80% of your results? No matter what it is applied to, this rule explains that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

History lesson time - this rule was founded by Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. He noticed that 80% of Italy's land was owned by 20% of the population. After going on to research other countries, he discovered the same thing was occurring almost everywhere. 

In fact, this simple 80/20 rule seems to be popping up everywhere in all industries.

So lucky you - this rule means that 80% of sales come from only 20% of customers! For obvious reasons, many managers and owners use this rule as a tool in sales strategies to maximize business efficiency and dramatically increase sales.

Undeniable Examples 

Your brain is probably buzzing thinking of how the 80/20 rule is affecting your business today. Don't stress, we've gathered a few big examples so you can truly see how this rule impacts your company's sales.

  • 20% of inventory accounts for 80% cost of goods sold. It's so common for managers to focus on getting the cheapest price for their goods needed. Picture this: a manager spends an endless amount of time performing a cost analysis on major items to find the most affordable vendor available. Sounds okay, right? WRONG. This same manager might not even be looking at the use of these goods in the business or by other staff (please, always hire the right managers for the job). So getting the best deal ISN'T the most important thing. Cough cough, 80/20 rule in action.

    Try it: Perform a full cost analysis on all inventory that's used in your operation. Break down how it compares to the sale of items. You'll find that 20% of inventory accounts for 80% cost of goods sold. 

Focus on getting the best price for that specific 20% without sacrificing quality to ensure you're making the most profit.

  • 20% of items sold account for 80% of profits. Same idea as the rule above. We bet there are certain items you sell that are by far your most popular. These items account for 80% of your company's profits. Seriously, whether it's a popular dish on your menu or a best selling brand at your store, these items heavily contribute to sales.

    You know how it goes: During extended slow sales periods managers get antsy and want to add new items and make lots of changes to try to bring the traffic back. We're the first to say that being inventive is great, BUT you don't want your popular best sellers getting lost in a sea of new things. 

    Keep your most popular items prominent, after all, they're the reason customers
    keep coming back.

  • 20% of staff accounts for 80% of sales. Every business has a group of sales people that perform exceptionally well. Guess what? These top 20% of sales personnel are making 80% of your sales. 

    So what does this mean for you?
    Help your sales staff have more opportunity to grow, develop, and thrive in your business. LISTEN to the hours they want to work. Tailoring your employee scheduling to your staff's schedule needs will ensure happy and productive employees. Being a great manager also involves providing flexibility in scheduling as needed. Lastly, encourage employees to provide feedback and ideas on how to improve. Actually listen to them and apply wherever possible. These actions will lower turnover and increase employee efficiency by showing that you care for your staff and want them to succeed.

Give your employees opportunities to thrive, listen to their scheduling needs, be flexible, and get them involved with the business. Communication is key for success.

  • 20% of personal development accounts for 80% of retention. Turnover. It's every  manager's worst nightmare. When turnover is high, it's like throwing thousands of dollars in the trash every year. I mean seriously, that hurts. How do you combat it? Start investing in professional development training and resource opportunities. Personal development investments kick turnover to the curb.

    ShiftNote Tips: Hold regular training sessions for your staff to see steady improvements and give your staff the opportunity to learn from each other whenever possible. Also remember, everyone has bad days. So if a staff member ends up causing an unhappy customer, try to look at the situation with understanding instead of immediate blame (and of course, appease the customer too). Showing care for employees is one of the best things a manager can do to build a healthy and booming business. Lastly, increase overall employee motivation with things like sales games and other incentives to reward excellent work. All of these actions act to support your employees and reduce the nightmare of turnover. In return, your company's sales will grow. 

Always encourage and provide learning, be understanding and show care for your employees, set up sales games and other contests to reward great work and increase motivation. 
Happy employees = more sales = happy management.

If you learn nothing else from this blog, at least understand that this rule is about quality, not quantity. It's about learning how to use your time and resources more efficiently as a manager to achieve big results. Seriously, work doesn't have to be so consuming every day. Focus on bettering the 20% of important activities and you'll be on the path to increased sales, no doubt.  

Restaurant Sales Secrets Your Competitors Haven't Thought Of

Learn how to keep your restaurant booked from Dina Coventry, an experienced leader in the hospitality industry. She uncovers some {duh} moments that you wish you would've thought of before! These sales management tips are priceless and will help increase your restaurant sales in no time. It's all about numbers right? That is, the number of people you're catering to. Trust us, it's possible to keep your restaurant booked without working any harder!

STEP 1:  Use Specialty Menus To Save Time

First things first - Specialty menus. These make your restaurant more efficient and prepared to capture large sales. When looking to improve your restaurant sales management process, this is the number one thing to setup in order to succeed with event planning and/or restaurant catering operations.

STEP 2: Start Allocating Group Friendly Space

Do you have a separate room or a semi private area in your restaurant? If so, this is a great opportunity to improve your sales strategy! USE IT. And don't forget to know your capacities before booking events, as this helps groups decide on your restaurant space with ease. Allocating space in your restaurant for work or family events is a great sales strategy that is often overlooked. 
Larger groups = increased sales. It's a no brainer for keeping your restaurant booked.

STEP 3: Make Your Game Plan

It's always important to have a plan in place while improving your sales management and sales strategies.

Step one is consistent communication. For large parties especially, every employee should be in the know. Using a management communication software, like ShiftNote, is a great start to communicate better between shifts when you have group needs. You can communicate anytime, anywhere, and have it all logged to look back on later.

Step two is organization. This means having your menus, BEOs (Banquet Event Orders), and contracts together in an organized fashion. Organization is key to increased restaurant event sales.

Step three is delegation. Get your team together and decide who is going to handle the clients from start to finish. Trust your team will do a great job, you don't need to micromanage every step of the way. Remember, delegating empowers your employees AND takes a little off your own shoulders.


STEP 4: Enlist Help From An Expert 

Think about it, you wouldn’t have your hostess fill in on the line. Not everyone has the event planning skills needed to boost your large group or event sales. You need to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time in order to bring in more customers. There's so many factors that go into successful restaurant sales management that hiring an expert is always a good idea. Because of today's technology, you can even leverage a remote sales team to book your restaurant over the phoneA service like Client Concierge provides you with experts who are seasoned in maximizing revenue from your inquiries and soliciting new business to keep your bottom line growing and your restaurant booked.

That's right, you can sit back, relax, focus on other things all while maintaining a completely booked restaurant. Remote sales teams are game changers in the hospitality industry. 

Dina's Story - Why She's Right ⬇️

I'm a soccer mom. Yep, I said it. Being in the hospitality industry for over 28 years, I'm the go-to person to coordinate team meals during our soccer travels. 

Here's a sadly common experience:

We found one restaurant out of many that could feed the team, we ordered to-go, the wrong address was listed online, and it took an hour longer than it should've just to pick up pizza! 
Obviously the kids were starving and acting up. And we had to eat a cold dinner.

The sad thing is - this is common in every city. Restaurants aren't prepared to cater to large groups and their sales are suffering because of it.

So yes, I am a soccer mom. And I'm tired of eating cold pizza. But I'm also experienced in the hospitality industry and have a lot of knowledge to give. My first restaurant job was as a prep cook and office manager when I was 16 years old. I have had the best hospitality sales training in the industry and was lucky enough to facilitate training as well as present sales workshops over the past several years. Having led a team of close to 100 of the industry’s best sales people, I understand what needs to be accomplished in today's sales management operations.

Many restaurants have trouble staying booked and accommodating large parties for events. But thing is, it doesn't have to be more work for you if you follow the steps listed above. So it's time for more restaurants to take advantage of group dining and event planning.

Trust me, your restaurant sales will grow if you take action. I've seen it first hand. This is the beginning of a restaurant revolution, where sales don't have to be stressful anymore.
Why wouldn't you join in?


Memorial Day Restaurant Sales Strategies that Actually Work

Hello Summer, we missed you. Summer is the season of sunshine and sales, am I right? As a restaurant, it's VITAL to be prepared for these amazing months since summer is a big opportunity to capture more sales. A good way to kickstart your sales is to use Memorial Day to its fullest. Usually when you start out strong, you can finish strong! Comprehensive restaurant sales strategies will help your business overcome hurdles of the summer season and increase profits (it's a win-win). Keep reading to learn our top four restaurant sales strategies to implement for Memorial Day and continue throughout summer!

Featured Items = More Traffic 

This is a tried and true restaurant sales strategy that works wonders. Here's how it's done: have menu items and drinks at a discount or featured price. So easy! Start on Memorial Day to test this out and see how it goes. You'll want to continue carrying it on throughout the summer (because it works). 

Do you notice slow periods during certain times? Combat slow times by creating a happy hour or late night featured items to get people in your door. Even better, highlight the items as a limited time opportunity for summer only. Summer puts people in the mood to get out and about so having great deals will drive your restaurant traffic, no doubt. 

Don't believe it? Look at Sonic, the classic fast-food chain we all love. They created an afternoon happy hour during their slow sales periods one summer with the hopes of increasing sales. Come to find out that this happy hour increased sales SO dramatically they made it a permanent special. Sonic beat the slow times with a happy hour, and so can you. Seriously, who hasn't gone to sonic for a half priced drink before? It's a solid strategy that can work anywhere!

Don't Forget Why It's a Holiday 

Memorial Day isn't just a day off work. It's about remembering the sacrifices that fallen military members have made for our nation. A great way to commemorate Memorial Day is by donating a percentage of all sales to a foundation for families of fallen soldiers. This will drive traffic to your restaurant, help create repeat customers, and remember the holiday by giving back to the military in a special way. 

Wanna go even further? Offer a discount to military members and their families. There's no better way to show your respect for Memorial Day and your customers. 

Sales Don't Happen Without a Trained Staff

Now that you have some solid sales strategies to implement, you need to make sure your staff is well trained and ready to capture those summer sales. As you probably know, summer training is different than the rest of the year because your staff will have different availability than usual. It's a good idea to hire some extra help for the summer, and remember younger staff home from college will be a bit rusty.

No matter what, all of your staff needs to be well trained in order to provide the best service possible. Sales strategies simply don't matter if there's not an excellent staff providing the best guest experience!

Avoid Summer Scheduling Woes 

Seriously, it's hard to capitalize on summer sales if you don't have trained staff coverage throughout the whole season. It never fails that some staff will be expecting more time off. This requires you to get creative with scheduling (or hire more staff). Luckily, you'll probably also have younger staff home from college wanting as many hours as possible. 

Here's the difficult part: balancing the schedule to give your staff members the hours they want and ensuring you have coverage when your regular staff needs off to enjoy summer. The key to staying covered is asking your staff ahead of time when they'll need off so you know the dates that need coverage. Going even further, know what hours each staff member needs for summer. From there, you'll be more proactive about creating schedules all summer. 

For more summer scheduling tips, don’t forget to check out our blog on staff scheduling changes

Leveraging Independence Day Sales Strategies

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

Go Full Patriotic

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

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

Implement Marketing Sales Strategies

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

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

Ensure Complete Scheduling Coverage

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

Record and Forecast for Next Year

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


4 Ideas to Increase Mother's Day Restaurant Sales

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

Create a Special Mother’s Day Restaurant Menu

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

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

Treat Mothers with Delectable Treats

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

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

Utilize Social Media for Free Dinner

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

Partner with Local Flower Shops

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