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Simple Menu Changes to Capture More Lent Sales

daily managers logbook Lent menu ideasThe Lenten holiday can be a tough menu month for restaurants. There are many food limitations for those who observe this holiday and some may be frustrated with the lack of menu items for them to choose from when dining out. But there is a reason to love this holiday (and not just because it is the same day as Valentine’s Day!) - it is a great opportunity to capture sales. All you need to do is make some simple changes to your menu during this time frame.

Go Beyond Fish

The first menu change that most restaurants go to is to add more fish options. These are definitely important to add to your menu, but take it a step further. Along with refraining from eating meat, many people who observe the holiday also give up unhealthy items like carbs, chocolate, or alcohol. You can offer dishes that give up some of these common vices so patrons can observe without guilt.

Include Vegetarian Options

There are many people who observe the holiday and do not like to eat fish, but who also do not want to eat meat. Increase and promote the vegetarian dishes you have on your menu. You can even go a step further and take your most popular dishes with meat and replace them with vegetarian options.

Try Adding Pasta Dishes

Even though there will be some people giving up carbs during this time, you can still capitalize on providing alternate menu options like creative pasta dishes. Offer a variety of fish options to go with your signature pasta sauces, or get creative with alternative protein options in the pasta to replace meat.

Serve Breakfast for Dinner

Another alternate menu option to provide is breakfast! Many restaurants stop serving breakfast after a certain time, but attract more people to your restaurant during this holiday by serving breakfast all day long. This gives you an opportunity to show off your breakfast/brunch menu for future sales as well.

Don’t Forget the Specials

Once you have your menu changes to help attract more people to your restaurant during the Lenten season, you now need to get people in the door to order! With each of these menu changes, you can create a feature that will encourage people to order it. Here are some ideas for each.

  • Fish Friday. Since a lot of people who observe this holiday switch to no meat on Fridays, it is a great time to offer a featured fish entree, offer your fish dishes with a reduced price or offer buy one, get one fish dishes on Fridays only. This will ensure your restaurant is packed and sales are generated!
  • Veggie Discount. For all the vegetarian dishes you are adding or highlighting, offer an incentive to try the dishes with a vegetarian discount. Offer a small dollar amount off, or 10% off all vegetarian dishes.
  • Pasta Happy Hour. With many people giving up alcohol or sugar during this Lenten holiday, provide a different type of a happy hour during the holiday. You can do half off pasta during happy hour or offer bottomless bowls for a certain time frame.
  • Free Breakfast Side Dish. You can either extend your brunch to a night time breakfast happy hour for those observing the holiday. Or you can encourage late night breakfast ordering with a free side dish with their breakfast meal. This could be an extra free pancake or a side of fresh fruit.

Just by having these different options, you will already help encourage people to indulge and eat out during this religious holiday. But adding the additional specials for each of these items will help your restaurant take advantage of extra sales.

Looking for more ideas to provide to your observing patrons in your restaurant? Check out this blog from last year on 3 Ways to Attract Patrons to Your Restaurant During Lent.

 
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Turn Communication Breakdowns into Breakthroughs With This ONE Strategy

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Within any industry that manages multiple staff members and sometimes even multiple locations, inefficiencies are everywhere and communication breakdowns happen for a variety of reasons.

Does your business experience one or many of the following issues?:

  • Poor communication
  • Frustrated employees
  • High turnover
  • Disengaged workers
  • Loss in profits due to scheduling errors
  • Overstaffing
  • Understaffing
  • Not enough coverage over the holidays
  • Too much coverage during non-peak times
  • Not enough employee downtime
  • Too much employee downtime
  • Endless hours of managing PTO requests
  • Inefficiencies in scheduling, leading to a loss in productivity

What’s the one solution to these common breakdowns….?  Employee scheduling software. Microsoft Excel documents, or worse, a print off of clip-art schedules just don’t cut it anymore. In today’s day age, you need to use software that is cloud-based, accessible, easily editable, flexible, customizable, and tailored to your business. ShiftNote’s employee scheduling software can send text messages and emails to employees with schedules and updates, and it allow managers to seamlessly create multiple schedules across locations and times. In fact, here are a few key benefits of employee scheduling software here:

Find out how scheduling software can help your business and reduce communication breakdowns…

1 - It Allows You to Manage Shift Changes

Life happens. Your employees could get sick, their kids could get sick, they could get a flat tire, they could have a death in the family. Long story short – your employees face multiple obstacles outside of the workplace – many of which are unforeseen.

In this case, using an employee scheduling software allows you to adjust your workforce’s schedule based on foreseen – and unforeseen challenges. See who is free or wants more hours… See who is not… All within one dashboard. With ShiftNote, you can easily approve shift swaps and time off requests while you’re on the go – or at the office.

2 - It Allows for Communication Multiple Touch Points

When you say something to your team once, it’s often not retained. If you want to share scheduling updates, you need to repeat the exposure to it. Our scheduling system allows you to access an employee's’ schedule many ways – like online, printed off, mobile, and via email!

3 - It Allows For Easy Access

What happens when your employees are not at the workplace and need to access the schedule? With a paper-based system, an employee may be able to take a picture of the schedule on their phone, but how inefficient is that? And what if the schedule changes? That employee is out of luck. Again, this is where the ease of using a scheduling app comes into play.

4 - It Keeps Things Organized

Within your team, it’s important to arm employees with information they need to flourish in their given role. One way to do that is to give them access to tools so they can effectively communicate with you. With an employee scheduling tool, you can easily upload the following documents, so employees can access these materials at any time:

  • Training programs and documents
  • Onboarding materials
  • Social media policies
  • General business forms
  • HR forms
  • Compensation policies
  • Time-off policies

Beyond the mundane documents, scheduling software with messaging and document storing also presents the opportunity to highlight exceptional workers. Good businesses recognize top performers’ efforts. With an employee scheduling system, you can use it to broadcast a standout employee.

5 - It Allows You to Specify Messages to Targeted Audiences

Spray and pray messaging doesn’t work, no matter what function you’re responsible for. It’s important to create targeted and relevant messages to employees, so you are not tuned out. Employee scheduling technology makes it easy to send targeted messages to specific employees or groups of employees within your organization. Do you need to send a particular message to weekend only workers, for example? You can do that with an online scheduling software solution. Targeting your communication can improve YOUR efficiency and AVOID message overload for your staff.

Everyone knows that communication can make or break a relationship. Poor communication and scheduling harvests a breed of additional problems. Your business doesn’t need that. By implementing an online scheduling solution and managers logbook within your organization, you can eradicate many communication problems in the workplace.

 

How Restaurant Design Affects the Customer Experience

There are several things that will make or break the customer experience. From menu selection to wait staff performance, there are a multitude of factors that will play into whether a customer decides to become a patron of your establishment. While it is impossible to make everyone happy all the time, there are subtle customer psychology tactics you can implement to help improve every customer’s experience. One of these tactics rests in your restaurant design.

This goes beyond choosing the coloring and furniture for your restaurant. Consider managing your restaurant as a daily practice in curb appeal. The same way curb appeal works for your home, you need to manage daily care of your restaurant’s appearance. Upkeeping your restaurant curb appeal will instill a subtle sense of impressment in your clientele.

What Customers See in Restaurant Design

As we mentioned before, your design goes beyond your décor (although all of that contributes to the atmosphere!). There are certain subtle elements on the outside and lobby area of your restaurant that will leave a good or bad first impression with your customers. To get into your customer’s psychology, start with these small changes.

  • Music. The type and volume of music you play will go a long way in presenting a perfect atmosphere and start the experience out on the right foot. Not only should the music be playing in the restaurant, but also outside as people are walking in. Carefully choose your music selection in line with the theme of your restaurant. Then experiment with the volume. You do not want it to soft where there is an awkward feeling while people are waiting, but you also don’t want people to complain that they had to shout over the music to hold a conversation. For more information check out ROCKBOT.
  • Lighting. Much like the music, the lighting will help set the mood of the restaurant as soon as they walk in. While you want brighter lighting where people are eating, you can create a dimmer mood lighting in the waiting area. Also, don’t forget about adding accent mood lighting on the exterior of the restaurant as people are walking in. Consider colored lights as an accent or putting a spotlight on features in your restaurant.
  • Cleanliness. Arguably one of the most important parts of your curb appeal and restaurant design, you want everything to be clean and presentable both inside and outside of the restaurant. There should not be trash in the parking lot or in the landscaping around the restaurant. Likewise, the lobby and bathrooms should always be wiped down and kept clean and tidy.
  • Amenities. It is all about the little things and ensuring they are ever-present in your restaurant. Consider the amenities you provide as part of your design. Things like an umbrella holder or a heater in the entryway for long waits on cold days can make a big difference. The amenities should also represent convenience and communication while waiting for a table.
  • Exterior Presentation. Items that are not part of your restaurant should also be considered as part of your presentation and curb appeal. The parking lot should be smooth without potholes. Parking spaces should be plentiful and clearly marked. Some of the ugly but necessary components like trash bins and air conditioning units should be clean and camouflaged as well.
  • Signage. There should be a careful balance when it comes to your signage to present your restaurant in a positive light. First, all signage should clearly communicate instructions to your guests. You don’t want to overkill how many signs you place, but you also don’t want instructions to be lacking where guests aren’t sure what your hours are or if they need to seat themselves. Likewise, carefully consider what vendor signage you place in your restaurant. It can be easy to throw up banners for every brand of beer or top shelf liquor you carry. But too many vendor signs can cheapen your restaurant.

How to Improve Curb Appeal

Believe it or not, your restaurant design can change from day to day! Implementing the subtle elements we outlined above is not a one-time task. There is a huge importance on taking a daily walk through at the start of each day to ensure your curb appeal is still appealing.

  • Start with the exterior and ensure everything is clean and presentable.
  • Test the music and the lighting.
  • Ensure all trash cans are emptied even if the bags aren’t full (food starts to stink after awhile!).
  • Provide the amenities as necessary for each day’s activities, such as having the umbrella stand out if it will rain or the heater on if it is chilly.
  • Review your signage to see if you need to make changes for clarity or elegance.
  • Scrutinize the lobby and ensure every part of the space is clean and comfortable.

Taking time every day to ensure each of these elements in your restaurant design are top notch can make a big difference in the customer experience. When some of these items are out of place, they can serve to make every small bad moment a customer has in your business a little bit worse. The more positive psychological influence you can place in the subtle details of your curb appeal, the better experience you can provide.

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The Most Effective Communication Strategies for Managers

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

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

Why Invest in Effective Communication Strategies?

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

So, How Do You Do It?

Here are seven effective communication strategies to put to practice:

1- Listen First

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

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

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

2 - Master Non-Verbal Communication

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

3 - Who Are You Talking To?

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

4 - Online Or In Person?

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

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

5 - Keep It Regular

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

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

6 - Make Yourself Available

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

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

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

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

 

15 Best Ideas For Streamlining Your Restaurant Operations

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In today's restaurant operations, time is money. The best tools can save you both. Consider this the ultimate list of restaurant “hacks” – time-saving and cost-cutting resources that can bring a new level of efficiency to your operation.

5 Best Ways Today’s POS Systems Streamline Operations

From restaurant tabletop tablets to “86 Countdown” alerts when inventory is low, today’s best POS systems are efficiency engines.

1) Real-time Reports

No more waiting until the end of each shift to calculate sales. View sales data whenever – and wherever – you want with a POS system that includes cloud-based POS reporting. That means you can check real-time sales data remotely from a mobile device or computer.

Real-time sales data lets you streamline operations on the fly. Sluggish sales during lunch? Run a Facebook ad to pull in customers for dinner.

2) Tableside Processing

With wireless and cloud-based POS systems, your servers can take payments right at the table using mobile devices. This saves time for servers – and guests who are ready to leave.

3) Restaurant Tabletop Tablets

For even more operational efficiency, let guests order and pay  for themselves on restaurant tabletop tablets. There’s no need to wait for a server, guests check out when they’re ready so tables turn faster. Orders are more accurate and go straight the kitchen.

Plus, restaurant tabletop tablets make payment more secure for guests with integrated EMV card readers (aka “chip” card readers). Self-checkout on restaurant tabletop tablets isn’t just more secure, it’s a way to build loyalty. A 2017 Accenture loyalty study showed that 85% of customers are more loyal to businesses that protect their financial data.

4) Floorplan Mapping

Easily adjust your floor plan from your POS system or one of your restaurant tabletop tablets. During dinner or lunch rush, you can see which sections are busiest, and can closely monitor service for those areas.

5) Menu Updates

Some POS systems even turn restaurant tabletop tablets into digital menus. Streamline the upselling process for your waitstaff, as restaurant tablets suggest extras and add-ons for each menu item. You’ll also save the time and expense of printing paper menus. Made a typo? Have a new dish? No need to reprint, just make a quick digital edit on one of your restaurant tabletop tablets. Easy.

Save Time, Cut Costs with Smart Software and Apps

Most of these software solutions can be integrated with your existing POS system or restaurant tabletop tablets. Just check with your POS provider to see.

6) Manager's Log and Scheduling Software

Juggling 20 staff schedules and last-minute time off requests? Give yourself a break. New software programs like ShiftNote allow you to set up your staff schedule with ease.  Keep all of your manager notes handy in the web-app while your team shares updates and reviews what happened in previous shifts. Like restaurant tabletop tablets, manager logbooks are designed to enhance your customer's experience and and help you staff efficiently.

7) Accounting Software

Accounting software like Quickbooks helps you track finances and cash flow in one place. Most POS systems (including restaurant tabletop tablets) integrate with Quickbooks – and send sales data to Quickbooks automatically. No need to waste time making a separate Excel document of sales data. Plus, when your numbers go directly from your POS to Quickbooks, accuracy increases (not that you EVER make an accounting mistake, right?).

Beverage Inventory Software

Software and apps like BevSpot make tracking inventory a breeze. Yes, just like every software product on this list, it can sync with your POS system and restaurant tabletop tablets to track inventory in real time. Set alerts to notify you on your phone when inventory is at risk of being 86’d.

3 Checklists and 1 Formula Used by the Most Efficient Restaurants

Checklists are more old school than your POS system or restaurant tabletop tablets. But you’ll still see checklists being used at famous restaurants. Why? Because they work. Streamline operations the old-fashioned way…with checklists.

8) Kitchen Prep Checklist

When orders come through your restaurant tabletop tablets and hit the rack, a kitchen prep checklist helps meals go out faster. This checklist outlines what food items are needed, how many are currently on hand, and more. Kitchen prep lists even save on food and labor costs: Your team won’t waste time or money by prepping more food than what is needed.

9) Kitchen Inspection Checklist

Different from a prep list, this checklist ensures your crew is following key health and safety protocols in your kitchen. To build out a checklist, use these resources: the FDA, US Health Department, and your local and state health department.

10) Manager Checklist

Empower your managers with a list of essential tasks that must be completed on shift. Routine tasks may seem like second nature. But in the chaos of a dinner rush? Re-stocking the bathrooms with toilet paper might get overlooked (but not by guests! Hello, angry Yelp review).

Ideally, you want a manager checklist for 3 time periods: opening, shift change and closing. From setting out restaurant tabletop tablets at opening, to turning kitchen equipment off at close – a manager checklist will…well, keep you in check.

11) Food Cost Formula

Take the guess work out of pricing your menu. Streamline the process by using a formula to uncover your food cost percentage. Then, apply that percentage to your entire menu.

Automated Marketing and On-Demand Fun

12) Entertainment

More than food and drinks, guests want an experience. So, serve up a side of fun by offering restaurant tabletop tablets. Loaded with arcade games and trivia challenges, these table top tablets bring everyone together for social fun. As guests play, they spend up to 21% more per table check according to an independent Arbitron study.

You can even use tablets to host a live trivia event. Yes, these are the same restaurant tabletop tablets that include digital order and payment. It’s the ultimate all-in-one solution to streamline your business.

13) Loyalty

Say goodbye to plastic loyalty cards. Go mobile! When synched with your POS system, a mobile loyalty app can provide insane insights into customer behavior. Most importantly, guests want to use mobile restaurant loyalty apps: in a survey of over 27,000 guests by VISA, 57% said they’d prefer a mobile app. Find out how to design a great mobile loyalty program, here.

14) Email Capture

Want to build your email list…fast? Here are 2 tips to streamline your email capture efforts. First, use a 3rd party login software that requires guests to share their email address in exchange for using your free wi-fi. Second, set up an email capture pop-up at your website or on your restaurant tabletop tablets. Be sure to incentivize guests with a $5 coupon or reward for joining your email list.

15) Digital Signage

There’s one more way restaurant tabletop tablets can streamline your operations…with on-tablet display ads that market your events and special offers. As an added bonus, restaurant tabletop tablets even turn your TVs into digital signage. You can set ads to run automatically by day or day part.

With so many apps and systems available today, streamlining operations is easier than ever. Not sure where to start? Focus on one thing: like a checklist or restaurant tabletop tablets. Next thing you know, you’ll be running your restaurant without breaking a sweat.

About Aurthor
buzztime integrates trivia, card, sports games and live events with innovative tablet technology. Trusted by thousands of bars and restaurants in North America since 1984.

 
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Holiday Marketing Ideas To Drive Foot Traffic This Season

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

1 - Send Holiday Cards

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

2 - Email Last Year’s Guests

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

3 - Hold a Ho-Ho-Holiday Event

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

4 - Market A Large Space for Big Parties

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

5 - Serve the Greater Community

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

6 - Offer Gift Card Incentives

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

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

7 - Create a Holiday-Themed Menu Items

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

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

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

TIPS: How to Increase Restaurant Sales and Profits

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

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

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

T = Training

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

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

I = Income

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

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

P = Product Knowledge

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

S = SMART Service Behavior

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

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

The Next-Level of Service To Increase Restaurant Sales

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

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

 

Employee-Scheduling-Software

 

Bringing Thanksgiving Menu Nostalgia to Your Operation

Unlike other holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving is all about the food. Each person has their own idea of Thanksgiving menu staples that must be included on their plate every year. From stuffing to cranberry sauce, without certain dishes it would simply not "feel" like Thanksgiving! Even if your restaurant is closed for the holiday, you can capture that dish-centric Thanksgiving nostalgia by making a couple of changes to your restaurant for the month of November.

Craft New Drinks and Dishes for a Thanksgiving Menu

Nostalgia around the holiday all comes down to what mom or grandma put on the table for dinner. With this in mind, consider crafting a few traditional Thanksgiving influenced menu items that people will be excited to try. It doesn't have to be as simple and straight-forward as turkey and stuffing, either. Consider some of the savory flavors that seem to only belong to Thanksgiving.

  • Cranberry. Love it or hate it, cranberry sauce is a traditional staple on the menu. Get creative with ways you can inject cranberry flavor into your menu. Try a new cocktail with that warm cranberry flavoring or see how you can add a cranberry garnish onto a regular dish to accentuate the flavor.
  • Gravy. While you don't need to smother everything in gravy (but really, who would not enjoy that on their dish), think about the flavors that are contained in gravy and how they interacts with the favorites of mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. See if you can capture that flavor with an offbeat holiday dish.
  • Pumpkin. What would Thanksgiving be without some pumpkin pie? With pumpkin being such a hot flavor trend, there are a million different ways you can add that pumpkin nostalgia and excitement to your holiday menu.

While you can absolutely host the full-on, traditional Thanksgiving dishes, by incorporating the standard holiday flavors in new and exciting ways you will draw more people in the door to see if they get that same nostalgia with a spin on the classic.

Run Specials on Holiday Favorites

Many times the singular dinner on Thanksgiving is not enough for people to truly feel the spirit of giving and thanks for the season. Not only can you draw more people into your restaurant by simply advertising a Thanksgiving menu, but you can inject that dish nostalgia to even more people by running specials on the holiday favorites.

When you create your specialties menu, decide how you want to get people to order more of them. First, advertising that they are only available for a limited time should draw people in the door. Check stuffers and table tents work great for this! Then watch how you can get a family to order off the Thanksgiving menu with a buy two or four dishes for at a special "low cost" price. Feature any new holiday cocktails during happy hour specials and perhaps provide day long happy hour pricing on your Thanksgiving drinks. These special deals will draw more people into your restaurant who did not realize what a festive mood they were in!

Update Design for a Homey Harvest Feel

The decor and design of your restaurant is likely pretty standard throughout the year, but to provide that Thanksgiving holiday spirit, consider adding some harvest accents. Suspend fall leaves from the ceiling above tables. Add a pumpkin or gourd as table centerpieces. Provide little accents of traditional Thanksgiving imagery, such as a tall hat or turkey tail feathers, on the host podium or at the bar. Creating this Thanksgiving imagery welcomes people to get in the holiday spirit, making them more likely to try out your Thanksgiving menu and specials.

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How to Celebrate Veteran's Day All Year Long

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

Consider Holidays

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

Offer Discounts

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

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

Vets Eat Free Days

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

Veteran Inspired Dishes

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

Go the Next Step - Support Local Veteran Charities

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

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

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6 Facts About Daylight Savings Time

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

Only 40% of Countries Use Daylight Savings Time

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

DST Used to Be for Energy Conservation

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

Canada started Daylight Savings Time

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

Benjamin Franklin is Wrongly Thought of as the Father of DST

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

A Scientist and a Builder Started DST

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

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

Not All States Participate in DST

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

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

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