ShiftForce Blog

How to Write a Business Plan

Many people dream of owning their own business one day. To turn your dream into reality you’ll have to write a business plan. This is a lot less fun than daydreaming about your flourishing business, but it is a necessity.

Your business plan will serve as a blueprint for all areas of your business. The U.S. Small Business Association notes, “A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business.”

Additionally, your business plan can help when applying for financing. You can bring it to your loan officer when you make a proposal. The projected profit margin is key because the lender will expect to be paid back. A completed business plan communicates ideas to others and provides the basis for a financial proposal. “The process of putting a business plan together forces you to take an objective, critical, unemotional look at the business project in its entirety,” notes Michigan.gov.

Now that you understand the importance of this document, here’s how to write a business plan from end to end. To create a comprehensive plan, include the following elements:

Executive Summary

An executive summary provides an overview of your business plan. In this section, convey who your company is, and why it will be successful. Include an overview of your products or services, a mission statement, key leadership involved, employees, and a location, if applicable. If requesting financing, you can include high-level financial information, including projections. This section brings together significant points of your business and should convey excitement and positivity.

Expert tip: Even though it will be at the beginning of the plan, write it after the rest of the plan is completed.

Company Description

Your company description offers the opportunity to describe your business’ products or services in full detail. In this section, illustrate your company, and be specific about the problems your business aims to solve and consumers you will serve.

Use this section to boast about your business’ strengths! The most critical component of this section is listing your company’s differentiators. To do this, list the advantages you have over current businesses operating in the vertical. Your competitive advantage can be related to place, product, price, or promotional strategies.

Market Analysis

In this section, report on industry trends. To do this, select a handful of the most similar businesses to yours, and then perform a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of them. Communicating your industry outlook is key here. If possible, include a one-, five-, and 10-year projection of your business and its corresponding industry.

Organizational Structure

This section reveals the legal structure of your business, as well as who will lead your company. Before you write this section, gain a good understanding of the legal structure that exist for U.S. businesses. You have the option of formalizing as a sole proprietorship, corporation (C- or S-corporation), a general or limited partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Once you have defined the structure, lay out an organizational chart. Use this as a visual cue to show who's in charge of what in your company. Identify each contributor of your business -- list their title, skills, and experiences, and how they will contribute to the success of your business.

Expert tip: Take this section a step further and include headshots and resume’s of your team’s key members

Product of Service Information

In this section, list your products or services. Then, explain them in detail by articulating the customer benefits. If you plan on filing for a copyright or patent, include it here. If you're doing research and development for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and Sales

It’s no secret that today’s business landscape is competitive. So, use this section to lay out a full picture of your business strategy. The prerogative of this section is to articulate how you will find new customers -- and keep them. Begin by identifying your target market. Describe demographic and psychographic traits, and then specify unique ways you intend to reach them. While traditional methods like billboards, magazine spots, and postcards are effective, online marketing tactics like leveraging online reviews, social media, mobile apps, influencer marketing, an optimized and responsive website, and a rock-solid visual brand are a must!

Financing or Funding Requests

In this section, assert your business' financial requirements – or how much money you need -- and where you intend to obtain the financing. Convince people that your business will be a financial success. The section should include estimated costs, projected revenues, and estimated profits to interpret your business’ cash flow, break-even points, and financial volatility over time. Last, describe your long-term future strategic financial plans, like how you plan on paying the financer of your business or selling your business.

Expert tip: If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Appendix

If you have supporting documents, add them here. Items could include credit histories, resumes, images, licenses, permits, patents, or legal documents.

All elements are important to include in a business plan, but some may be omitted based in the industry you serve. Hopefully you’ve now learned how to write a business plan. If you have additional tips, add them in the comment box below!

 

ShiftNote is an Online Manager’s Logbook and Employee Scheduling Software available to make all those hairy management tasks easy to control in one simple interface.  Start your research and see how technology can help your management by exploring ShiftNote!

 

Exciting Food Trends

One of the best ways to create buzz about your restaurant and draw people through your doors is with your menu. When you have delicious and creative dishes that patrons cannot find anywhere else, people will remember and spread the word. It is not easy to find that flash of creative inspiration. However, one way to jumpstart your dish planning is to take a look at the latest food trends.

Poke

Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. Some are calling it the next wave of sushi. This hawiian dish is quickly becoming a fast trend and you will see it emerging as a major trend in 2018. Poke is served over flavored rice, sesasoned vegetables and accompanied by various dressings and sauces. Basically Poke is all the great elements of sushi served in a bowl.

Sourdough Bread

Grains are slowly losing their claim to fame thanks to the rise in dietary restrictions and clean ways of living. Sourdough bread is the exception to this rule. People who have sensitivities to gluten or who are choosing a gluten-free lifestyle for general health can eat sourdough thanks to the fermentation process. Sourdough bread does not have the same peptides that other bread has that causes gluten.

To attract the growing number of people who are abandoning gluten, adding sourdough bread recipes will help. Combine a sourdough bread with a delicious spread with a gluten-free soup. Or add a sandwich selection with the sourdough bread for the perfect lunch option.

Egg Yolks

The egg yolk has been a trend for over a year now thanks to an announcement that egg yolks do not increase cholesterol like it was once believed. In fact, eating egg yolk as the bulk of your protein can help trim fat. Now people are clamoring for the delicious eggy flavor in all their foods. Of course, you can get very creative with egg yolks in your dishes, Especially during lunch and dinner.  Stretch your imagination and create ways to utilize egg yolk as a focal point in your plates (like on a flatbreads, pizza or even as a bernaise topper over chicken, fish or beef).

Alternative Pasta

Wheat pasta had its day for the past few years as a healthy alternative to the carbohydrate-filled traditional pasta. Now the newest trend is to take pasta down an even more alternative route. People are experimenting with vegetable-based pasta such as zucchini, squash, and quinoa and are loving it. Now there are people who are also trying out lentils and beans in a pasta format as well. These alternative pasta methods are attractive to your patrons because they are low carb and incredibly healthy, making them feel like they are indulging in a big dinner without the caloric side effects. 

Vegetarian “Meat”

While we are talking about alternatives using vegetables, the trend of the veggie burger is getting a facelift with alternative vegetarian meat options. Culinary experts have found ways to make veggie meat look and taste more like real meat, making it an attractive option for vegetarians and carnivores alike. By combining lentils, beans, peas, peppers, and other vegetables into a mixture that can be made into burgers, ribs, steak, sausage, and more. Utilizing properties in certain vegetables, you can make the veggie meat react like real meat, such as adding beets to a veggie burger to make it “bleed” like medium rare beef. This food dish trend is exciting because people can feel like they are eating real meat with a good chunk of protein and additional health benefits, like more iron.

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7 Easy Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

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

It’s employee turnover.

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

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

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

1 - Find employees who are the right fit

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

2 - Realize compensation and retention go hand in hand

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

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

3 - Respect all levels

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

4 - Play at work!

Take time to introduce fun into your organization to gain a more engaged workforce. “A day without laughter should be abnormal” notes The Balance. Take time for play to remove the notion that work is boring and “just for the paycheck.” You can plan all-staff activities like mixers or holiday parties, celebrate each one of your staff members’ birthdays, hold daily touch bases outside, or just keep the mood light when it’s right. Play in the workplace also boosts morale and employee engagement as well!

5 - Offer professional development

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

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

6 - Avoid burnout

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

7 - Empower Employees

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

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

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

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Manager Notes 101: How To Effectively Log Notes for a More Productive Organization

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Manager notes allow owners and managers to document and communicate critical information pertaining to day-to-day or the long-term. Thankfully, cloud-based technologies like ShiftNote’s logbook allows you to avoid writing multiple Post-its to communicate important operational and personnel-related notes.

Logging manager notes aids in communication between managers and other leaders within an organization. It also streamlines the process of communication, making decisions easier, and information clearer. Systemizing log notes also allows managers to keep your team on track & accountable. And, with a tool like ShiftNote’s logbook, you can measure important stats/data within the dashboard to inform future decisions with quantitative data.

Who Can Benefit From Online Manager Notes?

Single or multi-unit businesses can benefit from using cloud-based management notes. In fact, this type of solution can be used at restaurants, retail stores, hotels, country clubs, golf resorts, manufacturing companies, business facilities, healthcare, and just about any place where communication is needed to share from shift-to-shift. Really any business with a lot of moving parts can benefit from an online logbook tool.

What Types of Manager Notes Should You Log?

Here’s a running list of 25 different types of notes you can log:

  • 1. Day-to-day operational notes
  • 2. Issues that occurred during your shift, or ideas to make the next shift run smoother
  • 3. Personnel issues
  • 4. Employee notes to support a bi-yearly or yearly review
  • 5. Employee feedback
  • 6. Customer feedback
  • 7. Maintenance and repair issues
  • 8. Sales forecasting
  • 9. Operational costs
  • 10. Estimated labor percentages
  • 11. Upcoming promotional ideas or marketing initiatives
  • 12. Task tracking
  • 13. Inventory analysis — things you may have run out of, or have just ordered more of
  • 14. Industry or product trends
  • 15. Meeting documentation and notes
  • 16. Weather
  • 17. Upcoming events
  • 18. Maintenance or repair work necessary
  • 19. Storing food safety standards and procedure information
  • 20. Develop employee recognition programs
  • 21. Technical/system improvements for software or computers used within your organization
  • 22. Staff action items
  • 23. Pricing notes
  • 24. Short- or long-term staff action items or goals
  • 25. Store documents

Manager Notes - Best Practices

Now that you understand the types of activities that can be logged, now you should gain insight on best practices for logging notes. Here are a few tips:

Critical Details Needed

  • Each entry should have enough detail so that someone else who reads the posts can get a clear picture of what happened without asking for further information.
  • Detailed log notes are also important because they can assist when legal issues arise. To this end.
  • Avoid using nicknames on your log notes. Clearly state whom the entry involves.
  • Stick to factual log notes. Personal opinions should be avoided. Instead, log your manager notes in a very analytical way. Answer the “5 W’s” -- who, what, where, when, and why.
  • Log notes should be for business purposes only. It’s not the place to communicate casually. Use the messaging system, or email for non business matters.

Confidential Information

  • Be cautious of posting confidential financial or medical information.
  • Don’t label guests or employees using any of the Federally Protected Classes including race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or age. This is important in the event of a discrimination claim.

If you follow the guidelines above and write clear, yet detailed shift note entries, then you should find ShiftNote to be an amazing tool to help make your life much easier!

While there are other manager logbook tools in the market available, we believe our solution far exceeds the rest. Our features include:

  • Ability to create shift notes electronically
  • Accessible anywhere
  • Instant searches
  • Easy document attachment
  • Multiple location management
  • Weather feed
  • Stat & sales tracking
  • Daily reports & alerts
  • Event calendaring
  • Task tracking
  • Deposit drop & cash counts
  • Customizable

 

6 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Efficiency

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

1 - Review Existing Procedures

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

2 - Update Ineffective Processes

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

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

3 - Collaboration Is Key

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

4 - Put A Price On “Congestion”

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

5 - Set Goals

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

6 - Reward Your Staff

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

BONUS: Use the Right Technology to Increase Efficiency

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

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5 Ways to Create More Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Have you heard of the fable of the chicken and the pig?

When cooking a dish made of ham and eggs, the pig provides the ham -- which requires his sacrifice. The chicken provides the eggs, which are not difficult to produce. Thus the pig is really committed in that dish while the chicken is only involved, yet both are needed to produce the dish.

Who is more committed? (Answer: the pig.) And how do you get the level of commitment from your own workforce?

Less than 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Engaged workers are the lifeblood of a profitable and successful organization.

What’s an Engaged Employee?

An engaged employee is highly vested in your organization. They bring consistent high performance, passion, and a connection to the company. They help support new initiatives, cheerlead other employees to perform at top levels, and champion customer relationships. Disengaged employees can be a huge detriment to a company. They have a tendency to have low performance and customer engagement levels, and truly see a job as just a paycheck – and not a way to support an initiative or better the lives of others.

Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

In Gallup’s Q12 Meta-Analysis, researchers studied nearly 1.9 million employees and found a connection between employee engagement and the following performance outcomes:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Absenteeism
  • Accountability
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Employee turnover
  • Theft
  • Quality

Now, how can you create more engaged employees and turn the collective group into a highly engaged workforce? Here are five ways:

1 - Offer Continuous Performance Feedback

A two-way communication loop is important in any aspect of life. This is no different in a workplace. Employees who get constructive and regular feedback from managers and business stakeholders are more likely to be a committed member of the workforce.

  • Leaders learn how to lead not manage
  • Provide bi-annual performance feedback; that is transparent, fair, clear, and actionable
  • Upskill employees with skills like social selling
  • Offer coaching or mentoring opportunities within your company
  • Have activities where peers can openly share learning and provide each other with feedback

2 - Let Employees Make Meaningful Contributions to Your Company

Employees who view their job as a means to offer a meaningful contribution to the betterment of an organization are more likely to be committed and engaged employees. You should aim to provide an atmosphere that allows them to collaborate on the process of building your business, and in turn, they will feel like they are making an impact on a greater scale.

  • Ensure employees understand the vision and goals of your organization – and are collaborative in the process of defining them
  • Create personal growth goals with broader business goals
  • Drive ideals of corporate social responsibility and community-based initiatives by company-wide volunteering programs
  • Remove unnecessary rules and streamline processes – like logbook or employee notes

3 - Take Time for Play

While you may associate play with children’s activities, taking time for play removes the stigma that work is boring, mundane, and a ‘job”. Take time to introduce fun into your organization to gain a more engaged workforce.

  • Get outside! Hold meetings or touch bases al fresco
  • Plan activities for the staff to give them an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the regular work environment. This could include mixers, barbecues, or other all-company functions

4 - Reward and Praise Employees

Appreciation is a fundamental human desire. Employees respond positively to reward and praise because it validates the work they’ve put in is noticed and valued. And when your employees feel valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises. And this has a favorable effect on a business’ bottom line. Make a list of employee engagement ideas and implement some of them every week!

  • Offer standard performance bonuses for quality work
  • Creating standardized recognition plans
  • Focus on giving employees positive feedback, not just negative

5 - Make Technology a Priority

Ease and efficiency is important to the modern-day workforce. Technology allows businesses to scale and work smarter. In fact, employee scheduling and online logbooks offer ways to improve communication between managers, keeps a team on track & accountable, and it measures important stats/data to inform future business decisions.

 

2017 Solar Eclipse: Hotel & Restaurant Manager Tips

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

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

Advice for Hotels

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

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

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

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

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Advice for Restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

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Restaurant Experts You Must Follow In 2017

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Running a restaurant is not easy. Every year the challenges seem to increase from ways to get people in your door to how to train and retain your staff. Finding time to do the research to make the best decision for your business is difficult. Instead, leave it to the experts! There are hundreds of restaurant industry experts online that are willing to share the latest trends, tips for success, and great ideas to make your restaurant more profitable and sustainable. Here are some of our favorites.

Writers and Editors

Peter Romeo, Editor at Large: Peter Romeo is a renowned voice in the restaurant industry since the 1980’s. He is the editor of RestaurantBusinessOnline.com and FoodServiceDirector.com. Following Peter Romeo is an absolute must if you want the latest insight on pains and gains in the restaurant industry, new innovations, and solid advice on being successful. Definitely do not skip adding him to your list!

Danyelle Freeman, Author and Blogger: Danyelle Freeman is an all-star blogger and author focusing on experiencing the flavors of the world without having to leave your home. Her feed brings delicious food inspiration with recipes and ingredients inspired from around the globe. She also features some great restaurants that will help inspire you to innovate your restaurant.

Barbara Castiglia, Executive Editor of Modern Restaurant Management: As an executive editor, Barbara Castiglia knows the latest and greatest ways to take your restaurant management to the next level. Her Twitter feed is a curation of some of the best articles online, giving tips and guidance on improving your restaurant management through marketing, new strategies, menu ideas, and even more.

Celebrity and Personality Influencers

Grant Achatz, Celebrity Chef: Grant Achatz is a renowned chef that has gained fame through his molecular gastronomy food experiments at his Chicago restaurants. You will want to follow him on Instagram where he shares the latest dishes and experiments. His passion for food and the restaurant industry shines on his feed; following him is sure to inspire!

Ted Allen, CHOPPED Host: If you are a Food Network fanatic, you no doubt know who Ted Allen is. CHOPPED is a show where chefs compete in three challenges, creating dishes using a mystery ingredient. As the host of CHOPPED, Ted Allen understands the creativity it takes to make dishes stand out and to put a spotlight on your restaurant. On his feed, Ted shares interviews with eclectic (and delicious) restaurant chefs all over the country as well as some of the creative dishes chefs are sharing on social media for inspiration. His dry sense of humor is also used to comment on current events, giving you a good giggle as you scroll through Twitter.

Stephanie Izard, Chef and Top Chef Alum: Stephanie Izard become a celebrity chef after appearing on Top Chef. She has two restaurants - Girl and the Goat and Little Goat Diner - in Chicago. Her feed is full of some of her delicious dishes full of quirk and personality. She also can provide insight into some great ways to market your restaurant online.

Industry Experts

Michael Chernow, Restaurant Owner: Michael is the co-owner of The Meatball Shop and the owner of Seamore’s. On Michael’s feed, expect to find daily motivation to help you conquer each day in the industry with success. You can also afford to learn a lot from his social media marketing strategy as he shares a combination of reviews, articles, personal photos, and guest posts about his restaurants.

Paul Barron, CEO, Founder, Editor, and More! Talk about a busy guy! Paul Barron loves all things restaurants and has an incredible pulse on the latest trends in restaurant service and categories. He is the executive producer of Foodable, author of The Chipotle Effect, and founder of Fast Casual. Paul’s feed is a treasure trove of restaurant insights, especially for the latest fast casual restaurant trend.

Chris Hill, Entrepreneur and Restaurant Branding Expert Chris Hill has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to restaurant marketing and management. When you follow him, expect to see in your face opinions that will make your restaurant better (for example: "Sure, there is the shortage of cooks and all, but if I need to replace you, I can. Sorry to break the news."). As an entrepreneur, he conducts many interview both in articles and podcasts giving solid advice on the cutthroat attitude you sometimes need to have in the business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some easy items to increase restaurant sales:

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

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

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Final Words About Increasing Restaurant Sales And Profits

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

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

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Tips For Opening A Restaurant

Whether you are in the restaurant industry or not, you might dream of opening a restaurant. But before you open the establishment’s doors, there are many details you need to consider. Luckily, we’re in the business of helping guide restaurants and hospitality establishments here at ShiftNote – here are 10 tips for opening a new restaurant.

1 - Define Your Restaurant’s Genre

Before you begin the process of opening a restaurant, the first step is defining a culinary niche. Do you want a family-friendly quick serve establishment, or a high-end steakhouse? A brewpub or ethnic establishment? Think about questions like, “Is there particular audience you want to serve?” and “What type of food am I passionate about?” This will help shape your menu items, location selection, and food suppliers.

Defining restaurant concepts is important because they give you structure for your restaurant operation.

2 - Choose a Restaurant Name

The next step is choosing your restaurant name. Make sure your name ties back to the concept and audience you serve – and above all else – isn’t already taken. You can check for existing trademarks and select a name that is web- and social- media friendly. For example, length, ability to pronounce, and similarity to other business names is important to consider.

(Resource: The Small Business Association offers great naming resources.)

3 - Consider Funding

If you are not in the position to self fund your new restaurant, you’re going to need to look for sources of capital. This should be done months before you open your restaurant’s doors. While the money needed varies, according to this survey, the median cost to open a restaurant is $275,000 or $3,046 per seat. If owning the building is figured into the amount, the median cost is $425,000 or $3,734 per seat. Some common sources of financing are:

  • Private from friends and family
  • Credit cards
  • Crowd funding (Like Foodstart or Crowdrise)
  • Cash advances
  • A traditional bank loan
  • A small business loan

4 - Select a Restaurant Location

Location can be the make or break for your restaurant. Look long and hard at different neighborhoods before signing a lease or purchasing a property. Consider things like foot traffic, car traffic density, accessibility, available parking, restrictive ordinances, and future development plans. You should even consider the previous tenants occupying your potential space. For example, if there is a lot of turnover, that typically is not a good thing.

5 - Develop a Business Plan

“The process of putting a business plan together forces you to take an objective, critical, unemotional look at the business project in its entirety,” says Business One Stop.

According to Canada Business Network, a restaurant business plan can help you:

  • Turn your ideas and capital into a viable business
  • Secure financing from lenders and investors
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

Writing out your business plan forces you to consider all aspects of your restaurant business like your mission statement, timing, and resources available, as well as your marketing, operations, staffing, and financial plans.

6 - Find The Right Personalities to Work for You

Employees are the backbone of any business, but particularly in the hospitality industry. Well-trained, passionate employees can make your business successful. Hire for soft skills like personality and drive – and then train staff to become experts on your restaurant. While industry experience is important, look for passion, dedication, thoroughness, attention to detail, and personality. Remember to fill each and every position before you open your doors… You’ll need to hire a team of chefs, servers, hosts, bussers, and even bartenders if your establishment will offer “adult beverages”.

7 - Prep the Promotional Plan

After you’ve got the beginning steps like securing a location, developing a business plan, and hiring staff, you need to create a marketing strategy. While traditional methods like billboards, magazine spots, and postcards are effective, an online marketing tactics like leveraging online reviews, using mobile apps, making your website responsive and secure, and uploading drool-inducing photos are a must!

8 - Design the Restaurant Menu and Venue Layout

“A well-written restaurant menu should be both descriptive, easy to read and have a clear, uncluttered layout,” says The Balance. Avoid clip art, disclaimers, and unbranded material on the menu, and use a lot of white space so patrons can easily scan it. After you’ve selected the menu design, brush up on venue layouts. Here are some secrets of the perfect restaurant venue design, from the pros (via Washington Post).

9 - Apply for Licenses and Permits

Consult with the state and city your restaurant will reside in about the permits and licenses you’ll need for your restaurant. Common licenses no matter your area are liquor licenses, sign permits, and workers compensation licenses. Remember that many licenses and permits take time to be approved, and know that nothing is official until you sign them.

10 - Stock the Restaurant

One of the last steps of the process of opening a restaurant is stocking it with kitchen equipment, furniture and decor, and food. Don’t skimp on this step – you are going to want to choose high-quality, dependable vendors versus cheap ones.

Opening a restaurant is an exciting venture. In order to be successful, you must prepare. Opening a business can take anywhere from a couple of months to years, depending on its location, size, and concept. To set yourself up for success and don’t rush the process.

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