Category Archives: Human Resources

Don’t Get Frozen By ICE


Ensuring all I-9 forms are compliant when onboarding a new hire can be an excruciating task.  However, maintaining compliance is necessary, otherwise it can lead to hefty fines.  According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fines have skyrocketed to over $10 million.  ICE also issued over 3,000 Notices of Inspection (NOI) in FY 2012.

What industries does ICE target?  Primarily restaurants, retail, and hospitality due to high turnover rates, hourly workforce wages, and hiring a large number of immigrants, as well as high school diploma or below – educated employees.  If I-9 forms are not completed accurately, it may result in a fine of $110 to $1,100 per employee, depending on the percentage of non-compliant or missing forms. ICE also has the right to increase or decrease fines based on employer size, good faith of employer, and violation type.

Here are just a few examples of businesses that have been fined by ICE these past few years.  In California, a small Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda Mexican Cafe was fined more than $22,400 for not completing I-9 forms for 24 of their employees.  In Maryland, Tandoori Nights who maintains around 39 employees, faced a hefty fine of $90,508 based on 10 non-compliant forms.  In Colorado, Empire Dairy received a fine of $49,500 based on 62 non-compliant forms, with a total of 76 employees.

As you can see, these fines can be detrimental to your business.  So, how do you avoid fines?  Here are 8 ways to reduce your risk of I-9 non-compliance.

  1. Make sure all employees complete the form I-9.
  2. Review and make sure all sections of the form have been completed properly.
  3. Ensure section 1 is completed by employee no later than the first day of employment.
  4. Complete section 2 within three business days thereafter.
  5. Examine documents provided by employee validating their identity, and record the information on the form I-9.
  6. Use E-Verify to ensure legal workforce.
  7. File and retain form I-9 for three years from the date of hire or one year from the date of termination, whichever is later.
  8. Use a secure, online onboarding system such as GoHire, which ensures completion of form I-9, provides the option of E-Verify, and stores all forms virtually.

Being compliant is important and should be taken seriously.  Paperless onboarding your employees with a system like GoHire provides the security of form I-9 completions and proper storage of forms so that maintaining compliance is stress-free.  Take the next step at ensuring compliance so you don’t get frozen by ICE.  Go paperless and onboard online with GoHire!

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.  To learn more about I-9 compliance, go to

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect


Always Hire a Smile

I LOVE hiring teams for our Quick Service Restaurants. It quite honestly has always been the favorite part of my role as a manager.

With years of branded experience, I have been given template interview formats to use- a formality, of course, for the purposes of HR law. These can become monotonous and sound insincere if the manager using them hasn’t the ability, confidence or drive to make the time to hire not just good people, but GREAT.

hire a smile

Many managers will use demographics or location of their unit (I’ve even heard “poor gene pool”) as an excuse for under performing teams or “bad teams” in restaurants. However, it really boils down to one thing alone: poor hiring practices.

There are five words my own managers use and focus on when making selections during interview and trial shift processes:

1)      Respectful

2)      Unconventional

3)      Colorful

4)      Confident

5)      Smile

If your potential employee naturally covers all of these character traits at interview stage, you are 80% there in employing a GREAT team member.

Some key things to plan and think carefully about when you are hiring new members into an existing team or building a pre opening:

1)      Do you have suitable members on your team  who can sit in and partake in initial interviews for new team members? Your existing high performing team members will always give you valuable input for how well THEY foresee new people will integrate.

2)      Think about having pre planned trial shifts and two trial buddies for each candidate. Carry out a 3-hour trial shift after initial interview but on a separate day

3)      Split all trial shifts up into two 90–minute stages, the first being in that team member’s area of work. Have the second be in an area the candidate wouldn’t normally work. Service people and chefs should trial in both front of house and back of house positions. This enables them to get a full picture of how you operate and gain a greater understanding of your business from day one

4)      Don’t make your hiring process seem rushed to candidates, but keep the process flowing and take no longer than five working days from initial interview to give a final decision/offer or rejection

Lastly and most importantly, ENJOY this time getting to know as much as possible, introducing and welcoming potential new family members into your operation.

Involving your existing teams in this process will make recruitment the most integral part of building not just a good team, but a GREAT team.

By Phillip Thomas |  Manager at YO! Sushi, London, United Kingdom

Managers: Catch the Happiness Bug

It seems like a lot of people are getting on the happiness bandwagon.  You read more and more about it in blogs and posts.  Gretchen Rubin has written two books about it, The Happiness Project,” and “Happier at Home.”  Can it finally be that we are beginning to understand that being happy is a good thing?

Have you ever asked a co-worker how they are doing and they reply, “Just living the dream,” or “I wish it were Friday.”  Why do we wish half of our lives away or confess that it will never get any better?  Do we even think at all when we say these things? Why don’t we re-program our thinking to give positive responses instead of negative?  Is it simply more culturally acceptable to seem downtrodden?

We spend too much of our lives at work to make it a self-imposed miserable experience.  Thomas Wright, a researcher and professor of management at Kansas State University, says that happiness is not just a responsibility to ourselves, but to others as well.

About five years ago, I was the pipe major of a competitive bagpipe band.  I will always remember one piper in particular.  He was an older gentleman who had been in the military in his youth.  When jumping out of a plane, his parachute malfunctioned and he broke both ankles on impact.  His ankles were either not set right or did not heal correctly.  His feet were at odd angles and it pained me to watch him walk.  But walk and pipe he did!  Over the years, he had surgery after surgery for various joints, including having his left shoulder replaced.  Pipers typically play with their bags under the left arm.  He actually taught himself how to play with his right arm!  I mention this man because outwardly he had every reason to be unhappy or at least grumble about his physical health.  But he always had a smile on his face and a good word for everyone. When asked how he was, without fail he answered with an enthusiastic “Great!”  How is it that someone can be that happy when life seems to have dished out its worst?  Well, you may have heard that happiness is an inside job. We each have the power within ourselves to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.

Just as negativity is contagious, so, too, is happiness.  This is why it is vital for good managers to really focus on exuding a continuous positive vibe if they want their team to be happy and productive.  It’s a no-brainer that happy employees produce more than those who waste time complaining about every little thing.  While each one of us is ultimately responsible for our own happiness, a manager who leads the way can really make a difference.

According to the website, a happy manager leads by the head, heart and hand.  The key is to combine:

  • Your knowledge, skills and abilities
  • With a love for what you do
  • And a clear understanding of why you do it

Managers often lose sight of the big picture as they get bogged down in the daily tasks of management.  Don’t forget that your team is looking to you for guidance.  If you’re exhibiting negativity or aloofness, you’re not helping your team and they may be projecting the same to your customers.

Imagine if you, as a manager, could positively change the attitude of your team, department and possibly your company by genuinely having a happier outlook and a kind word for everyone each day.  Don’t ever walk past someone without some sort of acknowledgment. It’s almost effortless when you have practiced it a bit, and you will be amazed as the changes unfold before you.

Tamara Trudeau | Bag Piper and Better Managers Editing Guru

The Power of Revenue Generation for Managers

When it comes to doing business, every place is different, even from location to location. And yet, there are aspects that are the same in all businesses.

These basic commonalities come to life in the idea of the Power of 3:

  • Revenue Generation
  • Business Processes
  • People

In our everyday vernacular, “revenue” is the top-line for location sales. The more formal definition is income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. And for managers everywhere, this is the frequently checked indicator of their success or failure.

Revenue is a key indicator of business performance; it allows the manager and owner to keep a pulse on where they are headed, what is working and what to watch out for. Adding the cost of revenue completes the picture.

To maximize revenue, successful companies create objectives to drive the right behaviors in their business.  In the Power of 3 these are:

•              Customer Acquisition – attracting new customers

•              Customer Satisfaction – keeping the loyal customers coming back

•              Customer Profitability – making more money on each customer or transaction

According to Guarraia, Carey, Corbett and Neuhaus in “Lean Six Sigma for the Services Industry”, research shows companies that apply an upfront diagnostic to identify critical opportunities yield the biggest gains.

Revenue grows when you analyze the business and identify the biggest opportunities to increase profits, set performance goals as measured against internal and external benchmarks and prioritize areas of improvement and opportunities to yield the greatest economic benefit.

I am reminded of a client who owned a high-volume restaurant within a casino hotel.

To increase revenue, we first, diagnosed the operation and  all agreed we needed a strategy with tactics to increase the customer per person average check (PPA). That was more important than attracting new customers. Why?  Their average spend per customer was well below their competitive set.

By re-engineering their menu and adjusting prices on new menu items to match their competitors they could increase their PPA 10.08%. In addition, they eliminated a “loss leader” breakfast special resulting in lost customers. This was by design – the special was a lot of work for the staff with limited return.

After executing a comprehensive plan against  the Customer Profitability component of P3, the restaurant  exceeded their revenue goal while sustaining a modest customer count decrease. Success!

Examples of other tactics that could be employed include:

1. Customer Acquisition – Differentiation by distinguishing core offerings from the competition and the use of technology and social media to raise awareness

2. Customer Satisfaction – Innovation by enhancing the customer experience through raising loyalty and creating repeat visits

3. Customer Profitability – Adaptation by using deals and pricing while maintaining a value perception, allowing for greater per transaction or sales margins

By executing the Power of 3, companies and their management teams can compete for new customers, improve the customer experience and enhance the customer value perception. These companies benefit greatly by being on the right road to achieving greater revenue.

By, Debra Koenig, President of B2A Consulting | 30 years of experience as a  business executive with leadership and consulting skills in Fortune 500 and private equity portfolio companies.

“There is a better way to do it – find it.” – Thomas Edison

Is the digital or the mobile age focused on doing it a better way?  Technology has improved things in so many ways, but in so many ways it has made our lives more difficult. Regardless, technology is changing so rapidly and is doing such amazing things that we all need to get on the wagon or get left behind.

Michael Porter, the leading authority in strategic planning, states the companies that become best-in-class at fulfilling a particular market niche are the companies that achieve the highest ROI.  In Joan Magretta’s book, “Understanding Michael Porter”, she points out how companies like IKEA, Nucor, Walmart and even McDonald’s found a niche, leveraged that niche and became the unrivaled leader serving that niche.

As companies enter into the technology race, one of their biggest challenges is staying true to why their customers buy from them.  Technology can be very cool, however there is a cost to all the features. If all of the cool additional features you are adding to your products or services aren’t the reason your customer buys from you, then you are just wasting money.  Ultimately you could be losing market share because you are no longer competitive in the areas most important to your customers. Technology can also be overwhelming to us average users.  Sure, we may think we want to experience all of the cool stuff that is available but if it is more difficult or clutters up the original value of using it, then we put it aside altogether. The beauty of many of the Apple products from the iPod to the iPad is the initial ease-of-use and clear simplicity to consume exactly what the user wants.

I speak to this because at my company, Red Book Solutions, we are on the cusp of a major, innovative shift in how our flagship product can be consumed. We are well down the road in developing our mobile/digital application of The Manager’s Red Book.  We purposely delayed this next step because technology just wasn’t in a position to deliver a viable product that could offer the services we believe were core to why people bought from us—until now.  We believe our core value proposition is delivering a tool that helps managers get organized and fully prepared for their day so they can achieve higher levels of profitability in their business or location. The key to why corporations, franchisors, franchisees, location managers and owners buy is that the tools are all about them focusing on their way of doing business. Our 100,000 clients want full customization that is kept current and fresh and is delivered at a price that does not dent their wallets.

Moreover, our product couldn’t be tied down to a clunky machine, it had to be on the move with our managers like it is today. We needed to wait until technology truly became mobile without interruption. We believe a mobile/digital application must not only deliver these core areas but should be robust enough to evolve to continuously make it better.  The Manager’s Red Book has always been a plug-and-play solution. Our mobile/digital solution will be plug-and-play as well. We believe this is critical because most multi-unit location operators do not have the bandwidth to add another extensive training session to their managers’ already overloaded plates.  They need help and results now. We are excited that technology is going to allow us to build the right tool that is even greater at making good managers better.

So technology is pushing us this direction.  What direction is it pushing you?  Porter might suggest that you determine why your customers buy from you and make sure the new ideas you implement are consistent with making this experience best-in-class in your clients’ eyes, not just yours. Don’t spend your time chasing the shiny new gadget or toy that your customers don’t really want.  As Cam Lanier, the CEO of Instawares Holding Company once said to me, “Don’t make dog food the dogs won’t eat!”

By Greg Thiesen, President and CEO, Red Book Solutions and B2A – Over 30 years of experience in various areas – President and CEO of  Red Book Solutions and B2A, Turnaround Specialist with Doering and Eastwood, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer for a major division of Conagra, Inc. and Senior Manager and a Certified Public Accountant with Ernst and Young.

Learn more about the upcoming digital solution and all the changes happening at Red Book in the New Year in this new press release.

Negotiation Skills that Make Good Managers Better

Negotiating and the “Art of the Deal” are not new. We do this every day in multiple ways, from arranging services for our homes to renegotiating a business lease.

Recently, this subject has increased in popular attention. One example is the new television
show “Market Warriors” where four experts are given money to purchase items at antique markets, presumably for a steal, and then try to resell them for a profit. Another is that there are an increasing number of experts lending their voices to this hot topic.

Last week I attended the International Franchise Association’s Executive Leadership Conference and had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Victoria Medvec, a Professor at the Kellogg School and a prominent lecturer. She has developed a 10 step process that covers familiar ground but with added new tactics I found especially interesting.

Negotiation is a two-phase process beginning with Preparation and proceeding to Execution. Dr .Medvec repeatedly emphasized the importance of work done in advance of the actual face-to-face exchange.  It’s vital to have clear ideas about both your position and that of the person you are negotiating with. You may be familiar with the process of making detailed lists of the desires you have and concessions you are willing to make, and then weighting them by what’s most and least important to both parties.  Do your homework.

In all cases, there are several issues that should be considered for both parties.  It’s helpful to develop scenarios and then rank them. This involves understanding the extremes – most wanted and least acceptable. Find the BATNA for each side. BATNA refers to the “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” The other end of the continuum, Reservation Point, is at what point in the discussion you are willing to “walk away”– meaning it’s not worthwhile to continue as there are no longer any benefits to you. At the end of this phase you should have at least four benchmarks, BATNAs and Reservation Points for both parties.

Now it is on to execution. There are several strategies to help you attain a favorable deal.

The first tip is to include several items in a package to improve the possibility for trade-offs and a more complete, acceptable deal.  Having more options in the mix enhances the chance for a deal because you have more potential for contingencies and space to negotiate.

A second tip is called the Anchoring Move.  There are mixed opinions about this strategy but I tend to agree with Dr. Medvec.  This involves which side goes first to make their initial offer or proposal.  Some argue that this is a weak play because it divulges your position too early and you might be forced to make further concessions. To the contrary, you should present a position built upon a thoroughly explained and detailed rationale.  This method creates a centering “anchor” for the entire discussion, rather than a starting point and a downward spiral. Indeed, “he or she who makes the first offer wins.”

A third tactic is called Concession Room.  It builds on the previous two points. When you develop a package proposal, it is advantageous to include items that vary in importance. Some will be essential to the discussion, while others could be “throw-ins.” As a result, your “package” presents you with more opportunities to be flexible and enhance your outcome. For example, in negotiations it is common to request more than you really expect to get—your BATNA. Some situations lend themselves to making outrageous demands with your Concession Room, or BATNA, as your fall back. Concessions are regarded favorably and encourage others to feel as though they are winning.

So what’s really the “art of the deal?” The answer, quite simply, is that it is a process that has two important phases. To avoid haggling or a stalemate, do your homework and follow the tips on execution. You’ll find yourself more often than not in the winner’s circle to the key issues that matter to you.

By, Debra Koenig, President of B2A Consulting | 30 years of experience as a  business executive with leadership and consulting skills in Fortune 500 and private equity portfolio companies.

It’ll Be Remembered Longer On Paper

Paper lasts the test of time. We have printed documents dating back over two millennial that can still be read and enjoyed today. No system upgrades or hard drive crashes can prevent us from going to a museum and seeing the original Dead Sea Scrolls or Vitruvian Man.   But the timelessness of paper is not reserved for the world’s great masterpieces.  It can be just as important – and practical – for management tools, instruction manuals and employee communications.

Lessons they won’t forget

Let’s face it, you can provide the best training in the world, but if your team doesn’t understand and retain the core concepts or policies, you’ve wasted your time and your investment.

Online programs are one effective training method and can be rolled out to a large workforce simultaneously.  In-person sessions, aided by PowerPoint or other electronic presentation tools are also good ways of getting a message across.  But once your people walk out the door, how sure can you be that they’ve really absorbed your key messages or that they’ll remember them when they need them?

As handy as it can be to have a website with your programs and policies, it’s not always easy to stop what you’re doing, boot up the computer and start searching for an online reference.  This is especially true for managers and employees in retail contexts or for sales forces that are regularly on the road and may not always have easy web access.

Providing after-training materials in a print format is one way to ensure that your team always has important information on hand.  Personally, I often find it easier to flip open a manual, run my finger down the table of contents and find the info I need or quickly refer to a “cheat sheet”.  Many experts will also tell you that it’s not only easier to navigate a printed document but that we actually learn better from print than we do from something on-screen.

Some of these experts argue that it’s because print carries a certain “authority” compared to online information, which makes our brain take it more seriously.  Others attribute it to the ease of navigation of a paper report compared to scrolling (as per my point above).  And yet others say there is a cognitive link between understanding and the physical nature of the printed word.  Whatever the case, the effectiveness of print is something to keep in mind when considering the best method to deliver your important messaging.

Keeping track of your day

When you’re a busy manager, you have a lot to remember.  Every day, we juggle meetings with our staff, bosses, consultants or new customers, not to mention retain a slew of family and private commitments.  The arrival of the electronic scheduler has been a boon in many ways, but it’s also given other people access to our calendars.  How many of us get up in the morning believing we have a relatively free day, only to get to the office and find out we’ve been booked with wall to wall meetings?

A lot of people, myself included, end up printing out their schedule and carrying it around with them to ensure they can keep track of where they need to be, when and with whom.  We often don’t have the opportunity to get back to our desk for hours to check our calendar.  And as much as I love the convenience of my handheld, it’s a lot more subtle sneaking a glance at my printed schedule in a folder than scrolling down its mini-screen to figure out where I have to be next.  Plus, I can just recycle my printed sheet at the end of the day!

A few things worth remembering

So despite my appreciation for the wonders of digital communication, paper continues to play a very important and practical part in my daily role as a manager – whether I’m at a training session, at the office or on the road.  Interestingly, I’ve learned that there may be some science behind my faith in the power of print.

Here are some examples of the thought-provoking conclusions surrounding the power of print to facilitate understanding and information recall.

  • Paper is a better tool for fully assimilating information because you read “more deeply” in print.  This has been attributed to factors such as the ease and speed of visually/spatially locating content on a printed page compared to a screen and the distractions of reading online.
  • Paper matters.  The feeling of literally being in touch with the text is lost when your actions – clicking with the mouse, pointing on touch screens, or scrolling with keys or on touch pads – takes place at a distance from the digital text, which is somehow, somewhere inside the computer, the e-book or the mobile phone.  Less focus speaks to a lack of full understanding and compromises long-term retention of information.
  • Paper is friendly. In a survey of MBA students, 75-80% said that they would not recommend an e-reader for in-class learning because it was too rigid for use in the fast-paced classroom environment.  They noted that you can’t move between pages, documents, charts and graphs easily enough compared to the paper alternatives.  They also pointed out that it’s harder to go back and refer to e-materials later in case you forget a detail.
  • Paper is permanent and portable.  In a very literal and physical sense, paper lasts.  While technology evolves at a dizzying rate, you can keep a printed manual or fact sheet as long as you want and carry it with you just about anywhere.  Plus, it can be easily recycled once it’s served its purpose, which isn’t the case with a lot of electronics.

Based on this work of researchers from around the world – not to mention my own personal experience – I like to draw a parallel between the relative permanence of paper and the longevity of the memories we keep.  While the screen is by nature more temporary, paper can leave a truly lasting impression on your team.

By guest blogger Kathy Wholley | Director of Advertising & Communications at Domtar. In this role, she is responsible for the marketing communications and advertising functions of Domtar’s pulp & paper business.  Additionally, she manages environmental communications on behalf of the business, which includes the Domtar EarthChoice® brand.  Kathy is also responsible for Domtar’s paper advocacy campaign known as “Paper Because”, which was launched in 2010 and was meant to demonstrate paper’s value to businesses and people that use paper every day. Kathy has 21 years of experience in the paper industry in a variety of sales and marketing positions with Willamette Industries, Weyerhaeuser and Domtar. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Clemson University.

Kathy is an experienced manager who also heads Domtar’s Paper Because initiative which highlights the key role paper plays in our lives and the reasons why it’s an environmentally sound choice.