Category Archives: Jodi Sabol

The High Turnover Challenge

help wanted

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, high turnover is the norm and one of the most challenging aspects of management.  Yet, it can be extremely frustrating not being able to retain good employees and continuously deal with the stress of trying to fill positions with good candidates.  It can be a lengthy and costly process, and one that we would all love to avoid.

So how do you lessen your turnover rate and retain your best employees?

1. Provide Recognition and Rewards for Good Job Performance

Employees like to be recognized for their hard work and going above and beyond their call of duty.  It is important to promote from within so that your employees have something to strive for and don’t feel like they are in a dead-end job.  Also during staff meetings, recognize employees for their hard work.  You can even start a reward program.  After receiving a certain number of recognitions, they get a small prize.  It is also great to get them involved and have them nominate a fellow employee each month.  Giving your employees this task can lead to positive and respectful relationships amongst each other.

2. Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

EAP’s are intended to help employees with personal matters that might affect their work performance, health, and well-being.  Providing the option of an EAP shows your commitment to them and gives them a sense of security.  Offering an EAP can lead your employees to feel a sense of loyalty to your business.

3. Develop Relationships

Getting to know your employees on more than a professional level shows that you care about them.  Asking them about their family and personal interests can help build a strong relationship between you and your employees.  If you create a sense of family among your employees, it will lead to a great work environment, and they will feel a sense of commitment to you.

4. Motivate and Educate

Providing an educational environment for your employees can motivate them to flourish in their job.  Teaching your employees about different aspects of your business that aren’t necessarily part of their job can show that you care about their success and regard them as an important part of your business.  Encouraging employees to come up with new ideas for your business and taking time to listen to their ideas also gives them a sense of self-worth and importance.

 5. Community Charity Events

Sponsoring community charity events that your employees can participate in, such as 5K runs, walk-a-thons, etc., can create a sense of family and can be a team building experience.  It will bring you and your employees closer together, and provide a sense of belonging.

All the above suggestions can lead to creating a respectful, loyal, and family oriented environment for your business.  By creating this type of environment, I believe you will retain your best employees for a much longer period of time.

To help lessen turnover in the first place, employ a hiring system that helps you identify the best, most qualified and engaged candidates.  Systems that have ranking questions and are paired with an assessment tool can really help employers hone in on the best candidates who are more likely to fit the job and the culture, thereby reducing turnover in the first place.  If you are interested in learning more about such a system, visit http://redbookconnect.com/solutions/hire.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

Don’t Get Frozen By ICE

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 http://www.uscis.gov.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

Are You Keeping Your Employees Safe?

ID Theft

Did you know there are approximately 50 million victims of identity theft each year?  Recently in Colorado, a sophisticated ID theft ring broke into various stores and stole employees’ records from safes and filing cabinets including copies of blank checks, driver’s licenses, and social security numbers.  Storing hard copies of your employees’ information, even if locked in a filing cabinet or safe, can be extremely risky.  Safeguarding your employees’ information is important and good business.

Below are 5 key principles that the Federal Trade Commission recommends when securing highly sensitive information.

1. Take Stock – Assess and keep inventory of all sensitive information you have for each employee by type and location.  Ensure it is in a secure area at all times and only a minimum number of people have access to it.  Keep track of who has access to the sensitive data at all times.

2. Scale Down – Keep only the information that you need and only as long as needed.  Dispose of any unnecessary sensitive information.  Also, only use social security numbers as necessary.  It isn’t essential to use social security numbers as an employee identification number.

3. Lock It – If you do have hard copies of sensitive information, ensure to lock them in a secure location, such as locked safe or filing cabinet in a locked up room.  Limit employee access to the locked location, and keep track of who has a key and the number of keys.  Ensure that keys are kept with employee at all times.  Also, make sure not to leave employee information out in a public area unattended.  Please note that even with all these safety precautions, it can be easy for a professional thief to break open a filing cabinet or safe.

Electronic security is probably the most secure way of storing employee information due to the difficulty of trying to break into one’s secured data on a computer.  However, there are still a few precautions you need to take when storing data electronically.  Make sure you keep your login and password information secured.  Don’t give out your password unless necessary.  Also, don’t leave sensitive information on your computer screen unattended.  Most importantly, ensure that all sensitive data is kept on a secured server, and run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computers.  Lastly, do not scan and email employee information.  It is best to use a secured online system to complete and store employee’s sensitive information.

4. Pitch It – Shred, shred, shred!  If you have hard copied sensitive information that you want to get rid of, make sure to shred or burn it so that it can’t be read or reconstructed.  If you want to dispose of sensitive information on your computer, use software to securely erase data, usually called wipe utility programs.  This will overwrite the entire hard drive so files cannot be recovered.  Deleting files using your keyboard or mouse does not completely wipeout the files and can potentially be recovered.

5. Plan Ahead – Have a plan in place in case identity theft occurs.  If filing cabinets or safes have been stolen or tempered with, contact the authorities and alert your employees immediately.  If you have sensitive information on a computer and it has been compromised, disconnect the computer immediately from your network.  If an incident does occur, you should consult your attorney.

It is extremely important to protect your employees from identity theft.  GoHire’s onboarding system can help you protect your employees by storing their personal information in a secure, virtual environment.  GoHire provides standard forms with sensitive information such as the I-9, W-4, and Direct Deposit Enrollment for new hires to complete and sign all online so there is no paper trail.

For more information regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to protecting sensitive information for your business, please go to http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business.

If you would like more information about Red Book Connect’s solution, GoHire, please visit our website at http://redbookconnect.com/hiring-gohire/.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

New Year’s Resolutions

man jumping over 2014

I always think of a new year as a time that brings new hopes and goals. It provides me with an outlet to stop and think about what I want to achieve throughout the year. However, in my experience I’ve learned if my goals are too unrealistic, it has led to failure. Yet, when I’ve developed reachable goals, it has given me a better chance to succeed. As you know, making realistic New Year’s resolutions is also important in business. Here are 6 ideas to assist you when making your New Year’s resolutions.

1. Management/Leadership
Example: “In 2014, I would like to improve my relationship with my staff.”
Sir Winston Churchill once said, “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.” I believe this quote applies to all type of leaders. I once worked for a company that had their employees anonymously write-up an evaluation on their managers. I always thought this was such a great idea. I mean, how else would a manager know how to improve their leadership skills? Listening and receiving feedback from staff provides a better understanding on which management skills need improvement. Taking the extra time to work on becoming a better manager or leader is important for everyone. There are even social online classes that teach management skills including how to organize and plan ahead, how to communicate effectively, and how to motivate employees. Learning from and talking with peers is also a great method.

2. Customer Service
Example: “This year I want to receive better reviews from customers on our service.”
With so much competition in the restaurant and retail industry, having great customer service is vital. So, how do you obtain great customer service? We know that ensuring proper training of staff is key. This not only includes training new staff, but also ongoing training for the entire staff either with in-store training and/or social e-learning courses. Secondly, I’ve experienced that how you treat your staff can have a direct impact on customer service. Creating a good work environment where the staff feels respected and rewarded helps attribute to providing great customer service. Another important way to improve customer service is to listen to customers and receive their feedback. Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” When I eat out at restaurants with my family and the manager walks over to our table and asks, “How is everything?” My husband always makes it a point to give them feedback instead of just saying, “Good.” And as I’m sure you’re well aware, there are many customers out there just like him. Sure, many times all you will get is a “good”, but whether it’s positive or negative feedback, it is always helpful to hear what is working and what can be improved. Last but not least, it’s always nice to go that extra mile for customers. If they leave your business feeling like they had a wonderful experience, they will become loyal customers and refer your business to others.

3. Technology
Example: “In 2014, I want my restaurant to run more efficiently.”
A new year calls for new technology. Technology is becoming more and more popular with both restaurants and retail. Nowadays, in order to compete with other businesses, adding technology has become quite the necessity. I have interviewed many restaurant managers who have raved about how technology has allowed them to spend less time in the back office, and more time on the “front lines” engaging with customers and spending time with their staff. They say that it helps their restaurants run smoothly, improves staff morale, and most importantly, increases profits. Whether it’s improving inventory count, back-office organization, shift scheduling, or hiring, technology can be a managers’ best friend.

4. Marketing
Example, “This year I want to increase traffic to my business by 10%.”
Speaking of technology, marketing has become more affordable and easier these days. Developing a marketing plan for the New Year can help maintain current customers and establish new ones. Affordable marketing tactics include social media marketing on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare, mobile and email marketing to your opt-in customers, and loyalty programs to retain customers. Keeping your business top-of-mind within your community and customer base through marketing can easily help generate increased revenue.

5. Community Involvement
Example, “In 2014, I would like my business to be more popular among locals.”
Community involvement is also a great way to keep your business top-of-mind. Sponsoring community events, junior sports leagues, and school functions not only provides recognition for businesses, but also creates a positive image. Community involvement is a great way to obtain new customers. I’m always a sucker for it!

6. Time Off
Example, “This year I don’t want to get burned out, and I would like to spend more time with my family.”
We all need a little time off to get re-energized. I admit, I am guilty of prioritizing myself and my health far behind work and family. However, planning a vacation or some time off is important to maintain sanity in ones’ personal and professional life. It can provide that quality time we all need to take a step back and reflect on our goals. Not only will it benefit yourself, but your staff and business as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about social e-learning courses or restaurant technology, visit Red Book Connect at www.redbookconnect.com.

Please share with us your New Year’s resolutions in the comments section below.
Red Book Connect wishes you a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

Holiday Marketing Tips for Your Business

holiday storefront pictureIt’s that time of year again!  Time to get out the decorations and holiday music and make your business look festive.  Although this might be the busiest time of year, there is still plenty of competition out there.  So how do you drive traffic into your store or restaurant besides painting your windows with holiday cheer?  Below are 5 marketing tips to ensure the holiday traffic moves through your business, rather than passes you by.

1)  Bring the holiday cheer to your social media sites.  Change your pictures to festive holiday photos.  Consistently post about specials, discounts, and freebies that your business will have throughout the holiday season.

2)  What do customers look for most during the holiday season?  A GREAT DEAL!  Whether you manage a restaurant or retail store, make sure you have daily or weekly deals.  These deals should be promoted outside your business windows, through social media sites, on your website, text and email marketing, and print advertising in local holiday guides, community magazines, etc.

3)  Text and Email your opt-in customers with special holiday greetings.  Those who have opted-in to receive texts and emails from you will be thrilled to get a holiday greeting with a special coupon included.  Spread the joy and give them an additional coupon that they can send to a friend.

4)  Promote to local companies.  Whether you are a restaurant promoting a special for company holiday parties, or a retail business giving a special discount for those that work for that company, you are bound to drive more traffic to your business during those weekday lunch hours.

5)  Benefit from the extra holiday traffic year round.  This is the perfect time of year to start a loyalty program if you don’t already have one.  Ask new customers that come into your business during the holidays to sign up for your loyalty program so that you can send them information on specials and discounts all year-long.  Want to start a loyalty program and don’t know how?  Check out the Macromatix Loyalty and Stored Value Solution which includes all the functionality necessary to run a successful program.

May your business flourish with increased sales and increased customers this holiday season.  Happy holidays from Red Book Connect!

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

The Art of Delegating

delegatingThe definition of “delegate” is to commit or entrust to another.  To commit or entrust to another?  Haven’t we always learned to be careful who to trust?  To be independent?  I can even recall my mother saying, “If you want something done to your satisfaction, do it yourself.”

Delegating can feel unnatural.  I’ll be the first to admit to having trouble delegating.  I’ve used the excuses, “it takes longer to explain what needs to be done then to just do it myself”, and, “if I do it myself, I know it will get done quickly and efficiently”.  I’ve learned in both my professional and personal life, however, that I can’t do everything myself. Delegating is an essential task that we must accomplish when managing a business.  No manager can run a business effectively without help.  In the August 2013 article from Inc., 5 Steps to Delegating Wisely, bestselling author Peter Economy shares 5 ways to delegate effectively: 

1.      Be Clear and Concise

Be very clear about both the assignment and the expected outcome — but avoid the temptation to tell your people exactly how to do their assigned tasks. Instead, describe the goal and then let them find the best approach. By allowing your team to work in the way they believe most effective, you will increase their creativity and initiative while boosting their self-esteem.

2.      Grant the Necessary Authority

Anytime you delegate a task, you also need to delegate the authority — the organizational power and resources — required to get the job done. Without this, your employees will have a much harder time doing what you’ve asked. They may even become frustrated and resentful that you’ve given them assignments that they cannot reasonably complete.

3.      Get Buy-In

Be sure to get your employees’ acknowledgement that they understand assignments and agree to take on the responsibility for completion. If they have any questions or concerns, it’s important to find out at the outset, rather than once projects are well underway.

4.      Monitor Progress

Monitoring your team’s work does two things: it motivates them and it helps you catch problems early. It’s important to know the degree of monitoring necessary for each task and each employee. An inexperienced employee, for example, will need tight control, while loose controls are appropriate for those who already know the ropes. 

5.      Correct When Necessary

If progress veers too far from the discussed guidelines, it’s time for you to take immediate and decisive corrective action. Do this first through verbal discussion, in-person whenever possible. Agree on a plan to return to targeted goals and explain the consequences for not getting back on track. But if the situation doesn’t quickly improve, you may need to take the task back and delegate it to someone else.

Delegating is a crucial component to managing successfully.  By giving your employees responsibilities, it will not only free up your time to manage your business efficiently, but you will also gain respect from your employees.  Sounds like a great recipe to a successful business!

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

References:

1. http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-steps-delegating-wisely.html

Marketing Your Business Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

affordable internet marketing pigIncreasing revenue is vital to sustaining a healthy business.  This means producing new customers and maintaining loyal ones.  So, how do you do this?  Marketing.  However, many businesses in the service industry feel that marketing is too expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

Below are 5 low-cost marketing ideas that can help your business stand out from the rest.

1. Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing can be an effective and low-cost way to retain customers.  It can include text messaging, QR codes, mobile coupons, and more. Whether advertising specials, texting customers about something new that you are selling, or inviting them to a store event, it’s a great way to produce loyal customers.  Mobile Marketing Review’s statistics show that there are 4 billion mobile phone users worldwide vs. 1.1 billion computer users. Mobile marketing response rates average 12 – 15%, as opposed to direct mail which average response rate is 2 – 3%.  Some companies are even seeing mobile marketing response rates over 60%!  Text messaging customers can also be used as a tool to conduct surveys and collect customer reviews.  According to studies by Nielson Mobile, 97% of mobile subscribers will read a text message within 15 minutes of receiving it, and 84% will respond within 1 hour.  If you want to utilize mobile marketing for your business, ensure that your customers opt-in first and want to receive coupons and information from you.  Customers can be asked to opt-in during purchases, when signing up for a loyalty program, or while partaking in raffles/contests.  Here are some examples on how to use text messaging as a marketing tool for your business.  Say you have a retail store and retain your customers’ birthday information on file.  Why not send a text a week before their birthday saying, “Need a new outfit for your birthday celebration?  We have a gift waiting here for you – 15% off your next purchase when you visit our store between now and your birthday.  To redeem your birthday discount, please mention this text.  Happy Birthday!”  For restaurants, use text marketing to send a message just before lunch time to customers stating, “Your lunch break is almost here.  Spend it with us and get 10% off your meal by mentioning this text.”  You can track response rates when customers redeem their deals by mentioning the texts to your staff.  What a great way to keep your business top of mind!

2. Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs such as reward cards are quite effective in developing loyal customers.  I love loyalty programs and admit that I fall into the consumer trap and join them quite often.  I have rewards cards for grocery stores, a local toy store, a sandwich shop, my kids’ hair salon, and a well-known restaurant.  I’m hooked!  I shop at these places often so I can redeem my rewards.  Loyalty programs are smart because the consumer’s purchases become an investment.  This investment binds customers to that business until they receive their reward.  When creating rewards, make sure they are worthwhile for both your customer and your business.  For example, buy 10 sandwiches, get 1 free, or buy $100 worth of merchandise, get 10% off your next purchase.  You will see that when customers join your loyalty program, they will become recurring customers.

3. Social Media

Marketing your business through social media channels, such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook, allow you to advertise specials and events, send out coupons, and provide news to your customers.  Social marketing also builds brand awareness to consumers searching online.  According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 66% of family dining restaurants, 74% of casual dining restaurants, and 84% of fine dining restaurants are devoting more time this year to social media marketing.  Even 56% of quick service restaurants and 77% of fast casual restaurants are devoting more time. NRA’s 2012 National Household Survey shows that 39% of adults are receptive to full service restaurants social marketing, and 30% are receptive to limited service restaurants social marketing.  These response rates show that social marketing is quite effective among consumers.  However, monitor your social media accounts on a consistent basis because of potential negative comments posted by customers.  Negative comments can easily be mitigated by responding to them immediately and showing you care and want to appease the unsatisfied customer.  Consider the negative comments as constructive criticism, and utilize them to improve on your business.  If you respond to the negative comment in a positive way (Don’t defend your business. Remember, the customer is always right!), the unsatisfied customer will most likely appreciate your thoughtfulness, and in return, may respond with a positive comment on your social media page.

4. Community Sponsorships

As you know, giving and receiving go hand in hand.  When your business becomes a commercial sponsor for a community event, not only does it create brand awareness within your community, but is also produces a “feel good” message toward your brand.  For example, if your business sponsors your community little league baseball team, your brand name can show on the children’s jerseys, as well as on banners at baseball games.  When choosing an event to sponsor, look for events that match your business so local consumers can easily associate your business to that event.  However, event sponsorships don’t have to match your business as long as it makes an impact on your target audience.  Either way, your business will trigger an association to that event that you sponsored and will create that “feel good” message toward your brand.

5.  Contests/Sweepstakes

Ever heard of the McDonald’s Monopoly game?  If you haven’t, you must be living under a rock.  The McDonald’s Monopoly game has been around since 1987 and is hugely successful year after year, increasing revenue during the game promotion month.  So, why is it hugely successful?  Sure, everyone wants to try to win the million dollar prize, but also because games are fun!

Whether you hold a contest or sweepstakes at your business, through social media, or with mobile texting, they are fun, exciting, and can attract many customers.  Some inexpensive restaurant-friendly contests/sweepstakes include holding drawings for a free meal for a family of 4 (this is a great way to collect contact information from your customers), a recipe contest, a blindfold tasting contest, or even ask customers to create a name for a new menu item or a drink.  The customer with the best name wins.  Remember, make the contests fun and creative.  Your customers will come back for more!

Have other inexpensive marketing ideas?  Please share them in the comments below.  We would love to hear them!

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect