Category Archives: management solutions

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

The Paperless Advantage

hiring paperless photo

 

Hiring new employees can be complex and time-consuming.  Best practices can help, but you need a new employee as quickly as possible.  You need the paperless advantage.

 

Understanding the Problem

When hiring a new employee, you wade through applications and resumes.  You interview a few candidates who seem like they’d fit the needs of your restaurant.  You make an offer.  Now, you have to get your new employee onboard.  It’s a tedious, paper-consuming process that takes hours away from your many other duties.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Best Practices

A variety of “best practices” can help you streamline your hiring. Forbes’ Gauri Sharma offers up these suggestions:

  • Network to identify possible employees.
  • Look for the traits that make your employees successful.
  • Test how candidates respond to a simulated day-to-day task.
  • Pay attention to candidates’ communications skills.
  • Inform candidates about the current challenges your restaurant is facing.
  • Select members of your team to help you vet prospective employees.
  • Create a hiring agenda to streamline the hiring process.
  • Always check the candidates’ references before making an offer.
  • Be upfront with “leap-of-faith candidates,” so they know what you expect of them.

Inc.’s Christine Lagorio-Chafkin says, “Even if you don’t have an HR department, having solid human-resources policies is essential from day one.”  You need company policies and procedures.  You need face-time with new hires.  You need to provide thorough instructions to get them up to speed. Of course, when you’re a busy manager running a restaurant you want to place new staff as quickly as possible.  Best practices are probably the last thing on your mind.  What you really need is a solution.

The Red Book Connect Solution

Red Book Connect offers real, cloud-based solutions to your management problems, including hiring and onboarding, which gives you the paperless advantage and so much more! Our solution empowers you to:

  • Post your advertisement to hundreds of job boards with one click,
  • Create a branded career-site for your restaurant,
  • Rank applicants based on specific criteria,
  • Comply with HR laws and regulations,
  • Screen the backgrounds of applicants,
  • Fill out tax forms online and more.

By using Red Book Connect’s solution, you can:

  • Make better informed hiring decisions,
  • Hire more qualified applicants,
  • Reduce hiring costs by as much as 60%,
  • Automate tedious, time-consuming tasks, and
  • Organize and simplify your hiring processes.

If you want to see for yourself what our hiring solution can do, you need to watch this quick testimonial.  Then, request a free demo!  If you really want to streamline your hiring process, ask about the three-in-one solution.

Making the Leap

cloudThe IT world is abuzz over the cloud. Many people talk about it. Few people really understand it. We suspect, like most people, you’re too busy grappling with your business to grapple with the cloud. If we’re right, then this post is for you!

What Is the Cloud?

“The cloud” is a metaphor. Like most metaphors, it’s difficult to pin it down to a single, specific meaning. Essentially, “the cloud” could refer to any IT capability delivered as a service over the Internet. The significance of this is in the comparison.

Traditionally, every company invests in the hardware, software, and technical expertise necessary to use technology to enhance their business processes. The cloud provides an alternative that gets you more technological bang for your buck. More specifically, the cloud involves buying the portion of a cloud provider’s data storage and processing capabilities you need to achieve your business tasks.

Why Use the Cloud?

By selling a portion of its data storage and processing capabilities to multiple customers, the cloud provider can achieve economies of scope and scale their clients cannot achieve by themselves. In turn, their clients receive scalable, adaptable IT services, without investing in the IT infrastructure necessary to create those services.

These same benefits also empower cloud providers to develop services that meet the needs of their clients—comparable to software—that meet the needs of their clients. They can afford to invest in the technical expertise, because the cost is shared among many clients. In short, by hiring a cloud service provider, you get the benefits of an IT department at a fraction of the cost.

Servicing Your Solutions

Red Book Connect is a cloud service provider tailored to the specific needs of the restaurant industry. We’ve combined our best practices and expertise in the restaurant industry with our IT expertise to address real problems with real solutions.

Our solutions focus on the most critical managerial challenges in the restaurant industry – hiring, training, scheduling, shift communication and back office management:

HotSchedules empowers you with staff scheduling, forecasting, and instant messaging.
Macromatix provides you with business intelligence, inventory management, and reporting capabilities.
GoHire delivers automated paperless recruiting, applicant tracking, and on-boarding.
Schoox provides easy access to continuous training through a social learning platform that allows for knowledge sharing in your own branded academy.
Digital Red Book gives you one centralized place for real-time shift communication, multi-unit consistency, and task workflow management.

Our goal is to provide you with no-nonsense solutions to real problems by providing you with cost-effective technological capabilities that enable you to control costs and improve profitability without losing quality.

By Stephanie C.

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

The Increase in Part-Timers

The restaurant industry has some big changes ahead, especially with the new Affordable Care Act taking effect. The changes will greatly impact how managers run their businesses and manage scheduling of their growing part-time staff.   Here are a few quick stats on the changes in part-time employment for the service industry:

part-time

  • Restaurants and bars have added 50,000 jobs per month on average since April 2013; double the rate from 20121
  • Leisure and hospitality establishments hired more workers than any other industry in June 20131
  • The addition of new restaurants and the elevated need for staff after the recession has increased part-time jobs1
  • Part-time jobs have been attractive alternatives for the growing retiree population, students, stay-at-home parents and those looking for additional income to offset the recession
  • Part-time jobs have surged by 360,000 to 28 million, while full time jobs have fallen by 240,0002

Just looking at these facts, you can see part-time employees are important, and this demographic of workers is quickly growing. With this new growth come new needs. Managers must take note and learn how to address this growing employee segment and the additional burden it places on themselves. Make sure you are meeting these employees’ needs and those of your operation by asking yourself these important questions:

Am I tracking and managing hours correctly?  The average workweek for part-time employees is 25.6 hours, an increase from 25.1hours in 2007.    Managers need to have an easy way of tracking and calculating employee hours so they can properly schedule their labor.  Bear in mind that as the number of employees, part-time or otherwise, increases, so does the complexity of labor scheduling.  Add in multiple locations, and it can quickly reach the “nightmare” level.

How much schedule flexibility should I provide?  Part-time employees come with different needs, like flexibility in scheduling. Students, for example, might be able to work a variety of different hours, while your retirees prefer the day shift and full-time employees, along with stay-at-home parents, want to work during the evening or night. Some within each group might want to pick up extra shifts or exchange shifts depending on their current needs. Don’t forget people also have life circumstances that come up, such as doctor’s visits, vacation, and personal events. Make it easy for employees to implement these changes and work with the scheduling needs and hours available to you.

How do I increase access to important information?  Employees want to be able to get to the information they need like schedules, internal information, meeting notices and company initiatives easily. Don’t make it difficult for them or your managers to stay in touch; keep them current and in the know.

Today with technology there are many options such as text alerts, schedules being accessed by phone and more. It’s simple and easy plus employees already know how to use their phone so no major training is involved.

Do all of your managers use the same methods or systems, and are the effective at providing the data they need? Your entire management staff should be well versed in the system that you use and able to operate it without you being there. That means, it should be easy-to-use and learn. It should also provide them with insight into sales and labor forecast data so that generating labor schedules is less of a guessing game and more of an exercise in precision.  Accurate labor management not only reduces the cost of labor it also ensures that you have the right number of staff members on the floor to properly and excellently serve your guests.

So how do you answer these questions and manage your business/part-time employees to the fullest? It’s easier when you have a great system in place that manages hours, overlapping shifts, zoning, shift requests, overtime and communicates with employees and management.  HotSchedules offers an amazing array of features:

  • Messaging
  • Employee shift trades
  • Reports
  • Labor Budget
  • Forecasts
  • Daily roster
  • Overtime alerts
  • Staff volume tracking
  • Alerting via text/email
  • Access via phone/online
  • Communications portal
  • Training & customer support
  • And much more…

For a demo of the scheduling solution CLICK HERE. This is just one of the many great tools available to you to meet the challenges you have as a manager during this surge in part-time employment. Other highly useful products include: The Manager’s Red Book and Macromatix.

Sources:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324694904578601922653718606.html

2 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-05/obamacare-strikes-part-time-jobs-surge-all-time-high-full-time-jobs-plunge-240000

By Crystal Gardner, Marketing Production Manager at Red Book Solutions | 6 Years Marketing and Project Management Experience in Agency, Corporate and Private Institutions | University of DenverDaniels College of Business, Office Of Communications & Marketing, Office Manager

Working The Floor

trade-show-worth

For business operators and vendors, spring typically means one or more conference trade shows for your industry or association. Regardless of which side of the table you are on (attendee or vendor) your participation in an event of this type means significant expenditures for travel, hotel, food, entertainment, and conference fees. If you are a vendor with a booth at the conference trade show you’ll spend more. Much more!

In addition to the monetary expense, you’ll also be out of the office and your regular work routine anywhere from two to six days. This means lost momentum in your regular work, falling behind on e-mail and voicemail, not to mention the business opportunities you may miss as a result of being out of the office and preoccupied for an extended period of time.

Given the tremendous cost in time and treasure to participate in your industry or association conference and trade show, now is the ideal time to develop a personal conference and trade show plan that will help you get the most from your participation while minimizing lost opportunities and the size of the hole you’ll have to dig out of when you get back to the office. In addition to a plan it’s important to train employees/team members on best practices with tools either online (Schoox), in person, or with training materials.

Tips for Everyone:

  1. Set goals and stick with them. Know what a positive ROI would look like so you can work to attain it.
  2. Know what talks or events you want to attend and why you want to attend them.
  3. Make a list of who you need to meet, why you need to meet them and make it happen.
  4. Set meetings in advance with 5-10 prospects, vendors or strategic alliances.
  5. Look to develop strategic partnerships with those who can assist you.
  6. Carve out 30-45 minutes to check back office operations (MacroMatix) in the morning and again in the afternoon each day to deal with e-mail, voicemail, scheduling (HotSchedules), manager notes and communications (Digital Red Book) and issues in the home office.

Tips for Attendees:

  1. Plan to attend the talks or events that will have the biggest impact on your business in the shortest period of time.
  2. Try to build strategic alliances with at least two other participants whose skills and experience can help you in your business.
  3. Review a map of the trade show in advance and make note of which vendors you WANT to see and those you NEED to see.
  4. If it’s a big trade show, divide the hall and your efforts by the number of sessions or days you will be at the trade show.
  5. While trade show vendors come to the show to develop business from you and your colleagues, their fees enable your industry or association to produce an event you can afford to attend. Try to visit them. Treat them courteously and say “thanks.”

Tips for Vendors:

  1. Don’t schmooze with colleagues or co-workers during the trade show or other conference events. Your company spent big bucks so you could develop new business and increase your income. You should spend every second with laser-like focus on business development. Set up a task or reminder to follow up later using a daily planner, digital solution (Red Book Solutions) or exchange business cards.
  2. Keep off your phone while in the booth. Using your smart phone in the booth, even if there are no prospects around, is like skunk spray. It tells people to stay away, you’re just not interested. Step out of the booth to deal with calls or messages that just can’t wait. Yes, even if it means leaving the booth unattended for a few moments.
  3. Schedule time for your biological needs and take care of them elsewhere. We all need to drink, eat and relieve ourselves. Create a schedule that allows regular restroom breaks and the ability to eat away from the booth. It’s just not OK to cram down a hoagie or slice of pizza in the middle of your company’s most expensive piece of real estate.
  4. Greet everyone who passes by and start a sales conversation. Even though you are in a room with thousands of your best prospects, you need to engage them or they might just pass by, never to return. If you don’t greet these prospects, your competitors will!
  5. Bring your A game and keep bringing it all day. Your company spent a fortune and you have just a few days with your best customers so you have to start each day off with your best effort and find a way to keep the intensity all day (and through the nighttime events too).

Our time and our money are finite resources. While it sounds nice to drop a bundle of loot on a junket in Orlando,  Las Vegas, or San Francisco, the most successful business people I know set goals and objectives around their participation in conferences and trade shows and then used dogged determination to stay focused and reach their goals. These successful business people usually find a way to have a great time while they are at it.  Hopefully, these tips and techniques will help you to do the same.

Matt Walles is Director of Business Development at Red Book Solutions. Matt attended his first three-day trade show on the concrete floor of the Sands Hotel and Conference Center in 1991 wearing a pair of hard soled leather shoes. In addition to the importance of proper footwear, Matt has developed a long list of trade show “do’s” and “don’ts” based on more than twenty years of success, failure and observing those who get it right and those who get it horribly wrong.

Street Smarts Approach to Customer Acquisition

Do you believe in the perfect sales person? I don’t. But I work with someone who comes pretty darn close. Her nickname is “the queen”. Not because she’s elite – quite the opposite. She takes her job seriously, but not herself. And she exquisitely works with clients and associates – making them all feel glad, yes glad, for the interaction with her. She loves what she does, so she solves versus sells.

Finding that next client or customer is an adventure, or at least it can be if we’re willing to put up with the detours. Sure, there is the theory and then there is the “street smart” practice.

The theory is that managers who create a framework to grow sales use it as a stepping stone to make their business successful. In the Power of 3, Red Book Solutions aptly notes that revenue growth requires three things – customer acquisition, loyalty and profitability.

About getting that next new client, Morton, Higgins and Evans in their book “Building a Successful Selling Organization” suggests the following:

  • Set a clear, actionable sales agenda – Have individual ownership and accountability toward new client development.
  • Make selling a definable, repeatable, results-oriented process – Understand your “best practices” approach to attracting new customers and standardize the process.
  • Be customer-focused – Speak from the client perspective. Neuro Marketing teaches us that ultimately everyone is listening with a filter that “it is all about me”. This is never truer than with a potential client.
  • Align with the voice of the customer – Develop relationships and opportunities, not just transactions. Ask, listen, and most importantly, learn.
  • Have a conversation about perceived value, not selling – Have a compelling value proposition that aligns with the customer’s expectations.  The customer will appreciate your solutions-based orientation versus the hard-sell.

But as important as it is to have a sales framework, some of the most important lessons aren’t taught.  Here are some other “street smart” approaches you should consider in order to attract new customers.

Your attitude is important. Stay upbeat no matter what happens. People respond to your positive energy and outlook.

Everyone smiles in the same language.  One of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them.
Take rejection head on. Rejection is a part of the business of selling. Accept it and don’t take it personally. You’ve heard it before – to get the yeses, you must hear the nos.

You don’t always win.  Handling disappointment and adversity is a mark of performance.  Achievers focus on the next part of the adventure, not the detours.

I am reminded of a story from Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group who said, “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me… A setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”

I believe “the queen” would concur, smiling all the way!

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.