Category Archives: Management

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

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

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

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



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

Are You Giving Your Employees The Right Road Map?

 No Discussion around Career Development. Here’s a secret for most managers: the majority of employees don’t know what they’ll be doing in 5 years. In our experience,  fewer than 5% of people could tell you if you asked. However, everyone wants to have a discussion with you about their future. Most bosses never engage with their employees about where they want to go in their careers — even the top talent. This represents a huge opportunity for you and your organization if you do bring it up. Our best clients have separate annual discussions with their employees — apart from their annual or bi-annual performance review meetings — to discuss succession planning or career development. If your best people know that you think there’s a path for them going forward, they’ll be more likely to hang around.

Eric Jackson – Contributor Forbes Magazine

The road map to success

The road map to success

Are you giving your employees the right road map?

I often find myself watching Dora the Explorer with my 6-year-old daughter. In every episode when Dora is lost, she must find the map!  Why is this so easy for a child to understand when, as adult managers, we fail to give a career road map to our own employees?

Recently. I was brought in by a highly successful business  to help them develop a training program so they could better retain their frontline employees.  The first question I asked during a brainstorming session was, “What is the career path offered to entry-level employees?”  The entire group stared at me blankly when the leader of the group said, “We don’t have a career path here.”  Why did they not offer a career path?  Nobody could answer this question either.  What this group wanted to focus on was how to find the top talent and train them for the job at hand.  While some employees may be happy spending 20 years doing the same job day in and day out, the majority would prefer to know there is opportunity to move up in the organization. As humans, we always want to better ourselves.

“It seems to me that most organizations spend an inordinate amount of energy on talent acquisition. Finding, attracting and capturing the best talent is central on every organization’s radar. But the value derived from new talent is only realized if the talent can be retained long enough to tap its treasures.”  Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith

McDonald’s does a wonderful job of promoting from within. Quite often you see an entry level employee working themselves up to manager, general manager, field employee for corporate, reaching sometimes to actually owning a franchise.  This is successfully achieved because McDonald’s gives their employees a path when hired– something to aspire to.  Most top employees want to be more in their lives, become more important and  be relied upon., It is only human nature.

By the way, the company I helped with training now actually has a career path for their new hires and so far, their turnover is starting to trend for the better! Top employees need to be nurtured and guided down a path toward their futures, and they will work harder to get there.

David Pettit, Business Development Director at Red Book Solutions | 15 years Expertise in Performance Improvement, Local Store Marketing and Operations | Extensive Background in Restaurant and Bar Management | Current CFE Certification Candidate | Trainer and Management Champion Having Worked with many Fortune 500 Companies

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.

Manager Confidence: Off the Charts or Lower than Low?

    Your employees and your customers can smell fear. When you are unsure of your prowess as a manager don’t fool yourself everyone can tell—and they’ll take advantage of it purposefully or just because they can. When you second guess every decision, every action you sabotage the very essence of what it means to be an effective manager.  You’ll find the people you deal with only following your lead when it comes to questioning your direction.

Building confidence doesn’t happen overnight and has to be constantly nurtured to maintain it for the long haul. No matter what your philosophies on management are, you have to agree, exuding confidence is a must. Take note on how to strengthen yours:

  1. Work with integrity. Take the responsibility for the energy you bring.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Build on your strengths work on your weaknesses.
  3. Determine your own core values. Stand by them so people around you can trust what you stand for.
  4. Don’t second guess yourself. Make a decision, move forward, learn from mistakes, and celebrate wins.
  5. Over prepare to stay ahead of the game. You’re the leader because you are supposed to have the answers. Make sure you do. Research, test, educate, role-play, envision… so on.

Don’t get overconfident. Faking it ‘til you make it will only take you so far. There are situations that will occur over and over again that will test you and rock your confidence to the core. Recovering from these must happen fast for not only your benefit but also anyone else you come in contact with. If you outline the items above and check-in regularly, you will be more likely to bounce back from the basic confidence killers that seem to go hand-in-hand with being a manager.

It always surprises me how willing we are to follow the person who has the most confidence in their direction. Right or wrong. I remember backpacking with a guy who acted like he was the expert navigator. We hit a fork in the path and instead of consulting the map he said with conviction, “We go this way to get to the water fall.” I remember saying,” I could’ve sworn we were supposed to head south,” but given that he was the keeper of the map and due to how he assured me he was correct—we went his way. Well ironically Lost Creek Wilderness stood by its name, and we found ourselves retracing our tracks a good 3 miles back in the pitch dark. I can tell you from one to many experiences that false confidence damages all leadership. Authenticity will always bring you the highest rewards.

That is why taking the time and thought to build your confidence will take you and your team to the next level. And as always, striving to be better than yesterday is just more fun and more fulfilling. So try this one on for size.

By, Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions | 20+ years Cross Industry Experience | Corporate Marketing and National Sustainability Lead, BlueLinx |Chief Strategic and Creative Officer, Limelight Advertising | Strategic Marketing Manager, Vail Resorts