Category Archives: Technology

Manager’s Red Book Goes Digital

digital RB

For the last several months, we’ve been talking about and beta-testing our new Digital Red Book product, and I was really excited when I saw it get launched for “GA” (general availability) earlier this month.  The DRB, as we affectionately call it in house, is based on the Manager’s Red Book, which has been helping restaurants run more efficiently for more than 20 years.  When I was initially introduced to the Manager’s Red Book, I only mildly impressed, which only goes to show how little I knew about it.  Turns out, those books are a huge (and I mean HUGE) improvement over most shift management systems, and for good reason.  Not only do they consolidate tons of pieces or random paper, including notes between managers, employee requests off, maintenance details, personnel performance information and more, they can also be custom built for each brand so that the tasks and check lists are specific to the location.  Awesome!

We then took all this customization and consolidation of information to the next level by taking it online.  The Digital Red Book app is a highly customized online shift management solution that you can download right from the iTunes store.  We’ll set it all up for you (it takes us about a day to do that) so that when you login, you are using the DRB custom built just for you. Managers can collect and store all the same information they would in the books, such as – temperature checks, store deposits, sales info, etc.  Then they can track it, assign it, and comment on it. Once data is input, it’s stored there forever, so you can search for it later using simple keywords or phrases.  At the corporate level, users can login and see how stores are performing, review notes, see uploaded pictures and videos and more.  And they can see all that as soon as the data is entered – real-time, instantly.

The icing on the cake with this cool app is the iPad and uber tough enclosure you can get with it.  It takes ruggedized to a whole new level – to “kitchenized”.  Drop it, slop on it, spill on it, and like a Timex, it keeps on ticking.

I’ve been working in the “technology for restaurants” business for several years now, and I’m pretty excited and impressed by this incredible new tool. Take the Digital Red Book for a test drive and see if you aren’t as enthusiastic as I am!

Mary Kay Hyde | Sr. Director of Marketing & Communities| 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

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.

Why managers need to see technology as a friend, not foe

We are in the midst of a cultural revolution in the way we consume information with mobile technology, meaning we are now able to work, and learn whenever and wherever we want.

how to embrace technology

This is no more apparent than amongst ‘Generation Y’ – those born and bred in the digital age. This demographic spends around two hours on their smartphones and uses an average of six apps a day.

But when they join the workforce in the next few years, they will have to adjust to a very different, less instinctive way of working, unless businesses begin to embrace mobile technology sooner.

Organisations are actually lagging dangerously behind and will face having mobile technology forced on them in the future if they don’t start implementing it now, according to research by mobile company EE.

Tomorrow’s world

The reason why many of the larger businesses are slow to embrace new technology is that, unlike the mobile generation, they were conceived before the technological revolution.

Many managers are now finding themselves restricted by certain systems and ways of doing things that have long been in place, and this dependency can make them fearful of the learning curve ahead of them.

Being resistant to change can also lead many to ignore the benefits such as increased productivity, collaboration and the growth that mobile technology provides.

Despite the cultural shift that  updating  systems and upgrading  technology would entail, the potential to perform great work remotely, if the right technology is in place – as well as attract the best new talent, is not to be sniffed at.

Mobile apps can really improve and enhance the efficiency of working – as well as the quality of life for employees.

By paying attention now to how Generation Ys approach their student work/life balance, businesses could harness these technological solutions, and thereby increase productivity and efficiency.

More importantly though, students of today are our business managers of tomorrow, and will want to work with processes they are used to.

Mobile working

Similar to the idea behind bite size learning, working in chunks of time is the key to mobile working – such as being able to achieve something, or address a particular issue while standing in a queue, for example.

Devices for smartphones and tablets are already enabling employees to collaborate, share knowledge and tap into valuable resources like mentoring.

When it comes to working, managers need to approach it more efficiently, by putting methods in place that increase the amount we are doing, without increasing the amount of time we spend doing it.

If this sounds like a bit of a culture shock, remember that the majority of people are not going to be shying away from technology anytime soon.

By embracing technology, managers will find it easier to continue doing what they are good at – enabling their business and employees to grow and flourish.

Rebecca Leitch is a Content Manager for ESI International – the world leader at providing innovative training to help people manage projects, contracts and business requirements by teaching the skills which drive results.

Does the Word “Technology” Scare You?

Many people fear the word “technology”.  I know I used to (and admittedly sometimes still do), and here I am working for a software technology company.  Bizzare, right?

scared-of-computer

The connotation of “technology” used to mean “complicated” and still does to many.  However, maybe it isn’t the actual word that scares us, but the fear of an unfamiliar change in process.  Take the washer and dryer, for example. It’s a lot simpler and easier to use a washer and dryer than scrubbing clothes on a washboard and pinning them up on a line to dry.  What about Microsoft Outlook Contacts?  It’s a lot more efficient than using a Rolodex.  Technology companies have also realized that in order to sell their products, it needs to be simple, efficient, and user-friendly.  Even the new smart phones sold today are a lot easier and user-friendly than the smart phones sold just a few years ago.  My six year old can pick up my phone and figure out how to use it faster than I can.  That is because I have a mindset like many that it’s got to be harder than it is, when my six year old has no preconceived notions about it.

The restaurant industry, which has historically been slow to adopt technology, is now beginning to accelerate their technology adoption rate.  Why?  First, restaurants are realizing that technology can help them compete with other businesses.  For example, just the other day my husband and I decided to stop at a restaurant for lunch before heading to our daughter’s dance recital.  We were running a bit late and were concerned we wouldn’t have time to eat.  I then remembered a restaurant nearby that had the technology to order online through my smartphone (thank goodness for smartphone technology).  As my husband was driving, I ordered our lunch online and by the time we got to the restaurant, our food was ready.  We made the recital in plenty of time.  The reason I chose that particular restaurant was specifically due to their online ordering system.

The second reason for the acceleration in technology adoption is that restaurant owners and operators are looking for new ways to offset the costs of food and fuel, which always seem to be on the rise.  In fact, on average, wholesale food prices have jumped over 30% in the past 6 years.  So what can you do to control costs?  Try using technology solutions that will reduce your labor or operational costs.  Examples of technologies that can help in this regard include:

1)      Employee scheduling solutions, like HotSchedules, which can reduce labor costs through forecasting, overtime alerting and punctuality controls.

2)      Online or paperless hiring systems, such as GoHire, that can help reduce paper and printing costs, reduce ICE audit risks (and associated costs) and help you identify tax credit benefits.

3)      Social learning platforms, such as Schoox, which save employee and trainer time, and reduce the need to print training materials.  They also help reduce employee turnover and lead to a better trained staff.

4)      Performance and standardization systems, such as the Manager’s Red Book, now with a digital version that helps ensure all locations run in the same streamlined, efficient manner.

5)      Inventory management and business intelligence reporting solutions, such as Macromatix, which help you control financials and cash management, reduce stock counts and decrease inventory to actual vs. theoretical levels.

As restaurateurs recognize that technology can and is improving operations and helping their peers successfully expand, the trend toward technology implementation in the industry will continue to increase.  So, the next time you hear the word, “technology”, embrace it!  Change that preconceived connotation in your mind from “scary” or “complex” to “efficient” and “easier”.  It can greatly change your business and your life for the better!

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect