Intersection at the Corner of Regular and Facebook Friend

social media

Savvy restaurant and bar employees know that marketing is a group effort. While the company may maintain social media platforms and engage in digital or traditional marketing to help drive business, team members can engage in their own efforts (providing it doesn’t violate company policy) to increase their personal base of regulars as well.

Learn to Share Effectively

Visuals and imagery are key to engaging your fans, friends and followers on social platforms. Fortunately for you, the restaurant business provides ample opportunity for great pictures. Have a great special you’re promoting tonight? Snap a pic of that pretty plate and get to sharing.

Facebook friends are a great way to get your content in front of people who already have a connection with you and therefore are more likely to come in quicker than someone with very little connection. However, when it comes to sharing, maximize effectiveness by deploying across several platforms.

Instagram offers the opportunity to take a photo, spice it up with filters and tags, and then share across both Instagram as well as Twitter and Facebook. By using Instagram to post your pictures to Facebook, you’re effectively killing two birds with one stone. Make sure to add descriptive text to get your friends’ attention.

Promote the Important Stuff And Do It Regularly

Don’t post so sporadically that you surprise your friends with something exciting and then disappear for so long that they forget you work in the restaurant business. Make it a point to post with regularity. If you have delicious new specials every Friday night, make a regular Friday night highlight post. Your friends will start to remember that your restaurant has great specials on Fridays and you’ll start to see them in person on Fridays instead of in your comments section.

For bigger news, pepper in special events and news into your posts as you have it, but don’t make it overly promotional or salesy. Stick to only real information if a band will be playing next Wednesday night or the restaurant is sponsoring a local charity event, share that. Skip the forced “Tuesday Night Is Pasta Night!” posts and keep it comfortable for both you and your friends.

Tag Away!

Leverage your friends by tagging them in pictures at your restaurant. Friends of theirs will see and you’ll get more exposure for your restaurant. Of course, make sure you have your friends’ consent before doing this.

Not sure how to get started? Stick with what you’re comfortable with and share “organically”, meaning make posts that are in your own words and are about things you actually care about. People can tell if posts are genuine or forced and the results you see from your efforts will be a direct reflection of that.

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

Five Companies with One Mission

It has been about a year since Red Book Connect brought together 5 companies that focused on hiring, training and scheduling employees, inventory management, business intelligence, loyalty programs, and shift management solutions.  Though we’ve been featured in a lot of news stories since then, I thought I’d provide an insider view of what’s been happening.

First, we hired an amazing CEO and leadership team.  Larry Abramson, our CEO, came over from Oracle, and he is committed, passionate and scary smart.  Additional great minds soon followed to assemble a powerhouse of thinkers, leaders and doers. We’re also hiring like crazy under each of these new leaders.  If you’re looking for work and want to join an amazing company that is rocketing to the moon, check out our careers page!

Second, we held onto great leaders and team members that were already in place.  Sure, we had a little bit of natural attrition, but the team that built the original companies – the ones that know the products inside and out and have spent years building relationships with our customers – are still here, in leadership positions helping to drive us to the top.

Third, we started focusing on platform integration in earnest.  Most of our products can already be accessed with a single sign-on, but we hadn’t done so much to make them look and feel like an integrated whole.  We’re doing that now and the UX/UI team is having a blast.  Watch for more to come later this year!

Finally, we launched the digital version of our Manager’s Red Book earlier this year.  It’s an amazing shift management app that makes creating a consistently flawless guest experience easier and the perfect shift more attainable.

This is all just the very beginning. We’re moving fast to enhance the most amazing suite of restaurant technology apps ever known to this industry or any other. Just wait til you see what’s coming next!

 

Mary Kay Hyde | Sr. Director of Marketing & Communities| Red Book Connect

On The 12 Days of #Tipmas…

tipmas

For the holiday season, Red Book Connect encouraged acts of kindness to the hard-working staff in the restaurant industry and called it #Tipmas. During the 12 Days of Tipmas, from December 9 through 21, we asked our co-workers, colleagues, friends and family to be generous with their servers and urged everyone they knew to do the same. It is not just about giving back financially either; we tweeted and posted #Tipmas suggestions from compliments to the manager to leaving a dessert for your server to enjoy (see full list of options below) with the goal of spreading the word and igniting the #Tipmas movement!

So what happened you ask? Check out our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages to find out. The outpouring was nothing short of amazing! There are so many great stories and pictures it’s hard to believe. We even got a shout out from celebrity Yvette Nicole Brown (@yvettenbrown) who jumped on the bandwagon – how cool is she!!

In fact, #Tipmas was such a success, we’re not going to let it end. Treating the service industry peeps like the rock stars they are really should be a year-round initiative, so we’re making it one! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay in tune with our plans for 2014!

12 Days of #Tipmas Missions

  • Day 1 (Dec 9): #SecretServer
    Secretly ask for a manager to tell them that your server has done a fantastic  job.
  • Day 2 (Dec 10): #SharingIsCaring
    Share the story of the excellent service you received online and tag it with #Tipmas
  • Day 3 (Dec 11): #HolidayHero
    If you know your server will be working the holiday (Xmas eve/Xmas/New Year’s) leave them a Christmas card/holiday card from your family.
  • Day 4 (Dec 12): #LetterToServer
    Write your server a letter and leave it at the restaurant.
  • Day 5 (Dec 13): #MilkAndCookies
    When you go out tonight, order dessert. And leave dessert for your server (i.e. candy bar, candy cane, etc.)
  • Day 6 (Dec 14): #ElfOnTheShelf
    If you notice another server working hard, besides your own, mention them to the manager as well!
  • Day 7 (Dec 15): #FastBreak
    When you visit, buy your server a meal they can quickly eat on their break, such as an appetizer.
  • Day 8 (Dec 16): #WarmFuzzies
    “Like” or “Follow” the restaurant on Facebook/Twitter then share your warm fuzzies about your server on the restaurant’s Facebook and/or Twitter pages.
  • Day 9 (Dec 17): #ShareTheLove
    Recommend the restaurant and the server to your family and friends through a Facebook Recommendation.
  • Day 10 (Dec 18): #MerryTipMas
    Tip extra today.
  • Day 11 (Dec 19): #TipMasMAS
    1+1 means tip extra, extra!
  • Day 12 (Dec 20): #GiftCardGreeting
    Purchase a gift card for your sever to use for the holidays. Itunes, Amazon, Visa gift card, etc.

For more fun Tipmas stories, check out our blog at http://redbookconnect.com/category/blog/.

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

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

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.