Archive for December, 2013

The Best Response Restaurants can have in the Face of an Employee Strike

December 30, 2013

As thousands of fast-food employees around the country organize strikes in demand of higher wages and the ability to unionize, it’s smart for restaurant operators to have a strategy in place for how to deal with potential employee strike demonstrations on their grounds and within their ranks. Ideally, restaurant operators should keep the following guidelines in mind.

Anticipate Restaurant Strike Activity and Ensure the Safety of Guests

Whether or not your own employees may take part in the demonstrations, you would be wise to anticipate the potential of strike activity so that you are prepared to respond appropriately. It’s important to remember that if two or more employees want to create an action, they have the legal right to do so as long as they don’t vandalize property. The worst you can do to them is fire them or cut their hours in retaliation — though this response tends to only worsen the situation.

Instead, it’s best to do what you can to ensure your employees’ satisfaction and focus instead on ensuring the safety of your guests should a demonstration arise on your business’s grounds. If the demonstration gets too big or rowdy, be prepared to close the establishment. Guest comfort and safety is paramount.

Avoid Confrontations when Dealing with Strike Activity

How you handle strike activity is critical. Running out to shout at the protestors to get off of your property is only going to land you a spotlight on YouTube. Instead, support your employees’ right to voice their opinions. Instead of combating them, focus on publicizing the investments you have made into employee benefit programs. Demonstrate that you hear and understand their concerns. Recognize that everyone has a right to believe what they will and that the best action you can take as a representative of your business is to maintain a neutral attitude towards the whole issue, especially in public.

Educate Your Restaurant Employees about Advancement Opportunities

It’s important to keep an open doorway of communication going on between management and employees. It’s also important to show your staff the opportunities for advancement that already exist. Let them know that they can take additional training, get certification, and strive for performance bonuses if they’d like to make a higher income.  Educate them about how your restaurant promotes its staff and the steps that an employee will need to take if they are to receive a promotion.

In short, aside from having a plan of action for ensuring the safety of your guests if strike activity occurs on your property, there isn’t much you can do about the action itself. Instead, it’s better to educate your employees about how they can make more money with your business. You need to listen to and really hear their concerns about their wages and you must possess the ability to tolerate any demonstrations that do occur with a benign eye.

Doing these things will ensure that your public image remains untarnished and that your relationship with your staff and employees remains as unobstructed and positive as possible. We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we are going to respond!

E-Learning Ideal for Restaurant Staff Training

December 25, 2013

Digital technology has revolutionized the way that we can provide training, education, and information to our restaurant employees. Instead of printing lengthy manuals and watching long training videos, we can now transfer manuals online, send regular training updates to our employees via video text, and ensure consistency across multiple locations all while increasing relevance and lowering costs. It’s a convenient way to provide education which is more consistent, timely, and accountable than traditional means of getting training to your staff. In short, digital training provides a host of new and exciting options to more efficiently train and manage your team. 

Digital Training Improves Performance Tracking while Empowering Restaurant Employees

Utilizing digital training avenues in your restaurant doesn’t have to be an overly expensive or elaborate affair. It can be as simple as making short, instructional videos about new methods or how to use new products and texting them once a week to all of your staff. You can embed a link to further information, track who has reviewed the information, quickly update training modules, and even see exactly which test questions employees are stumbling over. Some restaurants even use employees’ test scores from weekly material to determine who gets put on the schedule for the following week.

This method of training is convenient for your employees as well. They can take the training on their own time and review materials repeatedly until they can pass the test. However, while your Millennial employees are going to relate particularly well to this form of imparting information, it’s important to keep in mind that older generations may still need more traditional training methods to thrive.

Digital Education is Perfectly Suited to Teach Skills Needed in Restaurant Employees

Digital training is particularly well suited to teach certain skills essential to restaurant employees. For example, instructions for how to properly prep a dish, place a fork, or fold a napkin are technical skills that are easily imparted through digital technology. It is especially useful for teaching pre-hires how to place an order or use the POS system ahead of time, so they can better pay attention to other details they receive in one-on-one training.

Soft skills, such as how to greet a guest or make menu recommendations, are not as black and white as technical skills are and can be somewhat more challenging to teach online. That said, digital modules can still be utilized to assist employee training in these areas as well, especially in terms of situational protocol simulations or memorizing scripts, for example.

Digital Training should Compliment not Replace Hands-On Learning

Providing digital education for your staff should never replace one-on-one, hands-on learning and time spent under the tutelage of your restaurant’s management. Solid interpersonal relationships between your managers and their employees are critical to the successful functioning of your team. Instead, digital training should be used as a tool to compliment and enhance your employees’ training experiences. Doing this creates further team cohesion and efficiency, as well as a highly trained, effective staff.

Restaurateur Choices: The Debate around GMOs

December 18, 2013

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have been making rabble-rousing headlines for years now. Yet, there is still quite a bit of confusion around the pros and cons of the debate. As a restaurant owner, you have a choice to make about the quality of the food that you are providing to the public. As such, it doesn’t hurt to have a general overview of the discussion around the wide-spread presence of genetically modified foods in our public’s food stream. Here’s the scoop in a nutshell.

The Argument for GMOs

 GMOs are organisms such as plants, animals, insects, and even bacterium and yeast which have had their genes mutated in some way. Mutation occurs through genetic modification or engineering and is typically done by altering or removing a gene, or even by adding in a gene from an entirely different organism. The result is something completely unique; an original organism known as a GMO.

Research into genetically modified foods has been largely propelled by the idea that we could better feed our world’s population by creating plants which were more resistant to pests and disease and were better able to survive in less than ideal growing conditions. In theory, we could also make the food we eat more nutritious and use less fuel and space to produce a higher yield at a lower cost.

The Argument against GMOs

This all sounds fine enough, but where things start to get hairy is in really understanding the long-term effects of tinkering with Nature’s design. For instance, there is some evidence that creating pest and disease-resistant plants is simply speeding up the evolutionary process and creating ‘super weeds’ and ‘super insects’ which are even more resistant to the roadblocks engineered in the plant.

This, in turn, can cause farmers to have to use more toxic herbicides and pesticides to bring the crop to harvest which, in its turn, increases the environmental toxic load. There has been evidence, for example, that the pesticide most commonly used with GM corn is now showing up in our bloodstreams and in the umbilical cord blood of pregnant women. The long-term biological and environmental impacts of the use of GMOs have not been adequately studied, raising concern for unseen ill-effects down the road.

How to Avoid GMOs in Your Restaurant if You Want To

Since the science around GMOs is still developing, the most recent focus of debate has been around giving the public the choice about whether or not to consume GMOs by labeling which food products have been genetically engineered. While several states have raised their own labeling initiatives in the last few years and 64 countries around the world require GMO labeling, it is not currently required in the U.S.

The main GMO crops are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, soybeans, sugar beets, yellow crookneck squash, and zucchini. In the U.S., 90 percent or more of all corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and soybeans are grown from genetically engineered seeds.

Regardless of where you fall on the GMO debate, if food is your business, it makes sense to have a solid understanding of the pros and cons in the discussion. There’s a ton of information on the topic out there and a lot of it is conflicting. Until the science is really in, the best we can do is wade through what information is available and make the most educated decision possible.

Customers Expect Online Ordering In Restaurants

December 11, 2013

While we can thank the pizza industry for helping online ordering to gain wide-spread popularity, today’s customer has come to expect online ordering options from all of their favorite restaurants. Considering that online orders have a lower labor cost and yet tend to have higher than average checks, it’s no surprise that so many restaurants are making the move toward putting solid online ordering platforms in place. 

Online Ordering Streamlines Your Customer’s Experience

The popularity of ordering from restaurants on a computer is typically driven by two primary factors: the desire for a speedy, streamlined experience and/or the desire to avoid human interaction and potentially frustrating experiences. Customers jump at the opportunity to avoid long lines and wait times, by far preferring the ability to just whisk in, grab the food, and head back to the comfort of their own abodes.

Ordering online also has the added benefit of ensuring that the order is placed exactly right – with all of the customer’s special instructions clearly printed for employees to see. Combine those factors with the increased transaction speed for placing an order and it’s no wonder customers are ordering from their favorite restaurants online in record numbers.

Having Access to Your Online Menu Caters To Your Restaurant’s Most Loyal Members

It’s a fact that your restaurant’s regular patrons often order the same thing every time they frequent your establishment – people are habitual creatures. A number of restaurants have taken this understanding and applied it to the design of their online ordering platforms. They do this by providing the option to create a user profile and save all your favorite orders for one-click future repeats.

Other restaurants reward their most loyal members through their online profiles as well, letting members accumulate points or other rewards as a thanks for their regular patronage. While this can be a nice touch, customers have been shown to want an online ordering option regardless of whether or not they are rewarded. The perks of speed and efficiency can be enough in and of themselves.

Research Supports the Desire for Technology-Based Self-Sufficiency in Restaurants

A study conducted by the National Restaurant Association in October found that 63 percent of adults had used some form of restaurant-related technology in September of this year alone. The study also found that more than two in five adults use smartphones or computers to locate restaurants, find directions, view menus, and place orders.

Furthermore, 50 percent of all adults and 75 percent of adults aged 18-34 said they would use a smartphone or other mobile device to place takeout and delivery orders if the option were available in their favorite restaurant.

When you combine the customer’s desire to have online ordering options for their favorite restaurants with the fact that all the customer metrics (in terms of satisfaction, retention, and frequency) tend to be better with digital orders, it only makes sense to put an online ordering platform in place if you haven’t already. If you do have one set up, make sure that it is designed to make speed, customization, and functionality paramount.

3 Fun Ways to get Your Restaurant in the Holiday Spirit (and Boost Business!)

December 4, 2013

The holiday season brings what has traditionally been the biggest sales days of the year – for retail and restaurant owners alike. As a restaurateur, you are uniquely positioned to leverage the holiday season to the benefit of both your business’s bottom line as well as its reputation. With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to think about fun ways to get your restaurant into the holiday spirit!

Get Your Restaurant in the Holiday Spirit #1: It Starts with the Food

If there is a single thing that could be named as the commonality shared between most of the holidays, it would be people coming together over food. That said, you would be remiss not to alter your menu in some way as a nod toward that understanding. This could mean something as simple as adding eggnog to the menu or something as elaborate as creating a complete list of holiday specials, complete with festive decorations.

It could mean offering group discounts or freebies for kids or simply stringing up lights and adding some decorations to give your eatery a festive air. Showing your holiday spirit attracts all the people who are out looking for special holiday food and experiences.

Get Your Restaurant in the Holiday Spirit #2: In-House Contests and Games

Another fun way to engage employees and customers alike is to host fun in-house games and contests for the holidays. There’s a number of ways you could do this, and it could be done to raise proceeds for a charity or just for fun, it’s up to you. Host a raffle to win a free meal every day for a month. Run a contest to see who can come up with the best holiday photo for your social media pages. Implement a game where customers can choose to give a gift certificate for a Secret Santa item off the menu to another customer, as well as receive one in return. Whatever you pick, tell everyone about it, get your employees in on it and most of all, have fun with it!

Get Your Restaurant in the Holiday Spirit #3: Get Out in the Community

Another fun way to get into the holiday spirit while building your restaurant’s reputation is to take your staff and get involved in the community under the banner of your business. You could do this by signing up as a vendor for a holiday event, delivering excess food to people who need it, organizing a community clean-up project for customers and employees alike who are interested in volunteering, or simply taking your staff out for a night of caroling and eggnog.

Getting your restaurant into the holiday spirit through these types of activities is both fun and business-savvy. It engages your employees and customers, builds your reputation in the community, and helps to bring people through the door. What more could any business owner want as a gift for the holiday season?