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Ron Miller

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October 15, 2014

Hiring and Retaining Stars

October 15, 2014 | By |

Among the biggest challenges every restaurateur faces is turnover. You’re not just competing for customers but good employees as well. A good server or skilled cook can have a dramatic impact on your profits, so how do you attract and retain top talent?

The first thing to understand is that it isn’t just about salary. Yes, money is important but it’s actually not a great motivator. Frederick Herzberg wrote that “the most effective way to motivate work behavior is by focusing on how people feel about their work itself.” (Katzenbach, Khan, 2010)

Don’t believe it? Think about members of the Navy Seals, Green Berets and Army Rangers. They’re poorly paid but are probably the most highly motivated people in the world. Why is that? For them, the biggest motivator is pride and their emotional connection to their team.

Can you tap into that for your restaurant?

Creating an emotional connection between your employees and the business won’t happen by accident. You need to have a well thought out plan, and you can start today.

Leadership
Emotional connections begin when employees admire their leader. Are you admirable? By that I mean, are you modeling the behavior of an admirable leader? Some things to think about are the hours you work and being in the trenches with your employees.

Years ago I worked in a printing plant with 300 employees. The general manager was the best leader I ever worked for. He knew every employee’s name and could step into any job in the plant, regardless of how dirty it was. He sure had everyone’s respect.

Consider taking shifts and showing your employees your mastery of the tasks.

Employee Status
Taking pride in your job is a fundamental motivator. You don’t have to be a Navy Seal to feel like your job makes a difference. When your employees do something that makes a customer’s experience better, thank them. Credible, informal praise, even for regular tasks can go a long ways to making your employees take pride in their work.

Support
Employees will be willing to take a bullet for you if they feel like you would take a bullet for them. Trust your employees with the authority to make decisions in their jobs and then stick up for them if it comes into question.

I remember one night when I was waiting tables. I had a group come in that was angry before they ever walked in. They were verbally abusive to other employees and to customers at other tables. It was so bad that people were leaving. The situation was only getting worse so I finally went to the table and asked them to leave. They demanded to see the manager who overruled me. He ended up buying them their meals and drinks. I doubt the manager won the respect of these customers and he lost a lot of my respect that night.

Growth Plan
Your best employees need a growth plan. They need to see a path that will allow them to move into greater responsibility, respect and earning potential. Sit down with your best employees and be up front with these things. Map out a plan and commit that you will help them achieve their goals.

Download our poster for hiring and retaining star employeesHiring and Retaining Stars
We have developed a poster with 5 things you can do right now to improve your labor situation. The poster is free to download. Just click here.

 

Sources

Katzenbach, J., & Khan, Z. (2010, April 6). Money Is Not The Best Motivator – Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/06/money-motivation-pay-leadership-managing-employees.html

Howard, H. (2010, December 6). 5 Secrets for Starting and Running a Successful Restaurant Chain | OPEN Forum. Retrieved from https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/5-secrets-for-starting-and-running-a-successful-restaurant-chain-hannah-howard/

Lemkin, J. (2014, April 23). How to Retain Top Employees: 5 Things to Do Now | Inc.com. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jason-lemkin/how-to-retain-star-employees.html

Ron Miller

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September 30, 2014

Solving the Absentee Problem

September 30, 2014 | By |

You know the call. The phone rings at a quarter to 5 and immediately you wonder which of your employees it is. Who’s calling in sick tonight?

Do you ever wonder what that’s costing you? You know it costs you in your time and convenience. Will your customers be as happy? Will things run as smoothly? According to Circadian, a workforce solution company, unscheduled absenteeism costs you $3,600, per hourly worker, per year.

Restaurant labor scheduling software

This is a problem worth solving.

Undoubtedly you’ve tried some things. When I started out, I used a pen, paper and a ruler to draw the lines and connect the dots of filling out the schedule. I built all of the employees’ requests for time off into it, making accomodations for their school schedules, second jobs and day care. Inevitably, the schedule I posted was just a starting point. Kim wants Friday off so she trades with Kristi. Darren forgot to ask for Monday night off. The owner’s son’s soccer team is going to come in on Wednesday so I need more people on the floor.

Does your head hurt yet?

Scheduling gets exponentially harder as you add more individuals into the mix. There were times when I felt like my job was more about scheduling than anything else.

One weekend I came up with a solution. I put the schedule into Excel. I set up a bunch of complicated rules and calculations so that I could pretty easily see how many people I needed on each shift. It also meant that rather than make edits to the paper schedule, I could make the change and just print out the revised schedule. You probably know this already but it created as many problems as it solved. The process evolved to where I would agree to Kim’s shift trade, but I wasn’t at my computer, so I’d write it on a scrap of paper and stuff it in my pocket. More than once those scraps of paper made their way into my laundry. Friday night came and I ended up covering for Kim because I had no record of what had happened. Spreadsheets don’t work.

There’s a technology solution that not only will improve your absenteeism problem, but also make your life easier.

Of course I’m in the business of selling WhenToManage’s software. I’d love it if you bought our scheduling solution but the important thing is that you don’t need the scheduling hassle any longer. You need a cloud-based scheduling solution.

In a report out this week from SoftwareAdvice.com, a review site for employee scheduling technology, they surveyed hourly employees in a range of industries. They found that service industry employees are the most likely group (67%) to use a mobile scheduling app. What appeals to them is that they can use it to request time off, ask for shift trades and pick up additional shifts. More than a third also said that they would appreciate notifications of upcoming shifts.

Two things
First, according to the study, 52% of employees said that they would be less likely to miss a shift because of having a scheduling app. Just implementing a cloud-based scheduling solution could solve the lion’s share of your problem.

Second, the hassle part of scheduling is taken off of your plate. You still need to approve shift changes, but all of stuff that goes into those changes: the negotiation, the complaints, the scraps of paper…gone.

Think this might pay for itself?

WhenToManage has probably the best scheduling solution on the market. There are others but you should check ours out too. Follow this link to learn more: http://www.whentomanage.com/restaurant-labor-scheduling/

Jim Affeldt is the Director of Operations for Matt Haley Companies, and a user of our scheduling software for several years. He recently did a podcast with our VP of Sales, Walker Thompson. The podcast has been turned into a 10 minute video that you can watch here. http://vimeo.com/106749954

Sources
Employee Preferences for Mobile Scheduling IndustryView | 2014. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.softwareadvice.com/hr/employee-scheduling-comparison/

Absenteeism Bottom Line. (2005). Retrieved from http://www.workforceinstitute.org/wp-content/themes/revolution/docs/Absenteeism-Bottom-Line.pdf

Ron Miller

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August 22, 2014

What’s your why?

August 22, 2014 | By |

In my favorite Ted Talk, Simon Sinek makes the point that people don’t buy what you make, they buy why you make it. Tonight I stopped for dinner at The Tamale House in Tigard, Oregon and Simon’s point was really hammered home for me.

I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say The Tamale House is a hole-in-the-wall. Situated in a small strip mall next to a 7-Eleven. It’s not much to look at. It’s basically 6 tables crammed in together, a cash register, and a stove piled high with aluminum pots. In fact, when my wife and I walked in, I was going to turn around except my wife whispered to me, “It got good reviews.”

We ordered 4 tamales and some chips and sat down. About a minute later, the pretty young lady from the register delivered our food. The tamales were good. Good enough that with mouths full, we talked about coming back one day.

About then, a man burst into the place, loudly teasing the man at the counter who was wearing an LA Dodgers baseball cap. A couple of jabs later and the two men were hugging. From there, the man walked around and hugged the young woman at the register and turned to the young man in the back and said, “Take grandma home. She’s tired.”

Ahhh…a family business.

Tony & Magdalena at The Tamale House in Tigard, OR

Tony & Magdalena at The Tamale House (photo by the Portland Tribune, November 15, 2012)

A minute later, the man was at our table. “I’ve never seen you in before. Hi, my name is Tony. My wife isn’t here but her name is Magdalena.” With a sweep of his hand he gestured, “All these young people are my kids and that’s grandma. Thank you for coming to the Tamale House. How is your food?”

In under a minute, we went from wanting to come back one day, to wanting to come back tomorrow…and it had nothing to do with the food.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

Tony’s why was everywhere. It was in these bright-eyed kids of his. It was in the picture by the register of one of his daughters holding a softball bat. It was in grandma who was clearly beat after a long day of making tamales. It was in his need to introduce us to Magdalena, even though she wasn’t there at that minute.

Plenty of restaurants are family run. That’s not my point. The point is that Tony wanted us to know why The Tamale House existed and why it was important to him. Tony cares about his place because it’s an extension of his family. He cared about us because now we’re part of all of this.

Do you know why you’re in business?

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Miller

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July 25, 2014

Social Media and your Brand

July 25, 2014 | By |

Let’s face it. Running a restaurant requires that you wear a lot of hats. Only one of those hats is marketing and just part of marketing is social media. If you’re like most restaurateurs, you wish you could spend more time doing it. This article is about getting more benefit out of the time that you do invest.

Whether we’re talking about Facebook, Twitter or any of the other 1,000 social media websites, the fundamental thing to remember is that they are all different. You can’t treat them as if they were the same. I see so many people who just broadcast the same post to all of their social sites. You should have slept in a few extra minutes this morning instead of doing that. It never works. Instead, here is how to do it right…

Facebook logo

Facebook

The goal with Facebook is to get people to leave a comment. The reason comments are special is that when you comment on something, the post you commented on appears on your timeline. This is how a post can go viral. The person doing the original post may only have 50 followers but if it captures people’s imagination, millions of people can end up seeing it. A common mistake people make is that they measure their Facebook success by counting up their followers. What’s more important is the quality of your content, which you can measure by how many people comment.

So how do you get comments? Ask for them! Always put something in your Facebook posts that encourages a response. For example:

  • Fall is our favorite time of the year and it begins with our new menu. Eduardo is adding Swiss Cheese Fondue to the menu. The taste will make you think you’re dining in Gimmelwald, high up in the Swiss Alps. What are your favorite fall food memories?

As good as a comment is a Share. What causes someone to share a post is that they feel the post is valuable. They are in a sense endorsing the content, staking their reputation on it. They won’t share it unless it’s good. To get shares, always include a beautiful photo. If you’re posting a recipe, take the time to format it so it will print nicely. If you’re posting some tips, include several.

What makes your business unique? How can social media build upon that?

 

Twitter logoTwitter

In my opinion, most people use Twitter all wrong. They write a catchy headline and then put a link at the end, in hopes that people will click on it and read their article. Do you have time to click on all of those links? It’s a modern-day version of what my grandfather used to do. He cut out articles from his morning paper and then once a month, would send them to me in a big envelope. I was grateful that he was thinking of me but really? I don’t have time to read all of the articles that find on my own. While Facebook is good for sarong articles, videos, pictures and infographics, Twitter is not. What works great on Twitter are 144-character tips like these:

  • I found some beautiful broccoli rabe at the market this morning. It’s going to be part of tonight’s grilled salmon special. $16
  • If your butter is too cold to spread, try grating it with a cheese grater.
  • Eduardo is cooking up his mom’s recipe corn chowder tonight. You can’t imagine how great this place smells!

The objective on Twitter are retweets. You want to make things sound so great that people want to share them with their friends.

Additional Tips:

  • Always include an image. People relate to photos and they get shared, commented on and retweeted more than anything else.
  • Social media is about connections. It’s you connecting to your customers but it’s also your customers connecting with each other. If your customers are talking, don’t feel the need to always interrupt.
  • You have an advantage being in the food industry. Pictures of food do really well on the Internet. Invest in quality professional pictures. You may think you can’t afford it but they pay for themselves.
  • Once you have pictures, marry them to recipes and post them onto Pinterest.
  • Keep the 4 R’s of your brand in mind: Reliability, Reviews, Reputation and Represent. For a refresher, you can jump over to our article on restaurant branding by clicking here. 

 

 

Ron Miller

By

July 7, 2014

Using Your Brand to Advertise Your Restaurant

July 7, 2014 | By |

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about restaurant branding. This week I thought I’d write about how to use your brand to create effective advertising that will grow your business. To recap, there are four parts to your restaurant brand: 

  • Reputation: If yours is like most restaurants, you’re pretty involved in your community. You donate, sponsor and host a wide variety of civic programs. This is part of your brand. Make sure your involvement is visible.
  • Reliability: Consistently delivering quality food, in a consistently clean location with consistently good service. People need to know they can rely on your restaurant and recommend it to their friends.
  • Reviews: Now days, everyone is a restaurant critic. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook and dozens of other websites make it easy for your customers to score their visit. Instead of fearing them, what do you do to make it easier for them to review you?
  • Represent: Your brand is bigger than your logo and actually a part of all of your graphics. What fonts are selected for your menu and the color palette that connects your interior to your signage is all a part of your brand. Don’t do your logo as a one-off.

These four things represent your brand, but even more, they represent the things that will differentiate your restaurant. Marketing, and your brand is a part of that, exist to get customers to choose your place over someone else’s. The best way to do that is to take these for elements to your brand, and use them in your advertising. Here’s an example:

Best practices for restaurant branding, marketing and advertising

Outlier’s is running an ad in a local direct mail book. It’s a simple ad but there’s a lot going on. The first thing you notice is the way they are representing themselves. It’s a memorable image that creatively demonstrates their name. The colors are warm and dark. The logo uses serifs (those little hooks on the edges of the letters) giving the ad a somewhat formal look. The tagline, “Inspired Food” tells you that the food might be unique. Without knowing anything else, can you picture what the interior of this restaurant looks like?

The ad copy consists of three bullet points.

Each one addresses elements of their brand:

  • We know they have a solid reputation: Outlier’s has been in business for 16 years.
  • We have a sense that their food is reliable: they they have an unusually sounding, “famous” smoked prime rib burrito.
  • We know that they get great reviews: they have great french fries.

The bullet points, along with the design of the ad, give us at least four reasons to go there, each one very different, and each one relating back to the elements of their brand.

  • Did they effectively differentiate themselves?
  • Do you want to eat here?

Notice they didn’t run a coupon in this ad, but still you read it and want to try it.

My next branding article will cover how to best communicate your brand in social media. If you like this article, please click one of these buttons below and share it! Thanks.