Tricks of the Trade: Learning the Menu

Helping servers learn the menu improves customer service and increases sales.

When I started at an authentic Mexican restaurant, I could barely pronounce the menu and had no idea what chilaquiles, tomatillos, mole sauce, carnitas, or pozole was. I thought it was downright crazy that I was expected to have the whole menu memorizedin two days and be ready to take a fill-in-the-blank test over it. Although I managed to cram the night before and (barely) pass the menu test, the first couple weeks of serving weren’t easy with my mediocre knowledge of the menu.

Starting a new serving gig is intimidating, and the task of learning the menu can make it extra difficult, especially now that the average number of menu items is on the rise. First-time servers have more trouble learning the menu since they are not familiar with most types of alcoholic beverages or specialty food items. Servers who have plenty of knowledge of the menu will sell more, give better customer service, and have higher priced tickets. So, don’t rush training, and give them plenty of resources to learn. Here are my tips on how to train your serving staff on the menu!

Make flashcards

You can make actual flashcards with index cards, or you can use one of the many free sites that allow you to make custom flashcards and share them online. Servers can use an app and flip through the flashcards on their smart phones. I recommend you create different categories for salads, appetizers, entrees, desserts, and alcoholic beverages. This will allow servers to divide and conquer the menu! They will also get an idea of the number of items for each category. Make sure to list the name and ingredients of each item. Also point out common allergy-inducing ingredients in each dish and note if it is gluten free. Include pictures of each menu item so that server will be able to recognize dishes at the expo line.

Another reason that online flashcards are excellent tools is because you can edit your cards on the fly! If dishes are changed, added, or no longer served, you can quickly update your flash cards without confusing new staff members.

Hold tasting classes

Make small portions of each food item and display them in front of the new servers. Describe what ingredients make up a dish and let the servers taste each one. Not only will this help servers memorize menu items but it will also give them knowledge of what they taste like. This will be helpful for when a customer inevitably asks one of your servers what their favorite thing on the menu is.

You can also use this as a chance to teach sales techniques like suggestive selling or using descriptive words to describe an item.

Look for differences or patterns

If all your wood-fire grill items have the same sides, or all the red meats are marinated in Shiner Bock and topped with a cilantro garnish, point out those types of patterns. Memorizing dishes is easier when there are similarities. On the other hand, if you have a food establishment that specializes in making a bunch of similar items, like pizzas or burgers, it is better to look at the differences. These items may be all the same but have two or three different toppings or sauces.

Give out practice tests

Make several different fill-in-the-blank practice tests that your servers can take home and use to test their knowledge. The biggest reason staff fail their first menu test is because they overestimate their memorization skills. By taking practice tests, servers can use them as a check point to figure out how much of the information they are actually absorbing and can address their problem areas.

Make a cheat sheet

Good memorization doesn’t happen overnight, or even within a few days. Even if a server passes all your tests, it doesn’t mean they know everything there is to know about your menu. Make laminated cards with information like daily specials or soups, beers on draft, red wines & white wines ranging from sweet to dry, and the spirits your bar carries. This kind of information is hard to remember, even after training. Servers can keep these cheat sheets in their notepads for a quick reference.

Don’t forget to get creative. People learn in different ways, so always try out new training ideas on staff and ask for feedback.

Use the right tools

Creative ideas and good techniques are very useful for training, but they won’t reach their full efficacy if not everyone is following the process and parts are skipped or forgotten. The right program, such as a powerful applicant tracking system with built-in onboarding tools, can help you define and enforce the training process you want your business to follow. ApplicantForge features onboarding tools that allow you to upload documents such as menu tests or certifications, create training checklists, set reminders for managers, and more. These tools make implementing training processes and techniques a breeze, no matter what they may be.

Training up your new staff members isn’t always easy, but using good tools and techniques make it much simpler and more effective, and it will be well worth the effort when your business flourishes and your servers and customers are happier!

Best ways to keep your business’s New Year’s resolutions

Ready or not, 2016 is going to be over in just a few days. Everyone has high hopes for 2017. If you’re among the many who plan on ringing in the new year with some ambitious resolutions for yourself or your business, you might want to check out the following tips to help you stick to them.

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
When deciding on your goals, make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself or your staff. Some of your aspirations might not be things that can be realistically accomplished in less than a year, so you should start small. For example, you wouldn’t vow to climb Mount Everest next month if you’ve never even been camping. Start with small mountains and hiking. Build your strength and knowledge until you’re ready to move on to bigger ones. Starting small builds confidence and is a better approach in the long run.

2. Do your homework.
You’ll be much more likely to achieve your resolutions if there aren’t surprises around every corner and all kinds of unexpected hoops to jump through. If you do your research and plan things out, you’ll be prepared for all the surprises and hoops, because you’ll know what you need to know and have what you need in order to be successful.

3. Share your goals.
If you’re making New Year’s resolutions for your store or restaurant, chances are that you’re gonna need the help of your employees to make them happen. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals by sharing them with your staff. You might also consult with your staff about what resolutions you should set for your business. They’re sure to have some helpful ideas and insight.

4. Again, share your goals.
That’s right, this one is listed twice. Getting everyone on the same page and spreading out responsibility aren’t the only reasons to let other people in on your plans. If you tell someone what your resolutions are, you’re more likely to stick to them. Writing them down works, too. If your resolutions never leave your head, they’re just thoughts. To make them concrete, tell someone about them or write them down. They’ll be much harder to forget about and you’ll feel more accountable, which goes a long way in getting things done.

6. Break it down.
If you choose a New Year’s resolution that’s going to take a lot of time, work, or other resources, you might consider breaking it up into steps. Doing so will keep you and your staff from becoming overwhelmed. Call a meeting and plan everything out. What’s the first thing you have to do to get started on your task? What steps come between where you are now and your ultimate goal? Figure these out, make a plan with tentative due dates for each step, and make your plan happen.

7. Remove roadblocks.
Removing roadblocks is a great and easy way to increase your chances of following through on your New Year’s resolutions. The more you have to struggle to get things done, the less likely you are to do them. Eliminate anything you can that will make matters more complicated and frustrating. If there’s something you can do to make your goals easier to reach, then do it. You have enough on your plate as it is, so don’t make your resolutions more difficult than necessary.

5. Learn and move on.
If you have a setback, don’t let it be the end of the world. Take a moment to reflect on what went wrong and why it happened. Focus on how it could have been avoided and make a plan to keep it from happening again. Beating yourself up or being negative will just hurt your confidence and make it more difficult to try again. Instead, be positive and focus on the progress you’ve made, even if it was just making the decision to improve something.

8. Pat yourselves on the back.
When you and your staff make progress toward your business’s goals, make sure you celebrate each step of the way. Doing so will keep everyone involved happy and less stressed, and it’ll get them excited to keep making progress. When you finally meet your New Year’s resolution, be sure to thank those who helped make it happen, including yourself, and then celebrate even more! It’ll all be worth it when you’re finally able to enjoy your accomplishments.

Seeing your resolutions through this year will make it even easier to make new ones happen next year. Confidence is key. Just one success can boost the confidence of you and your employees, which will make being successful again a breeze. So remember the tips above and stay determined. Start with small successes, build your way up to major achievements, and you and your business will be better than ever in no time. Good luck!

HR software saves you time, money, effort, and trouble.

If you’re writing staff schedules on spreadsheets, doing payroll by hand, poring over paper applications, or using other manual methods to manage your business, then you’re driving a car when it might not be the best mode of transportation. If you’re using HR software to help you manage your business, you’re flying in a plane. You’re getting things done faster, spending less effort, making fewer mistakes, and you’re giving yourself more time to actually manage your business. Is the scenic view you get while driving really worth all the extra time? Probably not if you’re on the clock, and you’re costing or earning your business time and money with each decision you make.

HR software is made to save you time, money, and effort. Sometimes it takes a bit more of each of those three things to get your program up and running, but you’re certain to come out ahead in the long run if you use it. It can also reduce the number of errors you make or miscommunications you have with your staff. It can even help you steer clear of trouble by preventing you or others from making bad decisions that reflect poorly on your business’s reputation.

Just ask Urban Outfitters, which was recently mentioned in an article written by scheduling software research firm Software Advice about  “4 Newsworthy HR Mistakes (And How They Could’ve Been Avoided)”. UO was mentioned for asking salaried staff to help one of their warehouses to make sure online orders where all sent out on time, on a voluntary basis.

As you might have expected, this was spread all over the Internet for everyone to read and even landed them on the news. Everyone got to hear about what they did, which definitely isn’t great for the company’s reputation. The request probably didn’t please their staff much, either. Keeping your staff happy is better for your business and expenses in the long run and high turnover is expensive, so displeasing your employees is a bad idea.

Asking employees to work for free is generally a big no-no in itself, but UO wouldn’t have encountered this problem in the first place if they had used HR software with historical data and sales forecasting. They could have predicted that their warehouse would need help getting online orders shipped on time, had extra warehouse employees trained and ready to go, and done it in the best, most cost-effective way possible. Instead, they asked their salaried staff to volunteer for it, which is less efficient and a safety concern since they probably don’t know the first thing about working in a warehouse, and tarnished their reputation with both their employees and their customers in one fell swoop. In this case, Urban Outfitters took the car and got lost along the way.

It’s impossible to avoid 100% of potential mistakes 100% of the time, but the right solution can make them far less likely to happen. Using manual methods to manage your business could be making your job and your life more difficult than necessary, especially when silly, simple mistakes are so easy to blow out of proportion. So much time, effort, and money is spent on developing your business, brand, and reputation. Don’t waste it on things you don’t have to, such as manually writing schedules, running payroll, and chasing your tail trying to fix things that should never have happened in the first place. The right HR management software solution can help you save time, effort, and money, so you can relax more and focus on building a better business.  Cars can take you far, but you’ll need to fly if you want to keep up.

Tricks of the Trade: If you’re celebrating a National Food Day, be prepared for WAR!

National food days are a great marketing strategy! If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have a national food day for literally every day of the month. Don’t believe me? Check out this site: Foodimentary presents “Today in National Food Holidays”. Some businesses have even made food holidays famous! Most people know about IHOP’s National Pancake Day or that they can get free Ice Cream at Dairy Queen on Ice Cream Day. By the way, both are marked down on my calendar.

So why am I making a big deal about insignificant holidays that are basically PR stunts? Well if you are advertising free food in celebration of a holiday, be prepared for war! Or at least a massive crowd of people.

I ran into this problem during my lunch break when I called in an order to McAlister’s. When I walked up to the entrance of the food chain I was greeted with a few lines out the door and a giant inflatable iced tea bouncing about the wind. The inflatable announced it was National Iced Tea Day! Great, I can save two or three dollars on my meal today I thought.  As I made my way through the door, I was met by a panicked employee who asked me to get back in line. I thought she was mistaken obviously, I called in my order, the call-in line should be much shorter.  Nope, the call-in line was hanging outside as well. I jumped in line and waited… and waited… and waited. My lunch break was only 40 minutes long and I was now 15 minutes into it with a line that hadn’t budged.

At this point, I was a little frustrated but figured I could cancel the order and speed over to the Mickey D’s before the end of my break. I pushed by the pile of people and told a stressed out cashier to cancel my order. The distraught workers hopelessly looked through the heap of food orders and finally agreed to cancel, once mine couldn’t be found. They were still nice enough to send me on my way with one of their famous half-gallon sized sweet teas.

I’ve worked at a variety of restaurants in the past, so I understand that pain that comes with trying to serve an overabundance of people. Celebrating a National Food Holiday is good marketing, but celebrating a National Food Holiday, keeping the lines in control, and giving a level of service so your customers feel like it was any other day is GREAT marketing!

As a business, use these high traffic days to prove to your customers that no matter the hurdle, you can still provide them with an excellent product in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, some days can be a wild card, but with Food Holidays you can create a strategy and dominate!

Here are a few tips for preparing for a busy day:

Be fully staffed

Assign someone to be a greeter. A greeter can create order and assure customers that they are going to be served. Also staff extra bussers or cleaners. A larger crowd just means more trash and debris. It is crucial to have tables wiped down, trash taken out, and counters cleared. A messy restaurant just contributes to the overall look of chaos. Plus, if people are waiting for a table to be cleaned this increases the time for table turnover!

Mobilize your POS

By now, people are tired of hearing about Chick-fil-a. Let’s be honest, though. There is a reason they’re getting so much hype. Their food isn’t much better than the hundreds of other chicken places out there, but their customer service is. Chick-fil-a knows how to handle a crowd with style. When their two drive-thru lines weren’t enough, they mobilized their POS and started having employees walk up to cars with iPads to take orders and payments. Their lines can get extremely long, but they usually speed along when they have a team to tackle them.

I noticed at our local McAlister’s, they simply did not have enough registers to keep up with demand. If they were to have a mobile POS setup, employees could have taken orders of people further down the line and brought their order to them.

Organize lines

Nothing is worse than walking up to an unorganized line. Where does it start? What is it for exactly? Did that person just cut in front of me? These are just some of the unsettling thoughts that bounced around my head during my wait. My McAlister’s trip was made even more frustrating when I couldn’t distinguish between the called-in order line vs. the dine-in line.

The best way to organize lines is to set up barriers. Get cheap stanchions and ropes and use them to create direct paths to the registers. This will also prevent customers from jockeying between lines, which adds time and frustration to your customers’ wait. Use your greeter to direct traffic to correct destinations.

Motivate your staff

On busy days, your staff are the real rock stars. Have them come in early and prep them for the day they have ahead. Have contests and issue out free meal vouchers or gift cards to the hardest working employees. Mentally prepare your employees on your plan and ensure they feel like they can handle their responsibilities. When employees look and act confident, customers will definitely take notice!

So, celebrate these National Food Holidays, but don’t go in without a game plan! Get your employees and restaurant organized and make the day as awesome and fun as it can be for your employees and customers both! Oh, and Happy National Pancake, Ice Cream, Chicken Finger, Margarita, etc. Day!

Need help getting a game plan together for boosts in sales? I know a guy…

Call us at 866-684-7191 or email info@timeforge.com to learn how TimeForge can prepare you and your team for anything.

TimeForge is joining Team Truno!

TRUNO, Retail Technology Solutions is set to acquire TimeForge; together the two companies provide technology solutions for retailers to optimize their margins through enhanced labor analysis and decision support tools.

TrunoForge

August 2nd, 2016 – Lubbock, Texas: TRUNO, Retail Technology Solutions (TRUNO), the retail industry leader in integrated technology solutions, today announced they have reached a definitive acquisition agreement with TimeForge, the retail industry leader in labor management software. The acquisition, expected to close August 15th, 2016, strategically aligns resources and infrastructure between the two companies, affording retailers the industry’s most comprehensive labor analytics solution.

In a dynamic landscape of changing regulations including recent minimum wage increases, health care changes, and overtime reimbursement rulings, labor analytics is an increasingly important aspect of doing business. By leveraging technology to optimize the labor force, retailers can in turn optimize their margins. “In an industry known for operating within small margins, TRUNO believes strategic labor operations are instrumental in the success of brick and mortar retail. TRUNO will continue to invest in solutions we believe deliver valuable results to retailers,” David Miller, TRUNO’s Chief Executive Officer, stated of the strategic business transaction. “The acquisition of TimeForge is directly in line with TRUNO’s vision to lead the navigation of technology, empowering businesses as the most trusted solutions provider.” The TimeForge suite of solutions has proven to provide retailers value in reducing labor spend and increasing profits through real-time online scheduling, employee tracking, and payroll reporting.

“Building on a long history of successful partnership, we are excited to join TeamTRUNO,” Anthony Presley, Founder and President of TimeForge, said of the integration. “Our products, when combined with TRUNO’s vast point-of-sale data accessibility and knowledge, create a lot of value for our customers.” Both companies are headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, and the two companies share similar cultures and values.

About TimeForge

TimeForge helps retail, grocery, and hospitality businesses manage labor costs and build employee schedules while reducing turnover, increasing retention, and improving profits. Used by thousands of businesses throughout the world, TimeForge is designed from the ground-up to simplify the complicated and error prone process of employee scheduling and labor management.

About TRUNO

TRUNO is the national leader in integrated technology solutions focused solely on the retail industry. With over 35 years of experience and innovation, 3,000 customer sites, unmatched customer service and a world-class network of partners — TRUNO delivers secure, stable and integrated technology solutions enabling retailers to navigate through an environment of ever- /changing regulation, competition and technology.

Laying Down the Tracks of Motivation: Motivation in the Workplace

Help lay the tracks of motivation for your employees.

Motivated employees and performance management are an integral part of any business. Employees with higher motivation are able to perform closer to their full capacity, reach goals, and find meaning in doing so. Obviously, you want your employees to be happy. Employees help represent your business, and making sure they’re happy and motivated creates a better image for you and more satisfied customers. This sounds simple enough, but motivation and good performance don’t usually just happen on their own. It’s up to you to “lay down the tracks” of motivation and do some performance management.

Just like the “Little Engine That Could,” believing in yourself and “thinking you can” will  help you finish any task or goal. However, motivation is much more than self-efficacy, which Fred C. Lunenburg defines as a person’s belief that they can accomplish a task or goal. Even though employees with high self-efficacy are shown to be more driven to learn new tasks, engage in positive workplace behaviors, and set reaching goals, they sometimes need a coach or someone to lay the tracks.

The “Little Engine That Could” had as much self-efficacy as anyone, but he still needed tracks to lay the path for his goals and motivation. As a manager, laying that track is a simple task that can greatly improve the performance of employees. There are many tools and techniques you can use to do this, but here are a few tips from Chalofsky and Krishna’s article in case you need them…

  • Seek out opportunities for employees to use their skills and abilities. Just like a little child showing off how fast they can run to their parents, opportunities to shine are a great motivational force.
  • Increase relationships between employees and supervisors. Create a path for employees to interact, learn, and see possible opportunities to grow their careers.
  • Show employees how their work is meaningful and how it affects the business. The knowledge that they make an impact in the business drives positive reinforcement.
  • Make sure employees are engaged in well-suited positions. When you accomplish this, your employees will go above and beyond to succeed in their roles.

So, go get your team motivated. Talk to your employees, find out what drives them, and use that to build your tracks. Create goals, get your team engaged, and grow your business one step at a time. If you need a hint at what’s working and what’s not, TimeForge has a feature that tracks shift satisfaction. Finding the motivation and laying the tracks for your business should be a fun and growing experience.

We strive to create relevant, helpful, and sometimes entertaining content for our readers. Tommy, our graphic designer, found two great articles while writing this blog post about motivation in the workplace. They are Self-Efficacy in the Workplace: Implications for Motivation and Performance by Fred C. Lunenburg, and Meaningfulness, Commitment, and Engagement:The Intersection of a Deeper Level of Intrinsic Motivation by Neal Chalofsky and Vijay Krishna. Check both of these out when you have a chance, they’re fantastic resources and give more details about some of the things mentioned in this blog post.

Promotional Marketing Ideas for July 2016

We’re nearing the end of June, which means it’s high time we discussed marketing ideas for next month, July!

Every month is overflowing with special holidays and celebrations. These are perfect marketing opportunities for businesses, especially restaurants and retailers. Whatever kind of business you’re running, you can help your customers celebrate these holidays and find your own benefits in doing so.

There is a huge variety of holidays in every month, so there’s something to enjoy for everyone. For example, July’s holidays range from Chili Dog Day, to Stay Out of the Sun Day, and everything in between. There are so many that most of the days are designated to more than one holiday. Check out this awesome calendar of July holidays!

July Holiday Calender

Some topics won’t settle for a single day of celebration or awareness. Many have an entire month designated to their cause. Here’s a list of some topics with the best marketing potential:

  • Blueberry Month
  • Family Reunion Month
  • Lasagna Awareness Month
  • National Culinary Arts Month
  • National Grilling Month
  • National Hot Dog Month
  • National Ice Cream Month
  • National Pickle Month
  • National Picnic Month

As you can see, there are tons of different ideas you could use for marketing opportunities in July. Not so coincidentally, many of the ideas involve summer staples such as piña coladas, grilling, picnics, and several related to ice cream.

Promoting your business with one of these holidays is really easy! Your promotion can be as simple or elaborate as you want. For example, if your business happens to sell pecan pie, you could simply encourage customers to try it or offer a discount for it – just because it’s Pecan Pie Day (July 12th). If you want to try something a little more elaborate, have a contest among staff to see who can sell the most pecan pies on July 12th (did you know we have a cashier analytics tool?) or have a customer bake-off with prizes.

For extra promotional power, integrate your ideas with social media! You can advertise your promotion, create an event for it, and share photos from it. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to take and share pictures for your event. Many customers love a good photo opportunity, and they can help you reach a larger audience.

Having a theme day, party, or promotion to celebrate these special months and days is a great way to promote your business. They’re also a surefire way to break up the routine for you, your staff, and your customers and inspire all to try new things. All of this means more business for you! So get to marketing and promoting your business, and good luck!

Play it Safe and Succeed with Risk Management and Compliance Tracking

Compliance tracking and risk management are huge concerns for all businesses. It feels like pretty much every week you hear about how someone messed up (and then you’re kind of afraid to go back there. Sorry, Chipotle). You know when you hear these stories, someone somewhere failed to stay compliant with some standard or regulation. Sometimes it’s something small and simple that doesn’t make it past local news, but it can also be a huge messy deal that ruins the reputation of the whole company.

The issues aren’t just limited to health concerns and restaurants. There are all kinds of compliance troubles you can find yourself in if you aren’t careful. One of the big ones that can cause a lot of problems is making sure your business and employees have all the proper licenses, certifications, and training to do their jobs. Just ask our friends, Zenefits, who is now paying the consequences for not following the rules about which insurance agents were actually licensed to sell insurance.

Compliance tracking is essential because everyone loses when compliance slips. Customers, employees, management, investors, partners… everyone. Issues can add up quickly, and the legal and financial consequences can be anything between a slap on the wrist to the entire business tanking. Everyone’s jobs are at risk if the mistake is severe, especially those of the people directly involved. More important is when the consequences involve someone’s well-being. If luck has it, no one will end up seriously hurt. This is where licenses, certifications, and training are especially important. They keep customers, employees, and everyone else safe. Accidents and mistakes are far less likely to happen when people are qualified and actually know what they’re doing. Compliance tracking is important because no one wants to learn the hard way, like Chipotle or Zenefits.

Not that you need them, but here are more examples of compliance-related things no one wants learn the hard way:

  • Failing to adhere to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards puts customers’ information at risk, which is a huge liability. Last year, Target and Home Depot both had huge data breaches that cost them millions of dollars.

  • In Texas, selling alcohol to a minor can result in a $750 – $4,500 fine. Selling alcohol at all without a TABC license can put the seller in jail. Other states have their own laws regarding alcohol and take them very seriously.

  • There are a number of different certifications and training courses required for lifeguards. A business with a swimming pool must employ certified lifeguards or post the proper warning signs. Not complying with these laws is a huge liability.

  • Failure to pay taxes often leads to time spent in jail, which isn’t known to be fun.

  • Not complying with EEOC regulations can cost a business $50,000 or more, depending on the number of people the business employs and the offense.

Speaking of learning the hard way; have you heard the rule about toilet plungers? Everyone knows you have to make sure you have a toilet plunger before you need it. If you don’t, you will regret it when you’re standing in line at the store with just a toilet plunger and everyone around you knows what happened. It’s embarrassing enough when you accidentally clog the toilet when you’re alone at home but you have a plunger and no one has to know but you. Imagine you’re having a party at your house, all your friends are there, you have to close your only bathroom, run to the store to buy a toilet plunger, AND the person who clogged the toilet was you. Are you imagining it? That’s how it feels to get caught with compliance problems, only probably at least 1,000 times worse. Kinda like compliance, if you just take care of it from the beginning, it will save you a lot of trouble and embarrassment.

Keeping people safe and businesses out of legal trouble are pretty convincing reasons to utilize compliance tracking, but they aren’t the only reasons. Imagine you’re traveling in another state and decide to try this other city’s version of your favorite fast food restaurant. If they made your favorite meal with different and lower-quality ingredients than what you get at home, you’d be pretty disappointed, right? This is why store compliance is a thing. No one wants to disappoint their customers, so corporate offices make rules for their stores to ensure that every store meets their standards and upholds their brand.

Corporate marketing teams of well-known companies like McDonald’s, Subway, Target, and more have done marketing research and know what works best for their brand. They aren’t picky just because they think it’s funny to make people jump through hoops. All of the details they require in stores, like menus, posters, uniforms, decorations, and even training, go into building the image they want their stores to give their customers. To put it simply, store compliance gives a store its best chance at success by providing the necessary materials and guidelines.

Risk management and compliance tracking are key components of running a fruitful business. Don’t allow compliance slip ups to keep you from being successful! The best way to avoid compliance issues is to be proactive. And maybe use an HR management software with certification and compliance tracking that helps you set rules for yourself to follow, keeps track of your certifications, training, and other HR documents, and warns you that they need to be renewed before they have to be. The right HR management software with integrated compliance tracking will help you worry less and make your business the best it can be.

Labor Scheduling with Bid Shifts

The more I interact with restaurant and retail managers, the more I realize that everyone has their own style of labor scheduling. Some people really enjoy the ability to copy and paste in Excel. Some people prefer to handwrite their schedules. Some people schedule based on employee preferences. TimeForge can accommodate the vast majority of managerial scheduling preferences. One option TimeForge offers is the Bid Shift.

A TimeForge Bid Shift is a way for managers to let their employees know that there’s a shift up for grabs, and allow the employees to bid on the shift, like an auction. Bid Shifts can be “first come, first served”, meaning the first person who bids automatically wins. Or, managers can receive bids from every interested employee and pick the winner.

Bid Shifts are a great way to keep managers and employees happy. Employees get to decide which shifts they want to work, and managers get the coverage they need without having to worry about scheduling their employees for shifts they can’t or don’t want to work. Everybody wins!

Coupling Bid Shifts with alerts when employees are nearing overtime or their maximum hours is a great way to take the stress out of scheduling. You know your employees are getting the hours they need, because they’re essentially picking their own shifts, and you know they aren’t getting too many hours, because you’re being alerted when you need to stop scheduling employees for a pay period.

TimeForge has several other options to accommodate the scheduling preferences of each and every manager. Take a look at the AutoScheduler, Shift Swaps, and ShiftBuilder features!

Restaurant Scheduling Software, Communication, and Peanut Butter & Jelly

Good communication in the workplace is critical, perhaps even more so if you work in a restaurant. This is why a great restaurant scheduling software should be able to handle workplace communication, along with scheduling.

Are you familiar with the terms “heard”, “behind”, “on the fly”, and “86”? Have you ever said a sentence like, “I need two chicks, all day” and not felt weird about it? While the rest of the world might think you sound a little misogynistic, your co-workers won’t bat an eye. They’ll know you need two grilled chicken plates. You’re communicating quickly, clearly, and effectively.

We like to test our communication skills during our weekly team meetings here at TimeForge. For our last test, we split into two teams, and one person from each team was given instructions from the rest of the team that had to be followed exactly. The task they were being instructed to perform was simple: Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But, there was a catch. One team’s instruction-receiver, Joe, had to call his teammates on the phone, act like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was the most complicated piece of technology he’d ever seen (let alone built), and follow the step-by-step, verbal instructions he was given. The other team’s instruction-receiver, Brett, was given written instructions from his teammates that he had to follow exactly, without anyone ever speaking out loud.

The peanut butter and jelly exercise was a great lesson. We were able to benchmark our own communication skills and gain some insight into how important good communication really is. We learned that verbal communication is often quicker and more effective than written communication, as the phone call team (My team! Woo Hoo!) finished significantly earlier than the written team. However, both teams were able to complete the task and create pretty delicious-looking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The written team was able to relate exactly what instructions they were given, since they had a physical copy to reference, while the verbal team couldn’t quite remember what had been said, which was an interesting twist.

So, what does our little sandwich-building exercise have to do with restaurant scheduling software? Well, it may be true that verbal communication is more efficient than written communication. It’s a lot more effective to yell “Behind!” as you’re squeezing between a server and a wall, carrying a sizzling plate of fajitas, than it would be to try and write it down while your hands are busy doing 16 different things. But that doesn’t mean that written communication is useless. It’s actually highly important, especially in the workplace, where thorough records need to be kept for liability, accountability, and other -ability reasons.

What if that scalding plate of fajitas ends up being dropped onto some unsuspecting toes while being weaved through the obstacle course of coworkers and corners? Would it be sufficient to tell another manager about it, without writing anything down? Of course not. Someone needs to make a note of that somewhere, along with what was done after the fajitas were dropped. Was the person wearing some kind of fajita-proof shoes that protected their toes? Were there some minor burns that you doctored up yourself? Did those little piggies need to be taken to the hospital? Any and all of those scenarios need to be recorded, or you could end up facing serious fines if the person is injured and nothing was done about it.

A great restaurant scheduling software can allow you to record and permanently store such liability information, along with any other information you deem important. Maybe you want to keep a note for every time an employee shows up late. Maybe you want to let all of your staff know about the mandatory peanut butter and jelly team meeting I’m sure you’ll be scheduling now. Maybe you want to have a record of all of the changes that were made to the times employees clocked in/out. A powerful restaurant scheduling software can make all of that happen – quickly and easily.

Doesn’t it sound better to store all of that pertinent information in an online database, as opposed to an old napkin or a three-ring binder or whatever other writing surfaces you may have lying around? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have important notes and changes automatically stored in a handy virtual filing cabinet that you never have to rifle through? What if you could be sure that no important note would ever again go missing or have coffee spilled on it or be ripped to shreds in a freak accident? Well, all of those things are possible with one of the many wonderful restaurant scheduling software programs available. Just make sure the software you choose has a “logging” feature!