Environmentally Sustainable Hospitality Practices

September, 2019

There are many ways your hospitality business can be more sustainable and join the trend for ‘green’ dining. These include better waste management, supplier choices and fostering a culture of environmental sustainability.

Manage your Waste

Everyone is well aware of the significance of plastic waste in the world today. Many businesses and governments alike have started to tackle the issue head on. Single use plastic bags are being banned at some supermarkets. There is a global drive for sustainable packaging solutions.
Restaurants and cafes are facing backlash for the part they play in the problem. The use of disposable coffee cups, tableware and plastic straws are under scrutiny. But, there are actionable steps you can take to reduce your plastic waste.

The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment suggests swapping out takeaway cups for reusable coffee cups[1] . In 2018, Victoria University implemented a cup reuse scheme at their cafes. Reusable cups are returned and then washed for reuse[2] .

Another way to reduce plastic waste is to remove plastic straws. Some venues have phased these out. Others have opted for biodegradable paper or reusable metal alternatives.

There is no shortage of ingenuity. For a long time now many cafes have been donating their coffee grounds for use as fertilizer. Others are giving away unwanted food to charities. Bring your own mug programs at cafes have proven successful.

Reduce your Food Miles

Sustainable - Food Miles?

Choosing local food produce can help you reduce the carbon footprint of your business. Sourcing from growers close to your business helps to limit the miles the food has to travel to get to you. This in turn cuts your contribution to emissions from long haul transportation. Best of all local food will be fresher and has an origin story you can tell customers.

Consider your Flexitarian Consumers

Sustainable - Flexitarian Food Trend

A 2017 Global Data survey founds produced some interesting responses. At least 25% surveyed would consider eating vegan meat for environmental reasons. The same survey in 2018 found that 76% of consumers considered whether their food was ethical, environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible[3] . That is not to say that consumers will only choose these options but this trend is certainly now in the forefront of consumers minds. Offering sustainable food options could be one way to appeal to these consumers.

Encourage your Team

Creating realistic goals, staying motivated and managing team expectations are important. Your business can achieve some immediate wins through small changes. Keeping momentum requires a culture whereby sustainability is encouraged and valued.

Where to next?

The issue of environmental sustainability is only going to become more evident in the coming years. There is an opportunity to appeal to the growing number of conscious consumers. Look for ways to contribute to the global effort to preserve our beautiful world for the future.

The successes and challenges of family owned businesses.

August, 2019
Image of Family Restaurant
Family businesses can be highly successful. Their cohesiveness and ability to make fast decisions helps determine this success.

As many as 70 percent of Australian businesses are family owned[1] . The hospitality industry is well known for its family restaurants, cafes and establishments.

Who better to trust when it comes to your bread and butter than your own kin. A 2016 survey of family businesses found they possessed some advantages. One key strength was the ability to make quick decisions. Family businesses also do well in the long term. Some 49% of family businesses have been around for between 20 and 49 years[2] .

At the same time there appears to be no shortage of stories of where family business have gone awry.

So, what works and what doesn’t? Here are some suggestions for family businesses:

· Create Space: 

Employing some staff from outside of the family might be beneficial. Another pair of eyes in certain positions may provide more less biases decision making.  This can help keep to ensure everyone is performing their rostered responsibilities. Good delegation can help management and create more space in the calendar for family.

· Be clear on the rules:

A 2015 survey found that only 28% of family businesses had a code of conduct, family charter or constitution[3] .   It’s important to keep professionalism between your family when you are at work. Make sure to sit down and clearly define each family member’s role and responsibility. 

If a conflict is going to occur. Keep family issues away from suppliers and customers. Left unchecked, this could be especially damaging to your business brand and reputation.

· Take time out to be a family

Time is a precious resource; remember at the end of the day you are still family. What you do when you get home matters for family and for the health of your business. A key source of conflict is the “Balancing the needs of the family vs. the needs of the business”[4] .

Some hospitality businesses have to stay open late and through the weekend. These long hours can leave little room for holidays, outings and time around the dinner table. It may not be possible to have the whole family off work together for one day a week. An alternative might be to alternate taking time off together to catch up for coffee or other activity.

· Communicate:

As with any business, good communication is essential.  Using clear, direct communication is important in a family business. This applies especially when discussing family work performance or applying discipline.

· Plan for the Future: 

What is your succession plan?  In 2016 only 51% of family businesses had a succession plan[5] . Who will take over each responsibility? Do you want to continue the family business? These questions are worth considering when planning the future of the family business.


In summary, family businesses can be high performing and successful. Their cohesiveness and ability to make fast decisions helps determine this success. There are also some challenges. Most challenges center around maintaining work and family life balance. Overcoming these challenges requires the ability to create space.  Establish clear rules and responsibilities. Schedule family time outside of work (if possible). Keep vocal with good communication. Finally, prepare for the future and establish some form of a succession plan.

Check out more of our business related tips. Head to our Business Blog .

Standing out – How to bring your hospitality business online

December, 2018

How take your hospitality business online

For most businesses, their ability to maintain a strong online presence is part and parcel with their success. This is especially true for hospitality businesses. Being found on google can signal to consumers that you actually exist and are open for business! This blog post offers a few tips for helping you to stand out in the quasi-digital world.

Tip 1: Create a Google Business profile

We are all consumers and as a result the odds would say that at some time in your life you will have been to a restaurant, café or bar . In many cases when it’s time to decide where and what to eat… it’s the ‘local’ or time to consult google.

According to a 2013 study by Statista the top 5 factors influencing the US consumer choice of which specific restaurant to eat at where:

  1. Price (Affordability)
  2. Mood (Cravings)
  3. Specific Menu Item I like (Tastes)
  4. Location (Locality)
  5. Variety of Menu Options I like (Selection)

All of these factors require some knowledge of the venues nearby, what they sell, and how much their menu items cost. So, before Google the decision would be fairly limited to what you could uncover from a wander through town, an ad you saw on TV or the suggestion of a friend or family member.

Today is different and as a modern consumer we have access to instant information on almost every topic imaginable – food and beverage included.  A quick search in Google for a venue or restaurant food item will produce a concise list of places that ‘most of the time’ match what you were looking for. Furthermore, each of these results includes with it the basic business details and associated Google maps directions – these results are called Google Business Profiles.

There are several benefits to owning a ‘Google Business’ Profile.  Firstly, it will display your venue to customers when they are local helping to incentivise them to visit. It also includes other useful information such as ratings, reviews and images. Most importantly, your business becomes an official location on Google Maps allowing people to quickly navigate to you using GPS.

Cost: FREE

Check out:

Tip 2: Create a Landing Page

A landing page is a place that prospective customers can ‘land’ on when they are searching the web. Landing pages are simple and consist of one or just a few pages. They cover all of the basics: what you offer, the menu, your address and how to contact you. A landing page is relatively straight forward to create and in most cases you don’t need a web developer.

There are a large number of services available that make the creation of a landing page ‘this’ easy. A service like Squarespace or WIX has templates that allow you to get started (even without design skills). You could even get a customized landing page built for you using a job posting site like Fiverr.

Cost: Varies

Tip 3 – Ensure you are SEO optimized

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a method used to increase your chances of being found on the internet.  Google has a unique algorithm that ranks any website according to a variety of factors. SEO is about using a basic understanding of these factors to help you rank higher. Services like Wix and Squarespace have free apps that can provide basic advice otherwise seek out an expert.

Cost: Varies

Tip 4 – Invest in your content

You wouldn’t like your venue to appear bland or uninteresting; so, don’t let your online presence be the exception. Hence, it is important to invest in video and imagery that is going to “sell” your venue to consumers.

If you don’t have access to a camera, most newer smartphones can take ‘professional’ quality HD photo and video. Your most popular dish, bar, grill or the interior are aspects of your business that consumers want to see. If you can afford them, it’s best to choose authentic and original photos. However, if you are on a tight budget some stock images can often fill the gap in the meantime.

Cost: Varies

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to show off your product

Acai Bowl - Using instagram for business

Instagram is a fantastic tool that every hospitality business should be using to showcase their food and drink. The commonly quoted phrase ‘you eat with your eyes’ could not be truer. Millennials have become adept at framing, filtering and tagging their food items to share with friends and networks.

Consequently, there has been a boom in popularity for photogenic food items. Foods such as acai bowls, turmeric lattes and blue spirulina smoothies seem to be almost ‘designed’ for image sharing.

Encouraging employees to take photos for you and post them to the business Instagram account is a great starting point.  Why not create an environment that helps your customers take great photos and let them sell your product for you? Here are some examples of businesses doing just that? (Check out this article)

Cost: FREE


With a small investment of time and money your business can create a landing page to take your business online. Existing services and tools can then be used to optimize this landing page,  create colourful content and stay visible. Doing so will improve your chances of capturing those hungry prospective customers who consult google for advice.




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Tips for managing seasonal workers

October, 2017

During the Christmas holiday season, businesses of many types employ seasonal or casual workers to meet extra demands. Often these workers are hard-working young people who have travelled from overseas, bringing with them their own language and culture. This international melting-pot makes for a fun and productive work environment, although it can also present challenges.

Here are some tips to assist you during this busy time, and to make sure it results in a positive experience for you and your new staff.

Nurture a team environment

It’s important that your casual staff feel as much a part of the team as your full-time workers do. Be sure to include casual staff in all team meetings and work functions, and invite them to join any outside work activities you think they may be interested in.

‘Sweet as bro’

Every country has its own way of doing things, and these can often be confusing for travellers. Take the time to explain some of the more well-known kiwi-isms – what ‘sweet as’ means; that a ‘thong’ isn’t footwear in New Zealand; and that tipping is much less common here for example. You’ll probably learn some things too!

Find the best way to communicate

Find a way to communicate that works best for each staff member. This will help mitigate any misunderstandings around job descriptions, hours of work, and any emergencies that occur. Some may prefer Facebook messenger or Whatsapp, while SMS or email may suit others.

Rotate shifts and roles

 Create a flexible workplace for your casual staff by changing shift times, roles and, where possible, location. Part of the attraction for seasonal workers is the ability to experience our beautiful country before heading off on their next big adventure, so a strict schedule is a real turn-off.

With some forward planning, and openness to out-of-the-box thinking, you and your team can enjoy the classic Kiwi summer together.

Get ready! The millennials are coming…

August, 2017

Millennials – young people born between the 1980s and early 2000s – make up an increasingly large proportion of drinking-age customers. It’s important that good hospitality businesses understand that.

Here are some things you may want to consider in your business to engage and meet their expectations.


They want technology to work. If you have customer loyalty apps, make sure they function well and aren’t flaky. If you’re going to use software, make sure it’s good. People expect it to work. The same goes for your website and Facebook page because millennials will be logging on to look for your menu, opening times and location. It’s all about forward thinking. This generation demands good quality so make sure your products are of a high standard, too.


Plastic straws are out! Look at ways you can incorporate eco-friendly options into the business, as well as sustainable menu choices. Consider adding vegetarian, low-carb and health-conscious items to meet a broad range of tastes and lifestyles.

Low-Alcohol Alternatives

People are looking for far more drink options than beer and wine. Health conscious millennials wanting to limit their alcohol intake, also expect good-quality alternatives.

This is where bar staff can get creative with the mock-tail menu; the combinations are endless.

They want an ‘experience’

Expect millennials to sing your praises if they have a good experience, but conversely, they won’t hold back if they’re not impressed.

Think about the music you’re playing, the general atmosphere, staff interaction and overall vibe.

Keep these suggestions in mind, adapt, and ensure the business is changing to meet the ever-changing market and demographic.

And, most important of all, know your demographic. If your customers are not millennials, you’ll need to look at the specific needs of their generation.

Five ways to build a happy team

August, 2017

We have spoken to hundreds of business owners and thousands of their employees over the last twelve years. In that time, we’ve learnt a thing or two about the importance of maintaining happy and engaged staff.

Here are our top five tips to help you keep your hospitality staff happy in the workplace.

  1. Nurture a team environment

Organise team bonding events that bring your staff together outside of work. This could be a mid-winter Christmas dinner, an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt, or simply after work drinks. Ask your staff what they would enjoy doing and if possible take the event off site.

  1. Communicate

Keep your staff informed about what’s going on with the business. This doesn’t need to be a comprehensive report, but might include what’s coming up on the calendar, any good or bad things that have happened over the last week, and any changes that are on the horizon.

This type of involvement will help your team to feel more motivated about their work and how they are contributing to the business.

  1. Take an interest

Get to know your employees better on a personal level. Take an interest in their studies, ask about their family, their goals and how they are finding things at work. This helps to nurture a ‘work family’ environment –important considering most of us spend more time with our workmates than we do with our own family.

  1. Listen

 Communication is a two-way street, so take the time to listen to your staff. Give them an opportunity to air their opinions about how they think the business is going, what they think works well, and how things could be improved. Be engaged in the conversation and take notes. Well engaged staff will always be able to give great suggestions on improving your business.

 Say thanks

Make sure you acknowledge your staff on a regular basis for the work they are doing. This doesn’t have to be attached to an award or gift – simply saying ‘thanks for your hard work’ is enough. It’s a good feeling for staff to know that they’re making a difference.

Four signs it’s time to systemise your staff roster

July, 2017

To be successful in business, you need to be organised, have a clear plan for where you’re headed and be confident with the processes you have in place. 

When it comes to managing staff, it’s important to have great rostering practices. If you find yourself struggling through workflow processes week to week on an ad hoc basis, it’s probably time to consider a rostering software solution.

Here’s four signs that you need to rethink your current roster system.

Your staff don’t always turn up

 If you’re consistently having no-shows, then it means that your current system isn’t working. Regular complaints from staff about inefficient rostering processes include not knowing when they are supposed to be working, not being told by their supervisor about upcoming shifts and not being able to see a copy of the week’s schedule.

 You don’t know who is working

As an owner or manager, you should be clear and confident about who is working, when their shifts are and what roles they are expected to complete. If employees can swap shifts without consulting you, or make arrangements without your knowledge, then it’s very hard to keep track of them.

You’re still using a spreadsheet

While a spreadsheet is often the go-to for managers, they aren’t fit for purpose when it comes to creating a functional roster. They are difficult to share with employees, make communicating changes tough, and often sit on only one computer. A modern business requires a modern rostering system.

You’re not sure what your wage costs are

A successful business will have a clear understanding of the budget it is working towards, and what percentage of that budget is wage costs. ‘Hopefully we’ll reach budget’ isn’t enough to be competitive in the hospitality and retail industries.

If any of these sound familiar to you, a system like goRoster could be the perfect solution for your business. Get in touch – we’d love to chat.


Investing in staff training is an investment in your business

May, 2017

Staff training is one of the best investments you can make for the future success of your business.

As margins get tighter, professional development for your staff is a great way to give your business a competitive advantage. Increasing your employee’s skillset should improve competency and efficiency on the job, boost sales and create an environment that encourages repeat customers.

Everyone has had an experience in a restaurant, for example, where they could tell the staff were on-point. The food was delicious and on-time, the front of house staff were knowledgeable and attentive, and you were made to feel special – not just another receipt in the till. You almost certainly visited again, told friends and family about the great experience you had, or perhaps even posted a review online.

Despite the positive differences well-trained employees make to the day-to-day running of a business, staff training is often ignored by companies that see it as ‘time-consuming’ and ‘expensive’. Yet there are numerous training options around to suit the different needs of businesses, learning requirements of staff, and budget constraints. Some of these include:

  • external industry training such as conferences, seminars or workshops
  • online courses
  • job shadowing – great for people new to a role
  • in-house training – a session taken by a more experienced member of staff.

When choosing the right training option for staff, it’s important to make the decision based on what the business requires. What works for other companies may not work for you. Training doesn’t have to be expensive or take your employees away from work. Job-shadowing and in-house training provide ways to upskill your staff while they are still on the job.

Not only will quality training improve the performance of your staff at work – allowing them to take on new tasks and greater responsibility within the organisation – it will show that you value them. Happier, more engaged staff will be another bonus for your business.

Maximum and minimum hours – striking a balance

April, 2017

Striking the right balance between maximum and minimum hours for your part-time or casual staff can often be a difficult process. But getting the balance wrong can have serious and long-lasting ramifications for your business.

Overworked staff

When you’re running a business, key staff members are often relied upon to keep things running smoothly, so it can be easy to ‘reward’ them with a more hours. Staff members may also request more time at work due to financial or personal circumstances, and you ‘help them out’ by upping their hours.

You may think you’re doing right by your business and your staff in both situations. However, overworking your staff is a major health and safety risk which can result in:

  • more workplace accidents
  • higher rates of mental health problems including severe anxiety and depression
  • a greater risk of physical health problems for staff, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Aside from potential health issues, overworked staff can be a threat to your bottom line. Tired and stressed staff are more likely to make mistakes on the job, be rude to customers, be less productive and care less about the quality of their work. This can all add up to lost revenue.

It’s important to realise that just because a staff member is at work, it doesn’t mean they are fit to be there. Keeping an eye on hours and communicating with staff about their workloads is the key to managing this.

Underworked staff

Not giving your employees enough hours can also put your business at risk.

As of April 2016, zero-hour contracts can no longer be offered to employees. This means that agreed hours of work must now be included in the employment agreement for every staff member. If you fail as an employer to provide the hours that have been specified, or have agreed on hours but haven’t recorded them in the employment agreement, employees are entitled to apply for a penalty to the Employment Relations Authority.

You can choose not to agree on work hours with an employee, although if you do these must be recorded on the employment agreement. If you don’t agree on hours up front however, your staff are less likely to feel secure at work, putting you at risk of losing good employees to your competitors. Unhappy employees may also speak out, making it harder for you to attract new staff.

If you’re looking for a system that makes identifying minimum and maximum hours easy, get in touch with us. We’d love to chat about how goRoster can make managing rosters a simple process.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

March, 2017

Hospitality is a complex – and often fickle – business. There are so many factors that can affect the need for staff, and therefore the overall turnover of the business. There are far too many to mention, but can include: changes in weather; local events; public holidays; what your competition is doing; what deals are running; and how you’ve marketed the business.

Many new customers we meet often focus on the operational side of the business when trying to pre-empt these factors – like recording and capturing time sheets and having an availability of short term staff on standby. This can certainly help with the day to day running of your business. To be truly effective, however, these systems need to be incorporated into a carefully considered staff rostering plan.

An effective rostering plan should do a number of things. It should help you to organise enough staff for each shift; account for employee leave; prevent staff burnout; have transparency about the performance of your staff; and see staff costs. It needs to consider all outcomes, and have contingencies in place when the proverbial hits.

When it comes to creating an effective rostering plan, the question every manager must consider is: how? Too many businesses get caught up in the what and the why, without considering how they are going to implement change.

Just like in real-life, it’s the how that can undo even the most well intentioned plans. It’s why so many of us fall off a healthy eating plan – it’s all well and good knowing that you want to lose weight (what) because you want to be fitter for summer (why), but how you go about it is the most important part.

Having a solid rostering plan could massively increase the chances of success for your business. So, do you have a rostering plan? And if so, is it a good one? And if not, we can certainly recommend one.

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