Business

Standing out – How 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: https://www.google.com/business/

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

https://www.squarespace.com/

https://www.wix.com/

https://www.fiverr.com/

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

www.unsplash.com

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

Conclusion

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.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/226099/us-consumers-choice-in-restaurant/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

https://www.foodandwine.com/news/london-restaurant-giving-out-free-photography-kits-so-its-customers-can-get-perfect-gram).

 


 

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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.

Tech-Savvy

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.

Eco-Thinking

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.

Four tips to help minimise disruption caused by employee leave

February, 2017

An efficient, hard-working and friendly team is often the making of a successful hospitality business. So it can be quite disruptive when employees need to take leave.

Here are four tips to help minimise the impact:

1: Communicate with employees

Absences due to illness can be particularly stressful for a manager, as you may only get a few hours to find a replacement. Research suggests that regular sick leave is commonly taken by employees who feel overworked or stressed in the workplace. Thinking about the welfare of your staff, and openly communicating with them about their workloads, can help mitigate the amount of sick leave taken. Ask staff how they are feeling, be empathetic to their responses, and listen to feedback on how to best help their situation.

2. Train your staff across multiple skills

Having staff who are competent across several roles can help ease the burden of employees being away. The ability to take your kitchen staff and put them front of house for a shift – or have your wait-staff serving at the bar – gives you the flexibility to change your roster at a moment’s notice. Teach staff these extra skills during quiet times, so that the training itself doesn’t become a disruption.

3: Have a system in place to record future leave

If employees are planning a holiday for later in the year, have been invited to a special event (like a wedding for example), or are planning to take advantage of the Easter or Christmas break, they will often book leave months in advance. Make a record of this so that you and other staff don’t get caught out when the time comes. Don’t use post-it-notes either – make sure it’s recorded somewhere reliable, in a system like goRoster, for example.

4: Ensure you have dependable backup

Unfortunately, leave can’t always be planned. Sickness and bereavement are part of life, so you always need to plan for them. Create a shortlist of dependable people that you can call on when you require staff at short notice. This will save you a lot of stress when you need to make quick rostering changes.

Tech in Hospitality – the keys to making good decisions.

February, 2017

There has been a massive boom in the last few years of online and cloud-based apps for the hospitality industry. These range from point of sale and payroll systems, to time and attendance monitoring apps.

While many of these apps are great, they are often introduced in a hurried fashion – without much thought about how they work together, or talk to existing systems.

Here are three things to consider before introducing digital changes in your business:

Look for ‘true’ integration

New apps will often claim to integrate with other systems but regularly over promise and under deliver.

Do your research. Talk to others in the industry, who have incorporated your proposed new system, to see what they do and don’t like about it. Ask tech experts what they think about it. Check out Google reviews.

It can be easy to be fooled by the glitz and glamour of a new product, so make sure you know exactly how it functions to allow you to make the right decisions for your business.

Evaluate the ‘true’ benefit of change

 The only reason you should introduce a new digital system is because it will be beneficial for your business. So, make sure you understand exactly how the new system will help your business run more efficiently.

Will it save time? Will it make your job easier as an owner-manager? Will it make your employees’ job easier? Will it mean less paperwork? Will it mean better communication with suppliers?

Whatever your reasons for making the change, you need to be sure your chosen system will deliver the right solution. If it doesn’t, it’s not right for you.

Look at what key information it delivers

One of the advantages of new software is that it will often deliver information that will help you to make critical decisions about the running of your business.

A product like goRoster, for example, gives you detailed information about the number of staff needed for each shift, front of house and kitchen costs, estimated turnover, and detailed staff costs – including PAYE, holiday pay, and ACC levies.

This information makes many decisions easier, such as how much stock to order, staff to roster and specials to run.

 

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