What a Restaurant Needs in a Website

What a Restaurant Needs in a Website

Restaurant patronage used to be based on a combination or word-of-mouth reputation and prominence on common travel routes. While you will always have your loyal return customers, new diners are finding their destinations in modern ways that have a lot more to do with online presence than on exterior decor or where your building is in relation to popular streets. When an individual, couple, or family is looking for a restaurant to try either near their home or while on vacation, the first place they look is the internet. Between Google and Yelp, most people make their decisions based on ratings, reviews, and the information they can gather before punching a location into their GPS navigation system. However, no matter how many positive local reviews you get, many people won’t even consider a restaurant unless they can investigate it completely via their website.

Building Your Restaurant Website

Most restaurants know that they need a website and even pay to have one built, but it’s astounding to see exactly how many have no idea what customers are really looking for in terms of features and information. Most restaurant websites include beautiful pictures of the dining room, the founder’s story, and a lot of really lovely visual assets without a single drop of useful information. Maybe you have a website, and perhaps you put a lot of effort into making it attractive, but does it actually have what it takes to bring customers in to dine or call for take-out?

What Your Website Needs:

  • Pictures of The Environment
  • Pictures of the Food
  • A Well-Written Menu with Prices
  • Accurate Contact and Delivery Information
  • A Careers Page
  • An Easy Online Delivery Interface
  • Regular Testing to Eliminate Frustrating Bugs

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

While most venues miss at least one of the listed points, they usually understand the need for pictures. When a customer is deciding where to eat, they want a good idea of the kind of experience they’re getting into and what to expect from the food itself. This means clear pictures of the dining room and tables, along with a nice selection of photos of what real plated meals look like. If you want to really influence purchases, arrange your photos to include the entree, sides, dipping sauces, and beverages of a standard meal so that customers can understand exactly what they can get from your dining experience.

Clearly Written Menu

There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a local restaurant only to discover that there is no sign of an online menu. Many people want the chance to plan their meal ahead of time without the few awkward minutes of indecision at the table with a hovering waiter. However, even more frustrating than no menu at all is an enticing menu with no prices, leading customers to assume that they will only experience sticker shock even if they love their meal. A clear menu is especially important if you don’t want to drive away lucrative delivery orders.

Easy to Use Delivery Interface

It’s important to remember who your customers are and how the world is changing. While phone calls used to be the best way to take remote orders, modern young adults and introverts of all ages would much rather deal with an online form than try to explain their order over the phone. You can significantly increase your revenue from deliveries and take-out orders by incorporating a bug-free and easy to use online interface. If you’re on a budget, even the ability to type out their orders as simple text message is better than nothing.

Careers Page

Customers aren’t the only important people who will find you online. Most restaurants work hard to stay fully staffed with skilled team members and it’s important to never stop looking for talented new employees. This is why almost every business website on the internet includes a careers page which works a lot better than a ‘now hiring’ sign in the window for the same reason your restaurant website brings in more customers than foot traffic does. If you want to find talented waiters, delivery drivers, and kitchen staff, make sure to keep your online doors open to applications.

custom career page restaurant hospitality and retail

Sirvo can provide subscription customers with a careers page that can be easily inserted into their company’s WordPress website. Not only will your careers page showcase the culture and benefits of being employed with your business, but they will have access to all your current opportunities that are automatically updated so applicants can apply straight from your careers page with a seamless experience. Learn more and sign up here.

Test Regularly

Once you have a trendy interactive website for your customers and future team members to find you through, don’t forget to test it and confirm that they can successfully reach you through the site. Nothing is more frustrating than entering your menu order or filling out a job application only for the software to break at the ‘submit’ stage. Test your website regularly to keep it in good working order.

As the world moves forward into an almost permanently half-online state, every adaptive business is changing to keep up and restaurants are no exception. With a great website and active hiring policies, your venue should be rocking the online and in-house orders until the next big technological step forward.

Staff Retention: Keeping your Employees Motivated

Staff Retention: Keeping your Employees Motivated

Over one-quarter of the year is over. The thrill of a New Year has begun to fade and employees that once appeared motivated and engaged are now looking at the clock with regular frequency.

Keeping employees motivated is a year-round endeavor, and coming into the second quarter is a good time to take stock of the year ahead and what you can do to ensure success. After all, your employees are your greatest asset.

Ownership

Employees need to feel that they are a part of the business—that they have some skin in the game. To this end, sharing the numbers and providing incentives based on performance each quarter contributes to a sense of ownership. Your servers need to see themselves as your sales team. To this end, consider a quarterly reward to the one that has the highest ticket sales.

Engaged

With the advent of social media, keeping your customers engaged has become a part and parcel of your marketing strategy. If not, it should be. Keeping your employees engaged is just as important. Gallup recently released the latest State of the American Workplace report. According to this survey, 70 percent of U.S, workers do not feel engaged at work. That’s a large portion of your workforce that may be slipping away.

Engage employees by openly communicating and encouraging communication between the BOH and FOH. Ask their opinion. Encourage them to make suggestions. Millennials are looking for a company culture that promotes health and happiness and understands that leading a balanced life between work and personal life sustains long-term commitment.

Develop a Team Spirit

While promoting interaction among your employees can improve camaraderie, offering team challenging activities outside of the company has shown to improve overall attitude—inspiring employees on the field and in the restaurant. Consider contacting surrounding businesses and setting up a baseball or Frisbee golf league. You’ll be surprised at the motivation this one small thing promotes.

Personal Achievement

Today’s employees want to feel as though they are contributing at a deep level and making the world a slightly better place while they’re at it. They want to feel that they are using their talents to the best of their abilities. Train them to be the best cooks, the best bartenders, the best wait staff and they will reward you by exceeding your guest’s expectations.

Continually Learning

This is one of the great motivational recipes. Help your employees to continually better themselves, extend themselves, and reach beyond what they thought possible. Without this upward climb, they will slink down in their chairs and pretend they are looking up a potential customer’s data when they are really checking out Craigslist job ads.

Company Culture

We may have already addressed this, but it’s so important to the age of Millennials, that we thought it bears repeating.  Company culture is a topic almost every job seeker addresses in this age of the desire to lead a well-balanced life. To this end, consider a gathering place that promotes interaction. This could mean a ping-pong or pool table or gaming center.

Job Security

No one feels very motivated in a job they feel may be pulled out from under them in the coming months. To instill job security, share your history and what inspires you as you look to the future. Let them know that this is not a fly-by-night operation. You’re here for the long haul and appreciate those employees that are willing and able to take the voyage with you.

A Great Leader

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” –Warren Bennis.  A good leader can make up for almost all other motivational techniques that may be missing. A good leader inspires by their actions and leads by example. Your employees want to do their best by you because you do your best by them.

The Ultimate Goal

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE.

Creating a work environment that promotes excellence as well as joy will ensure a long-term commitment from employees that see the bigger picture, understand your vision, and want to contribute to both the company and each other. It may take some ingenuity, but it is well worth the effort. Taking care of your employees ensures that they will take care of your customers.

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Making Work Meaningful: 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies You Can Use Today

Making Work Meaningful: 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies You Can Use Today

A series of Gallup Polls finds that only about 30% of American workers are engaged at work. That, of course, means that 70% are disengaged. Think about that for a minute…70% of people who go to work every morning aren’t really there. They spend the majority of their waking hours doing something that isn’t meaningful to them, that doesn’t stir their passion or interest.

In a 2010 review, Brent D. Rosso, PhD, and colleagues noted that finding meaning in one’s work has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance and personal fulfillment, and to decrease absenteeism and stress.” (Research in Organizational Behavior, 2010)

With benefits to an employer like these, it’s clear that when employees experience work as meaningful, they perform much better — yet 70% of American employees aren’t engaged at work, which means they don’t find their situation meaningful. This, then, is your guiding principle to keep your employees: create an environment that gives them an opportunity to find meaning.

Using that as our guiding principle, here are 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies:

  1. Set clear goals. Set up goals by the day, by the week, by the month and year to year. Communicate these goals regularly. Make slogans out of them. Post them as friendly reminders. Don’t drop these goals on employees from above, rather find ways to engage your employees with them, even helping create them.
  2. Allow autonomy. Your employees are adults. Adults like to exercise their brains. They like to be trusted. If they know what their job is, what their goals are, they want to do their jobs and accomplish those goals. Let them. Don’t micromanage.
  3. Provide sufficient resources and time. Make certain that the resources and time are sufficient for an employee to do their jobs and accomplish goals. Let them feel the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from doing a job well. Yes, commercial kitchens are high-pressure environments, and in a busy restaurant, things can really move fast. Some may not be suited to that environment no matter how many resources you provide, but they will quickly weed themselves out. For those who want to be in this business, in any aspect of it, whether making a gourmet meal, serving tables or busing, be sure they have what they need to do their job and do it well.
  4. Help with the work. That’s right. Jump right in. Not all the time — but every once in a while during those busy moments when you can see your people need an extra pair of hands, roll up your sleeves. Sometimes helping with the work is about showing an employee how they can work more effectively. You can mentor them.
  5. Learn openly from problems and successes. Sometimes the things you do as an owner work, and sometimes they don’t. Acknowledge it when things don’t work as well as you hoped, and learn from both problems and successes. Approach your work like a scientist, observing and making fact-based, result-based decisions. As you model rational, thoughtful behavior, your employees learn to do the same.
  6. Allow a free exchange of ideas. Free exchange is critical, especially in the restaurant business. While your customers enjoy familiarity, they also like new things, surprising things — and there’s always room for better ways of doing things. Provide times and opportunities when employees can brainstorm about particular work-related issues.
  7. Respect your employees. Require that they respect each other. It’s hard to encourage an exchange of ideas unless everyone feels comfortable to share those ideas. Respect is the oil that keeps that creativity machine running smoothly.
  8. Recognize their achievements. When employees meet important goals, recognize them. When employees go above and beyond, recognize them. When employees reach milestones in their personal lives or milestones in their professional development, recognize them. If an employee has some special talent or skill, find a way for them to put it to work for you.
  9. Offer encouragement. Be aware of what’s going on with your employees. If one seems hesitant or uncertain, don’t just ignore that or dismiss it. Offer a word or two of encouragement. It could be just the thing that’s needed to let them take next steps toward growth and satisfaction.
  10. Offer emotional comfort. We all have a bad day or a bad moment now and then. Of course, you’re not there to be a therapist or a mommy, but a hug or a smile at just the right moment means a lot. It will let employees know they are more than an anonymous functionary.
  11. Provide opportunities for affiliation. Find ways to cement valued employees’ relationship to your restaurant and to the industry in general.
  12. Provide opportunities for growth. Do you have a waitress who would like to learn some knife skills? Maybe you’ll be really glad you provided the opportunity one of these days when you’re short-handed. Is there a class that speaks to a employees’ interests that will make them more valuable to the business? Send them.
  13. Provide challenges. We all resist leaving our comfort zone — but when we can rise to a challenge, it feels great! Accomplishing something new, stretching a little and finding success, maybe even finding something we’re really good at or really enjoy that we didn’t know about before? It’s great! Keep your eyes open for ways you can challenge your employees, pushing them to take steps forward, try new things, develop new skills.
  14. Encourage creativity. That means you welcome a free flow of ideas, respect your employees and require them to respect each other, offer autonomy and encouragement.
  15. Plan regular performance reviews. The best way to be sure you and your employees are on the same page is to plan regular, friendly performance reviews. Take in a template for the meeting, and fill it in as you visit together. Be sure you both sign off on the notes. Keep these notes on file, and bring them to the next meeting. Include a conversation about your employee’s goals in each meeting so you can review progress toward them. Make it clear these meetings are a time for employees to share any concerns they have in a non-punitive environment. It’s a time for you to share your concerns about job performance with an employee and set out some measurable objectives to review at your next meeting.

In a restaurant, you’re in an industry where people value good food. Be open to ways your employees can join that special society even if they’re not chefs. Yes, everyone has their own area of responsibility, but it’s good for everyone to have the big picture, to know how to handle more than their own area occasionally — because one of the best ways for employees to feel engaged at work is knowing they are part of a team that values who they are and what they do.

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Complying with the Food Safety Management Act (FSMA)

Complying with the Food Safety Management Act (FSMA)

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food borne illnesses each year make 48 million people sick. Out of that group, hospitalization happens for 128,000 people and 3,000 people die. FDA hopes that the successful implementation of FSMA (the Food Safety Management Act) will help reduce food borne illness — which it considers largely a preventable public health problem — in the food & beverage industry. 

FSMA has five key areas of concern:

  • Preventive controls across the US food supply to prevent these problems
  • Inspections using innovative inspection methods to ensure industry compliance
  • New tools with respect to food imports, including accrediting third-party auditors to certify that foreign food businesses conform to US food safety requirements
  • Recall authority over all US food although FDA expects its requests for voluntary recalls to work in most cases; FDA now has increased power to detain products that are potentially a problem and can suspend registrations of offending facilities
  • Cooperation between all levels of government’s food safety agencies and to improve training of food safety officials at all levels of government

That all sounds more like food producers than food & beverage establishments. How does the law affect my business? Restaurants are not subject to most provisions of the law — but there’s a big caveat to that statement. If you directly import food from outside the US to cook and then sell in your establishment, then you are subject to the food import rules.

And if I’m not an importer, why should I care about these rules? It is wise for all food chain businesses to understand the basics of the new food safety rules. After all, you want to know that the people from whom you buy food to sell in your restaurant are following safe food practices.

So, what are the final rules as they relate to food chain businesses (not farmers or food producers)? 

To assist food chain businesses, the FDA issued these final rules:

  • Food facilities must put in place procedures to identify and minimize human food hazards. 
  • Importers must certify that growers produced the imported food under the same production safety rules as US food producers. 
  • FSMA requires the transport of food to comply with food safety sanitation requirements. 
  • FSMA requires foreign and domestic food facilities to fix vulnerabilities in their processes to prevent terrorist acts intending widespread harm.

When do businesses have to comply?  FDA staggered operational compliance deadlines over several years following the date FDA published the final rules. If you are a very small business (defined as less than $1 million per year in annual sales of human food), the compliance date is within three years after the final rules. If you are a small business (fewer than 500 employees), the compliance date shrinks to two years after issuance of the final rules.

FDA issued additional compliance date extensions and clarifications which are outside the scope of this post.  

How do we know if the growers of imported food followed USFDA rules? You would request a third-party certification that the growers followed USFDA food safety rules.

Food safety training is available to assist you with FSMA compliance.  FDA acknowledges it has a role in facilitating the training that food industry businesses must obtain to comply with FSMA. Toward that end, FDA created the Alliances which are public-private entities funded by FDA. Training is currently available through the Alliances.  

  • Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance, started in 2011, coordinated by Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health.
  • Sprout Safety Alliance, started in 2012, coordinated by Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health.

The FDA anticipates that the only food safety training through the Alliances and developed through cooperative agreements are the only ones that FDA will recognize. So, if you are thinking of developing your own training course, FDA recommends that you work with the Alliances to make sure the training is consistent and thorough.

Where can I get additional information on FSMA? FDA has produced several Fact Sheets to facilitate compliance with the final rules and to foster understanding of the rules.  You will find Fact Sheets on accrediting third-party auditors, foreign supplier verification programs, protecting food against adulteration, preventive controls for human food, preventive control for animal food, sanitary transportation for human and animal food, and standards for produce safety.

In addition, FDA published several presentations on its website including the overview of FSMA and the proposed rules.

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Do These 4 Things to Ensure Your Employees Won’t Be Worried About Health Care

Do These 4 Things to Ensure Your Employees Won’t Be Worried About Health Care

With the increase of the service industry becoming a destination career, employees are going to be increasingly concerned with providing healthcare for their family, so they’ll be paying close attention to events in our nation’s capitol.

Business owners, especially in the service industry, tend to develop close relationships with their employees. For this reason, it’s hard to watch them struggle or worry about their home life. And as we all know, if an employee is having problems outside of work, chances are their problems come to work with them.

Here are 4 major ways you can help keep your employee’s minds on service and worry free.

1. Be the shoulder they can lean on. Be their rock.

You’re now the big brother, big sister, mom, and dad. Take the time to reassure your staff that, despite what’s going on, you still feel providing health care is important and you’ll be there to take care of them.

Without diving into the politics, let your employees know you’ll be following the situation as closely as possible and will provide them with as much information as you can as things progress. Remember, things are very up in the air right now. Let them know the lines of communication are, and always will be, open on this subject.

Let them know the lines of communication are, and always will be, open on this subject.

2. Don’t bullsh** with them.

Don’t make things sound better than they may be. Healthcare is a scary, confusing, adult thing most people simply have no desire to think about unless they have to. Working for an employer who provides that sense of security is a big deal. Losing that sense of security can be a major cause for concern.

Take the time to answer any questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Remind them of the fact that no matter what, things are going to change but you’ll be constantly monitoring the situation and working with your insurance providers to provide the best coverage you can.

Working for an employer who provides that sense of security is a big deal.

3. Be a mentor and educator.

As we touched on earlier, healthcare is confusing and intimidating. The worst part is, the media exacerbates the situation, causing hysteria and Washington seems to be at an impasse which does nothing to relieve the tension.

One of the best things you can do is help to educate your employees on their health benefits, how to enact them, how to use them, what they can and can’t do, where their benefits can be used, and any other details you feel necessary. Knowing exactly how their coverage works will go a long way towards alleviating the fear of not knowing.

One of the best things you can do is help to educate your employees on their health benefits.

4. Use this as an opportunity.

Obviously, this is important to everyone. Take this time to make sure you’re communicating closely with your plan provider, your HR team, and your company leaders. This is the perfect reason to reassess your benefits package and to make sure you have a solid strategy in place for any situation.

The last thing you want is to lose employees to another business with a better plan.

Remember, it’s inevitable that healthcare is going to change. The best operators understand this and are ready to adapt. Make sure you’re one of those able to keep your business running smoothly no matter what Washington decides to do.

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Got A Last Minute Call In? How To Manage Being Short-Staffed

Got A Last Minute Call In? How To Manage Being Short-Staffed

One thing that differentiates the restaurant industry from others is that employee absence can have a detrimental impact on your business, particularly when you have to deal with unexpected absences due to illness. You don’t want sick employees around, but their absence can feel like a betrayal, particularly on a busy day. So how do you deal with being short staffed? Here are some ideas.

Make the call – but strategically.

The first thing you want to do is start calling your employees who aren’t working and find someone to come in last minute. But don’t just go down the list. Hopefully by now you have identified which employees like getting extra shifts so you can prioritize them. If that isn’t the case, then by all means, grab your phone list and start calling. In the future, pay attention to which employees like getting extra shifts to make it simpler for you to get somebody in on short notice.

Step in where needed.

As the manager or owner, you’ll likely need to fill in for a sick employee every now and then, which makes it absolutely critical that you know how to do everyone’s job. When you’re under pressure, step in where you can to make things run as smoothly as possible. When you have more time (and a full staff), take a few minutes (or even a day if you need to) to reflect on areas where you are lacking in either skill set or knowledge so you are ready to step in to any position at any time. This might mean you spend some extra time in the kitchen one week to catch up on their process in case you ever find yourself filling in for a back of house employee last minute.

Don’t stress out your staff.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a wait staff that’s clearly understaffed. When they’re stressed out because of a no-show or last minute call-in, their ability to serve suffers. It’s like they have suddenly forgotten how to do their job, from being polite to customers to getting orders written down correctly.

It’s your job as manager and/or owner to ensure staff does not get stressed to the point that they can no longer provide good service. Make sure everyone is still taking breaks, and step in as needed to refill waters, greet customers, bus tables or do anything else to keep the place running smoothly and customers happy.

Re-think your call-in process.

Call-ins are going to happen, so it’s unrealistic to try to eliminate sick days from your business. People wake up unexpectedly sick and legitimately can’t do their job. (And, to be clear, your customers do not want sick employees anywhere near their food). But you can minimize the scramble by instilling a 3-hour policy, in which employees must call in no less than 3 hours before their shift to eliminate the need to frantically call around and find a replacement. You can adjust the policy based on your restaurant’s hours, but having some sort of maximum time frame in which employees must call in can help eliminate much of the stress associated with unexpected absences.

Invest in scheduling software.

Many restaurants have turned to scheduling software to help with this type of situation. Employees can even find their own replacements using the software, which makes your life as a manager and/or owner simpler. All you need to know is that the shift is covered, which gives you back all that time you would have otherwise spent frantically trying to find another employee to fill in last minute.

Unexpected illnesses and absences are going to happen. It’s just a part of life. Take some time when you have it (i.e. when it’s a slow day and you have a full staff) to think through what you can do to simplify the process of call-ins to make it easier on your staff and your customers.

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Sign up now to find hospitality jobs and hire top industry talent.