Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

The deadliest shooting in U.S. history, will force the nation’s hotel industry to rethink security procedures, but there may be little new they can do now to prevent such events, experts say.

Hotels can’t install metal detectors or other elements deemed intrusive without damaging the whole concept of hospitality that is at the heart of their business. Hotel operators will have to rely even more on the eyes and ears of regular employees such as housekeeping staff and front desk workers to detect and report unusual behavior.

Hotel operators will have to rely even more on the eyes and ears of regular employees such as housekeeping staff and front desk workers to detect and report unusual behavior.

“No matter what we do, there are always going to be security issues. The responsibility has to be on every level and not just security personnel. Everyone should be flagging odd behavior,’’ said Mehmet Erdem, a hospitality professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

While casinos and hotels do not permit people to walk through their private property with concealed or unconcealed weapons, there is little to stop them from letting guests enter with guns hidden in bags.

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

Casinos will likely add more security personnel in the aftermath of the massacre, said Michael McCall, a professor at Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality.

“Security being present to the extent that they are noticeable would be a disincentive’’ to criminals, said McCall.

“Security being present to the extent that they are noticeable would be a disincentive’’ to criminals.”

McCall agreed with Erdem that metal detectors would not be a viable solution as it would hurt the guest experience. People will not want to stand in long lines like they do at airport security posts.

“Vacationers want to relax, they don’t want to be reminded of the dangers in the world,’’ said McCall.

Hotels will need to beef up their training programs so that all employees, and not just security personnel, can learn to detect suspicious behavior, said Erdem. Strip casinos could consult with airlines on how they spot suspicious behavior, he said.

During a call with Homeland Security and the FBI, The Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association learned that the perpetrator of this heinous act:

  • Checked in as one person with 9 suitcases and did receive bellman assistance to his room.   Over the course of the four days he stayed, he brought an additional 6 suitcases into his room.
  • Refused cleaning services in his room for multiple days
  • Ordered room service, but met them in the hall and never allowed access or even the door to be opened.

Odd behavior in isolation can often be explained away, but if several employees notice unusual behavior and report it to a central location, hotels can respond before tragedy happens, Erdem said.

For more information on what should be considered suspicious and what you should do if you see suspicious activity, please download the FBI’s “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities related to hotels and motels” by clicking here.  In addition, through their Hometown Security program, the Department of Homeland Security offers multiple resources and training tools, including “See Something, Say Something” and active shooter training, for businesses to help prepare for and protect themselves from attack.

This article was brought to you in association with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the CHLA.

 

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Why You Should Never Hesitate To Cut Guests Off

Why You Should Never Hesitate To Cut Guests Off

If your establishment serves alcohol, you have experienced at least one drunk customer. He or she ordered drink after drink, getting louder and sloppier with each one, and you were faced with a dilemma. You wanted to keep the customer happy, and clearly you are there to provide what the customer asks for. However, the drunk customer quickly became a problem. When you are faced with this situation, you should never hesitate to cut a guest off, and here is why:

1. The Other Customers

In a seated restaurant, there are few things worse than sitting near a drunk and belligerent diner, unless it is sitting next to a drunk and over-friendly diner. They are loud and intrusive. Your other guests want to relax and not worry about the person next to them stumbling into them or getting into a shouting match. If your other guests are uncomfortable, they leave early, possibly not ordering things they normally would have.

They aren’t wrong to do this, either. Drunk guests present a danger to other people, knocking into them and starting fights. They also get into car accidents. Sober customers that drive will want to get out of the parking lot before the drunk guest gets in a car and drives into someone.

Your other guests want to relax and not worry about the person next to them stumbling into them or getting into a shouting match.

2. Your Waitstaff

Drunk guests are hard to serve, and the waitstaff’s job is hard enough. No one gets paid enough to clean up after someone who got sick from too much alcohol, fend off someone who is drunkenly hitting on them, or trying to help customers stumble out the door. There just isn’t enough money in the world to make up for dealing with that sort of thing all the time, and it can contribute to employees quitting.

3. Your Reputation

It never takes long for the locals to figure out where they can sit and imbibe all day. This attracts the type of guests who monopolize bar stools and scare away other paying customers.

People do not take their kids or parents to a restaurant where they think they will have to watch somebody drink themselves sick. They don’t want to take their dates places where they would be subjected to somebody tottering around drunkenly. It only takes a few bad apples to drive away people, and cutting off guests early keeps those bad apples in check.

It only takes a few bad apples to drive away people, and cutting off guests early keeps those bad apples in check.

4. The Customer’s Safety

With each drink, customers become more prone to accidents. They become more vulnerable to robbery and more prone to bad judgment. All this means that it isn’t just the other customers who are in danger when one customer gets drunk. The drinker could decide to drive home and get in an accident, they could drop glasses and cut themselves, or any number of bad scenarios.

5. Liability

Many states hold responsible the last person to serve alcohol to someone if that person gets into a car accident. The local law enforcement officers will track the driver’s movements until they reach the last establishment they were at and charge the restaurant or bar with overserving that person. That puts you in a world of legal hurt that you just don’t need.

Even if such rules were not on the books, a restaurant or bar is open to legal trouble when drunk guests act out. If the police are constantly showing up to deal with misbehaving guests, you are going to have some trouble renewing your liquor license. At the very least, the neighboring businesses and residents will give you grief. Your guests would be scaring away other business’s customers, after all, and we all rely on our neighbors sometimes.

These factors hurt your bottom line, hurt your community, and hurt your guests. Servers can avoid all of this by cutting a guest off before they drink themselves sick. It may be hard to stop filling a drunk customer’s order, but it is always the right thing to do.

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5 Ways Restaurants Can Show Appreciation for Employees

5 Ways Restaurants Can Show Appreciation for Employees

It’s very easy to place little value on employee recognition and consider it as a time waster or unnecessary additional expense.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Businesses, especially restaurants, that frequently show that they appreciate their employees benefit tremendously through higher productivity, improved morale, loyalty, and better customer service.

According to a Bersin and Associates research study “companies with recognition programs highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective recognition programs.” This statistic speaks volumes. Appreciating your employees builds a positive company culture that translates to longevity and profits. Here are five ways you can make sure your restaurant employees feel appreciated.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Why not involve all employees in the employee recognition process? Manager recognition is important, but businesses have found even more success with peer-to-peer recognition. Giving employees a voice and creating a weekly forum where they can speak freely about each other’s strengths and talents creates cohesiveness within the restaurant. If some employees may not enjoy being publicly praised, consider using a system that allows them to share their positive feedback with each other anonymously.

Manager recognition is important, but businesses have found even more success with peer-to-peer recognition.

Plan a Holiday Party

In office environments, holiday parties are almost a given. But how many restaurants take the time to throw a holiday party for a job well done? This can be a whole new experience for your employees and gives them a chance to connect and relax in a fun setting that shows your restaurant is willing to do something different and special.

Get Creative With Your Rewards

Try not to get stuck in the rut of doling out pens, gift cards, or coffee mugs. Make the reward more personal or more unique. Giving something someone doesn’t care about is not a motivator. If possible, try to learn more about that individual’s likes and dislikes and reward accordingly. And rewards don’t have to cost a lot of money. In the restaurant business, managers can recognize an employee’s hard work by allowing him or her to choose a preferred shift time for a week or allowing for extra breaks.

Make the reward more personal or more unique. Giving something someone doesn’t care about is not a motivator.

Take Advantage of Social Media and Websites

Most businesses these days have a website or Facebook page. Use them as tools for showing just how much you appreciate your employees.  Perhaps devote a page on your website to showcasing dedicated and hard-working employees. Or use Facebook to post the outstanding employee of the month. Not only does this send the message to customers that you care about your employees, but public recognition also makes employees feel that much more special.

Get Customers Involved

Implement a customer feedback card program where happy customers can praise a particular employee for a job well done. They can be put at the front of the restaurant or on individual tables. Customers can then drop them off in a box when leaving and the manager can collect them at the end of the day. Managers can then discuss the compliments and praise publicly at the next shift meeting. Take it a step further and collect the cards over a time period such as a month and then pass out gift cards or cash bonuses to those employees with the highest number of cards. They are also handy for including in an employee’s personnel file or using towards performance evaluations.

Retaining top talent in a fast-paced, high turnover environment like the restaurant industry gives your business a competitive advantage. Appreciating and recognizing your employees can help your business both financially and culturally. With a little investment and strategizing on your part, you can reap the benefits of happy and content employees.

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Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

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Should You Work Full-Time or Part-Time in the Hospitality Industry?

Should You Work Full-Time or Part-Time in the Hospitality Industry?

Gone are the days when the hospitality industry was regarded as a rung in the ladder as you climb to a “real career”. Tending bar or waiting tables is no longer the limbo between jobs that twenty and thirty-somethings are sentenced to just to make ends meet. Kitchens are no longer staffed by ex-cons or high school dropouts. Mom and Dad can’t complain that you need to get a “real job” anymore!

This is due, in part, to the rise of the foodie culture and changing attitudes towards the foodservice industry. Celebrity chefs, celebrity bartenders, and celebrity restaurateurs have also fed the shift. We’ve accepted that making it in the industry somewhat parallels success as an actor or recording artist. However, there’s a greater chance of finding success in hospitality because you’re in full control of the outcome.

It’s not just about learning customer service skills anymore.

In the industry, you’ll learn business theory while gaining sales prowess and leadership skills. Add the “on the job”, practical skills you’ll pick up in the kitchen and behind the bar, then factor in the charisma you’ll develop in the front of the house and you’ve got a pretty solid foundation for a lasting career.

All of these can be developed over time. And none of them have to do with luck or your personal image. You don’t even have to drop a ton of money at some fancy school of business. Take that, Wharton and M.I.T.!

So, should you work full-time or part-time?

The answer is…. always opt for full-time. Here’s why:

1. Benefits

These come in many forms. Restaurateurs know rock star employees put a lot of time and effort into work so they’re willing to offer benefits to those who earn them. Some no longer require you to work the traditional 40 hours to qualify.

There are the other smaller perks, too, such as FREE FOOD (yeah. we thought we’d shout that one out)! And, although not as important as it used to be, you still have the opportunity to take home cash at the end of each shift.

2. On the Job education

You don’t need years of expensive schooling. You can start making money almost immediately and learn the business from the ground up.

Each and every one of the skills we’ve listed above can be learned and perfected while working. In fact, they HAVE to be because whether you’re in the front of the house or the back, your money and your work reputation depends on it.

3. Flexible schedules

There’s real life going on outside of work and the service industry takes that into account. With a flexible schedule, you can still achieve financial goals without feeling bad about taking a week (or weekend) off to live your life.

Also, you won’t find yourself taking work home and you won’t get calls from the boss or clients at all times of the day. Once your shift is over…it’s out of sight, out of mind.

This is a social industry that touches people from all walks of life.

4. Networking opportunities to last a lifetime

This is a social industry that touches everyone from all walks of life. You’ll meet every type; from celebrities to corporate big wigs to up and comers you may take for granted at first.

You never know just how important a connection made at work will turn out to be down the road.

5. Accepting of all points of view

The service industry has always been a haven for those who feel they don’t fit into society’s square pegs. It’s also been a welcoming starting point for immigrants, some of who’ve stayed in the business and found enormous success.

No matter what your lifestyle, beliefs, or circumstances are, the service industry will reward you on equal footing with everyone else as long as you’re willing to work hard.

And things are only getting better.

There have been myths and nightmares of what life in the industry can be like. You’ve heard of the unhealthy lifestyles, the long hours for little pay, and the horror stories of irate customers. But, with the cultural shift towards acceptance of the foodservice industry as a legitimate professional career, business owners and patrons are more educated than in the past, so these myths are disappearing.

All of that signals endless future opportunities for you.

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5 Ways to Help Your Restaurant Survive Past the 5-Year Mark

5 Ways to Help Your Restaurant Survive Past the 5-Year Mark

You have set out on a new venture: owning and running a restaurant. Armed with your great grandma’s secret recipes, you sign the lease for a location in the heart of the action and begin your quest to rule the restaurant world. Most owners start out with lofty goals and a heavy dose of optimism only to realize later on that the restaurant industry is fickle and unapologetic. Recent statistics state that 60% of restaurants fail the first year with a whopping 80% not making it to the fifth year. Here are five tips that can help your restaurant survive and thrive for more than five years.

Location

You have heard it time and time again…location, location, location. You might want to end up in one of the hippest spots out there, but it’s going to cost you a lot of money. Rent is going to take a big chunk out of your profits each month so choose wisely. You also need to consider the surrounding environment, accessibility and visibility, as well as traffic around the area.  Do you want your restaurant to reflect a romantic ambiance and scenic views or emanate hip and trendy vibes?

In the digital age, we rely on the internet more and more to spread the word.

Marketing

Make sure you budget enough money to handle promotions. If you don’t let people know you are there, then they won’t come. Unfortunately, word of mouth isn’t as effective anymore. In the digital age, we rely on the internet more and more to spread the word. That doesn’t mean you can’t do more old-school type approaches.

Get to know the companies that are in business around your restaurant and let them know about you. They can serve as potential income sources for busy, work lunchtimes. Create a user-friendly, and attractive website that showcases your menu. Get involved in social media. Consider creating loyalty programs that keep them coming back.

Serve Quality Food

You may not even know it, but the food you are serving could be sub-par. Great tasting food should be very high up on your priority list. Not sure if your food is meeting expectations? Set up tastings with employees and friends to see what your food might be missing. Get critical feedback so that you can adjust recipes as needed or reevaluate restaurant processes like quality control. Once you have the recipes tweaked to perfection, leave them alone. Customers do not like coming back to restaurants and finding that their favorite dishes have changed.

Hire people with the attitudes that you want to exemplify in your restaurant.

Surround Yourself With a Strong Team

If you are the restaurant owner, consider becoming actively involved in the hiring process. Hire people with the attitudes that you want to exemplify in your restaurant. Do you want go-getters who are outgoing and motivated? Or do you want employees who appear more polished and professional? What is your restaurant trying to convey?

Keep that team strong by showing appreciation for their work and efforts whether it be employee of the month, bonuses, or paid time off. Happy employees will also help spread the word about your wonderful restaurant.

Hire a Good Accountant

Maybe you are really good with people and food, but lack financial skills? Many restaurants go belly up because the owners are not very familiar with managing costs and get in over their heads. Why not hire someone with extensive experience in managing the financial side of a restaurant? This person can help point out any red flags such as wasteful operation costs or unrealistically high rent.

Before you dive into something as risky as owning a restaurant, do your research. Evaluate the competition and study the business models of successful restaurants. Running a restaurant is not for the faint of heart, but if you do your homework and work hard, you just might beat the odds and own a restaurant for years to come.

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Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

read more

Experience Sirvo for yourself

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