It’s time to review your sexual harassment policy
Along with the movie industry, the restaurant industry has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in recent weeks. Food & Wine reports that Louisiana restaurateur and television personality John Besh stepped down from all operations at his restaurant group in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment against him and other managers from 25 current and former employees. In Chicago, Eater reported that Publican chef Cosmo Goss and Publican Anker general manager Antonio Molina were fired for not taking disciplinary action after an “inappropriate” photo of a female employee was circulated among staff without the woman’s consent. In an industry where human resources departments are rare, it can be easy for restaurants to neglect to establish and enforce policies that provide a safe work environment for employees. Take the time now to review your policies for potential weaknesses and risks (alcohol is just one example – if you don’t clearly restrict employees from consuming it on the premises during shifts or, more broadly, on days they are working, it’s one policy to consider.) Make additions and adjustments to ensure you have clearly defined what constitutes inappropriate behavior, and reiterate your policies with employees regularly so they become part of your restaurant’s culture. Your employees should also understand how and where to report an incident if it occurs, and how the information they share will be handled.
Digital strategy 101
If you want to refine your restaurant's digital strategy, take note of some established quick-service brands that have come out on top of the 2017 L2 Digital IQ Index. The index is a review of 126 restaurant brands in the United States based on 12 criteria pertaining to each brand's effectiveness on mobile, social media, desktop and digital marketing, Skift reports. The restaurants earn a rating, which is weakened by a digital strategy that isn't well-rounded and enhanced by best practices like mobile coupons, rewards programs and digital payment options. The index’s top brands, which earned the "Genius" rating, were Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Panera and Domino's. Even if your operation is less established than those brands, you can still apply some of the strategies that have helped them reap benefits. Starbucks, for example, has seen the potential of Instagram: The brand currently possesses 60 percent of all restaurant market share on the platform. Business Insider reports that Pizza Hut has looked to Uber for its tech inspiration by launching "visible promise time," which allows customers to see what time their pizzas will be prepared, ready and delivered before they even place their order. Panera is on track to surpass $1 billion in sales made through kiosks, mobile and web this year thanks to its digital strategy (and its management thereof, which helped the brand avoid the hiccups Starbucks experienced when rolling out its own digital strategy). Domino's won raves for its pizza tracker, which has been around for years but still has few rivals, as well as its wedding registry, which has gotten more Google searches than more traditional registries at Amazon or Macy's.
Cater to food safety at offsite holiday events
As the holidays approach, it’s high time for catering special events – and managing the food safety risks that can accompany those events when you’re operating in unfamiliar environments. If you hire additional employees to help you staff catered events, take care to provide comprehensive training, especially to part-time employees, non-managers and new employees. That’s according to research entitled “Food safety in the US catering industry” published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality. Researchers collected feedback from more than 500 respondents representing 40 chapters of the National Association of Catering Executives. They studied food handling, equipment and personal hygiene and what differences exist depending on gender, training, management status and employment status when it comes to food safety knowledge and practices.
Lessons from the food safety trenches
Want to protect yourself from the biggest food safety risks? Learn from one who is climbing back after a crisis. Jim Marsden, director of food safety at Chipotle, addressed some of the nation's leaders in restaurant food safety at a conference in Washington recently. He shared steps the brand is taking to recover from the food safety challenges it experienced in recent years. According to the National Restaurant Association, Marsden said Chipotle employees must complete the association's ServSafe training courses, and the company strictly enforces HAACP rules and handwashing practices. As part of its current food safety protocol, Chipotle now blanches all produce, with the exception of lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro, which must be inspected at the supplier level.
Minimize turnover costs through engagement
Employee turnover in the restaurant industry, which reached 72 percent in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is among the highest of any industry. The Center for Hospitality Research found that turnover can cost $5,000 per employee, so it pays to keep employees engaged. But how? Upserve suggests you provide data-driven feedback on a regular basis – daily or weekly – so employees have a good ongoing understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Your POS may provide data that illustrates a server's sales, tips and turnover rates, for example, which can help you set performance goals. You can also secure buy-in from employees by showing them how they contribute to the restaurant's finances. It will help them see how their day-to-day contributions impact the business and it will support their development in case they wish to pursue greater responsibility in the business.
The payoffs of pay-at-the-table
Increased table turnover rates, better tipping, enhanced security for operator and customer alike. These are just a few plusses about tableside payment, according to POS Advice for Restaurants. If your restaurant has busy periods when customers must wait (93 percent do, according to a study from Long Range Systems, LLC), offering payment at the table allows them to pay their bill as soon as they are ready, freeing servers to tend to other customers. That ensures your servers have quality face time with customers and can otherwise enhance their experience (so when those customers are ready to pay and the tablet suggests a tip amount, they are more apt to be generous). Finally, tableside payment offers instant EMV compliance, so your customers can better protect their data and you can shift chargeback liability from your business to the bank. Hospitality Tech suggests your tableside payment device accommodates split checks, makes tip calculations easy, and provides a warranty of at least three years.
Ready for a food fest?
Food festivals aren’t always an easy sell for restaurant operators. They may stretch staff too thin during busy times at your restaurant, you risk blending into the crowd at large festivals, and it can be difficult to manage your food supply and safety. If you’re among those wary of food fests, consider the potential benefits: According to an Upserve report, after trying food from a new restaurant or brewery at a food festival, 79 percent of festival attendees say they will visit the brick-and-mortar location. There are positives beyond that too. Kate Levenstien, CEO of the food festival company Cannonball Productions, says her company's food fests in more than a dozen U.S. cities provide hour-long breaks between sessions where restaurant operators can network with each other and share best practices. Restaurateur Frank Ottomanelli, who takes part in 10 to 15 festivals annually, says the events are great opportunities to interact with people face-to-face, test new products and collect immediate feedback. What's more, he says, festivals can help you show your support for your community and the causes you value.
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