Take the pain out of pay
Amid the rising minimum wage, conflicts over how to fairly compensate front- and back-of-house employees, and the number of available workers per position at a 15-year low, many operators are left wondering how much they should pay their team – and the talent they want to attract. Toast tackled this question recently. For hourly workers, it reported that at large chains including Sonic and McDonald’s, raising the minimum wage by $1 has resulted in lower turnover. (Turnover, by the way, can cost an employer 16 percent of the employee’s first-year compensation.) McDonald’s has also seen improved customer-service ratings following its wage increase, which has been the case at customer-favorite In-N-Out Burger as well – and it is consistently rated a great place to work. A recent Harvard Business School study actually found that raising the minimum wage weeded out weaker performers. Determining pay rates for employees making a salary is a bit more subjective. Executive and entrepreneur coach Stever Robbins suggests you first determine the highest and lowest amounts you’re willing to pay the person in this role. Will the person help drive growth? Will he or she create efficiencies in your operation? How valuable are those responsibilities in the big scheme of your business? Consult resources like Payscale to find the market rate for roles across the industry and Glassdoor.com and Salary.com for location-specific information. If you are part of a local or regional business networking group or are friendly with neighboring restaurant operators, you might be able to gain some insight there too.
Allergy aware? These advocates can help.
One in 25 Americans has a food allergy or some kind. That number increases in children younger than three, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If allergy management has become too large of a challenge for your foodservice operation, Food Safety Magazine recommends a number of consultants and organizations ready to assist. Several of these resources are parents of allergic children and have launched companies that work with foodservice businesses to build allergy awareness. Check out SnackSafely.com, a trusted source of information about manufacturer partnerships and snack lists, and Jenny Sprague, founder of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference and Multiple Food Allergy Help. For science-based information on nutrition, health and food safety, look to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, as well as the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (F.A.A.C.T.), an allergy advocacy group that works with companies to transform their food safety protocols. Finally, at a time when consumers are more passionate than ever about food transparency, Robyn O’Brien is a consultant who helps companies understand where our food comes from and how it is produced, then advises on ideal ingredient choices. Of course, your guests are potential educational resources as well, since people with allergies (or their parents) must advocate for themselves and tend to collect important information about allergy protection that could be of use to you when serving guests.
Scrutinize your insurance
Are you spending money in the best places when it comes to insurance? The BDO accounting firm, which has a dedicated restaurant practice, shared some tips from Dan Fugazzi of Hylant Insurance about how restaurant operators can manage and mitigate their risks, identify inefficiencies and gaps, and ensure the coverage they purchase provides strong value. He suggested operators determine whether their business income insurance includes payroll expenses in the loss determination (you’ll likely want to exclude these expenses from your coverage because you will get substantially less in your claim recovery). If your business has a protective safeguards endorsement requiring you to have a sprinkler system, grill hood fire suppression system or security system maintained to receive full coverage, consider eliminating these safeguards from your coverage. Assess your coverage limits for debris removal – if you have a claim for a total loss and rebuild, the cost to remove debris may be far beyond what your insurer will pay. Finally, check the business entity names on your coverage to avoid frustrating delays or uncertainties when you’re trying to manage a claim.
Cut the salt
Chances are many of your guests are looking to cut their salt intake. The FDA called for the reduction of sodium in packaged and processed foods and the new Dietary Guidelines recommend that people over 14 limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, according to Food Insight. Many consumers assume the food they order in restaurants is high in salt but you can change that assumption by reaching for a host of other ingredients to add interest (but not so much sodium) to food. Instead of salt, consider roasted garlic, peppercorns, low-sodium salsa, lemon juice, bay leaves, dill, cumin, balsamic vinegar and cayenne pepper – and make your guests aware that you’re providing a low-sodium alternative.
Perhaps you have a dazzling new dish that is priced for profit and has potential to generate buzz. Or maybe you need a means to catch a person’s eye when you post content on Facebook or Twitter. Either way, the food photos you post online can set you up for success if you remember a few rules. Social Media Restaurant suggests you contrast your food against a background of a different color. Adjust the white balance so food looks appetizing (meat, for example, should be photographed in warm tones). If shooting in natural light isn’t possible, use a flash diffuser or indirect light. Include quality cutlery, plates, bowls and other props in the shot, but not so many items that they upstage the dish. Take a range of shots from various angles, including close-ups that show textures and details and others that show the inside of the food when it’s cut.
Boost your Instagram results
Instagram has become the place for restaurants to be when it comes to social media, especially if they want to attract the Millennial set. To get the most out of your Instagram posts, Social Media Week suggests you keep some tools at the ready. Canva is a widely used tool that provides templates allowing you to add and edit images, shapes and text. Buffer will help you keep tabs on your account and post your content at times when your audience is most likely to be on Instagram. Crowdfire helps you manage your followers on Instagram by helping you see who has recently followed and unfollowed your account, and you can use the non-followers feature to unfollow those who are inactive or haven’t followed you back. VSCO filters and editing tools will help you create eye-catching, stand-out images. If you’re eager to post video, VidLab lets you add a number of additional tracks, from music to voice recordings, to your content. Try the premium version to remove watermarks from your videos and to access extra features.
Contamination-proof your premises
Are there any areas of your premises that might provide fertile ground for the spread of bacteria and other contaminants? Rentokil, a pest management firm that advises clients in the foodservice industry about food safety, recommends you safeguard these food preparation areas: Floors should be made of a material that is safe to walk on and easy to clean. Walls and doors should be made of impervious materials that are nontoxic, durable and easy to clean and maintain. Ceilings, along with overhead pipes, cables and lighting should be designed to prevent the collection of condensation, mold and dirt. Windows should prevent dirt accumulation and have screens to prevent the intrusion of insects. Finally, all food preparation surfaces should be smooth, washable, nontoxic, corrosion-resistant and well maintained.