Set the stage for productive staff reviews
As summer winds down and some of your more-temporary staff transitions out, it’s a good time to review your employee evaluation standards so you can set objectives and clarify expectations with your team. Upserve suggests several steps to keep in mind. At the outset, define your expectations and make sure all employees, new and existing, have the tools and training they need to do their jobs well. Follow up regularly to provide positive reinforcement or to help correct mistakes before they become larger issues. Let your team know they will have a review meeting and provide at least two weeks’ notice beforehand to avoid surprising them. In the weeks and months before that meeting, take notes on what is going well and what needs improvement, and also gather any data from your POS that can help complete the picture when you’re evaluating an employee’s performance. Next, ask for feedback from the employee. If there are tools or training that would help your team do their jobs better, they need to feel free to mention that to you. Finally, hold any discussion of money for a different meeting — perhaps timed in accordance with the employee’s work anniversary — so the focus of your evaluation meeting can stay on building trust and fostering communication.
Avoid social media pitfalls
A strong social media presence can help drive your brand — but if not handled well, your posts can also do damage. Social Media Week suggests some tips to remember in order to avoid inadvertently harming your brand on the networks where you post content: First, don’t overshare. Avoid posting about politics or making sarcastic remarks about goings on in the community. Before posting anything, ask yourself if it will help or hurt your restaurant’s brand. (If you have something personal you feel the need to say, you can restrict it to your personal accounts, though since it’s easy for consumers to connect your business and personal profiles on social media, do keep your brand in mind when posting content and comments there too.) Second, remember that anything you post is connected to your brand for the long haul — which may cause you to rethink posting something that might come back to haunt you in the future. Third, don’t attack competitors — or anyone else, for that matter. It will make you look unprofessional if you feel the need to get into petty arguments online. Finally, pace yourself when it comes to promoting your business. You need to do that, of course, but just mix up your posts with different kinds of content and conversations so people will stay interested in what you’re putting out there.
Hygiene scores become more visible online
Your restaurant’s health inspection report may soon get a lot more powerful. Yelp recently announced that it will be displaying hygiene scores for restaurants in New York, California, Texas, Illinois and Washington, D.C., with more metro areas to be added in the coming months. As CNN reports, though restaurant health inspection reports aren’t kept secret, it can take some digging to find them on government websites and consumers aren’t apt to search for them. But the scores are likely to carry a lot more weight when they appear in plain sight on a restaurant listing. Yelp augments its data with help from HDScores, a company that collects and processes restaurant inspection data from public and private sources.
Protect yourself after a recall
A product recall can have both health-related and financial impacts on your business. To avoid negative consequences, Restaurant News Resource suggests some steps you can take to protect yourself. First, confirm the product’s brand and code date, lot number and manufacturing facility. Then remove the recalled items from your inventory, label them clearly as recalled, and secure them away from any food, utensils, equipment, linens or single-use items you plan to use. Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces and utensils used to prepare, serve and store any potentially contaminated products and wash your hands with soap and hot water afterwards. Review the vendor’s notification notice of the recall and take any actions required by the vendor to claim reimbursement. Finally, prepare a communications plan with suggested talking points to guide staff who are likely to have to answer guest questions about the recall.
Protect your proteins from pathogens
When you refrigerate, freeze and prepare foods, you likely already separate the produce from the protein. Be sure to separate each type of protein from the others as well. From poultry to pork to beef, the risk for pathogens differs. While E. coli is a main concern for beef, it’s Salmonella in poultry. If possible, use vacuum-sealed packaging for each category of protein when storing it, as well as separate (or newly cleaned and sanitized) cutting boards and utensils when preparing it for cooking.
Thawing in microwave? Cook immediately
If you’re using a microwave to thaw frozen foods, take care to transition the food to the cooking stage immediately. As StateFoodSafety.com reports, allowing the food to sit out after thawing in the microwave will increase its time in the temperature danger zone (between 40˚F and 140˚F) when pathogens can grow to harmful levels.
Put your restaurant’s real estate to work
In an industry of slim margins, restaurant operators in recent years have begun to open during off-hours for freelancers and others in the gig economy who are willing to pay for a workspace (along with wifi and a cup of coffee) for the day. Now, more operators are finding additional ways to earn money — even when they’re not selling food and drink. Foodable reports that consumers are using mobile phone apps to rent out not only restaurant dining rooms but coat checks and bathrooms. For a fee ranging from 99 cents to $5, Luluapp will help people desperate to find the nearest available restroom, paying willing restaurants 65 percent of the fee for offering up their restroom. A restaurant in New York City’s Penn Station earns about $2,000 each month by storing travelers’ bags for a few hours each day as they roam the city. About 25 percent of people who store their bags end up picking up a drink or a meal at the restaurant. Could your space be earning you any extra business?
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