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  • 10 Apr 2015 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

    For many restaurants, alcohol sales play an important role in boosting their bottom lines. But serving alcohol also comes with great responsibility. In most states, a restaurant and its employees can face criminal charges for serving alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated customer and can even be held liable if an intoxicated customer’s actions lead to a death, injury or property damage. Here are some helpful tips based off the training concepts from the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Alcohol program, which can help operators who shoulder this responsibility.

    • Take the time to talk to your guests. This will help you determine the purpose of their visit as well as their levels of intoxication. If guests are determined to become intoxicated, you want to know about it. Continue talking to each guest throughout his or her visit.
    • Watch for changes. You can learn a lot about your guests’ level of intoxication by watching for physical and behavioral changes.

      Examples include:

      • Being overly friendly, unfriendly, depressed, or quiet
      • Using foul language or becoming loud
      • Drinking faster or switching to larger or stronger drinks
      • Talking or moving slowly
      • Staggering, stumbling, or bumping into objects
    • Watch the count. Some guests may not show physical or behavioral signs of intoxication. That’s because they may have become used to the effects of alcohol. Counting drinks is important in these situations. Each of these beverages contains about the same amount of alcohol and should be counted as one drink.
      • 1 drink = 5 ounces of wine; 12 ounces of beer; 1½ ounces of 80-proof liquor
      • 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor
    • Avoid over-pouring. Over-pouring liquor when making drinks makes it difficult for guests to keep track of and control their drinking. Follow drink recipes closely to ensure that the correct amount of alcohol is put in each drink. You should measure liquor when mixing drinks. If your establishment allows you to free pour, test your accuracy periodically using a pour test.
    • Offer water. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration, which makes guests thirsty. This can cause them to drink more than they normally would. You can help by offering water with drinks and refilling water glasses often. This will help keep the guests hydrated and can reduce alcohol consumption.

    The content in this article originally appeared in the National Restaurant Association’s “Manage My Restaurant” series for operators.

    We know operators are always thinking about how to make their business better. Whether they are trying to drive increased traffic, learn about the latest culinary trends, recruit qualified employees or renegotiate a lease, we have you covered.

    ©2015 National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). All rights reserved. ServSafe is a registered trademark of the NRAEF, used under license by National Restaurant Association Solutions, LLC.

  • 27 Mar 2015 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    In today’s tight economy, baby boomers are providing a boost to U.S. restaurants.

    America’s 76 million boomers, born 1946-64, were responsible for 23 billion restaurant visits in 2012, accounting for $172 billion in sales, according to market research company the NPD Group. By sheer number, boomers have always played an important role in the economy. But in 2012, consumers in the 48-64 age bracket also spent more per capita than their younger counterparts, according to a recent NPD study.

    Predominantly empty-nesters with disposable income, baby boomers have the means and the freedom to dine out. “Yet, this is a group of people who feel neglected,” says Bonnie Riggs, the NPD industry analyst who authored the report. “Restaurant operators have not paid enough attention to their wants and needs.” Here are some ways to reach out to this large and pivotal group.

    Create a comfort zone
    • Keep the decibels down. Help boomers enjoy their dinner conversation by turning the background music down a notch and using design elements and materials like carpeting that reduce ambient noise.
    • Shine some light on the situation. Use appropriate lighting so that aging boomers can easily read the menu and enjoy their meals, says Matt Thornhill, founder of the Boomer Project, a research and consulting agency based in Richmond, Va., that focuses on baby boomers. “It doesn’t need to be bright lighting; install task lighting,” says Thornhill, who co-authored Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America’s Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group.
    • Improve menu readability. Make sure that the fonts and color combinations allow for easy reading, says Thornhill.
    • Pull up a comfy chair. In the NPD survey, boomers noted that they look for comfortable restaurant seating, along with better lighting and less noise.
    • Give service with a smile. “Boomers really want the people serving them to be polite and friendly,” says Riggs.
    • Make it fun. Explore ways to make dining out entertaining, whether it be an open kitchen or a chef’s table. “This generation is used to going out to dinner as entertainment,” says Thornhill. “They see themselves a hip, cool and relevant.” Riggs adds “boomers want to stay active and be forever young.
    • Strive for a balance. While boomers are an important segment, don’t overlook the younger crowd. “They’ll come in later and spend more at the bar,” says Thornhill. “Don’t shoot yourself in the right foot or the left foot.”
    Put options on the menu
    • Offer smaller portions. “As people get older, the reality is they need less food,” says Thornhill. Boomers report they’re eating more, but smaller, restaurant meals, according to NPD.
    • Highlight heart-healthy options. Health-conscious boomers seek low-fat, well- balanced meals, says Riggs. Highlight freshly prepared foods with healthy cooking styles, like broiling and grilling.
    • Provide opportunities to indulge. While boomers report that they want healthy options, many of them also use restaurant visits to indulge, says Riggs, noting that burgers and fries are among their favorites at quickservice restaurants.
    Provide promotional offers
    • Create frequent-diner programs. “Boomers want to be rewarded for their loyalty,” says Riggs. For example, Panera Bread introduced a loyalty program with a twist a couple years ago. The MyPanera program rewards members with surprises like invitations to special events, previews and tastings, and complimentary or discounted bakery-cafe menu items.
    • Give them a deal. Boomers are looking for coupons and discounts, says Riggs. Daily specials and combo-meals are also attractive to this group.
  • 26 Feb 2015 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Big data can help you get to know your audience. What are the demographics of your customers? What are their ages? Income levels? Where do they live? Do they have kids? What kind of food do they like? Do they drink wine? Do they have allergies? Where else do they dine out?

    Pairing data from traditional internal sources in your operation with external input shows the power of big data. But it can also be overwhelming. Use these tips to help determine your focus and build your plan.
    • Start small. Don’t let big data overwhelm you. Divide it into bite-sized pieces you can tackle one step at a time.
    • Have a goal in mind. What problems are you trying to solve? Are food costs too high? Are there scheduling problems? Do you want to know which menu items are the most popular? Collect the data that makes the most sense to solve these specific challenges.
    • Don’t get technology-tied. Mobile apps, online ordering and table tablets are amazing technologies, but think about what you’re going to do with the data you collect from those channels.
    • No “one-size fits all” solution. Many big data solutions are available, but no single one will solve all of your problems. Identify your needs, then find a solution that fits.
    • Appoint a chief data officer. Designate someone in your organization to be your data steward. It could be your IT director or your marketing person, but the person needs to be a silo buster who has your permission to build cross-functional data collection teams.
    For more tips and information on how to get started building your big data strategy, download our free guide, “Big Data and Restaurants.”
  • 13 Feb 2015 11:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    Restaurant employees are a hot commodity, which means operations from mom-and-pops to big chains scramble to keep top talent.

    “People ask us all the time where we find such great people to work for us,” says Gary Callicoat, president of Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern, a Columbus, Ohio-based chain of 17 restaurants and nearly 1,500 employees. “We get them the same places as everyone else. But we just treat people really great.”

    The Rusty Bucket defines that as putting people first throughout the organization.

    But the definition of “really great” treatment varies from employee to employee. For some, it’s about the cold, hard cash. For others, it’s about a career path. It’s up to restaurants to figure that out — or lose out.

    Here are six ways restaurants are retaining the best of the best.

    1. Show the way to advancement. If people feel like they have a future at a place, they’ll stay. If they don’t, they won’t. Rusty Bucket works with NRAEF’s ProStart program to help prospective employees get industry training in high school.

    At Great American Restaurants, managers receive a $250 bonus each time they complete an approved educational segment. “We want them to continue to grow,” says Jill Norton, chief people officer at the 11-restaurant chain based in Fairfax, Va. “We have a culture of constantly learning.”

    2. Give the people what they want. Ask employees what they’re looking for. When Norton met an employee who had come from another restaurant, she asked, “What’s the one thing you liked about where you worked before that we don’t do here?” The answer: a software program that lets employees trade shifts without having to go through a manager. Norton’s team looked into it, and it now ranks as one of the company’s more popular tools.

    3. Think beyond the dollar signs. A cushy paycheck can always be trumped by a better one elsewhere. While no employee minds getting paid more, the best retention plans aren’t just about the money. “For most people, it’s the quality-of-life thing,” Callicoat says.

    Rusty Bucket doesn’t offer a bonus program, but its benefits package includes health insurance and vacation days. The numbers suggest Rusty Bucket is on to something. The 11-year-old company makes 85 percent of its managerial hires by promoting from within.

    4. Be transparent. Restaurants should be upfront about their expectations and how they will evaluate employees. If a chef is responsible for food costs and labor costs, then he or she should get weekly and monthly reports with those metrics. He or she should understand the targets and the measurement tools, says Ed Doyle, president and founder of RealFood Consulting in Boston. “If you want an incentive program to be effective, all team members must understand what they can do to have a positive impact on improving results.”

    5. Recognize life beyond the restaurant. Restaurant employees are accustomed to working outside the typical 9-to-5 schedule, but they appreciate a work-life balance.

    Clyde’s Restaurant Group has fairly traditional incentives, says Claude Andersen, corporate operations manager of the 14-restaurant chain in the Washington, D.C., area. Those include a bonus based on quarterly sales results.

    The company’s structured time-off plan also boosts retention rates. “Managers work five days and have two days off,” he says. “They have a life outside of work.”

    Great American Restaurants also is committed to two consecutive days off for employees. Managers might work 50 to 55 hours a week, but if they want to take a class every Tuesday night, they can count on a schedule that makes it happen, Norton says.

    6. Encourage teamwork. Concessions International offers “team incentive awards” — bonuses starting at $25 and up to $150 per quarter. But it awards them on the store level so employees must collaborate to earn that extra cash, explains Robelyn McNair, vice president of human resources for the eight-location chain of airport eateries based in Atlanta.

    “It encourages them to maintain units in tip-top shape and pay attention to metrics like service time,” she says. “It helps us keep employees involved.”
  • 30 Jan 2015 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    There are two types of catering disasters. One is the type that blindsides you – just comes out of nowhere. The other is experience based – as long as you’ve experienced it once, you need never go through it again as long as you learn your lesson the first time around.

    Patrick Cuccaro conducts Catering Boot Camp at Affairs to Remember Caterers to train restaurateurs to start or manage their catering businesses. Patrick reminds his trainees that there are dozens of disasters just waiting to surprise every caterer and provides some tips and scenarios to help you avoid a catering crisis. Here are his tips:

    The stealth disaster

    The unpredictable, stealth disaster sends chills down the spine of every great caterer I’ve known. It sneaks up on us. We can never predict where or when it will hit. One thing we can count on, though – it will indeed hit.

    So when a catastrophe hits without notice, how do we respond? We bring out our biggest guns, of course!

    We call this intelligent weapon our “crash kit”. And just as no great wedding planner would show up without needle, thread and patience, the crash kit contains items that are designed to save the moment.

    Our crash kit is our co-pilot. It accompanies us – without fail – on every event.

    Think about the situations that trip you up in the field. What do they have in common?
    • Do you sometimes run short on disposable guestware? Then make sure that your crash kit always contains extra.
    • Do you use chafers? Ever forget the fuel? If so, all your crash kit needs is some extra fuel, and your problems are solved.
    • How about salt and pepper? Mustard? Mayonnaise? Ever run out? Packing a little extra of each condiment can help tremendously in a crunch.
    • Duct tape, scissors, sewing kit, first aid kit, plastic wrap. With these items alone, you could maneuver your way out of some of the worst potential stealth disasters!
    Use your crash kit to solve your recurring catering headaches. First, identify what those headaches tend to be, and then ask yourself what you need in order to avert them. You’ll be surprised what a well-stocked crash kit can accomplish.

    The most important thing to remember about your crash kit is to make sure that you re-stock it after every event. Keep a packing list visible inside it, and assign that task to the same person every time. Consistency is your friend.

    The preventable disaster

    Every caterer must eventually deal with the unthinkable – the self-inflicted, full-blown catering disaster. That inevitable catering catastrophe can take us on a quick descent – threatening our money, our reputation and our client’s cherished dream.

    How can we avoid these stomach-churning situations?

    With proper pre-planning and solid operational systems, most of these potential catastrophes are avoidable. Here are my top five catering scenarios:
    1. Have you been to an event that just sparkled with candles? Beautiful, isn’t it? Votives everywhere – on the registration tables, on window ledges, on the guest tables and even on the buffet. Beware of open flames on the buffet. How many table cloths, centerpieces, ball gowns with loose sleeves, etc., must we flambé before we ban this practice?

      Lesson learned: No open flames on buffets. Safety first.

    2. Your new customer is perfect – great budget, easy to work with, trusting. Only problem? He likes to do business with a handshake, and he avoids written contracts. What do you do? Well, first you take his cue and shake hands on it, and then you ask for the signed contract. Things rarely go wrong, but if they do, your contract could be the one thing standing between you and a difficult situation.

      Lesson learned: Always provide a written contract, no matter how great your restaurant customer is.

    3. You recently sold a super upscale served dinner for 100 guests. You’ve rented the perfect china pattern – and, wow, is that rental expensive! To contain costs, you decide to cut it close and rent only 105 settings. One of your staff drops 10 plates.

      Lesson learned: Don’t skimp on the rentals. As a general rule, order 15%-20% higher than your estimated needs. Consider taking out rental insurance if it’s available.

    4. Your favorite restaurant customer wants you to deliver your delicious cut fruit for an afternoon business break. You’ve painstakingly chopped the very freshest fruit you can find into perfect bite-sized pieces, placed them lovingly into a disposable box and snapped the lid on tight. Your delivery person drops the box, the lid pops open and now your fruit has become sidewalk garnish. 

      Lesson learned: An overwrapped tray would have contained this disaster. Double-wrap everything. Your driver could have adjusted contents at the destination to save the day.

    5. It’s the end of a very successful off-premise night. Your staff is packed up and ready to travel back to your restaurant and put all the “stuff” away. They’re tired. One of them overloads a bus tub with dirty dishes and puts it on the top of a speed rack, which is now top-heavy. He pulls the speed rack backward, one of the wheels catches on a pebble, the speed rack tips and falls on him.

      Lesson learned: Train your staff to load speed racks bottom heavy, not top-heavy to avoid injuries.
    Many stealth disasters can be overcome by creating and stocking a great crash kit that is uniquely designed to serve your catering business. For the predictable disaster, arm yourself with good advance planning and strong operational systems. A thoughtful ground plan can prepare you for almost anything.

    Patrick Cuccaro is the general manager of Atlanta-based Affairs to Remember Caterers and serves on the Advisory Boards of Catersource and Yelp. He also runs Affairs to Remember’s “Catering Boot Camp,” which helps restaurateurs start or manage their own catering businesses. For more information email him at or visit
  • 15 Jan 2015 11:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    Like many people in the industry, Linda Koch snagged her first paid job at a restaurant as a teenager. For her, it was a gig at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Like a lot of people, she followed family into the business, helping her dad prep in the kitchen (in between sneaking cheese cubes and pickles).

    When she headed off to the University of Wisconsin–Stout, she planned to study interior design while working at restaurants in her downtime. But fate intervened. One opportunity led to the next and kept Koch advancing in the restaurant industry.

    After a summer internship at one of eight Big Bowl restaurants owned by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, she secured an entry-level manager post and worked up to assistant manager. Now 29, Koch is general manager of the Big Bowl in Minnetonka, Minn.

    “Linda is a great example of how we nurture talent, and how passion and determination pay off,” says Dan McGowan, Chicago-based president and partner of several LEYE concepts, including Big Bowl and L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge.

    For industry newbies, trying to figure out how to get ahead can seem daunting. But if they stick around, they’ll likely move up the ladder. Ninety-seven percent of restaurant managers and 94 percent of shift or crew supervisors no longer in their first restaurant job have advanced to higher-paying positions in the restaurant industry, according to National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation research.

    More than 70 percent of current restaurant employees believe they have the opportunity for career advancement in the restaurant industry, the research show. A majority says the restaurant industry is a place where hard work leads to success. Operators can help employees advance by showing them the paths available within the company.

    “It is vital to instill in employees that they can accomplish their goals and dreams in the restaurant industry,” says Steven Carb, president and founder of SERG Restaurant Group, a multi-concept operator with restaurants in South Carolina.

    Here are tips to help entry-level employees move up the ladder:

    • Help employees understand their roles and responsibilities, whether they’re at a big chain or a small independent restaurant, says Chris Hein, vice president of food and beverage for the Old Spaghetti Factory, a Portland, Ore.-based Italian concept.
    • Set expectations during the hiring process to weed out less serious candidates and nurture promising new recruits, he says. “The hardest part was getting on board when I first started — to understand what I needed to do to become successful in the restaurant business,” he says. He credits a manager who served as a mentor to help him understand what it took to advance.
    • Give promising employees the opportunity to experience all hours of operations to see how things work during different shifts. “When you get promoted, this is what you’ll see,” McGowan recommends.
    • Emphasize that employees must do their part. Carb got into real estate to raise funding for his first restaurant. He learned about the business by attending trade shows and reading books. And he hasn’t stopped. “I am always reading and traveling, looking for ideas to bring back to my restaurants,” he says.
    • Acknowledge achievements. Carb’s restaurants, such as Marleys Isalnd Grille and Frankie Bones, instituted award and recognition initiatives through an employee-of-the-month program for the back of the house. More often than not, people singled out in such programs often are targeted for promotion and advancement. And when restaurants promote from within, it signals to staff how employees can get ahead.
    • Be upfront if you have more talented people than positions, McGowan says. “I would never stop someone’s growth,” he says. If you have multiple concepts, reach out to other restaurants if one location can’t accommodate a promising employee.
  • 08 Jan 2015 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    Recent legislation and regulatory changes make it more important than ever to keep payroll top of mind. Although payroll is complex, it doesn’t have to be a source of constant stress. Take these steps to stay on top of your payroll program and keep payroll headaches at bay.

    1. Note important payroll deadlines. Timeliness is vital for employee relations, as well as deadlines for depositing payroll taxes to federal, state and local agencies. Late tax deposits can result in penalties and interest charges.
    2. Classify employees appropriately. Classify your employees into categories such as temporary employees, consultants and independent contractors to ensure your payroll reporting is accurate for tax purposes. That will help you avoid common pitfalls if your business undergoes a payroll audit.
    3. Report and calculate overtime pay. An incorrect classification could be costly if your restaurant be audited. According to the Department of Labor, litigation is increasing over “non-exempt” employees treated as “exempt” who didn’t receive overtime pay. Take time to review employees exempt and non-exempt status to save money in the long run.
    4. Double check data entries. An incorrectly entered hourly wage and the wrong number of employee hours per pay period can cost operators millions of dollars annually. To avoid these mistakes, ask your processor if a “double check” is part of its process for payroll completion. If it’s not, ask to add it.
    5. Save payroll records. Your business must maintain a comprehensive record for each employee, including time sheets, cancelled checks and W-4 forms. Keep them in a safe and accessible location for four to six years. Failure to do so could lead to criminal penalties and/or civil actions. Remember , the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor must be able to inspect your records within 72 hours of notifying you.
    If you ensure your in-house or outsourced payroll processor follows efficient, accurate processing procedures, you can improve government compliance and employee relations.

    This content was provided by Heartland Payment Systems, the National Restaurant Association’s endorsed provider of secure payment processing, payroll solutions and marketing solutions. It is the developer of Freshtxt, a front-of-the house management system for restaurants.
  • 19 Dec 2014 10:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Philip Alenne, President, Contract Design Concepts, Inc., CDCI

    Interested in opening a restaurant? There are a few items that you should consider when looking at a tenant space or a building.

    Is the space/building a former restaurant? If yes, consider the following:
    1. Is the existing hood system operational and in good working order?
    2. Is the exhaust fan on the roof operational and in good working order?
    3. Is there a grease trap? If so, is it interior in-kitchen or exterior in-ground? What is the size of the grease trap and when was it cleaned out last? Note: If the existing grease trap is an interior trap, this may not meet current local codes.
    4. What size is the electrical panel and service size to the space?
    5. What is the gas meter size and what does it service now?
    6. Is there a mop sink?
    7. Is there a hot water heater? If so, what is the size? Is it gas or electrical?
    8. How much HVAC does this location have (tons) and are the units operational and in good working order?
    9. Does this location have a sprinkler system?
    10. Do the existing restrooms meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code compliance for size? Note: ADA requirements are not typically grandfathered in.
    Note: The landlord should be able to answer and/or get you the answers to the above items.

    If the space/building is NOT a former restaurant (retail, office, first-time use), consider the following:
    1. You will need to add a grease trap (more than likely a 1,500 gallon in-ground exterior trap). The location needs to be coordinated with the site utilities and landlord permission is needed of the selected location.
    2. Any roof penetrations for hood ventilations should be made by the landlord’s roofer per your plans so as to not void the existing roof warranty for the entire building.
    3. You will more than likely need to increase the electrical panel/service size. Most retail spaces are designed with a 200 amp service and you may require a 400 or 600 amp service.
    4. You may need to increase the size of the gas line/meter and/or add gas service to this space for your cooking equipment and roof top HVAC units.
    5. You more than likely will need to add HVAC to the existing space. Most retail spaces are designed with 1 ton of AC per every 300/400 square foot of space. A restaurant should have 1 ton of AC for every 125/150 square foot of space. Even if you do not have a lot of cooking equipment, all of your refrigeration has compressor units that run 24/7, putting off heat.
    6. Does the space/building have a sprinkler system? If yes, you may not need to do anything during construction. If no, the demising walls separating you and your next door neighbor will need to be a two hour fire rated wall.
    7. Verify the water line size coming into your space.
    8. Is there a space above and/or below you? Since your hood will need to vent up through the space, and through the roof, and your floor drains will need to be cut/plumbing run into the floor below the floor slab, and above the ceiling below, these items will require coordination with occupied spaces above and below.
    9. If you are considering a patio space, this may require a land disturbance permit. This is separate from your building permit and will require plans from a surveyor and/or civil engineer. You may also be required to produce a landscape plan for the local govern agency arborist to approve.
    10. Parking. You will need to meet local parking requirements for the size/seats/square footage of your restaurant. Make sure the landlord has taken parking into consideration for restaurants.
    Note: Most chain restaurants have a “Landlord Work Letter.” This letter is their wish list of everything they would want in an ideal space. Besides size of space, location, traffic count and rent, most of the above items are also in the work letter. You do not need to be a chain to create your own “Landlord Work Letter.” While you may not get all of the items on your wish list, it will give you some negotiating power as to rent, free time before rent starts and tenant improvement dollars to add items that are not in place.

    Do your homework. There is a lot more to opening a restaurant than most people consider.

    For more information, contact Philip Alenne at (678) 936-7005 or via email at

  • 18 Dec 2014 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Reel in good talent from the labor pool with these steps:

    1. Identify what’s a “good catch.” Start by determining what skills and traits are essential. If your restaurant has a set of core values or a mission statement, use that to guide you. For example, Great New Hampshire Restaurants looks to its “Table of Success,” which identifies the company’s six core values, including respect and executing greatness. “A few years back, we decided to define our culture and core values,” says co-owner and CEO Tom Boucher. “We stopped and asked ourselves: What makes us great? We then communicated and integrated these values into as many areas of our business as possible, including our hiring practices.”

    Craft job descriptions that list what each job entails. Think about what makes your star employees stand out. “List out all the skills that your good employees have and frame your interview questions around them,” recommends T.J. Schier, president of the SMART Restaurant Group, a franchisee of Dallas-based Which Wich, a fast-casual sandwich chain, and co-author of SMART Restaurant Guide to Recruiting and Selecting.

    Consider an initial assessment to screen out unqualified candidates. Schier uses an online questionnaire operated by Snagajob to assess candidates before deciding who to call in for an interview.

    When it comes time for the interview, ask questions that help determine whether the applicant is a good match. “Don’t just throw softball questions because you like someone,” Schier says. Start with the basics, like availability, and move on to behavioral-based questions that identify whether the applicant has the skills needed for the specific position. He recommends a two-interview process, with a different interviewer each time.

    2. Know where to look. One of the best sources is right under your nose. Ask team members for referrals; consider rewarding them with monetary incentives. “The real value is that they’re getting good people to work aside,” says Tom Tice, a recruiting manager for Seattle-based Starbucks.

    Take that approach a step further with “second-interview referrals.” If you have a few open slots, encourage candidates to bring an interested friend to their second interview. Wanting to impress their potential employer, “they’re not going to bring along a slacker,” Schier says.

    Tap labor pools that run deep with good candidates. About 250,000 military members exit the armed forces every year, many looking for civilian jobs. Last year, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and active military spouses by the end of 2018. They’re a reliable workforce instilled with values like honor, duty and commitment to a common cause.

    “One thing we do really well in the military is take care of people, and that speaks well to Starbucks,” says Starbucks’ Tice, a veteran himself. The company works closely with the military’s Transition Assistance Program to recruit talent and has gained traction through referrals within the tight-knit military community.

    Social media offers a great platform to reach potential candidates. “Social media links us to our candidates on a human level,” Tice says. He uses LinkedIn Recruiter to post job listings and find talent, Twitter to publicize recruiting events and encourage a dialogue, and Instagram to share event photos, putting a face on the recruiters and forging a connection with candidates.

    3. Lure in the winners. When it comes to attracting and retaining good talent, your company culture makes all the difference. Starbucks fosters a “culture of warmth and belonging” and provides opportunities to connect with the community, Tice says. The coffeehouse chain cultivates a team environment, where everyone is a “partner” and has equity in the company. “It appeals to people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he says.

    Benefits and incentives also entice top talent. While medical coverage, tuition reimbursement and vacation can be a big draw, don’t forget to promote smaller perks. Starbucks touts that partners get a free pound of coffee each week; Which Wich, specializing in customizable sandwiches, gives team members customized Nikes.

    Schier attracts go-getters to his Which Wich units by offering a commission for bringing in catering business. For snagging a large deal, he creates a photo op and awards the team member an oversized commission check. Elated team members often post the photos to Facebook, spreading the word about Which Wich careers. “When you create an environment that delivers the service you want, it becomes a lot easier to recruit the right people.”
  • 12 Dec 2014 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    If you’re ready to sign a lease because you’ve agreed on a monthly price, think again. The typical restaurant lease is 20 to 40 pages with provision after provision. When negotiating a lease, look beyond your monthly payment to ensure you protect your assets and control your costs.

    An experienced retail commercial broker can help negotiate terms, often at no cost to you, because landlords typically pay broker commissions. It’s also wise to have a lawyer review the lease. You might be living with this document for 15 years or more, given renewals.

    “It’s worth paying an attorney up front to make sure you have the best protection,” says Richard Muhlebach, a retail broker working in the Seattle and San Francisco areas. This article isn’t intended as legal advice; seek legal counsel as needed.

    “When negotiating lease terms, you must decide what’s essential, and be prepared and willing to stand your ground. It’s rare that you have to be at a particular site,” says attorney Gregory Apter, president of Hilco Real Estate, where he’s helped hundreds of clients negotiate leases. “Prioritize, weigh the costs and benefits before making concessions and then be willing to stick to your plan,” he advises.

    Here are nine negotiable items to consider before signing on the dotted line:
    1. Percentage rent. Some leases require “percentage rent.” Once a tenant’s sales reach a certain level, the tenant must pay the landlord a percentage of the restaurant’s revenue. “I’m not a big believer in percentage rent if it can be avoided,” Apter says. “It’s generally no one’s business but yours as to how you are performing.” Sharing this information can hurt future negotiations. “If the landlord knows the financial performance of a particular retail location, it can materially ­- and negatively - impact your future flexibility,” he says. Nonetheless, percentage rent is fairly common. If you ultimately agree to it, negotiate the terms.
    2. Exclusivity and radius restrictions. Try to preclude direct competition in the same shopping area. It’s unusual to block all restaurants, but you might negotiate exclusivity within a category, such as pizzerias or burger joints. On the other hand, your landlord might want to impose radius restrictions, preventing you from opening another unit close-by. “Try to avoid these restrictions, which impinge on your business’s flexibility, Apter says.
    3. Assignment and subletting clauses. You’ll want the right to sublet or assign the space to another tenant, should you need to close or sell your restaurant. Avoid restrictions that require the transferee to have the same net worth or experience as you, advises retail broker Muhlebach.
    4. Option to renew. “Negotiate for as many options as you can get,” says Muhlebach. “An option is an obligation for the landlord and a right for the tenant.” Avoid making renewal contingent on your remaining the tenant, or your resale value will plummet, advises real-estate consultant Lewis Gelmon, president of Gelmon Enterprises based in San Diego.

      Tip: You can negotiate renewal terms, rather than automatically taking your option to renew. Gelmon suggests starting negotiations early. “If you don’t like the way negotiations pan out, you still have the right to exercise your option to renew.”

    5. Future rent prices. Negotiate future rent terms. Prices tend to be based on percentage increases or tied to fair market value. Given a choice, opt for percentage increases because they’re easier to budget for, Muhlebach advises. Otherwise, you could be shocked with a large increase.
    6. Kick-out clauses. Consider negotiating for a kick-out clause, giving you a one-time right to cancel a lease after a specified time period if your sales haven’t surpassed a certain amount.
    7. Start date of rent. Many landlords will waive rent payments during the build-out period. Typically they’ll waive payments for 60 to 90 days or more, or until you open for business, whichever comes first, says New York City restaurant real estate broker Frank Glasgall, of Glasgall & Associates. Consider asking to delay the clock from ticking until you get a building permit, Muhlebach advises.
    8. Change of use. Try to maintain flexibility so you can change concepts if needed or can sublease/assign the space to a different business, Apter says.
    9. Operating expenses. Negotiate whether you or the landlord are responsible for operating expenses, including property taxes, insurance and management fees. “Some landlords add in zingers that aren’t industry standard,” Muhlebach says. Watch out for administrative fees and capital improvement costs. “You’ve got to catch those things,” Muhlebach urges. “Once they’re in black-and-white and you’ve signed the lease, you have to hold up your end of the deal.”
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