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Adding Value for Hotel Guests

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 Main No Comments

In hard economic times, many hotel owners find themselves looking at dwindling guest numbers and feeling pressured to be more competitive with their rates. Lowering prices does not need to be your only option for bringing in more customers. Instead, provide your guests extra value with their stay. Give them a reason to choose your establishment over the cheaper rooms in Arizona. Creative services and amenities will win over the hesitant guests who are comparing options for their next trip.

Delight Their Taste Buds

Many hotels offer a complimentary breakfast for their guests. Step your service up a notch by offering some hot breakfast options: waffles, pancakes, sausage, or biscuits. If your hotel gets a lot of vacationers who want to sleep in and take it easy, extend your breakfast hours past what your competition provides. Better yet, offer a sandwich bar at lunch or an ice cream machine in the evenings.

Provide Laundry Services

Does your hotel see a lot of business workers on an extended stay? Don’t make them lug their clothes to the closest laundromat or dry cleaner. Offer laundry services on the premises. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself laundry room, a full-service arrangement, or simply an offer to iron their clothes for them before a big meeting, business travelers will eat up the convenience and extra luxury.

Fill Their Evenings

Even simple evening events, such as a movie with popcorn or an outdoor barbeque by the pool, will get guests out of their rooms, interacting with new people, and having a great time during their stay with you. Some hotels even host competitions between the guests, awarding the winners with a free room upgrade or a gift card to a nearby attraction.

Offer Childcare

During vacation season, parents will likely be grabbing at the chance for their kids to have a good time while they escape for a relaxing day alone. Provide some activities for your littlest guests, and their moms and dads will surely choose you over the competition.

Stepping up your services will mean a little extra work and perhaps some extra staff. It can also mean happier guests, more return visits, and better recommendations—from word of mouth to the Internet.

Sources:

Hotel Interactive

Hotel News Now

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Child Labor in Arizona

Job Duties for Front of the House Staff

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 Main, Management No Comments

Front of the house staff is the part of the restaurant workforce that actively interacts with your customer base. If you need to hire servers and hostesses, you should think about which job duties you might be able to have them perform. While keeping customers happy and closing down at the end of the night are their main responsibilities, they can certainly do more for you.

Collecting feedback. Your front of the house staff talks to your customers constantly. If you are trying to figure out which menu items are best received—aside from checking your sales reports—or which brands of liquor you should be stocking, have them ask. Make it a point during meetings to stress that the more you know about your customers, the better it is for everyone.

Coming up with marketing ideas. Pick your front of the house employees’ brains for advertising ideas. Are people regularly asking your hostesses about birthday specials? Do your servers field requests for promotions to be emailed to them? Choosing the right marketing and advertising avenues for your restaurant is the key to stretching your marketing budget.

Light prep work. This might be a fine line as your front of the house staff generally earns a significantly lower wage than your kitchen staff, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take some of the load off of your prep staff. Servers can portion salads, dressings, and other simple items for their guests. Again avoid making it appear that you are trying to cut labor by pushing unnecessary work off on your servers if you value employee morale.

Basic management. Do you have a server or two who are exceptionally responsible and great at their jobs? Perhaps you could work out a compensation agreement where they take time to check out other servers at the end of the night. After all, a great server knows exactly what needs to be done. This is also a good way to identify potential future managers.

Using your staff to the utmost is a good way to keep your employees involved. It also lets them see that they play an important role in your restaurant and are not just drones. We can help you find the right staff. Utilizing your human resources is in your hands.

Related Posts:

How to Keep Staff Motivated

How Will Rising Food Costs Alter the Restaurant Industry

How to Effectively Schedule Your Restaurant

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 Main, Management 1 Comment

Aside from food, labor is the biggest cost that any restaurateur faces. Not scheduling enough staff can increase wait times, decrease food quality, and ultimately lead to angry customers. Scheduling too many employees can lead to social loafing, a psychological concept that states that too many people working towards the same goal leads to people exerting significantly less effort than they are capable of. Making an effective restaurant schedule is not as easy as it sounds.

While your back-of-the-house staff costs more than your front-of-the-house team, many of the same scheduling principles can be applied. Pay attention to these factors:

  • Reservations: If you know what kind of volume to expect, you can staff accordingly. This means you don’t get caught shorthanded on a Monday when you didn’t expect much and that you know how many volume staff to schedule on a weekend.
  • Set shifts: Some restaurants have openers, volume or mid-shift employees and closers. This helps to structure your staff and prevents arguments about who gets cut first. It also means that you are planning to cut staff when they are no longer needed while knowing that you have enough team members on hand to properly close.
  • Volume: If sales start dropping off at 7:30, it is time to cut some staff. Let your staff who came in first to prep food or set up tables go home for the evening. Labor should be a function of volume. Your labor should be between 10% and 16% of your sales. Yes various pricing levels will have an effect, but keep this figure in mind.
  • Staff performance: The truth is some staff members are stronger than others. Put together a staff that has your stronger employees working with those who still need a little development. Scheduling all of your best on the same nights (yes, you need to do this on weekends) might make things run smoothly and please you as a manager, but it means that one night you will have your weaker members working together. This means that set-up, service, and cleaning will all run less efficiently and raise your labor cost.

Putting together a well thought out schedule can save you money and help to keep you organized. If you need staff in a pinch or temporarily for a special event, take a moment to let us tell you how we can help.

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How Is Arizona Business Doing?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 business, Main No Comments

One of the goals of our blog is to keep our readers up to date on how things are going in Arizona. There is a slew of information in from the first quarter of 2011 and some developments that have occurred recently.

Legislation

One of the biggest issues to begin the year was Arizona Senate Bill 1041. This bill was intended to attract new business, especially ones that would be purchasing property plant and equipment, to Arizona. This bill would have let businesses that meet certain investment standards reduce their property tax to as low as 5% for a decade. Those looking to move to Arizona and those who are already here but wanted to expand obviously loved the idea. Those who have been here and already made investments, in spite of a down economy, were opposed. Governor Brewer vetoed this Bill when it crossed her desk.

Housing

Home prices still are not that great here in Arizona. Residents are still seeing declines in the value of their houses, and a significant number of homeowners are still upside down in their mortgages. At the end of the first quarter, just over 68% of the homes in the Phoenix metro area were underwater.

Consumers

Whether consumers are spending or not says a lot about the economy. A Rocky Mountain Poll this January pertinent to consumer confidence showed that Arizonans were the most confident that they had been in two and a half years. Profit growth from Arizona based companies like PetSmart and local construction firms in the first quarter is another good sign. This contrasts the housing market, but good news is welcome. Retail sales in Flagstaff also showed some very good numbers, with a 29% increase in tax revenues based upon car sales. Big-ticket purchases are always a sign of good things to come.

Tourism

One of the important portions of our state’s economy is tourism. Restaurants and hotels need this push to get by and reach profitability. Hotels in Scottsdale were among the best in the nation when it came to occupancy (86.9%) and revenue per room ($166.05) this March. That is great news and shows that our states hospitality industry is working past the slight that Arizona’s reputation took due to some of the headlines that made national news.

Things seem to be slowly improving. While it will take patience to fully take advantage of these slow upturns it is great to see a shift toward growth. A strong economy is good for the entire state of Arizona and everyone who does business here.

Sources:

Brewer Tax Veto Splits Private Sector (Phoenix Business Journal)

Zillow; Phoenix Home Prices Decline, 68 Percent Underwater (Phoenix Business Journal)

Petsmart Quarterly Income up 33% (The Arizona Republic)

The Rocky Mountain Poll; Consumer Confidence up in Arizona (W.P. Carey-Arizona State University)

Scottsdale Hotels Tourism Rebound (The Arizona Republic)

Retail Sales Holding Up (Arizona Daily Sun)

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On the Job Safety

Two Weeks’ Notice

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 Management, Management Tips 1 Comment

The fact of the matter is that turnover is a very real thing, especially when it comes to construction or hospitality staffing. Employees find new jobs, be it because they are unhappy, are moving or simply want to work in a new position. Ideally an exiting employee provides you with notice. Two weeks is standard but let’s be honest, even a week is nice.

The Employer’s Role

When you receive a two weeks’ notice, you have options. Unless a contract stipulates it, you are not required to grant the employee the entire two weeks if you already have a new person trained and lined up. On the other hand, you can ask the employee to stay a little longer than two weeks, but he is not obligated to say yes. Replacing an employee can be time-intensive, so begin searching for a replacement as soon as possible. You can look for new hires at a job fair or through a staffing agency. Bringing in a temp could give you some extra time to find the perfect long-term person for the position.

Managing the Last Two Weeks

If the employee is in good standing, there is usually not a reason to let him go immediately once he has given notice. After all, he did provide you the courtesy of notice. You may want to set up some expectations for the last two weeks. One theory says that you just politely let departing employees know that nothing will change–they will be responsible for the same duties they have always been and that now there is simply a defined end date.

If you are not comfortable with this, you may choose to downgrade their duties a bit. You may transition them away from some of the job functions that are key to the overall business and ask that they work in a backup role while they finish out their time with your company. If you exercise this option, take some time to explain to the employee that you appreciate their being straightforward with you but that you have a process for transitioning staff out of your company. Keep in mind that allowing staff to complete their notice sends a good signal to other staff members. It will make them more likely to warn you when they decide upon a job change themselves and let them know that you are an understanding employer.

Dealing with the fact that employees quit is simply part of running a business. Every manager needs to be ready to transition employees out of their jobs while simultaneously bringing on new staff. Having a plan in place will help to make this process easier for you.

Sources:

How to Hire Wisely (Inc.)

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How to Describe Management Experience on a Resume

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 Main, Management No Comments

Every job seeker has the same goal while polishing his resume: to keep his list of experience and accomplishments from hitting the trash can. As hiring managers skim through work histories, they are often looking for signs of leadership and past management positions. Optimize your management experience by choosing the ideal placement, giving the right amount of information, and perfecting the wording to catch the manager’s interest.

Find Proper Placement

To most effectively draw attention to your management experience, place it at the top of your resume, directly under the career objective. If your past management position was not your most recent employment, you can still move it to the top of the resume in several ways. Many people will only include relevant work experience on the resume. Others choose not to list their work history chronologically, but instead in order of relevance. Whichever option you choose, be careful to be upfront in its labeling. You do not want the hiring manager to suspect you are trying to trick him.

Know What Information to Give

Don’t clutter up your resume with information the hiring manager won’t need. Common examples of this are the full addresses of businesses or the names of your supervisors. Instead, focus on your achievements. Provide a description of your management position, and most importantly, don’t spare any details about ways you helped bring in extra profits or increase productivity. This is your place to brag about what you can do and convince a potential future boss that you would be an asset to their company. Other information to provide about past management experience includes:

  • Exact job title
  • Company name
  • Company description
  • Length of employment

Craft the Perfect Wording

Before diving into your work descriptions, strategize. You want short, direct sentences that communicate a strong message and set you apart from other applicants. Try to start sentences with action verbs when possible. Use specific language, leaving aside fluffy word choices such as “great,” “good,” or “things.” Of course, your final step should include several thorough proofreads. You don’t distract the hiring manager from your leadership skills with an accidental misspelling. Guard against errors with the help of a friend for a final and honest look over before sending your resume to a potential new employer.

For more tips on employment—both getting hired and hiring—please visit us online. We offer a wide variety of staffing solutions for many different industries.

Sources:

MIT Career Development Center

Sandbox Advisors

Tech Republic

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Smoothing Things Over

Temporary Labor Offers Permanent Perks

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 Temporary Services 1 Comment

Taking advantage of temporary labor to staff catered dinners, conferences, and other events can benefit your business in many ways.

Skill

The skill level of temporary workers ranges from general abilities to specialized areas of expertise. A staffing agency has access to an array of temporary talent. The people whom the agency provides to work for you will precisely match your company’s needs.

Flexibility
A staffing agency is expert at providing qualified help to work for you. It can respond to you quickly, with a small or large number of workers to work whatever hours and days necessary. This is especially helpful for seasonal increases in business or for managers who need to staff events.

Eagerness
Temporary workers choose to work as temps for many reasons. They often like the opportunity to explore different career fields and appreciate the chance to build their resumes. While permanent employees can sometimes lose their drive and simply fall into a routine of going through the motions, temporary workers are eager to impress, and always striving to make that great first impression.

Cost Savings
In shaky economic times, using temporary workers can be a smart way to reduce expenses. Permanently hiring a large number of workers with general skills or a few with specialized skills can be a big expense, while “borrowing” their help temporarily is very cost-effective. You’ll pay to get your job done well, but not for hours you don’t need, overhead, or other associated expenses. In the case of event coordinators, a temporary agency is an extremely cost effective means of staffing functions with your balance sheet in mind. It may be hard to keep full-time workers if you do not have constant events. Temps know from the start that they are working for only a specific amount of time.

Commitment
When you use temporary labor, the temps are working not only for you but for the staffing agency as well. We are committed to doing an extraordinary job as a matchmaker, and being the solution to your staffing challenges. It will make choosing to use temporary labor benefit your business, and be your go-to contact for questions or concerns in regard to any of the provided temporary workers.

Whether you need extra hotel staff for banquets or if you operate a catering company, temporary labor is an option that you should look in to. The tourism industry here in Arizona only adds to the number of events that our state hosts. As it is such a viable business, business owners and managers need be aware of their options.

Sources:

CEO Blog: Temporary Jobs Will Begin the Boom (CNBC)

Increase in Temp Workers is Encouraging (USA Today)

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How to Keep Staff Motivated

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 Management Tips 2 Comments

Business operators quickly discover that when employees grow bored with tasks or apathetic about their responsibilities, their work will begin to suffer and their creative attempts become mediocre at best. An unmotivated staff can hinder the entire company. It usually falls on the supervisors and managers to find nonmonetary methods of inspiring passion and hard work from each staff member. There are many simple ways to boost morale and inspire employees to offer their best efforts.

Give Recognition

Disgruntled staff members often complain that their best work goes unnoticed. Make a point to acknowledge and occasionally celebrate a job well done. It will boost the employee’s self-confidence, and encourage him to perform at higher levels in the future. Recognition can be public, private, casual, or formal. Different situations will warrant a different response. Public acknowledgement for hard work will not only encourage the recognized employee, it will also encourage the rest of the staff to strive for the same honor.

Talk Long Term

An employee lacking direction will struggle with finding motivation for their daily tasks. To give your workers a sense of purpose and forward motion, try talking to them with the future in mind. Transform their jobs into careers by asking about their long-term goals and leaving the door open for future promotions and job titles.

Improve the Working Environment

Working in a clean, uncluttered, and decorated environment can do wonders for staff morale.

Collectively improve the mood your employees by adding warm paint hues, a few paintings, and maybe some plants. These changes may seem trivial, but surveys indicate that employees highly credit an aesthetically pleasing office environment with productivity and motivation.

Work on Your Attitude

Bad moods can be contagious. If you display fatigue, frustration, or apathy, your employees will start to show the same attitude. Train yourself to smile and voice your own passion for the work you do. Other staff members might also get swept up in your excitement.

Keeping your staff focused and motivated is a huge part of your job as a manager. The communications that you convey can keep everyone on track and ready to work as a team. Here at Labor Systems, we have a few principles that we take to heart and incorporate into our management philosophy which we have been very happy with. They have bred success with our staff here in Arizona and in the other states where we provide temporary employment services.

Sources:

20 Ways to Motivate Your Employees Without Raising Their Pay (Biztrain)

7 Tips for Motivating Employees (Inc. Magazine)

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Managing for Over Time

Friday, April 29th, 2011 Management No Comments

Everyone who oversees budgets and staff knows that labor expenses are among the most significant expenses on any balance sheet. As important a role as staff play in every business, controlling expenses is a constant issue for management. For many mangers doing this correctly it has been the difference between a paycheck and filing for unemployment. Considering the implications overtime expenses must take center stage.

Here in Arizona the Industrial Commission has first say in employer compliance. Overtime compensation is one of the few areas where a set of legislation has not been written by the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Instead our state based governing body defers to the federally based Fair Labor and Standards Act. This piece of policy speaks directly to overtime pay and what an employer must do to stay on the right side of the law.

As we all know, compensation equivalent to time and a half of exact or average hourly pay is due to an employee that works more than forty hours in a given week. The weekly schedule is determined by the employer and simply must follow a seven day schedule. Work on weekends and holidays does not count as overtime unless work on those days constitutes an excess of forty hours worked. Avoiding this cost increase is a vital skill for every manager.

Avoiding Overtime

A well written schedule is a manager’s best friend. A well written schedule helps to not only avoid overtime but to keep your labor costs in line in general. Overstaffing is just as bad if not worse than paying overtime. Overtime is an identifiable and adjustable issue while overstaffing sometimes becomes commonplace. Once you have identified an overtime issue it is time to look at the scope of your staff’s workload. Take some advice:

  • The truth is there might be more work to be done than you originally thought. If getting the job done consistently requires overtime then you will need to add staff, especially during busy shifts or seasons.
  • Also try watching and taking mental—or written—notes. Is your staff working as quickly as they should be? Are some employees taking unnecessary breaks towards the end of a day or shift which leads to the increase in how long it takes to get the job done?
  • Be clear—yet not overbearing—with your staff about expectations pertinent to the amount of time it takes to get the job done. Provide them with a schedule and order in which job duties are best performed to stay on top of time management if necessary.
  • It might be tempting to massage the numbers. DO NOT do this. Not only is it illegal, it is a sure fire way to kill morale and pit staff against management. The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case out of California where hospital workers agreed to have their wages altered to avoid being paid overtime for working in excess of eight hours per day. The tradeoff for the employees was that they worked longer days in exchange for more full days off. The agreement was legally upheld in California but there is no certainty that the Federal decision will be the same. If you are not sure about whether your tactics are legal, read up on employment law or consult an attorney. “I didn’t know” will not get you out of fines and other forms of legal recourse.
  • Bring in temporary employees to fill overtime gaps. It is a great way to ensure that your staff is not overworked and that your expenses stay in line. We would love to discuss the other advantages with you and help you to put together a plan that fits your business needs. Just call (877-522-7797) and we will find a way to make things better.

Sources:

The Legality of Reducing Wage Rate to ‘Avoid” Overtime; The Supreme Court May Decide (Wage and Hour Developments and Insight)

Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA (U.S. Department of Labor)

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A Little Help Around the Holidays

How Will Rising Food Costs Alter the Restaurant Industry?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 Hospitality Staffing, Main No Comments

The current trend of higher prices at the grocery store isn’t just affecting family budgets–restaurants are starting to feel the pinch, too. An industry that was already struggling, thanks to the recession, restaurants have been trying to slash prices and promote money-saving deals to pull in a regular crowd of customers and stay afloat. These tactics have worked, and most restaurants have actually seen a recent increase of clientele. Now restaurants are facing the difficult decision to not only cease these incentives, but raise their prices to keep up with inflating food costs, possibly undoing any gains they’ve recently achieved.

Affected Foods

The primary foods shooting up in price are whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and flours. Naturally, these are common ingredients in many restaurant meals, leaving little wiggle room to substitute other ingredients or devise new recipes.

Causes of Price Increases

The cost of transporting foods from distributors to restaurants is soaring. The higher gas prices rise, the more restaurants will need to pay for their food supply. Poor weather has also driven up the prices. With higher demand and less produce to sell, farmers and suppliers must increase costs to stabilize their profits this season.

Creating Customer Loyalty

Developing customer loyalty could save a flailing restaurant when prices are forced upward. Regular customers will typically continue to patronize their favorite restaurants, even in the face of higher prices, so long as they continue to receive the customer service and quality food they are used to. Some restaurants have even posted fliers thanking regular customers for their loyalty, and apologizing for raising their prices.

Exploring Options

Some restaurants will be forced to explore other options, rather than lose clientele with a price increase. This could mean switching suppliers or negotiating a lower price with their current ones. Some restaurants may look into purchasing more foods locally, to decrease transportation costs. Some switches can occur without the customers’ noticing a difference, but restaurants should be aware that the quality of their meals might fluctuate when switching suppliers.

Who’s Getting Hit

Two types of restaurants will likely be hit the hardest: small mom-and-pop stores, and chains that are already straining under significant debt. It is likely that bankruptcies and closed doors could be in the future for many of these struggling restaurants.

When you are faced with rising product cost, you are tasked with finding a way to offset these increases. You may be drawn to slightly reduce your food quality, but remember that this will not go over with regulars–or new customers for that matter. You can schedule as efficiently as possible or even reduce your hiring costs by partnering with a professional employment agency.

Sources:

Rising Food Costs Could Force U.S. Restaurant Overhaul (Fox Business)

Higher Food Costs New Hurdle For Still Struggling Restaurants (Orange County Business Journal)

Restaurants Battle Still Rising Food Costs (QSR)

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