Ask Staff to Use this ‘Briefcase Technique’ if They Want a Raise

Here’s the thing: we don’t mind giving staff a pay rise if they plan to add more value. But most times, they don’t know how to negotiate for a raise in a convincing way. Ramit Sethi’s Briefcase Technique, outlined in the video below, is a great way to help them understand what you really want to hear.

If they do plenty of preparation, you only have to say yes – the case they make is so attractive!

So when it’s time for the annual salary negotiation, or someone has approached you for a raise, ask them to watch this video and prepare to ‘pull some paper out of the briefcase’ for you.

The chef might propose to run a new tender process to get all the suppliers pitching better prices for next year. She also has a plan to get the recipe costs updated each month, or a new way of rostering so that daily wage costs can be identified quickly.

The manager may have a plan to run weekly training sessions for staff without increasing wage costs, and a more efficient induction process for new hires. Or a better way of handling social media comments and online reviews 24/7.

The keen waiter or bartender may have some great ideas to improve wine and side-order sales. Plus a way to handle phone enquiries and bookings so they work more smoothly and will add more customers.

This is more than just ‘bright ideas’, but plans to follow through and implement practical and sustainable improvements. Now you will be very receptive to the idea of a wage rise!

Also worth showing them this video on a similar topic from Brian Tracy…

McDonalds is retraining our customers, and it’s a good thing…

Here’s the revamped McDonalds in Sydney’s inner suburb of Kingsford.

24 (twenty four) kiosks have replaced the queuing area, and the pickup counter is now just a small area on the side. The McCafe remains (on the right). You can order at the counter, but there are no visible registers or signage to indicate this. Cooking is now out of sight.

Trays are gone, and if you choose to dine in instead of takeaway, you grab a large table number and your food is brought to your table in a bag. A helpful concierge is circulating around the screens to help anyone hesitating – just like they do at Coles self-checkout or airline check-ins.

Presumably MyMacca’s app ordering is still being used, but the push here is to kiosks, not order-at-the table systems (like OrderUp, Me&U etc). This may change – the kiosk installation could be easily modified. Just as Maccas taught us new ordering behaviour years ago – order first, then sit (instead of the other way around), now they are schooling the generations on the ease of kiosks. They’ve also given more importance to two traditional concepts – the Maitre D’ (in this case the kiosk concierge), whose job is to float and be helpful. And table service is back, presumably because it’s actually faster and more productive – I’d love to see their productivity analysis.

Head to your latest updated McD, look around and do some productivity numbers for your own place – what’s possible?

Can we talk about cash?

With many cafes and restaurants reporting up to 80% of sales being made on card, the traditional informal cash transactions and ‘owner’s cash bonus’ have become much more difficult to manage. They’re going away – forever. We’ve relied on cash shortcuts for…

  • The great kitchen hand with a visa problem, who is happy to work long hours for $20 ph in the hand.
  • The electrician who comes immediately because he’s paid cash.
  • The cook with a complicated family and social security payments, who wants to keep her declared income much less than her take-home pay.
  • The vegetable guy who says he gives the best prices for cash.
  • The $500 that disappeared from the till to pay for your birthday dinner.

For a long, long time, we’ve been addicted to cash – it’s almost part of our DNA. And cash shortcuts stand in the way of essential innovation. Just like we have to accept that delivery is here to stay, and growing, the days of cash are almost over. Hospitality has also been called a world of thieves – cash, food and alcohol, all with poor security and weak checking systems – it’s not just the boss who fiddles and robs. Time to go cold-turkey and start to operate successfully in a brave new world.

So how do we operate in this scary new environment?

  • Running staff attendance, rostering and payroll through a modern online rostering system will shave significant costs off the old manual system. It also insulates you from the low-level blackmail that some staff can run, when they know you’re cheating the system. Staff with complicated lives usually make the workplace complicated too. It’s time to regain your power.
  • Good kitchen staff are hard to find, but as you build a team of people who are employed fairly and paid properly, you’ll get massively more productivity and attract a new type of person. And who said hospo people want to keep changing jobs all the time? Create a satisfying, predictable workplace with good equipment and efficient systems, and you will keep people for years. That’s your real job – creating a highly-productive workplace, not worrying about shortcuts and staff dramas.
  • There are other tradies available – pay them on the spot, recommend them to others and make sure they get a coffee. Services like Mendr let you organise it from your call, like you call an Uber.
  • Ordering supplies online with groups like Ordermentum or Foodbomb, gives you comparison shopping that often reveal your ‘mates rates’ aren’t all they’re held up to be. Manage the supplies with proper recipe and menu management, and the savings become even larger. And by pushing your (considerable) purchases through a credit card with a high points offer, you can get flight benefits as well.
  • I haven’t forgotten about your birthday or splashing out on family events – traditional ‘cash purchases’. But if you’re working with a good accountant and financial planner, the taxes you’re trying to avoid can mostly be eliminated, and your Profit & Loss statement looks much healthier… and your business more saleable.

New ways of thinking for a dramatically new world…

What’s your Business Plan B for when the Caronavirus hits Australia?

I’m still trying to process and understand the implications for restaurants, cafes and foodservice – the news keep unfolding every day. I’ll keep updating this over time – so much to consider…

  • Last year we had more than 1.4 million tourists from Chinese, many of them travelling in groups – new bookings have now been stopped. How exposed is your business to overseas tourists? Even my Uber driver this morning said he often has Chinese passengers in the city areas.
  • Export industries – rock lobster exports from Western Australia to China have stopped, because of transport and logistics problems in China. Where will they be redirected to, and what effect will it have on prices? What is their Plan B?
  • Imports – we depend on Chinese manufacturing for almost everything, from cooking equipment to electronics, clothing, utensils, furniture and quite a lot of food manufacturing. Much of it is delivered at very low cost through an extraordinarily efficient transport system – how will that be affected? The world is addicted to low-cost Chinese goods…
  • Australia hosts over 200,000 students from China, almost half of them university students, and the academic year is about to begin. Difficult timing for a health crisis – what will be expected of them when they return to campus? Many of these people also work in hospitality, and are foodservice customers.
  • Some schools are asking students returning from China to stay away, until their health status is clear. Who handles childcare, and what precautions are teachers taking? When do we get a unified national response?
  • We don’t need racial profiling and scapegoating – there’s way to much of that already. People become paranoid and lash out when there’s fear and uncertainty – we need compassionate, trustworthy leaders to reassure people and give direction. More science, expertise and rapid response – this will be very expensive.

Sources of Information: I find Twitter useful for breaking news, and there’s the Australian Dept of Health and World Health Organisation. Plus the ABC and Guardian.

Rostering and Staff Scheduling Systems for Cafes & Restaurants…

These systems have become indispensable if you want to control wage costs and manage labour allocation. Rostering is one part of their function, and they should also allow interpretation of Awards and pay conditions, integration with payroll systems, and collection of employee data. Plus easy connection with a bookkeeping system like MYOB or Xero, and dashboards to track results. This list will be added to as I find other systems – descriptions are taken from their websites.

Some of the systems I have seen…

Tanda – ‘automates your admin tasks so you have time to focus on your business instead of spending countless hours on rosters and payroll’. Employee Onboarding, Rosters, Time Clock Attendance, Leave Management, Award Interpretation, Payroll Integration, Tanda Mobile App, Shift Swapping, Live Wage Tracker and integration with accounting and other applications – it’s one the best, constantly adding new & useful features.

Deputy – ‘manage schedules from any device and record accurate employee hours. Easy to pick up, loved by staff’. Time clock app, Workplace communication, Task management, Leave management and Auto scheduling. Plus integration with accounting and other applications.

FoundU – ‘payroll and HR doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be effective. We developed the foundU platform to tackle the everyday problems of managing your workforce. We take the complex, and we automate it to ensure your time is spent on the important stuff’. Combines rostering, recruitment and payroll in one package. Plus integration with accounting and other applications.

Ento – ‘save time by creating each roster from scratch or a template. Drag-and-drop shifts around and let the system calculate your all-important labour costs and warnings. You can add notes to convey extra details. Use sales, footfall and other demand data to accurately project your future labour needs. Ento handles seasonality, special dates and events with an algorithm configured for your business’. Plus integration with accounting and other applications.

WhenIWork – ‘a free employee scheduling app that does more than just save you time on scheduling. It also helps you improve communication, eliminate excuses, boost accountability among your staff, track time and attendance, and grow your business’. Free plan has useful features and could be a good way to test it out. Integration with payroll services.

ZUUS Workforce – ‘helps managers make sure they have adequate staff at all times so that customers aren’t waiting too long for service anywhere throughout the restaurant. ZUUS also allows your managers to schedule staff to changes in customer demand across the day’. Plus integration with accounting and other applications.

FindMyShift – ‘a stable, reliable and scalable scheduling service for all types of organisations, no matter how large or small. Findmyshift is with you wherever you need it. There’s nothing to install and nothing to download. Everything you need to manage your staff is right here in your web browser’. Flat rate monthly price.

Employment Hero – ‘bring all your HR into one, easy-to-use place. With Employment Hero you can paperlessly onboard staff, provide induction content, conduct visa checks and performance reviews. We also help you stay compliant with built in contracts, policies and HR templates ready to go’. Plus integration with accounting and other applications.

Roubler – ‘simplifying the way you recruit, onboard, manage & pay your people. We’re changing the way Australian businesses manage their shift-based workforces with simple all-in-one workforce management and payroll software. Everything you need to hire, onboard, roster, manage and pay your staff on a single, easy-to-use cloud-based software.’.

Viability – ‘an intelligent Roster builder with responsive heat mapping for faster, smarter people management. High level purchasing functions that integrate with the rest of your business, and forecasting that allows you to continually strive for the best version of your business. Dashboard overview that presents your data and allows you to test your profitability ideas against the numbers. Streamlined supplier management to efficiently control purchasing. Detailed sales analysis with BAS and P&L.’

Happy HR – not a rostering system, but ‘your HR department’. It manages recruitment, onboarding, workplace agreements and a whole range of essential HR functions. Integrates with rostering systems like Tanda and Deputy, plus payroll and accounting systems.

ALSO CHECK our lists of Recipe Software and Event Booking & Management Systems. .

Event Booking & Management Systems for Restaurant and Function Venues…

The value of these systems has always been there, but they used to be very expensive, and would often need equipment upgrades to allow them to work across a network. Now that they’re cloud-based, everything has changed, although some still need a per-seat license.

Systems I have seen (and this list is developing):

Priava – ‘a purpose-built enterprise venue and event management booking system in the cloud for managing all types of venue and event bookings. All the complexities involved with multi-venue availability, event logistics, catering, equipment and resource requirements, and the delivery of those services are all available within Priava’.

Eventpro – ‘built from the ground up to be a single system where the Venue Booking, Event Management and Catering Management components are all seamlessly integrated’.

Ivvy – ‘we put the fun back into events with online, real-time event management tools that deliver real results. Trust iVvy to give you the best selection of locations, suppliers and event management tools to deliver more, faster’.

Function Tracker – ‘our calendar based system allows you to easily manage every event in your venue from beginning to end, including catering, beverage, equipment and staff management and much, much more. From the initial enquiry to the final invoice, every aspect of event management is catered for. You can also send invoices (including integration with accounting software), contracts, quotes & run sheets, manage customers, manage event ticketing and registration.’

Eventbrite – super simple system for when you want to set up a booking page for an event. Free for events that you’re not charging for, and also enables paid events, for which you pay a small commission on the ticket price. Does not integrate with diaries and suppliers, unlike the other systems above.

Sticky Tickets, Humanitix and Eventbee – similar features to Eventbrite for setting up booking pages and selling tickets.

Table booking apps can also be useful for large groups: NowBookIt, ResDiary and Respak (part of OpenTable).

Google and Outlook Calendars – yes they can manage bookings, and you can set up systems with different colours for different locations. But if you’re taking events seriously, you will (and should) grow out of this method quickly.

ALSO CHECK our lists of Recipe Software and Rostering & Staff Scheduling Systems.

Now’s the time to ask your Member of Parliament for financial help…

Tourism and hospitality are reeling from the terrible fires and drought – the effect on small business is catastrophic. That means a lot less employment, no-one investing in new equipment, and a lot less money in the economy. Will it create a recession?

I believe that now is the time for direct government financial support for small business operators in Australia – on the scale of what was done after the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) in 2007-9. Through generous, and targeted government spending, Australia was one of the few countries in the world that managed to avoid most of the terrible consequences of that downturn.

It’s time to write to your local Federal member and request urgent action – the Australian government holds the purse strings. Government spending can help to revive business, but they need to hear from those affected. Too often business owners complain quietly to themselves but only act at an election.

You can find your Federal MP here, and they all have a link for emailing them directly.

Keep your message short and polite, and quote some real numbers and comparisons. This is the information that shows the reality of a downturn – here are some that you could easily gather:

  • Number of people employed this month (or week) compared to 12 months ago.
  • Number of hours you paid people for this week compared to 12 months ago.
  • Sales this week or month, or in December, compared to 12 months ago.
  • How much you paid your suppliers this month compared to 12 months ago.

Tone down the politics. You may have strong feelings about how climate change has been handled, or the actions of politicians. Keep those for a separate email. For now, make your tone factual and sober – you’re alerting your representative to what this is doing for you and your family, the people you employ and the whole area. These are her voters! Get busy…

Be careful with fundraising – protect your reputation…

The bushfire catastrophe in Australia has gripped the nation, and the world! It’s truly horrifying with the loss of life, buildings, businesses, forests and native animals.

It’s natural that there’s an outpouring of generosity and fundraising – many cafes are raising money by collecting tips, donating money from every drink sold or even a day of profits.

And… where there is money in large quantities, there are risks. Transparency and squeaky-clean care are essential when you handle donations – people are becoming aware of this issue.

Here are a few thoughts on how to protect and grow your reputation…

  • If you’re running something like ‘$1 from every coffee is donated to the fire brigade‘, keep a list on show of how much was raised each day, plus where and when you sent it.
  • Post your results on Facebook or social media, maybe featuring some customers who have donated – be proud of this!
  • Set an end date for your campaign, so it doesn’t just fade away. If the issue is still important, start a fresh round, maybe raising money for a different organisation.
  • Smaller community groups are also in great need and may not have the ability to fundraise like large ones – they will be extra-appreciative if you seek them out.
  • Attach real people to the campaign – if you are donating to a community group, ask them to keep sending photos and information. Photos of kids and animals get a strong response.
  • Make friends for the long-haul – there are likely to be fires every summer, and the need of these groups will not go away.
  • Print off large quotes from customers (eg Facebook comments) and recipients about your donations and generosity. Put them on the wall and social media.
  • Make the burden on staff realistic – they may be donating tips or a day of labour, but they’re usually on low wages and can’t afford to be as generous as the boss.
  • Try and avoid politics – opinions are running hot about ‘greenies’ or ‘climate neanderthals’. Those disputes are for elsewhere – remove snarky comments if they appear on social media. You’re offering a place of peace and hospitality…
  • Yes, this is another list-building event – if people share their contact details, send them follow-up information about what your business does all through the year.

Financial Assistance for people affected by the Bushfires in Australia

Know someone who’s lost their home, their job or their business because of the fires? There is a range of financial assistance services available, including…

Financial Aid: check for Australian Government Financial Assistance. Disaster Recovery Payments for people affected by bushfires in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia

Red Cross and Saint Vincent de Paul Society plus other local charities

Disaster recovery grants of up to $15,000 now available to small businesses, farmers and not-for-profits in NSW. Queensland Govt has very low interest loans available of up to $250,000 for businesses affected by a disaster.

Check the Australian Govt Disaster Assist page for other states. You will need your financial records for the application process.

Insurance Claims: check the range of business risks that you could be covered for – business owners usually take out insurance through a broker, and they should be your first contact to assist with claims. The Insurance Council has a national hotline to help 1800 734 621, even if you can’t remember who your policy is with.

This ABC article explains what you need to know about household fire insurance cover, and the Financial Rights Law Centre has a good guide on how to make a claim.

Loan Repayments. If you’ve lost your income or business, there is a wide range of free financial counselling services available – they can be very helpful as an advocate for you with financial institutions and banks.

Australian Govt Directory of Financial Counselling Services – find a service in your area. The Australian Tax Office has deferred payments available if you’re in an affected area.

Salvation Army Financial Support – Australia wide

SilverChef support for customers affected by bushfires – call us on 1800 337 153

Talk to your bank: CommBankWestpacANZNAB

Staff Pay & Employment – if you have to close your business because of a natural disaster, here’s what Fair Work says about your responsibilities and a very thorough outline of Employer and Employee Rights and Obligations.