Podcast 103: Learn about Restaurant Blogging from a Media-Savvy Park

Centennial Parklands is very different to a restaurant or bar, but their ability to find stories in the daily events, landscape, visitors and staff are an impressive model for anyone who is wondering about ‘what do I write about’ on a blog. It’s not a small space, with more than 20 million visitors per year and a space that covers 360 hectares (almost 900 acres). Their blog is always interesting, and it’s backed up with great use of social media to reach different audiences.

speakers_green80_2In this interview Ken Burgin talks with Craig Easdown, Manager of Marketing & Communications at Centennial Parklands. He’s a fund of information about content creation for their blog, the publishing calendar, social media management and creating popular web content that appeals to a wide range of visitors, world-wide web browsers and the media. Full and happy disclosure – I live 100 m. from the park and walk around and through it most days of the year!

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Non-Compete & Confidentiality Agreements – Just for Intimidation?

A US sandwich chain hit the headlines for requiring workers ‘not to work at a competing sandwich shop for a period of two years following their employment at Jimmy John’s. A competitor is defined as any business that earns 10 percent or more of its revenue from sandwich sales and sits within three miles of a Jimmy John’s location.’ 

Hard to imagine a sandwich maker wanting to challenge this if they were desperate for a job. And what secret sauce would they be taking to a new location? These agreements are not uncommon in high-level management positions, although less so in hospitality (and illegal in some US states like California). Does restraint on employee flexibility hinder innovation in this industry?

A chef talked to me recently about a confidentiality agreement he was asked to sign – for him (from Portugal and not confident with English) it was quite intimidating. His considerable skills were the result of twenty years work in many venues – how do you unpick the parts? His lawyer indicated it was unlikely to be enforced, and seemed to be boilerplate copy the owners used without thinking through the implications. He declined the job, and they missed out on some great talent – who won?

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Podcast 102: Quick Fixes for Rising Restaurant Food Costs

Supplier prices keep rising, and traditional cost-cutting methods don’t always work – you can’t just reduce the portion size, or use cheaper product. Menu price increases are another option, but that’s not always possible – you’ve got competitors and customer reactions to keep in mind.

speakers_green80_2In this podcast, Ken Burgin looks at some of the ‘quick fixes’ you can do to control the cost of vegetables, dry goods, meat, seafood and dairy products. Reduce the cost percentage, and increase the gross profit margin – there are many things that will make impact. Don’t forget that good recipe software has to be part of the mix – we recommend the Profitable Recipe Manager and the Profitable Kitchen Manager Set.

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Managing Customers With Allergies, So There’s Less Stress for Everybody

How do customers tell you about their allergies? Well in advance (yeah, right…) or when they order? And are they real health-threatening issues, or just things they’d rather not eat?

Most places have gluten-free options, and vegetarian or vegan choices more interesting than a salad. 8 foods cause 90% of food allergy reactions: dairy, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, fish, soy and wheat – the list is not unmanageable. But are we really able to handle the allergies within the other 10%?

There are a number of online Allergy Advice Card services, with options to create cards in foreign languages e.g. Allergy Translation, Select Wisely and Dietary Card. Very useful if you’re visiting non-English speaking countries. Locally, you could make these with Avery self-print business cards. From the restaurant’s side, have your own tick-the-box list of allergies that you know can be managed. It’s a fine line between being hospitable and throwing a busy cooking line into chaos with endless ‘variations’ – which is what they are.

How are you handling this?

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Podcast 101: How Restaurant & Hotel Managers Can Negotiate a Higher Salary

Many managers and chefs think they deserve more money, and most of the people who make salary decisions are struggling to keep down wage costs. So how do you have a productive discussion? There are many ways to request a salary review, in a way that can be a ‘win-win’ for both parties.

podcastlogoblue80In this interview, Ken Burgin talks with Sabiha Vorajee, an HR specialist who’s worked with a wide range of companies in the area of reward and remuneration. Through her company High Value Woman, she specialises in coaching women how to negotiate higher salaries – to gain the confidence and skills to ask for what they deserve. Here she shares tips for women and men, plus suggestions for senior management on how to handle salary requests. If you don’t keep wages and benefits comparable to the market, you will soon be losing staff. Pay and benefits is a topic that makes everyone ‘lean forward’ – I’m sure you will find this interview very interesting.

LISTEN to more free podcasts from Profitable Hospitality at the iTunes Store.

Android and Windows phone users, add our RSS Link to your podcast app of choice or find us on the Stitcher app or on SoundCloud.

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How to Add a ‘Digital Business Space’ to your Club or Pub

I was interested to read about a large bank adding a digital business hub to their unused office space. It was picked up by former banker Neil Slonim, who featured in Podcast 87 on Banks.

If you’ve got large premises and under-utilised spaces, why not invite around the local home-based and digital business operaators? Many of them would love the chance to work somewhere other than the garage or spare bedroom.

Setting it up may be simpler than you think. You’ll need:

  • Desks and table space – there’s no shortage of large tables from furniture stores or Ikea, but don’t make it look like junk shop. The atmosphere should be fresh and contemporary, and good comfortable chairs are essential.
  • Stable power supply – upgrade it with surge protectors, which you should have for your business anyway!
  • Excellent broadband – fast upload and download speeds, and plenty of capacity. Buying in bulk will be a lot cheaper.
  • Lockers and security – if these are spaces for people to use a laptop, make sure they can leave equipment safetly for a few hours while they grab lunch or a drink.
  • Good coffee and beverages – these people will be your very regular customers, so maybe there’s some special deal on their coffee or snacks. The food and drink can be what gives you a winning edge.
  • Membership? Maybe free for the first month then a monthly fee, which gives access to the space and internet. Enough to cover costs, but not enough to keep the creative people away – it’s an incubator, but not a sheltered workshop.
  • Rules of the House – respect for others, keep the noise down, keep the place tidy etc.

Once you’re underway…

  • Tell the story – have a separate Facebook Page for the venue, and a simple website with details.
  • Invite the politicians – once it’s working, invite the mayor, local councillors and MPs. These people love to be associated with modern ‘small business’ and may have some useful government support available to keep things going.

Hop to it – I’m thinking in particular of all those large social and sporting clubs in rural Australia. They’re comfortable, airconditioned, under-utilised and chasing a younger demographic…

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Podcast 100: How to Create a Paperless Restaurant – Office, Bar, Kitchen & Staff

In this podcast, Ken Burgin talks about dozens of ways to create a more efficient and paperless business. It won’t happen overnight, but month by month you will find more and more ways to stop the flood of forms and paperwork.

podcast80Does this mean new and unfamiliar ways of working? Yes – you need to get the team on board, and most of them are quiet happy with ‘the good old ways’ but that won’t lead you into the future. Your profitable competitors are making this a priority – using iPads, tablets, mobile apps and web services. And making demands on suppliers to get with the program!

Services discussed in this podcast include ToDo Cloud, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Deputy, BurstSMS and the Fujitsu ScanSnap.

LISTEN to more free podcasts from Profitable Hospitality at the iTunes Store.

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Slow-motion Video – an easy, sexy addition to your Facebook Page

This is nice – pouring wine, melting cheese, a browning and bubbling pizza crust. All done with the slow-motion feature on your new iPhone 6 – just add a little music and you’re done. There are plenty of similar apps that do this for iPhone and Android, but as usual the Apple version brings the feature top-of-mind. You can add it to YouTube or Vimeo, and for extra reach in Facebook, upload it there directly. Drink!

Podcast 99: The Future of Credit Card & Payment Systems for Restaurants & Bars

Many operators have mixed feelings about card payments – we like to offer convenience, but we don’t love the fees charged by banks and card companies. And like many fees, they always seem to be going up! This may be changing, with new payment competitors, and new ways to ensure security.

podcast80In this interview Ken Burgin walks with Paul Wallbank, a digital strategist and writer on technology and business. We discuss the impact of Apple’s new payment system, how Paypal is competing with its own new services, plus the offers from Google and the banks. Will this result in some real competition for a change? It’s just possible that it will – now could be a good time to ask your bank to ‘sharpen their pencil’ and hold back from making long-term agreements. You can read more from Paul Wallbank on his website and on Twitter.

LISTEN to more free podcasts from Profitable Hospitality at the iTunes Store.

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Checked your Spam Folder lately? You should…

Some span can be funny – nice to meet you Mr Ray Ban and a ‘hellow dear friend’ from Mrs Florence Walker. I appreciate your interest, Gonzalez Lottl. One Tip for a Tiny Belly sounds tempting, and great to know that the Bank of Bahamas has upgraded my account. BNN Financial has emailed more than 200 times so it must be important. Sigh…

Unfortunately, you DO need to check in your Spam folder/waste pit almost every day, because real messages you need to see from real people get tipped in there by mistake. I use Google Apps and the spam filter is generally excellent, but occasionally good emails are dumped in with the bad. Marking it ‘not spam’ usually fixes it for the future, but it still needs a regular check. So put on the rubber gloves and check now – there may be some genuinely good news.

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