Tips to Choose a Better (and Cheaper) POS System!

Alsco choose better POS system

Save Energy and Money!

If you’re still using a traditional cash register and EFTPOS pin pad terminal, it’s kind of forgivable. Not long ago, there weren’t alternatives, and it is always easiest to just stick with the way things were.

Things have changed. Now there are lots and lots of options to replace your current cash register system. One of those other options out there might be the perfect fit for your business. It is probably cheaper, too.

You owe it to yourself to at least take a look at and read this information provided to you; – if you don’t, you might be leaving money (and efficiency) on the table!

For those of you new to the world of Point of Sale (POS), it is Point of Sale Software that offers retail automation replacing the traditional cash register.

Depending on which POS System you choose it can also solve issues that arise when sales and inventory numbers don’t match up. You can automate credits and discounts, and track them accurately, eliminating the register receipts headache at the end of the day.

If you run a promotion, your Point of Sale System can quickly and easily let you know how successful it was. If you have more than one location, the system ensures your prices and offers are consistent. Many POS Systems also feature add-on modules such as time and attendance and customer preferences with loyalty and membership databases.

And on that note, the POS System’s automation gives you the freedom to walk out the door without worrying that your employees will be bogged down with inventory and register reconciliation. That leaves more time for them to devote to customer service, and less time to clock for closing up shop.

“Did you know that Alsco’s managed rental solutions help you save time and energy, leaving you (and your staff) to do what you know best i.e. run your business. Select from Alsco’s wide range of services for every industry for unmatched quality and price!”

So How Do you Choose a POS System?

For you the business owner, you may want to consider choosing a POS System that allows you to completely track and manage your inventory and helps you get to know your customers and what they prefer so you will know what they like to order.

The following are different solutions you should consider in your search for the perfect POS System from POSmate.

Vend

Vend is one of the most popular and easiest POS Solutions, used by retailers of all sizes to manage sales, customers, inventory and rewards. It is compatible with Xero and Deputy if you’re already using them.

Modern and extremely user friendly, Vend works with existing hardware and equipment (like receipt printers and cash drawers), so all you need is a web browser on a computer, iPad or Android device.

Kounta

Kounta is quick to setup and easy to use and works with a variety of POS Hardware. Kounta is at home in all types of Retail and Hospitality settings because it is flexible for all different types and sizes of businesses. Kounta works with you and whatever platform you are running on iOS, Android, Mac, PC or even legacy POS Hardware.

Kounta is…

  • Painless to set up, and easy to use, which makes it perfect for small business owners who do all the back office work, – like accounting and inventory, – themselves.
  • Hardware independent – it will run on just about any platform.
  • A great tool for customer retention, with its built-in CRM tools that let you target your marketing more precisely and successfully.
  • Able to seamlessly integrate with popular social/mobile apps and e-commerce sites, expanding your digital reach by rewarding loyal customers and enticing new ones.
  • Highly scalable, and will effortlessly grow right alongside you as your business expands.
  • Connectable to popular cloud accounting services.
  • Powerful enough to manage your entire empire, no matter what the size.

ImPOS

ImPOS specialises in Hospitality Point of Sale. They develop the software, implement the solution, and most importantly provide exceptional support. ImPOS have years of experience in hospitality and pride ourselves on being THE customer focused Point of Sale provider.

ImPOS understands that time is money and a fast and effective system has a massive impact on your business. ImPOS is known throughout the trade for three things – the speed and durability of our system, the intuitive interface and our industry leading customer support.

24 hours per day, 365 days per year, the phone will be answered by an experienced tech. This is their guarantee to you. ImPOS is the best solution for Your Business because we offer;

  • The best support in the industry – bar none!
  • The fastest growing POS Company – for a reason!
  • The most editable/adjustable system – to suit your business.
  • The fastest software – saving you time and money.
  • The most intuitive interface – making training easier.
  • The best development team – meaning more features.
  • Superior web based reporting – on demand when you want.

ViViPOS

ViViPOS is a complete all in one turn-key touch screen POS System with fully integrated hardware and software. ViViPOS’s innovative features make it a perfect replacement for mid-to-high end ECR.A world of rich features for Hospitality and Retail with flexible content management.

The ViViPOS system benefits;

  • All-In-One Solution.
  • Easy to use.
  • Comprehensive types of reports.
  • Efficient and intuitive interface.
  • Table Management.

ViViPOS integrates with Mint Payments, TYRO EFTPOS, YQme Online Ordering, Loyalty Club V & PayPal

With a comprehensive online knowledge base and personal technical assistance upon request, you can be assured that you will have the support you need with ViViPOS.

Menumate

Menumate is an essential business partner of many leading hospitality and retail businesses in Australia, Asia, India, New Zealand, South Pacific and the United Kingdom. It understands the pressures faced by the hospitality and retail industries.

Menumate Point of Sale Systems enable you to streamline operations, reducing operating expenses, reduce wages, and increase turnover and increase bottom line profit. It also uses industry leading training and best practice methodology that ensures this becomes a reality.

It has business tools that provide management and business owners the latest tools to fine tune their business.

Menumate is a fully configurable solution that can be individually configured to best suit each business needs.

Menumate is a fast, easy to use and intuitive touch screen Point Of Sale System with Loyalty for any Bar, Cafe, Club, Hotel, Motel, Resort, Restaurant or Retail Outlet.

Save yourself (and your staffs) from all the stressful sales issues, choose the best POS system that suits your industry. If you need help in choosing a POS system for your business, you may enquire at www.posmate.com.au, a POS specialist.

No matter which POS System you need, POSmate will ensure to check out all of the features and capabilities, not to mention whether the system is optimized for your specific type of business. There are a lot of specialized POS Systems out there for the hospitality and retail businesses, so it doesn’t matter if you’re selling food & beverages, flowers or handmade bags, POSmate will make sure you find a total POS System Solution with all of the bells and whistles to make your products sing and your customers stick around, that’s our promise to you!

POS solutions save you from sales and inventory issues, just like Alsco saves you from hassles of maintaining a cleaner and safer workplace. Call Alsco 1300 659 892 to learn more about our cost effective renting solutions.

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Alsco would like to thank POSmate for this article. POSmate is a POS hardware and software specialist, for enquiries visit www.posmate.com.au.

Image Courtesy: POSmate

A Boxed Meal Solution for Corporate Team Building and People on the Move

Alsco - A boxed meal solution for corporate team building and people on the go

Each month we spotlight new or exciting Australian businesses which have either subscribed to Greenroom or are Alsco customers. We want to know what makes your business tick and how this can help other Alsco customers to create greener, safer and healthier businesses.

Today the spotlight is on Lunch In A Box.

They’ve been using Alsco mats, linen and first aid kits on and off for over 15 years mainly through their supply lines. (products used have been under a different company when they were based in the city, trading as another company)

Learn their story and find out their secret ingredients to success in the catering industry.

Type of Business: Catering to offsite locations, Corporate, University, Government, Private sector.

Lunch In A Box

Lunch in a Box provides quality catering services to a Sydney based market. Creating great food products to meet the need of todays busy lifestyle. From early morning starts, delivering gourmet breakfast boxes for a corporate event or staff incentive day, to lunch boxes for a conference at a university or for a school excursion around NSW. Whatever the catering needs

Lunch in a Box has a food solution. Many of our clients have deluxe lunch boxes which might include Tasmanian salmon fillet with lemon myrtle crust, mixed bean and chick pea salad, baby spinach and fresh figs with shaved parmesan followed by homemade chocolate brownies and fresh fruit skewers. We see a lot of clients choosing a boxed food option as it is quick, consistent, portion controlled and easy to hand out. We also cater for all dietary requirements that may arise.

1. How did Lunch In A Box came to life?

Lunch in a Box started life from a country style barn in Kurrajong which was converted into a commercial approved kitchen. The business started in 2007 and mainly serviced a private client in Randwick hospital. From there the company grew and developed more clients in Sydney in corporate, Government and Educational sectors.

2. Who is the best customer you ever had?

We have a number of great clients, the best in terms of work flow being James Lance GlaxoSmithKline. This client was serviced for seven years, seven days a week, providing fresh made food products for volunteers taking part in clinical research trials.

3. What’s the best compliment you got from your staff?

I’m a great Boss! No really, all our staff work really well together, with great communication and family spirit. The work flow is good so everybody is working in a positive work environment.

4. What sparked the idea for you to start Lunch in a Box?

I had registered the business name for Lunch in a Box many years ago, with the idea of providing this sort of meal service and food product at some point in the future. In 2007 that opportunity arose, so we developed a strong quality food product base and began life in the lunch box business.

5. What were the challenges that you have encountered when you first start up your business?

Every day in business is a challenge, whether it is logistics issues, staffing issues, cash flow shortages, there is always something to keep you on your toes. Initially, the first real problems to solve are to build a strong client base, gaining repeat business and providing a consistent food product. It is all about building relationships, developing trust and providing a quality consistent catering service. As a business we need to be credible people to deal with, this takes time.

6. What are your best tips for getting new sales at the door?

Most of our new sales actually come from existing clients; word of mouth is where we generate most new sales. Having an attractive website backed up by marketing material and e-newsletters with specials and recipes will all help. Moving now towards a stronger social media presence is where the focus will be. Customers now have a tendency to leave things to the last minute, so being able to react quickly to service short notice customers, brings them back.

7. Do you have a funny story to share about one of your experiences in the business?

In another catering company that we operated years ago where we did many weddings. We were packing a van after a busy wedding ready to go home, piling in all the boxes, plates, glasses and general equipment that were used. This also included left over food items. Just as we were leaving one of the chefs came running out with half a leg of ham, placed it safely in the back of the van, jumped in and we drove off.

The wedding was in the country and very hard to see our way around in the dark, there came a very sharp turn on the property that we did not see the turn too well and had to brake really quickly and as we did the leg of ham came flying through the vehicle and hit the front inside windscreen right in front of the three amazed chefs.

Looks were exchanged, laughter came then the ham was resecured in the back of a van again.

Nothing like a tender ham to get you going!

8. Is there something unusual you want people to know about Lunch in a Box?

Just that we offer great fresh food products in a boxed meal solution. Our food style really works well for clients who are on the move, school excursions, harbour cruise, corporate team building, conferences and quick breakouts. Supplying great tasting food, packed ready to eat is a real convenience.

9. If you were not a business owner/entrepreneur right now and you’re part of Alsco’s team, who would you like be? What work would you love to do?

A trainer, I have always had a keen interest in training and as such recently completed the Certificate IV in Training and assessment.

10. If Alsco is to offer your business a 1 year full service of one of our products, what would it be? And why do you like it best?

First Aid, I think WH&S is critical to any business and being compliant not only for legal reasons but for general health and safety of the employees in essential.

 

lunchinabox

Lunch In A Box Catering started their business in the year 2007. They’re located in McGrath Hills, NSW. To enquire about  Lunch In A Box and their great fresh foods, visit their website at www.lunchinabox.com.au.

Indeed, Workplace Health & Safety is something every business should not neglect. Partner with Alsco to make sure your workers stay safe and your company compliant, enquire about Alsco First Aid now.

Photo Courtesy: Lunch In A Box Instagram

Is Your Business Digital Ready?

Alsco is your business digital ready?

FREE Training Modules to Help You Get Started

Australian small business owners aren’t taking sufficient advantage of digital technologies to promote their business.

With Social Media, statistics show that almost two thirds of Australians are on Facebook, but only 36 per cent of small businesses have a social media presence (Yellow Social Media Report, 2014).

Other research shows that 92% of Australians use the internet to look for product/service information, but only 64% of SMEs have a website (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014). These figures clearly show that SMEs are missing out on potential business by not having sufficient digital presence.

When used correctly, the digital space can be an incredibly effective tool for businesses within different industries. There are many different examples ranging from, training providers being able to reach far-away students through online learning tools, the accommodation industry allowing clients from all around the world to book accommodation at any time of day or night with online bookings.

Did you know that Alsco too has many products and services that are a great boon to the hospitality industry. Choose from Alsco’s smart-fit uniforms, crisp bright linen, safety welcoming mats, absorbent tea-towels and first aid kits.

What To Do?

While the idea of using the digital space to maximize your business sounds exciting, it is often hard to know where to start and who to turn to for answers.

Digital Ready, an Australian Government funded project, has put together a free and easy-to-use Digital Business Kit which takes you through everything you need to know about using the digital space to enhance your business.

So, how can the Digital Business Kit help your business? This article gives a brief summary of the topics covered.

Getting Connected to Fast Broadband

Research shows that 95% of businesses surveyed are connected to the internet but 24% are dissatisfied with their broadband speed and 28% intend to increase next year (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014).

You will need to choose an internet service provider that will understand your business needs, recommend the appropriate speed and be reliable enough to minimize any risk of going offline – leaving your business out of touch with your customers.

For example, if you’re a restaurant owner and you take most of your bookings online, you will need to make sure your broadband connection does not leave you in the l couldn’t access their reservation due to your broadband connection being down.

It is also very important to understand the different types of data plans and which one will be the best fit for your business. Arming yourself with knowledge on what fees your service provider will charge you for uploading and downloading can spare you from terrible surprises come bill time.

Your Online Strategy and Tools to Achieve it

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Once you are connected to fast broadband, your next step is to create a strategy that will help you reach your business goals and objectives in the most effective way. Only 19 percent of SME businesses surveyed had some form of strategy for their businesses digital activities (Sensis eBusiness Report, 2014).

Your online strategy should always compliment your business strategy and needs to be reviewed and refined according to any changes in your business circumstances. When setting goals for your business remember that they need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Once you are comfortable with your online strategy, keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect as you can always tweak it as you go along; the next step is to execute your campaign. Before pressing the go-button, you should make sure that you have considered factors such as:

  • If you are using your website, what design, development and search engine optimisation will you be using?
  • Have you created a posting schedule and regular review of content for currency/accuracy in your website and/or social media pages?
  • What is the scope and cost of developing an online shopping cart?
  • Have you set up accounts with PayPal/Banks to make it easy for your customers to make online payments?

When implemented, it is worthwhile to monitor the campaign and evaluate if it has produced the results you were aiming for. Understanding what aspects of your campaign were successful or not will help you when planning for future campaigns.

We’ve put together some great information on how to put together a great strategy for your web presence, getting the most out of your emails and understanding media rich websites.

Social Media

Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram…. the list goes on and on. Did you know that social media can be a highly effective business tool? Social media platforms allow you to showcase your products, generate leads and listen directly to what your customers are saying about your products, services and brand.

Two main advantages of using social media to market your business are low cost and flexibility – you can change your message quickly and easily depending on what is going on in your business. For example, a restaurateur can generate traffic on a quiet night by creating a promotion specifically for that night and sharing it with their Facebook followers.

It’s important to be aware that different social media platforms attract different audiences so you need to pick the one that your customer base uses the most and would showcase your business best. We have listed the differences between the main social media platforms if you want further details on what social media suits your business.

The best way to stand out and show your brand’s personality on any social media platform is to use photos, graphics, personable and useful content. Your audience wants to go to you for useful information without having to go anywhere else; by doing this you are saving your customer’s time and they will refer your page to others.

A good example of this would be if you are using social media to promote your bed and breakfast venue. You could use your Facebook page for tips and ideas on what to do, where to eat and where to shop in the areas surrounding your venue making your page a one-stop information source.

Another really great way to stand out from the crowd and engage your audience is to run competitions and giveaways from your social media page -your customers are more likely to share your page with their friends, they will pay closer attention to your posts and engage with you in a fun and interactive way.

Using the Cloud

Using the cloud frightens many small business owners; it seems like a very confusing and unapproachable technology which is difficult to understand.

In reality, the cloud can be a great tool for small business owners in that it provides a way to share files, allows access to electronic mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and calendars, as well as customer relationship management facilities (amongst other capabilities). Visit our module for a more detailed look at what benefits you can gain from using cloud technology.

The main concern expressed by small business owners around using the cloud is the issue of security. Your cloud service provider needs to be able to have and maintain both physical and digital security measures to protect information stored in the cloud, as well as information that is transferred between your organisation and the cloud and should clearly explain to their customers the measures taken to provide protection in the security of data.

Online Registration and eCommerce

Using eCommerce creates a flexible, accurate and cost efficient way for your business to service your clients no matter what your product or service is by facilitating businesses to manage client/membership databases and merchant services such as payments, donations and similar transactions. You first need to have a web site.

Research also shows that only 54% of SMEs sell online, so we’ve created a checklist for small business owners to go through when designing an eCommerce site for their business. Some of the main things to consider are; have a simple checkout process, have a good payment gateway, look after your client’s information and take the opportunity to upsell.

Telework

With technology providing more and more flexible options for business owners and consumers it has been said that telework is the way of the future. Businesses are reducing their carbon footprint by turning to telework. For employees, telework is a great way of creating a much sought after work-life balance and there is no commuting.

It is important to assess whether your business is ready to move towards teleworking. If you are considering the move you should check if you have the following in place: infrastructure, processes, policies and people. For further details visit our How To Assess Your Workplace section in our Telework module.

Would you like free promotion for your business?

At Digital Ready we strongly believe that using digital media can lead to great results for small businesses in terms of growth, exposure and greater engagement with their customers. So we’ve decided to prove our point and partner with Australian small businesses to provide free promotion on our social media and website page in return for feedback on our Digital Ready Business Kit. We truly believe that the digital space can have a massive impact on your business and we are here to help you get the most out of the digital world.

digital-ready

Alsco would like to thank Digital Ready for this article. It equips small business owners, organisations and clubs with the skills to take advantage of digital technology in growing their business.

Subscribe to Greenroom for more small business tips and offers. Greenroom aims to help you make create a safer, healthier and greener workplace.

5 Touches Customers Look For That Leave A Positive Business Impression

There was a time when a business premises simply needed to be practical. Enough room to accommodate customers, a worktop or desk over which to do business, and plenty of storage space (usually shelves) where stock can be easily accessed. But those days are most certainly gone.

Where once ample supplies and ready enthusiasm were the principal aspects businesses highlighted to win over customers, now more subtle (even subliminal) messages need to be conveyed the moment a customer walks through the doors. These messages can be delivered via a number of techniques, from the colour scheme and floor plan to the tone of voice personnel greet them with. You can offer visual feasts or spacious minimalism, but whatever your interior design and little touches you have, they must still leave the customer pleased, excited, confident and at ease – all at once.

Attracting modern consumers has become a science, partly because people are generally more sophisticated, and partly because the level of competition in the e-commerce age demands every minute aspect of your business name, service, attitude and the premises to be as close to perfect as possible.

Impressions Are Important

It’s one of the most used adages, but, let’s be honest, first impressions really do last. There is a tendency to believe that quality of service, meeting deadlines and overall general reliability are all-important, and many business owners still concentrate on these aspects. However, while they are certainly extremely important, developing the impression that customers have on a business is also important.

Ever try out a restaurant only to notice scuffed furniture and dirty floor tiles? Did you turn around and walk out again? Exactly. And even if you gave the place a chance and stayed for a sandwich and coffee, you probably marked it off your list of eateries you’d like to visit again.

The truth is that in every business sector, people have a choice, so staying ahead of the competition is as much about attracting new clients based on first impressions as it is providing services that completely satisfy their expectations.

Where can buildings have the most impact on business performance? A lot of research suggests that office design can have an impact on business performance, but this is just one aspect. According to a 2011 UK study on The Impact of Office Design on Business Performance, customer attraction and retention is one of 8 principal factors of business performance that office design can have – something that is referred to as ‘External Expression’.

True, the importance of ‘first impressions’ is greater in some sectors than others. Much like our restaurant example above, a hotel cannot expect to do well if it projects a negative impression. But customers entering a hardware store look for different things, so as long as the store floor plan offers decent accessibility to stock, a couple of cracked floor tiles is not going to raise an eyebrow.

So, what are the factors – or little touches – that customers look for when they enter a premises, which are set to leave them with a positive impression of your business? Well, there can be many, but we have put together a shortlist of 5 areas which you may want to sharpen up on.

Area 1. Your Business Entrance

Regardless what kind of business you have, the entrance to your business is what projects that first impression on prospective customers. Whether your business is street fronted, in a commercial complex or in a business park, your entrance and reception area must project the right image.

Some of the most pertinent questions to ask are:

  • Is the exterior clean and clear of debris? If debris is not removed and area kept clean, it suggests a reluctance to do anything more than is necessary.
  • Is the exterior neat and attractive or dreary or unkempt? A scruffy looking exterior suggests a lazy attitude towards corporate image.
  • Are the windows and glass doors clear and smudge free? This is a basic cleaning aspect, so if glass surfaces are grubby, then it also points to laziness.
  • Is the door in proper working order? Customers don’t want to have difficulty in opening the door.
  • Is the interior clean? Again, a clean interior suggests genuine interest in maintaining standards.
  • Is the reception, office or store area neatly laid out? If the floor plan is well thought out, then it points to your business ability to offer practical solutions.
  • Is the interior attractive to the eye or need a new coat of paint? As with the exterior, the psychology of visual impressions can affect the desire to do business with you.

One aspect of the workplace entrance is the use of floor matting. Again, this might seem like a small issue, but a mat is both practical and decorative, and when branding is added then it offers an extra dimension in your business marketing and promotional campaigns.

Practical – Placing floor mats just inside the entrance doorway is the most effective way of preventing wet floors and, therefore, protecting visitors from suffering injury from a slip or fall. This makes them a health and safety matter, so it is advisable to use them anyway. More than just adhering to regulations, however, it also intimates to visitors that you care about them, that your business is responsible, forward-thinking and value clients, customers, visitors and staff alike. Check out the range of Alsco Mats slip-resistant mats and Evolution Eco Mats.

Decorative – The days when a floor mat was simply grey or black are long gone. Today’s range is available in a variety of colours and textures. This is mainly down to the advances made in the textile industry, with different designs and shades available, but it provides the opportunity to make an impression with the very first step into your business premises.

Branding – Like most blank spaces, a floor mat has a huge potential in terms of branding and promoting a company’s image. Technological advances in Chromojet printing mean that practically any image – and often in considerable detail – can be printed onto a mat. This can be an intricate design, your company logo, or an elaborately designed welcome message. Increasingly, icon imagery is being used to communicate more simply and more efficiently with a younger clientele. See what Alsco Mats has to offer in Personal Mats and Message Mats.

Area 2. Seeing The Light

In an abstract way, this is about seeing the light about the importance of light. There has been plenty of research done into the impact that the choice of lighting has on a workforce, but the impact can be equally as positive or negative on customers too.

The 2010 Oxygens study into the working habits and preferences of Generation Y revealed that 61% prefer a natural and/or artificial lighting and 33% a half artificial/half natural lighting in their office. Science also reveals that light quality directly affects circadian rhythms, which dictate a person’s biological clock and influence things like melatonin secretion, cortical activity, and alertness. In poor lighting, the circadian rhythms are disrupted, causing a negative impact. For example, these rhythms influence the limbic system, which regulates feelings of happiness, sadness, anger and other emotions. Basically, the lighting a workplace is going to make a difference in what people think and feel.

Of course, applying the science practically is another matter. Obviously, it needs to tie in with your interior décor, but you may want to look at things like the amount of natural light in your reception and office area. With artificial light, the brightness and tone of the bulbs being used can have an impact, while the style of the light fixtures should complement the décor not stand out against it. But just keep in mind that when it comes to light, you certainly can have too much of a good thing.

Area 3. Remarkable Restrooms

It can hardly come as a surprise that your office washroom makes a really strong impression on clients, customers and visitors. Whether it’s a dripping tap or reams of toilet paper strewn on a wet floor, restroom hygiene and general neatness are hugely important. From a client’s point of view, if a business takes the care necessary to keep its restrooms well, it will surely take care of its customers.

Properly Supplied – failure to have an ample supply of consumable products to hand can be a cause of great irritation. There is nothing worse than discovering (at the crucial moment) that there is no more toilet paper, or having no soap at the sink to properly wash hands. Be sure to have plenty of things like anti-bacterial soap, toilet paper, paper towels, and seat sanitisers on hand.

Working equipment – most of the consumable products mentioned above need equipment to dispense them. But when they are stored in dispensers that do not work, it can be frustrating. Okay, in certain premises having a bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap by the sink might be enough, but you may want to fix a proper dispenser on the wall. The core idea is convenience, with hygiene products easy to get at and easy to use, so be sure that equipment is working properly, not least:

  • Soap dispensers
  • Towel dispensers (paper or roller)
  • Electric Hand dryer
  • Feminine hygiene bins
  • Urinal sleeves
  • Sanitary bins

Aromatic, Not Malodorous – another obvious aspect that you should pay attention to. There can be fewer put-offs than when you enter a restroom only to be hit with an offensive smell. There are several moves to make to ensure a pleasant aroma meets everyone who uses these facilities. General cleaning products come in a variety of refreshing or natural smells, from forest pine to mountain breeze, and proper ventilation can help keep the area relatively fresh feeling. But you should offer something extra too, like odour elimination sprays, which can provide a timely jet of refreshing scents.

At Alsco, the range Fresh & Clean services include the provision of programmable mounted air fresheners, so you don’t have to remember to do it manually.

Add Some Character – with a little effort, a clean and functional workplace restroom can become an impressive restroom with a character that matches your business image. You could invest in some artwork for the walls, though this depends on the amount of space you have. Colour the walls behind the sink mirrors, whether artistic or matching your corporate logo, and add some pot plants to open up the space and offer a natural element. You could get a little adventurous with the choice of pot too, like a brass vessel for that earthy yet classy feel. Check out Instagram and Pinterest for some ideas.

Area 4. A Touch of Greenery

We have already mentioned it for the restroom, but a little greenery anywhere in an office does a lot of good to a business’s image. Research has shown that having some green fringes – or at least a potted plant or two on a desk – can make people feel more comfortable and relaxed, improve air quality, and improve productivity and cooperation levels. According to a 2010 study by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) revealed that plants contributed to reductions in tension/anxiety (37%), depression/dejection (58%), anger/hostility (44%), and fatigue (38%) in the workplace. While there is no research into how plants impact on clients’ impression, it’s logical that the sense of productivity, creativity and overall positive workplace atmosphere it evokes sends the right message to any customer.

Some of the larger businesses turn to office landscaping services to bring in an array of plants that require little attention, but offer all the benefits of an inspiring garden scene, but it should not take much to keep the job in-house. Just choose plants that require the minimum care, and appoint one staff member to maintain them.

Area 5. Something for Nothing

It seems like a cheap shot, but there is nothing wrong with providing the odd free ‘gift’ item to a client. We’re not talking about corporate entertainment here, so don’t worry about organizing free tickets to a show or a table at the best restaurant in town. No, we’re talking about offering customers a complimentary coffee or tea, bottled water or mineral, or have a bowl of mints on the reception desk they can dip their hand into whenever they want. How does this benefit your business? It just shows you care they are comfortable, and being taken care of. After all, it’s the simple things that make the difference.

Speak To Alsco

Making the right impression is never straightforward, but it is certainly not impossible. With many of the tips listed above, we at Alsco have been helping clients to maximize their image potential, whether it is in maintain a hygienically clean workplace restroom or providing branded floor mats for lobbies, reception and general working areas, or even expertly laundered table linen and uniforms.

For more ideas on how your business can make a positive and memorable impression on clients, talk to one of our expert staff. Simply contact Alsco either via the online enquiry form or by calling the branch nearest you.

Relax and Re-energise Your Employees With These Corporate Wellness Programs

Alsco wellness activities

Did You Know?

Team-building is an important part of creating a dynamic and healthy workplace environment full of productivity and innovation.

Icebreakers are an effective way of establishing that first initial contact between employees that might otherwise be a bit shy around the office.

There is a variety of corporate games and activities to do just that: break the ice.

There’s any number of activities depending on the size of the group that can be tailored to your specific goal;

Whether it’s energising your workforce after a successful bid or while completing a long-term project that includes a great deal of team effort, an experience can be crafted for you.

  • Yoga,
  • laughter,
  • meditation and
  • conversation games,

where small groups simply introduce themselves and engage in oriented group discussion, all provide great ways to stimulate large groups of individuals and provide an interactive experience.

Here are some wellness activities that you can practice at work to give your employees an opportunity to interact, reduce stress and improve their overall performance.

1. Team-Building Cooking Classes

What better way than cooking to get people together in the kitchen? Team-building cooking classes are an inspiring way to motivate clients, and can be tailored in any number of ways. This type of team bonding has been proven to inspire and motivate, building team camaraderie and has uses as an evaluation tool and as a reward for an employer’s workforce.

It has the benefit of improving communication skills, giving employees shared experiences, and empowering them to make healthy mistakes, adjust, and be rewarded for learning. It allows you to identify potential leaders among your workforce and also allows for a chance to relax and to relieve tension and build together.

If you’d like to check out some specially-tailored team-cooking activities for businesses in the Sydney area check out this Healthy Cooking Demonstrations that can be tailored to your workplace’s needs.

2. Meditation

In the high-stress environment of a kitchen or other environments, there is high pressure to perform, and the stress can build until finally it consumes you and deprives you of both optimal health and performance; this includes both physical and mental performances, which are key to being successful in any situation.

Meditation is an excellent, scientifically-backed and traditional way of improving your personal health by reducing your stress and increasing your focus. These benefits include reducing general stress, making dealing with that harsh co-worker a bit easier. You might even feel a little more motivated to get to work and as a result, you may just want to see where your work might lead you in terms of a future career within the company. Alleviating the stress frees your mind of unnecessary clutter and provides for overall better final completed products.

There are workshops geared at addressing those exact needs. Clients can participate in meditation sessions with professionals and work hands-on to develop strategies and overcome potentially more demanding times in their lives and allow any of us to reach our full potential. These workshops are currently available in Sydney and in cities across Australia. Know more about the benefits of corporate meditation classes and its benefits.

3. Yoga

Eastern philosophies are being used in western workplaces more commonly. One of these eastern practices, yoga appears to be one in which there is a clear benefit for both employer and employee.

In addition, there are yoga courses from Holistic Services Group, which have proven to have the same benefits as meditation, such as reduced stress, and yet has further benefits from the improved physical health brought on by the nature of the discipline. These workshops increase morale, create strong immune systems through stress reduction, resulting in less absenteeism, and many other of the same benefits that meditation provided participants.

4. Tai Chi

More unusually, Tai Chi is practiced in several styles, all of which originate from the same concepts but have unique characteristics. For example, the Chen style is a more explosive, combat-oriented style, whereas the Wu style focuses more on controlling one’s energy from within; the most commonly practiced, however, is the Yang style, and it is defined by the slow, fluid movements that help practitioners relax.

Similar to Yoga, Tai Chi purifies and revitalises the body by encouraging the flow of fluids. It raises one’s heart rate and blood flow so that the red blood cells more effectively carry oxygen to the vital organs, providing vitality and boosting energy levels. The exercise also pushes the practitioner to move their joints through their full range of motion, promoting balance, physical strength, and increased flexibility.

Metaphysically, Tai Chi aids the practitioner in emptying their mind through meditation, and refocuses their energy to matching the flow of their breath and movement to that of the environment around them. While only a few masters of Tai Chi can reach the state of ultimate harmony with the universe, all practitioners of the art can benefit from the calming psychological effects it provides. It has consistently been shown to alleviate stress and to put one in a serene, clearheaded state of mind.

Practicing Tai Chi is incredibly easy, as it can be practiced nearly anywhere without any equipment and can be done in either groups or individually. There are countless forms of motions that are suitable for people of all ages and physical ability, and it is not as physically exerting as other forms of exercise, while still providing the benefits of increased energy and lowered stress levels.

Simplicity

The simplicity of the movements makes it the ideal stress reliever and exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime. Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Chi), otherwise known as the “Supreme Ultimate Fist” is a form of Chinese martial arts consisting of moving meditation. It promotes both physical and mental health by encouraging harmony between the body, mind and spirit, essentially diminishing anxiety and increasing focus and concentration.

Practice

Tai Chi is practiced in several styles, all of which originate from the same concepts but have unique characteristics. For example, the Chen style is a more explosive, combat-oriented style, whereas the Wu style focuses more on controlling one’s energy from within. The most commonly practiced, however, is the Yang style, and it is defined by slow, fluid movements that help practitioners relax.

Similar to Yoga, Tai Chi purifies and revitalises the body by encouraging the flow of fluids. It raises one’s heart rate and blood flow so that the red blood cells more effectively carry oxygen to the vital organs, providing vitality and boosting energy levels. The exercise also pushes the practitioner to move their joints through their full range of motion, promoting balance, physical strength, and increased flexibility. There are Tai Chi classes that help employees relax and re-energise, ultimately increasing productivity in the workplace. These take place at various locations in Sydney.

Short Term and Long Term Benefits

The benefits of these sorts of classes are that you get long-term and short-term effects. In the short-term, it clears the mind while in the long-term, stress becomes easier to deal with.

The training courses offered allow different strategies to be applied to just the right instance for each company. Recent research into the benefits of this type of approach shows that 20-minute weekly sessions reduced stress levels by 10% and improved sleep quality. Among those benefits at home, it was noted that customer service was better from those employees, as was their inter-staff relations, mental focus, and compensation claims.

Just these few practices can bring peaceful center of being, greater stress relief and improve both life at work and at home, wherever you are from Sydney to Melbourne and all across Australia.

Feel free to inquire about these practices with Holistic Services Group however take what you’ve learned and continue applying to life.

Like Holistic Services Group, Alsco also provide tailored services to individual companies to make sure staffs are always safe and healthy. Partner with Alsco and enquire about hygiene systems, mats and workwear. Call 1300 659 892 now.

 

HSG

Alsco would like to thank Holistic Services Group for this article. Holistic Services Group is a leading provider of corporate wellness solutions and well being programs in most major cities in Australia. If you’re looking for corporate wellness program ideas, visit www.holisticservices.com.au.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

The Tale of How ‘Lost Boys’, an Organic Restaurant Came About

Alsco-A-tale-of how-an-Organic-Restaurant-Came-About

Each month we spotlight new or exciting Australian businesses which have either subscribed to Greenroom or are Alsco customers. We want to know what makes your business tick and how this can help other Alsco customers to create greener, safer and healthier businesses.

Today the spotlight is on Lost Boys.

Lost Boys Fortitude Valley recently partnered with Alsco. They use tea towels and polishing cloths to maintain a clean and safe organic restaurant for everyone.

Here’s how Lost Boys came to life and their lovely experience with their customers every single day.

Lost Boys Fortitude Valley

Type of Business: Organic, Vegetarian & Carbon Neutral. Made for the conscious being.

We value and focus on Organic; Natural & Local produce, putting positive vibes back into the consumers, the community and the environment. Young at heart, we nurture the creative and embracing the unique.

LostBoys is incessantly evolving and moving around you the consumer and the environment. We will endeavor to always use organic, 100% natural and locally produced ingredients wherever possible. We consider simplicity the ultimate form of sophistication and embrace this throughout the brand, keeping it minimal and selective, however, crafting to the highest of standards.

1. How did Lost Boys come to life? You have a very interesting name ‘Lost Boys’, how did you come up with this name?

I realised Life’s too short to be waking up every morning dreading the day ahead. I found myself amongst the daily city commute, business attire, policies, procedures, corporate clients and sales targets. I was disinterested in what I was doing and in no way passionate about what I was selling. My reality sucked.

I realized that the beautiful unrealistic place filled with dreams and aspirations I used to visit had become harder to find. I found myself dreading Mondays and looking forward to Fridays, only to forget my Saturdays and sleep away my Sundays. I wasn’t living, I was surviving. Pay to pay. I believe sometimes you get caught up in these ruts just trying to get by and yes, simply survive. Sometimes you think you have no choice, I know I had rent and bills to pay.

I wrote down all the things I am passionate about, what makes me tick, what do I love and what are my ultimate goals in life.

How could I incorporate all these things into a job or how can I create a job to get me to where I need to be…

I came up with Lost Boys.

I wanted good food and drinks for you and your belly, but at the same time doesn’t hurt the environment, a place to hang with my friends. A place that always tries its best to have a positive impact on people by encouraging positive change, thinking and action. I wanted a platform to raise awareness of things that I cared so much about, like mental health, the local music and creative arts scene, homelessness and the environment. I want to encourage people to do what they believe in, find their happiness and act upon whatever their dreams or goals might be. Because I promise you it just takes a couple steps forward and a little jump and you will be closer than you ever imagined.

Dream big and don’t be afraid to tell people, send them out into the universe, because the more you say it aloud that little bit closer your dream is to becoming your reality and the more likely it is to come back to you.

2. What is the best workday ever for you?

A busy day! We love customers, we have heaps of regulars who have become good friends in the real world. I love that.

3. What’s the best compliment you got for Lost Boys?

When people tell me they feel like they are in Neverland. I like that it can maybe take them from reality for a few seconds.

4. What do you love most about owning your own business?

I love my staff and how everyone pulls together. Sometimes I look around and am amazed at what they have done. I wouldn’t be able to do this without them.

5. What are your best tips for getting new sales in the door?

Care about your customer. Every single one of them. They are so incredibly important to me.

6. What are the hardest challenges you face when owning your own business?

Financial pressure can be tough during start up. you have to learn to compartmentalise from it and not let it effect your mental well being.

7. How long have you been using Alsco services? What Alsco products/services have you been using in Lost Boys?

We are excited that we are just beginning out Alsco partnership, we will be using tea towels and polishing cloths.

8. What 3 suggestions would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

  • Make sure you have three to four times the amount of money and time you think it will take to start up.
  • Be in a good mental space before you begin
  • Have a good support network of people behind you

9. If you are to meet the Alsco’s top manager, how would you greet him? What would you say?

Smack him on the butt. 🙂

Are you like Lost Boys Fortitude Valley, starting out a business of your own and need exceptional quality linen but at a low manageable cost? Enquire at Alsco now or call 1300 659 892 to know more about our hassle-free linen rental services.

 

LostBoys

Lost Boys Fortitude Valley started last year, 2014. Indulge yourself in rich organic food spiced with love and care. Visit them at Fortitude Valley or their website www.lostboysfortitudevalley.com for more details.

Safe Work Australia Awards

2014 saw the 9th annual Safe Work Australia Awards held to draw a focus on improving health and safety in workplaces throughout Australia. The awards honour a number of workplaces and individuals from across Australia for their outstanding contributions to work health and safety.

The Safe Work Australia Awards showcase the best in workplace safety solutions, innovations and systems. Finalists in each of the four Awards categories were winners in the state, territory or Comcare awards. An independent Awards judging panel considered each submission before deciding on the final winners.

For more information on the finalists, Awards or becoming involved with Safe Work Australia Week visit www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

2015 Awards

Nominations for various categories of awards for 2015 are now open. For more details check out the Safe Work Australia Website.

Safety at Your Workplace

Time is very important especially when it is between life and death. With Alsco we can supply your business with a managed Automated External Defibrillator (AED) service to ensure you have access to a high quality, affordable Automated External Defibrillator at all times. We also offer fully managed First Aid Supply and Service Kit designed to ensure ongoing WH&S compliance for your business.

Make your workplace safer. Give Alsco a call. What are you waiting for?

 

How a Hand-Painted Stained Glass Window Fooled Nature – A Funny Workplace Story

Alsco Hand painted stained glass photo

Each month we spotlight new or exciting Australian businesses which have either subscribed to Greenroom or are Alsco customers. We want to know what makes your business tick and how this can help other Alsco customers to create greener, safer and healthier businesses.

This time the spotlight is on Tradition Stained Glasses.

They have been an Alsco customer for over 19 years and have been using Alsco’s paper towel dispensers. It’s effective for any workplace.

Tradition Stained Glasses

Tradition Stained Glass is a 4th generation family business which originated in Holland in 1908.

Kim’s grandfather migrated to Perth in 1952 and was seeking a sea change after World War II for his family. Our business is founded on solid traditional manufacturing techniques and family values, hence our customer service is friendly and genuine. We specialise in authentic stained glass practices for commercial works such as government buildings (i.e. WA Parliament), churches and residential homes throughout WA.

Our new fused architectural glass range for illuminated alfresco wall art and outdoor water features is proving to be very popular for contemporary homes. We always strive for “Excellence in craftsmanship and creativity”.

Find out how this creative family boost into becoming creators of world class glass masterpieces.

1. What is Tradition Stained Glasses most famous for and why?

We are known and well-respected for our authentic stained glass skills and unique creative art glass works for private homes and commercial projects.

2. What’s a crazy/awesome day like in your company?

A crazy/awesome day for me is when I am engrossed in a detailed artistic project where I am able to concentrate on being an artist and let my creative juices flow unimpeded.

3. Who do you look up to as your greatest business inspiration?

I have always looked up to my ancestors and used their determination to succeed in business through much tougher times than I have ever known. My family have been making stained glass for over 110 years spanning 3 generation through depressions and wars.

4. What does working ‘on’ Tradition Stained Glasses mean to you?

Work on the business means to improve our efficiency, looking for new marketing strategies and to keep evolving with the changing times.

5. What’s your top secret marketing tip that you can share with newbies?

Top marketing tip – utilise marketing strategies on the internet such as Google Adwords, Video, Facebook and blogs. The key is to keep updating as much as possible as new content is essential to decent rankings.

6. What are the hardest challenges you face when owning your own business?

Some of the hardest challenges are maintaining market share, remaining competitive and adapting to changing markets in a slowing economy.

7. Do you have a funny story to share about one of your experiences Tradition Stained Glasses?

I remember one time we had a hand-painted kookaburra stained glass window hanging in our workshop and during one morning a real kookaburra took a fancy to our girl and began eyeing her off from a wrought iron door near our roller door.

I think that when he got no response after his courtship rituals he couldn’t stand it anymore as he flew into the workshop and began scratching and pecking at the window. Once he saw that there was no reaction he got the hint. It did prove that our hand-painted techniques fooled even nature.

8. Is there something unusual you want people to know about Tradition Stained Glasses?

People may not know that Kim Fitzpatrick runs exhibitions of his latest art works in glass mainly in the Margaret River region. His works range from wild and funky illuminated surfboards to amazing wall mounted art glass pieces. He sells his work to clients around the world and nationally. Just recently he sold a special pieces to the National Gallery in Canberra.

9. Do you have an amusing experience with an Alsco rep?

Nothing to amusing really, we always have a friendly chat with Alsco’s reps and their service is always excellent.

10. If Alsco is to offer your business a 1 year full service of one of our products, what would it be? And why do you like it best?

We would love a year’s full service with a wall-mounted towel dispenser. We find this is a brilliant way to keep our staff hygienically clean and we prefer this over messy paper towels.

Also offers a range cost effective solutions with variety of solutions to suit every organization’s needs, keeping workplaces healthier, safer and greener. Want to partner with Alsco too? Call us 1300 659 892 now.

 

tradition-stained-glass

Tradition Stained Glass started as early as 1908. It’s located in O’Connor, Western Australia 6163. Visit their gallery of glass artworks in www.traditionstainedglass.com.au.

Photo Courtesy: Tradition Stained Glass

 

Love Them or Not, Claim Your Yelp Listings Now

EDM-Claim-your-yelp-listing2

Love them or not, you simply cannot ignore them. Your restaurants’ Yelp listing is a fact and it is here to stay – even if you do not claim it. Yelp may have already discovered your cafe, bar or patisserie before your discover Yelp. It is best to not ignore Yelp.

Did you know that…

…Yelp is the largest local review social media site covering the Australia, United States, Canada, Spain, the UK, France, Austria, Germany, and Netherlands. Restaurant and businesses exist on Yelp (and are being reviewed!) whether you choose or not.

Yes, there are reasons to not like Yelp. The loudest review is only likely to be written by that one unhappy customer from amongst thousands of happy ones. You might even get calls from the Yelp salespeople for an advertisement or a paid listing. Well, we are sure you will be able to deal with both these since the advantages of your Yelp listing far outweigh these minor drawbacks.

So Why Should You Claim Your Yelp Listing Anyway?

Claiming your Yelp listing can help drive more customers to your business. According to a study done by the Boston Consulting Group, the average annual incremental revenue generated by a business claiming its free Yelp Business Page was US $8000.

Yelp is really your online ‘yellow pages’ with reviews, feedback and images helping people share their opinions and helping you decide whether to patronise a restaurant or not.

Claiming your listing allows you to add friendly content and images, participate in reviews and interact with potential customers.

Yelp and SEO

There is something more critical about a yelp listing. This is because Yelp listings matter for SEO optimisation. SEO optimisation is basically trying to get your business to the top of Google, Bing or similar search engine results. In this regard, Yelp is important and it would be foolhardy to ignore it.

Here is why Yelp is necessary:

Yelp listings show up on Google search pages

When doing a search, for example a ‘Sushi Restaurant in Sydney CBD’ or something similar, your potential customers will often see Yelp listings on the Google page. The customer on clicking the link will land on Yelp, read reviews about your business, get influenced by the images put up (which if you have claimed your listing, you can put as per your choice) and then end up making a booking.

Yelp is the leader on the Bing search engine

For customers who use Bing as their preferred search engine, will typically find Yelp listings when they do a search. This would lead to potential customers.

Yelp reviews are at work behind the scene

Even if your restaurant does not show up on search engines, the reviews on Yelp are always working and impact your Google / Bing ranking directly. So claim that listing and work on those reviews.

How to Claim Your Yelp Listing – Step-By-Step

Before we get started, you have to remember that there is Yelp for consumers and Yelp for businesses. We would be working on the Yelp for Businesses.

When you start out, there are two scenarios – either your restaurant already exists on Yelp or it does not. As a first step, you need to figure out if it does. Thereafter, you need to claim your business. We explain this in detail below.

Scenario 1 – Find an existing business on Yelp

Part 1: Finding it

Steps:

1. Go to https://biz.yelp.com/signup_business

2. Enter your business name, address and/or phone number (We are using a fictitious name The Big Burgers and address)

Alsco Yelp listing1

3. Check if it exists

4. Try alternatives

5. If you find it, click on the ‘Claim’ button and start the claiming process

 

Part 2: Claiming Your Business

Steps:

1. Create your business account by filling in your name, e-mail and password.

Alsco-yelp-listing-3

2. Click on Continue.

3. Check the phone number given on this page (it should not be answered by an automated machine and should be accessible by you, or else change the number).

4. Note down the 4 digit pin number given on the page.

5. Once you are ready to receive a call on this number, press the ‘Call me now’ button.

Alsco-yelp-listing-4

 

6. Verify your code by entering the 4 digit number.

Scenario 2: If your business does not exist on Yelp, then you need to create a Business.

Part 1: Creating a Business on Yelp

Steps:

1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Add your business to Yelp

Alsco-yelp-listing-5

 

Fill in relevant details such as

  • Country – Choose Australia from the drop-down menu
  • Business Name – We have gone in with a fictional name The Big Burgers
  • Address
  • City, State, Zip
  • Phone – Put in a Direct Phone Number here as you will receive a verification call
  • Web address
  • Hours – Hours for each day of the week, in case they differ, can be put in here.
  • Categories – Select a few different categories under which customers are likely to search for options when looking for your kind of cuisine ( for e.g. we would choose burgers, fast food, American food)
  • Email Address – where a verification email can be sent.

Part 2: Claiming Your Business

Once your business is set up, there will be a verification similar to the Part 2 in Scenario 1 above.

CONGRATULATIONS! Your business now exists on Yelp!

Use Yelp to interact with your customers and with potential ones too. Upload pictures of your restaurant, its dishes, and your chef’s in action in a clean, hygienic environment, dressed up in smart chef coats to create that perfect image for your viewers.

Alsco has been nominated for Restaurant and Catering Association’s Supplier of the Year award in 3 States. Choose from Alsco table-linen, serviettes, food-grade wipes, chef uniforms to hospitality grade first-aid kits. Contact us at 1300 659 892 or at https://www.alsco.com.au/ for your no-obligation, free quote today.
Image Courtesy: Nan Palmero

 

The Kitchen As a Workplace – Getting Out Of The Frying Pan and Avoiding the Fire

Alsco kitchen as a workplace

A Story…

First a story, courtesy of Restaurant consultant Dirk Botes.

A restaurateur was having trouble getting staff to work on slow Sunday shifts. Sometimes staff would call in sick at the last minute. Many staff simply said they were not available for the shift. Too often our business building hero would find himself scrambling to find staff to come in on Sunday morning.

It’s an interesting problem to ponder. What could be done? Offer bonuses? Make the Sunday shift mandatory for employees who wanted to keep working?

What our hero did was rather interesting and goes to the core of a creating a great work environment. But I will get back to that later.

The Kitchen As a Workplace

Kitchens are not just a place for wait staff in aprons and chefs in uniform to cook, with utensils, equipment, towels and of course, food around. There’s more to it.

Kitchens are notorious as high pressure volatile environments where raised voices and the occasional thrown plate are merely signs of passion and high standards.

Those of us who have worked in foodservice businesses know that the reality is a little different.

Conflict is usually a sign of disorganisation rather than high standards. Frustrated staff are more often the result of poorly specified roles and responsibilities than a romantic passion for excellence.

There are many steps you can take to improve a kitchen-based workplace but ultimately it all comes down to a single overused and misunderstood word, culture.

Having a great culture doesn’t mean you don’t need to create procedures, rules and standards but it’s the culture of your kitchen that determines whether people will pay attention to the procedures, rules and standards.

Everyone can influence culture but head chefs and managers, the people in charge, have a unique opportunity to determine the culture in the kitchen because everyone else is looking to them for hints as to what is expected.

People, Problems and Opportunities

There are some important insights into human nature that can make it much easier to create a positive working environment and therefore a high performing team.

The Curse Of Knowledge“, as explained by psychologist Steven Pinker, is the simple notion that once you know something it’s very difficult to think about problems from the perspective of people who do not know. To put it simply, often people are not as stupid as they seem they just don’t have the information that they need.

It’s very important to keep this in mind when new staff arrive in your kitchen. Putting things in the wrong place, doing things at the wrong time or not being prepared may not be signs of incompetence but merely signs that the person hasn’t been told the specifics of how things are done in their new environment.

It’s quite likely that if we took some of the star performers from your kitchen and placed them somewhere new they would make similar mistakes.

Information Overload

There is a great deal of information passing through a kitchen. Today’s supplier orders, preparation to be done for tomorrow, the cleaning schedule, what needs to be thrown out, who has phoned in sick and more. As little information as possible should be stored in people’s minds and as much as possible written down.

Maybe you use a whiteboard or a computer system or pen and paper, regardless of how you do it it’s important to liberate people from the requirement of remembering. When people are required to remember information and they know that there will be negative consequences if they forget they experience higher levels of stress.

Where possible have a single place where a certain category of information is stored and make sure everyone knows where that place is. Having information recorded is not enough, the information must be in a single location that everyone is aware of. Only then can people’s minds truly let go and use the freed up mental capacity for other tasks.

In the front of house world its clear when a server / waiter is on top of things or struggling. Managers are often able to balance abilities by allocating less capable staff fewer tables or making sure they are serving close to the kitchen where an eye can be kept on them. It’s a little more difficult in the kitchen.

Often the higher achieving kitchen staff will take up the slack produced by struggling colleagues. It’s not unusual to see kitchen staff with ostensibly the same job description performing at very different levels.

While having an explicit public pecking order of kitchen staff is probably not suited to most workplaces it’s also dangerous to have an unfair distribution of work where those who can, do and those who can’t let them.

The Power of Praise

Genuine praise is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to motivate people. Perhaps more importantly it demonstrates an organisation’s values. Managers and senior kitchen staff should always remember the old maxim of praising in public and criticizing in private. Whether it’s considered deserved or not public humiliation is demoralising to everyone involved.

People have a nose for unfairness, praise and blame being incorrectly assigned will lead to noses being out of joint and eventually flagging performance. So how can you make sure you are hitting the target ? Well one thing is for sure: gut instinct or just assuming that you can tell from general impression is not going to work.

The human mind is littered with biases and glitches that obstruct accurate assessment. There’s the Dunning-Kruger effect and Confirmation Bias just to name a couple.

The solution? Measurement. The old saying “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” isn’t the half of it. If it’s not being measured you don’t have a clue. General impressions and people’s instincts about which staff member is performing or which supplier is the most reliable or which advertising is working have driven more food businesses into the wall than could be counted.

There is a gulf of difference in level of measurement and detail recorded by successful growing businesses and failing struggling also-rans.

Back to Our Hero

Anyway, back to our story. The protagonist came up with the solution of providing a modest morning buffet breakfast for staff on the Sunday shift. He would sit with them and discuss what was happening in the restaurant, what the current plans and challenges were.

The Sunday morning meet-up before opening turned into a brainstorming session where staff and management would discuss how they could improve, what was working and what wasn’t.

A funny thing started to happen, everyone wanted to work on Sunday.

Looking for hassle-free solutions to make your kitchen a cleaner and healthier workplace? Partner with Alsco, enquire now!

KitchenCoster

Article written by Samh at KitchenCoster.com. KitchenCoster is a supply chain management system for restaurants, caterers and hotels.

Image Courtesy: dnyluong