Tag: business

29 Aug

3 Ways to Secure Information On Your Computer

Here are three things every office needs to get out of computer technology glitches. In the long run, it will save you time, money and help you be more productive. Back it up, secure it and get out of technology issues quickly.

  1. Have a way to backup your computer and ability to check that it is backing up correctly.

Make sure your computer backup is offsite. If you’re using cloud computing, that’s great. Having a back up to your back up might be good too. Try using these: Backblaze has no storage limit and is very cost effective at $5 a month. Check them out at http://www.backblaze.com Crashplan has a great interface, good encryption and is equally inexpensive. http://www.code42.com/crashplan/ Crashplan has some great reviews. Including a thumbs up from my own computer guy.

From experience, I had a client who faithfully backed up her computer. When she spilled coffee on it, she wasn’t alarmed, she had the backup. Or did she? When she went to go retrieve her latest backup it wasn’t there! Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Send information and documents to the cloud. Get a service to back it up each night. Just make sure you’re backing up your computer and check the backup.

  1. The ability to have passwords on hand, every time, and keep them secure.

One thing I’ve seen clients do is type in a password. It doesn’t work, they try another, that doesn’t work. Let’s try another. It doesn’t work either.  Lastpass “remembers your passwords so you can focus on the more important things in life.” Stop guessing and trying to remember. Use a program that can help you manage and remember passwords securely. Here’s is info on their service www.lastpass.com.

Dashlane creates and saves passwords while keeping them secure. www.dashlane.com  It’s a bummer to have to root around your desk or computer looking for that post it note with all your important password info. Plus, you know that’s not the most secure way to handle passwords.

  1. Get a great technology person to help you out in a jam.

One thing I know, I’m into productivity but not so much into technology. I’m into the habit changes needed in an office. Once those habits are in place then finding the technology to support those changes is what works best. Not the other way around. So I admit, I’m no techy.  I look to my tech guy to help me out when email stops working on my phone, issues I might have with my blog or when my website gets buggy. It’s about finding someone who is passionate about their work and patient with you when you have a zillion questions. When you have a glitch you won’t waste time, you’ll know who to call.

About the Author:

Maro Brown, Productivity CoachMargo Brown is a Productivity Coach and Professional Organizer with Wave Productivity and works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. She serves the Tempe and Phoenix area in Arizona. If you want to get more organized in your office call 602-677-8275 or email margo@waveproductivity.com

 

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19 Profit-Watching Tips for Restaurateurs

A Checklist for RestaurateursIn the last of our series on Starting Your Own Restaurant, especially for budding restaurateurs, we pull everything together in a checklist.

Making a profit is the most important some might say this is the only objective of a business. Profit measures success. It can be defined simply: revenues less expenses = profit. So, to increase profits, you must raise revenues, lower expenses, or both. To make improvements, you must know what’s going on financially at all times.

Secrets of Success for Restaurateurs

  • CONTROL (168 hrs./week)
  • KISS – keep it simple stupid (menu / concept / etc)
  • WORKING CAPITAL / CASH FLOW

Here’s the checklist:

  1. Plan no profit first year – caveat debt service
  2. Initially request credit – negotiate for 7-30 days
  3. Try to avoid signing personally – especially not for ongoing product and supplies
  4. Negotiate all prices –insist on credit for spoiled food not seen on delivery or goes bad
  5. Good accounting system important (QuickBooks – we hold regular classes on using Quickbooks. Check out the schedule here.)
  6. Sandwich shops belong in industrial / commercial area
  7. Take out food service important potential source of income.
  8. Caveat location / competition / competitive advantage
  9. Should change menu every three months if possible
  10. Permit / license consultants available
  11. County courses available for bar employees re. Dram Act responsibilities / liabilities
  12. Employee food – 50% discount (on selected items) or special separate food free
  13. Caveat theft and waste / use of leftovers
  14. Portion control (advanced preparation) particularly for sandwiches (Subway model)
  15. Request credit on bad food
  16. Weigh / check in all food delivery – especially produce (check bottom layer of box)
  17. Caveat Health Dept. (utilize former Health Dept. employee to ensure up to code)
  18. Remember food handler’s card
  19. Advertising Resources – ValPak, local/weekly papers, Guerilla Marketing, social media, videos

 

If you’re thinking of start a restaurant or any type of business, get FREE Business Mentoring at a convenient location in the Phoenix Valley.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

 

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A Building Guide for a Successful New Restaurant

We at SCORE are dedicated to helping you get started and become successful business owners. As we continue with the “So You Want to Start a New Restaurant” series, we deal with construction. Construction is always a challenge — not matter what you’re building!

Building Your New Restaurant

Construction

Building your new restaurantIf you are going to build or remodel a restaurant, your general contractor will need a set of scaled construction documents, often called “working drawings” for submittal to your local building and health department.

Typical drawings

Here is a list of typical drawings you’ll need for your contractor:

  • Cover Sheet with site and project information
  • Demolition Plan, if applicable
  • Store Front Elevations, if applicable
  • Partition/Construction Plan
  • Floor Plan with FF&E (Furniture, fixtures and equipment)
  • Environmental Plans for Health Department
  • Finish Plans and Schedules
  • Kitchen Equipment Elevations
  • Wall Elevations
  • Exhaust and Make-up Air Plan
  • Refrigeration and Curb Plans
  • Plumbing and Electrical Rough in Plans
  • Detail Drawings for custom cabinetry and fixtures
  • Furniture and Equipment Specifications
  • Reflected Ceiling Plan
  • Electrical and Telephone plans
  • Mechanical Plan/ HVAC Plan
  • Door, Window and Ceiling Details
  • Other

Building Codes

All your plans, drawings and specifications must be in compliance with the building and health codes that are applicable to your location and be approved by the following regulatory agencies.

  • County Health Department
  • Department of Building and Safety
  • Fire Marshall

Most restaurants must comply with the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (Mossier)

Construction Costs

  • Build out cost for a new restaurant +/- $80-150 per sq.ft
  • Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment +/- $20-30 per sq.ft. , consider used.
  • New, hot location rents = $28-38 per sq.ft.
  • Tenant Improvement allowance (TI) allowance (negotiable) up to of 20% rent.
  • Build Cost should not exceed 25% projected sales
  • Caveat gray vs. vanilla shell (gray totally unfinished) as well as allowance issues.
  • Caveat concept impulse (requires high traffic) vs. destination.
  • To project income calculate number of seats ( 2800 sq. ft. -> 100 seats incl. kitchen – total build out costs & fixtures = +/-_ 450k or $160/ft. furniture & equipment = 20-22% of total)
  • Remember parking safety and accessibility.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

 

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Restaurant Management Success Tips 1 Aug

9 Restaurant Management Success Tips

Poor management and lack of expertise account for more than half of new restaurant failures!

Here are some operational tips that are essential to your restaurant’s success.

  1. Office Procedures. A simple, user-friendly manual based on Federal and State laws should define the management policy on sexual harassment and discrimination, dealing with customers or suppliers, employee performance reviews, terminations, and standards for operation of the business in a “real world” environment. Research on applicable Federal and State requirements are a must. Also included should be procedures or process flows on key work activities (budgeting, invoicing, accounts payable, credit and collection, purchasing and maintenance, etc.), employee benefits, training, disciplinary actions, records retention, and training. This manual should be developed early on, given to each employee and a signed receipt kept in company files.
  2. Profitability Through Financial Controls. Develop a progressing 12-month flexible budget defining estimated revenue streams and expenses.  As applicable, include a revenue projection based on prior year’s performance.   This exercise will provide a formula for projecting profit and loss based on expected revenue for the year and identifies trends and areas for management concern and corrective action.
  3. Restaurant Management Success TipsDevelop a Cash Flow Analysis. Show the break even point at which all costs and expenses have been absorbed and the business starts making money. This analysis will help you decide if projected yearly revenue and expenses will meet expectations and identify cost categories where improvements are necessary should a profit shortfall occur. Develop credit lines or other sources of capital to be available during potential negative cash flow periods.
  4. Develop Standard Budget Categories. Track sales and expenses, daily/weekly and quarterly/annual management variance reports. Review order slips versus register tapes to determine accuracy of reporting receipts and make recommendations for improvements. This will provide a level of management visibility and profit accountability in order to predetermine whether profit objectives are being met and form the basis for future reporting. Your accountant can help you here.
  5. Cash Flow Accountability. Implement cash controls that catch discrepancies in what is collected each night and what is deposited. All cash funds collected must go into the bank as soon as possible.  If there is a difference it must be identified and resolved by the manager on duty before they go home. The designated financial employee must then track down and resolve any difference in what is reported to be taken in for the week and what was deposited. Continually review daily and weekly register tapes by time and sales to determine an optimum operating schedule. Review cost of sales figures from prior years, if available.
  6. Training of Key Personnel and Management on a Flexible Operating Budget. The current operating budget will have the necessary operational relationships defined in order to calculate possible excursions in revenue or expenses and allow for timely management adjustments to meet year-end profit targets.
  7. Prepare Procedures and Flow Charts. These will become a reference source for all restaurant personnel on implementing and maintaining the financial and management control process. These procedures and charts are designed to be dynamic in nature and be changed or improved to fit the restaurants changing work environment.
  8. Functional Organizational Chart. Unlike a typical block organizational chart, this is a chart to graphically portray the added flow of responsibilities top to bottom throughout the entire business structure. This should be the foundation for complete understanding on work responsibilities and relationships between the owner and the restaurant team — and used in the development of job descriptions, management team development and controls.
  9. Financial and Management Reporting System. Design a financial and management reporting format that includes the required managerial controls. An efficient automated system that is designed specifically for the restaurant industry is required for updating and maintaining the financial data mandatory for professional and timely profit and expense control and reporting. An accountant with experience in restaurant financial controls could recommend a system suitable to fit the size of your business with the necessary accountability.

This is part of a series for new restaurant startups by Roger Robinson, Phd.

If you’re thinking of start a restaurant or any type of business, get FREE Business Mentoring at a convenient location in the Phoenix Valley.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

 

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The Challenges in Opening Your Own Restaurant

Obstacles in Opening Your Own Restaurant

The Challenges of Opening Your Own RestaurantThe single biggest problem in the first year is a lower sales volume than expected, due either to fewer customers or customers spending less money than estimated. Do not overlook seasonality. In the Phoenix area in the summer breaking even is a challenge.

Owners seem to have the idea that they can just open the doors for a grand opening and customers will come flocking in. Increased marketing in the restaurant’s immediate vicinity often cures weak initial sales – but be cautious about offering coupon specials as they are costly and often have a low rate of generating repeat business. Also, talk to other restaurant owners outside your competitive area for lessons they learned in developing their businesses.

Funding Your Business

Money needed to start depends on the type of business, the facility, how much equipment you need, whether you buy or lease new or used, your inventory, marketing, and necessary operating capital. Banks seldom loan more hen 50% of required funds. Depending on how much money you have to

invest in your food-service business and the particular type of business you choose, you can spend over one million on a facility.

  • Your own resources. Inventory of your assets. You may have more assets than you realize, including savings accounts, retirement accounts, equity in real estate, recreation equipment, vehicles, collections and other investments. You may opt to sell assets for cash or use them as collateral for a loan.
  • Family and friends. Friends and relatives who believe in you and want to help you succeed. Be cautious with these arrangements; no matter how close you are with the person, present yourself professionally, put everything in writing, and be sure the individuals you approach can afford to take the risk.
  • You may choose someone who has financial resources and wants to work side by side with you in the business. Or you may find someone who has money to invest but no interest in doing the actual work. Be sure to create a written partnership agreement that clearly defines your respective responsibilities and obligations. And choose your partners carefully–especially when it comes to family members.
  • Government programs. Make your first stop the SBA, but be sure to investigate various other programs. SBA programs generally work through banks and require a complete business plan. The business section of your local library is a good place to begin your research.

Regulatory Requirements

Food operations are strictly regulated and subject to inspection. Fail to meet regulations, and you could be subject to fines or be shut down by authorities. And if the violations involve tainted food, you could be responsible for your patrons’ illnesses and even death. Issues such as sanitation and fire safety are critical. Provide a safe environment in which your employees can work and your guests can dine, follow the laws of your state on sales of alcohol and tobacco products, and handle tax issues accurately, including sales, beverage, payroll and more.

Most regulatory agencies will work with new operators to let them know what they must do to meet the necessary legal requirements. Investigate the governmental regulatory requirements, city, county and state, starting with the Arizona Environmental Services Department as well as county health departments. Prepare for an excess of paperwork, including complex codes with regulations covering everything from kitchen exhaust systems to sinks, storage devices and all interior finishes.

Qualified Labor – one of your biggest challenges.

The Challenges of Opening Your Own RestaurantFinding qualified workers and rising labor costs are two key concerns for food-service business owners. The supply of workers age16-24, the primary pool for restaurant employees, has been declining. Develop a comprehensive HR program and a personnel manual. The job description needs to clearly outline the job’s duties and responsibilities. It should also list any special skills or other required credentials, such as a valid driver’s license and clean driving record for someone who is going to make deliveries for you.

Next, establish a pay scale. Research the pay rates in your area. Establish a minimum and maximum rate for each position. You’ll pay more even at the start for better qualified and more experienced workers. Of course, the pay scale is affected by whether or not the position is one that is regularly tipped.

  • Hire right. Every prospective employee should fill out an application even if they submit a resume. A resume is not a signed, sworn statement acknowledging that you can fire the person if he or she lies about his or her background; the application, which includes a truth affidavit, is. Thoroughly screen applicants. Do background checks. If you can’t do this yourself, contract with a HR consultant to do it for you on an as-needed basis.
  • Detailed Job Descriptions. Don’t make your employees guess about their responsibilities. Be sure they understand what you expect of them. Interview key personnel to determine their perception of their roles and responsibilities. A written description for the owner and all personnel providing position title, qualifications required, basic functions, reporting relationships, authority, responsibilities, and measurements of performance can then be used for training and compensation purposes.
  • Formal Personnel Evaluations. A process that will communicate performance results to company employees on an ongoing basis – and is a fair – is an objective way to provide recommendations for improvement in behavior and performance. After documentation, establish a baseline for developing practical recommendations for improvement. Again, have the employee sign the evaluation form after discussions and a copy kept in company files.
  • Motivational and Compensation Process. Incorporate a profit-motivated employee incentive plan with a bonus weighted according to the employee’s contribution towards achieving both the company profit and individual growth goals as specified in the job descriptions. A new owner should consider profit sharing to provide incentives, reduce turnover, promote teamwork, and improve overall employee operational efficiency.
  • Understand wage-and-hour and child labor laws. Check with your own state’s Department of Labor to be sure you comply with regulations on issues such as minimum wage (which can vary depending on the age of the workers and whether they’re eligible for tips), and when teenagers can work and what tasks they’re allowed to do.
  • Report tips properly. The IRS is very specific about how tips are to be reported; for details, check with your accountant or contact the IRS (or see your local telephone directory for the number).
  • Provide initial and ongoing training. Even experienced workers need to know how things are done in your restaurant. Well-trained employees are happier, more confident and more effective. Plus, ongoing training builds loyalty and reduces turnover. The NRA can help you develop appropriate employee training programs.

When your restaurant is still new, some employees’ duties may cross over from one category to another. For example, your manager may double as the host, and servers may also bus tables. Be sure to hire people who are willing to be flexible in their duties. Your payroll costs, including all taxes and benefits, your own salary and that of your managers, should be about 25 to 30 percent of your total gross sales.

  • Your most important employee. Your best candidate will have already managed a restaurant or restaurants in your area and will be familiar with local buying sources, suppliers and methods. You’ll also want leadership skills and the ability to supervise personnel while reflecting the style and character of your restaurant.

Quality of manager are paid well. Depending on your location, expect to pay a seasoned manager $30,000 to $40,000 a year, plus a percentage of sales. An entry-level manager will earn $22,000 to$26,000 but won’t have the skills of a more experienced candidate. If you can’t offer a high salary, work out a profit-sharing arrangement-it’s an excellent way to hire good people and motivate them to build a successful restaurant. Hire your manager at least a month before you open so he or she can help you set up your restaurant.

  • Chefs and cooks. When you start out, you’ll probably need three cooks–two full time and one part time. Restaurant workers typically work shifts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 4 p.m. to closing. But one lead cook may need to arrive early in the morning to begin preparing soups, bread and other items to be served that day. One full-time cook should work days, and the other evenings. The part-time cook will help during peak hours, such as weekend rushes, and can work as a line cook during slower periods, doing simple preparation.
  • Salaries for chefs and cooks vary according to their experience and your menu. Chefs command salaries significantly higher than cooks, averaging $600 to $700 a week. You may also find chefs who are willing to work under profit-sharing plans. If you have a fairly complex menu that requires a cook with lots of experience, you may have to pay anywhere from $400 to $500 a week. Pay part-time cooks on an hourly basis.
  • Your servers will have the most interaction with customers, so they need to make a favorable impression and work well under pressure, meeting the demands of customers at several tables while maintaining a pleasant demeanor. There are two times of day for wait staff: very slow and very busy. Schedule your employees accordingly. The lunch rush, for example, starts around 11:30 a.m. and continues until 1:30 or 2 p.m. Restaurants are often slow again until the dinner crowd arrives around 5:30 to 6 p.m.

Servers who earn a good portion of their income from tips are usually paid minimum wage or just slightly more. When your restaurant is new, you may hire only experienced servers so you don’t have to provide extensive training. As you become established, however, you should develop training systems to help both new, inexperienced employees and veteran servers understand your philosophy and the image you want to project.

This is part of a series on Starting Your Own Restaurant

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

 

 

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25 Jul

Entrepreneurs: You Are Not Alone

Entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses are used to doing everything – from unlocking the doors in the morning, to emptying out the trash cans, and locking up before heading home at the end of another long day. Along the way, making hundreds of decisions, often with significant potential consequences. It’s challenging, risky, unsettling, and often intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be lonely.

Every entrepreneur and small business owner will benefit from an informal team of advisors that they can call on for advice and help. As you pursue your entrepreneurial journey, seek out and invite an advisory team of business professionals to join you. Your core competency is running the business, theirs is to help you be successful.

Your advisory team should include a Lawyer, an Accountant, a Banker, an Independent Insurance Agent, and a Mentor. In addition, given the pace of technology, adding an IT guru and an On-Line Marketing expert is highly recommended.

Referrals and recommendations from friends and respected colleagues are the best sources of leads to fill out your advisory team. Once you identify one or two members, ask them who they feel comfortable working with and you’ll likely quickly assemble a talented team.

Each member of the team will be able to advise you on the many pitfalls that face small businesses, as well as help you set a firm foundation for future smooth operations. For instance, the Lawyer will counsel you on creating a legal entity for your business, but also provide guidance on the regulatory environment, labor law issues, and review of contracts (before you sign). Ask lots of questions, take advantage of free advice, but always be willing to pay for their professional services.

The Mentor on your team can play a particularly important role. Find a Mentor with relevant experience, a willingness to share, and the time needed to be available to you. SCORE is a great source of Mentors – with over 70 talented business professionals in the Greater Phoenix Chapter – and no charge for mentoring.

You don’t have to be alone in your entrepreneurial journey. Reach out to others and focus on identifying and forming a team of business professionals. Your advisory team will provide the advice and support needed to drive your success. Add this task to your “to do” list today, and then take out the trash.

About the Author:

Andy BeranAndy Beran is the immediate Past President of Greater Phoenix SCORE and has been a mentor since 2008. Andy currently owns a medical transport company in the Phoenix area.  Since purchasing the company in 2010, he returned the business to consistent profitability and growth. During his extensive corporate career, Andy held various management positions at a leading Fortune 50 high technology research, development and manufacturing company.  His positions included Group Controller and Director of Strategic Planning.  He was a proven expert in the areas of Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategic Alliances, New Business Development, Operations and Capacity Planning, Finance & Budgeting and ROI / Productivity. Learn more about Andy here.

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