Thursday, September 12, 2013

Developing a Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Businesses that are forced to close down following a disaster run the risk of never being able to open their doors again. While there’s no way to lower the risk of a natural disaster like a hurricane, there are critical measures that can be taken to protect your company’s bottom line from nature’s fury. A disaster plan and adequate insurance are keys to recovery.

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Large corporations often hire risk managers to handle this task and some companies hire consultants with expertise in disaster planning and recovery to assist them with their plans. But small businesses can do the analysis and planning on their own.


  • Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know whom to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses.
  • Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
  • Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses.Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
  • Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; place a notice in local newspapers.
  • Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
  • Human Resources. Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your shop or receive goods or services.
  • Physical Resources. Inspect your business’ plant(s) and assess the impact a disaster would have on facilities. Make sure your plans conform to local building code requirements.
  • Business Community. Even if your business escapes a disaster, there is still a risk that it could suffer significant losses due to the inability of suppliers to deliver goods or services or a reduction in customers. Businesses should communicate with their suppliers and markets (especially if they are selling to a business as a supplier) about their disaster preparedness and recovery plans, so that everyone is prepared.
  • Protect Your Building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
  • Keep Duplicate Records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up-to-date.
  • Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
  • Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors. Consider a reciprocity agreement with another business. Try to get an advance commitment from at least one contractor to respond to your needs.
  • Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer offsite backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet. 


Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.

New additions or improvements should also be reflected in your policy. This includes construction improvement to a property and the addition...

Friday, April 12, 2013

5 ways to prepare your business for tornado season

Peak tornado season runs from mid-spring through early summer and, if a tornado strikes near your business, you need to react quickly. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a severe weather plan and safe areas for your employees. Follow these steps to get your company and employees ready for storm season:

1. Determine how much space you’ll require. 
You should have enough safe areas to fit all employees and any guests who may be in the building at the time of a tornado. Use the following guidelines from FEMA for how much space you need:

  •  Occupants (standing and seated): 5 square feet per person

  •  Wheelchair users: 10 square feet per person

2. Walk through your building to identify the safest areas
. The basement typically is best. If your building doesn’t have a basement, select an area on the lowest level. Ideally, this space should be a small interior room or corridor. Avoid areas with windows and rooms with high ceilings or outside walls — these are more likely to be damaged during a storm.

3. Assess the exterior of the building
. Look for trees, poles, and other items that could fall or hit the building. Don’t choose safe areas near these hazards.

4. Hold tornado drills often
. Employees in all parts of the building should know where to go and practice the paths to get there.

5. Monitor the weather
. A tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado and there is a high probability of one in the surrounding area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted in your county, or one is moving toward your area. It also could signify that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado.

Someone in your building should have access to a weather radio to listen for severe weather alerts. They also should monitor local radar information if a watch or warning has been issued and provide alerts and/or directions to employees.

For more information, visit or

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Restaurant Self-­‐assessment Tool for Employing Youth

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has established special rules for employing minors. The following self-assessment is designed to identify some of the most common problems encountered in the food service industry regarding young workers. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you are likely not in compliance with federal regulations.

Do any workers under age 18 do the following?
  1. Operate or clean power-driven meat slicers or other meat processing machines? Minors under age 18 may not set up, operate or assist to operate, clean, oil, adjust, or repair, power driven meat processing equipment. This includes meat slicers, meat grinders, patty forming machines, meat and bone cutting saws, and food processors when used to process meats. Such minors may not hand wash any parts of power-driven meat processing machines, but they may run a rack of the disassembled parts through an automatic dishwasher if they do not touch the parts.
  2. Operate or clean any power-driven dough mixer or other bakery machines?  Minors under 18 generally may not set up, operate or assist to operate, clean, oil, adjust, or repair power driven bakery machines. This includes horizontal and vertical dough mixers, battermixers, bread dividing, rounding, or molding machines, dough brakes, dough sheeters, cookie and cracker machines, and cake cutting bandsaws. There are limited exemptions that allow 16- and 17-year-olds to operate certain small, portable, counter top mixers and pizza dough rollers. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may hand wash the disassembled parts of power-driven bakery equipment. 
  3. Operate, load, or unload any balers or compactors? Minors under 18 generally may not load, operate or unload any power-driven balers and compactors. There is a limited exemption that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to load, but not operate or unload, certain scrap paper balers and paper box compactors if the equipment meets certain safety standards, there is a posting to this effect on the machine, the on-off switch of the machine has a key-lock or other type of lock-out system, and the equipment is inoperable while it is being loaded. 
To see all of the 22 items please click the link here to download the article.

8 Essential Elements of Payment Card Processing Costs

Most Americans rely on credit, debit, and gift cards for restaurant purchases, so it is critical that you understand how you are being charged each time you accept a card for payment. To help educate you and others in the restaurant industry, the National Restaurant

Association offers our “8 Essential Elements of Payment Card Processing Costs.” Use this information to navigate the tricky waters of card processing. Be informed. Know your rights. Keep every penny you deserve. And help your business grow.

Click the image below to open the 8 Essential Elements of Payment Card Processing Costs.

Information provided by National Restaurant Association.  

Good server interaction is better for business

This article is presented courtesy of a source of operational and business resources for independent restaurant operators.

It starts with, "Hi, my name is Jordan, and I'll be your server tonight."  When your customer asks, "What's good here?" the server replies, "Everything."  After the food arrives, the server asks, "How's everything?"

All of the above are clich├ęs that customers hear over and over again. Those expressions reduce the chances that any meaningful, relationship-building conversation will take place between your servers and their guests, and that can be bad for your business.

When servers initiate personalized, intelligent conversation, many powerful things start to happen. Brains become engaged, meaningful dialogue starts to happen, servers connect with their guests, and guests have a better time and feel appreciated and cared for.

How does that affect your business? Satisfied guests usually tip better, and they're inclined to come back to your restaurant more often.  Use your pre-shift meetings to discuss ways your servers can improve their interactions with your guests. Discuss antidotes to typical server sayings, such as:

  • "Hi, my name is..." Truth is most people don't care what the server's name is. Try a greeting such as, "Hi, welcome to The Crab House. I'm so glad you decided to join us tonight." This puts the focus where it should be, on the guest rather than on the server. Have your staff practice their table greetings with a bright smile and direct eye contact, and you'll be miles ahead of most of your competition.
  • "What's good here?" Coach your staff to describe two or three popular items that you do really well or better yet, have them recommend what they like.
  • "How's everything?" After the food is served, have your servers practice specific, intelligent questions that pertain to what your guests have ordered. "Is your tuna cooked the way you like it?" "Does anyone need more barbecue sauce?" "Have you tasted the lobster bisque yet?"
When there is meaningful conversation, human connections are made and guests feel valued and appreciated. Added bonus: they'll want to know their server's name so they can ask for them on their next visit!  Want to stake out a competitive advantage? Start by creating the most welcoming, sociable and conversational service staff around.

To control food costs, start at the cook line

The cook line is, perhaps, the most volatile area for controlling food cost. Whereas theft can occur anywhere, and vendor prices and proper preparation practices certainly can have an equally negative effect on food cost, it usually is on the cook line that many restaurants lose their profits. Common issues include incorrect portioning, waste and overcooked or cold food resulting from the kitchen getting slammed with orders, items being prepared without a food ticket, or unrecorded sales, and communication failures between kitchen and service staff that can result in incorrect orders.

Review these proven tips to control your food costs:
  • No ticket, no food. This is perhaps the singularly most effective policy for controlling food and beverage costs. By employing a policy that all orders must be rung up on the point-of-sale system or cash register before they can be made, you eliminate the possibility of unrecorded sales. If your POS or cash register doesn't have the ability to print orders to the kitchen and bar ‑ often called requisition printing ‑ then you may want to start shopping for one that does. It is common knowledge among POS vendors that restaurants using requisition printers typically enjoy as much as 5% or more in cost savings than those that don't.
  • Keep a waste log. Every restaurant experiences some degree of waste, but it is a controllable expense. Create systems to both minimize and record wasted product, such as meals returned by the customer, kitchen mistakes and spoilage. Keeping an accurate accounting of the value of wasted product can help to account for variances between ideal and actual food cos
  • Portion control tools. Poor portion control is one of the leading causes of food cost variances. Consider that your ideal food cost is based on the premise of exact portioning for each menu item, including the portioning of each ingredient within a menu item. If your prep and line cooks have gotten in the habit of "eyeballing" measurements rather than sticking to the exact recipes, chances are your food cost variance could be as much as 5% or more. Proven portion control strategies include the use of portioning scoops, scales and measuring spoons and cups. Pre-portioning can be effective in controlling costs by using portion baggies and a scale to pre-weigh product before stocking the cook line.
  •  Recipe quick-reference charts. The fast-paced environment at most restaurant kitchens makes it impractical to use the recipe manual for every menu item. Characteristically, cooks are required to memorize the proper portions and steps for preparing each item on their station. The recipe "quick reference" is used as the name implies ‑ providing the cook with an at-a-glance list of ingredients, portion size and proper portioning utensil for each preparation step. Optionally, recipe references can be accompanied by photos of the finished product. Proper portioning and adherence to recipes, along with a visual reference of the properly prepared menu item help to ensure consistency in both taste and presentation.
This article is presented courtesy of, a source of operational and business resources for independent restaurant operators. For more information, visit