From Classroom to Computer – the Rise of E-learning in a Pandemic World

by Graham Cohen

2020 sure has presented us with some challenges.  The Coronavirus has affected our lives in so many different ways.  Businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many are finding it hard to return.  No industry has been more hard-hit than the hospitality industry.  We have been forced to change the way we do business, specifically in how we train our staff.  Training staff on new procedures, products or policy is becoming more challenging as we work with reduced staff and practice social distancing guidelines.  Many companies are turning to distance learning or e-learning as a way to keep the staffed trained and up-to-date with the latest information.

Research has shown that on average, students retain 25-30% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom.  And the training material is always available through mobile devices.  Now more than ever, I am being contacted to convert instructor-lead classroom training into engaging online e-learning courses.  There are many good training partners with great online training to offer such as; the Food Handler and Alcohol Awareness classes on FRLA’s website, and others.

In the past, e-learning was cost prohibitive and mostly used by large corporations due to the high cost of development, housing and tracking.  However, learning management systems (LMS’s) are becoming more cost-effective and affordable for small business owners. Systems such as Cornerstone and Schoox offer LMS solutions for every budget.

There are many advantages of e-learning including; cost effectiveness, flexibility, better participation and individual retention and having constant training throughout your organization.

E-learning is available in many different forms: from a simple PDF document to an elaborate and dynamic HTML5 SCORM program and everything in between.  If you are looking at getting into the world of e-learning, there are a number of criteria you’ll want to meet.

First, the role of the instructor is key as the instructor is necessary in providing feedback to students. Second, you will need a well-organized LMS that should be easily navigable to both students and instructors.  And finally, your content must be formatted in a way that is easily accessible to students.

As we find ourselves operating in a fast-paced, technology-oriented world, we must adopt new technology and new ways to integrate it in support of education. E-learning is leading the way and redefining how we learn on the job.

For more information, or if you have any questions regarding e-learning, feel free to drop me a line at artepmedia@att.net.

Graham Cohen has built several of FRLA’s online training programs including the food handler and the human trafficking programs.

FRLA Members Recognized in Best of Tallahassee 2020

Recently, several FRLA members were recognized in Tallahassee Magazine’s “Best of Tallahassee” list based on reader’s polls. Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions!

FRLA members have been recognized as below:

  • Appetizer: Madison Social, Honorable Mention
  • Asian: Masa, Winner
  • Asian: Azu Lucy Ho’s Restaurant, Honorable Mention
  • Bakery: Tasty Pastry Bakery, Winner
  • Bar: Madison Social, Honorable Mention
  • Barbecue: Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q, Winner
  • Brunch: Table 23, Honorable Mention
  • Cajun: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille, Honorable Mention
  • Casual Dining: Island Wing Company, Honorable Mention
  • Celebration/Special Occasion: Savour, Honorable Mention
  • Fine Dining: Savour, Honorable Mention
  • Hamburger: Vertigo Burger & Fries, Honorable Mention
  • Happy Hour: The Blue Halo, Winner
  • Happy Hour: Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar, Honorable Mention
  • Italian: Bella Bella, Winner
  • Smoothie: Tropical Smoothie Café, Winner
  • Martini/Cocktail: The Blue Halo, Winner
  • Outdoor Dining: Table 23, Winner
  • Outdoor Dining: Island Wing Company, Honorable Mention
  • Seafood: Wharf Causal Seafood, Winner
  • Southern Cuisine/Food: Table 23, Winner
  • Sports Bar: Island Wing Company, Winner
  • Steakhouse: Outback Steakhouse, Honorable Mention
  • Sushi: Masa, Honorable Mention
  • Wings: Island Wing Company, Winner
  • Wings: Hobbit American Grill, Honorable Mention
  • Banquet Facility: University Center Club, Winner
  • Insurance Agency: Demont Insurance Agency, Honorable Mention
  • Places to Take the Kids: Tallahassee Museum, Winner
  • Places to Take the Kids: Hangar 38, Honorable Mention

Find the whole list here.

Help guests feel safe: tips for cleaning POS equipment

Restaurateurs, guests may be able to safely eat away from home after months of staying in, but they’ll need to feel safe to make it a regular practice. While your restaurants operate according to state and local COVID-19 guidelines, everyone plays a role in maintaining public safety – including you, your employees and your guests. While social distancing is one task assigned to us all, regularly cleaning and disinfecting point-of-sale (POS) equipment and using handheld POS devices are some of the most effective, and prominent, contributions you can make.

Create a safe environment for guests and employees.

It’s not enough for your restaurant to be clean- disinfect in front of your guests throughout the day so they can relax with friends and family, knowing they’ve made the right decision to enjoy a meal at your establishment. Similarly, leave pump bottles or contactless dispensers of hand sanitizer at every stationary POS station. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using hand sanitizer containing 60-95% alcohol for effective germ-killing power after touching surfaces and between handwashing trips.

Use handheld POS devices to elevate safety measures.

Uphold COVID-19 safety standards with handheld POS devices. They allow you to eliminate queues while maintaining safe distances between parties of guests and employees. Handheld POS devices also allow you to complete transactions tableside or in socially-distant locations.

Guests are overwhelmingly using credit and debit cards in lieu of cash to improve hygiene and reduce contact. The National Restaurant Association recommends the use of contactless payments during the pandemic.

Clean and disinfect POS equipment with care.

Power down and unplug POS devices prior to cleaning or disinfecting. If you’re only cleaning the touchpads or touchscreens, you may be able to keep your device on; read your user’s manual for confirmation. Next, wash your hands or clean them thoroughly with hand sanitizer, waiting for them to dry completely before touching the equipment.

Never use soap or other cleaners on POS equipment. However, do use a microfiber cloth or soft towel with water. Make the cloth slightly damp and carefully clean all surfaces, taking care not to shake or drop the device which could trigger your tampering sensors.

While cleaning removes visible marks, disinfecting kills germs. Put a small amount of alcohol-based cleaner (min. 60% alcohol) onto a microfiber cloth or soft towel or use alcohol-based wipes. Never apply liquids directly to your equipment. Never squeeze a cloth or wipe on or over your POS devices- it could cause liquid damage. Some cleaners have the power to destroy plastic and rubber components; avoid accidental contact- never use ketone-based solvents, bleach, thinner or trichloroethylene. Reference your user’s manual for a list of approved cleaners for your POS devices.

Clean and disinfect your equipment throughout the day- POS equipment – stationary or handheld – are among the most prominent high-touch surfaces in your restaurant. Aim for visible cleanliness to put guests at ease, as well as thoroughly-disinfected surfaces to stop the virus’ spread.

Payments Without Pesky Limits

Minimalism, a movement to rid life of excess in favor of what’s important, is growing in popularity. It’s only natural the trend would extend to business. And it turns out there’s freedom in simplicity. Now, all you need to run your business is:

  1. Your phone
  2. Heartland Mobile Pay
  3. Your next destination

Don’t be fooled; this lightweight card reader is a heavy hitter when it comes to features. Whether your customers tap, dip or swipe, Mobile Pay does it all — and gets you access to your money within 24 hours. The only limitation is the bounds of your entrepreneurial spirit.

The ideal customer experience, anywhere

Ruggedly designed to work in any environment, Mobile Pay is ready to collect payments wherever business takes you. Process transactions at lightning speed or generate invoices for later payment. Customers get the efficient experience they expect, and you get the security of EMV electronic chip card technology authenticating each card as genuine.

Never miss a sale

Go boldly back to business after downloading the Mobile Pay app and connecting the Heartland card reader to your phone or tablet. With Mobile Pay’s reliability, worrying about technical glitches and lost sales are a thing of the past. Rest even easier knowing Mobile Pay encrypts card data as soon as it enters the card reader, and card data is never stored on your mobile device.

Customer trends revealed

Data helps you run a better business. Mobile Pay provides a companion merchant web portal, accessible 24/365 from any internet-enabled device. Simply view real-time sales, transaction details and inventory. Export reports to share with partners when you need to re-stock or reevaluate.

Get all the functionality of a traditional payment terminal with the counterspace of a phone. Mobile Pay is the flexible solution for your evolving business.

Driving Profitability in The Third-Party Delivery Space

Beverages present an untapped, incremental revenue opportunity for restaurants leveraging third-party delivery.

According to the marketing team at The Coca-Cola Company, 70% to 80% of on-premises restaurant transactions include a beverage in the order, compared to only a small fraction of third-party delivery orders. “When it comes to beverages and delivery, restaurants are facing a largely untapped opportunity – which they can unlock by successfully competing with the home refrigerator,” says Melissa Fahs, vice president, foodservice digital commerce, Coca-Cola North America. 

Third-party delivery offers many benefits to restaurants, including incremental sales, access to new diners and new markets, and the creation of new consumer occasions and need states – but it also brings increased costs in the form of commission fees. Beverages are a critical profit engine for restaurants that can help offset these fees. 

Last year The Coca-Cola Company set out to uncover strategies that could drive beverage sales in the delivery space. Working with 10 national restaurant brands and about 50 regional players (representing hundreds of locations), the company conducted a series of experiments over about eight months to increase the frequency with which beverages are included in delivery orders, and to raise check averages through effective upselling. Working with its internal data analytics team, the company made sure each experiment was carried out at no fewer than 25 test locations and that each test also included control sites. 

“This is an industry-wide challenge,” says Kristin Bitter, the company’s vice president, industry affairs. “Everybody wins if we can increase beverage orders in the delivery space.” With results gathered and analyzed, the company developed strategies to help restaurants optimize the third-party delivery occasion, captured in an easy-to-remember “ABCDE” format. 

Here are the ABCs … 

Assortment: This means featuring the right assortment of beverages for your location’s clientele. Highlight unique beverages that you won’t typically find in the fridge at home. Feature them prominently, with images and descriptions.

Bundle: Pair each entree with a beverage to make it simple for customers to order the combination with one click rather than having to click through to the drinks section and order a la carte. Put bundles first in your online menu lineup.

Capture the upsell: Activate suggestive selling within delivery platforms. All third-party delivery platforms have different ways of playing up special orders. Work with them to add beverage recommendations to the order flow or serve up a beverage reminder at checkout. “It’s the classic ‘would you like fries with that?’ approach,” says Fahs, “or the impulse buys at the grocery checkout. Timing and placement are everything.” 

Data: Partner with the third-party delivery provider to mine ordering data for insights, such as which items are most popular or how products perform in different dayparts. Use what you learn to tailor online menus to grow transaction size while delighting the guest.  

Execute marketing: Again, a good relationship with the third-party delivery provider is key for effective marketing. Once menus are optimized, consider promotions to drive consumer awareness and engagement. “Remember, this is an occasion anchored in consumer convenience, so keep it simple,” says Billy Koehler, digital director.   

Koehler adds that the biggest challenge restaurant companies will face in implementing these strategies is figuring out what real estate each delivery platform has to offer and the technical challenges of meeting different platform architectures.

This article brought to you by The Coca-Cola Company.

Five Ways A Multi-Purpose Terminal Can Grow Your Business

Having the right tools to run your business isn’t just a convenience; it makes a difference. For example, owning a swiss army knife enables you to do lots of things faster and better than a dull butter knife.

Now apply that principle to the way you do business today. Do you manually track inventory with pen and paper? Can you accept digital wallet payments with your current terminal? Are you calculating sales tax on another piece of equipment? Are you handing out written receipts?

The latest terminal technology rolls multiple functions into one device so you can more quickly get everything done. Here are five ways it can help you grow your business.

Frees valuable space on your counter

Connected by Wi-Fi, Terminal+ cuts the cord to become your center of commerce on both sides of the counter. Great for businesses with limited countertop space, it’s an all-in-one terminal, barcode scanner and receipt printer that fits in the palm of your hand so you can freely move about your store to checkout customers and work on back-office activities.

Unbinds you from inventory management

Say goodbye to the days of manual tracking inventory with pen and paper. With Terminal+, you can throw away inventory binders and automatically track how much stock you have in real time without lifting a finger. The built-in barcode scanner speeds up the checkout and eliminates tracking errors, so you never run out of favorites.

Creates better checkout experiences

Customers expect a safe, seamless in-store checkout experience. So give it to them with Terminal+. Accpet contactless payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, or swipe and dip card payments. It’s a welcome surprise when you can meet customers to check them out and provide a receipt on the spot instead of sending them to the counter to pay for purchases.

Makes sales less taxing

Keeping track of changing state and local sales tax is a thing of the past. Terminal+ intuitively calculates sales tax on transactions, so you stay compliant and get a leg up on filing.

Protects your brand and profits

Minimizing payment acceptance costs and fraud puts more money in your pocket. Terminal+ transactions are protected by Heartland Secure™, the highest level of credit and debit card security available, to guard your business and your customers’ card information. With that kind of protection, you can sleep better.

Terminal+ is a terminal, receipt printer, barcode scanner and back-office manager rolled into one handheld device. Connected by Wi-Fi, it allows you to cut the cord and get everything done faster. It gives you the freedom to run your business while you roam your business. And that leaves more time to focus on growing your business.

 

Florida Restaurant Owners Ask: Can I Take a Customer’s Temperature?

By Roger Slade

The world has changed dramatically in the last ninety days. Just last year the question of whether a restaurant would even ask a customer to take the customer’s temperature would have been unthinkable. Now, it is actually happening: all over the country.

Taking your customer’s temperature before dining may provide solace to restaurant owners and their customers. However, the practice is not without risk. Since the practice is entirely new, as is the Pandemic in general, there is not a lot of legal guidance on this issue. However, there are some general rules which may help prevent problems in the future. Here is a random sampling of things to consider:

 

  1. If you Decide to Test, Get Consent. The question of whether to take a customer’s temperature is a business decision. Will testing make your customers feel more at ease or will it make them nervous? What about the public relations implications? These are important questions. Nonetheless, if you decide to take the temperatures of your customers, the first thing you should require is the customer’s written consent on a form prepared by a skilled lawyer. This may prevent your customers from later claiming that you have accessed their protected health information without permission or violated their privacy rights.
  2. Test Everyone or Test No One. Restaurants, like employers, are subject to claims of discrimination. The question of whether one particular ethnic group, race or gender is more susceptible to Coronavirus has been hotly debated. However, for restaurant owners there should be no debate – if you are going to test, you should test every customer that comes in the door who consents not just the ones you think may be more susceptible to the virus.
  3. Avoid the Appearance of Medical Testing. There may be an impulse on behalf of restaurant owners to expand the scope of testing to include such things as a pulse oximeter test. This test measures oxygen saturation and pulse rate. Even if customers consent to such a test, restaurant owners are likely not trained to properly administer the test or to interpret the data that the test generates. It is better to leave this type of test to a trained physician.
  4. Retesting. The temperature of normal healthy individuals can vary throughout the course of the day. Therefore, restaurant owners should make clear that, for anyone who consents to a test and the test reveals a high temperature, a retest will be available. In other words, customers should be given a second chance.

 

Someday (hopefully soon) taking a restaurant customer’s temperature will be completely unnecessary. However, for restaurants which decide to pursue this path while the Pandemic is ongoing, they should proceed with caution.

Roger Slade is a shareholder with Haber Law.

Opportunities for Summer Wine Sales

By Bill Edwards

As we enter the summer season, restaurants and hotels are facing unique challenges related to operating in the COVID-19 new normal environment. However, even with capacity limitations and other safety restrictions in place, on-premise businesses can still implement creative wine sales and operational strategies to drive business and improve the consumer experience.

For restaurants in particular, take-out and delivery services continue to be popular, even in markets that allow in-person dining. Preparing family-style or multi-person meal kits, bundled with a bottle of wine, is a great way to attract customers who are either looking for convenience, or still not quite comfortable dining in. When marketing these kits, take a look at your pricing strategy. A bottle of wine to-go or alternative single serve packages like cans from your restaurant becomes a retail proposition. Consumers are willing to pay a premium over retail for that convenience, but not the full mark-up they see on the wine list.

For those restaurants that are able, expanding outdoor dining is a great strategy. Warmer summer temperatures, combined with the perceived and actual safety benefits, make this a very attractive option for consumers. Canned wines, small package sizes, and buckets with canned or bottled wines on ice lend themselves well to al fresco dining. Do-it-yourself spritzes, like a carafe of Aperol with a bottle of Prosecco, soda and orange slices, is another creative way to upsell while capturing the feeling of summer. These options are festive, convenient, single-serve safe, and help simplify the logistics of serving wine and reduce touch points by a staff member.

In our new normal environment, the number one criteria that impacts a consumer’s decision to dine out is now food sanitation, even more important than food flavor. Whatever beverage strategy you implement, remember to overtly market and merchandise your cleaning and safety protocols.

Bill Edwards is the Senior Vice President, National Accounts – On-Premise, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.

Four Ways You Should be Using Restaurant Data to Grow Sales

Personalization is the buzzword of the 21st century. Everyone wants to feel like what they’re getting was made for them. Enter data-driven marketing. Data-driven marketing uses the information gathered from customer sales to personalize future interactions with them. The result: they feel more connected to your brand because you “know” what they like.

Using sales records from your in-store POS, mobile app and online store, you can uncover customer habits and trends that allow you to customize guest interactions, customer experience and loyalty programs. Within this data resides the “voice” of the customer which can help you grow sales in four ways.

Customized offerings

The key to restaurant success is repeat purchases. You need to get a new customer to dine at your location four times before your location joins their shortlist of places to eat.  For existing customers, you want to shorten the interval between visits and you want to incentivize them to spend more when they come in.

You can accomplish this using data about who your customers are, their preferences and which items they order in conjunction with other items. For example, many customers will place similar orders each time they dine with you. Using this intelligence, you can customize menu suggestions and special offers. Additionally, you know how frequently customers visit and how much they tend to spend. This enables you to target premium customers with personalized loyalty rewards to bring them back more often. You can also lure less frequent customers with discounts on popular or new items.

Maximize customer value

Enhancing the customer experience is another way data can boost sales. If you know a customer orders the same combo meal once per week, you can target that person for a limited-time offer that encourages a second weekly visit. You can also send an upsell offer for an add-on, such as an appetizer or dessert to get them to explore new options.

Additionally, you can offer a coffee or snack to a guest who only orders kid’s meals, presuming that the paying adult might enjoy a small treat as well. Or, you can send the person a special offer, such as a family discount for dining together.

Menu Changes

With access to sales data, you know exactly what menu items sell the best, and can pair them with new or a less popular one to build interest. Getting an extra $1.50 out of your menu 125 times a day each year, adds up to almost $70,000. So take the time to analyze data to uncover opportunities. Look at meal popularity and profitability, as well as trending menu items, such as healthier choices, vegetarian and organically grown. Sales data will tell you what the most popular price point is, as well as frequently requested dietary needs and allergens to avoid in recipes.

Traffic Patterns and Staffing Adjustments

Sales data tells you what your busiest parts of the day and week are, as well as whether customers are being serviced in a timely manner, and which team members do the most upselling. These insights into average service time relative to customer demand allow you to more efficiently staff your restaurant. You may find that you can get by with a smaller staff during slow times and can sell more by scheduling your best upsellers during the busy times. Conversely, you can build data-driven marketing plans to increase traffic during quieter periods of the week. For example,you can offer a special price on products that a customer really likes during slower hours.

The true power of data emerges when it is fully integrated into your marketing plans. Using data that you already have at your fingertips, you can create personalized offers based on your customers’ previous purchase history.

 

About Heartland

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN). Learn more at heartland.us.