Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Effective management can reduce work comp costs

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer's Fund for Workers' Compensation offers competed rates, free loss prevention services, responsive members service and support and expert hospitality industry-specific claims handling.

Reducing workers’ compensation costs can not only be achieved by eliminating claims, but by implementing sound management programs once the inevitable workers’ compensation claim does arrive. For employers that fail to have these programs in place, workers’ compensation claims costs can skyrocket. Not only because of the cost of claims themselves, but also because of the indirect costs associated with workers’ compensation claims. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for every dollar spent on a workplace injury or illness, an additional $5 is spent by the employer themselves on indirect costs. These indirect costs include: reduced productivity, decreased employee morale, cost of rehiring and training, damage to equipment or work product and increase experience modification factor just to name a few.

In order to help reduce or eliminate the indirect costs of workers comp, employers should consider implementing these five successful programs:

Allocate Workers’ Compensation CostsYou cannot expect your management staff to adequately prevent and manage workers’ comp costs if they are not made aware of the costs and ultimately held responsible for them.  Educate your management staff to the importance of their participation in reducing the likelihood of workers’ comp claims by allocating the costs to the operation for which they are responsible.

Develop relationships with medical providers
Having medical providers that will provide quick, honest and effective medical treatment to your employees is critical. Educate them as to your expectations for post-accident drug testing and early return to work. They should work in partnership with the injured worker and yourself to get the injured worker back to work as soon as possible.

Investigate, report and communicate
All workers’ comp claims should be thoroughly investigated by management. This may include taking photographs, reviewing videos, interviewing witnesses, examining equipment and completing accident reports. All of this information should be documented. Following this, the information gathered should be immediately reported to your workers’ comp carrier for additional investigation and processing. Finally, make sure to maintain an open line of communication with the comp carrier. Your job handling a claim is not complete simply because you reported the claim.

Educate the injured worker
Most injured workers are unfamiliar with the workers’ comp process and as a result are fearful of the ultimate outcome. They fear they may not be paid while off work or that their medical bills will not be paid. Oftentimes, this fear causes them to seek legal representation and file lawsuits.  Make them aware of what they can expect during the process. Your workers’ comp carrier should be able to assist you with this part of the program.

Provide safety awards or incentives
Reward managers and employees for working safely and following company safety policies and procedures. Incentives can also help to promote a positive change among fellow employees who witness others working safely, which results in developing an effective safety culture in your workplace. 

For more information about the LRA Workers' Comp program, please call Debbie Cuccia at (504) 454-2277.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Louisiana: Coffee Gateway to America

By Liz Williams, Founder & President
Southern Food andBeverage Museum

Louisiana has a long history with coffee. Regardless of the recent claims of other cities, the port of New Orleans has been the historic entryway of coffee into America. In the early 18th century, coffee was first shipped to New Orleans from the Caribbean island of Martinique. Once in Louisiana, it was roasted and distributed to the rest of the state and the country. Coffee spread from Martinique to other parts of the Caribbean, plantations in Brazil and Central America. Strong family and social relationships have developed between these countries and New Orleans based on the bonds of coffee.

Naturally, New Orleans became and remains a city with a strong coffee tradition. This tradition flows with the path of the Mississippi River to Acadiana and beyond, encompassing the entire state of Louisiana, which has led to many coffee companies developing in the state. The state’s first coffee houses, historically a mix between French caf├ęs and taverns began to spring up. In those coffee houses, where the brew was often served with a shot of some kind of alcohol, people did business over a cup of coffee—a tradition that continues to this day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

3 Tips for Choosing Which SoMe Site is Best for Your Restaurant

By Ryan Sides is the Lead Strategist at Bacon Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, UrbanSpoon? HELP!

Restaurateurs are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the many options for social media marketing today. How do you decide which site is best for your restaurant?

Consider Your Time Constraints
If you have a limited amount of time to spend on actively marketing your restaurant online, you may want to develop a relatively passive approach.  This will mainly include monitoring sites such as FourSquare, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, and other check-in/review sites for mentions and reviews of your restaurant.  You can even respond to negative reviews -- just dont be this guy.

A more active approach to marketing your restaurant on social media will include posting and directly interacting with your followers on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  You should budget at least an hour per day to engage fans, post comments, add status updates, post photos, read other posts and groups, etc. 

Study Your Customers
Can you describe your ideal customer?  Have you written a detailed description of them?  Where do they live? Work? Play? What do they do? Read? Listen to?  Think about how they interact online and which sites they visit often.  Are they active on Facebook or Foursquare?

As you talk to your customers, ask them where they go to search for restaurants.  Which sites do they use and trust most?  Invest your energy in the sites where your customers and prospectives are already active.

Be Realistic About Your Budget
Setting up accounts on social media sites is free -- which is one thing that makes them so appealing to small restaurant managers and owners. But running them isn’t. Carefully review your marketing plan and budget and figure out how much money you can afford to invest in your social media efforts.

All channels aren’t created equal, in terms of the investment they require. Creating a steady stream of videos for YouTube will require more money than designing and managing a simple Facebook page.

It’s better to do a single site really well than try to manage multiple channels weakly.  We recommend that newbies select only one site and focus exclusively on that site for at least one month. 

Ryan Sides is the Lead Strategist at Bacon Social Media and is committed to helping restaurateurs increase repeat business and save money through Social Media marketing.  E-mail Questions or Comments to Ryan@BaconSocialMedia.com.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love in in the air for Restaurants preparing for Valentine's Day

Happy Heart Day! Restaurants across Louisiana are reporting strong reservations for the big day, Tuesday, February 14. Reservations for the weekend prior to the big day are strong, although a parade in uptown New Orleans may send patrons to locations along the route for the added entertainment. Others may opt for a less traveled path to their romantic dinner.

Regardless, this day is a shot in the arm for many restaurants. According to a NationalRestaurant Association survey, more than 70 million American’s dined out on Valentine’s Day in 2011.

TallulahCrafted Food & Wine Bar in the new Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge is booked for the special day and by the time you read this article there will be no reservations available on Saturday, February 11.

An NRA survey revealed that younger adults are more likely to enjoy a special Valentine’s Day meal at a restaurant than older adults; 33 percent of 18-34-year olds, and 39 percent of 35-44-year olds say they plan to dine out for a Valentine’s Day meal, compared with 27 percent of those 55 and older.

“We look forward to Valentine’s Day,” said Lee McCollough, owner of One Restaurant and Lounge in New Orleans. “Business lately has been a little unpredictable, so to have a full house on Valentine’s is great for us.”
When it comes to factors involved in choosing where to dine out for Valentine’s Day, most consumers (42 percent) say they pick their favorite restaurant or their companion’s favorite restaurant for their special meal.

In Metairie at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, there are no more seats to be had on the holiday so beloved by women, said General Manager Mike Miller. He has actually removed most of his larger tables and rented smaller ones to accommodate more two tops.

“Every year we try to beat the prior year’s check average,” Miller added. “When we took the reservations we asked if they would like to add a bottle or half bottle of champagne to the meal or specialty chocolates. We aspire to exceed expectations on a regular day at Ruth’s, but Valentine’s Day is one where we get to be creative and really wow our guests.”

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed select a restaurant with a romantic atmosphere, followed by restaurants that offer special menus or promotions (13 percent), restaurants picked by their companion (12 percent), and a restaurant they haven’t been to before (11 percent).

To all of our LRA members, may cupid’s arrow of profits rain on your restaurant during this Hallmark holiday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Former ProStart Student Establishs Career

There’s one in every restaurant kitchen—a cook who is friendly, good-humored, a bit of a class clown, but downright serious when it comes to their job. They may be short or tall, thin as a reed, or wide as a hug. In the large and airy kitchen of the RitzCarlton New Orleans’s M Bistro, his given name is Jason Flato, but everyone calls him Rosie.

Fair-skinned Flato was bestowed his nickname soon after his co-workers noticed how quickly his cheeks bloomed near the hot kitchen equipment. It’s a heat he has enjoyed since his days in Carolyn Senac’s ProStart® class at Mandeville High School.

“In high school, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do [as a career],” Flato confessed. “But then I took ProStart and really enjoyed it. I realized I wanted to be a chef.”

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and bright talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders. The LouisianaRestaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) administers the program in Louisiana, where it is currently offered in 50 schools.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Flower Power!

Here’s a recipe from Rhiannon Enlil, a young woman who’s made her career in the hospitality industry creating and serving craft cocktails. She consulted on the cocktail menu for the newly-renovated Hyatt Regency NewOrleans’s bar Vitascope.
A “daisy” is a type of mixed drink dating back to the 1870's, and is typically made with spirit, sugar, lemon juice, seltzer water and a either orange cordial or raspberry cordial. Here, we've made our daisy with two types of rum and house-made cranberry syrup for a tart and spicy seasonal refreshment.  
Red Rum Daisy
1.5oz Cruzan Aged Light rum
1oz lemon juice
1oz house-made spiced cranberry syrup*
dash simple syrup (to taste)
.75oz soda water
.5oz Goslings dark rum (float)

Build in a tall glass with ice, the light rum, lemon juice, cranberry syrup and simple syrup, then stir briefly to integrate ingredients. Add more ice if necessary, top with soda water and float dark rum. Garnish with a skewer of fresh cranberries and serve with a straw.
*To make the spiced cranberry syrup, heat 100% cranberry juice over low heat with cinnamon, clove, anise, and all-spice until the mixture is reduced by half, then strain and add equal amounts of sugar.