Ideas for helping you manage your business and your employees. Plus product updates from Homebase, employee scheduling tools, and much more. Homebase provide free timesheets and scheduling tools to eliminate paperwork and make hourly work a little easier.
My first job was at a falafel shop in Manhattan, where I worked for a couple of summers during high school. We made most of our sales during the lunch rush, serving up falafel and chicken schnitzel to the midtown crowd. I usually took the subway to work, but on nights that I worked late enough for it to have cooled down outside, I’d walk home.
When I first started working there, I’d often leave without clocking out, and would have to update my timecard with my manager during my next shift. Our PoS was tricky, and sometimes I’d double back to clock out and avoid getting on my manager’s nerves the next day.
That’s why I love Homebase Mobile Time Clock. Mobile Time Clock allows employees to clock in and out from their phone, and shares GPS coordinates and a timestamp with their employer. If it looks like an employee may have forgotten to clock out, Homebase sends a reminder notification prompting them to clock out on their device.
Mobile Time Clock isn’t just good for the occasionally forgetful employee, like me. It’s also great for remote employees and employerswho manage multiple work sites. Mobile Time Clock allows employers to make sure that their staff is in the right place at the right time without having the be there in person. That means more flexibility for employees, and less to worry about for employers and managers.
I began working in restaurants and retail when I was a kid. My goal was always to sock away as much money as I could for college and beyond. This usually meant juggling (at least) two jobs, two schedules, and two sets of colleagues who were often looking for shift coverage. Once I got to college, class schedules and exams were thrown into the mix. Still, I wanted those shifts, because more shifts = more money.
Yet finding out about cover requests and available shifts was always hard.
I’m a product manager, so I’ll map out the process here:
7 phone calls
1 person frantic
2 people hustling
1 person sent home
The emotional toll is real too.
Rachel spent a few hours frantically wondering if her job was in jeopardy.
The manager was interrupted to figure out if this coverage was workable.
Darcy had no idea if Rachel was expecting her to cover the shift. She was conscientious and showed up to the shift only to be disappointed.
Annie & Sydney were probably a little irritated to be interrupted before their shifts.
And Rosie (okay, me) had to hustle to get ready for the 5 PM shift that she really wanted.
It’s been a few years since I pulled a shift as a server, but this scenario plays out thousands of times a day. Group texting helps, but doesn’t solve the stress & frustration that a disjointed process induces.
That’s why Shift Cover/Trade is my favorite feature – the Homebase app takes the stress and uncertainty out of the process.
I can check my schedule, filter colleagues who are not scheduled, send a request to one or many, and get an answer in minutes. And it all happens with just a few taps on my phone.
Managers can quickly understand if the coverage request is right for the shift.
And Homebase messaging + notifications make sure that everyone can make quick decisions.
By placing schedules, time clocks, messaging and easy workflows in one place, the app makes juggling schedules, finding coverage and trading shifts simple, even if I work more than one job.
I think that if I had Homebase when I was working my way through college, I may have even been able to have three jobs.
My favorite feature is one we recently released – Shout Outs. It allows teammates to recognize one another for a job well done. It’s really easy to use! Once you’ve finished working a shift, sign in on the Homebase Employee Scheduling app for iPhone and Android. A small card will appear on the app’s dashboard showing who worked with you during your last shift. You’ll be able to celebrate them for going Above & Beyond, being a Team Player, or having a Great Attitude (and more!).
Tap on the profile photo of the person you’d like to shout out, or just tap anywhere on the card to pick another teammate.
Select which type of shout out you’d like to send to them.
Add an optional note letting everyone know exactly what makes your teammate so special.
Tap “Share with Team” and your entire team will be notified of this amazing accomplishment.
The shout out will be sent to your entire team through the Celebration chat group in Messaging.
Note: you can only send one shout out per shift worked – so send wisely!
I’m not crazy about writing. English is my second (or third) language and it can be difficult for me to find the right words when faced with an empty screen and a keyboard. Even if I know a lot about a particular topic, I’d rather talk about it than write about it any day.
When we started to talk to our customers about the challenges of recruiting and hiring great employees, many of them told us that writing job posts was painful for them. They struggled with getting that right mix of creating a job post that was enticing for applicants, but factual enough that people could see if they are qualified.
We knew that having pre-written descriptions for job posts would make posting jobs much simpler even for people like me, who don’t feel comfortable writing.
Of course writing descriptions for 130+ common job roles was no small feat. The Homebase team worked with hiring and human resources experts to craft accurate job descriptions that will attract qualified, enthusiastic candidates for the more than 100,000 businesses we serve.
So whether you’re seeking a Bar back or a Barber, you can find great descriptions that are ready to post; and,it’s easy to update any description to add the right tone or flare for your business: load the job description, make your updates, save & post.
We know we haven’t got descriptions for every job in the world (yet), but we’re getting there. We actively monitor custom posts that our customers create so we can learn more about the roles that need filling. When we spot a trend – say pastry chef – we go back to the experts so that we can add yet another pre-written job description.
Perhaps more fun are the 100% unique posts we see. Do you want to be a wizard, a burrito artist or a fashion advisor, there’s a job posted on Homebase for that right now.
Here’s how to post a job:
1. Visit the Hiring section of Homebase and enter your desired role.
2. Add a wage & shifts, then review the job description and edit as needed.
3. Watch the candidates flow in.
Today we officially launched Homebase Hiring to over 100,000 companies across the US. This new addition to Homebase rounds out the ability for our amazing local business customers to better manage, and now hire, great hourly teams. I want to share a little bit of the journey that got us to this exciting milestone.
Where We Started
I started building Homebase because of two people important to me: my restaurant-owning friend and my bartending sister. My goal at the time was to help eliminate a lot of the headaches they were dealing with day-to-day: the paper schedule, tracking hours, and all of the texts and lost post-its. I felt that technology could make the experience of managing hourly work easier, but I also saw another big pain-point they dealt with: hiring. Like many folks in local business, they were trying to find great candidates through walk-ins, Craigslist posts, and an overflowing inbox. From the start, I wanted to make hiring easier for them too.
Building Something Useful
Before we built Hiring, we spent over a year in customer research to make sure we were building the right tools for you. Two very generous businesses in our co-hometown of Houston let us take-over all of their hiring so that we could work side-by-side through the challenges. (Thank you, Mary and Kim!) I won’t soon forget being in Houston with them interviewing waiters, and remember the thrill (and challenges) of finding the right fit for their teams.
Early testing with Hiring (and an earlier version of Homebase)
From these learnings, we tested four different prototypes in different cities last year. We visited with dozens of restaurant owners, store managers, and others in these cities to hear the feedback and learn first-hand how they identified the right hires, kept all of the resumes organized, and managed their interviews. We drank a lot of great coffee and had a lot of desserts along the way.
Some members of the Homebase product team hard at work visiting a customer
After all of this, we started building. Earlier this year, we began to give customers early beta access, and we’re so thankful for all of the feedback that came in response. We also spent a lot of time with our job board partners to make sure you get more applicants faster. With all of this feedback, we’ve been hard at work and gone through multiple designs to make sure Hiring works the way you do and helps you easily manage applicants wherever they come from.
Of course, we’ve also been testing the tool ourselves to grow our amazing customer success team, so you can get live US-based help posting your first job.
The result of all of this is a hiring tool built for (and by!) local businesses. We’ve got 130+ customizable job posts that have been crafted by our in-house hiring experts and tested in the market to give you a fast and effective way to attract applicants. We’ll then post your jobs to the leading job boards, like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Facebook, Craigslist, and more. Your candidates are automatically sorted on over 20 traits (and a lot of nerdy data science) to help you find the best match, and they’ll receive reminders before their interviews to reduce no-shows. Of course, when you hire someone you can move them right into Homebase, and get them scheduled for work instantly. We hope all of these tools will help you build your team in less time, and we’re just getting started.
Thanks for all of the feedback–please keep it coming!
I am so proud of the team here at Homebase in what we’ve learned and built, and incredibly appreciative of the hundreds of busy owners, managers, and other Homebase customers who have tested, provided feedback, and helped us build Hiring. I want to give you all a big “Thank You” from the entire Homebase team. Your businesses make our communities so much richer, and we hope we can make it just a little easier for you and your teams.
The results of a survey carried out in 2017 reveal that 97 percent of people look online to find local businesses. Almost 20 percent of consumers search online to find local businesses multiple times per week, demonstrating that it is vitally important for local businesses to have a strong online presence. Here are three search engine optimization tips that can help small businesses increase their online visibility in their local community.
1. Use Local Keywords
Keywords are at the heart of any good SEO strategy. However, as a small business owner, you cannot hope to compete with big brands for popular single-word keywords, such as “florist” or “plumber.” Local keywords, which contain the name of your town or city along with the subject, for example “Brooklyn florist” or “plumber in Salem, MA,” face far less competition from other sites. They are also likely to attract searchers in your local area, who you stand a good chance of converting into customers.
To find out what keywords people use when searching for businesses like yours in your local area, you can use the Google Keyword Planner. This tool is free to use and provides information about how often Google users search for particular keywords and phrases. Select keywords with lower competition and higher search volumes for maximum effectiveness.
2. Submit Your Site to Local Listings
List your business on Google Places, Yelp and any other listings sites that are popular in your local region. On your profile, be sure to include accurate contact information, opening hours, pictures of your business, and a working link to your website. Links from listing sites to your website will help to boost its search ranking, while the listings will help local searchers to find your business.
3. Encourage Reviews
Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your brand on listing sites and on your social media pages. These reviews can help to boost the visibility and authenticity of your brand. Even negative reviews can be a chance to show how much you care about your customers, as long as you respond quickly and offer a solution to any disgruntled customers. As your listing and social media pages gain more activity, they will show up higher in searches, which in turn could lead more people to your website.
Running a retail business comes with a unique set of challenges and it can be helpful to hear best practices from like-minded business owners and thought leaders. There are countless retail blogs out there that bring together the latest and greatest ideas into one place. Here at Homebase, we’ve put together a list of the six retail blogs worth reading for anyone running a retail operation. They range from national organizations that keep you up to date with industry trends to day to day management tips.
Let’s jump right into the retail blogs you need to be reading.
Want to stay current on holiday retail strategies, industry trends, marketing tips, and more? That’s exactly what NRF provides. This trade association is the largest in the world, catering to retailers in the US and 45 other countries. In addition to frequent blog posts that keep readers on the forefront of the industry, they also offer “holiday headquarters” for all major retail holidays with tips and projections to help retailers of all sizes make the most out of it. This retail blog is a great one to follow for retailers that want to grow and keep up with technology moving the needle of the industry.
Price is something that you hear about day in and day out. While the industry gets more and more competitive, price drops are sometimes inevitable to stay in the game. However, low prices and even lower margins don’t often lead to the results retailers are looking for. Therefore, in the long run working on your customer experience will produce more loyal shoppers than a specific pricing strategy. On the Retail Customer Experience blog, you can learn the customer experience strategies that are working wonders for large scale retailers. This retail blog offers tips on how to put trendy retail strategies to work, such as personalization and how associates approach sales.
The Balance is a finance website and it ranges from personal to business. Overall, the blog isn’t retail focused, but it has a large section for small businesses with strategies that are easy to apply to everyday management situations. When reading the small business section you’ll gain knowledge on wide ranging topics, such as growth strategies, customer service tips, and business loans. The Balance is helpful for all stages of a retail business, such as one in the idea phase that requires funding to established businesses that want to put a solid Small Business Saturday sales strategy into place.
A little more technical than the other blogs on this list, Small Business Trends tends to focus more on the data and technology news within the retail sector. Small Business Trends also includes some growth snapshots, so you can see if your retail business tracks with the larger trends they’ve found nationwide.
RetailWire aggregates retail news from other publications alongside their own articles and discussions. While many articles tend to focus on large retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon, much of their advice is applicable regardless of the size of your business. You can also find some perspectives on how current legislation might impact your business — like a recent article on how changes to net neutrality might impact your online storefront.
Here at Homebase, our blog offers tips on employee scheduling, time tracking, and team communication, just to name a few. We aim to help local businesses with tips and tricks to manage their business and employees. From hiring to employee appreciation to overtime law compliance, our blog posts help retailers take their businesses to the next level.
These are just a few retail blogs that can help improve your shop with a daily dose of inspiration and strategy. What retail blogs do you recommend?
Once you find the retail blogs that pique your interest, put the tips you learn to work in your business. Homebase can help with employee scheduling, time tracking, and more for free.
Remember when creating an employee schedule was your favorite task? Of course not.
Between organizing availability, doling out lucrative shifts, and ensuring employees don’t burn out, creating a schedule can end up being a time-consuming activity. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make scheduling less of a dreaded chore, avoid manager and employee burnout, and keep your employees as happy (as reasonably possible).
1. Organizing Availability
One of the most difficult tasks of scheduling is organizing employee availability. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll need to coordinate different types of employee availability. Both large and small companies experience their own challenges.
Smaller companies often need to work around the limited availability of a few employees. Larger companies need to offer enough shifts for a bigger variety of employees while juggling multiple availability schedules.
Solution: use scheduling software
Scheduling software can reduce manager and employee fatigue by removing some of the heaving lifting. You simply need to input employee availability into the software — or have your employees do it themselves– and the software will create the bones of the schedule for you.
2. Divvying Out Shifts
At companies where your employees want to work more shifts than you have available, any shift could be considered a “desirable” shift. Not only do you need to create a fair schedule, but you also need to deal with employee letdown when some employees are inevitably disappointed in their shifts. In a restaurant, for example a Saturday night might be preferable for tipped staff than, say, a Tuesday night.
Solution: reward great work with favorable shifts
The best way to deal with this is to reward positive behavior with favorable shifts. Employees who go out of their way to help fill undesirable shifts, fill in when other employees call out sick, offer excellent customer service, or assist in other ways will be rewarded with desirable shifts.
3. Scheduling Hard-to-Fill Shifts
Let’s face it: some shifts are more desirable than others. Employees rarely want the crack-of-dawn or late-at-night shifts. The least desirable shifts are the back-to-back late-at-night and early-in-the-morning ones.
Solution: anticipate busy times and reward employees who take on-call shifts
Try to schedule employees either early in the morning or late at night—never both. Encourage employees to take on-call shifts by rewarding them with more desirable shifts. Anticipate busy times by looking at previous years for forecasting purposes.
On Homebase, you can see estimated sales (and weather forecasts) while you’re building the schedule — based on prior weeks’ sales data — so you can be sure you’re always staffed at the right level.
4. Budgeting for Scheduled Shifts
Before you can even begin to start scheduling your employees, you need to determine your budget. In addition to doling out shifts to high-performing employees, you’ll need to allocate employees who make a lower hourly rate to fit your budget.
Solution: use scheduling software to manage budgets
Scheduling software can help you manage your budget by allowing you to schedule employees who make different hourly rates. With Homebase, it’s really easy to build a schedule to match a target labor-cost-as-a-percentage-of-sales ratio.
5. Avoiding Manager and Employee Burnout
One of the biggest problems managers face is burnout. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling as though you can’t manage your other tasks because you’re spending the majority of your time creating a schedule.
Employees can also feel the burn when you’re not using efficient scheduling techniques. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up scheduling some employees way more than others—or scheduling employees for back-to-back shifts.
Solution: use a combination of techniques to avoid burnout
Use a combination of scheduling techniques, coupled with scheduling software, to help you solve most of your scheduling problems. You might also want to cross-train your best employees. It’ll provide them with some career growth and variety while also making sure you don’t have to worry about being short staffed in a pinch.
Luckily, you don’t need to go over budget to purchase scheduling software. Homebase offers free shift scheduling software that can help you organize your employees’ availability, manage your budget, and minimize burnout.
Whether your business operates in the real world or online, the chances are labor is your single biggest cost. If you can make your employee scheduling as efficient as possible, you can slash your company’s cost base — and boost your bottom line in the process.
Scheduling is always one of any manager’s most complex, time-consuming jobs. There are so many considerations to take into account, including employee preferences, contract information, the needs of the business and budgeting. Fortunately, employee scheduling software takes care of all this for you — helping your business to become more profitable in five different ways.
1. Maximizes Sales Opportunities
If your business is going to turn leads into sales, you’re going to need the right people in the right areas at the right time. The latest employee scheduling software assesses sales trends and forecasts future patterns. Using huge amounts of data, these sophisticated software packages can provide you with suggested schedules — ensuring you never miss out on business because of a lack of manpower.
2. Identifies Labor Overspend
Using projected sales data, scheduling software can identify times of the week where you’re using more labor than you need. While these instances may only last for an hour or two, overspending by just a few dollars every week can be very detrimental to your bottom line at the end of the financial year. Enter your scheduled hours into the system, and you’ll be able to see exactly where labor savings can be made without adversely affecting sales or customer service.
3. Saves Management Hours
Businesses that create staffing schedules manually are losing several management hours every week to the process. This is time that your senior team members should be spending with customers or devising sales strategies. Scheduling is an administrative job that involves math and data analysis, which is why sophisticated software packages are perfect for the job.
Scheduling involves lots of individual tasks, including forecasting sales, taking into account seasonal issues, managing budgets, staff preferences and much more. By switching to scheduling software, you can automate all of these processes and make better use of the key individuals in your team for driving both sales and various cost-cutting tasks.
4. Makes the Best Use of Available Resources
Your first priority when creating employee schedules is probably sticking to a budget. When things are tight, staff often get spread very thinly within a business. It is when labor is scarce that it needs to be used most effectively. Scheduling software considers many factors when creating schedules, including skill levels, geography, productivity and customer service. These functions are vital if your business is struggling to operate on its current labor budget.
5. Boosts Staff Morale
Employees often live complex lives — which can make scheduling even more complex. Medical appointments, family commitments, illness, vacation time and personal circumstances can dictate when and where employees can work. However, you can set scheduling software up to take care of all these issues. It’s also relatively easy to ensure that everyone gets the same treatment. All of these factors are crucial to maintaining a high level of morale among your employees.
A single bad customer service experience can cost you a customer for life. On the other hand, overstaffing can quickly eat into your profits and put you out of business. The key to balancing these two conflicting concerns is efficient scheduling.
Identify Peak Times and Boost Staff
The first step is to identify when your customers need the most help. A traditional retail schedule might account for the fact that Saturdays are busier than Tuesdays, but you need to go deeper to optimize your scheduling.
For example, do you have a weekday lunch rush or an influx of shoppers after school lets out? Using part-timers to bulk up during these hours versus having staff sit idle for the rest of the day can save you money while making customers happy.
You can track your peak times by tying your point-of-sale system into your scheduling software. Increase your staff when sales are highest, and then compare historical sales against staffing levels to see if they’re making a difference.
React to Weather and Other Special Events
Tracking sales gives you a good picture of recurring busy times, but it may miss additional helpful factors.
Homebase lets you see the weather forecast directly in your schedule. If you know business goes up when it’s 80 degrees and sunny, you know to bring in more people. On the other hand, a rainy day might be a good day to grant extra time-off requests without calling in replacements.
If you get big groups from sporting events, trade shows or other infrequent events, your managers can enter that on the manager log. This way, you can track their event schedules and be ready for the extra visitors.
Be Realistic About Opening and Closing Times
Nothing is more disappointing to a customer than finding out a business isn’t open or has stopped serving before its stated hours. Employees, on the other hand, have a right to know when they’ll get to go home. And you, of course, don’t want wasted hours.
The manager log can also give you a good idea of how long it takes to complete opening and closing tasks on average, as well as what causes variations. Match this with hourly sales reports to determine your ideal opening and closing times, as well as how much time to add before or after hours to allow employees to complete opening or closing tasks.
Allow Shift Swapping
When employees are stuck in a shift they don’t want, the chances of them calling out go up exponentially. One of the easiest ways to stop this problem is to allow your employees to trade for shifts that better match their personal schedules.
Homebase allows shift trading with almost no work for you. Employees can post their desired trades and match up with someone looking for a swap. All you need to do is press a button to approve the request.
A common theme in all of these tips is to use technology to make your life easier and your business run more smoothly The more you do by hand, the more time it will take, and the less likely you’ll want to continue making the effort to create an ideal schedule. By switching to a dedicated scheduling system like Homebase, you can make your schedules more profitable while spending even less time than you do making schedules by hand.