I'm working on having a manager again, but before I move in that direction, I'm hoping to set up some systems in the shop so that I can be informed of how things are going when I'm not there. I'm thinking of creating a form that can be sent to me nightly, but I don't want it to be annoying paperwork and such. Does anybody have anything like an end of shift report in place? If so, what are some of the things your owner wants you to keep track of?
At a few places I have worked, I instituted a "talk to me" binder full of loose leaf paper. The sole purpose of the binder was for baristas and managers to write down helpful information such as "the power went out at 1:45 for a 30 seconds, that may affect the end of day accounting" or "we changed the gaskets on the espresso machine today" or "we kicked out the guy who pooped in the trash can. if he shows up again, call the police."
Every note was dated and initialled and anyone could write in it. This works well if you are operating one location with 3-20 employees. That was very useful for making sure that everyone was aware of any problems or concerns and how they had been addressed.
There are a lot of online scheduling and communication sites. We use Schedulefly which has an almost Facebook like wall that everyone communicates on. There are also special "flynotes" that are only used by managers and administrators. It's worked well for us having an online place for communication that allows you to broadcast schedules and notes by email or text and an easy way to see the schedule. Another must have in my opinion if your not around is a good POS, if you don't already. Most of them have some way of logging in remotely, whether "cloud" or "server" based. Our end of day reports are saved directly to Dropbox every night trough the POS.
We also have a spiral notebook that is used for less important daily notes at the shops, like Emily was talking about. Our has never addressed poop though, so I guess I'm lucky!
we have the notebook thing and it works pretty well; however, it's mostly me reminding staff over and over the same things so it ends up having a negative vibe.
I was thinking of having something like an end of shift report, where staff would answer a series of questions, such as "did it seem busy? which pastries did we have the most of at the end of the nite? anything left undone? and so on..." and was just wondering if this would seem like a hassle?
At one cafe I worked for we had a google group where we were required to paste up the hourlies, beer and coffee individually, as those were our main two sellers, and then also the "tip jar got stolen again so somebody hit the Goodwill, don't forget to clean the keg taps tonight," sort of messages on an open discussion board. The live discussion board was the best part as we could all communicate about how evenly the big money shifts were being balanced among the staff, how well money is doing generally (running out of fives, or selling too many items with off balance price ratios cause we can't sell them for any more or people will flip the heck out) and how we could bump up sales, new products and barista toys/snacks, etc. That's the best I've seen so far. Also, this is where the schedule was posted, where shifts were requested off, and updates about changes in duties were discussed...
As far as hassle goes, though, I don't think it's too much for an owner to ask, if their not going to be on hand pretty much all the time, to get some feedback your the shop. We all love the industry, but let's be real, this is your investment, and your employees are exchanging their time for your money, though of course shops don't run without a staff... Personally, as a hopeful future owner, I'll expect some feedback from staff, it doesn't take long. And again to push the online discussion bit, they can add and update anytime from anywhere. That being said, don't go railing someone for messing up a till or whatever on the message board, keep it friendly and encourage discussion. I don't know that you should be asking questions like, "did it seem busy?" every day, as my experience has shown that business tends to fluctuate with seasons, customers easing into new realities like price hikes, new baked goods, lots of African coffees when we were focusing Latin America, etc., so that could get irritating for them... You're call though, of course.
To play on what Alex said. . . Google docs and setting up a spreadsheet for each day that they answer would give you information that could be accessed on a live basis - even through your phone. We use it for some areas of our company that require us to now what has happened on a regular basis.
On a side note, we came out with a product that is tied to our POS that allows the sales totals and menu sales to be automatically sent to a cell phone every hour. It's a big hit.
Is adding a custom comment / note field that could be sent with sales totals anyone would see a value in (through POS)? Should it be a custom checklist or just free-form? We are always looking for feedback that can help result in a better product.
Two things come to mind.
What do you want to know?
What do you want to encourage?
The things you track are the things that are most likely to get done so do you want to know how long the baristas took to fill orders on average or how many customers they were able to call by name? Do you want to know if the bathrooms got cleaned or you sold 50 lbs of the new coffee beans that you got in and were offering as a pour over taste test for your customers?