The Nowsta Blog

Management tips and labor market insights to help you run your business

Understanding Shift Differential Pay

By Henry Updegrave June 10, 2019

Scheduling employees for unpopular shifts can be a challenge. That’s why many businesses offer shift differential pay, meaning they pay employees more when they work the shifts others don’t want to. It’s a simple way to incentivize, reward, and retain employees for performing a difficult but necessary service for your company.

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3 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

By Anthony Lambatos June 3, 2019

Hiring new employees is one of the most difficult challenges for any business.  Just when you think everything is firing on all cylinders, someone gives their notice and you’re forced to divert your attention from the work that you love to replace a team member.  There is no question that this is a time consuming process, however making the wrong hire can be costly and have long term negative effects on your business. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes over the years and seen many caterers stumble through the process.  Here are three common mistakes to avoid when you’re looking for your next hire.

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Tip Pooling: Your Comprehensive Guide

By Henry Updegrave May 28, 2019

Millions of servers, bartenders, baristas, and others depend on tips to supplement their income. While direct client-to-server tipping is the most standard practice, many businesses opt to spread the love with a tip pooling policy.

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The Life of an Outdoor Caterer

By Matt Phelan May 21, 2019

This guest post comes to us from Matt Phelan, President and Co-Owner of Simply Fresh Events! This is Part One of a three-part series. 

Simply Fresh Events has been catering outdoor events in the Washington, DC area since 2015, but my background in the industry goes back much further than that -- more than 20 years, in fact. I’ve spent nearly my entire career figuring out how to get delicious, simple, and fresh meals to hundreds of people in far-flung parks, barns, quarries, and wherever else people want to gather. I’ve learned a ton, and when Nowsta approached me about sharing my expertise with the rest of the catering world, I jumped at the opportunity.

Over a three-part article series, I’m going to share with you some of my strategies for building an outdoor catering company, finding new customers, and making an outdoor event run smoothly. I’ll start with my background and a few things I’ve learned about what makes for a well-run catering company.

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The Latest in Corporate Dining: 7 Trends for 2019

By Henry Updegrave May 14, 2019

In today’s perks-heavy office environment, companies go to great lengths to retain top employees and build an enthusiastic office environment. Corporate dining is one of the most potent tools available. Although free or discounted office food has been around for decades, creative meal plans and catered meetings are becoming more and more common for white collar employees around the country. In a recent interview with the New York Times, one corporate food supplier explained, “You reduce turnover because you have happier employees. It’s how you stay competitive for a certain sector of companies.”

As corporate dining preferences shift and expand, caterers need more highly-trained food service staff who can adapt to a wider range of client preferences and even, in some cases, work directly with office managers to meet new demands.

So, what exactly are these new demands? We lay out seven below. You'll notice common threads like a focus on wellness and sustainability, but above all else, these corporate dining trends are about elevating the daily work experience for office employees. Let's dive in!

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6 Questions with Hotbox Authors Matt and Ted Lee: Undercover Students of Catering

By Henry Updegrave May 7, 2019

Matt and Ted Lee have the catering world abuzz with their new book Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business. The two food writers went undercover, working as event chefs for two years to get the inside scoop on an industry that nearly everyone has interacted with but few truly understand. We got the chance to sit down with them and learn more about their journey into catering.

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Want Happier Employees? Show Your Appreciation!

By Anthony Lambatos April 30, 2019

In his New York Times bestseller Life’s Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown has a great quote for managers: “Don’t forget a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.”  

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Understanding Meal and Rest Break Laws in Your State

By Henry Updegrave April 22, 2019

Meal and rest breaks are considered a standard perk at most workplaces, and yet they’re not actually mandated by federal law. At the federal level, employers are only required to compensate breaks lasting less than 20 minutes, should they choose to provide them (the one exception being nursing breaks for mothers, a minimum level of which are required by federal law -- we’ll cover this more later). It’s actually up to the states themselves to determine if and when employers have to make these breaks available to employees, which means the standards are different all over the country.

Work break laws can be broken down into four major categories based on the people and circumstances they cover:

  • Breaks for minors
  • Meal breaks
  • Rest breaks
  • Nursing breaks

While some states have no mandated work breaks, most of them call for employers to provide one or more of the breaks listed above.

Understanding your state’s rest and meal breaks help ensure that you’re fully compliant and properly measuring overtime. And if your business has employees across multiple states, you of course need to make sure you’re meeting each one’s unique standards at your different locations. Below, we’re going to talk about each type of meal and rest break law, explain what it means to your business, and lay out which states it applies to.

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How to Write Effective Job Ads for Hourly Staff

By Henry Updegrave April 15, 2019

Hourly employees are often the face of your business. Baristas, servers, and other folks in customer-facing roles have to connect with people and exude your company values, so it’s imperative you find the right people for the job -- and since turnover is high for these positions, you need to be able to do it consistently.

In October 2018, job openings in the US reached over 7 million — outnumbering job seekers by nearly a million. Candidates have more power than ever when choosing which employers they’re going to work for. That’s one reason why more companies have started to treat recruits like customers, optimizing the application experience for candidates and making efforts to promote their company as an attractive place to work.

Job ads are the backbone of any such recruitment marketing strategy. They’re your opportunity to make a strong first impression on potential employees, set the tone for the interview process, and ultimately get more applicants through the door. With that in mind, here are our three tips for writing more effective job ads.

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5 Simple but Crucial Sales Fundamentals for Caterers

By Lisa Ware April 8, 2019

Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Lisa Ware and I'm the Director of Business Development & Special Projects at Catering by Michaels in Chicago. I've been in catering sales for ten years and prior to that, I taught Kindergarten at a private school for six years.

You might think that teaching Kindergarten and selling catering services are totally different careers -- and they are -- but the lessons I learned managing a classroom laid the foundation on which I've built both my personal brand and business in catering. Many people think sales takes a magic formula or specific personality type. But I truly believe that anyone who has a passion for their industry can become successful in sales. It just comes down to some fundamental basics that are often overlooked.

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