The Nowsta Blog

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

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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Federal Overtime Laws: The Latest Updates from the Department of Labor

By Henry Updegrave April 1, 2019

Long-awaited updates to federal overtime laws are finally here. On March 7, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new changes to the overtime threshold exemptions under the Federal Labor Standards Act. This proposal — which is now taking public comment — calls for a higher overtime exemption threshold than exists now, but a lower one than the DOL called for under the Obama Administration.

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How Can Event Pros Build a Culture of Creativity?

By Renee Miner March 26, 2019

Creativity is so intrinsically linked to the special events industry that its true meaning has become lost in a sea of job titles, marketing verbiage, and company branding. As a diverse, powerful, well-connected industry, we’re all in agreement that creativity is a key part of what we do, but we often struggle to make it part of our companies’ daily operations.

It’s not enough to just say that we’re creative. How can you as a caterer ensure your company's default position is to always be innovating? The answer comes down to culture.

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Servant Leadership: A Primer with Examples

By Henry Updegrave March 19, 2019

If you run a business or manage a significant number of staff, you know that your attention is being pulled in a million directions at once. Did we underschedule today? Should we be hiring more? Are we going over budget? There’s always something new to deal with.

But with so many problems to solve every day to keep the business running smoothly, it’s easy to forget about the frontline employees who make it all possible. If they’re not consistently learning, growing, and getting better at their jobs, then it’s nearly impossible for the customer experience to improve over time. Even worse, if your staff are disengaged and turning over at a high rate, you’re almost certain to provide a worse experience over time, since you constantly have new people starting from scratch with no understanding of what makes your business successful.

That’s the problem servant leadership looks to solve. Servant leadership is a management philosophy that reimagines the role of the boss as one who serves their team rather than leads them. Proponents argue that by focusing more on what they can do to make their team successful rather than vice versa, leaders can build a more cohesive, autonomous, motivated workforce, which will ultimately get better outcomes for the business.

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2019 Labor Laws: 4 New Rules Revealing the Latest Trends

By Henry Updegrave March 11, 2019

 You always need to be up on the latest labor laws to stay compliant and make sure you’re meeting your obligations to employees. And with 2019 underway, you’re probably (hopefully) already following any new laws in your area.

But what about the rest of the country? Are there new labor laws that could be coming your way next year? Where are the trends heading?

Following labor laws isn’t just about reacting to new rules as they come onto the books. You need to know what laws might be coming soon so you can strategize in advance about what they mean for your business and how you’ll adapt, rather than try and scramble to follow them once they’ve already passed. That means you need to stay up on the trends. In this post, we’re going to tell you about four new labor laws from around the country that could spread far and wide in 2019 and beyond.

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3 Takeaways from Catersource 2019

By Henry Updegrave March 5, 2019

Last week, the Nowsta team was lucky enough to attend our third Catersource conference together as a company. In addition to being the premier conference for caterers and industry-adjacent businesses, Catersource has been a crucial part of Nowsta’s growth thus far -- we launched our product to the catering world two years ago at Catersource 2017, and then grew our customer base substantially after announcing several new features at last year’s Catersource.

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20 Drinks Every Bartender Should Know in 2019

By Henry Updegrave March 13, 2019

An expert bartender can set the tone for a great night. Combine a passion for mixology, a fascination with cocktail history, and an awareness for today’s drink trends, and a bartender transforms one-time customers into enthusiastic regulars. No matter the spot, every bartender should know today’s top cocktails to ensure every guest leaves happy.

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5 Middle Skill Jobs of the Future

By Josh Burnett February 25, 2019

Middle skill jobs are most often defined as ones that require education or technical training beyond a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. They exist across all industries, but most prominently in construction, manufacturing, and clerical work. Given the extra knowledge and skill they require, middle skill jobs typically pay more than the run-of-the-mill hourly job, and as such have long been a vehicle of upward social mobility. But several labor economists have noted a “hollowing out” of the middle skill job market in the United States over the past thirty years, pointing to declines in wages and employment in the middle of the labor market as evidence.

But that’s not the whole story.

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25 Small Business Tax Deductions You Need to Know About

By Henry Updegrave February 18, 2019

Running a small business is no easy endeavor — especially during tax season. In addition to dealing with complicated forms and financial calculations, many small businesses end up paying too much in taxes because they take all of the deductions available to them.

We want to help you keep your tax bill as low as possible in 2019. Below, we’re going to give you the rundown on 25 of the most common small business tax deductions you could be eligible for as a sole proprietor, LLC, or partnership business. Please note that this post is for educational purposes. You should speak to a professional tax advisor to confirm which deductions you’re eligible to claim and learn how.  

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New York’s Spread of Hours Law Explained

By Henry Updegrave February 11, 2019

Building a work schedule for your team requires a full understanding of your state’s labor laws, which aren’t always intuitive. New York’s Spread of Hours law is a prime example. While most labor laws focus only on the hours an employee is clocked in for, the Spread of Hours law takes the whole day into account. The law applies only to businesses in the service industry, and says that if the beginning and end of an employee’s workday are more than ten hours apart — including breaks or off-duty hours — you’re required to pay that employee one extra hour’s worth of pay at minimum wage, on top of their total wages for the day.

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Employee Earnings Record: What It Is and How to Use It

By Henry Updegrave February 7, 2019

There’s lots of data to keep track of for all your employees. But virtually none is more important than up-to-date payroll information.

You need to have a record of how many hours your employees have worked, their gross salary, tax withholdings, and all other deductions. Not only will this make it easier for you to pay your taxes and do payroll reconciliation, but it also allows employees to better understand their finances.

You track this information for each member of your team in an employee earnings record. This article will explain to you what an employee earnings record is, what information it needs to contain, and how you’ll use it.

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Employee Retention Ideas: 5 Difference Makers For Your Staff

By Henry Updegrave February 5, 2019

Employee retention is one of the most important measures of success for any business owner or manager, but also one of the most difficult to achieve. Why is it such a big deal? Research shows that it costs nearly 20% of an hourly employee’s total yearly salary to replace them when they leave, which works out to roughly $4,000 for someone making $10 an hour. Those costs can add up quickly, and get even higher in a tight labor market.

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Business Funding 101: 4 Options for 2019

By Eric Goldschein January 28, 2019

When you’re running your own company, a workable business model, great product, and strong vision are all key to success. But you won’t be able to get off the ground without business funding. The fact is, every small business needs access to money before it can get off the ground: Starting up is expensive, and operating costs can require you to invest a significant amount of money before your company can even open up shop.

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How to Accommodate Part-time Staff with Medical Limitations

By Josh Burnett January 22, 2019

Every employee needs something a little different to do their best work. That was our thesis when we broke part-time employees down into five categories and provided management tips for each, based on Federal Reserve survey data on why people say they work part-time as opposed to full-time. Over a series of posts, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each category and explore how managers can better manage, motivate, and accommodate each type of part-time employee.

In this post, we’re going to cover staff who work part-time due to medical issues.

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Overstaffed: Does Scheduling More Staff Always Mean Better Results?

By Henry Updegrave January 15, 2019

Managers have to strike a difficult balance when building the work schedule. You need to make sure you have enough staff on duty to meet customer demand, but not so many that you overshoot your labor budget or eat into margins. But generally speaking, most would assume that the more employees you have scheduled for a shift, the better the team will perform, since the workload can be spread out across a larger group.

But the research suggests that isn’t always true.

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How to Manage Retirees in Part-time Roles

By Josh Burnett January 10, 2019

Every employee needs something a little different to do their best work. That was our thesis when we broke part-time employees down into five categories and provided management tips for each, based on Federal Reserve survey data on why people say they work part-time as opposed to full-time. Over a series of posts, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each category and explore how managers can better manage, motivate, and accommodate each type of part-time employee.

In this post, we’re going to cover staff who continue to work part-time in retirement.

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12 Business Metrics Caterers Need to Track

By Jeff Ware January 25, 2019

If you’re new to catering, you might think that all you need to succeed is a delicious menu, beautiful event design, and strong planning skills. If you’ve got those, the rest will take care of itself, right?

Not quite.

The reality is that catering is a business like any other. No matter how good your food tastes, your success or failure is going to come down to numbers. And not just revenue and profit either. By the time you’re calculating those, it’s too late -- the events are over, the money is in the bank, and there is nothing you can do to make up for executing an unprofitable event.

But there are other numbers you can track in real time that show you the health of your business and reveal the improvements you can make to increase your bottom line. In this post, I’m going to outline twelve metrics every caterer needs to track across three distinct business categories, with some advice sprinkled in on how to get them trending in the right direction.

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The Dangers of Predatory Business Loans: 8 Warning Signs to Look For

By Eric Goldschein January 3, 2019

Running a small business is stressful enough without worrying that someone will try to take advantage of you in a time of need. Unfortunately, predatory business loans are exactly that: A lender taking advantage of a borrower through unfair or unclear terms and practices.

While small business lending isn’t predatory by nature, there are lenders who structure loans in a way that can cost business owners thousands of extra dollars, if not their entire business.

If you’ve decided that applying for a small business loan is the right decision for your company, it’s crucial that you do your homework and take note of what makes for a good versus bad loan to avoid putting you and your business at risk.

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What is a Payroll Register?

By Henry Updegrave December 31, 2018

Running payroll accurately is table stakes for any business, but it’s also more difficult than new managers and business owners may realize. Between employees’ gross pay, net pay, and the various deductions that make up the difference, there’s a lot of information to keep track of. That’s where your payroll register comes in.

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How to Manage Part-time Student Employees

By Josh Burnett January 2, 2019

Every employee needs something a little different to do their best work. That was our thesis when we broke part-time employees down into five categories and provided management tips for each, based on Federal Reserve survey data on why people say they work part-time as opposed to full-time. Over a series of posts, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each category and explore how managers can better manage, motivate, and accommodate each type of part-time employee.

In this post, we’re going to cover staff who work part-time while also going to school.

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The Caterer's Guide to Management: How to Let Underperforming Staff Go

By Roy Porter December 24, 2018

This is Part Five of a five-part series for caterers on hiring and managing part-time event staff. You can the previous parts here:

In a perfect world, every part-time event worker you hire ends up being a superstar you want to schedule over and over. As I’ve tried to show throughout this series, your hiring, training, and promotion processes can increase your chances of developing great staff. But obviously, not every new hire is going to work out. That’s why you need a process for terminating employees who aren’t a good fit for your business.

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The Caterer's Guide to Management: How to Promote Event Staff to Event Captain

By Roy Porter December 24, 2018

This is Part Four of a five-part series for caterers on hiring and managing part-time event staff. You can read the other parts here: 

Caterers need part-time staff in positions like server, bartender, and event chef to ensure their events run smoothly. In my last three articles, I’ve given you my strategies to always be recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding people in these positions.

But there’s another crucial piece of the puzzle: The Event Captains who manage everyone in these roles. Where do they come from? Ideally, they work their way up from the event staff roles we’ve been discussing. The best caterers I’ve worked with tend to promote these folks from within for a few key reasons:

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How to Manage Part-time Staff with Family Obligations

By Josh Burnett December 7, 2018

Every employee needs something a little different to do their best work. That was our thesis when we broke part-time employees down into five categories and provided management tips for each, based on Federal Reserve survey data on why people say they work part-time as opposed to full-time. Over a series of posts, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each category and explore how managers can better manage, motivate, and accommodate each type of part-time employee. You can see our previous entry on managing underemployed part-time staff who want more hours here.

In this post, we’re going to cover staff who work part-time due to child care and other family obligations.

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Introducing Weekly View: Our New Scheduling Option for Non-Event Shifts

By Henry Updegrave December 4, 2018

At Nowsta, events are our bread and butter. Our scheduling tools are built to help you manage the constant week-to-week variation in shifts, roles, and venue locations that all event-based businesses are familiar with.

But just because you’re in the events industry doesn’t mean that every single shift you schedule is tied to an event. Caterers, for instance, often have staff in their kitchens, warehouses, and cafes who work roughly the same hours each week regardless of how many events are on the schedule. We want to help our customers manage those staff from the Nowsta platform as easily as they do their event staff. That’s why today, we’re excited to announce our newest scheduling tool: Weekly View.

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The Caterer's Guide to Onboarding New Event Staff

By Roy Porter December 24, 2018

This is Part Three of a five-part series for caterers on hiring and managing part-time event staff. You can read the other parts here: 

Caterers have to approach hiring for part-time event staff as a numbers game. It’s a bit like math class. In my first post, we went over addition, and looked at strategies to increase your number of job applicants. Last week, we got into subtraction and talked about how you can use the interview process to reduce your pool of applicants to the most qualified ones. This week is all about percentages. You want as many of your new hires as possible to make the transition from “new hire” to “go-to event teammate.” How do you do that? Onboarding.

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The Employee Handbook: Why You Need One and What to Include

By Stephanie Knapp November 30, 2018

Writing an employee handbook as a manager is a lot like eating vegetables as a kid. It’s good for you in the long run, but there are lots of other things you’d rather do. Your to-do list is probably a mile long and unforeseen challenges pop up every day. Time is at a premium, so it’s easy for something like an employee handbook to fall by the wayside.

But this is an investment in the future that’s worth making time for. The employee handbook is your chance to start every new hire off with a baseline understanding of your company’s culture, expectations, and operations. Below, we’re going to tell you how an employee handbook can help your business, show you what to include in yours, and provide a few examples you can look to as you write your own.  

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The Caterer's Guide to Interviewing Part-time Event Staff

By Roy Porter December 24, 2018

This is Part Two of a five-part series for caterers on hiring and managing part-time event staff. You can read the others here: 

As a caterer, you always need to be hiring more part-time event staff. These are high turnover positions, and seasonality means your needs are always changing -- the last thing you want is to find yourself scrambling for more staff at the last minute.

But at the same time, you can’t just hire anyone who walks through the door to be your next server, bartender, or hostess. These people interact directly with guests, which means they arguably have the biggest overall impact on client experience. You need to know you can trust them with that responsibility. That’s where the interview process comes in.

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Underemployed: How to Manage Part-time Staff Who Need More Hours

By Josh Burnett November 23, 2018

Every employee needs something a little different to do their best work. That was our thesis when we broke part-time employees down into five categories and provided management tips for each, based on Federal Reserve survey data on why people say they work part-time as opposed to full-time. Over a series of posts, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each category and explore how managers can better manage, motivate, and accommodate each type of part-time employee.

First up: Part-time-staff who need more hours, also known as the visibly underemployed.

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The Caterer's Guide to Hiring: 10 Steps to Get More Event Staff Applicants

By Roy Porter December 24, 2018

This is Part One of a five-part series for caterers on hiring and managing part-time event staff. You can the next parts here: 

Most catering companies depend on part-time staff to work their events as servers, bartenders, event chefs, and any other roles that only need to show up during the events themselves. While this arrangement clearly makes sense financially and logistically, it does mean that caterers always need to be in hiring mode for these positions. Part-time staff work other jobs and won’t always be available, so you need to constantly be adding to your pool of workers to ensure you can staff all your events -- especially during your busy season.

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How Paper Timesheets and Punch Cards Cost Your Small Business

By Henry Updegrave November 15, 2018

Every business owner and manager knows that manually tracking employees’ hours isn’t fun. If you use paper timesheets, you have to pester staff to sign in and out, decipher messy handwriting, and somehow get the data to your payroll provider. Physical timeclocks mitigate some of those issues, but you’re still stuck poring over a stack of paper time cards at the end of each pay period.

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How to Build a Shift Swap Policy that Works for Everyone

By Josh Burnett February 12, 2019

Scheduling hourly staff is a difficult balancing act for managers. On the one hand, you have to preserve margins by keeping the schedule lean and assigning only as many people as you need to meet customer demand. That means you sometimes need the flexibility to change the schedule in the days leading up to a shift. On the other hand, employees need flexibility too. Last minute scheduling changes make it harder for them to meet family obligations, work a second job, make it to class, or manage other aspects of their daily lives. But a reasonable shift swap policy can enable managers to meet the needs of both their business and their employees.

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Payroll Reconciliation: How to Do It in 6 Easy Steps

By Henry Updegrave November 8, 2018

Payroll reconciliation is the key to maintaining accurate records of employee wages, withholdings, and other key pieces of tax information. Like many finance-related tasks, it’s a tedious yet crucial part of running a small business. In this post, we’re going to lessen the burden for you by breaking the process down into six simple steps.

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Why Your Business Needs an SOP for Everything

By Henry Updegrave November 7, 2018

Imagine you manage a restaurant and a new employee starts. You begin their first day by asking them to clean up all the cutting boards and cooking utensils in the kitchen. That may sound like a simple task, but as any food services professional will tell you, there’s a specific process to cleaning any food contact surfaces. By sending your new employee in blind, you’re risking your customers’ health, and you could fail your next health inspection. Worst of all, you could’ve eliminated those risks if you’d taken the time to write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

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Managing Millennials: 3 Solutions to Your Biggest Complaints

By Josh Burnett November 1, 2018

Everyone has heard the stereotypes about millennials. They’re lazy, entitled, addicted to their phones -- the list goes on and on. But as a business owner or manager, the first thing you need to understand about millennials is that they’re here to stay. They became a majority of the workforce in 2015, and more are joining every year. Chances are that millennials already make up a significant portion of your staff.

So, whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to learn how to work with them. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this post, we’re going to offer some solutions to some of the common issues employers have when it comes to managing millennials. And who knows? We may even find a few silver linings to some of their supposedly negatively traits.

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15 Team Building Games Your Employees Will Actually Like

By Stephanie Knapp November 6, 2018

If you’ve ever led or participated in a team building game, then you know that they can often cause eye rolls. It’s not that employees don’t want to have fun and become closer to their coworkers. It’s more likely that they’ve encountered team building games that have been uncomfortable, boring, or just plain corny.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself, which may leave you wondering why you’d even bother with team building games in the first place. Here's why: A staggering 68% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work, and just over half are looking for a new job. So, if your business resembles the rest of the workforce, that means more than two-thirds of your employees simply don't care enough to give their best effort. Does that sound like a recipe for success? Of course not. The data backs it up too, as a study by IBM’s Kenexa found that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement have double the net income as companies in the bottom quartile.

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What Motivates Your Part-time Employees?

By Henry Updegrave November 9, 2018

Many businesses rely on part-time workers as a cost-effective, flexible source of labor. But some managers complain that part-timers aren't committed enough -- without the full schedule and benefits that full-time staff get, they worry there simply isn’t enough there to motivate part-time staff to put forth their best effort.

We think that’s a cop out.

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The Future of the Gig Economy: 5 Jobs that Could Be Next

By Henry Updegrave October 15, 2018

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen more and more people participate in the gig economy, taking non-permanent, freelance jobs often facilitated over the internet. While it’s hard to pin down exact numbers, a review of several existing studies conducted by Nation1099 suggests that 11% of the U.S. workforce counts freelance jobs as their primary source of income, while an additional 25-39% have freelanced in the last year for supplementary income. Research from McKinsey suggests that many more workers want to join them and experience the independence that comes from being one’s own boss.

But when most people think of the gig economy, they think of apps like Uber, AirBnb, or TaskRabbit. Nearly all of the jobs available on these apps are one-off, transactional deals conducted between individuals. The work isn’t consistent or high-paying enough to replace a full-time job, which is why companies like Uber say more than half of its drivers work 15 or fewer hours per week.

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How to Do Payroll Manually Versus With Software

By Henry Updegrave November 14, 2018

Let’s face it. Doing payroll is nobody’s idea of fun. Whether you’re a business owner or a manager, you probably aren’t looking forward to the process of calculating wages, withholding taxes, and filling out IRS forms.

But, as is the case for many tedious but necessary business processes, technology can automate parts of the payroll process for you. How much can it take off your plate? That depends on the software you’re willing to invest in. You have three options:

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The Dreaded No Call, No Show: How to Respond as an Employer

By Josh Burnett November 2, 2018

Workplace absenteeism is a significant problem across the entire economy, and an expensive one at that -- experts estimate it costs businesses more than $84 billion a year in lost productivity. Sometimes, of course, employees simply can’t help but miss work: We all have to call out of work sometimes due to family crises, health problems, car trouble, and other unavoidable issues.

But what employers can’t afford to excuse is the dreaded “no call, no show.” We’ve all the experience of a team member -- whether a peer, subordinate, or supervisor -- not showing up for work without letting anyone know beforehand. It throws the entire shift into disarray. After all, managers don’t build the daily roster with extra fat to cut. They schedule exactly as many people as the business needs, and no more. When a shift starts without someone who was scheduled, managers have to scramble to reallocate jobs and every coworker has to pick up the slack.

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What Do Retirees Stand to Gain from the Gig Economy?

By Henry Updegrave October 23, 2018

Most people picture retirement as their Golden Years: a time when they can kick back, relax, and lead the lifestyle of their choosing. The ability to realize that dream, however, is largely dependent on one’s financial situation.

Unfortunately, that situation is bleak for many. In a recent study on retirement readiness, Northwestern Mutual found that 67% of Americans expect to outlive their retirement savings. It’s becoming increasingly clear that many will need to earn supplemental income during retirement to maintain their current lifestyle.

But financially tenuous retirees may have a savior: the gig economy. Millions of Americans are supporting themselves by taking on a steady flow of short-term jobs that allow them set their own schedule and be their own boss. You’ve likely heard of this in the context of apps like Uber and Airbnb. However more traditional jobs in retail and food service, as well as a plethora of opportunities in professional and consulting work, are increasingly being outsourced to independent workers. 

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What is Workforce Management?

By Henry Updegrave September 28, 2018

One of the most difficult parts of running a business is managing your employees, and I don’t mean in the traditional sense of motivating or coaching them (though these are difficult, crucial undertakings in their own right). I’m talking about basic logistics like getting them in the right place at the right time and making sure they get paid.

In many ways, these are bare minimums to operate as a business. But to consistently grow and thrive, you need to do more than the bare minimum -- you need to solve these problems more efficiently than the competition. That’s where workforce management comes into play. Workforce management is the set of tools and processes businesses use to deploy their employees efficiently, keep labor costs in check, and track staff performance.

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Introducing the New and Improved Nowsta Blog

By Henry Updegrave October 23, 2018

We’re excited to announce that we’ve re-launched the Nowsta blog! Every week, we’ll be bringing you day-to-day workforce management tips, labor market insights, and all the latest news on Nowsta. We also plan to roll out analytical white papers, longform guides, and free business diagnostic tools to help you be a more effective manager. 

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Helping you become a better manager.