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Apr 9

TimeForge welcomes Applicant Tracking

TimeForge now offers the ability to use it’s new applicant tracking feature. Applicant tracking will let you post a job opening on the TimeForge job board, complete with job type, description and requirements. All they have to do is fill out the required information, upload their resume and then it’s just waiting for you to go through the interview process. Additionally, TimeForge Applicant Tracking will allow you to track people through the interview steps and also give them ratings. If you’ve interviewed someone you really like, give them a high rating. If you’ve interviewed someone you’re not quite sure about, give them a lower rating. That way all of the people involved in the interview process will be able to see who’s the best candidate at a glance. For more information on Applicant Tracking, head over to the TimeForge website.

The Timeforge scheduling system has not only increased our efficiency tremendously; decreased the errors in what is normally an error prone environment; it has also saved us ten times what it costs us each month.

- Michael @ Tiara Cafe

A Greener Office

Jackie Kafka: TimeForge Marketing Associate

I’ve decided to take the initiative to make our TimeForge office more green!! Not literally…but environmentally.  I noticed that I go through a lot of paper each week, just from taking notes on what I’m doing or on a support call. And of course I’m one of those people that is super conscious about whether or not I’m helping or hurting the environment. Just the other day I threw out a glass jar, and as I did so I was thinking, “I bet this can be recycled. That’s just one more thing to add to a landfill.” And in my mind a picture formed of a giant mountain made of plastic bottles and bags, glass jars, and cardboard boxes, just rotting away in the sun when they could have been recycled. Weird, I know.

So of course I’ve been aware of all the paper I’ve been throwing away and thinking about how much of it I could be recycling. So yesterday I approached Anthony and asked him if he could get another trash can to keep around the office so that I can start an in-office “paper recycling program.” And he said that sounded like a great idea!

So as soon as we get a trash can I will be in charge of paper recycling. *beams with pride* I said I would be more than willing to run the paper to the recycle bin behind one of our grocery stores and make sure the trash bag of paper is changed as needed. Now, not only am I the paper recycling guru, I have also taken a load off my conscience by helping out Mother Earth.

Mar 7

The Choc’late Mousse Pie Bar

By Audrey Presley, TimeForge Educator

Having a lot of options doesn’t make things complicated. If anything, it makes them simpler, because the customer gets exactly what they need without needing to modify their processes. Our product meets our customers’ needs because of (not in spite of) the number of options we give our users. This point was driven home when Anthony and I met up at a local independent pie bar here in beautiful Lubbock, Texas.

When walking into The Choc’late Mousse Pie Bar for the first time, I couldn’t help but think, “What is this place?” It’s not a negative assessment by any means. It looks like a gourmet coffee shop, but the food presentation brings Willy Wonka to mind (Wilder’s Wonka, not Depp’s). There are six pictures of tempting dishes displayed neatly on the wall behind the counter, a large display of serving dishes and mini chalkboards reporting the flavors of the day, a neat row of different colors of crumbled crust, and a chalkboard drink menu. After absorbing how these pieces came together, the realization hit me: This place is awesome! It’s pie - deconstructed. It’s really very ridiculously simple and satisfying, because there are so many options! The customizability is why Carson has such rave reviews on sites like UrbanSpoon. These reviews are spectacular, especially since Carson does no advertising except through word-of-mouth.

We walk up to the the ice-cream-shop-style counter and discuss our flavor preferences with the owner, a 20-something named Carson. The first decision  is size of pie… this could get messy. There are six options (plus a sampler, so seven options). We are eating here, not getting it to go.

Do I want a Piebite, which is served in a small double-shot sized dish?

Probably not. I feel a strong need for pie coming on, and Piebite will certainly not quench this craving.

Perhaps a Pietini? Though a martini glass brimming with pie filling is closer to my goal, it lacks crust. Not an option for my pie.

A Piefait may do the trick. Parfait dish full of pie with crusts on bottom and on top… perhaps a bit much crust, after all.

Piewich? Served between two graham crackers, a la s’mores of my childhood Girl Scout adventures? I’m wearing a nice shirt - and I’ve got a meeting in an hour downtown.

Piefection. I’ve found it at last! A wine glass with crust only on the bottom, brimming with pie filling and topped with a scoop of home-made whipped cream. Perfec - er, piefect.

Now that I’ve successfully decided on my personalized craving-quenching size, I need to pick a flavor. There are eight to choose from on any given day, and the flavors usually rotate throughout the week. Carson uses his mom’s recipes to whip up these decadent fillings.

Today the flavors are Choc’late Mousse, White Choc’late Mousse, Lemon, Peanut Butter Cup, Oreo, Milky Way, Cheesecake, Banana Creme, Key Lime, and Creamy Apple.

This is an easy decision. Lemon. Hands down, the best pie flavor ever. Sweet. Tart. Delicious.

Okay - one more pie decision to make. Crust. Carson occasionally changes up the flavors, but today I can choose from six options.

Marshmallows, Pretzel Crust, Oreo Crust, Nilla Wafer Pecan Crust, Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust, or Honey Graham Cracker Crust.

Another simple choice. Lemon filling = chocolate crust. Always. Not Oreo. I don’t want my chocolate to be diluted with Oreo filling.

Okay, pie is being constructed by the owner behind the counter. This pie will be awfully sweet, I think I should get something to wash it down.

More options!

About five different flavors of sodas, five flavors of glass bottled sodas, three coffee sizes, three cappuccino sizes, hot chocolate, milk, juice, two different brands of bottled water, and hot or iced tea. That’s at least 32 options, if you consider the options of sugar, creamer, and espresso shots for the coffees. I want a SmartWater.

How many options was I just presented with? It took me a total of perhaps 10 seconds to make all of those decisions, and I had to choose between 336 pie combinations which could have been for dine-in or carry-out, and 32 drink options, and of course the options of simply not getting any particular item. There were 21,504 options that I had to choose from, but at no point did I feel overwhelmed or confused.  If anything, I appreciate Carson’s decision to give me options, because he probably wouldn’t have offered a lemon filling / chocolate crust option by default. This pie bar gave me the ability to find the products that met my specific need, which was different from Anthony’s (he got a Piebite to go), and find satisfaction that pies with less options can’t offer.

TimeForge doesn’t offer a ton of features to complicate the lives of our users. We offer a ton of features to help simplify it. I managed to weigh the pros and cons of 21,504 options in a matter of seconds, and our users find our software to be just as simple. TimeForge is as easy as pie!

If you haven’t ever used TimeForge, sign up for a free trial. No credit card required - this really is a 100% free trial. It’s 10 days long, and I want you to see how simple our software is for yourself. Just like Carson helps his customers choose the best flavors for their palates, our support team can help you decide on the best options for your business.

Mar 6

Sarah Refuses to Give Up Her Morning Latte

Sarah Dart, TimeForge Educator

Nation’s Restaurant Newshas recently posted an article about the top five beverages that are currently being purchased at restaurants.

Their results included:

  • Iced/frozen/slushy coffee
  • Smoothies
  • Cappuccino/espresso/latte
  • Iced tea
  • Frozen/slushy soft drink

According to the NRN article, “[Consumers] opt for beverages they believe are worth the extra cost, are refreshing, have better flavors, offer more health benefits, and provide a means for socializing and relaxing.” My beverage of choice is a skinny vanilla latte. With less than 200 calories and 0 grams of fat, not only are am I drinking something that will provide me with the energy I need to get through the day, but I am drinking something with many health benefits.

There is a downside to purchasing a skinny vanilla latte. This drink includes nonfat milk, sugar free vanilla syrup, and a shot of espresso. These three simple ingredients cost an average of $4 for a medium size (approximately 16 oz.). So, if I were to go to a restaurant every morning for an entire year, and order this drink everyday, it would cost me about $1,460 for the year.

Doing the math has made me reconsider my morning routine, especially since I can make my own drink for a fraction of the cost. Nation’s Restaurant news argues that, “consumers say they’re purchasing beverages based on value and quality.” The value of ordering specialty drinks is subjective. In the fast-paced world we live in, I think the value is time and convenience. Picking up my favorite cup of coffee on my way to work saves me time and is extremely convenient.

Nation’s Restaurant News concluded that, “the beverages growing in popularity provide restaurant consumers with what they’re looking for in terms of flavors, taste, thirst quenching, price, and less calories”. Restaurants have hit the jackpot with these specialty drinks. These drinks provide options to Americans that are trying to eat healthier and live more active lifestyles. This may be reason enough for some to spend a large amount of money on specialty beverages. All in all, understanding how to budget money and being aware of nutritional facts can help you decide on the best option for your morning cup of joe (or whatever else you choose to drink).

Mar 4

Ethan’s Thoughts About Customer Relationships

Ethan Daniel, TimeForge Developer

Understanding the difference between networking and actual relationships could very well make or break any company or organization. What is the difference between the two? Is the status of a relationship determined by the amount of time the two parties communicate or perhaps the quality of the communication? Maybe it’s something else; maybe it has more to do with the motives driving the communication. I would be inclined to believe it’s a little of all these things. For example, if I really wanted to help my customers, and was genuinely concerned about their business, I would call often and work hard to provide reliable solutions for them. If the motives are pure and wholesome then the rest will follow.

We all know this to be true, that if someone in your family needs your help you’re not going to ignore them or give them an unreliable solution because you care about them. Why not carry these real-life applications into the business world?

Everyday thousands of people count on TimeForge for various things and I see no reason to let them down. We will continue to build long lasting, meaningful relationships not for personal gain but because we care and want to see our customers succeed.

Mar 1

Time Theft and Biometrics

We are all aware of time theft, whether we call it buddy punching, sweethearting, or wage fraud. Basically, it happens when an employee is being paid for work they haven’t done. And it ends up costing a lot of money. An American Society of Employers study found that time theft costs about 20 cents for every dollar earned by business arund the nation. This amounts to about $400 billion dollars a year lost to time theft (according to PaySavvy).

The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about time theft is lying about the number of hours worked. Sally Sue was running late so she called Joe Schmoo and asked if he would punch her time card so that she isn’t penalized for being late and doesn’t lose the money. In return, she lets Joe Schmoo leave work early and clocks him out so he gets paid until the end of the day. Now, when the manager is running payroll data and Sally and Joe get paid, the company looses money. And, what’s worse, those employees aren’t held accountable for their actions, so the company will probably continue to lose money.

That’s where the biometric clocks come in. If employees can only clock in with a fingerprint, for example, there is no longer any way for Joe Schmoo to clock in early for Sally Sue. Not unless he pulls one of those fancy movie tricks and recreates her fingerprint using tape, fancy dust, and a life-like finger mold.

There are also some other types of time theft that don’t directly relate to biometric clocks, but let’s cover them anyway. Breaks can often be abused by employees, causing the company to pay employees for time not worked. Let’s go back to Sally Sue and Joe Schmoo… Sally Sue doesn’t focus very well (well, at least not on her work), so she tends to start her breaks early. Instead of waiting until 4:00 pm to take her 15, she takes it at 3:58 pm. Then she looses track of time and clocks back in at 4:18 pm. It doesn’t seem like a lot initially, but that’s five extra minutes of break. Sally Sue has just take a 20 minute break instead of a 15.

Joe Schmoo, on the other hand, just likes to take extra breaks. And sometimes during the day he’ll stop to take care of personal business. He always seems to be the one sneaking into the back to text his friends and girlfriend. After one too many bathroom breaks, it looks suspicious. So he finds ways to sneak his cellphone out of his pocket when the manager’s back is turned. Instead of applying his energy towards work, he is loosing his focus and taking up time playing on his phone.  Let’s not even think about what Joe would do on a computer. Internet time is hard to monitor, and even harder to enforce.

Sarah’s Experience with Restaurants: The Life of an Unhappy Employee

Food-service is not an easy industry to work in. Customers yell at you, managers yell at you, and sometimes even your coworkers yell at you. I have worked in several different restaurants. Most for not very long. One for two years.

The main reason I quit my job waiting tables was because I was unhappy with my schedule. When I started working for TimeForge, I found out I was not the only unhappy employee in the restaurant industry. Companies waste thousands of dollars from high turnover rates because of unhappy employees. Companies lose an average of $2,000 for each employee that leaves, and low employee morale is the main cause of these high turnover rates.

Another reason I would quit restaurant jobs was because my availability was not taken into consideration. As a full-time college student, I could only work twenty hours a week. A lot of restaurants forced me to work a minimum of four or five shifts a week. Working at a restaurant was supposed to be an easy part-time job. It was supposed to help pay for my tuition, but it ended up being too stressful.

The restaurant I worked at for two years used TimeForge labor management software. This made it easy for the owner to keep track of employee availability, which kept his employees happy. I stayed with the company for two years because I was happy with my schedule. TimeForge saved the owner several hours and he became more available and helpful to his employees.

Technology is changing. It’s time to ditch the pen and paper. Keep your employees happy and reduce turnover rates by using TimeForge.

Employee Scheduling: The Ins and Outs in a Nutshell

Employee scheduling is a headache for anyone that has sat down with a pencil and piece of paper trying to determine which employees work when and how many employees are needed per shift. Let’s not even get into scheduling people to be on call at a certain time. Just your basic Joe Schmoo works Monday from 8am-2pm and Thursday from 12pm-6pm. Even with an Excel spreadsheet the task can still be daunting. Forgot that Joe Schmoo has a family wedding to attend over the weekend and will be unable to work that Monday shift? Now an available employee must be found to cover that shift, phone calls made, potential overtime taken into account. Valuable money and time is spent on scheduling, and shift complications only raise the cost and level of frustration.

Enter online labor schedules. The solution to your scheduling headaches. The cost-efficient way to determine when employees work. The time saving solution that will allow you to free up time to train new employees, or maybe even go play that round of golf you promised your buddy a month ago. Ok…that seems to be a lot of talk about how awesome online scheduling software is. But seriously, it’s good. While there may be a slight learning curve when switching from pen and paper to scheduling through the internet, the advantages greatly outweigh the drawbacks.

One of the biggest and most apparent benefits of online scheduling is that it is… online! Managers can access and change scheduling information from any computer connected to the internet. Similarly, employees can view their schedule, make availability requests, or swap shifts from any device with internet accessibility. Now, no employee can claim they didn’t have the time to stop by the store to see what the schedule was for the week. Schedules are available any place with access to the world wide web. However, the internet itself can be one of the drawbacks of online scheduling. A slow internet connection can cause frustration because the site may take a long time to load or process a command. Similarly, employees who do not have access to internet may have no way of viewing their schedule. If internet access isn’t within easy access at your business, then online employee scheduling may not be for you.

However, if you do have good internet and still want to go play that round of golf, online scheduling increases productivity in many ways. Managers can more easily manage employee availability, breaks, and vacation time. By taking the time to enter an employee’s availability and requests, managers no longer have to worry about scheduling Joe Schmoo when he is unable to work: the software simply won’t allow it. Company ‘guidelines’ can also be added. Compliance rules will be taken into consideration if entered into the scheduler, along with working hours, labor costs, and labor rules. Additionally, overtime can be tracked more easily, thereby reducing overtime costs.

But online scheduling not only benefits you, the manager. It can benefit employees as well. Hours are distributed more evenly among employees and Sally Sue isn’t the only one receiving ideal shifts—those are spread out as well. Suddenly employees are happier and more excited to come to work every day. Maybe even excited enough to pick up that extra, not quite as ideal shift. Additionally, Sally Sue will never again be able to forget she  was scheduled to work. The scheduler can send her an automated reminder about when she is expected to be at work that day.

In fact, all communications between managers and employees are simplified. Instead of calling each employee on a list to see if they can pick up a shift, managers can simply look online to see who is available during that time and send out an email asking if any of those people would like to work.

Emails or text messages can be sent out with every schedule change, eliminating the need to print new schedules and/or alert everyone to the changes through word of mouth. After all, what if Sally Sue dropped her phone in the kitchen sink that day and can’t answer the call telling her she is now scheduled to come into work one hour early tomorrow? Instead, she can check her email on any computer to be notified about the changes, and then view the updated schedule online.

And what if Sally Sue is always giving away shifts to Joe Schmoo? Well, you can track that. Patterns may start to emerge enabling managers to evaluate their employees on tardiness, employee attendance, and worked shifts. But no matter who shows up for the shift, Sally Sue or Joe Schmoo, there are still certain tasks that must be completed. When employees sign in, managers can choose to have a list of tasks ready for them to start once the work day has begun. And no more worrying about whether or not an employee can tweak schedules or view confidential information—a secure log-in is created for the manager to ensure security.

Still unsure about online employee scheduling? Well, admittedly there are some programs that have software limitations, but don’t let that stop you. The trick is simply to compare products to determine which most fits your needs, much like buying a new car. A car may seem like a larger investment, but isn’t the cost of the time you will save just as valuable?

Learn more about Jackie

Sichuan Chicken: Price, Quality, Nightclubbery

pricehike:

Smart diners know there’s no correlation between price and quality, but here’s something interesting: There’s a new “nightclub restaurant” on The Bowery. It’s called The General. It was the subject of my 1.5 star Bloomberg News review this week. And the Sichuan chicken there isn’t just one of New York’s most expensive Sichuan or Chongqing chicken dishes, it’s also among the worst. We try to keep things more factual & quantitative rather than critical & qualitative on The Price Hike, but in this case, it’s hard not to take a stance. 

It would be easy for an out-of-towner to walk into The General, order the bland breast-meat Sichuan and declare, “this is about as good as the version I get at my local takeout joint for $12, except here I’m paying $21.” And that would be a shame, because New York serves some amazing Sichuan fare at affordable prices.

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