Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tip #35: Keyboard Shortcuts to Increase Efficiency

All business owners could use extra time in their day, right? To help you be more efficient and save time while on the computer, we’ve compiled a list of commonly used keyboard shortcuts for you. Keyboard shortcuts are simply keyboard combinations that perform a specific command. For example, instead of going to click File, then clicking Save, you can press both the CTRL and S keys to perform the command.

SaveCTRL + S
OpenCTRL + O
PrintCTRL + P
CopyCTRL + C
PasteCTRL + V
UndoCTRL + Z
FindCTRL + F
BoldCTRL + B
ItalicCTRL + I
UnderlineCTRL + U
Zoom InCTRL + +
Zoom OutCTRL + -
Select all items in current windowCTRL + A
Delete an item immediately without placing it in the Recycle BinSHIFT + DELETE
Switch to another running program (hold down the ALT key and then press the TAB key to view the task-switching window)ALT + TAB
Minimize all open windows and display the desktopWindows Logo + D
Find files or foldersWindows Logo + F
Open Control PanelWindows Logo + C

The shortcuts shown here are for Windows operating systems. However, if you are using a Mac operating system, many of the same shortcuts exist by using the command key in place of the CTRL key.

If you have useful shortcuts to share, please leave a comment for our blog community below.

Note: The information in this post was featured in an article in the January/February/March 2012 issue. RCI members have access to this article plus many more useful articles on operating a business through Kettle Talk, RCI’s quarterly newsletter magazine. Net yet an RCI member? Learn more about the benefits joining RCI here. Contact RCI with questions at 800-545-5381 or info@retailconfectioners.org.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tip #34: Incorporate Fall Flavors into Your Product Mix

Fall is just around the corner so today’s tip is to be inspired by this beautiful season and incorporate some of the flavors, scents and colors of fall into your product mix. We’ve gathered a few fantastic fall flavors to get your creativity flowing.

  • Pumpkin
Ideas: pumpkin spice truffles, pumpkin seed bark

  • Pomegranate
Ideas: pomegranate-infused ganache, chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds

  • Apple
Ideas: caramel apples (of course!), chocolate-covered freeze-dried apples

  • Caramel
Ideas: caramel popcorn balls, rice krispie treats dipped in caramel (even better, cut them into fall-themed shapes such as pumkins or leaves!)

  • Cinnamon
Ideas: add cinnamon to a variety of products from popcorn to truffles, chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks

  • Cranberry
Ideas: dried cranberries and chocolate bark, nut mix with dried cranberries

We’ve also seen quite a few stores mix seasonal flavors for a unique and fun flavor experience. For example, a cranberry and pomegranate bark or cinnamon-infused caramels. Have fun with it and your customers will thank you for it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tip #33: Three Ways to Use Facebook to Grow Sales

Has one of your Facebook strategies for your business been to grow sales? If so, we hope these tips help you meet that goal!

  1. Share Specials That Are Just for Facebook Fans
For holidays or even just fun days, post specials with fun keywords that fans can redeem in your store. For example, for Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19, promote sales by creating a special they’ll receive in store if they use the words “Arrrrgh” or “Ahoy” in a sentence. Then, only promote this special on Facebook to draw your fans into your store. Be sure to specify any limits, etc. associated with the special.
  1. Encourage Sharing
How many Facebook likes do you have? If you’re aiming for a certain goal number, let your fans know and encourage them to invite their friends to like your Facebook page. You could even provide a coupon prize for the xxth like along with the person who invited them to like your page. By increasing your likes you will be expanding your reach and with the coupon you will be drawing them into your store.
  1. Use Pictures to Entice Appetite (and Sales)
As chocolate and candy makers, you have a great opportunity to entice appetites for your treats by using images. Research has confirmed that food images can stimulate the “crave” part of the brain which could entice them to visit your store (in person or online) to purchase your products. Take advantage of this by posting beautiful pictures of your products to remind your fans why they should visit your store. Pay attention to the quality of your photos before posting them – if you don’t think they look beautiful and enticing, your potential customers probably won’t think so either and won’t be encouraged to pay your store a visit.   If you need high quality photos, consider asking your suppliers if they have product photos you can use to promote sales in your store. 

If you have more tips to increase sales, please share them with our blog community and post them below!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tip #32: Regular Maintenance Check-Ups

Doesn't it seem like something always breaks right before, or even during, your busy season? While sometimes that is just going to happen, oftentimes breakdowns can be avoided by scheduling regular maintenance check-ups for your equipment and machinery.

To create a basic maintenance schedule, you can use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel and create a simple tracking sheet. Column headings could include machinery name and/or serial number while the rows list the date a check-up is needed. Then, the employee overseeing the maintenance or check-up would initial in the corresponding box. You could use the different tabs to divide out your equipment by department, or if it’s easy to fit all equipment on one tab you could use a different tab for each year. We’ve created a very basic sample to help you get started. As a starting point, we have inserted monthly checks but we recommend checking the manufacturer’s guidelines for each of your equipment to make the best plan for your company.

In addition to avoiding untimely breakdowns, equipment maintenance programs also ensure your product and consumer’s safety and reduce unexpected maintenance repairs. Be sure to check out this website on preventative machinery maintenance for thorough advice and reasoning for creating a complete maintenance program for your company.

One last thing: Don’t forget about regular check-ups of office items as well, including printers, carts, etc. You don’t want the copier or printer broken just as you’re about to print invoices for the month or reports for the year; or the two-wheel cart needed to transport product from store to store to be found with flat wheels.

Do you have tips for scheduling maintenance check-ups? Leave us a comment below!

Did you know that equipment maintenance is one of the many facets of HACCP planning? RCI members can access videos of past education sessions discussing GMP and HACCP plans on the member side of the RCI website under ‘past education sessions’.