Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tip #52: Celebrate and Remember 2012

A couple weeks ago we reminded you of the importance of setting goals for the coming year. Today, we’re reminding you to take time to celebrate and remember 2012.

Was 2012 a standout year for you and your business? Take time to celebrate with your employees and your family!  Take a step back from running the business to thank your staff by taking them out to lunch or have a family fun night out. Get others involved and have staff name their favorite part of 2012 or a personal celebration from the year.   

It’s also important to take time to acknowledge and remember any difficulties or challenges from 2012. Acknowledging what you've learned from those difficulties along the way and giving your staff the opportunity to acknowledge those challenges ensures they weren't in vain.

Now go make your celebration plans!

What are we celebrating here at Retail Confectioners International? An entire year of tips! That’s right, this week marks Tip #52, the final tip for the year 2012! Stay tuned for another great year of tips for retail chocolate and candy makers in 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tip #51: Focus on a Winter Theme

We have just a week until Christmas so this week’s tip is to actually stop making Christmas-themed products and packages. I know, it sounds crazy, but we promise it makes sense. If you instead focus these next few days on putting together winter-themed items (think snowmen, snowflakes, etc.), then your items will still be applicable gifts after the holidays and into the New Year.

Below find some snowman-themed ideas we found on Pinterest to get your creative juices started. Be sure to share any winter themed product ideas in the comments below.

Merry Christmas!

Source: via Joy on Pinterest

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tip #50: Swab Test Your Production Area in Busy Times

Most candy makers would probably agree it’s easier to keep a super-clean facility when the bows and boxes aren’t flying during the holiday season. But how is your staff doing with keeping the cleaning schedule when there seems to be no extra time in the day?

One way to stay on top of this is to test the cleanliness of your facility on a regular basis. We don’t mean a visual test where you look to see if the area appears clean but an actual scientific test for allergens, sanitation, etc.

You can buy sample test kits and do an on-site test of a variety of areas in your production zone. During one of our recent Kettle Talk panel forums, a member recommended buying sample test kits from Neogen. Using their food allergen tests you can do on-site tests to detect the target allergen (see list of allergens here) in ingredients, liquids, clean-in-place rinses, finished foods, and on environmental surfaces. They also have sanitation tests to detect the amount of food residue and other organic matter, such as bacteria, yeast and mold, that may remain after cleaning.

Please note this is just one company that was recommended from one member to another at our event and others are likely available to you by searching online. If you also want to send swabs off to a lab to be thoroughly tested, Silliker Labs, who presented at the 2012 RCI Spring Regional event, also provides food testing and sanitation information for confectioners and food facilities.

Do you have other tips for maintaining a clean food facility in the midst of your busiest production schedules? Please share with our blog community in the comments below!

RCI Members:  Access additional materials on Good Manufacturing Practices on the member side of the RCI website. Our new website being revealed in January will have a page dedicated to just this topic. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tip #49: Set SMART Goals for 2013

 "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time."  ~ Zig Ziglar

This popular quote motivates us to consider our goals for 2013 and how we’re going to meet them. But we also know that if we don’t set SMART goals, then we’re less likely to accomplish them.

What is a SMART goal?

Specific – Be specific about your goals. For example, rather than “Increase sales,” state “Increase sales of wedding favors by $2000 by August 1, 2013.”
Measurable – Setting a measurable goal helps you to know if you’ve met your goal and to gauge progress throughout the year. Answer questions such as ‘How much?’ and ‘By when?’. For example, “We will increase corporate sales by 5% ($5,000 in sales) in the 2013 calendar year.” Note that if you use a percentage, it’s a good idea to determine the actual amount ahead of time.
Attainable – Set goals that are both realistic and attainable. You want to stretch yourself and your team to reach new heights, yet not set goals that seem unrealistic and therefore discouraging to attempt.
Relevant – Choose to set goals that are relevant to your business’s mission, vision and culture. Relevant goals will matter to your entire team and help drive everyone forward to meet them.
Time-bound – Give yourself a target date. If there are multiple steps you can take throughout the year to meet the goals, assign a target date for each step.

When making goals for your business include your staff in the process and they will take ownership of the goals. The more ownership your staff takes, the harder they will work to meet those goals.

Share your 2013 goals! Leave us a comment and let us know what goals you’ve set for yourself and your business in 2013.