Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tip #74: 4 Free Tools for Managing Projects Online

As a candy store manager and/or business owner, you have a number of projects on your plate at one time. Therefore, this week’s tip provides some of our favorite tools to manage projects online. One of the benefits of using online tools is that you can access the information from nearly anywhere and team collaboration is amplified. Plus, the online tools below have accompanying smart phone apps, making access even easier.

  1. Trello – Trello is a simple and visually pleasing way to organize projects. Add images, checklists, due dates, attachments and more to keep your projects organized. You can have multiple boards, or projects, and organize tasks, or cards, within the boards in whatever fashion you choose. Additionally, assign collaborators to tasks to easily track who is responsible for different pieces of the project.

  1. Freedcamp –  Freedcamp provides project templates to help you get started as well as a group wall to communicate with all users within your projects.  The system also makes it easy to choose what your employees and clients can see with a fully customizable user permission system. Freedcamp includes a great dashboard providing an overview of projects, important tasks and recent activity.

  1. Teambox  – Teambox has thought of nearly everything when it comes to project management. Keeping track of conversations, workloads, files and notes and documentation are just some of the features. Users may also view a Gantt diagram of a project’s status, share calendars and connect projects via email.  Teambox is free for up to five users and utilizes a “pay as you grow” structure for more than five users.

  1. Evernote – Evernote is essentially an idea board for managing projects.  It’s great for visually focused projects. For example, if you’re looking to redo your packaging soon, you may begin collecting photos, links, documents and notes about what you want your new packaging to look like and accomplish.  Note that Evernote is great for you to organize projects and ideas, but to collaborate with others, you’ll want to use Evernote Business which is fee-based.
Now, pick one that works for you and have fun project planning and organizing for your company!

If you have additional project management tools you’ve used successfully, please leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear what they are and why they work well for you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tip #73: Get Creative for National Macaroon Day

National Macaroon Day is May 31 and this week’s tip is to get creative and have fun with this confectionery holiday. We’ve gathered a number of pictures and links below to help get the creative juices flowing. If you do something fun and unique with macaroons in your candy store, be sure to share it in the comments below!

Detailed Design: Animal Print

Fun Colors:
Light & Feminine

Don't Forget the Classic:
Coconut Macaroon

Unique Pairing:
Cupcakes & Macaroons

Great Presentation:
Make a Cake
Source: google.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tip #72: Use Stainless Steel Crowbar to Break Chocolate

We have a quick Good Manufacturing Practices tip for you this week. When you receive pallets of chocolate or the 10-pound bars of chocolate from your chocolate supplier, you need to break them into smaller pieces to melt down and create your store’s confections. How do you go about doing that? 

Many candy makers will break the chocolate into smaller pieces by smashing it with a hammer. However, if you are using a wood handled hammer, you risk the wood chipping off in the process and small shreds of wood landing in your chocolate. Additionally, if you are using a rubber handled hammer, it likely has small crevices in it that can easily hold chocolate and create bacteria as time goes on.

Therefore, this week’s tip is to use a stainless steel or titanium crowbar to break your chocolate into pieces for melting. It is still a good idea to clean the crowbar on a regular basis, but with no other element such as wood and rubber on the bar, it will be much easier to ensure it is completely clean and sterilized and ready for safe use with food.

P.S. This tip was shared during our recent Chocolate Boot Camp.  View photos of this RCI education course on our Facebook page!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tip #71: Offer Military Discounts in Honor of Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is a holiday for U.S. citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. This year it will be celebrated on Saturday, May 18.  In honor of this holiday, this week’s tip is to provide a military discount or great special just for military members and their families on this special holiday or even the week leading up to it. From half off, buy one get one, or even a special free gift, the possibilities are endless.

We’ve provided this tip early in May so you have plenty of time to plan and promote the specials and discounts you create. Be sure you spread the word via social media, word of mouth, fliers and even send a press release to area media.

Another idea to show appreciation to the U.S. military on this day (or any day!) is to visit your area veterans’ center with a special delivery of chocolates and candies from your store. Take a moment to thank the veterans present and let them know how much you appreciate their services.

Are you located outside of the U.S.? You can still utilize this tip! Find out if your government has dedicated a day to honor the military in your country and join in with a discount or special in appreciation for their service. If your country doesn’t have a specific day, why not select a day and start one in your candy store?