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Vision plan enrollment on the rise – millennials making the jump

Vision plans are becoming one of the most fashionable benefit offerings out there, and in large part because of millennials eager to participate in the plans. Recent research suggests that this benefit’s popularity is on the rise largely because employees want the opportunity to afford fashion-forward eyeglass lenses and frames. The growth of enrollment in this benefit has been steady. Eighty percent of employees who have a vision benefit option elect to enroll. Vision benefits are the only among medical, dental and others to see an increase in enrollment in 2016. Millennials are shaking things up when it comes to benefits. Twenty five percent of millennials say that they have sought a new employment opportunity to gain a better benefits package. In addition, over 20 percent say that vision benefits are the “most appealing” benefit in the package. When it comes to vision plan benefit offerings, employees are seeking premium options. A recent study found that over 85 percent of employee ...

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Mass Popularity a Disadvantage for Starbucks

One of the unexpected challenges that comes with a brand as popular as Starbucks is the loss of bran authenticity and exclusivity. The model that helps other businesses understand this trend is of course McDonald's, which, while one of the most popular and widespread restaurants on the planet, has nevertheless had its own share of negative press on subjects ranging from the wages it pays workers to the safety and quality of its product. All this bad publicity hurt McDonald's, especially in some of its larger markets. But through significant changes to its brand in direct response to these issues, McDonald's has also become an example of how to correct a "post saturation slump." But can Starbucks do the same? The two brands are significantly different: where McDonald's deals in fast food, Starbucks' business is based largely in convincing customers to make a modest luxury purchase, spending more than they would otherwise on a cup of coffee. While inventing new ways to sweeten espresso drinks helped Starbucks ...

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Panera 2.0 Now with Delivery, Faster Ordering, and More

Panera Bread Co. has had a difficult time showing positive growth over the last two years, so it should come as no surprise that the company recently announced an initiative to streamline the ordering process and introduce delivery as an option at approximately 10% of its locations. Much of the changes involved in Panera 2.0 focus on a move toward greater use of technology. For instance, customers will be able to order in advance using mobile apps, or at ordering stations at the entrance to the restaurant. Those locations that have already implemented these changes have seen significant increases in same store sales over the last four quarters. In recent years, Panera has nearly saturated the US market, according to its number of chains currently open compared to other restaurants of comparable size and type. By adding delivery and other options to its locations Panera is hoping to begin the next phase of its growth by increasing sales at existing locations. These new options will come with additional ...

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Robots in Restaurants? Or Just More Election Year Hype

Some things come in seasons: elections, migratory birds, and reports on the coming of robot waiters? That's right. You may have seen some reporting lately around increased automation within the restaurant industry. But pay attention and you'll notice that these articles and press releases usually contain a political subtext. They typically make mention of increasing labor costs, the rising cost of health insurance coverage, Obamacare, or the minimum wage. You can also spot these pieces if they mention a few key players: Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardees, or the company Momentum Machines, who were last featured in a story to this effect in 2012. These stories, and these individuals and companies along with them, only seem to surface during elections when there is a debate about the minimum wage, especially as it applies to service workers. Puzder and others like him will make statements that if the minimum wage is raised, middle class business owners will turn to technology after slashing hours and ...

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How to Cut Costs at Your Restaurant

It's well known that restaurants have some of the narrowest margins of any business out there, and as such they face real challenges when it comes to lowering their overhead without passing additional costs on to the customer. How do they do it? In some cases these changes are made as a result of restructuring within the restaurant business model: for instance, there are those restaurants where tipping is being phased out. But there are other, less fundamental ways of re-thinking your restaurant in order to cut costs. For one thing, you can be on the lookout for overcharging from your suppliers. This is more common than most people realize. Food prices can fluctuate dramatically from one day to the next, and contracts and volumes are obviously going to vary dramatically from one client to the next. In between all these changes, it's easy for mistakes to occur. Most restaurant owners don't have the time or energy to examine every individual invoice for discrepancies, but a few cents here or there, week afte ...

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