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The Daily Grind features blogs that concentrate on issues affecting offices across the country. The goal is to enlighten, amuse, and interact with our followers.
Please feel free to submit comments, questions, and ideas at any time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How will you celebrate National Cookie Day?

Do you know what holiday falls on December 4th? It’s National Cookie Day! The word cookie, otherwise known as a biscuit outside the US, was derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning little cake. After finally making their way to America in the 17th century, cookies have been popular ever since. Not to be confused with a tracking cookie, which is not a delicious dessert but a way to compile information about computer users’ internet activity.

Cookies come in all different shapes and sizes, can be store bought or homemade, crunchy or chewy, made with or without nuts, loaded with chocolate or fruit, dunked in milk or served with tea, crumbled on ice cream or served as a sandwich – the possibilities are endless.

What does your favorite cookie say about you? In an article from Huffington Post, some of the most popular types of cookies are translated into different personality traits. Here are some highlights: if chocolate chip cookies are your favorite, then you’re a classic and loved by everyone; peanut butter cookies means you are smart and work well under pressure; oatmeal raisin suggests you are traditional and prefer to cozy up by the fire with a good book; macaroons means you are the sophisticated and not shy about it; and finally, if snickerdoodles are your favorite cookie then you are modest and loved by all.

Reader’s Digest lists the top holiday cookie in each state. California is the persimmon cookie, Indiana is the no-bake cookie, New York is the rainbow cookie, Remi’s home state of North Carolina is the peanut butter ball, and South Carolina is the pecan chewy just to name a few. What’s your home state’s cookie?

One of my favorite cookie recipes is from Publix – three-grain chocolate chip cookies.

You’ll need the following ingredients:
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup cooked quinoa, cooled and patted dry
½ cup flaxseed meal
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1-12oz package dark chocolate baking chips

Baking directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine whole wheat flour, oats, quinoa, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-low speed about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, honey, and vanilla. Beat until just combined.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix just until combined. Spoon onto prepared baking sheets in mounds of 1 level tablespoon, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake about 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe you’d like to share? Leave the details or a link to it in the comments section.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Employee Engagement: Why does it matter?

According to Wikipedia, employee engagement is the relationship between an organization and its employees. An "engaged employee" is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests. It can be reasoned then that highly engaged employees will perform at optimal levels conducive to peak performance.

Unfortunately, employee engagement is sometimes one of those ideas that can fall by the wayside when management is busy dealing with everyday operations and issues. However, this is one sentiment that shouldn’t be overlooked because the numbers speak for themselves. Check out this engaged employee infographic from Dale Carnegie Training:  
An infographic by the team at Dale Carnegie Training Employee Engagement Infographic.

So, why does employee engagement matter? Simply put, “Employee engagement is the one competitive advantage that turns good companies into great ones and mediocre service into a memorable experience” says Jeff Boss, Forbes Contributor. Below are some easy-to-incorporate ideas to get employees more engaged, more connected and to boost happiness, morale, and productivity in an effort to create a more satisfying work environment.

Recognize Employees – Recognizing employees for a job well done can be as simple as the proverbial “pat on the back” or as fancy as a company awards ceremony. Employees need to understand how their role helps the company achieve its business objectives. At Remi, the company hosts two award luncheons throughout the year and rewards two employees with the Customer Service Hero Award quarterly.
Make the Workday Fun – People love food, so this one is easy. Offer free coffee in the morning or soda in the afternoon. Rent a hot dog or nacho machine for the day. Play a game of Bingo at lunch. The ideas here are endless. Recently, Remi purchased a popcorn machine and makes popcorn for employees twice a week.
Celebrate the Holidays – You don’t have to limit celebrations to the usual holidays. Venture out and celebrate bring your kid to work day, national pie day, national dog day, or a holiday specific to your industry. Remi just celebrated National Dental Hygiene and National Chiropractic Health month with employees.
Offer Career Advancement Options – There are various options here. Companies can offer job-sharing, post job openings internally first, reimburse for education, or encourage employees to attend job-related seminars. Remi’s benefits administrator offers a wide selection of free online classes available at the employees’ fingertips 24/7.
Open the Doors of Communication – Employees need to feel like their ideas are heard and taken seriously. Make the “open door policy” a part of the employee hand guide and hold regular employee and manager meetings. The last thing a company needs is a rumor mill; sharing information will help eliminate the water cooler chatter. Remi recently introduced the company intranet as a reliable source of company information.


There are hundreds of different ways to engage employees. What works for one company may not work for another, so it’s important to survey the employees to get an idea of what they want and need. From there, it might be a good idea to form a committee made up of various employees from different departments across all levels of the company hierarchy. What employee engagement initiatives have been introduced at your workplace? How do you feel it’s working; would you prefer to try something different? Share your thoughts with us!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dining Etiquette 'Pretty Woman' Style

It’s hard to forget Julia Roberts’ character, Vivian, from the 1990 hit movie Pretty Woman. She quickly became in over her head when it came to traveling, fashion, and etiquette after she met the successful and wealthy businessman, Edward, played by Richard Gere.

The holidays are right around the corner and that means dinner parties, brunches, lunches and anything in between. Just like Vivian, it’s important to remember proper dining etiquette rules no matter the social setting. No one wants to be remembered for an embarrassing snafu that was completely avoidable, e.g. when Vivian flings her snail across the restaurant.

As the lovable leading lady quickly learns in the movie, dining etiquette is a cumbersome topic and the rules seem endless. 

Below are some basic dining etiquette tips that everyone should know and follow:

  • Dress appropriately for the event. A suit and tie or cocktail dress is appropriate for dinner at the country club, but not a catered lunch at the office.
  • Give a nice, firm handshake to the host and greet others you know. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know using your first and last name. Feel free to shake their hands as well. No matter how popular the first bump or high five become, they will never replace a good handshake.
  • Follow the lead of the host – sit when they sit, put your napkin in your lap when they do. If they order a drink, it’s safe to say that you can order one as well. If they order an appetizer, feel free to do the same.
  • Sit up straight, don’t lean back on your chair legs, and keep your elbows off the table – it shows good posture and some self-control.
  • When there are multiple utensils, work your way in from the outside. If you recall a scene from the movie where Vivian was getting a lesson on silverware – 4 tines is a dinner fork and sometimes there are 3 tines, a salad fork.
  • If you are going to a restaurant that you’ve never been to, review the menu ahead of time. You don’t want to show up and have no idea what to order or end up like Vivian and not know what escargot is until it arrives at the table.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full and don’t chew with your mouth open. Whoever started the rumor that chewing with your mouth open is a sign of power is a liar. Trust us, it’s not true!

There are so many dining etiquette rules, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. The list above includes several of the most important ones. What else would you add to the must-know dining etiquette list? Leave us a comment!



 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I am Remi! Featuring Aimee Goodman

Get to know a different employee every quarter.

Fall 2014

Aimee Goodman, Account Services

Since joining the company in 2007, a lot has changed. Where do you see Remi headed in the next 5 years? 
I look forward to the next 5 years of anticipated growth. Remi has grown quickly and it has brought new challenges, which I welcome. I enjoy problem solving with our team by coming up with new solutions for our customers and their equipment maintenance needs.

What do you like best about working in Operations as an Account Services Coordinator? 

The customers! I have always enjoyed working with our clients and establishing long-lasting relationships by providing excellent customer service. I see it as my job to make sure the customer is happy at all times and nothing makes me happier than helping someone.

To quote Bob Burg, a published author and public speaker, “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” What should people know about you and Remi? 
Remi and I are committed to providing cost-saving solutions to our clients. It is important to us that our customers receive excellent service.

You are a recipient of the company’s Competency, Contribution and Attitude (CCA) Award. If you could give a brief acceptance speech, what would you say? 
I am truly honored to have received this award! I take pride in what I do each day at Remi and I am committed to excellence in the workplace. Attitude goes a long way with peers and customers. I think it’s very important to keep a good attitude at all times and encourage others to do the same. 

Over the past seven years at Remi, who has been your role model or mentor?
Brian Landon was my boss when I first started at Remi. He taught me a lot my first year on how to establish myself professionally in the workplace and I still use things today he taught me 7 years ago. 

As a working mother, how do you manage the perfect work-life balance? 
Remi is very understanding and always works with me through any schedule changes I may need throughout the year, which is a huge help for a full-time working mother. I have a long drive to work, so I like to use that as my “me” time in the morning and afternoon. Whether I’m at work or home, I give 100% at all times. I also believe keeping work and my personal life separate is important to being successful at both. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to new employees at Remi on the Operations side of the business? 
Respond to customers quickly. Our customers are used to our excellent customer service standards and it goes a long way. By letting the customer know you are working on their request, it gives them peace of mind and shows that they are important to us.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to be the “Zig Ziglar” of Sales

Like other small businesses, Remi relies on the various levels of sales professionals at the company to fill the sales pipeline. Remi is a niche business and as a result, the learning curve when training new sales reps can be longer than usual. On a similar note, the sales process can be just a few short weeks, to months, to even years depending on the client and their particular situation. As a result, it’s important to hire the right sales people to fit our unique working environment. So, I thought I’d share some tips on how to be the “Zig Ziglar” of sales.

Below are the top 10 traits of successful sales reps:

1. Be a good listener!
Being a good listener means you are fully present at that moment and are comfortable with silence. In general, periods of silence makes people uncomfortable so they keep talking to fill the void. As a good listener, you are gathering valuable information about the client’s needs and are then able to ask great follow-up questions.
2. Like the Boy Scouts, always be prepared!
If meeting a client for the first time, do your due diligence on the company and people attending the meeting. Using LinkedIn is a great way to gather the information you need to make a great impression. It’s also wise to practice answering complicated questions so the answers come naturally when in the hot seat, especially working in a niche business like Remi. According to Zig, being prepared also includes showing up on time and being properly dressed.
3. Patience is a virtue!
Don’t rush the sale process; people need to be assured they are making the right decision and/or get through red tape. To save yourself some time, be sure you are meeting with the correct decision makers. Sales experts contend that clients won’t purchase your service/product until they've been engaged 7 times. <Tweet This
4. Create a dynamic routine!
Are you a morning, mid-day, or evening person? Create your routine around when you work best. If you’re a morning person, start the day off with a workout, healthy breakfast, answer some emails and then head to the office. If you’re a mid-day person, switch the workout to your lunch hour or if you’re an evening person, schedule working dinners.
5. Build a thick skin!
No matter how successful you are, rejection, failure and disappointment are a part of life. Your resiliency and ability to learn from them is what determines how successful you will be in sales. It’s important to remember that most of the time IT’S NOT PERSONAL!
6. Shoot for the stars!
Set your own goals, aside from the goals set for you at the office. Work hard to meet or exceed those goals, then repeat, repeat, repeat. Zig encourages all sales people to visualize your success and to never stop learning or training.
7. Exude self-confidence!
Believe in yourself and the service/product you’re selling. Your passion for the company will show clients that you care. Remi sales reps are trained in every department (pricing, account services, service center, and reimbursement dept.) to ensure they have the knowledge and confidence to answer any question during the sales process. Don’t be afraid to talk about money or ask for the sale either.
8. Be persistent, but not annoying!
Merriam-Webster defines persistence as the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people. Enough said!
9. Master of Communication 101!
Face-to-face conversations are the best so you can read body language and phone calls are a close second. Remember to avoid jargon, be clear and concise, and Zig says it’s essential to be honest and fair. Once the sale is final, communication with the clients doesn't end there. Good customer service includes follow-up and staying in touch
10. Have a genuine personality!
Leave the car salesman act at home. People want to feel like you have their best interest in mind and that they aren't being duped into purchasing a service/product that will waste their time or money.

There are thousands of other qualities that successful sales professionals possess. However, this top 10 list is a great place to start. If you display these qualities, you have a sturdy foundation to be a great sales person. "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great" Zig Ziglar.

Please share this blog or feel free to leave a comment with some other traits you feel are also important to being successful! You can also check out photos from Remi's Sales Meeting in Myrtle Beach at http://www.theremigroup.com/Events.