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Spring cleaning fling

It's the perfect time of year to throw open the windows and clean out the joint. And we aren't just talking about dust bunnies! Why not schedule a house-cleaning party and garage sale? Invite staff members and get rid of all those odd lots and worn out pieces of china, glass and silverware — and create some fun and goodwill in the process.

This might seem like an ugly chore, but it's not nearly as ugly as mismatched table settings, scratched glassware or bent fork tines. Step outside your normal routine and make this a fun, once a year event. Here's what you need...

Invitations
Pick a time when the restaurant is closed to have your Spring Cleaning Fling. Create a simple flyer, an announcement for your employee newsletter, or a note to attach to timecards inviting staff members to the Fling. Post a sign-up sheet so you'll know you have enough party-goers to get the job done thoroughly.

Party-goers
Once your sign-up sheet starts to fill, assign each person an item to inventory. For example, assign one person to bread plates, another to wine glasses, one to silverware, etc. No special skills needed for the job, just attention to detail, and the ability to count.

The good,the bad & the ugly
For each item you will be inventorying, select an example of a keeper, an odd lot for the garage sale, and a cracked or chipped piece that's ready to be retired (a.k.a. thrown away).

Count sheets
Create simple inventory sheets (a ready-to-use version can be downloaded here) to track how many you have on hand, how many you're giving away, throwing away and what you'll need to order to bring you up to par. Put item specifications on the top of each sheet to make re-ordering easy.

Eats & tunes
No house cleaning party is complete without great food and music. If it's an early morning gathering serve up gourmet pastries or a build-your-own omelet bar. For after-hours snacking try pizza or have the kitchen crew fire up something special. And don't forget the sing-able, dance-able tunes to keep everyone moving.

The garage sale
If you're feeling ambitious, you can turn this into a full-blown public relations event. People have a fascination with what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant. Here's a chance to earn a little publicity, make some money for charity and give the public a taste of the restaurant business. Ask your distributor sales reps to donate cases of specialty items not found on grocery store shelves. Then have a garage sale with the donated food items, your odd lots of china, glass and silver, and then give the money to charity. Ask a local radio station to cover the event, and send a press release to the newspaper. You might assign a staff member with extra poise and speaking skills to give mini behind-the-scene tours. When all is said and done, make sure you set up a photo-op when you present the check to your favorite local charity.

If this is one too many things on your plate, however, go ahead and just box up the odd lots, and deliver them to your charity. They'll be happy to put them to good use, and it's a tax write-off for you.

Don't miss this great opportunity to have some fun and laughs with your employees, spruce up you image, and contribute to your community at the same time. Happy Spring Cleaning!

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