Restaurant Executive: Ben Lee, CEO of Sarnies

In 2015 we started doing interviews with restaurant, retail and BPO entrepreneurs to learn more about their businesses, how they make decisions and what’s next for them. These interviews have been quite a success and we plan to continue them into 2016.

First up this year is Ben Lee, the CEO of Sarnies.

“Started a few years ago by Aussie Ben Lee, Sarnies is a pumpin’ little café located in the bustling CBD. Here at Sarnies, we are passionate about our products and their quality. Grass fed beef; chicken free from hormones and antibiotics; bacon cured in-house – all so that you’re guaranteed a fantastic meal every time.

‘Sarnies’ may be slang for sandwich, but we’re much more than that. We serve up hearty breakfasts; gourmet sandwiches; massive salads, homemade bakery treats and a damn good cuppa.” (sarniescafe.com)

Sarnies Coffee

1. Where are you from and what brought you Singapore?
I am originally from Australia and was brought here via a job in my previous life working in a bank.

2. How many restaurants do you currently run?
Four in Singapore with four soon to be opened in Malaysia and one soon to be opened in Thailand.

3. Which one was the first?
Sarnies Cafe on Telok Ayer Street (136 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068601)

4. What do you like about doing business in Singapore?
For me its a good mix of familiarity and new opportunities to discover. It has been a great entry into Asia for us.

5. What are the challenges for doing business in Singapore?
The tightest labour market in all of history.

6. What advice would you give a business person moving into Singapore, that you wish you knew before moving to the country?
Given it’s the lowest barrier to entry of any city in Asia, competition is fierce in the restaurant game. There’s a lot of good stuff here.

7. How do you choose locations for your businesses?
We go for busy working areas where people don’t have to move very far to get their coffee. And the smaller the footprint the better to keep the rental low.

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5 Things Business Owners Need to Know About Payroll in Singapore

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Payroll in general can be quite confusing. In Singapore, there is the added task of ethnic-based levies.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while generating payroll and paying contributions to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore:

Contributions and Levies:

Singapore’s social security is paid out by the Central Provident Fund. Every working Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident contributes to the fund along with his/her employer. There are four accounts within the fund that can be accessed at different point of an employee’s life.

There are additional levies: Foreign Workers’ Levy, Skills Development Levy and the Ethnic funds (there are four accounts within the ethnic fund). The levies are paid out of the employees’ salaries. Employees may choose to opt out of the levies by signing the relevant forms.

The contribution and levies need to be paid every month. We have a more detailed post about this here.

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Taxes

Employers need to complete a tax clearance form for any non-Singaporean (foreigner or Singapore Permanent Resident) that

  1. ceases to work in the firm,
  2. will be sent on an overseas posting or
  3. is leaving Singapore for a period of over three months.

The purpose of the tax clearance is to ensure that PRs and foreigners have paid their taxes before leaving the country. The employee’s salary/bonus/OT payment may only be disbursed after their tax clearance form has been approved by the government.

Form IR21 needs to be submitted a month before any of the above possibilities occur. Failure to notify the government can lead to fines up to $1000. For more information on tax clearance, this is the link.

Hiring Employees:

The Singapore Employment Act is a statute that covers everything you need to know about hiring employees.

Some things to keep in mind are: Singapore does not have a minimum wage. The wage is settled through negotiations between the employee and employer. There are market rates for positions: for example this is a summary of restaurant wages in Singapore.

Another important distinction is between a full time and part time worker. A full time employee works a minimum of 44 hours a week. Anything less than that is considered a part time job. Part time workers have their own set of rules when it comes to leave, hourly rate, over time.

All the information you need about part time work is provided here.

Income Reporting

The Auto Inclusion Scheme requires employers with over 15 employees to file their employees’ income information before the 15th of March every year. The filing can be done electronically. A total of four forms need to be filled:

  1. Form IR8A – for all employees
  2. Appendix 8A – for payment of benefits-in-kind
  3. Appendix 8B – for gains from employee stock options
  4. Form IR8S – if excess CPF payments were made

Employee Records

Since March 2008, the government requires firms to keep a record of all its employees, their income and contribution payments to the IRAS for the last 5 years.

Learn More About Payroll

If you want to learn more about payroll in Singapore, visit our website and get in touch with us. We’d love to chat with you!

Recap: SheSays Singapore Event

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 6.10.20 PMI had the pleasure of sitting on a panel at the latest SheSays Singapore event held at the amazing co-working space, JustCo.

The women’s only event was called – Make It Happen: Your Career – and was standing room only. The event was described as “Whatever stage you are in, job hunting, changing industries, looking for growth opportunities at work or wanting to finally take the plunge into building your own business, you want solutions and you want clarity. If you’re looking for direction, guidance and an answer to – “What do I do next?”, this session is for you!

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 6.09.44 PMThere were four panelists including myself. The other three were;

Mina Lee – Former Chief of Staff at Xiaome
Mina Lee was most recently Chief of Staff for Xiaomi Southeast Asia, helping them set up and expand in the region and was Acting GM of Xiaomi Indonesia.

Andrea Edwards, Director of Content Marketing & Training at Novus Media
Andrea is a globally award-winning communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working all over the world, including 12 years in Asia Pacific.

Stanimira Koleva, Senior Vice President at Software AG
Stanimira, oversees the business of Software AG in the region of Asia Pacific and Japan. She joined Software AG as Senior Vice President in July 2015.

The event was a success, with lots of questions from the room and the moderators about career paths, finding your vision, personal branding, social media, and constant learning. Meera Jane Navaratnam, one of the SheSays organizers in Singapore wrote a great recap of the event.

SheSays hosts events every month. Check out their Facebook page for details of their next one if you are interested in attending.

If you are looking for a new role, we are always hiring. Join us!

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Embrace Technology, Grow Your Business

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At PayrollHero, we are always pushing for a tech enabled world for our clients. There are plenty of good things that come out of automating processes in your restaurant or retail business.

To name a few: it’s more efficient and saves time, which means there is a higher turnover of customers; there is less room for error; business owners spend less on manpower so overall costs go down.

All around the world we see a preference towards adopting technology. On one hand, it is because minimum wages are expected to rise (like in the US) while on the other hand, a shortage of labour supply is forcing business owners to adopt technology (like in Japan or Singapore).

All in all, the shift towards automation is inevitable. We thought it would be helpful to give you some tips on how to stay ahead of the curve.

Apps, apps, apps

We can’t stress on this enough. There is an app for everything today. Here is a non-exhaustive list on everything that you can safely outsource to an app:

  • Point of Sale Systems: Square is the most famous POS system. It works worldwide, which makes it easier for you to monitor sales if you run businesses in multiple countries
  • Loyalty apps: We’ve talked about Perx before. Loyalty apps help in bringing in more customers and increase foot traffic in your store.
  • Reservations: Chope is the rockstar of reservations in Southeast Asia. The Asian version of OpenTable runs in Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries in the regions, making it the perfect vendor for booking reservations in your restaurant.
  • Inventory Management: Another Southeast Asian favourite, Trade Gecko is your go-to app for managing inventory. With a clean and user-friendly interface, it takes very little for a business owner to realize that inventory management is a nightmare that is solved deftly by Trade Gecko.
  • Food Delivery: FoodPanda takes care of delivering food to your customers, while Slurp is another POS system that helps customers order food remotely. Slurp helps you take orders but doesn’t deliver food itself.

We have a whole other blogpost devoted towards these apps. You can check it out here.

Revamping the menu

Laminated menu cards are a thing of the past. Restaurants like Fish and Co. use tablets for their menus. With a few taps, your customer’s order goes straight to the kitchen. Tablet menus prevent errors in ordering. It is also much easier to change menus on a tablet than to print new menus each time you want to add a dish or change prices.

Feedback systems

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Does that little device look familiar to you? You have probably seen that at airports all over the world. For a feedback system, this one is pretty elementary but it does the trick. One look at it, and your immediate response would be to click on the button that reflects what you feel. It’s an instantaneous feedback loop that can be used by almost any business.

Food bloggers

This one is more of a marketing idea. While it is not really about automating your restaurant, it is about using technology to get your business out there. Tourist destinations, like Singapore, are big on food blogs for suggestions to restaurants.

Some of the famous bloggers have a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. The idea is to get these food bloggers to write a review on your restaurant and let social media take care of the rest. Of course, you need to be confident about getting a solid review!

We hope these ideas encourage you to embrace technology. There is no downside to adopting tech while the upside will result in cost minimization and big returns for your business. Let us know if you have any more suggestions!

Marketing your Restaurant in Singapore

pablo (26)Singapore is a fairly saturated market when it comes to the restaurant industry. With high turnover of employees and ever increasing rates for rental space, there are a lot of things that restaurant owners need to worry about. We think that getting your restaurant’s name out to the masses should not be one of them. We’ve got you some easy tips to throw your restaurant into the limelight in Singapore.

Social Media is Everything

If you haven’t figured that out by now, you should get on that ASAP (right after you read this, of course). Singapore loves its apps – social media tops the list on go-to apps. While many restaurants are available on social media platforms, they make the mistake of “simply existing” on Facebook instead of actually creating a social media footprint. It is not enough to sign up to Twitter, follow a bunch of celebrities and change passwords every once in a while. You would rather be proactive and take charge of your restaurant’s image than let the masses do it for you when they realize you are not responding to them, right? For example, Changi Airport is a social media rock star. Their Facebook page is super interactive; Changi responds directly with any customer who writes a good or bad review on their page. Their most recent Star Wars campaign was hugely successful partly because of how well they marketed it on Facebook and other social media channels.

Campaigning on Instagram

There are a number of ways you can expand your social media footprint. For restaurants, there are some obvious channels that can give you bang for buck. For example, apps like Instagram and Pinterest suit restaurants very well because pictures tease the visual senses of your viewers. Trust me, nothing is more powerful than a chocolate lava cake on Instagram. You can have an Instagram campaign with your very own hashtag so you can track your popularity better.

Loyalty Apps

Singapore loves discounts (who doesn’t, really). Loyalty apps – number 2 on Singapore’s favourite type of apps – allow you to get rid of loyalty cards and offer promotions directly through the app. All you need is an iPad to display the QR code for your customers to scan. Your promotions get featured on the app and are sure to increase foot traffic in your restaurant.

Partnerships with companies that deliver food

Instead of allocating resources towards home delivery, you can outsource that to one of the many food delivery companies in Singapore. This has two benefits: Firstly you do not need to worry about the myriad of responsibilities that come with maintaining the resources for delivering food: vehicles, manpower, operating costs, etc. Your food delivery company will take care of it. Secondly, and this is more relevant to bringing your company some recognition, these companies feature you on their website or app. You will be reaching out to a customer base that is beyond your delivery radius with minimal effort.

Sponsorship with universities

This one is for restaurants that are around universities, colleges and schools and want to attract the young crowd. Many restaurants team up with organisations in school to provide welfare drives to students during exams. The concept is to give a little before you receive a lot. Students are always looking for new places to eat around their universities. They are also the most reliable demographic when it comes to word of mouth. Once a student finds a reasonably priced, good place to eat, you can be sure she will bring a whole team of hungry customers the next time around. All it takes is to sponsor a welfare drive and provide some free goodies or meals to students. The returns are guaranteed.

Finally, all these ideas work together in a market that is as tech loving as Singapore. Collaborating and reaching out through apps is definitely the way to go. We hope these ideas help you find your place in Singapore! Let us know about any new ideas that have worked for you!

Top 5 Dim Sum Restaurants in Singapore

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We love our dim sums and just can’t get enough of it. There are plenty of dim sum restaurants in Singapore – ranging from the hawker center style setting, to the Michelin star outlet.

In this post we bring to you, in no particular order, our Top 5 Dim Sum Choices in Singapore:

Tim Ho Wan

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(Credits to www.ladyironchef.com for the photo)

This Hong Kong based franchise’s char siew buns (BBQ pork buns) are to die for. While technically the original Hong Kong outlet was awarded a Michelin star, the Singaporean outlets live up to the name, as proved by the long waiting lines during lunch and dinner.

Perhaps the most affordable Michelin star restaurant chain, Tim Ho Wan serves a limited menu that covers the must-try dishes that any dim sum restaurant should have.

Pro-tip: For a quick and delicious THW experience, you could take-away the char siew buns for $4.50 for three pieces. Some BBQ pork buns while watching TV on your new Netflix account? Couldn’t ask for more….

Victor’s Kitchen

From the Michelin star restaurant to the hawker styled superstar: Victor’s Kitchen has featured in newspapers for years as one of Singapore’s best dim sum restaurants. The little restaurant is tucked away in Sunshine Plaza on Bencoolen Street but the waiting time during lunch hours can go up to an hour long.

Perhaps the best time to visit this place is around 3pm. The golden salted egg yolk lava bun wins hands down as the best dish on the menu.

Hua Ting Restaurant

Hua Ting is another favourite restaurant in Singapore. Reservations typically need to be made two days in advance. The baked mango with chicken tart is a popular dish along with the salted egg yolk lave buns. Hua Ting is slightly more expensive than Tim Ho Wan and Victor’s Kitchen, but certainly makes up for it with flavour.

Yi Dian Xin

Since we’ve covered salted egg yolks pretty comprehensively, let’s talk about some of the other popular dim sum dishes that Yi Dian Xin can boast about. The Xiao Long Bau (dim sum filled with soup) for $3 is worth a try for its delicious soup. Yi Dian Xin is an affordable option that give you value for money when it comes to taste

Peach Garden

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(Credits to www.tripadvisor.com for this photo)

Peach Garden is a great place for family dinners or business lunches. There are many outlets around Singapore. The restaurant is not traditionally Chinese, but a mix of Cantonese and Thai, which makes it a unique option in our list. Aside from great dim sums, Peach Garden also serves a delicious carrot cake in XO sauce. The high tea dim sum buffet is a must.


 

The best dim sum in the city is not restricted to a hawker center or a fancy restaurant. You can find a setting that tickles your fancy and you are sure to find great food that comes along with it.

Watch out for more Top 5 Suggestions from PayrollHero. We would love to hear more about where you get your dim sum fix!

PayrollHero’s Top 10 Posts of 2015

Time flies by so fast! 2015 is already coming to a close.

In just a few days, we’re waving goodbye to the year that was, as we say Hello to 2016.

We’re excited for the coming year since YOU have tons of stuff to watch out for! We’ll be making more exciting content for you to read, watch, and listen to.

But for now, let’s take a quick look back at PayrollHero’s Top 10 Posts of 2015.

1.) ATM Withdrawal Limits for Philippine Banks

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Our most viewed post of 2015 is this quick guide on the ATM Withdrawal Limits for Philippine Banks.

There are a lot of banks in the Philippines and they all have their respective ATM withdrawal limits. On top of that, the banks also charge fees per transaction, so this article gives people a better understanding of which bank to use so that fees can be minimized as much as possible.

2.) How To Prepare An Alphalist for the Philippines

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has issued certain guidelines and basic information requirements in preparing a company’s alphalist… But not everyone knows exactly how to do it.

PayrollHero gives you a quick overview on how to prepare an Alphalist in the Philippines.

3.) 8 Restaurant Recommendations In Fort Bonifacio, Philippines

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Because we love you, we’ve listed some of our favorite restaurants in Fort Bonifacio (BGC). Check out our blog post and maybe you can even spend your New Year Celebration in one of these restaurants!

4.) Visit to Manila’s White Cross Children’s Home

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Although the team’s trips to White Cross happened in 2014, this story was still one of our top performing blog posts in 2015.

The team documented their journey to White Cross Children’s Home in San Juan, Philippines with lots of pictures. You can see them all in this post.

5.) What is the SSS? (Philippines)

There are thousands of people everyday who search about SSS (Social Security System). And this short blog post gives you an overview of what SSS in the Philippines is all about.

BONUS: For a detailed guide on how to compute your SSS deductions and other payroll concerns, you can download our FREE Payroll Kit here.

6.) Employer Contributions in the Philippines: Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG)

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Employers also benefit from the wealth of information we share on our blog. In this case, we wrote about PAG-IBIG and how employers (and employees) should handle it.

7.) The Philippines Restaurant Industry at a Glance #infographic

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We created an infographic on the Restaurant Industry in the Philippines. It gives you a quick glance on key stats on the restaurant landscape in the Philippines.

Feel free to share this infographic on your own website or social media pages.

8.) Employee Contributions in the Philippines: BIR and SSS

Yet another top performing post about SSS in the Philippines! Check out this blog post, which is more detailed than the one mentioned above.

In this article, we’ve also provided a link to all the necessary BIR forms.

9.) Employer Contributions in the Philippines: PhilHealth

As you may have noticed, PayrollHero blog readers are really loving our quick guides on information about government deductions/benefits.

This one covers everything you need to know about PhilHealth. (Get our FREE PayrollHero Kit here)

10. An Introduction to Domain Driven Design

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And lastly, the PayrollHero team was able to enjoy two days of intense training on Domain Driven Design with Kiro Harada.

In this blog post, we shared what we learned from Kiro, so you too can be part of the experience. This learning retreat was attended by team members from Manila, Whistler, and Singapore.

Conclusion

It was an amazing experience for us this 2015. We enjoyed writing and creating awesome content for you guys!

Rest assured that we’ll keep delivering only the best this coming 2016! So don’t forget to visit our blog regularly, okay?

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Future of Work Conference | Singapore

I was asked to speak at The Future of Work Conference in Singapore that Microsoft and Questex put on at the Marriott Hotel the other day. The conference was dedicated to the future of; HR, offices, scheduling, sales, and marketing.

I was asked to speak on the topic of HR and how technology can be an enabler to maximize productivity as well as attract and retain talent. So, I spoke from our experience.

Here is a quick recap:

1. Reasons for Employee Turnover – most reasons employees leave are related to something the company has direct control over.

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2. Adventure Engineering – We talked about PayrollHero’s #AdventureEngineering program and why it came about. Basically, we were looking for ways to compete for talent in a highly competitive worldwide market. Here is the video that we made that explains the program:

3. We chatted about how we work to get feedback from our teams, how we have made some products to help our clients do the same and how transparency helps us build our company culture. Some of the tools we talked about were PayrollHero’s DailyPulse, Xray Insights and tools like 7Geese.

4. Finally, we talked about how our jobs page is laid out on our website. How it is very specific about each role, how the company works, the rhythms we follow as well as a few easter eggs that some applicants find and mention in their cover letters.

After I was joined on stage with a few HR professionals for a panel discussion about HR and the future of work.


 

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Improve Your Restaurant Performance with HR Analytics – FREE Webinar from PayrollHero

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Whoever said that nothing in this world is free was lying!

Because on December 8, 2015. At exactly 11 AM (UTC +8), Singapore Standard Time, we’ll be hosting an epic webinar that talks about leveraging HR Analytics to improve restaurant performance.

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In this webinar, restaurant owners will learn about the following:

  • Learn how to respond to business in advance using predictive analytics for HR
  • Improving organizational performance
  • Optimizing talent supply chain
  • Benefits of HR Analytics to your restaurant’s sales performance
  • Data-driven decision making

And many more! 

We don’t want to spill too much info, but we’d really love it if you could join our webinar

If you’re a restaurant owner, or an HR director / manager of a restaurant, this is a webinar that you definitely shouldn’t miss. 

We’re going to provide content that you can implement and leverage right after the webinar.

The best part about this webinar is that you will have instant learning in just 27 minutes of content!

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^ It’s really that simple. You’ll be able to implement your learnings immediately and make a direct impact to your restaurant’s positive performance.

So to all restaurant owners / HR personnel, do spread the word and save the date:

December 8, 2015 (Tuesday), 11:00 AM (UTC +8) Singapore Standard Time

This webinar will surely be worth your while. Save your seat below!

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We’ll see you there!

Singapore’s Ikeda Spa Chooses PayrollHero

Ikeda Spa Singapore

Singapore’s first Japanese day spa, Ikeda Spa has moved their time, attendance and payroll needs to PayrollHero’s Singapore payroll platform. Co-founder Eric Tan said “I choose PayrollHero for my spa chain as I have stores across Singapore and I was in need of a complete, end to end solution that not only helped manage my time and attendance but my payroll. PayrollHero’s tool was exactly what I need. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to other business owners in Singapore”.

PayrollHero’s platform is built with specific tools for multi-location restaurant and retail chains like Ikeda Spa. Want to learn more? Reach out anytime.