Adweek says 60 percent of online purchases begin with a web search – so ensure that what consumers are saying online about your restaurant is positive. When guests use a search engine to find you, one of the first things they often see about your restaurant are ratings and reviews, so any negative reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp or other review sites could steer traffic away from your restaurant for good. Positive ones, on the other hand, could attract new customers who weren’t planning to order from you but happened to notice your restaurant’s reviews against a list of others. If you receive a negative review, respond quickly and calmly – not just because it demonstrates good customer service; QSR web reports that Google My Business also gives better rankings to businesses that respond to reviews.
Why you’re really losing workers
Losing staff? It may not be about wages. Restaurant coach Donald Burns says it comes down to at least one of five things: You’re not a nice person to work for – people may stay when they need a job but that will not last. They have to work with poor equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced. You don’t terminate your poor performers and your top performers must therefore pull more weight. There’s no opportunity for growth – you need to somehow show you want to invest in your team. Finally, it may be that you don’t appreciate them (and it’s not about money). A sincere thank you or personal compliment expressing exactly what you appreciate about them will go farther.
Study analyzes the foodservice industry’s path to 2020
Food service in the U.S. will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent in the next four years, according to a new study of the food service industry by Technavio. The study credits the development of the fast-casual segment for the projected growth. The industry experts who analysed the foodservice market for the study said the biggest trends affecting the industry in the next several years are consumers’ growing interest in healthy eating and gluten-free foods, and that the biggest challenge facing restaurants is the need to maintain and standardize food safety procedures.
Restaurant Week revs up revenues
In cities that feature a Restaurant Week, local restaurants can see a 23 percent boost in revenue, according to CAKE, a firm launched by Sysco that focuses on restaurant technology. In a review of 30 restaurants, the firm found that the prix-fixe discounted meals offered by restaurants during Restaurant Week increased transactions by 18 percent. They also increased overall sales: The average check per person at restaurants participating in Restaurant Week was $43.35, compared to $39.74 the week after. The events boosted credit card transactions and tip amounts, and even nonparticipating restaurants saw a small uptick in sales during Restaurant Week, according to the firm’s study.
Waste reduction at your restaurant
Looking to cut down on waste? The National Restaurant Association recently teamed up with Harvard University at a workshop focused on the issue. Note these suggestions from the National Restaurant Association: If you’re ambitious, you can create your own program, much like Panera’s Day-End Dough-Nation program, which donates more than $100 million in bakery items annually. You can also partner with an organization like the Food Donation Connection, which acts as a middleman between 9,000 local shelters, food banks and rescue missions. Before you get started, understand the law and the limits of your liability: Some cities and states are banning organic waste from landfills but the mandates are coming before the infrastructure is in place to support them – for example, food waste can’t be banned if composting or other options aren’t supported. Any leftover food that you want to donate is covered by the Good Samaritan Act, which protects restaurants against liability for problems connected to food donations made in good faith.
The decline of the drive-thru
The takeout model is changing: NPD Group reports that food delivery orders are on the increase and drive-thru orders are falling. Delivery orders have climbed by 69 million visits in the past four years, while drive-thru orders have declined by 128 million. Gen Z and Millennials’ preferences for delivery are driving the change – and they’re not ordering pizza as much as a wide range of other foods that have become available by delivery only in recent years, such as burgers, quick-service Asian food and fast-casual options, NPD Group says.
How the restaurant industry invests its lobbying dollars
Last year, the restaurant industry spent more than $33 million on lobbying efforts, particularly those concerning taxes, food industry regulations and taxes, according to research from OpenSecrets that was published in a new report in Eater. That includes lobbying efforts by large restaurant companies that hire in-house lobbyists, as well as the more than $4.2 million spent by the National Restaurant Association for lobbying on the industry’s behalf last year. Eater’s report identified the top categories that the 10 largest U.S. food chains lobby. These categories are getting the most attention: health issues (Starbucks, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands and Darden), taxes (Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Brands and Brinker International), federal budget and appropriations (White Castle), small business (DineEquity), and food industry (Bloomin’ Brands).
The reinvention of mealtime creates opportunity
The lines between meals and snacks have blurred as consumers have become more flexible about when and how they consume food and beverage. A new report from Technomic points to the growing prevalence of all-day breakfast, small plates, on-demand delivery and the rise of snacking as evidence of this. New dayparts are popping up across the industry – late-night and snacking menus, brunch menus and happy hour deals are becoming important sales drivers. Menus are expanding to include breakfast items at dinner and dinner items at breakfast. Off-premise foodservice is a key growth engine helping restaurants provide consumers with food when and where they want it, through offsite catering programs, on-demand delivery and offsite, rotating pop-up sites and food trucks. Many restaurants are launching retail branches, including grab-and-go sections within their restaurants, Technomic says. Vending is also showing promise and has room to grow, with everything from frozen yogurt to fresh salads available from machines.
Inside Chipotle’s new safety standards
Chipotle recently unveiled comprehensive new food safety procedures – here is a look inside their higher-tech approach to keeping certain fruits and vegetables safe, as reported by HotSchedules. Their food safety team creates a training video on a smartphone demonstrating how to properly blanch the produce to protect against bacteria. The team lists the steps, creates a quiz and sends it to an online training platform employees access. The new procedure is pushed to tablets – not paper signs or clipboards – strategically placed in the food preparation area. The employee taps the screen once he has completed each step, and a boiler thermometer with timer connected to the internet records the temperature of the water and time spent blanching. If a procedure is done improperly, the manager receives an immediate mobile alert. The employee’s results go to the cloud, along with all results that food safety inspectors report about the restaurant via mobile device, and corporate reviews the data.
Up your social media game
Have you mastered promoting your restaurant on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? In a recent Foodable report, restaurant coach Donald Burns recommends you try these additional sites popular with Millennials: Hyperlapse lets you use time-lapse photography for videos, which is valuable for giving guests a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. Boomerang takes a short burst of photos then connects them in an HD video loop. If you’re not on Snapchat, take a look – users view 10 billion videos a day and it’s a good place to tease new dishes or post an exclusive menu. Anchor is Twitter for the ears – users can record their own voice to start a conversation about food. To maximize your visual appeal online, try Typorama or Canva. Typorama lets you add stylized text to photos. Using Canva is like hiring a graphic designer to create posts for your social media. It has lots of templates, graphics and typography for menus, flyers, Facebook headers and more.