Starbucks has 12 million active loyalty members in the U.S., an increase of 16 percent over last year – and those numbers stand to grow later this year once the company launches its Starbucks Rewards Prepaid Card, a reloadable card that lets customers earn Starbucks Stars wherever Visa is accepted. Not many businesses can touch that sort of rewards success but you can still boost your program. QSR web recommends you make it worth your customers’ while to go mobile – increase rewards points for mobile orders, offer discounts for mobile orders and mobile-specific services. Let your guests earn rewards by checking in via social media and sharing promotions, news or photos. If you partner with several complementary brands to offer rewards, you create a better value proposition for customers. Finally, it all has to fit together: Make sure your guests’ transition from their physical loyalty card to their digital loyalty card and your app is seamless, along with their web and in-store transactions.
Lure first-time customers with a guarantee
Are you looking to attract more first-time customers? If you think you offer some of the best food in town, try backing up that belief with a money-back guarantee. Restaurant Owner says many top marketing experts recommend it because it lowers the perceived risk of doing business with a company. The approach has worked for Hampton Inn, the hotel chain, which has offered the guarantee for decades and claims that less than one-half of 1 percent of their guests requests a refund for an unsatisfactory stay.
Subway makes a push for digital
Subway is looking to make radical advances in how its guests use technology to interact with their brand. The sandwich chain has developed a new company division, dubbed Subway Digital, to build upon its technology offering. According to a report in Nation’s Restaurant News, Subway worked with Accenture to launch the new division, which company representatives say will study its app and significantly reengineer parts of it to change the customer experience. The company will also likely reinvent its loyalty program as part of the Subway Digital launch.
Table for two, please
A good number of restaurants that are first-date hot spots for couples who have met on social media have needed to restructure their dining rooms, according to a report in Food & Wine. The report suggests that these couples tend to drink less alcohol and may tie up a table for hours, resulting in smaller tabs for restaurants. An owner of several Washington, D.C. restaurants found that his booths were routinely occupied bytwo-person parties for long periods. As a result, he removed the booths altogether and brought in more two-person tables. Regardless of whether you host a great number of first daters or not, it still may make sense to increase your tables for two: A National Restaurant Association spokesperson said that in recent years there has been a shift toward smaller parties.
Bigger is better when it comes to wine glasses
If you’re looking to boost your wine sales, a recent study in Scientific American found that it might pay off to invest in some larger wine glasses. Eater reports that the study’s researchers had a restaurant in Cambridge, England adjust the size of its wine glasses over eight two-week spans. The restaurant switched from a standard 300ml glass to both a 250ml glass and a 370ml glass, pouring between 125ml and 175ml. The study found that decreasing the size of the glass caused no effect in how much wine guests ordered but increasing the size encouraged a 10 percent increase in wine sales.
Researchers discover heat-resistant form of E.coli
As if foodborne bacteria doesn’t cause restaurant operators enough worry, researchers at the University of Alberta recently found a strain of E.coli that resists heat. Restaurant Business reports that a biologist discovered the bacteria present in a meat sample cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees for 70 minutes. Further tests indicated the presence of the bacteria in meat cooked to a temperature as high as 160 degrees – a point at which most experts agree the dangerous bacteria would be eliminated. The researchers plan to continue tests to determine what temperature will kill this more heat-resistant strain of E.coli. The U.S. government has yet to comment on the earlier results.
FDA criticized as slow and ineffective on food recalls
The FDA is taking heat for what the Office of Inspector General calls inefficient and ineffective food recall procedures that exposed the public to risk for as long as six months after the agency became aware of problems, according to Food Safety News. The office studied 30 domestic and imported recalls from between October 2012 and May 2015. It found the FDA did not instruct its recall staff to tell affected companies how and when to initiate a voluntary recall – and that it had no policies in place to ensure companies initiated recalls promptly. In response, an FDA spokesman said the agency is expediting changes already underway to strengthen its compliance and enforcement strategies for handling voluntary and mandatory recalls. This will include timeframes for voluntary action by companies and the threshold for enforcement by the agency if needed.
Public accessibility claims on the rise in restaurants
Does your restaurant comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards? Public accommodation claims under Title III of the ADA are on the rise. FSR magazine reports that the Justice Department received 6,391 complaints in fiscal year 2015, a 40 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. To prevent lawsuits, consider this advice from ADA Title III attorney Peter Petesch: When designing and building a restaurant, take responsibility for ensuring disabled guests can access your building according to ADA standards – don’t assume your contractors have it covered. To make sure guests can access your existing restaurant, hire an accessibility expert to evaluate your facility and develop a plan to address problems. Talk to your staff about ADA etiquette and the questions that may be asked of a guest with a service animal. Finally, your restaurant’s website must be accessible too – make sure your site complies with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines so guests with visual impairments canread your content.
Wendy’s data breach offers lessons
Wendy’s is the latest restaurant chain to struggle with a data breach – and how best to handle it. The chain recently announced that the data breach it had publicly acknowledged in May spans larger than the 300 franchise units originally believed to have been affected. An ongoing investigation found that 50 additional franchised restaurants had experienced or were believed to have experienced cybersecurity problems, according to eWeek. Industry analysts have taken issue with the restaurant’s seemingly slow response to the problems – a breach was originally alleged in January but was not announced until May – and that their initial investigation into the breach was not detailed enough to identify the latest problems.
The end of the app boom?
Unless you’re Snapchat or Uber, the app boom is likely over. That’s according to a report on Recode that studied growth in the segment. It said the growth of apps kick started in 2008 when Apple launched its App Store. While people are still downloading apps, they think they already have the ones they need – and they’re choosy about new ones. The research firm Nomura indicated that last month, the top 15 app publishers saw downloads drop an average of 20 percent in the U.S. With that in mind, look for improvements in web-based apps, which can connect you to your customers without consuming real estate on their smartphones. Facebook’s app install ad business will likely absorb some of the native app market as well.