Sure, your restaurant has a Facebook account with hundreds of followers – but do you know how effective your social media marketing is? A site like Google Analytics or Sprout Social can help you gather data about your followers, from their age and location to their interests and income level. Then you can track how and when those followers respond to each of your posts – and give them more of what they like, when they are apt to see it. You should also consider measuring your team’s social media responses to ensure they’re timely, as well as your use of hashtags, which can help you broaden your reach when you use them effectively.
How to know if you’ve hired the wrong manager
You set out to hire a great manager and find one who made a positive first impression, has glowing references, and shows signs of helping you boost sales. So why hasn’t business improved? Restaurant coach Donald Burns says the person may clash with the rest of the staff for a number of reasons: Their skills lag behind those of the staff, they tell staff to do things one way and then do something different themselves, they play favorites, they sit behind a computer instead of engage with the team and guests, or they feed into gossip and negativity. You can weed out this sort of person, Burns says, by asking out-of-the-box questions that demonstrate someone’s personality and degree of knowledge. While you’re at it, ask yourself the same questions to make sure you’re not contributing to the problem.
Changes afoot for the pizza segment
Some surprising trends are hitting the pizza industry. Restaurant Business reports that a recent survey of the segment by Foursquare revealed unexpected results, like increased sales of beer and wine for off-site orders. Laws are changing to allow for consumption of alcohol off-premises, which stands to help the segment reap the rewards of high-margin beverage sales. Other trends appearing across the country in pizza restaurants: a wide range of Asian ingredients appearing on pies, the growing popularity of mushrooms and leeks, more pizzas selling in the $15-and-higher range, and the expansion of dessert menus.
Ikea launches a do-it-yourself restaurant
The retailer Ikea has expanded its do-it-yourself credo into a new pop-up restaurant. Dubbed “The Dining Club,” the experimental restaurant is open for two weeks this month at its Shoreditch, London location. It will feature brunch, lunch and dinner sessions where various trained head chefs will supervise customers preparing a meal for a group of up to 20 people, Fortune reports. Customers can apply online for a chance to participate in one of the sessions, which are free including food, alcohol and wait staff.
A restaurant whose prices prove its social mission
Everytable, a Los Angeles restaurant, charges twice as much for food in one location as it does in another location, all in the name of making healthy food affordable for everyone. NPR reports that Everytable guests can grab a pre-made, nutritious meal and either heat it in a microwave on-site or take the meal home – all for a price that changes depending on the demographics of the neighborhood ($4 on average in one area and $7.95 in another). Each restaurant is designed to be affordable for its neighbourhood and also in line with the prices of existing fast-food options in the area. The founders designed their restaurants to be profitable in any location, though the ones with higher prices will be responsible for helping the chain grow.
Upsell your cocktail menu
Urban restaurants have access to the mixologists and clientele to be able to charge north of $10 for a cocktail – but what about those in smaller locales? Restaurant Business says those restaurants can do the same if they upsell the right way. Newcomers may benefit from charging on the low end at first and hosting happy hour specials to bring in customers, for example, then boosting prices the following year. Focus on mastering the classic cocktails, then getting creative with how you describe them on menus or present them. You can help your guests boost their cocktail knowledge by bringing in a celebrity mixologist to host a seminar or tasting. Also, try inviting area bartenders to an early-morning bartenders breakfast to build a cocktail culture in your area and develop community.
New kitchen gadgets to save time, enhance quality
Are you a gadget guru? Foodable recommends several new commercial gadgets to add flair to your operation. To infuse foods with the smoky aromas that are on trend this year, you can use a smoke gun, a portable device that uses a small amount of a combustible product like wood chips or herbs. Rotary evaporators can distill, separate or purify any liquid with high-quality results. Ultrasonic homogenizers use low heat and sound vibrations to decrease the production time of infusions and emulsions. Anti-Griddles, with surface temperatures of -30˚F, can quickly give sauces, purees, creams and foams a frozen exterior and a cold, liquid interior. Finally, Temptrak is an integrated system that allows the user to remotely monitor refrigerator temperatures.
Help stop the spread of foodborne illness
September is National Food Safety Month. This year, the campaign is focused on spreading awareness of foodborne illness. Each week of September, the National Restaurant Association is providing training tools and resources to help foodservice professionals protect against the spread of Norovirus and Hepatitis A, two of the leading causes of foodborne illness. Weekly themes include Viruses – Know the Basics, Norovirus, Hepatitis A, Stop the Spread, and Keep your Guests Safe. Visit FoodSafetyMonth.com for information to share with your team.
Pest-proof your restaurant
Are your team’s habits attracting pests? Nation’s Restaurant News identified several areas where restaurants can clean up their act: Ensure lids on trash containers and dumpsters fit tightly, clean the inside of trash container cabinets and trash containers themselves, keep dumpsters away from building, don’t prop doors open, clear drains of debris and grease daily, maintain grease traps and ensure the team knows where they are located, store food in tight-fitting containers, repair cracks in walls or floors soon after you notice them, encourage employees to report any pest sightings, and clean up crumbs and spills as they happen.
For kitchen robots, the future is near
Robots in restaurants are rapidly becoming more fact than fiction and their presence could soon have an impact on everything from labor expenses to foodborne illness control. While robots are currently capable of preparing many dishes in restaurants, their lack of dexterity makes them less able to prep ingredients – and that’s why the robot revolution is still a few years away, according to Eater. Still, robotics companies are rapidly making the machines less expensive – Moley Robotics is aiming to decrease their prices to $15,000 by next year. If you are attending this month’s Restaurant Innovation Summit, you’ll hear from Deepak Sekar, another kitchen robot developer who says the machines are capable of being perfect in ways employees are not, they can reduce prep time and also complement employees (instead of replacing them).