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The Library...

We scour the internet daily to find the most helpful and pertinent information for you and your business, always keeping our eyes and ears open for new ways to help promote your success.

Here is a collection of some of the best ideas and knowledge that we have found... 

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Marketing Strategies

  • How To Set Measurable Goals for Your Social Media Marketing

    If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told how important social media is, I’d be off vacationing in Bora Bora right now. My frustration with the “social media pitch” is that people are making very strong claims without backing them up.

  • Why restaurants need a strong brand image

    Source: Megan Rowe  Restaurants and other small businesses often create a neutral or negative brand perception, one expert says. Small business owners often lack the resources to produce a comprehensive branding plan. But failing to create a compelling brand image can hurt their business in the long run.

  • 5 answers to your social media questions

    Eric Stoessel  What’s next in social media? We asked a dozen chefs, execs and social media stars from around the country, and we still don’t have an answer. It’s hard to know what’s coming down the road in a space that changes by the day.

  • Connect with your customers: Using Facebook to drive sales

    The largest social network, with more than 1.15 billion global users, is Facebook. The behemoth network is only nine years old and attracts users from a wide range of demographics, gender, race and age levels.

  • 5 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

    Instagram, the online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service, has become one of the world’s most popular social media networks within a very short time.

  • 12 Ways to Make 2014 Your Brand’s Best Year Yet
    You’re a business owner, which means you’re someone with energy and drive. You’re a risk taker. You thrive in exciting situations. That’s why when your business is doing well, and you find yourself doing the same thing week after week after week, business starts to feel like a drag.
  • 16 Tips to Create a Consistent, Relevant & Trusted Social Brand
    Did you know that it takes at minimum 6-7 brand touches before someone will remember your brand. Every impression counts.
  • Restaurant Social Media Trends
    While Pinterest became a hot piece of real estate in 2012 social media, experts looking further into 2013 see less of a new breakout name than the more effective use of existing platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Leverage Newsletters to Build your Business
    by Amy Foxwell in Back-to-Basics Marketing   With everyone getting back to school and buckling back down to work after the long lazy days of summer you may see a slump in your business. But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit back and wait until customers remember you. Use this opportunity to put in place a regular newsletter campaign to get back on your customers’ radar and fill down times.
  • Restaurants Are Turning to Loyalty Reward Apps to Lure Customers

    Source: Julie Jargon    Restaurant operators are increasingly supplementing their old loyalty-card programs with mobile options to keep eaters coming back in a soft economy. The restaurant chains and their franchisees are turning to mobile loyalty apps such as Front Flip and Belly, which they say help them attract and retain customers with more individualized, interactive approaches than the traditional loyalty programs.

  • 5 Musts for any restaurant website
    Your website is one of the first things a potential first-time customer sees when making their decision whether or not to dine at your restaurant.
  • How Does Your Restaurant Bring Customers Back?

    Restaurant owners are constantly looking to improve their restaurant marketing and for new ways to attract customers, often looking towards the deep discounts of daily deals as a quick fix. As a restaurant owner, you may start with a flood of new customers, but eventually they trickle away, never returning again.  

  • How restaurants can get ultimate results with direct mailing
    There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to marketing, and postcard marketing is no exception. But there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you build a winning campaign right from the get-go, without the trial and error setbacks many of us in the industry experienced on the road to direct mail marketing expertise.
  • Responsive web design: Restaurants' No. 1 competitive advantage
    Last year was one of transformation Internet usage sparked by many new computing devices and consumer behavior changes. The prevailing theme: mobile. With PC sales projected to decline for the first time in 11 years, gone are the days when most people are accessing your website from their desktop computer.
  • Try loyalty programs if deal fatigue sets in

    Fickle restaurant customers go crazy for one-off deals, yet traditional loyalty programs can still attract lots of business.

  • Biggest Restaurant Trend in 2013: Be More Visual

    Did you know that photos perform best for likes, comments and shares on Facebook when compared to text and links? Or that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post? Your restaurant's food photos out perform any other post item and are not just a must but a requirement in this age of social media.

  • Loyalty has its rewards both for operators and customers

    Punchh and RunningRestaurants.com conducted a survey recently that examined whether restaurant operators believed their social media marketing efforts worked. The most common answer operators gave us was, "We're not sure."

  • 2013's restaurant marketing trends: 'Partly cloudy with a chance of rain'

    Following the election for U.S. President and plenty of negative news, the outlook resembles weather with "partly cloudy skies and a chance of rain" for restaurant marketers. The economy overall is in a bit of a standstill, waiting for the storm to pass.

  • How to turn customers into advocates

    A key to success involves getting your customers to recommend your restaurant to others. Here’s how to do that.

  • Social Media and the Brave New Classroom

    By Jim Sullivan, CEO Sullivision.com  Teaching is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. –W. B. Yeats-  Lately I’ve been seriously concerned about the state of training in the foodservice industry.

  • Report: Menu deals no longer driving restaurant visits

    According to new research from The NPD Group, consumer-perceived deals – such as combined item specials and dollar/value menus – that enticed consumers to visit restaurants during the height of the recession no longer serve as an impetus for driving traffic growth.

  • Facebook rolling out option for fans to receive notifications about page posts

    Brittany Darwell  Facebook is rolling out a new feature for users to opt in to receive notifications every time a page makes a post.

  • Email Frequency Tips For Restaurants

    Our clients often ask us how often they should send emails to their customers. While there is no magic answer, there are some guidelines.

  • 8 Social media tools for restaurant operators

    By Nate Riggs, The Karcher Group  In terms of social media, local marketing and Web marketing, I think this industry is poised for some incredible gains over the next few years. Restaurant marketers, however, must now start to examine a new set of tools and how figure out how those tools fit within existing systems in both their corporate organizations as well as throughout their franchise networks.

  • 7 Tips in Determining your Restaurant Menu Content and Prices

    There is one question that every restaurant owner has to address when setting up their business, and that is “How do I determine my restaurant menu content and prices?” While there are a number of considerations that can help you in answering this question, you need to be aware of the fact that it is by no means a static question.

  • Should we build a mobile app, or a mobile website?

    by Rick Burgess  As we all know the web is constantly changing, new platforms seem to launch every day, and new development techniques are being touted as the future of live as we know it most weeks.

  • Email Is Still Huge, And That’s Where People Want To Be Marketed To

    Email is thirty years old, and it’s arguably bigger than ever, despite other technological advancements in computing and communication. The number of emails sent per day continues to increase, and there are way more accounts than even Facebook has.

  • 7 Essential Stages of Building a Total Online Presence

    There are many moving parts involved in marketing and the online elements increase in importance with each passing day.

  • Using customer feedback to give location-specific, actionable insight

    Online restaurant reviews have been skyrocketing in their popularity and influence and there is no slow-down in sight. An estimated 129 million consumers are talking about restaurants on social networks daily and that number is expected to swell to 220 million by 2015.

  • Everything you need to know about QR codes

    You may not know a thing about QR codes, but you better get up to speed quickly because your competitor will likely use them to gain an edge.

  • Restaurants use Facebook Offers, ordering to boost sales

    Brands are looking into new developments in the way they can execute offers and ordering on Facebook to help boost sales and build brand awareness.

  • Six Restaurant Marketing Trends for 2012

    What's in store for restaurant marketing in 2012? We see six key restaurant marketing trends that will lead this year's efforts to gain market share, better understand the customer and turn a profit in 2012. We also believe there is one trend that will consume marketing dollars in 2012 but will turn out not to be influential in driving consumers into restaurants.

  • Email Marketing Best Practices

    As an email marketer, you may face email deliverability issues every day. Whether you're sending a personal email or bulk customer communication, electronic messages are frequently intercepted, filtered, erroneously labeled as spam, bounced or returned to the sender as undeliverable.

  • 10 Restaurant Marketing Tips for 2012

    We have ten restaurant marketing trends and tips for building your business this year.

  • Six Restaurant Marketing Trends For 2012

    By Carin Oliver  What’s in store for restaurant marketing in 2012? We see six key restaurant marketing trends that will lead this next year’s efforts to gain market share, better understand the customer and turn a profit in 2012. We also believe there is one trend that will consume marketing dollars in 2012 but will turn out not to be influential in driving consumers into restaurants.

  • Seven Strategies to Increase Your Restaurants Traffic and Profitability in 2012

    Joe Welsh – CORE Restaurant Marketing As 2011 comes to a close, it is time to think about your marketing plan for 2012. Have you considered how you are going to increase traffic and improve the profitability of your restaurant next year?

  • Why You Should Use Facebook and How to Get Started

    Let's start this talk with a little bit of meditation. Close your eyes and think about the last time you used advertising to get new customers. How did it work? Which media channel did you use? How much did it cost you, and how was the return? Now open your eyes. What do you see?

  • How to Manage Online Customer Reviews

    These days, it seems like everyone is a food critic. Once thought of as a job for professionals requiring years of experience and palette refinery, not to mention a thorough understanding of restaurants and cooking, the craft of "critiquing" has boiled down to, in some cases, a few online sentences denoting a restaurant as good, great, bad or really bad.

  • Social Media Strategies for Success

    Source: Ron Ruggless  Social media has grown into an increasingly important tool for restaurants, experts said Wednesday during a Nation’s Restaurant News webinar, making the strategies behind those efforts a key driver of brand success.

  • Stretch Your Marketing Budget

    Most small businesses have modest marketing budgets, which means you have to make every dollar count. Here are 5 ways to get big results from a small budget:

  • Marketing Speaks to get Your Customers Listening
    Your restaurant exists on a particular street in a particular spot. Like your neighbors, you want more business. Resources are limited, budgets are tight and so is your time. Grass roots marketing has its place in the business world, and for good reason. It can literally be the defining element to your success.                                                                                 
  • 7 Reasons You Might Want To Give Groupon A Pass

    Groupon, the three year old coupon company, has been all the hype across business sites lately. The company is the largest of its competitors and claims it distributes online coupons from merchants in 500 markets and 44 countries. Facebook and Google, in an attempt to get a piece of the action, have recently rolled out similar services.

  • Social Marketing Takes Hold, But Traditional Marketing Still Thrives

    The practice of using social media to promote a business, known as social marketing, is now being used by nearly three-quarters of all small-business owners, according to a new survey from Constant Contact, a company that facilitates social marketing. 

  • 10 Pros and Cons for Using Groupon

    Group buying may be all the rage among consumers. But does is really make good business sense? It can if you design the promotion just right for your company.

  • 3 Reasons a Slow Economy is the Best Time to Grow Your Business

    The first reason should be almost obvious: none of your competitors are promoting their business, so if you do, you’re way ahead of the game. Everyone is in the same boat, and the new tighter economy has everyone in a conservative mood. So if you take a more aggressive stance and put energy into growing your business, your efforts can attract a wider audience with less resistance and for less money.

  • 13 Ways To Win Regulars

    Source: Restaurant Business Building customer loyalty is a great way to build a regular, reliable customer base. Here are 13 ways to win regulars.

  • Report Offers Facebook Tips for Restaurants

    Source:  Mark Brandau (Nations Restaurant News)  Marketing to customers on Facebook is an art many restaurants are still trying to master, but knowing what to post and when to post it can help brands boost engagement with their customers, according to social-marketing firm Vitrue.

  • 10 Menu Mistakes That May Be Costing You Plenty...And How to Avoid Them

    Source: Excerpts, Mark Laux for Restaurant Startup & Growth  A menu should be your most effective marketing tool. It should suggestively sell products, describe your offering in a poetic way, entice an upsell and, most importantly, be a visual representation of your brand. In addition, it is the place your guests will find what they want to order, so it is also your catalog.  

  • 5 Free Ways to Drive Restaurant Sales

    With the economy down businesses need to work harder to drive sales with less. The good news is that there are a number of free services that can help you promote your restaurant.

  • Gain More Repeat Business

    In Pate Dawson's May 4th Marketing Webinar, we discussed at great length the effectiveness of growing sales through your current customer base. Reaching out to your customers is also the most efficient means of investing your marketing budget.

  • Social Media Measurement: A 10-Step Guide

    (by Chris Lake) Social media measurement is a tricky subject, not least because not everything can or should be measured, and in some ways social measurement is a bit like measuring the impact of TV ads on brand awareness: it's a slightly softer area than, say, paid search.

  • Foursquare: Restaurants' Next Social-Media Frontier
    (By Allison Perlik)  "Location, location, location"-the old adage about the key to business success gains new meaning in the context of the latest social-media opportunity for restaurants: location-based social networks.
  • Why Google Is The Future Of Restaurant Marketing

    (By Greg McGuire)  “Favorite Places On Google” is a new feature that provides maps, directions, reviews, and photos of 100,000 businesses across the U.S. Many of these businesses are restaurants, and that’s significant because eventually users will be able to post reviews and other information about your restaurant and have it display on Google.

  • Your Crew Is Your Brand

    (By Christopher Wolf)  Think of your crew training as a marketing project and your brand experience will benefit.

  • How to Use Twitter for Restaurant & Bar Marketing

    Modern marketing is about conversations, not just one-way broadcasting.

    Twitter is a great tool for online or 'social media' marketing: it's free, and only needs a small time commitment. It's also a good way to 'find your voice' and practice writing short sales messages. If you have time to write one promotional text message each week, you can manage Twitter!

Best Practices

  • A comprehensive study sheds light on what the 18- to 30-something demographic looks for when dining out. Market researchers have plenty of data that describes what Baby Boomers want from their restaurant-going experiences. And they know plenty about what Gen-Xers expect, too. But even the savviest of experts struggles to pin down what exactly it is Millennials desire when they go out to eat. 

  • When budgeting is tight, every dollar is scrutinized. In this environment, it is understandable why so many companies look at the price of acquisition of POS (point of service) terminals first when considering what to upgrade for their customer transactions.

  • Rob Slattery  Fryer oil is a critical component of food flavor, and a costly one, so make sure you’re managing it correctly. The vast majority of America’s 980,000 restaurants operate a frying line, which means they need to consider two critical factors about cooking oil.

  • It's only natural for you to place a great deal of trust in your employees. "We're like one big family," is a refrain often heard in entrepreneurial ranks. That's as it should be -- but it's important to keep your guard up.

  • Many restaurant owners pay lip service to recruiting and training the best servers, but a recent survey once again underscores the importance of these two key functions.

  • Source:  Megan Rowe   Delicious food, great service and a comfortable, clean interior all loom large in a restaurant’s chances of success, but often that formula leaves out one essential ingredient: the right menu balance. Engineering a profitable menu can be a painful and complicated process, but in the end, this kind of discipline can pay off.

  • Everyone's using cell phones these days including your employees on your time, unless you have an enforced policy prohibiting it. Employee cell phone use can promote unproductive behavior, interfere with customer service and drive you crazy when you see them being used when you're paying them to work.
  • Source: Gregg Rapp  How would you like to keep your marketing budget flat while increasing your restaurant’s profits by 15% or more?  You can achieve this feat through the science / art of menu engineering, which is essentially the practice of designing your menu with the goal of making it more profitable.  The practice does not require a degree in graphic design or mathematics, and a layperson can easily grasp the concepts involved.

  • Source: Menu Cover Depot  How would you like to keep your marketing budget flat while increasing your restaurant’s profits by 15% or more?  You can achieve this feat through the science / art of menu engineering, which is essentially the practice of designing your menu with the goal of making it more profitable.  The practice does not require a degree in graphic design or mathematics, and a layperson can easily grasp the concepts involved.

  • Hearing about embezzlement in a public company rarely shocks anyone, but when it happens in a family business, people are often stunned. “How could he steal from his own family?” “Doesn’t she know she’s hurting her siblings/cousins/parents?”

  • Respected chef-restaurateur Bob Kinkead once told me that dinner should be “a circus on the plate.”
    Well, that’s not quite my style — and professional food styling has been my meal ticket for 27 years.
  • Perhaps the most volatile area for controlling food cost is the cook line. Whereas theft can occur anywhere, and certainly product prices and proper preparation practices can have an equally negative effect on food cost, it is usually on the cook line that many restaurants lose their profits.
  • With a large percentage of Americans using smartphones, mobile websites have become a staple in the daily lives of consumers; they are easy and convenient in this fast-paced world we live in. Restaurant owners should be aware of the positive impact a mobile website will have on their restaurant.

  • Source: David Scott Peters  If you think all of your employees possess the common sense to complete tasks successfully, you’re wrong. Employing a simple checklist eliminates the need for common sense.

  • For any restaurant operator looking to layer a catering program on top of their existing business, they must first make room for organizational growth by understanding how an increase in catering sales will impact the big picture of the company.

  • Posted by Elissa Elan  Does it matter if a guest orders the grilled pork chops or the signature seafood creole? What about the mud pie or your made-from-scratch' tiramisu for dessert?

  • Many restaurant operators don't understand the missed opportunity of getting customers' contact information. When you have phone numbers, emails or social media followers, you have the opportunity to reach people no matter where they are and market to them directly.

  • It pays to keep tight control over the cost of hourly employees. Some proven principles:

  • When guests come to your restaurant, you should treat them as if they are friends visiting your home. Treating your guests with care and providing an exceptional place for them to enjoy a meal is part of the reason they will come back to your restaurant again.

  • As restaurateurs explore the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show for products and services to enhance their businesses, many expressed interest in a new publication to help them accurately complete their financial statements.

  • To evaluate labor productivity, you need to properly analyze labor costs. Three critical benchmarks include:

    • Covers per labor hour
    • Labor cost per cover
    • Labor cost per labor hour
  • All money is not created equal: $100 in sales is $100, less taxes and expenses. But $100 in savings is, well, $100.

  • If you can't say "yes" to at least 12 of the following accounting and finance practices, you have an opportunity to increase your efficiency and profitability.

  • In a low-margin business in which sales can fluctuate, operators of consistently profitable restaurants don't wait until the end of the month to learn how their restaurants performed.

  • By Mark Kelnhofer, MBA  More than likely, restaurant operators are familiar with the benefits of utilizing theoretical costs for benchmarking their store locations’ performance. 

  • While there are few absolutes in this business this is one - "Engaging in ongoing competitive bidding practices to get the lowest prices actually leads to higher food costs, not lower."

  • Many operators either don't realize or underestimate the profound influence the menu has on their profitability. Here's a collection of menu practices that can either hurt or enhance the profit-making potential of your menu.

  • You've made the decision to raise your menu prices. We give you some great tips to avoid making the price changes obvious.

  • Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor 
    To give you some ideas in this area, consider the findings of a study conducted by a very large, multi-unit restaurant chain. The goal was to identify the common qualities and characteristics found in the company's highest performing employees to help in the interviewing and selection process. They found that the following four traits were consistent in their best employees:

  • If your restaurant business is stagnating, the best thing you can do is try to look at it with fresh eyes and identify small things to change that will make a difference. Here are some simple ways to give your business a lift.

  • Using social media for marketing is easy, right? Not necessarily. Facebook and Twitter's ubiquity can lead to the assumption that using them is foolproof. In reality, there are common mistakes that business leaders unfamiliar with social media marketing seem to stumble into. These errors reveal a lack of social media savvy and often negate the effectiveness of those marketing efforts. 

     

  • The challenges of rising commodity costs, paired with an improving consumer environment, are together giving restaurant operators some needed justification to raise menu prices.

  • One of the best ways to Focus your hourly team on how to improve service, sales and costs is to align their thinking to the manager or owner mindset.  Of course, crew can't realistically be expected to amass all the insight that managers and owners have--they know a lot.  But there are mindset basics that everyone on the team should share. Here's a list of the 12 essentials:

  • by Jim Sullivan  CEO Sullivision.com/Copyright  2011  We work in a chaotic industry whose success-or failure-is often determined by pennies earned or pennies lost on a shift by shift basis. Here are 13 common, creative and quick tips, tricks, and techniques to help build your bottom line every day.

  • Source: Small Business Trends   Even in a tough economy, Americans like to eat out making food one of the bright spots in the past few years, with new food and restaurant concepts cropping up fairly often. To help foodservice entrepreneurs get a jump on the future, Technomic recently announced its 11 top trend predictions for 2011. Take a look at what made the hit list.

  • The economy may still be chugging forward, but runaway interest rates and energy costs are pecking away at profit margins for restaurant operators in all market segments. Raising menu prices to make up the shortfall is not an option--not when your guests have to be cajoled into venturing out for a meal.

  • Prime cost is the cost of sales (food and beverages) plus all payroll-related costs, including gross payroll of all management and hourly personnel and payroll taxes, benefits and workers' compensation. Prime cost usually runs 60 percent to 65 percent of total sales in a full-service restaurant and 55 percent to 60 percent of sales in a quick-service restaurant.

  • Source: monkeydish.com  Running a cash flow positive restaurant is challenging even in the best of times. But in this Great Recession, marked by customers spending less and banks tightening or even shutting off access to funding, cash flow problems can invade your business, turning your dream of prosperity into the nightmare of barely surviving.

  • (By Wilton Marburger)  A traditional box of syrup or B- I- B (bag in the box) holds 5 gallons of syrup. Let's say a five gallon BIB of your favorite Cola costs $50.

Food Safety

  • Food Policy & Law:  Rare, Red Burgers on the Black Market

  • (By Bill Tomson)   Meat cutters at grocery stores aren't necessarily trained to address health issues regarding meat. But harmful bacteria like salmonella and E.coli are often present on raw meat. Here are some ways to remove the threat.

The Bottom Line

  • Source: Andy Puzder  The new rule hurts the very managers climbing the ranks whom it claims to help.President Obama on March 13 signed an order directing the Labor Department to expand the class of employees entitled to overtime pay. The president wants to raise this salary threshold, perhaps as high as $50,000, demoting entry-level managers to glorified crew members by replacing their incentive to get results with an incentive to log more hours.

  • Business guru Keith Cunningham, author of "The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business", preaches a very simple message with respect to business success. He says there are only three things to do in order to have a successful business:

  • Elizabeth Campbell and Liyan Chen  Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, called PED, has spread to 23 U.S. states since April, with a surge in reported cases last month, including in Iowa, the top producer. Researcher Global AgriTrends said the sickness may kill as many as 5 million pigs, or about 4.5 percent of the animals sent to processing plants last year in the U.S., the world’s biggest pork exporter.

  • How to Get Started and Where to Focus. Let’s face it; everyone in the restaurant industry is looking for a leg up on the competition and trying to maximize profits.
  • America might think of itself as a nation of beef eaters, but for the first time in over a century, Americans are eating more chicken than beef, Priceonomics reports.


  • Beginning in January, the IRS will consider the automatic gratuities that restaurants charge on dinner checks as service charges. That means those automatic gratuities will be considered regular wages for servers - subject to payroll tax withholding - instead of tips, which servers typically report as income on their own.

  • Marketers need to measure a lot of things in order to get better. Not everyone does and those that do sometimes measure the wrong things.

  • by Lee Plotkin  Over the past several years, we have seen a fairly significant increase in commodity costs, mostly due to weather-related issues (drought, floods, etc.). While no one has a crystal ball, looking at historical data can provide guidance on what type of buying makes the most sense for your operation.

  • By JOSH PATRICK  This is something I have never understood. Why is it that we business owners are so reluctant to share financial information with employees? For more than 35 years I’ve found that, when I share meaningful information with the people who work with me, our performance as a company improves.  
  • One of the most frequest questions among operators is how to measure alcoholic beverage cost percentages against industry averages. In general, the rules of thumb are:

  • Customizable options, fresh and premium food and portion size all count, too. There’s no denying consumers crave value more than ever, a shift that now seems permanent since the deal-demanding days that began during the recession. But how consumers define value is still being understood, and recent research from Technomic shows value goes well beyond just price.
  • The biggest changes to the U.S. health insurance system in decades continue to unfold this fall, with government-run exchanges set to begin selling health plans for 2014 to millions of individuals and small businesses Oct. 1.

  • New mobile technology offers solutions to streamline operations and boost profits.Tech startup E la Carte launched its Presto tabletop tablet amid some skepticism two years ago, but the company hoping to minimize the need for a wait staff just raised $13.5 million from venture capitalists.

  • In a major victory for employers who have been struggling to understand and figure out how to implement the 2010 health care law, the Treasury Department announced July 2 that it has delayed by a year the law's mandate that requires "large employers" to report to the IRS whether they offered their full-time employees and their dependents health care coverage in 2014.
  • You might have the best food in town, but if customers don’t order it, your restaurant is doomed. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your menu is the best it can be. Taking a few simple steps to plan, organize, and design your menu can make a world of difference to your restaurant’s success. Here are 20 ideas that can help you take your restaurant menu to the next level.

  • May 1, 2013 by Amy Foxwell in Back-to-Basics Marketing
     
    Before we get started on the many different simple and affordable marketing methods that are available to you, I want to make sure that you have a very important marketing tool in place. This is a tool that you will use every time you implement a marketing program.

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  • Not since the introduction of the touchscreen has there been such a radical new option in the way we deliver restaurant technology. The introduction of the tablet — and its evolution into a worthy contender for your next point-of-sale system — gives restaurant owners an affordable and powerful new option. But should your restaurant jump to tablets?

  • Have you ever gone into a restaurant and immediately formed an impression - good or bad - simply by walking in the front door?

  • With the presidential elections quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror, restaurant operators need to shift their attention to preparing for upcoming Obamacare requirements (Affordable Care Act).

  • Most independent restaurants calculate their food cost only once a month. Yet, virtually all the major chain restaurants calculate their food cost each week. According to industry averages, chain restaurants (before corporate expenses) are two to three times as profitable as independent restaurants. While weekly food costing isn't the entire reason, it's part of it.

  • An excellent report for tracking quality control is available on the best POS systems.  Micros has an end of period report designed to highlight major issues with an emphasis on employees and adherence to company policies.  The Employee Variance Advisory Report shows discounts, voids, errors, returns, cancellations and transaction anomalies for a shift, day, week, or month.

  • Imagine a small-town pharmacist standing at a back counter, counting pills.  She wants to help people.  She wants to connect and make a difference.  She wants to offer advice that just might save a person’s life.  She probably doesn’t want to be standing there counting pills.  What if she could automate the pill counting?  Feed the pills into a machine that counted, recounted, and packaged the pills for her.  What could she do with the time she saved?

  • Chicago, January 8, 2013, PRNewswire – Taking its adult beverage practice to the next level, Technomic Inc. introduces DRINK (Digital Resource INformation Knowledgebase), a robust digital database of spirits, wine and beer information. Delivering extensive adult beverage intelligence, DRINK allows users to search and download continuously updated brand and supplier profiles, as well as industry volume, sales and financials with expert insights from Technomic reports and news briefs.

  • by Elissa Elan  Some operators, especially ones who are new to the business, can become obsessed with trying to get the lowest price on every product they buy.

  •  

    The most important decision we ever make in the restaurant business is who we hire to take care of our customers. We put a lot on the line every time we hire a new employee.
     

  • Source: Mary Bloch  “A good menu should make you hungry,” says graphic designer Armin Vit, a co-founder of Under Consideration, based in Austin, Texas. “It should get your mouth watering. Hopefully it does it in a cool-looking way.”

  • Approximately 3:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, a robber described as 6' 5", 245 lbs., entered a quick-service restaurant, forced the manager at gunpoint to open the safe. He then forced her and co-workers into the store's freezer before exiting the building. One of the crew members called 911 on her cell phone from inside the freezer. Police stated that the robber got away with about $1,000 in cash.

  • October 31, 2012 | By Mark Brandau While many restaurant operators often find it challenging to balance investments in technology with near-term profit margins, new research from Technomic Inc. has found that consumers are open to using more gadgets when they dine out and expect restaurants to experiment with new technology.

  • Google Analytics just keeps getting better and better as far as I’m concerned and marketers that use this free tool need to get better and better at understanding what it can tell you.

  • Owning and managing a restaurant is hard work. Some 60 percent of restaurants close their doors in the first three years of operation. This number soars during a recession, as fewer people have money in their budgets for dining out.

  • The statistics are staggering. The latest National Retail Security Survey states that 45 percent of losses to retailers are attributed to theft by employees. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports that 5 percent of revenues of a typical organization are stolen by company workers.

  • What does it take to be productive? It’s a question I often ask myself and to be honest I don’t have a great answer for it yet. One key discovery I’ve made over the past year or so is that I need to have great habits in place.

  • The CEO and founder of Papa John's pizza wants investors to know that when the president's health care law takes effect, the price of pizza is going up with it.

  • By Bret Thorn   NRN's senior food editor shares his take on the annual event. The James Beard Foundation likes to call its annual restaurant and chef awards the Oscars of the restaurant world. Really, they’re more like the Emmys in that the same nominees are named year after year.

  • By Paul Frumkin  Upbeat operators reporting positive same-store sales and customer traffic gains helped to fuel growth in the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index for February, keeping the index above 100 for the fourth consecutive month.

  • Fueled by solid same-store sales and traffic results and a bullish outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose sharply in December. 

  • Source: Jim Laube  On June 29, 2011 the Federal Reserve announced that they have issued a final rule establishing standards for debit card interchange fees and routing restrictions.

  • Source: Elissa Elan  The more comfortable your front-of-the-house staff is with their knowledge of product, policy, and service procedures, the more confident they will be at the table.   
  • Determining the lower end of the pricing continuum requires careful consideration of all costs involved in bringing that item to the table, including the costs involved in preparing and presenting an item, or bringing customers in the door, for that matter. You cannot base your pricing solely on cost; however, you better know your actual costs before embarking on your pricing journey.

  • by Matt Rosoff  OpenTable, the online and mobile restaurant reservation system, is great for consumers -- it lets them look at a bunch of different restaurants, see which one has the most convenient available reservation time, and book the reservation without ever picking up a phone. But some restaurant owners hate it.

  • Menu design is all about human psychology.

  • Tired of high credit-card processing fees? Here are three ways to save when accepting payments.

  • There are ways to increase revenue – and profits – without poking the customer in the eye when they open your menu.

  • If you're restaurant is suffering a financial backlash because your customers are suffering from cabin fever - as most Northern Californians are after 22 days of rain - it may be time for a guerilla marketing campaign. A well planned campaign will increase business and, if effectively executed, will enable you to compete in a market flooded with competitors with their eyes on your dining dollars.

  • The USDA revised its food price forecast to rise 3% to 4% this year. Both food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices are also forecast to increase 3% to 4%. Beef prices are projected to increase 3.5% to 4.5% and pork prices 5.5% to 6.5% in 2011. See Graph.

  • N.C. is projected to post strongest restaurant-sales growth in 2011. North Carolina is expected to post the strongest restaurant-sales growth in 2011 at 4.2 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Watch this Video Preview: The 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast includes economic, workforce, consumer and menu trends, as well as information for restaurant operators to overcome the current economic challenges and position themselves for future growth.

  • USDA has released its food cost forecast for 2011.

  • Source: Ron Ruggless (Nation’s Restaurant News) Analysts expect chains to pass menu price increases to consumers. As commodity prices rose through 2010, restaurant operators kept one eye on increasing costs and the other on the tight grip that recession-battered consumers kept on their wallets. Now they may be able to at least blink.

  • Operators continue to acknowledge their tenacious, consultative distributor-partners for contributing to their success thus proving that their high standing in last year's Foodservice Elite report was not a fluke.

  • How will your restaurant have to adapt its business practices to abide by the newly passed Health Care Reform Bill? What costs will you incur?

  • Adding a catering arm maybring in the added revenue stream you're looking for.

  • Source: Restaurant Startup & Growth  One of the most talked-about challenges for businesses when it comes to the social media arena, aside from putting aside the dollars, time and staff to engage in it, is figuring out a way to track or document any success with those initiatives.

  • Source: Larry Green, Esq.  You have no more good ideas about how to stop taking on water. You are too busy plugging leaks and bailing the flooded mess. Until the consuming public regains confidence in itself, you can't depend on increasing revenues. Relief, if any can be found, must come from reduced expenditures.

  • Traditional mass marketing depended on interrupting customers with repeated broadcast messages. Mass marketers relied on "bribes" to sell products when using discount offers. These were the ways to leverage TV, radio, newspapers and other forms of mass media: trumpet a one-size-fits-all message and coax consumers to buy products with coupons.

      

  • (By Jason Daley)  It was about 20 years ago that the casual dining boom got started in the United States. It was a golden, batter-dipped age: We were lured in by the novelty of mozzarella sticks and artichoke dip, marveled at the cluttered walls and uniform flair and gulped down two-liter mango margaritas like every night was Friday.

Service

  • Eric Stoessel  Personality matters, say mystery shoppers who have found many restaurants are forgetting the basics. Here are five tips based on the Coyle Hospitality's 2013 data from more than 6,000 unique evaluations at 755 restaurants.


  • Consumers seek added value in their dining experiences beyond great food and atmosphere. High expectations on key service metrics are prevalent in every segment, from LSR to full service dining.

     

  • by Jim Sullivan   I was being interviewed on a radio station recently about my new book Fundamentals: 9 Ways to Be Brilliant at the Basics of Foodservice. The host of the program asked me to list three secrets to getting rich in the foodservice industry. I told him: “One, make more money than you spend, and two, never reveal all you know.” 

  • By Jim Sullivan, CEO Copyright Sullivision.com  When plotting their service strategy and delivery, too many operators, managers and trainers focus on what they should “do” for their customer. I think it’s more important to first focus on what not to do. In other words, do you know what you don’t know that you don’t know? 

  • Sometimes simple things make the difference. We all know it is very challenging being a restaurant manager. I spent 10 years managing Balthazar and Per Se in NYC, and I have many satisfying memories based on moments where I got involved and made a difference.

  • Every organization in the hospitality industry relies on teamwork to spur productivity, solve problems, and improve customer experiences. It’s no surprise, then, that team building has become a popular topic in the business world – but only effective team building will help your company prosper.
  • Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY   Some scathing social-media reviews and postings are forcing restaurants to pay more attention to the cleanliness of their restrooms. The most personal — and most telling — moment that a customer experiences in a restaurant isn't typically at the table. It's in the restroom.
  • Source: Bob Krummert

    Skeptical by nature, we keep looking for the catch with DrinkSkool.com. The site hosts a new spirits and cocktail education service designed to turn Ordinary Joes into knowledgeable mixologists in just 10 lessons. The profs are beverage industry superstars who seemingly have little to gain from an online gig where students pay nothing for the in-depth education they receive.
  • by Jim Sullivan  Everyone talks about the importance of service, but its meaning is difficult to define in this faster-harder-smarter-more world we all live and work in. The fact is that most foodservice operators confuse service with hospitality. Service fulfills a need, hospitality fulfills people.

  • Okay, we’ve all been there: seen a huge family walk through the front door, and dreaded the moment you had to serve that table. But it doesn’t have to be horrible! Here are some do’s and don’ts of serving a table with kids:
  • One of the most important marketing activities for restaurants (and most small businesses for that matter) is an exit survey, or what is more commonly known as a comment card. The bonus?
  • To most businesses, the last three years were tougher than a two-dollar steak. And the remainder of 2013 is no cakewalk. Here are the top challenges we’ll face along with suggestions on how to come out on top:

  • You've got 12 months--365 days and nights--to make 2013 a better year than  2012.  Like they say, if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. So what's gotta change in the way you execute to make that happen? Maybe a little or maybe a lot, but we've got 13 key ways guaranteed to help you serve better, sell more, and waste less. Here they are, read em and reap:       

  • I recently had lunch at an elegant hotel restaurant that once served sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine. Like so many other upscale restaurants during these tough economic times, customers stayed away in droves, preferring instead to eat at less costly, more casual restaurants. So, in response, the owners of the restaurant dumbed-down the menu by offering burgers, club sandwiches, chicken quesadillas and Caesar salads. As it turns out, it wasn’t so dumb after all. The restaurant was full like I haven’t seen it in years. I can’t blame them for a smart business decision.

  •  by Jim Sullivan, CEO Sullivision.com  You've got 12 months--365 days and nights--to make 2013 a better year than  2012.  Like they say, if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. So what's gotta change in the way you execute to make that happen? Maybe a little or maybe a lot, but we've got 13 key ways guaranteed to help you serve better, sell more, and waste less. Here they are, read em and reap: 

          

  • Shaving even a little time from your service can pay off handsomely in the long run. There are countless ways to speed up a restaurant’s service sequence, starting with the initial order and ending with presentation of the check. Here are seven ideas for ways to get it done faster.

  • I’ll begin by sparing you the tired economic breakdown opener, and how it relates to the topic at hand.  If I have to read another recycled account of financial news, my skull is going to split like the Griswold Christmas Vacation turkey.  I think we get it.  I’ll leave the country’s fiscal analysis to those who are better suited to write about it, and keep the focus on staff training. 

  • One of our members reported their restaurant was having a much better year this year than last both in terms of sales volume and profitability. Quite an accomplishment in this economy to say the least.

  • by Jim Sullivan CEO  Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is quite as exhilarating as running—or helping to run--a successful business. 

  • Here's a topic for your next pre-shift meeting. Use a white-board so everyone can see and understand these numbers.

  • One of the biggest ongoing challenges that foodservice operators face is finding, hiring and retaining high-performing team members. While there’s no "magic bullet" for doing this, there are smart and sensible best practices that the most successful brands use to build dynamic and effective teams.
  • By Jim Sullivan  Service is difficult to define because it’s not just one thing with clear parameters and expectations. It’s as variable as a Lotto number. Yet most people would agree there are four kinds of service: bad, mediocre, good, and great.

  • Wil Brawley   If everyone who worked for you knew how to move the merchandise, a lot more merchandise would get moved. Here’s how to find those people.

  • Jim Sullivan CEO Sullivision.com Copyright 2012  Ask most restaurant executives or owners how they make money and you’ll hear something like:  “By maximizing sales and minimizing receivables,” or “Transactional growth and a differentiated concept,” or simply “A strong P&L.”

  • So are you ready to do five things to ensure your customers return to your restaurant and spread positive word-of-mouth advertising for you? It might be as simple as learning and following this five-step circular process:

  • Source: Elissa Elan  It starts with, "Hi, my name is Jordan, and I'll be your server tonight."

  • by Jim Sullivan, CEO Sullivision.com  Finding outstanding team members is hard enough, so don't waste all that time, money and effort by then losing someone tjhrough bad management or poor leadership. Here's 7 common ways you lose employees you shouldn't...

  • Source: Bill Daley Tribune Newspapers   “Are you still working on that?” This is just one of the many trite phases servers dish out at restaurants. Makes me wince every time. I asked my Stew colleagues for their personal hates and, voila!, here’s the 10 most heinous pieces of verbiage that a smart restaurateur should drop-kick to the curb during staff training.

  • Guests have plenty to share, if you take time to listen. And if you don't, they may go online and share it there! How many of these 'secrets' ring true for you?

  • Do you need some quick "Back-to-Basic" ideas to re-affirm your service standards? Check out this short video.

  • Just as it’s impossible to create five-star meals without exceptional ingredients, creating a service staff that takes exceptional care of guests requires identifying and hiring the right kind of people.
  • You have to set standards to motivate great customer service.  If your mission is top-notch customer service, you need a strategy. Give your staff specific rules on how to behave with customers. Be sure to include:

  • A well-trained service staff is often what makes the difference between the most successful restaurants and the also-rans. In this competitive market, your guests are going to grade you based on your food and service. In addition, proper server training can reduce your potential legal liability.
  • Source: Karlene Lukovitz  While no one sets out to find a restaurant with bad food, one in five Americans actually say they value good service over good food.

  • Source: SYLVIA RECTOR, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

  • (By Ron Ruggless)  While full-service restaurant sales aren't expected to rebound as quickly as in other industry segments, the National Restaurant Association offers eight ways that table-service operators can weigh the odds of recovery in their favor and build much-needed sales.

  •  (by Bruce Buschel)  Here is a modest list of do's and don'ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building. Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows.

    They will claim it homogenizes them or stifles their true nature. And yet, if 100 different actors play Hamlet, hitting all the same marks, reciting all the same lines, cannot each one bring something unique to that role?