Branding for restaurant is, fundamentally, the five senses. I was asked to teach a small class of grad students who are trying to develop their soon-to-be businesses. The professor needed tangible examples of how to build a brand. She asked me to show them how restaurants, and the five senses fit together to form a brand. Fitting those senses together can be incredibly effective, since restaurants have a look and a feel. The interior creates that, and marketing reflects that. What does your guests smell, see, taste, hear and touch when they come into your restaurant. It may seem strange to defer to the five senses to understand what your place is to your guests, but if you take the time to make sure the senses match what you intended your restaurant to be, you will be pleased with the results. When you take an active approach of each sense, you discover that this will help guide your decisions.
Today’s blog is focused on the quality of your food and the product you serve in your restaurant. The best tool to manage change in your restaurant is The Six Pillars of Success. I've discovered that taking a little time to study each pillar helps owners focus. Hopefully it is helpful to you. It'll stop your from getting overwhelmed. With reflection comes improvement. It works for the team and guests. The Six Pillars, briefly, are strategy, financial stability, operations, product, distribution, and customer experience. This blogpost is centered on product.
Technology can support a restaurant, bar or cafe. Find the systems that work well for your three most important technology centers: POS, an accounting system, BOH restaurant management software.
This month I've found myself thinking, "the procedures in the restaurant arn't current!" Restaurants, cafes and breweries are ever changing, and hopefully ever growing. Adding technology is part of those changes. Technology and computerized systems reflect what staff and management need. If a technological solution and system is working, then every day feels less chaotic. More like a train moving down the track. Ultimately if your not making money in your restaurant, chances are there is little to no structure. You're reading this thinking, "Oh, yah, we need to improve!" Here are some solid computerized systems your business needs to stay current.
ACTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE IS KEY
When you've been in business a while you get those pangs, "I should be posting once a day", "I should know what to say and what to hashtag". Panicking never helps. Deciding a strategy does help. Simply put, you can write down the answers to WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN AND WHY, and you'll be able to decide how to spread it out on a calendar. Here goes, answer these questions for your business.
Do you know who your ideal customer, and are they following you? They are right in front of you all day, and yet, you don't think of how you could attract more just like them. What if you spoke to the people who you know love you. That sincerity can come through in your posts. Here is an article that helps you know what you are doing.
What do you say? You say the things that you love saying in the restaurant. Fast company created a fabulous article about voice and tone. What is your voice and tone. What are you telling guests today? "Our special is..." "Come in for our Restaurant Week menu" Whatever the buzz inside your four walls, it can be the conversation in social media! People are hungry for any food and restaurant ideas. It's how they decide to come eat at your place (or not). Do not shy away from your voice. It's the fun of this era--that you can get the word out to your people in posts and newsletters, relatively inexpensively! Really, step in and do it!
There are articles all over the place on this topic. Here's an infographic on the topic. Simply put you have to get in the minds of your customers. Chances are at 10am they are in their offices, settled in for the day, and already are wanting a distraction. Then at 3pm, the same thing happens, "Dang, I need to take a break from my work. Let me hop on social media and scoot around for a few minutes". Be there for them.
Facebook and Instagram are your two best bets. Snapchat if you are super savvy and have an amazing social media presence. Avoid having all instagram posts migrate to FB. Treat your Facebook followers better than that. And Facebook allows you to invite people to your restaurant when you create an event. How fantastic is that??!?!?
Why are you doing social media? Hopefully you've come to see it improves your visibility. And yes, you want to get people to return to your restaurant. If you can attract new customers because of amazing posts that entice them to your place, even better. What's the statistic about returning customers? A good restaurant will see 75% of their customers are returning customers. So being in touch, even minimally, is better than no contact. Here is an infographic that digs in and helps you see that clearly.
All this to say, marketing becomes easier with time. If you don't start, then your business is probably in a holding pattern. Your staff might have good ideas. You've heard it before, you'll hear it again, get the conversation going with your staff. Build that habit and method to get the message out with your who, why and what.
Marisa Dobson is guest blogger for this month's post on PR. She is the founder & principal of Scintillate, a publicity and marketing consultancy that specializes in food & lifestyle clients. For over ten years, she's worked with professional creatives to turn their passions into passion projects. Visit www.marisadobson.com or follow her on Instagram: @marisa_dobson.
When it comes to restaurant culture, owners, guests and staff want to know, "what's the secret ingredient" in Mama's cooking; or in ramen. Restaurant owners ask specifically for the secret ingredient in the CULTURE of a place”. This is the question I posed of Erin Moran. She is Chief Culture Officer at Union Square Hospitality Group--Danny Meyers' company. We had a short interview on company culture. Here are the nuggets from our conversation.
Communication and the Ideal Millennial Workplace: By the year 2020 millennials will make up 40% of the overall workforce, so it’s wildly important to the future success of your business that you understand how to go about attracting and retaining members of this oft-written of and just as frequently misunderstood demographic. The overriding key to any healthy work environment is good communication, but that can be a broad directive to follow. Here are some factors to consider when envisioning the ideal workplace for today’s entry level employees...
Cashflow, for restaurants in the winter.
Millennials make up the largest segment of today’s labor force, with even higher representation in the food and beverage service industry, which means it’s becoming increasingly important to have a good idea of who we are and what we expect and desire in a workplace. By now I’m sure you’ve grown used to the tired portrayals of a generation entirely composed of lazy, entitled snowflakes, the reality is (would you believe it?) a bit more nuanced than that. Let’s pull apart some common myths and see what the data really has to say about the most written about and puzzled over generation to date.
Understanding and keeping up with your businesses health is, frankly, necessary to your success. It's important to know how various benchmarks for your specific restaurant, cafe or brewery. Prime costs benchmark is 60%. Now, you might be reading this and saying, "Now, remind me, what is prime cost again?" That's why I am writing this blogpost. Here are the four things you need to know, to get out of financial panic, and into financial calm and success.
8 Ideas for you to refresh what stories you are telling. Put those stories in your restaurants' newsletter.
A regular newsletter is your best, most direct contact with your guest in between their visits. A newsletter has one main purpose: now regulars and new guests can keep in touch with your restaurant. That newsletter needs to be written with intention. You are proactively inviting guests to visit.
But what do you tell them? You need to tell them your stories. It takes effort to maintain your monthly newsletter, but your efforts will pay off.
It can all be daunting.
So here's help. I’ve collected some of the formulas you can use to create the type of news your potential and returning customers will want to read. Use them exactly or tweak them to fit your unique restaurant.
SIX WAYS TO IMPROVE FOOD COSTS:
This topic is always fresh, always necessary. If you want better profits, focus on food costs.Double checking your food costs never goes out to style. It’s the most direct way to profitability. Any good independent or chain is forever working on improving food costs.
1. RECEIVING PROCEDURE—do you know that your staff is checking in items, checking dates, rotating products whether it is for dry storage or in the walkin. START NOW: stand with your staff member in charge of orders. Observe and check how they take in the order. Correct anything that is not done correctly. This techniques reminds the driver that you do check the orders. Nothing can be missing or too close to “out-of-date”.
2. RECIPE COSTING—do you know the cost of your best seller and your worst seller. Can you recite that food cost now? Don’t make this a daunting project for your chef of your staff, until you’ve done some good analysis yourself. START NOW: look up your best and worst sellers. How is you food cost? 25%? Congrats, and begin to market and sell more! 40%? Well, now you need to start deciding—raise the price or determine how you can make your food cost work… maybe “add a drink for $1” will make the combination price work. Make sure you have a Recipe Costing Card in a kitchen prep book so staff can review and check for accuracy. Double check on how a recipe is being made, just so you know new staff are being trained, and long-term staff are not shortcutting.
3. YIELD—do you really know what your yield is on a batch of cookies/soup/mac-n-cheese? You need to follow a recipe all the way from prep to completion. You may learn that there is waste happening along the way, that you never knew was happening. START NOW: Let’s say you have a chili recipe. Weigh and check ingredients at the beginning. Observe how the prep people are preparing it, and measure out the yield. That chili may yield 3 or 4 more portions with the appropriate prep.
4. PORTION CONTROL—do you spot check portions? Your staff should want portion control so that food is served consistently no matter who is on staff, and no matter which customer is being served. START NOW: Order an item from the kitchen. Check that the portion is correct. Compliment the prep staff and chef, when it's correct. Set a time to correct it, if the portion is wrong, because correcting in the moment will not change the kitchen habits.
5. WASTE SHEET—do you have a waste sheet? If so, is it in use? Do staff reach for that clipboard daily? Does staff report to you/supervisor to discuss waste on a daily basis? You change your buying habits based on the waste. START NOW: Here is an example of a waste sheet. Put it onto a clipboard, hang it in the kitchen, assign a manager to filling it in, and check your results daily, with the manager.
6. INVENTORY—do you have regularly scheduled inventory? It’s necessary. It’s the best way to check that food is moving through your establishment. START NOW: use your order sheets as inventory sheets, marking it "INVENTORY date/year" so everyone understands what is being done. Make sure you do a monthly check of every item in the house. Some odd items on the shelf? Talk with your chef to decide how best to use that item—on a lunch or dinner special. Don’t throw items away, if you can possibly avoid it.
Your staff, once again, is your biggest ally in putting these food cost checks in place. You lead your staff by showing them how to complete these six ways to improve your food costs. Staff should be encouraged to talk about each of the new methods, allow them to digest the material. Always help your staff by guiding them to the best practices. You’ll need to share “why” they should follow the six ways to control food cost. It they understand the "why" of good food costs they will ensure that food costs stay under control, and will alert you when food costs derail. Put these into action over a month. Slow and steady..