Be an ongoing recruiter
Do you have high turnover at your restaurant? The turnover rate in the hospitality industry topped 70 percent for the second consecutive year last year, according to the National Restaurant Association. The nature of hourly work and the fluctuations in employee availability throughout the year contribute to the turnover common in the industry – but you can limit it and make it more manageable. In a recent report in Foodable, restaurant coach Donald Burns says many operators can’t get ahead because they recruit only when there is urgency to fill a position, then make a less-than-ideal hire that may not work out and requires you to devote still more time, energy and money to hiring someone new. You can stop that cycle. First, make sure your operation has the kind of culture that attracts top talent and provides opportunities for people to grow. Then dedicate a few hours each week to finding people with the qualities you desire. When you bring candidates in for an interview, your interactions should be less of an interrogation and more of a conversation that taps into the person’s values and soft skills. If they are not a match for your brand, move on to new prospects. Then train everyone on an ongoing basis to develop their skills. If your existing employees see that you want to bring in quality people and develop them, the strong ones are more likely to stick around (and the weak ones won’t want to).
Harness social media to build your customer base
According to Sprout Social, 74 percent of consumers make buying decisions based on social media. That adds up to a lot of buying power for businesses. Social Media Week shared some guidelines for business operators looking to tap into it: Look to attract social influencers, people who have a large social media following, and ask them to try your restaurant and share their experience on social media. While they are likely being targeted by other businesses too, their reviews have a great impact on others’ buying behavior and could be worth your investment of time if they seem like a match for your brand. Do the same for your current guests and encourage them to post content their friends and family can see – 81 percent of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on this kind of recommendation, according to a study conducted by Market Force. Try creating a contest (promote it on your homepage, blog or other promotional materials too) and then track your results. When you post other content, ask a question or insert another impetus to generate a comment in order to make your post a “trending” one. Be a consistent, engaging presence on social media so your followers know what you want them to do. Develop social media advertising campaigns that take consumers through the stages to making a purchase. Because you want to catch any potential guest who searches for what you offer, ensure your posts use plenty of keywords in their headlines, photo captions and comments.
If you’re already posting mouth-watering images of your menu items on Instagram, you’re likely using hashtags to boost engagement. But do you know which ones resonate best with your audience? Social Media Examiner recommends you try these tools: Command, which is an iOS app only, can show you which hashtags give you the most engagement, as well as the average number of likes and comments you get from different hashtags. Sprout Social offers thorough reports on how hashtags are working for you – you can track whether new hashtags are connecting with people or not. Simply Measured helps you generate detailed data on your campaign hashtags. You can run a single report on many hashtags or study them individually to monitor engagement. Iconosquare allows you to schedule posts, generate comprehensive analytics, track and respond to comments, and study the growth of branded or campaign hashtags.
Extended-stay hotels and Airbnbs consider meal kits for health, convenience
If your restaurant is looking to attract tourists or extended stay business travelers, take note: Skift reports that a growing number of hotels are experimenting with meal-kit and grocery delivery services. The move is an effort to cater to customer convenience and wellness, since it can be difficult to eat a healthy diet on the road. Hilton’s Homewood Suites ran a pilot program in Atlanta and Dallas to test the concept and Airbnb’s CEO is also reported to be considering on-demand grocery delivery as an added service for guests.
Get your piece of the pie
Everyone wants a slice of the pizza business. Pizza restaurants that produce assembly-line, custom-built pizza have been a breakout hit in the fast casual space in recent years, according to Technomic’s Darren Tristano. If you’re looking to break in, there are a number of ways to set yourself apart. Upserve reports there is a ravenous appetite for a range of pizza add-ons, including premium and artisan ingredients, healthy options and organic and locally sourced options. If you’re looking to focus in one area to start, Upserve recommends offering some premium toppings (think eggplant, artichokes, or sundried tomatoes, for example) and some artisan pizzas to help your brand stand out.
New website gives restaurants a food safety grade
Consumers have a new tool at their disposal to build their awareness of foodborne illness at restaurants they visit. At the recent National Restaurant Show in Chicago, Dr. Harlan Stueven, an emergency room physician, announced the launch of a website he created to share information about restaurants’ sanitation standards. The public health organization Stop Foodborne Illness reports that the website, dubbed Dining Grades, provides free access to records of restaurants’ public health inspections, which are the foundation for the grade given to restaurants in 11 states. The site says it currently contains records for more than three million restaurants nationwide. Restaurant guests can post comments anonymously, rate restaurants’ food safety efforts and report food poisoning suspected to be caused by the restaurant. Restaurants who become members can get customized reports and marketing tools to help their food safety efforts.
Pest-proof your restaurant
Summer is prime time for pests. Elevated temperatures and moisture, abundant vegetation and additional daylight hours for feeding mean that pests abound, along with the contamination they spread, according to Orkin. In hospitality operations, cockroaches, rodents, fleas and stored product insects like moths, mites, beetles and weevils are especially common, according to Food Quality and Safety. Keep them at bay by finding and regularly cleaning areas where they are likely to hide (or arranging for a sanitation inspection to identify and sanitize problem areas). Storage areas or cluttered spaces can attract roaches, ants and rodents. Check areas where heat and humidity are common – appliances, drain pipes, floor mats and sinks are often breeding ground for pests – as well as in, under and around garbage bins. Seal any cracks or gaps in tile, walls or entryways that could make it easy for pests to enter.
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