Choose the right tech to manage your events
Private events can be the best way to drive profits in the small-margin restaurant business. At a full-service restaurant, the average large group or private event spends $2,500, as opposed to between $100 and $500 for an average-size table of 3.7 guests, according to the event management software company Gather. Technology can help you ensure you’re efficient as possible in managing them. Modern Restaurant Management recommends you use cloud-based software to get organized. Instead of having piles of paper clutter your desk, such software can help you track and edit invoices, bookings, menus and other details pertaining to your events, as well as make sure your team has the latest information. Speaking of which, your event management software should allow you and your team to communicate across different channels and mobile devices. Select a platform that allows you to tag team members so the right people get alerts at the right times.
As you build your event business, you’ll want to protect it from fraud. According to the Nilson Report, global credit card fraud losses hit $16.3 billion and are expected to top $35 billion annually by 2020. Select a system that complies with Payments Card Industry data security standards (PCI DSS). Operators must adhere to PCI DSS standards anyway, so this will save resources in the long run.
Finally, does your event software help you book events while you’re asleep? It should enable your website to take requests or bookings when you’re not open. Consider a platform that offers data and analytics so you can continue to generate leads.
Time…Is it on your side?
Most of us wish we had more hours in the day. While we can’t change the amount of time we have, we can always change the focus we give to our hours. In a Foodable report, restaurant coach Donald Burns recommends some tips to help you take charge of your schedule: First, do you show respect for your own time and the time of others? The HR consultant Ed Baldwin recently published an essay entitled “Busy is the New Stupid.” Though the title may sound harsh, the essay makes the point that if you spend your days running around trying to accomplish tasks, you are not prioritizing your tasks wisely. Being a workhorse doesn’t bring in profits unless you’re also delivering results. In everything you do, ask yourself if you’re the best person to do it. Don’t be a martyr and take everything on yourself. Delegating responsibility could actually help someone on your team grow and take greater ownership of their work. It can also free you up to focus on fine-tuning your operation’s food safety practices, recruiting talent or building guest loyalty.
Next, track your time – every minute you spend on every task across the span of a week. It will shine a spotlight on time wasters that can creep into your schedule. From there, you can usually carve out additional minutes and hours in your day. Write down your plan the day before and focus on three critical tasks you need to accomplish. Burns recommends you keep index cards handy and write your task or goal at the top of each card and then a few supporting actions below it that can help you reach it. The simple act of writing something down and resolving to accomplish it during a set time frame can help you make a task less of a dream and more of a commitment.
What’s the future of restaurant payment?
Payment technology is evolving so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with what’s worthwhile. Toast has some tips. While the introduction of chip cards hasn’t been smooth in the U.S., these cards are here for the duration. If you’ve yet to upgrade to EMV-capable equipment, consider a tablet-based system that allows guests to tip as they have before (not before or during payment). Select a system with contactless payment features – many systems offer them already and while the future of contactless payment is less certain, you’ll be prepared if and when it expands. Kiosks are catching on in many quick-service and fast-casual operations and while costs may be prohibitive to small operations, they are likely to decline. Still, a safer bet may be tableside payments via tablet – either stationed at each table or carried by the server – which capitalize on consumers’ desire for prompt service and convenience.
Boost your Snapchat buzz
Are your guests on Snapchat? If they’re Millennials, they are. Bruce Irving, a successful restaurant operator who launched Smart Pizza Marketing, recently shared some important nuggets of wisdom about how any operator (not just those in the pizza business) can drive traffic through the site. If your brand has a fun personality, Snapchat can help you inject humor into your marketing through memes and video – the latter can be especially good if you’re new at video and want to refine your on-camera presence with content that disappears shortly after it’s posted. And if you would like to promote an offer to people nearby – say there’s an athletic event or other gathering happening and you’d like to boost your lunch traffic – you can use an inexpensive Snapchat geofilter to market a free or discounted item to people within a set radius and time frame.
If you’re concerned about food safety and transparency, smaller suppliers may have an edge over larger ones when it comes to accommodating consumer preferences for healthier, organic, gluten-free, fresh foods, according to a report in Food Safety Tech. It says new research by A.T. Kearney entitled “Is Big Food in Trouble?” found that smaller companies are able to be more nimble and flexible – as a result, their revenue has grown between 11 and 15 percent since 2012, as compared to just 1.8 percent for the largest companies during that period. The start-up mentality of these smaller firms is helping them to test and refine products quickly – not wait to develop formal testing processes, as is often required in larger companies.
App promises fine-dining quality at quick-service speed
If your customer base includes the business lunch set or others who like to get quality food quickly, take a look at Allset, the dining app that makes it possible for consumers to pre-book, pre-order and pre-pay for their meals. Upon arrival at a participating restaurant, guests are seated and served immediately and can leave whenever they like. Launched in 2015, Allset includes 400 restaurants in six cities and has been launching a new restaurant each month, expanding its customer base by 30 percent in that same period, Food + Tech Connect reports. The company is on track to have 1,000 partner restaurants this year and expand further to include partners in every major U.S. city and London by next year.
Supremely sustainable? New system showcases the standouts
If you have gone the extra mile to be a sustainable foodservice operation, check out a new system coming in June to help these operations stand out from the crowd. The Good Food Restaurants project is a restaurant survey, rating system and list designed to promote transparency about restaurant business practices that benefit the environment, plants and animals, producers, purveyors, restaurants and consumers, Foodtank reports. The project bases its ratings on annual purchasing data that participating chefs and restaurants supply in survey feedback. It then awards restaurants anywhere from two to five links to show how each operation compares to others in the survey. Any restaurant operation in the United States can take part but, like the Fortune 100, the inaugural list will be limited to 100 businesses.
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