Do you have a first-rate response team?
From weather to crime to pathogens, there is no shortage of challenges you might face as a restaurant operator. How would your team function in case of a crisis? Do you have a plan for if there were a robbery, a flood, a choking customer, or a shooting on your premises, for example? Francine Shaw of Food Safety Training Solutions recommends you form a crisis management team and document roles and responsibilities. Your team should include an attorney, business leaders, food safety team, crisis management consultant and others. Get to know your local health department and understand how it operates. Are you among the 20 states with FDA-funded emergency response teams? Your plan should account for that. Train your staff on food safety and other safety protocols and take their feedback into account to ensure you’re not missing important steps. During and after a crisis, create honest, transparent, apologetic messaging that includes a clear description of the problem and your plan to address it. Stick to professional, positive messages when communicating about the crisis and thanking first responders via traditional media or social media – and monitor social media networks for negative or erroneous feedback so you’re aware of how your message is being received. Soon after you resolve any crisis, review it with your crisis management team and others involved to ensure you identify where things went wrong – whether it be with vendors, your food safety plan, communication, evacuation or other aspects of the timeline – and retrain your team on any changes needed.
Has your restaurant struggled with EMV compliance standards in recent years? If so, you’re not alone. Upserve says 66 percent of businesses have found it challenging to become EMV compliant, and that misinformation about EMV, along with concerns about abandoning traditional payment methods, have made some operators hesitate to make the leap (even though the technology isn’t going away anytime soon). For those operators, Hospitality Tech recently addressed three common concerns about EMV. First, switching to EMV chip card technology does not mean you can no longer accept traditional cards. The card-reading terminals will just default to reading the chip if the card has it. Second, there are liability risks to not becoming EMV compliant. Before EMV, credit card issuers were liable for fraudulent chargebacks from customers. Now, if a card with an EMV chip is swiped and a fraudulent chargeback is claimed, the restaurant is liable for chargebacks exceeding $25 (unless you have an EMV reader). EMV could therefore be a cost-effective solution for you if your average check size exceeds $25 and you’d like to avoid the hassle of having to manage chargebacks and liability. Third, the transition to EMV includes costs for hardware, software and payment processing, but those costs will vary widely depending on whether you have an in-house or cloud-based POS. Many operators have shifted to a cloud-based POS as part of the EMV transition because their virtual POS likely includes embedded EMV at a lower cost, requires no support fees and downloads software updates automatically.
Chefs are challenging the definition of the word “burger” right now – and the results appeal to the junk-food junkie and health-conscious foodie alike. Restaurant Hospitality reports that chefs are incorporating different beef and pork products to change the flavor profile of burgers. Take the breakfast burger at Staks Pancake Kitchen in Memphis, Tenn., which combines beef and breakfast sausage, then tops it with bacon, hash browns, a fried egg and Sriracha mayonnaise. Slater’s 50/50 in southern California makes its burgers with half beef and half bacon, while others are experimenting with andouille sausage, pork belly and corned beef. On the healthier side, chefs are tweaking the nutritional profile of burgers and making environmentally conscious choices. The Los Angeles chain LocoL combines ground beef with tofu, barley, quinoa and seaweed for a nutritionally balanced patty, then tops it with Monterey Jack cheese, lime and burnt scallion relish, and a tomato gochujang sauce. Finally, mushrooms are popular additions to patties, helping a burger retain its moisture and texture without using as much beef, so the result is cost-effective and better for the environment too.
Snapchat’s new feature links restaurants and guests
Snapchat just launched a feature called Context Cards that could help restaurants turn snaps into reservations. FSR reports that when people post about a restaurant, their Snapchat friends and followers can now simply swipe to read Tripadvisor reviews of that restaurant, make a reservation via OpenTable and even request an Uber or Lyft to bring them to the location. Of course, because Context Cards are bringing restaurants’ online profiles to the fore, it’s all the more important for those restaurants to monitor their reviews, enable online reservations and provide other functionality that will present a polished image to the public.
Social media’s multiplier effect
If social media is a key party of your marketing plan, you know it can help you build your brand, connect with customers and share content – all for a low cost. But have you tapped into social media’s “multiplier effect”? According to research from the CMO Survey in a Marketing News report, more than 25 percent of business marketers are making social media investments in areas traditionally reserved for the human resources department, like employee engagement and talent acquisition. Tapping into those areas on social media can help you build a culture that retains talent, enhances productivity and attracts business. Take Best Buy, which aggregates tweets, feeds, and blogs from across the company’s digital communities and posts them in a centralized location where employees can learn from each another to solve customer problems. A campaign by Reebok encourages employees to post on social media about how they live the company’s brand in their work and play. L’Oreal launched #LorealCommunity to give employees a forum to share their successes with one another (both inside and outside of work) via Instagram. The positive impact spills over the organization to everyone’s benefit.
Take charge of food temperature
Two of the top five risk factors for foodborne illness relate to temperature control, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Monitoring temperature closely is one sure-fire way to minimize your risk of spreading foodborne illness. A report by the American Culinary Foundation says when foods need to be refrigerated in order to be kept safe, hold them at a temperature of 41˚F or below – and ensure that happens even during busy periods when the cooler door is opened frequently. When these foods must be hot to be safe, they have to be held at a temperature of 135˚F or above. Limit the time food spends in the “danger zone” (between 41˚F and 135˚F). A cooling food’s temperature must be reduced from 135˚F to 70˚F within two hours, then from 70˚F to 41˚F within four additional hours. Reheated food must be reheated quickly – to 165˚F within two hours – before being placed in a hot holding unit.
Multi-point restaurant feedback
So what is it really like to eat at your restaurant? Online reviews provide one set of opinions but monitoring your operation from other perspectives can help you accurately read what’s going well and what needs improvement. In a report for Restaurant Hospitality, Justin Cohen of Riot Hospitality recommends you dine in your own restaurant. Seeing your operation from a guest’s perspective can help you better observe everything from wobbly tables to servers’ menu knowledge. Along the same lines, hiring secret shoppers can help you see how your operation functions when you are not around. Perhaps one employee is lax about food safety – or another goes out of her way to make sure your restrooms are clean. Finally, talk to your servers, bartenders and guests. Your servers and bartenders hear what guests really think about your restaurant and see which items guests regularly send back to the kitchen. Your guests can tell you how to fix problems or simply how to make a good experience a great one.
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