Look behind your website
When it comes to mining the best data to market your restaurant, your website is the best place to look -- if you know what to look for. To understand how people are responding to it, NextRestaurants recommends you first look beyond the general traffic you're attracting. While it's easy to associate a rise in general traffic with a successful site, it can merely mean that your SEO is doing well. General traffic figures are more reliable when combined with your bounce rate, website flow and traffic sources. A high bounce rate isn't always a bad thing -- it could indicate that the visitor found the needed information and just moved on -- but on a more densely packed page that takes time to load or one with pop-up ads, a high bounce rate might indicate that people are frustrated with the page and are abandoning your site without investigating it further. Understanding the user flow of your site will provide a visual representation of how people use it. If they're navigating the site in ways that differ from the ideal flow you envision, there may be links that are difficult to find or items that are distracting visitors from where you'd like them to go. Finally, if you study your numbers of new and returning users, you'll have a sense of how many people are visiting your site. While attracting new visitors is important to growth, it's also important to attract return visitors. Make sure you're offering content -- whether promotions, coupons or other timely offers -- that succeeds at bringing people back.
Putting UberEATS data to work
Since the UberEATS app launched just two years ago, it has grown to include more than 60,000 restaurants in 112 cities. Now the company wants to continue to push the boundaries of food delivery by building more trust with restaurants and helping advance restaurant technology, according to Chetan Narain, senior product manager for UberEATS restaurants. In a recent Skift article, he discussed how analytics are helping to make that happen. For example, the UberEATS Restaurant Manager tool includes a customer satisfaction section where for every dish it asks what fraction of customers gave it a “thumbs-up” and what tags are associated with the “thumbs-down” ratings received. Say a dish is rated 75 percent thumbs up, for example. Of the people who gave it a thumbs down, 90 percent mention portion size, or 90 percent mention presentation or how the dish held up. This feedback, in turn, is giving restaurants a lot of guidance about how they can change or adapt their menu for not just delivery but for what they're doing in-house too. One operator, Narain says, uses delivery as a testing ground for new dishes, taking in detailed reviewer feedback to make tweaks to dishes that eventually appear on the menu in-house.
Amazon technology to watch
Amazon's latest forays into the food business could pose a challenge to restaurants. Reuters reports that Amazon is exploring a technology first developed for the U.S. military to prepare ready-to-eat meals that don't need refrigeration. Amazon is preparing to sell prepared meals including beef stew and vegetable frittata as early as next year, according to the report. The items are easy to stockpile and ship and could be sold inexpensively, adding a potential new area of competition for restaurants and grocery stores that offer take-out options.
Out with room service, in with restaurant meals
Are hotels (and their employees) part of your marketing plan? Hotel room service -- traditionally a money-loser for hotels -- is becoming a benefit fewer travelers are demanding, according to USA Today. It says the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that 37 percent of hotels offered room service in 2014 as opposed to 22 percent in 2016, and 71 percent of luxury hotels offered alternatives to room service last year. Restaurants and grocery stores are stepping up by providing prepared meals, grab-and-go foods and meal kits to offer some of those alternatives. It can pay to be on the radar of hotels in your region, along with those who work there. Hyatt Centric, for one, has partnered with Grubhub to provide meal delivery from restaurants selected by hotel employees.
Picture-perfect food safety training
When you conduct food safety training, to what extent do you use images to convey important messages? An FDA study recommends it -- both for those who speak English as a second language and native speakers. Food Safety Market says visual presentations and storyboards that use graphics and colors more predominantly than text do a more effective job of communicating safety messages in any language, so when posting food safety signs and conducting training, complement any text with a related image. Use color-coding to help your team readily identify important warnings, as well as kitchen tools used for different foods.
Even if your kitchen has an ideal flow, your sinks are located away from sources of contamination and you have a well-planned sanitation routine, you could still have a contamination problem if your ventilation system isn't operating as it should. Do you have a plan in place for inspecting, testing, maintaining and cleaning it regularly to avoid the build-up of contaminants? If not, Francine Shaw of Food Safety Training Solutions says your ventilation system could be spreading flour dust, nut particles or other allergens throughout the facility. Those particles could contaminate virtually everything. Be sure to cover all flours, nuts and other common allergens to prevent cross-contact.
Ensure food safety door to door
Consumers want speedy, inexpensive food delivery -- but operators have to balance those desires with the need for food safety. Be specific about your needs when negotiating with third-party delivery providers. As Catering Insights put it recently, food safety mandates may vary state by state, but restaurant contracts with third-party delivery companies should be negotiated to include food safety specifications. Consider whether you need to require that drivers use hot/cold bags to keep food temperatures safe and that no more than a fixed amount of time can pass between pick-up and drop-off, for example. Have clear standards in place when it comes to pick-up procedures, complaint processing, minimum insurance levels and limiting the number of stops drivers can make.
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