Snap to it
While it’s possible to overdose on Facebook and select other social media – everyone seems to need a break from it now and then – a new study says the communication experience on Snapchat is more positive and rewarding than it is on other platforms. Social Media Week said the University of Michigan study measured how college students responded to a variety of social media. It found that Snapchat, above other platforms, is being used to communicate spontaneously with friends in an enjoyable way. The study’s participants paid more attention to their Snapchat messages compared to other platforms – which may make it a good place for businesses to focus their marketing dollars. So how do you make the most of the platform? Snapchat posts expire in 24 hours, so instead of using it for rehearsed content, use it to test out new material and show creativity. Toast suggests you release special deals on Snapchat that expire in 24 hours (e.g. offering a free appetizer to the first 15 people to arrive at the restaurant and show you a particular video), to create special geofilters for your restaurant that customers can add to their photos and videos, or to give people a sneak peek at your restaurant behind the scenes. Restaurant Den recommends you offer a small discount to your customers to snap their food at your restaurant, or use it to show off your community and local attractions that happen to be near you. Of course, Snapchat works best when combined with other media. Place your Snapchat code on your website, menus, flyers, table-top ads, and use it as your Facebook cover photo or Instagram profile image.
Lessen your back-of-house stress
Is your kitchen feeling frenzied? Try to streamline and simplify your back-of-house operations. The National Restaurant Association suggests you first review the complexity of your menu. Can any of your recipes be simplified so fewer ingredients are needed? If you have signature dishes, make sure you walk through each step of the recipe with new employees to ensure consistency, and consider stocking batches of sauce or key ingredients so they’re ready to go during busy periods. Next, harness your data so you know exactly how much of each dish you’re selling and how much you should prepare in advance. If you typically sell 70 vegetable and hummus appetizers, your team can cut up sufficient produce in advance and assemble any custom condiments so they’re ready to grab and serve when your kitchen is busy. This will also help you identify your most popular (and least popular) items so you can adjust your menu accordingly, avoid ordering too many or too few products, and cut back on wasted food. Finally, take a look at your pantry. Make sure you’re using your space as efficiently as possible. Can people access the ingredients they need when they need them? Are items that are frequently used together stored near each other? Are they stored in containers that are the ideal size? Make sure the items you need are easy to open and can be quickly returned for storage afterwards.
Six steps to restaurant cleanliness
Better hygiene means better business. Need help before your next inspection, or do you just want to avoid any possibility of a foodborne illness outbreak? Your daily, weekly and monthly cleaning routines will get you there. The HACCP app recommends a list of six categories your cleaning schedule should include: List all areas and pieces of equipment inside and outside of your premises that must be cleaned. Next to each item that needs cleaning, list the exact cleaning product(s) to be used. Describe how the product is used (e.g. diluted, wiped with a cloth, sprayed, scrubbed). Mention how often (or after what activity) that cleaning must take place. List the person responsible for carrying out the task. Make sure the designated person signs off and lists when he or she completes the task.
Restaurants give back
Disaster brought out the best in a group in restaurant operators in Houston recently – and created a model for others going through similar events. In the midst of Hurricane Harvey, a group of operators and others connected to the industry came together to form the Midtown Kitchen Collective, which coordinated an effort to get more than 200,000 meals to people in need during the five-day period after the hurricane, when food was scarce for many and the safety of food was at risk. The group’s action plan included pre-, during- and post-disaster strategies; recommended people and organizations including nonprofits, secure kitchens, city officials, purveyors of ingredients and other resources needed to store, transport and coordinate the distribution of food; provided a list of helpful supplies and ingredients; and suggested communication strategies and tools. Access the collective’s plan here.
Hop on the fun train
Does your team groan when they hear the word “training”? Two training firms, Convergence Training and Service that Sells, suggest some tips to make it a fun, engaging experience that encourages participants to talk instead of listen for long periods. Adopt the format of a pub quiz or a well-known game like Jeopardy and apply it to food safety, challenging players to choose easier and difficult clues for a chance to win prizes. Use humorous photos or videos of the wrong way to complete a task. Of course, food makes anything more fun. Try incorporating food tastings into break periods or preparing and serving a family-style meal with front- and back-of-house swapping roles to help demonstrate (and then address) the challenges each side faces.
Domino’s dips a toe into driverless delivery
Driverless delivery isn’t far away – if one restaurant tech pioneer has anything to say about it. Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motor Co. are teaming up to test out robotic pizza delivery. Specifically, Skift reports that the companies are testing out how customers respond to a driverless Ford Fusion delivering their pizza. Instead of opening the door to a delivery person, the customer must approach the car and collect the pizza from a locked warming compartment. In all fairness, the cars used in the tests will have drivers because the companies want to monitor how people respond to “the last 50 feet” of their experience – having to walk out of their homes to collect their pizza. The drivers will collect that feedback. Customers who take part in the testing, which is happening only in Ann Arbor, Mich. for now, will also be able to track their pizza via app as it rolls along the road toward their house.
Harness the power of texting
If you’ve yet to become a social media maven when it comes to promoting your restaurant, how about using basic texts to build business? While your guests may be segmented when it comes to social media, smartphones and texting are likely ubiquitous among your target demographics. Next Restaurants suggests four ways you can connect with guests through texting: When business is slow, try offering a time-sensitive deal to fill empty seats or increase take-out orders. Allow guests to order via text. Are you located in a shopping area or near scenery where guests are likely to stroll before their meal? Untether them from the dreaded buzzer by texting them when their table is ready. After their meal, send a survey via text and pay attention to the data you collect. When those guests become loyal ones, text them a coupon every once in a while to thank them for coming back.
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