What’s your upsell strategy?
The book Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance by Paul Farris says the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. (A new customer? Only 5 to 20 percent.) So how smart is your upselling strategy? Toast suggests three ways to improve. Have your servers offer tailored suggestions based on strong knowledge of the menu and your CRM software – it helps to know that merlot is the wine guests order most often with pasta primavera, for example. Second, have servers focus on the customers they’re serving – if your server discovers his guests are vegetarians, he can avoid gushing over your filet mignon special. Finally, make sure your technology supports smooth service. Your point-of-sale system should be structured so servers waste no time in taking orders – the less time they need to explain the menu to hungry guests, the more time they have to promote items that enhance the meal.
Tip the scale
If you want your restaurant to stand the test of time, it’s a given that you should make your business memorable, consistent and profitable. But Foodable adds one element to the mix: make your business scalable. In other words, how well does your operation adapt to market changes? Do you have a strategic plan for how to grow through changes to your menu, fluctuations in ingredient pricing, or increased competition in your neighborhood? It’s also important to tap into the local community, so you can offer products from local farms, breweries or other producers – but at the same time, weave those practices through operations of different sizes while staying true to your mission and core values.
It’s innovation time for salad
Long the go-to lunch option for guests trying to eat healthy, salads can be short on surprises. That’s changing. Flavor & the Menu reports that the bowl trend, along with the international flavors often woven in, is challenging chefs to rethink the salad bowl by incorporating more superfoods, a range of proteins, bold flavors and layers of crispy greens like iceberg and romaine. Consider the When in Romaine salad by José Andrés at Beefsteak, which combines romaine with cucumber salad, seaweed salad, toasted seaweed, cherry tomatoes, radishes, sprouts and scallions. The crunchy greens on trend can be more filling, due to their higher water content, and they’re also versatile. Try charring or grilling them for your next salad.
Eatertainment takes off
One new restaurant and bar in Austin, Texas is taking the “eatertainment” trend to a new level and building community among guests, all while wrapping in some tech-driven benefits. Eater Austin reports that the concept, dubbed Vigilante, offers more than 150 games and special tables designed for game playing, with cup holders and trays connected to the outside of tables to provide more space for play. The tables have electrical outlets, buttons that allow guests to summon their server, and “join me” signals to invite other guests to join their game. The menu, which includes easily handheld items like sliders and skewers, promises not to distract from the games in progress.
Help employees take ownership
Want to keep your top talent? Consider giving your employees a stake in the business. Take Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich., which was built around an open-book management philosophy. Restaurant Hospitality reports that the deli is part of a portfolio of 10 businesses all developed by the brand’s 700 employees. Employees have weekly huddles to review profit-and-loss statements in which every line item has an owner. Employees can buy shares in the business after two years. The structure has been good for business – between 2011 and 2016, labor costs at the deli alone dropped from 16 percent to 15 percent and employee turnover declined from 65 percent to 48 percent.
Study finds children’s menus have much room to improve
Back in 2011, the National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell initiative to improve the nutritional profile of children’s menus at 15,000 chain restaurant locations around the country. A report by The Lunch Tray says more than 150 restaurant chains with 42,000 locations are participating in the program. However, it also says a recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine indicates the average children’s restaurant meal in 2015 contained twice the recommended calories and more than 60 percent of their recommended daily allowance for sodium. And while soda is no longer a default beverage on children’s menus, sugar-sweetened milk, juices and teas often are.
Inspect, replace and protect the tools of your trade
Employing the best sanitation practices in your kitchen only goes so far when your team is using damaged tools. Food Safety magazine recommends you inspect your tools regularly and replace them when you find excessive abrasions or gouges, damaged bristles, extreme discoloration or staining, or wear that could be hazardous to the user. When replacing tools, look for ones with ergonomic, one-piece design and store them in clean, protected areas – avoid high-humidity areas that can encourage the growth of bacteria, as well as cold areas that can fracture equipment.
Restaurants ripe for investment? Not so fast
Investors see restaurants as a hot market right now. Restaurant stocks have surged in the past few months and are up 6 percent so far this year, according to the NRN Restaurant Index. Restaurant sales remain stagnant overall – but is the industry poised for a comeback? Nation’s Restaurant News, for one, doesn’t see the industry’s challenges going away any time soon. It’s still unclear whether middle-class consumers will have the kind of increased discretionary income that will drive visits in the coming months. What’s more, while regulatory requirements should let up, immigration limits could further boost labor costs and restaurants that import produce may face new border taxes.
Striking the balance between value and quality
As quick-service brands are moving away from speed and frugality in the interest of delivering higher-quality ingredients, Taco Bell’s thriving dollar value menu provides some evidence that “easy beats better,” as its parent company’s CEO said in an earnings call last year. Eater reports that while the brand has mentioned in advertising that it has improved the quality of some of its food, that doesn’t have to take priority when its “speed and value” model are working so well – and in fact, are being perceived by guests as a measure of a quality experience. (The report says this hasn’t been the case at McDonald’s and Wendy’s, where past dollar value menus have not helped the bottom line and have evolved to combo meal deals offered at slightly higher prices.) Taco Bell told Eater that its breakfast and all-day dollar menus were major sales drivers last year.
Omnivore launches App Marketplace to drive restaurant tech
Looking to try out some new tech? Take a look at Omnivore’s new App Marketplace, which aims to connect restaurant point-of-sale systems to technology that can help restaurants enhance service and brand engagement. Hospitality Technology reports that the App Marketplace is an open online exchange that helps connect restaurants to a range of technology services. DoorDash, MenuPad and SeatNinja are among the more than 25 app developers currently signed on to join the platform in areas such as ordering and payment, gifting, seating, analytics and payroll.
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