Zero in on the data you need
“Data” has become a buzz word for any restaurant operator looking to grow market share. But in an age when the amount of data available can be overwhelming, how can you decide what you really need to know about your guests? Modern Restaurant Management asked this question recently and provided some guidance from Bloom Intelligence, a data analytics and marketing firm that works with restaurants and retailers, to help operators make data management more manageable. First, take a look at the community surrounding your restaurant and have a clear grasp of its demographics so you can price your menu appropriately and meet the cultural expectations of the people who live around you. Then collect information on an individual basis: What is the demographic profile of your customers? What food and beverages do they prefer? Use this information to deliver content that engages those guests. When do they visit your restaurant and how long do they stay? Your answer will help you determine when to market to them. Do they order online or in your restaurant? What brings them back? If you can use technology to tap into guest preferences when they are onsite, you can immediately send automated offers and suggestions that can influence their purchasing decisions – and market to them once more as soon as they leave so they have an incentive to return.
Virtual and augmented reality poised to transform restaurant training
For years, restaurant operators providing employee training have had to choose between low-touch, high efficiency models (such as large group sessions with little opportunity for individualized or location-specific learning) or high-touch, high-cost models (such as smaller, more customized sessions delivered onsite). But now, augmented and virtual reality technology are beginning to change the game for the food industry by offering new training options, TechCrunch reports. Virtual reality can provide a digital means for employees to interact with their work surroundings while mentally and physically learning how to accomplish set tasks. For example, they can participate in virtual reality lessons on how to manage crowds at peak times or how to cook a new menu item. While virtual reality recreates a real-life situation digitally, augmented reality applies virtual elements on top of those real-life situations. A study from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that augmented reality can help people visually estimate serving sizes, for instance. Fast Company reports that the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset is allowing technicians to visually disassemble and reassemble products in need of maintenance and repair without actually being onsite. When they are in the field, their headsets allow them to overlay schematics and tutorials and even contact specialists via Skype, all while they are looking at a product requiring maintenance or repair. As prices for virtual reality and augmented reality headsets decrease and give you greater access to information you need to manage your business, look for opportunities to make training materials more adaptable to a variety of learning styles and business needs.
Research confirms link between sick leave policies and foodborne illness
Is your restaurant plagued by foodborne illness outbreaks? More than 50 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks stem from foodservice operations, according to public health officials. Now, Food Safety News reports that a recently published study entitled “Association of Paid Sick Leave Laws with Foodborne Illness Rates” found that foodborne illness rates decreased by 22 percent after paid sick leave laws were implemented in jurisdictions that have laws supporting employee sick leave. The study also found that 46 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks implicate an infected foodservice worker, and outbreaks in food and beverage operations infect a median of twice as many people as other outbreaks.
Plate or plank?
To add interest to a meal’s presentation, a growing number of operators have been serving (and sometimes cooking) food on wooden planks in recent years. But unfortunately, these vessels have been linked to food poisoning. If the planks aren’t properly sanitized – which is difficult to accomplish when they are scratched or nicked – they can harbor harmful bacteria. According to Eater, health inspectors fined a steakhouse in Birmingham, England the equivalent of nearly $70,000 for repeatedly serving food on wooden planks that hadn’t been adequately sanitized. This occurred even after 14 people complained about contracting food poisoning from the restaurant.
Restaurants test travel-industry pricing models
Overcrowded on Friday evenings but empty on Tuesdays at lunch? Some restaurants are experimenting with congestion pricing to incentivize off-peak dining. Bloomberg reports that a pricing model used widely in the travel industry is beginning to take root in the restaurant industry, giving restaurant operators more freedom to decrease prices for meals during slower periods that would be charged at full price at peak times. London’s Bob Bob Ricard, for example, offers the same menu all week but prices are 25 percent lower during Monday lunch and other slower periods, 10 percent lower for mid-peak periods, such as dinners on Tuesday and Sunday, and full price on Saturday night.
How the smartest businesses use Instagram
Instagram has 800 million monthly active users, which has helped make it a must-use platform for restaurant operators. But how do you stand out in that large of a crowd? In a recent report in Inc., Instagram’s small-business community lead shared some of the smartest things small businesses are doing to shine. For one, they’re aligning with brand ambassadors, people who like and promote their brand and are willing to share images of it on Instagram. Having a strong set of values to promote or a charity partner can help you find such ambassadors. Second, they include video content that can stand on its own visually (without requiring sound, which isn’t always convenient for mobile viewers to use). Third, they study their followers to gain insights into how to reach them. For instance, are most of your followers women? How old are they? Where are they located geographically? Use the answers to provide content that speaks to that audience. Finally, tell a personal story but keep it consistent. For example, think about three to five qualities that are most important about your business, then weave one of them into each Instagram post you create.
What can your food delivery partner do for you?
To gain an edge in the increasingly competitive food delivery market, companies are offering new incentives – and it’s a restaurant operator’s market. Consider Deliveroo, a business that partners with restaurants to deliver food to customers in Europe, Australia and parts of Asia. Foodable reports that Deliveroo has begun to provide free “dark kitchens,” or additional commercial kitchen space, to restaurants that sign on to use the service. These kitchens, which are made out of shipping containers, are offered to top restaurants that want to expand their reach through the delivery company. At a time when UberEATS and other companies are vying for market share, Deliveroo is positioning itself to help restaurants looking to broaden their geographical reach and customer base. If several delivery companies are competing in your community, find out how they can make it worth your while to partner with them.
Food For Thought And Profit brings you the latest foodservice trends, news, safety, and technological advances in the industry. We are part of an outsourced purchasing and logistics company that provides comprehensive supply chain solutions to our customers. Our executive team has many years of foodservice experience and we bring that experience to work for you. We have expertise in all areas of the foodservice sector.