Archive for July, 2013

Creative Ways to Make Your Restaurant Training Stick with Your Employees

July 30, 2013

When you’re in the restaurant business, having well-trained staff is critical to your establishment’s success. That said, making the training that you provide really stick with your team members can be somewhat of a challenge. Here’s some techniques you can use to help your staff retain the information that they have learned regarding your policies, procedures, and product knowledge, ultimately lowering the cost of training and minimizing costly mistakes.

Training is a Daily Process, Not a One-Time Event

The first thing that is important to recognize is that the most effective training is a daily process, not a one-time event. The human brain can only absorb small amounts of information at a time. Therefore, it is only logical to train your employees with this understanding in mind.  While every employee will still have to undergo some sort of orientation training, finding creative ways to reinforce and strengthen their knowledge on a daily basis will result in staff members who are thoroughly educated on all of the important information that they need to know in order to do their jobs well.

Teach Your Restaurant Team Members Something New Each Time They Clock In

As you are well aware, there is always something new that can be learned about the policies, procedures, and product knowledge pertinent to your restaurant. Therefore, it’s a smart idea to make pre-shift meetings mandatory rather than optional and to teach your employees something new every time they clock in. Hosting such mandatory meetings not only provides an opportunity to further educate your team members on a daily basis, but it also creates a shared learning environment that fosters team work and mutual support. These meetings are also an opportunity to check in with your employees and to keep your finger on the pulse of what is working and what isn’t – allowing you to act on issues before they become problems.

Require Employees to Demonstrate Their Knowledge Each Time They Clock In

One very simple and effective method of ensuring that the training you have provided has been driven home is to test your employees’ knowledge every day. Do this by working with your vendor to configure your clock-in system so that team members have to answer at least two multiple-choice questions correctly before they can even proceed to their positions.  Questions can cover any information you feel they need to know regarding your policies, procedures, or product knowledge. If they don’t answer correctly, they can’t move on to the clock-in screen, simple as that.

Aside from the obvious benefit of reinforcing the training you have provided on a daily basis, this method adds the extended benefit of helping you to identify which employees are worth keeping around and which aren’t. Someone who gets a question wrong time and time again is probably not worth the effort of continued investment!

Using simple methods such as those described above to train your restaurant staff on a regular basis results is employees who are more keyed-in and knowledgeable about the intricacies of your business. Better trained employees result in more satisfying customer experiences which, in turn, translates into higher profits for your restaurant business!

A New Perspective on Special Offers in the Restaurant

July 24, 2013

Providing special offers such as ‘daily deals’ and ‘happy hours’ in the restaurant is nothing new. That said, creation and participation in such programs can be a rather costly affair. As a result, an increasing number of chain and independent restaurants alike have been creating, managing, and posting their own special offers and coupons on their websites and utilizing the new technology that is available as a cost-effective means of stimulating more visits from their best customers.

Giving Your Best Restaurant Customers Exclusive Benefits

The general rule of thumb is that 80% of your restaurant’s business comes from about 20% of your customers. Therefore, it makes sense to do everything within your power to reward that 20% for their patronage. While it’s smart to have regular coupons posted on your website which any consumer can use, it’s even smarter to provide exclusive coupons and offers to your most loyal customers.

Typically, this is done through the creation of membership programs or the joining of exclusive mailing lists. A recent study by LoyaltyPulse shows that 77% of participants feel that the most important feature of a loyalty program would be earning points toward free or discounted meals. Another 70% said they would like to receive unexpected benefits in the restaurant, such as receiving a free appetizer or dessert. Special birthday coupons were in high demand for 72% of participants, and an additional 58% wanted holiday coupons and discounts for trying new menu items. More that 50% said that being the recipient of exclusive offers unavailable to non-members was their primary motivator for joining.

Cause-related marketing is also powerful and using the technology that is available would allow you to easily set up a system in which you donate x% of a customer’s bill toward the charity of their choice. Additional examples of exclusive membership rewards include offering a certain percentage off their ticket during their entire birthday month or even year-round discounts for members!

Tailoring Your Special Offers to the Unique Tastes of Each Customer

With the technology that we have available to us, it is easier than ever to create highly customized, special offers unique to each customer. For example, if a customer never orders dessert when they visit your restaurant, it’s useless to send them a coupon for discounted dessert!

Instead, it is far more powerful to send that customer a coupon for a meal or food item that they regularly order when they visit your establishment. Not only does this increase the likelihood that they will actually use the coupon, but it demonstrates that you are really paying attention to what they like and are doing everything within your power to reward them for giving you their business.

Utilizing Technology to Track and Retain Customers

Aside from allowing you to really customize coupon deals, using technology to track your customers’ behavior also tells you important information such as how frequently they come to your restaurant. This is useful because if a customer who normally comes in once a week hasn’t shown up for three weeks straight, you can set up the system to automatically generate, say, a 10% off coupon to be delivered to their in-box, encouraging them to return.

The take-away message here is that it is critical to look for creative ways to engage and exclusively reward your most loyal customers. With the technology that we now have available to us, this is a task that is easier than ever to do.

Restaurants and Social Media: Responding to Negative Commentary

July 17, 2013

It’s a fact of life that as a restaurant owner, you’re occasionally going to get an unhappy customer. Unfortunately, in today’s age of social media and online connection, that customer’s negative commentary has the potential to do a lot more damage to your business’s reputation than it ever had in the past. Therefore, learning how to address negative commentary on social media properly is more important than ever.

Having a Social Media Presence for Your Restaurant is Critical, and Encouraging Commentary Is Key

With more than 65% of online adults using social media forums such as Facebook, it would be foolhardy not to create a social media presence for your restaurant. In fact, many restaurants have vastly increased their traffic and customer loyalty through social media campaigns.

Social media presents an incredible opportunity to engage and communicate with your customers, and you certainly want to encourage commentary as much as possible. That said, how you respond to the occasional negative comment that pops up can end up having far-reaching retributions which you may not have considered.

What not to Say When Responding to Negative Feedback about Your Restaurant

The worst thing you could possibly do when responding to negative feedback is to get into an argument or tell the person that they are wrong. Remember, everything you say online is broadcast to the whole world, and once it’s said, it can’t be taken back – it’s forever there for potential future customers to see.

Therefore, it’s crucial to be as professional and diplomatic as possible in all of your online communications. If someone voices a problem, the best thing you can do is thank them for alerting you to the issue and assure them that you will look into it. Apologies are appropriate, denial and excuses are not. The old adage applies here as well – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

Learn to See Negative Commentary about Your Restaurant as an Opportunity

While it may seem counter-intuitive, negative commentary can actually represent an opportunity for you to build relationships with your consumer-base and demonstrate your commitment to creating a quality experience and furthering goodwill. While you might be tempted to simply delete a negative comment, doing so creates a lop-sided conversation that is suspect to your viewers. In some ways, people actually pay more attention to how you respond to negative feedback than they do to the feedback itself.

Allowing the comment to stay and demonstrating how you respond to such feedback shows your followers that you are a real person who sincerely cares about your customer’s experience and that you are comfortable enough with the quality of the service you provide not to be threatened by receiving feedback that may be tough to hear.

Social media truly does have the power to make or break your restaurant’s reputation, and while it can be a powerful tool to build your customer base, it can also be a highly damaging medium if you don’t handle it correctly. Taking the time to respond with sincere, professional responses that demonstrate your commitment to excellence can go a long way toward building the reputation you truly want your establishment to have.

Healthy Oils Please Customers and Boost a Restaurant’s Bottom Line

July 10, 2013

The fact that more and more adults are looking for healthier options in the restaurant is a trend that has been growing for years. As people become more educated about what healthy eating truly means, they are moving away from ‘elimination’ diets in favor of smarter choices.

One of those smarter choices involves the use of healthy fats and oils to help our bodies digest food. Gone are the days of trying to eat healthier by choosing light or no-fat dressings, or avoiding dressings and oils used for frying altogether. Fortunately, this trend represents an opportunity for restaurants to meet customer demand for healthier foods while still boosting their bottom line.

Research Shows that Certain Fats are Necessary for Proper Absorption of Nutrients

Research has shown that certain fats are necessary to help the body absorb nutrients such as Vitamin A (needed for vision), D (helps absorption of calcium), K (for blood clotting), and E (antioxidant that protects cell walls). If a person doesn’t have enough fat in their diet, their bodies will not be able to absorb and store these vitamins properly.

That said, not all fats are created equal. Research has also shown that monounsaturated fats are superior to saturated and polyunsaturated fats in terms of the amount of fat a person needs to ingest for their body to absorb these critical nutrients. Olive oil and canola oil are both good examples of healthy, monounsaturated fats that are good choices for healthier eating options.

The Qualities Consumers are Looking for in Their Dressings, Sauces and Cooking Oils

Along with healthy oils that assist the body’s absorption of nutrients, the top features that consumers are looking for on restaurant menus are a quality product with a superior flavor, made of high-quality ingredients. They do not want products which contain MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients, or gluten.

Consumers also care about low sodium and great flavor profiles. This creates a challenge for restaurants as they try to maximize flavor (and minimize cost), while still offering something that is a truly healthy option. Shifting to the provision of naturally occurring monounsaturated oils is one simple way of meeting this demand.

Utilizing Healthy Oils can Actually Increase a Restaurant’s Bottom Line

While it’s true that premium oils cost more per case than lower-quality options, premium oils deliver better tasting food and have a longer fry life than their lower quality brethren. Longer fry life alone translates into fewer frying oil changes, which saves money, time, and labor – making the use of premium oil a better overall value.

When you add in the additional fact that using better quality oils creates better tasting food, it is no surprise that using it ends up creating a better experience for your customers – who are, in turn, more likely to visit your establishment again because they know they can expect both value and quality from what you provide.

Many restaurant owners are choosing cheaper oils in an effort to trim food costs, but when you consider that you ultimately end up paying more per day to use cheaper oil, which, in turn, creates a lower-quality product that does not meet customer demand, using high-quality oils in your establishment becomes a no-brainer.

3 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Could Benefit from Turnaround Management

July 3, 2013

Success in the restaurant business can often feel like quite the balancing act to achieve. Sometimes, even the most successful business person can use a hand to maximize efficiency, profits, and improve the bottom line. That’s where the services of a restaurant turnaround management company come in. Following are just three of the many areas in which such a company can provide invaluable assistance to help set your restaurant back on the path to success.

Turnaround Management Offers Restaurant Assessment Services

There are a lot of factors that a restaurant owner has to consider in order to determine the overall success of the business. With so many areas to consider, it is easy to overlook a ‘leak’ in the system that is causing the entire operation to falter. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone come in and take a detailed look at each area of operation in order to clearly see what is working and what isn’t.

A thorough assessment includes analysis of everything from overall operations to your marketing, brand positioning, safety and risk management, menu options, and finances. Generating a detailed report of each of these areas can be invaluable in determining what is working well, what isn’t working so well, and what the next best step to take truly is.

The Logical Step after Assessment is Restaurant Consulting Services

While sometimes a simple assessment provides enough information to make the change that is needed, other times it is nice to receive the logical next step – which is having someone provide suggestions about how to fix the areas that are performing poorly. Turnaround management companies specialize in providing only as much assistance as is asked for, so you can just get an assessment and call it good, but you can also opt to receive consulting services and savvy suggestions for how to improve.

Turnaround Management to Assist the Financial End of Restaurant Success

If your restaurant is in trouble financially, utilizing the services of a turnaround management company can be your saving grace. From providing due diligence lender and acquisition services to being your court appointed receiver, bankruptcy industry adviser, examiner, and trustee, turnaround management companies typically provide full scale financial assistance services. This also includes borrower analytics in which a lender would like more information prior to negotiating concession.

Obviously, if you’re a restaurant owner, it’s critical to utilize a turnaround management company staffed with people who truly know and understand the restaurant industry. Managing a successful restaurant takes a specialized skill set and requires unique considerations which differ from other types of businesses. Therefore, you want to be working with restaurant professionals who have very specific areas of expertise – ranging from culinary operations to financial reporting and profitability. You want a team who is able to deliver specialized results from the top down or from the bottom up and obviously, you want to work with people who can provide the necessary guidance to achieve real results.

If your restaurant is struggling in any way or even if you simply want to make sure that things are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, utilizing the services of a restaurant turnaround management company is the smartest way to go.