Obtaining Useful Customer Feedback in Your Restaurant

July 25, 2014

Customer satisfaction means everything to a restaurant business. Fortunately, the easiest way to ensure that your customers are satisfied is to quite simply ask them for their feedback. Most people are happy to share their opinions—especially if they know that you will actually take action on the feedback they provide.

Asking people what you can do better before there is a reason to complain demonstrates your commitment to integrity and excellence. It makes your customers feel valued and underscores that you are committed to creating an enjoyable experience for them. Plus, you might be surprised at some of the good ideas your customers will offer! Here are the three main areas in which you can obtain useful customer feedback for your restaurant business.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant In-House

There’s no better time to ask for feedback on your customer’s experience with your restaurant than when they are right there on the premises and the experience is fresh in their minds. Ensure that you have feedback forms readily available, and train your servers to politely ask customers to fill them out to significantly increase your number of responses. Whether you use an old-school pen and paper, or include a digital feedback form in your point-of-sale system, don’t miss the opportunity to get fresh, in-the-moment feedback on how well you’re doing (or anything else you’re curious about, for that matter) right there, in-house.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant Through Online Mediums

The digital world offers another rich arena for you to gather feedback from your consumer base. Make sure that your restaurant’s website has a comment form and direct people’s attention to it by putting it on their receipts and sending your social media followers to it. You can also send your mailing list a survey via email. Ensure that the survey is easy to use and express how the feedback will be used to improve the restaurant. If you have an example of how you have taken positive action based on a customer comment, post it for everyone to see. People are more likely to take action if they know that you are really listening.

Useful Feedback Is Already Available in Your Restaurant’s Data

Whether or not you’re actively asking for it, your customers are always giving you useful feedback; you’ll find it in the numbers when you analyze your restaurant’s data. By doing this, you’ll be able to see not only which items you are selling the most (and least), but will also be able to discover trends in the sale of your products that you can take advantage of. Keeping a regular eye on these numbers is particularly easy if you’re running a digital or online ordering system.

The type of feedback you ask for is up to you. You should certainly try to gauge your customer’s satisfaction, but you can also gather feedback on anything else you might be curious about, such as that new menu item or latest change in décor. Some restaurants offer some form of incentive to customers in exchange for providing feedback, and if you’re comfortable giving something away, it will most likely increase your number of responses. That said, you also need to be careful not to undermine your brand’s reputation. Making customers feel that their feedback can really lead to change in the restaurant can be incentive enough in and of itself. However you do it, make sure you are doing it. Gathering customer feedback provides you with invaluable information that can help you run a better and more successful restaurant business.

From Ovens to Ice Machines: Restaurant Technology that Can Improve Operations

July 23, 2014

Restaurant technology continues to get smaller, smarter and more social as restaurant operators look for ways to reduce the cost of real estate, have more intuitive technology on hand and strive to improve the customer experience. There have been a number of new innovations of late that stand to significantly improve the operational management of a restaurant business. Here are a few of the latest restaurant technology highlights.

Smaller, More Intuitive Restaurant Technology

From computer-regulated back-of-the house appliances, to smaller and more efficient front-of-house equipment, there is a mass of great technological adaptations and innovations available to operators. For example, some ice machines now come with technological diagnostics that will warn restaurant operators when there is a problem likely to occur. They have improvements in the program for repair and maintenance, making for less downtime. Fryers are moving toward all-digital control panels, giving operators greater control over the quality of any product that’s programmed in. Temperatures can be set precisely and food can be cooked with a specific timing. There are a number of new environmental cooling options as well. These include a 24.5 inch portable air cooler, with the same footprint as a propane-powered heater, and an evaporative cooling unit that can chill the air in a 14 foot radius down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This unit uses about as much electricity as a household toaster.

In response to an increased demand for space-saving innovations to help restaurants expand menus, ventless countertop ovens have seen a jump in production and innovation. There are a number of different types of countertop ovens now available.Some of these ovens can convert from a one-item shuttle to a higher-volume conveyor mode at the switch of a button. Drink machines, like Coke’s Freestyle, have also gone counter-size and can now include anywhere from 35-80 drink options.

Home-Made Craft Brews Now Available for Any Restaurant

Speaking of increasing drink options, restaurant owners can also now install their own “home-brew”systems on location, in as little as a 10-by-10 space. These self-contained units are different from your typical brew-pub brewery, most significantly because they bypass many of the regulatory and environmental impact considerations that brew pubs must adhere to. Such systems cost around $57,000 and can produce 1,400 twelve-ounce servings of beer per week. You have the ability to customize the types of beer you offer, paving the way for seasonal and local favorites that are uniquely your own. The craft-brewing industry has grown significantly over the course of the last few years, and if you’re looking for a way to add unique flavor to the drinks that your restaurant provides, a home-brew craft beer unit might be the solution.

More Comprehensive Point of Sale Restaurant Technology

New point-of-sale systems are on the horizon too. Tabletop tablets, for instance, are no longer used to simply place an order. Along with being one-stop devices for employees to perform a number of tasks, they now can include interactive tiles that can really enhance guest interactions. For instance, the tablets can display and promote specials of the day, upcoming events, loyalty program details, links to external feeds and the ability to take pictures and share to social media accounts. They provide a forum for customers to conveniently place and pay for their orders as well as to leave feedback about their experiences—which they do 20% of the time in restaurants who have them installed.

Utilizing these technological adaptations and innovations can greatly enhance the customer and employee experience, as well as improve the return on investment and the overall efficiency of the restaurant. Bottom line: new technology can be a restaurant owner’s best friend, and there are plenty of innovative options available.

Standards of Success for Modern Restaurants

July 16, 2014

The standards that created success for restaurants in the past are not the same as those that will create success for restaurants now and in the future. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to review your current standards for success and update them according to the demands of the modern age. Here are a few areas to consider.

Competition Is No Longer Confined to Foodservice Segments

It used to be that you didn’t need to worry about what Joe Schmo was doing in his restaurant down the street, unless his business belonged to the same foodservice category as yours did. These days, competition for the dining dollar spans across all segments. Knowing that, it’s important to benchmark best practices and outstanding behavior across all segments as well, not just your own. Doing so puts your restaurant in a position of achieving the best practices and standards across the industry, giving your business a far more viable chance of attracting its share of the consumer dollar.

Today’s Restaurant Consumer Wants a Specific Type of Service

Every business since the beginning of time is (or should have been) based around providing quality service. The difference in the modern age is that the consumer has gone from expecting “service in general”to expecting “service in specific.”The modern customer wants speed, accuracy, cleanliness, hospitality and no complaint-generating experiences. In other words, they don’t ever want to have to ask for anything and want an easy experience with your restaurant that demonstrates your respect for their patronage and time-constraints. What this means in terms of setting standards for your restaurant is that you must put a premium on getting the order right as well as providing exemplary service that covers all of your customers’ specific needs. Asking for feedback and insight on what you could do better before there is a problem is another marker for success.

Much of Your Restaurant’s Success Lies in the Hands of Your Employees

It used to be that adequate staffing, supplemented with a little training, was enough to give a restaurant success. Turnover was expected and the focus was more on the business and less on the people who ran it. In today’s world, restaurant owner’s have begun to realize that it is far more cost-effective, and ultimately helpful to the overall success of the business, to choose your employees carefully, invest in their development and encourage their tenure.

Look for low-drama, high-value players who share your company’s values, have a penchant for service and an aversion to creating conflict. Once you’ve chosen the right people, invest in their development. You should have a program that successfully develops people at least one level above where you’re currently hiring. Teach them something new every day!

Last but not least, look for opportunities to create tenure rather than turnover. Examine your restaurant’s employment history and notice how long people typically stick around in their positions. If you can find out why they left, do so and if it has to do with the quality of experience they had with your restaurant, do everything in your power to fix it. Consider offering pay raises, bonuses or other incentives to keep people around about the time that they typically quit. For example, if your cooks usually quit within 36 months, what can you do to keep them around for at least 44?

The bottom line here is that in order to be successful as a restaurant business in the modern era, you can’t keep operating on outdated standards of success. The restaurants that make it now, and in the future, will be those that are able to anticipate what is coming and take measures to adapt ahead of the curve.

Better Compensation for Your Restaurant Employees Through Training, Perks and Rewards

July 9, 2014

The on-going debate over minimum-wage for restaurant workers hasn’t moved much over the last several months. Many protestors want to see the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour—a sum which would be difficult for restaurants to achieve without raising menu prices, reducing staff and taking other less-than-desirable measures to compensate for the increased minimum wage. While the debate is likely to go on for some time, the underlying message is clear: restaurant workers want better compensation. Minimum wage may or may not be increased, but many restaurant owners are taking the message to heart and looking for other ways to better compensate their employees, for example, through providing better training, perks and rewards.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Rewarding Performance

One tactic that some restaurant owners are using to better compensate their employees is to reward staff for achieving certain sales goals through the use of tracking software. There are a number of analytics software programs available designed to help restaurants keep track of employee performance. Such software can be very valuable in identifying and rewarding the employees who are bringing your restaurant the most business.

These types of programs serve multiple purposes. They help employees build their skills, make better tips (through increased sales) and get the chance to receive extra monetary rewards for their service. Of course, this type of program also serves the most important purpose of making your restaurant more profitable as well.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Education & Training

Another method that some restaurant owners are using to better compensate their employees is to provide them with better education and training. In some ways, the worst thing a restaurant can do is “dumb down”the jobs of their workers into something that is rote and process-oriented. The point is to help employees grow and to make the workforce progress. The best way this can be done is through education and training.

This additional education can come in a number of forms—everything from cross-training employees in different positions within your restaurant, to sending them to external training and enhancement conferences. You can also simply educate them more about the products you serve and ethics you would like to uphold in your restaurant and transmit to your customers. Education transforms your employees into more valuable assets for you and any future employer they may have. It also makes them better able to do their jobs for you, which in turn means better sales and profitability for your restaurant.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Staff Incentive Programs

Staff incentive programs have been around for a coon’s age, but restaurants of all types are re-examining such programs as a feasible means of better educating and motivating their people. For example, if you have new menu items you’d like to promote, why not run a contest with a reward for the server who can sell the most orders of that item? While the reward can be monetary, it can also be in the form of a nifty gadget, a gift certificate, bill pay, extra vacation time, late arrival, etc.

The point of all of this is that there are a number of ways to provide additional compensation to your people without necessarily increasing their hourly wages. Investing in your workforce by providing them with additional opportunities for education, perks and rewards makes them feel that their jobs with you are more valuable. In turn, this creates a scenario where your employees are invested in and happy with their work, which translates to a more successful restaurant business for you.

3 Advantages to Developing Your Own Restaurant Operations Manual

July 2, 2014

It is neither easy nor quick to develop a system or operations manual for your restaurant. That said, taking the time to do so has a number of advantages and can be a critical factor in the long-term success and profitability of your restaurant. Here are three of the main areas in which the development of an operational manual will assist your overall efforts to grow a thriving restaurant business.

Developing an Operational Manual Helps Your Restaurant Get Out of the Unprofitable Start-Up Phase

Developing a system of checklists, forms and procedures early on in your business drastically reduces the amount of disorganization and chaos that occurs during the start-up phase of any restaurant. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to evaluate virtually every task and activity that takes place in your restaurant. Many find that documenting their systems and operating procedures sheds light on hidden errors and redundancies, as well as provides opportunities for increased productivity and profitability. The sooner you can put a system in place that will allow the average person to duplicate your desired result, the sooner your restaurant can grow from a struggling start-up into a successful business.

Solid Operational Systems Attract and Keep Quality People

One of the primary benefits of implementing operational systems in your restaurant is the ability to create consistency and predictability for both your employees and your customers. Having procedures and systems in place helps to attract and retain customers because they create a predictable and consistent experience that customers can count on having time and again.

Systems, procedures and policies help attract and keep quality employees because they let staff know what to expect from the get-go. If done correctly, these systems provide employees with the information and training they need to be successful at their jobs and achieve the standard of service quality you have set. Even better, when your employees are able to run your restaurant successfully by following the systems you have created, you have now ensured that your restaurant can run without you. This means more free time to focus on growing other aspects of your business and more time for a life outside the restaurant!

Having a Restaurant System in Place Enhances Value and Ability to Obtain Capital

An additional benefit of developing a system and operational manual for your restaurant is that it enhances both the value of your business to a prospective buyer (a buyer’s first question is often “What’s going to happen when the owner is gone?”) as well as your ability to obtain capital for your restaurant. For instance, if you want to expand your concept, having systems will enhance your ability to get money, manage growth and explore new opportunities while ensuring that your existing endeavors continue to function smoothly.

The development of a comprehensive operational plan for your restaurant is no small undertaking and will be an on-going process that you will continually refine over the course of your ownership of a restaurant business. There are many categories in this operational plan for which you will have to develop checklists, policies and procedures and the thought of documenting all of your restaurant’s functions can feel overwhelming. Start by working on the categories that have the most direct impact on your guests’ experiences and work your way along from there. By developing and documenting your unique business system, you increase your opportunity to take your business to the next level, expand your concept and ensure the long-term success of your restaurant. If you need help, there are a number of resources available.

Tips to Set Your Restaurant Business Apart from the Competition

June 25, 2014

Building a thriving consumer base of loyal traffic to your restaurant is often about how well you can set your business apart from the competition. With myriad food options that people have available to them, restaurants must find a way to distinguish themselves in some form or fashion if they hope to attain any memorability—and thus, return customers. Here are a few concepts to think about when considering how to make your restaurant business shine apart from the rest.

Get Your Restaurant Behind Something Novel or Cause-Related

By definition, standing apart from the crowd means that you are not afraid to do something that is, well, different. Having the confidence to be unique and let your individuality shine is attractive to people. Being different than every other restaurant out there can be done in a number of ways. For instance, you could get your restaurant behind a cause that is important to you or the people in your area. There are many to choose from, but a few examples include donating a portion of your proceeds to charity, locally sourcing your ingredients, only providing hormone-free meat on your menu, having a waste reduction and recycling plan in place, etc. Choosing causes that help and affect the local populace are particularly potent choices.

You can also be different by doing something novel. Novelty can come in the form of something old, re-done in a new way, or can be something entirely new that has never been done before. The bottom line to the effective use of novelty is: deliver the unexpected and offer surprises. Think about what is being done in your area and what would catch people’s attention.

Whatever you choose to do to set your restaurant apart from others in the area, make sure to let your customers know about it. Educate your staff to speak about the good or cool things you are doing, provide literature for customers to read while they wait and post regular reports about that awesome thing on your social media sites.

Little Differences in the Restaurant Can Make a Big Difference in Long-Term Loyalty

Setting your restaurant apart from the crowd doesn’t always have to be done in the form of something big, like taking on a cause or niche market. Little differences in the experience people have with your restaurant can be enough, in and of themselves, to keep people coming back again and again.

For example, you might offer unusual sauces for your french fries, like wasabi or pesto. Maybe you bread your dill pickles in a beer battered sauce, grow all of your restaurant’s tomatoes in the parking lot, or artfully arrange your plates complete with your restaurant’s logo toasted onto the inside of the bun, so that even a regular burger and fries feels a little more special than normal. Perhaps you only offer local brews, or even better, maybe you have your own little microbrewery in the back. The point is, these are little touches that are pleasantly surprising and unexpected, yet subtle. They’re not the kind of thing you’re going to put on your marketing materials. Their purposesare to be “cherries on the cake”for your customers’experience when dining in your restaurant.

Keeping a Balance in Your Restaurant Between Service and Sensationalism

Although there are some notable exceptions, novelty and uniqueness alone usually won’t keep customers returning if the food and service isn’t good. This might seem an obvious statement, but it’s crazy how much time and energy some restaurant businesses throw into marketing and getting people through the door without paying close enough attention to their customer’s experience once they’re actually there. Namely, this experience comes down to the customer’s interaction with his server. Do not underestimate the power of direct eye contact, a sincere smile, attentive service and a welcoming atmosphere to pull more weight in building loyal traffic to your restaurant than any other endeavor you could employ.

Transforming Your Good Restaurant into a Successful Business

June 18, 2014

One of the most common occupational hazards for restaurant owners is getting so caught up in the day to day minutiae of operating their restaurants that they lose sight of the big picture—which should be turning their restaurants into successful businesses. The skills that are required to run a successful business are not the same as those required to run a good restaurant, and it’s for that reason alone that many new restaurant businesses fail. They may have a great idea, but lack the business skills to transform that good restaurant idea into a great business.

Being the CEOVs. the EmployeeRestaurant Owner

One of the biggest reasons that restaurants fail to thrive is that the owner is too busy doing the tasks of an employee to make the strategic decisions required to move the business forward. While the “employee”owner is likely working right alongside his or her staff in the daily restaurant operations, the CEO owner is spending his or her time analyzing data, looking for opportunities to improve efficiency and profitability and implementing operational standards and procedures to ensure that an excellent result can be replicated, every time. What’s more, the employee owner is so intimately involved in the daily decisions and details of the restaurant that its successful operation is dependent on the owner’s presence on premises. The CEO owner strives to use the systems created to allow the restaurant to run independently of his presence without a hitch. Daily operational details are in the hands of capable employees and the owner is free to keep his eye on the big picture of growing a successful business.

Aside from the obvious benefit of being able devote more of your attention to the business aspect of your restaurant when you take the position of being a “CEO Owner,”setting up a self-sustaining system also ensures that your restaurant won’t be totally dependent on you to be there all the time. Translation—you’ll be able to have a life outside the restaurant!

Get to Work “On” the Restaurant, Not “In” It!

There are three main areas that the strategic restaurant owner focuses on to ensure a successful business: operations, financial and marketing. Operations includes all the functions necessary to prep and serve your products to your customers and all of the activities that occur every day in the restaurant. The goal here is to set up systems for standards and procedures that will allow the ordinary people you hire to produce excellent results by having very good systems to follow. Without a system, it’s challenging for staff to create a consistent and predictable experience for your guests over and over again. Consistency and predictability go a long way in the eyes of the public. The benefit of setting up operational standards and procedures that can be replicated perfectly time and again can not be overstated.

The financial area includes dealing with accounting, cash management, cost control and both operational and financial reporting. Marketing and advertising includes general marketing and promotional campaigns, positioning your brand, public relations, community involvement and projecting the right image.

The Possibilities for Growing Your Restaurant Business Are Unending

Again, the point is not to be involved in the day to day operations of these operational areas; the owner’s job needs to be “strategic overlook.” Instead, focus on analyzing your data, looking for opportunities for greater efficiency and profitability and developing systems that will allow those great results to be replicated again and again. With more time to plan the success of your business, you’ll have the opportunity to explore new marketing initiatives, new lines of business, the development of multiple locations, or whatever it is that you want to do to grow your restaurant into a successful and profitable business.

How Restaurants Should Handle Negative Online Reviews

June 13, 2014

Restaurant owners have a growing love-hate relationship with the various online reviewing forums currently available to today’s consumer. A good review can do wonders for your business; a bad one can do equally as much damage. Unfortunately, as a restaurant owner, you don’t have much control over what people are going to say about your business online. The best you can do is ensure that your customers have as little reason to complain as possible, and to respond appropriately if a negative review does arise.

Have Your Restaurant Make a Public Statement in Response to the Negative Review

In the event of a negative review, your restaurant’s response to the complaint can do much to quell—or fan—the flames. Ensure that your response is timely, professional, public and addresses the customer’s complaints directly. If it is a problem that can be fixed, fix it. Do what you can to smooth things over without too much fuss. Customers who take the time to post a negative review are, in most cases, good people who have had a genuinely bad experience with your restaurant. While offering them freebies in apology can be nice, what they often want, more than anything, is to simply be heard and empathized with for their frustrating experience. What’s more, negative reviews can often alert you to problems in your restaurant’s operations of which you may not be aware.It may actually be appropriate to thank the negative reviewer for bringing the issue to your attention.

Let the Negative Review Die; Focus on Building Positive Reviews for Your Restaurant

After you have responded appropriately to the negative review, the next step is to let it die and focus on building positive reviews for your restaurant on that online forum. Letting it die means not engaging in a back and forth about who’s right with the negative reviewer, or any others who chime in. Make your initial apology, if appropriate, but try to respond thereafter with only messages that demonstrate your awareness of the issue and your commitment to excellence.

Instead of battling the negative review, again, steer towardgetting positive reviews for your restaurant on the forum. Ask your customers when they check out if they enjoyed their experience, and if so, would they be willing to share it publicly. If you need to offer incentives to get people to put their reviews online for you, do so. One caution here—don’t make the mistake of soliciting fake positive reviews in an attempt to cover the bad one. Fake reviews can be spotted a mile away and telegraph a message of insecurity and a lack of authenticity that will do more damage to your reputation than the negative review alone ever could.

Do Not Allow Your Restaurant to Be Blackmailed by the Threat of a Negative Review

While most people who post negative reviews are genuinely disgruntled about a truly frustrating experience, there is a certain small percentage of online reviewers who have started attempting to blackmail restaurants for freebies and other perks with the threat of a negative online review. While this situation usually happens in the restaurant itself with a would-be paying customer, it’s also begun to happen with non-customers online who pose threats of negative reviews in hopes of getting similar deals. If you suspect that the person is a malicious reviewer simply trying to blackmail you for goods, document the situation to the best of your ability.Next, contact the online forum where the reviewer is threatening to post with the details of your case. Big organizations like TripAdvisor and Yelp are aware of this growing issue and are willing to work with businesses to remove blackmail reviews if proper proof can be provided.

Getting a negative review for your restaurant isn’t the end of the world, but should be handled with care and consideration in order to ameliorate the damaging effects as much as possible. Blackmail aside, the best you can do with a negative review is to acknowledge the complaint, do what you can to fix it and focus on your commitment to excellence moving forward.

Restaurants Are Well Positioned to Take Advantage of Record Tourist Year

June 9, 2014

A record number of international tourists (71.8 million) are expected to visit the U.S. this year, spending over $100 billion on tourism-related goods and services. A good chunk of that money will be spent in restaurants on meals, and restaurant owners and managers who have taken measures to ensure that they are easily found by those tourists will be the beneficiaries of the influx.

A Significant Portion of Restaurant Income Is from Tourist Dollars

Of course, international tourists aren’t the only tourist dollars restaurants should be concerned about. Approximately one out of every four industry sales dollars comes from both international and domestic tourism, underscoring the importance of local and national marketing efforts. Previous research shows that quickservice and tableservice, in particular, attract a significant portion of visitors. Up to 20% of quickservice and 30% of tableservice sales are from travelers and tourists!

Despite the significance of these numbers, many restaurant managers have not yet taken measures to ensure that they are visible to the travelers and tourists passing through their areas. Failing to take travelers into account and not taking measures to attract them is folly. In this year’s modest economy, restaurant owners would be remiss to ignore this ready source of traffic and sales.

Ensure Your Restaurant Is Listed in Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus

Getting a piece of the tourist pie is all about having your establishment listed where travelers will find it. Start by joining your local convention and visitors’ bureaus. Look for other “destination marketing” organizations in your area, and inquire about including your information with their materials. States and bigger towns often have their own membership-based organizations as well. When you get involved with these organizations, your restaurant has the opportunity to be listed on their websites and newsletters and be included with visitor information packets. Membership to these types of groups provides another avenue to promote your restaurant’s business and has the added benefit of helping to support the local economy by attracting travelers carrying an influx of cash.

Make Your Restaurant Easy for Travelers to Find Online

Along with ensuring your presence among the physical organizations in your area, you also want to ensure that your online presence is strong. Make it easy for travelers to find your location, menus, prices, and great photos of your food when they do a general search for the type of food and service you offer in your area. Do this by optimizing your website and content for search engines and mobile devices, by listing your establishment in as many directories and travel guides as you can find and by maintaining a strong social media presence and community. Consider encouraging your existing customers to direct their visitors to your business by providing a special “local fare” offer to travelers.

It is clear that tourism dollars are an important percentage of the restaurant industry’s overall income. This year stands to be particularly good in terms of tourist dollars spent in restaurants. In order to be found by travelers, you have to think like a traveler. If you were visiting a new place, how would you pick a place to eat, knowing nothing about the establishment or area? Making yourself easy to find both on and offline is the key to attracting a portion of the tourist dollars currently flowing through your area.

Twitter & Instagram Social Media Tips For Restaurateurs

June 2, 2014

Every restaurant owner is aware of the potential power of social media to help drive traffic and build strong relationships with community members. Using social media effectively, however, is a skill that must be built. Twitter and Instagram can be particularly powerful for restaurant social media campaigns. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the best use of these powerful mediums.

Keep Your Personal and Business Social Media Accounts Separate

There are a couple of reasons why it’s smart to separate your personal and business social media accounts. The most obvious advantage is that keeping your business accounts separate allows you to delegate the work of keeping them current to someone else. Your personal accounts should be used both to promote your restaurant’s posts, as well as to develop your own unique voice and personal relationship with your followers. Your personal feed is an opportunity for you to post other things that are of interest to you, and for your customers to get to know you on a more personal basis. It’s also important that you write your own tweets for your personal account—it doesn’t come off as authentic if it’s not really your voice.

If you have multiple restaurant locations, allow each team to manage their own social media personalities, community and campaigns. Take the time to educate your teams so that they really understand what you are trying to do with social media, and empower them to represent the restaurant’s brand in a fun and authentic way.

Last, but not least, always take the time to proofread your posts –both business and personal –before you publish them. Like everything else that you post to the Internet, what you say tends to lives forever.

Frequently Post Appealing Pictures to Instagram & Twitter

Images are a powerful form of communication. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are built solely around the sharing of images; posts that contain images in Twitter and Facebook feeds generate buzz far faster and more efficiently than words alone. Therefore, it pays to ensure that you are posting high-quality, appealing images to all of your social media accounts, and doing so frequently.

What kind of images should you post? New dishes, obviously, but also new ingredients, your prep processes, any special events, etc. If you have the ability to hire a professional photographer, do it. If not, consider creating a work-trade agreement with a photographer interested in trading food for service. Don’t underestimate the power of a good picture to sell out a new dish that very evening. You’d be surprised at the traffic one good photo can generate, as well as how many people will end up checking your Instagram feed to decide what they want to eat, rather than looking at the menu itself.

Don’t Be Helter-Skelter About Your PostsPut a Social Media Plan in Place

Last, but not least, developing a plan for the management of your restaurant’s social media campaigns is paramount. Work out what you are going to post, who is going to post it and when they are going to do so. Ensure that everyone is on the same page about how to respond to customer comments and represent the brand. Find a nice balance between sharing all the fun things that happen during the day(in and out of the restaurant) without overwhelming everyone. Due to their brief and visual natures, Twitter and Instagram can be powerful sources of traffic and relationship building that restaurateurs should be sure to take advantage of. Remember that upbeat authenticity is the key to a successful social media campaign, no matter which platform you’re using.