Posts Tagged ‘consumer demand’

Restaurants Host Classes as a Creative Way to Develop Relationships and Encourage Loyalty

May 16, 2014

As a restaurant operator, building a relationship with your customers that encourages loyalty and traffic is paramount to your success. One easy and fun way to do that is to host classes about the thing you do best: food (or drinks!). If you’ve got someone on staff with a little charisma, these classes can become cornerstones for bringing new clientele into your restaurant. They can also help strengthen your relationship with consumers who already give their patronage.

Restaurants Teach Customers How to Make The Secret Sauce

Most restaurants have an item or two that they are particularly well known for. It’s no surprise that customers who love it would also love to know how to make it for themselves. Whether you decide to reveal how to make that specialty item that everyone drools over is up to you. Alternatively, you can simply host monthly food classes, featuring a few courses and some drinks.There’s no shortage of opportunities for how your restaurant could put together a fun and engaging food class for your customers’ enjoyment.

Food prep is another area in which to consider hosting a class. Take butchering and meat preparation, for instance. There is a certain segment of the populace (think bachelor parties, for example) that would jump at the chance to do a 2-3 hour demo on how to professionally butcher and grill an assortment of meats and fish. Especially if you included a burger meal in the restaurant afterward and the option to purchase at a discount whatever was butchered in the class. 

Restaurant Mixology Classes Teach Customers to Drink with Flair

Another easy and fun area for restaurants to share their expertise lies in the arena of drinks and cocktails. Mixology classes that teach customers how to make, say, “The Top 20 Drinks Everyone Should Know How To Make,” provides instruction on how to properly taste spirits.Or, even simply showing them how to properly set up a bar can make for fun engaging afternoons that generate a lot of both on-site and referred business.

Avenues to Market Restaurant Classes

Although hosting food classes in your restaurant could improve your sales and traffic, the main purpose is to strengthen your business relationship with your customers; building loyalty and customer engagement. As such, you’ll want to keep that in mind as you look for places to promote your class opportunity. While traditional forms of marketing, such as radio or print ads, are effective, other forms of marketing such as community billboards and local class listings can be equally so. Social media can also be particularly helpful in spreading the word and getting people excited about your new class. Everyone loves to post pictures of themselves doing something cool.

In sum, hosting classes in your restaurant can be an easy way to connect with your customers. You could put on something big, with a lot of bells and whistles, or you could do something grass-roots and casual, according to your restaurant’s particular flavor. Either way, focus on creating a fun and memorable experience that customers will leave telling their friends about!

The Forecast is Out: Menu Trends for 2014

January 8, 2014

Every year, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) surveys chefs from the American Culinary Federation to find out what menu trends they expect to see in the upcoming year – as well as what they see as yesterday’s news and perennial favorites. This year’s survey had nearly 1300 respondents rating 258 items. Here’s a review of the results:

Today’s Consumers are more Interested than ever in what They Eat and where it came From

As was the case last year, locally sourced meat, seafood, and produce remain as the top ‘hot trends’ of 2014. Environmental sustainability, healthy kids’ meals, children’s nutrition, and hyper-local sourcing followed in close pursuit. Gluten-free cuisine jumped from 9th to 5th place in this year’s annual list, and was joined by a trend towards non-wheat noodles and pasta (such as those made from buckwheat, quinoa or rice), up from 12th place last year. Farm or estate branded items and sustainable seafood rounded out the top 10 list of expected menu trends for 2014.

As opposed to temporary fads, these menu trends reflect larger shifts in our modern society which have been evolving for years. As health and environmental consciousness increases, it’s no surprise that consumers want products that reflect those values. A number of restaurants have already remodeled their menus to reflect these changes, including several large chain restaurants. Gluten-free items, for instance, are now nearly so commonplace on restaurant menus that consumers are more surprised not to see them there.

Being transparent about where restaurants are getting their food has led to several successful marketing campaigns riding on messages of integrity. The bottom line is that these trends are here to stay, and it pays to pay attention to them.

The Menu Trends that made the Biggest Gains or Losses for the 2014 Forecast

The menu trends that made the largest jumps in this year’s survey (but didn’t quite make it on the top 10 list) were nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking, pickling, ramen, dark greens, and Southeast Asian cuisine. The ones with the biggest fall in the ladder of “what’s hot” were Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, new cuts of meat, and organic coffee.

The 2014 Forecast for Alcoholic Beverage Menus

In terms of alcohol trends, the top five forecasted for 2014 were: micro-distilled and artisan spirits – locally produced beer, wine, or spirits, onsite barrel-aged drinks, “culinary cocktails” which use savory ingredients typically found in the kitchen rather than behind the bar, and regional signature cocktails. Cocktails, in particular, represent a particularly easy way to dress up the beverage menu – especially when sourced from local favorites!

In sum, the top 10 menu forecast for 2014 seems to be putting a greater focus on health and environmental sustainability than ever before. When asked what they thought the menu trends are going to look like ten years from now, the chefs put environmental sustainability at the top of the list, following closely by local sourcing and a focus on health and nutrition for kids and adults alike. Given this sentiment, it’s wise to incorporate elements of these trends into your menus now.

The Future of Restaurant Menus

October 25, 2013

The digital age has already had quite an effect on the restaurant industry. Consumers can now locate and order from dining establishments, read reviews and see pictures from other customers, and interact with their favorite brands online at the drop of a hat. As smartphone, tablet, and app use continues to surge and this effect will only multiply. What customers will expect from restaurant menus will change as well.

Digital Restaurant Menus are the Wave of the Future

While there will always be a place for a good old-fashioned printed menu, you can expect digital menus to be become the norm of the future. Consumers are already accustomed to reading menus online but as the digital revolution continues, they will also come to expect to electronically place their orders and be able to sort menus according to nutritional information, specific ingredients, special dietary requirements, and price.

A tap of the finger will also give them more detailed information about what they’re ordering, including a description of the food, more detailed information about the origin of the food, and whether or not it came from a local supplier. This may seem far-fetched, but don’t be fooled. There are restaurants that are already doing this in-house and a number of apps that already allow such customization as well – and these services will only get more prevalent as time goes on.

How Digitized Restaurant Menus will Change the Way You do Business

Digitized menus will have several effects on your restaurant’s business. For one, as restaurant goers get more accustomed to having a multitude of customization options, it’s likely that center-of-the-plate items will be discarded in favor of a` la carte ordering. They will also change the way customers receive service as patrons will now be able to place their orders at their convenience rather than waiting for the server to come around.

Rising costs of real estate, labor, and food will also create smaller, more cuisine-focused restaurants with a number of stock-keeping units used for a variety of preparations. The cost of goods will continue to fluctuate but unlike with paper menus, you can adjust the prices of your food in real time – changing prices daily, hourly, or even by the penny if you like.

Steps to Take To Prepare Your Restaurant for the Digital Age

While you may not yet be in a position to create a fully digital, interactive menu for your restaurant, there are a few steps you can take to make the transition easier when the time comes. First and foremost you’ll want to at least list your menu items and prices online, if they’re not there already. Start gathering nutritional information and making it available to your customers. Create sections for people with dietary restrictions and start writing up little descriptions of your menu items, including where you sourced the ingredients and even where the idea for the dish came from in the first place.

While there may come a day when you are able to hand customers digital menus when they walk in the door, if you’re ready to start the digital transition, you can first begin by developing an app that people can download on their mobile devices. This will give you a ‘beta test’ of sorts that will help you determine the features that people find most useful. Above all else, do not ignore the digital revolution – it’s here to stay!