Saturday, June 9, 2018

Using A Radio Ad to Market Your Restaurant

Using A Radio Ad to Market Your Restaurant

Could a radio commercial help you get the word out about your restaurant?

Pretty much everyone listens to the radio while driving. Sometimes you don’t even notice when the ads are playing. A radio spot could be the smart way to get your message out and attract new restaurant customers. This short guide will help you understand what to expect if you want to make a restaurant radio commercial.

Why Would A Restaurant Want A Radio Commercial?

Location, Location, Location
As the old saying goes, it’s the primary driver of business. The powerful thing about broadcasting is that you can be right there in their car with them. Because they are listening to a local radio station you also know they are part of the primary demographic you’re targeting – people near enough to your restaurant to be a customer.

Target Locked
If you have done the research and understand your target customer then you’ll have some sense of the kind of entertainment they enjoy. There are so many different kinds of radio stations, even in the same city. The station owners usually own more than one radio station in the market and they keep detailed profiles of just who’s listening.
When you contact a radio studio to do business they can help you determine the best station or stations to broadcast your commercial on. Do you want to attract more 18-30-year-olds or baby-boomers? They can show you how many people in these demographic groups are listening at any given time.

It’s All In Your Head
Because radio commercials are without visuals you can affordably tell stories that would cost thousands of dollars if you were telling the same story on TV. No special FX, no expensive hair, and makeup artists, no sets or props. Just sounds can transport people anywhere using their imagination.
Because of this dynamic, you can get really creative with your radio commercials in ways that would just be impossible to afford with a restaurant’s marketing budget otherwise.

How To Know If A Radio Ad Is A Good Idea

To understand if you’re spending your precious restaurant marketing dollars wisely you need to calculate the return on investment (ROI). When it comes to advertising budgets this can be tricky, because it can be unclear what factors are at play.
That’s why it’s so important to use a clear system for determining if your restaurant commercials are working or if you need to change direction.

Get S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic. By defining your marketing goals narrowly and then measuring how close you came to meeting those goals you can evaluate if the money you spent on a radio and returned the value that you expected.

  • Specific – The more precise your goals are the easier it will be to measure them. Do you want to raise sales? Then define by how much, among which target market and how those sales will increase. Is it gift cards? Is it happy hour? Just “increase sales” is not specific at all.

  • Measurable – If your goal is sufficiently specific then you can measure success or failure based on if you hit those targets. Also, discuss a plan for how you’re going to measure. How will you know if it’s a result of the radio ad? Know how you’re going to measure the results before you decide to make a commercial.

  • Attainable – This means looking at how you’re going to achieve the goal and if it can be reasonably accomplished with the resources you have. Do you have enough airtime? A good enough script? Can you expect to attain the result you’re looking for given the investment and skills required?

  • Realistic – If everything went perfect and you achieved your goal then that means it was attainable. But if you set an unrealistic expectation it’s not attainable even if everything when exactly as planned. This is the difference and why it’s important to set realistic goals if you’re going to measure ROI based on success or failure.

  • Time-Bound – This means you’re measuring the results within a specified period. To evaluate the success of the campaign it must achieve the goals within a well-defined time-period. Because other factors can have a greater effect on the results the farther away from the cause you get it’s very important to measure within a specified time.
If you’re willing to do the work ahead of time to examine the value of your investment in a radio commercial, you’ll be confident about whether it makes sense to continue putting money into radio ads or not.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Worst Mistakes That Restaurants Make For Guests

The Worst Mistakes That Restaurants Make For Guests

Neglecting these key pain-points guarantees diners won’t return to your restaurant

Guest satisfaction is of utmost importance. Every time a diner comes into your restaurant it’s an opportunity to win them back again.
Restaurant customers don’t know all the hard work you put into service. All they know is if they had an enjoyable time or not.
These are the top most frustrating things that guests encounter in restaurants they don’t return to.

The Restaurant Looks Shabby

  • Starting from the outside, guests are already judging your restaurant. If your sign is faded and the paint is peeling they can already imagine what else is being neglected.

  • Inside, is the carpet or floor clean or is their visible wear and filth? This is unappetizing to customers as is the smell of stale oil or harsh cleaning chemicals.

  • Uncomfortable chairs and unstable tables make dining difficult. Who wants to spill a drink due to a wobbly table? If you care about your guests you want them to be comfortable.

The Staff Is Indifferent

  • The reason people eat out is to be care-free. If the staff does not attend to their needs it’s not a pleasant experience.

  • Servers are more concerned about their phones and their friends than guest service. Just seeing their server on their phone is a clear message to guests that they are not a priority.

  • Servers that smell like cigarettes. Many restaurant employees have a smoking habit but the consequence of frequent smoke breaks is smelling like an ashtray. This is unappetizing and is only made worse by strong perfume and cologne.

The Food Is Wrong

  • Indifferent servers or inexperienced cooks increase the likelihood of orders being made wrong. This is extremely frustrating to guests because it’s the whole reason they came.

  • If the dish is right but not prepared as the customer ordered this is just as bad. People have preferences for meat temperature and ingredient substitutions that should be respected if you hope to see them return.

  • Food that is past it’s prime, like wilted lettuce or freezer burned meat should never be served. Your customers can taste the difference that fresh ingredients no one expects to pay a premium for microwaved food at a restaurant.

Lack Of Cleanliness

  • Tables that have residual grease and food on them sends a clear message to guests that cleanliness is an afterthought. Having a filthy rag that smells like bleach dragged in front of them to clean up the mess doesn’t make it better.

  • Bathrooms that are not cleaned through service can easily become disgusting. Make sure to dedicate additional staff for cleaning the bathrooms during a busy service.

  • Vermin and pests like mice and cockroaches should never be encountered by restaurant guests if you want to see return customers. Commit to the task of properly controlling common restaurant pests or you can expect scathing reviews online.

Waiting Too Long

  • Guests make reservations to avoid the wait, respecting reservations means not overbooking or bumping reserved parties tables. Take control of your booking method and consider a modern table management system.

  • Guests who wait too long to be seated might leave. Providing a sufficient waiting area or a bar can help but it’s important to quote accurate wait times. intentionally deceiving your guests about their wait will tarnish your reputation.

  • Food that takes too long to leave the kitchen makes hungry patrons angry. Knowing how many guests your restaurant can take every 15-30 minutes is important so that you don’t make customers wait too long to get their food. Taking a large walk-in party that bumps back your reservations is irresponsible and can cost you repeat business.
By putting yourself in the guests’ shoes you can strategize against the situations that can arise in your restaurant that harm the chances of repeat business. In the days of social media it’s that much more important to protect your reputation for amazing guest service.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Why Restaurants Add Real Gold to Food

Why Restaurants Add Real Gold to Food

How edible gold can be an effective marketing tool for restaurants.

The History of Golden Food

It might seem like this is a modern wave of interest in adding gold to dishes but the fact is that edible gold has been of high interest to humans looking for a uniquely decadent dining experience for thousands of years.

Given the magical allure of gold and the way it captures people’s imagination shouldn’t surprise us that it has made its way into food. From India to Europe there is a long tradition from the world-class chocolaters and confectioners adding gold to cakes and pastries enjoyed by the rich, the powerful and the elite.

With the rise of more chef-owned restaurants and social media a renewed interest in gold food has been sparked. There’s nothing quite like gold to signify to your “followers” that you’ve truly made it.

How Food Turns Gold

The standards for edible gold are that it must be made of 22-24 carat gold, which is essentially pure. Other metals used, for example, in jewelry would be toxic if consumed. There are a few ways the gold is processed to be used in food.

Gold Leaf -  One eight-thousandth of a millimeter thick these sheets of gold can be laid gently on flat surfaces to make them appear gold or arranged in complex design patterns.
Gold Powder - Available in dust or spray-can form, this adds a luster that only gold can but it is not entirely opaque.
Gold Flakes - Also known as the world's most expensive glitter, gold flakes can be shaked like sprinkles over food and is especially useful when applied to foods with an uneven surface that would make using gold leaf difficult.

Since other types gold leaf is used for other purposes such as crafting, to ensure you are using the right type of gold in your food, make sure it is FDA approved and clearly marked as approved for human consumption.

Adding Gold To Your Menu

While you may expect to see gold used in traditionally fine dining -- and there is an abundance of gold items using caviar, foie gras, Kobe and truffles, a recent trend has been to use gold to market more comfort foods.

The picture of a gold donught recently made its way around the internet and social media, produced by chefs at the Manila Social Club in Miami. Recently gold hot-wings have been spotted at The Ainsworth restaurant in New York City. For years there have been examples of gold hamburgers like the “Glamburger” available from Honky Tonk restaurant in Chelsea, west London.

All That Glitters

For these restaurants they have found that adding gold to their menu is a way not only to add flare to a dish and create a memorable experience for guests, it’s also a way to generate considerable media buzz. Even if people are not willing to shell out for the nearly $2k hamburger they can say they ate at the place that serves it!

And the addition of gold to their food also provides a powerful message about who they’re looking to target in the market. There is a level of prestige associated with having something on the menu that costs thousands of dollars. It’s a way to pre-screen your restaurant guests and set a high expectation. Their $300 bill may seem insignificant in comparison when set against the context of a $1,000 chocolate sundae on the menu.

If your restaurant’s target market is the opulent and the adventurous food-goer adding gold to your menu can be a way to increase your restaurant’s brand association with the finer things while gaining a significant amount of free publicity.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Use Limited Time Offers to Increase Restaurant Foot Traffic

Use Limited Time Offers to Increase Restaurant Foot Traffic

Adding temporary menu items can boost sales and generate interest in your restaurant

Capitalizing on short attention spans

The 24-hour news cycle. The constantly updating Facebook feed. Meme culture. It’s about what’s happening right now, today. The length of time it takes for something to go from red-hot to old and cold has shrunk along with everyone’s attention span.
If you’re looking to increase your sales to repeat customers and bring in new food adventurists a great way to accomplish, this is by adding limited time offers to your menu. Where everyone is looking for the “next new thing” you can make it easy, while protecting your bottom line from the competition.
There is something very primal in the way humans react to a perceived scarcity, especially as it relates to food. Through much of human history and in many parts of the world food-insecurity is a real daily concern. For modern diners this desire to hunt and explore new food sources hasn’t gone away.
Look to the big restaurant quick service chains and you’ll see just how effective this strategy can be. Creating a cult-like following for scarce menu items like the pumpkin-spice late and the McRib.
Through limited time menu items you can tap into the primal hunger drive that exists in all of us. It is activated when we perceive scarcity. In addition to our natural human interest in pursuing novel experiences.

Incredible social media marketing opportunity

Your restaurant marketing mix definitely needs to have a social-media component. Whether you have 500 followers or only 5, introducing limited menu items will go a long way toward beefing up your social media presence. By creating your own buzz around limited time offers you leverage existing fans who will re-post your new updates and have the opportunity to gain new fans through those shares.
Don’t overlook the power of helping others build their social cred. Everyone wants something that helps them show off that they are unique and special. By introducing a new limited menu item it gives them something to brag about, blog about and feel like they’re in an elite club of those “in the know”. By giving your customers an opportunity to boost their own social media status you have to opportunity to “go viral” with your new restaurant menu.
And the best part? It’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can continue to capitalize on this technique over and over again as you build more fans!

The only thing that’s constant is change

Keeping things fresh in the kitchen is a great way to build teamwork and excitement. One of the best ways to engage your chef and increase their work enjoyment is to give them the freedom to tweak the menu, experiment and add new items.
When kitchen staff are encouraged to experiment and think creatively about how to improve things you’ll increase both their enthusiasm and the quality of their output. This is invaluable in an industry where burnout can and does happen frequently. Changes to the menu also bring new learning opportunities for cooks who wish to expand their skills as well. By embracing change in the kitchen you can create a culture that moves away from complacency and habit toward commitment and pride.

Getting to know your restaurant customers

When you first designed your restaurant menu, you had a basic idea about who your target market is. Your vision of the type of customers your restaurant would attract was likely less clear than it is now. Why not take advantage of all you’ve learned?
You don’t have to completely change your menu when you start to introduce limited time offers. Your loyal guests will still be able to get what they already love. But maybe you have an idea about what you would do with your menu if you were opening today.
One of the great aspects of limited menu items is that you’re constantly market testing. You receive instant feedback. Talk to customers and check your product sales reports. you may be surprised how your menu evolves when you start to introduce more product tests. Giving more people the food experiences they want is what it’s all about, after all.
Limited time offers for restaurant menus provide many benefits to restaurant owners from brining in new guests to keeping your menu modern and up-to-date. You’ve surely got some ideas already cooking that you’re dieing to try. Why not promote them for a “limited time only” and see how your guests react!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Designing a Cell Phone Policy For Your Restaurant

Designing a Cell Phone Policy For Your Restaurant

The technology that has defined so much of the change of the last 10 years still has its controversies. This guide will help restaurant owners and managers determine acceptable and unacceptable cell phone use in their establishments.

More than just a phone

Although we still call them “cell phones” it’s clear that what we’re talking about these days are mobile personal computers. People have so much of their lives tied up in their devices that they can easily use them for hours on end, uninterrupted.
This tendency to be wrapped up in personal technology is obviously in direct conflict with the needs of a restaurant, to have fully engaged staff ready to serve the needs of guests – not checking their messages, taking selfies or talking on the phone.
It’s widely recognized that young people have an especially hard time determining appropriate and inappropriate cell phone use. A restaurant without a clear cell policy to address use beforehand can quickly find themselves with a big problem on their hands.

Cell Phones in A Restaurant Environment

It’s a matter of logistics. You can’t do two things at once and perform your best at either task. Distracted workers by the very nature of distraction are contributing to the restaurant at a diminished level.
If the staff is distracted by their phone, they are engaged in a personal activity, not working. The two tasks are mutually exclusive.
But it’s not just about the effectiveness of workers who may be checking messages during a moment of perceived “down time” it’s also about how guests feel when they see staff on their phones. James Samara, general manager for Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House, in Denver Colorado makes this point clear. “Obviously if guests see the cell phone they think the staff is less attentive, less interested in their needs. It’s a guest perception issue.”
But it’s not just servers on the floor who are tempted to use their phones. Kitchen staff could be distracted by their phone’s notifications as well. With the amount of concentration required in the kitchen, this could also be considered a safety hazard. Distracted cooks can hurt themselves or others.

Can You Really Ban Cell Phones In Restaurants?

It’s not unreasonable to require staff to leave their phones in their bags, lockers or vehicles during service. After all, you’re not running a meeting of the iPhone club, you have a restaurant to run, and it means everyone needs to be committed to their work in the restaurant while on shift.
If this is a new concept to you, it may seem heavy-handed, but it’s the most common policy adopted in the food-service industry. So if your employees don’t like it, they’re sure to encounter similar cell-bans at other restaurants they decide to work too. They’d better get used it.
“All inside crew are not allowed to use cell phones at all." This is the policy set by Julie Collins, co-founder of Bellagios Pizza in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Enforcement Of Strict Restaurant Staff Cell Phone Bans

If this is a new way of looking at things for you, at first it might feel like you’re being too harsh on your employees but look at it this way, isn’t it exactly why they already get breaks? Even if it’s “slow” there is something contributive they could be doing for the restaurant. And with the cost of labor being what it is, if they truly don’t have anything better to do, then maybe they should be off the clock.
To help enforce strict anti-cell phone policies you can use some of these techniques.
  • Get Coverage – If an employee wants to use their phone, they need to convince someone else to cover their tables for them, and set a time limit of 3 minutes. If another busy worker is nice enough to take up their slack, it won’t be long before they are telling that person “no” the next time.
  • Confiscate Phones – Treating adults like children is embarrassing. If management has to lock up someone’s phone to keep them from using it’s a strong reminder that they need to use better judgment.
  • Write-ups – Disciplinary actions going into an employee’s record are another indication to staff that their choices have consequences. These infractions will likely have an impact on their career development and promotions within the organization.
A strict no-cell-phone use policy is the best way to encourage restaurant staff to stay focused on their work and maintain productivity. For those younger workers used to checking their phone all the time, it may come as a shock, but this is industry standard practice.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Improve Your Bilingual Kitchen Communication

Improve Your Bilingual Kitchen Communication

Restaurant owners and managers can improve operations by learning a second language

Whether you’re interested in landing a more lucrative restaurant job or having better communication with your staff, bilingual restaurant managers have a huge advantage in the restaurant industry and are in high demand. With 45 percent of restaurant cooks being forighn-born the opportunities for bilingual restaurant managers should be apparent.

Top Languages to Learn For Restaurant Kitchens

For restaurant owners in the US, by far, the most mileage will be gained by learning Spanish. But that’s not the only non-English language used in kitchens.
Also, consider –
  • Korean
  • Italian
  • Farsi
  • Chinese
  • Arabic
  • French
Each of these languages offers different opportunities for business and management. If you have some familiarity with a language other than English, leveraging your past language learning experience or cultural roots to become fluent allows you to open a dialogue in the kitchen between foreign speakers and English speakers – putting you in a powerful and in-demand position in the industry.

How to Improve Operations By Being Bilingual

  • Better Quality Food – Procedures such as cleaning, stock rotation, and food safety can be communicated clearly and understood, improving the quality of the food sold.
  • Faster Service – When everyone is working as a team and communicating, food is leaving the kitchen at a regular pace. When kitchen managers are bilingual, they can command their brigade in the moment, shifting priorities and staying out of the weeds.
  • Better Staff Relationships – Bilingual managers can act as a liaison between kitchen staff and English-only speaking management and crew members ensuring that there are fewer problems related to miscommunication. Everyone wants to feel like they are understood and kitchens are no different.

Communication Is Key To Restaurant Operations

After all, your success as a manager is based on your ability to put human action into motion through coaching, training, delegating and assigning. The better the communication between you and your team the higher the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Also, restaurants have notoriously high turn-over rates. By increasing the quality of your communication with your staff the more personal and welcoming the restaurant can be for workers. You’ll be able to coach team members more efficiently and identify training weaknesses before it’s too late. Everyone appreciates a boss that makes an effort to listen to them.

How Get Started Learning Another Language

The great news is that there are lots of free resources online to learn a new language. Also, your foreign speaking coworkers are a great resource to learn practical language skills from.
Another benefit is that to start with, you just need to learn terminology related to the kitchen. Words for cooking and present-tense are a narrow subset of the language that simplifies your learning but is also incredibly important when managing a kitchen.

Learning Kitchen Terms

Taking Language Learning To The Next Level

The two big free online learning apps are Duolingo and Babble. Your local library might offer free access to favorite pay lessons provided by Mango Languages or Rosetta Stone as well. And all you’ll need is your library card!
Learning a second language isn’t just a doorway to another culture it’s a ladder to a better career, and more work satisfaction as a restaurant owner or manager.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Making Your Own Restaurant Commercial

Making Your Own Restaurant Commercial

The tools to make a restaurant ad for TV and web

It’s fun to think about making a video advertisement for your restaurant. The possibilities are endless. And your dream can become a reality with a few tips and equipment you mostly have already. Making your first budget commercial is an achievable aspiration.

TV or YouTube Video?

When considering what type of video to make, think about your option in the context of your target audience and your budget.
  • Airing a commercial on TV – Local TV ads are a great way to increase foot traffic and make a name for your restaurant. Since TV is free over the airwaves, you can be sure that you will reach a massive audience. The down-side is that TV time is expensive, especially if you want to be placed in the middle of a good show. Also, there is no targeting. Your ad will be seen by hundreds or thousands of people who may or may not be interested in eating at your restaurant.
  • Youtube and Web Ads – Online commercials take advantage of technology that tracks the behavior of people closely so that advertisements are highly targeted. Rather than showing your ad to the whole world, the only ones who see your commercial online are the ones who meet a specific profile. While the up-front cost can be much less for web ads, they are seen by far fewer people. In that way, the cost per view might actually be higher than television. However, those views are targeted to those most likely to respond.
When choosing a medium to show your restaurant commercial, the primary consideration is your target audience. What are their likes, dislikes and what are they most likely going to have their eyes pointing at?

Finding An Idea For A Restaurant Commercial

The key to finding a hit idea for a restaurant commercial is understanding the motivations and interests of your target customers. This is the same thinking that drives everything behind your restaurant so, in theory, it should be easy. Just know your customers!
Who eats at your restaurant? How do you “speak their language”? Now show a taste of what to expect when someone comes to your restaurant. If it’s a fun family atmosphere or a hip achievable, then show it and capture your target’s attention by setting the same mood for your commercial.

Restaurant Video Commercial Equipment

You don’t need much to make your first commercial, there are lots of “low budget” local commercials that become quite famous. But you will need some basic equipment.
  • Camera – iPhones today have a high-resolution camera, although you can’t change lenses they are quite suitable for your first commercial. Just make sure to use a tripod and hold the phone correctly. For a more professional look, a digital SLR camera used for photography can double as a video camera.
  • Microphone – You’ll need to record better audio by getting your microphone close to the speaker. The simplest solution is to use a wireless lav mic. The kind you see pinned to people’s shirts when being interviewed. The output can go directly into your camera and will improve the sound significantly. Just don’t film anywhere there is a lot of echo or background noise like passing cars and lawnmowers!
  • Lighting – Not enough light is a sure sign of an amateur video, and no one will be able to see what’s going on! Shooting outside or next to a large window is a simple solution to this problem. However, too much light, like from direct sunlight is also a problem. Open shade or overcast weather is the best for natural looking video lighting that’s just right.
  • Video Editing Software – Now you get to the fun part. Editing your video, adding music, graphics and most importantly, your address and phone number! You can find free and low-cost video editing software for Mac and PC. With a little trial and error and tech knowledge, you should be on your way!

Maybe You’d Like Some Help?

Don’t feel like you have to do it all by yourself. Maybe you feel like more of a director than a video editor or audio technician. Your local community should have professional and hobbyist filmmakers you can reach out to. A great tip for finding local professionals that can help get your first restaurant commercial off the ground is to search for wedding videographers on Craigslist. Explain your vision and get a quote!
Your restaurant video ad vision is cheaper and easier to achieve now than ever before. Using video to drive traffic to your restaurant is an excellent addition to your restaurant’s existing marketing campaign.