15 consumer-driven menu trends: Infographic

Diners are mobile, aware and always looking for the next big thing. How can restaurants keep up with trends and avoid fads? Check out our latest infographic to learn:

What diners want now

Locally sourced ingredients, more vegetarian and pescatarian options and smoky flavors are on the rise.

(Search) window browsing is more prevalent – and more mobile

Mobile search is here to stay, and diners expect more information in their hands, when and where they’re searching.

How to freshen up your menus

With new flavors, new descriptions and a mobile-friendly viewing option.

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Diner Trends of 2015: Capture Local Search

Using technology before, during, and after a diner’s visit

Whether it’s an out-of-towner searching for a fancy meal before a broadway show or an executive taking a client out to lunch between meetings, diners have a lot on their plates. Diners want what they want, when they want it, regardless of location.

Taking advantage of localized, immediate search

Diners are 82% likely to use their smartphones while searching for local restaurants. In fact, search terms with “near me” have increased 34 times over the past few years. Get in front of hungry diners and take advantage of this mobile trend by putting your business information across SinglePlatform’s exclusive network of local search engines, review sites, online directories, and apps. Learn more here.

Speeding up checkout time with tablets

The last thing diners want is to wait around for the check. Did you know 52% of people say a benefit of tabletop tablets is being able to pay for their meal when finished, and 83% of people are likely to use this technology if given the opportunity. Provide busy diners with an electronic payment system, whether it be a with tablet or with the OpenTable App, Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

Offering incentives to rack up repeat business

Does your restaurant offer incentives to keep diners coming back? Over 90% of diners are crazy about loyalty programs. Fast casual and QSR restaurants like Panera Bread and Chili’s have pioneered these reward systems that are quickly translating over to the fine dining space.

We’ve gathered some of the most actionable data available online and created the below infographic to help your restaurant drive immediate sales, improve turnover time and foster relationships for repeat visits.

Take your Restaurant to the next level and sign up for SinglePlatform Premium to capitalize on real-time discovery and the decision making process of local diners.

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What type of fitness studio should you open?

The growth of boutique fitness studios has taken off, especially in cities where large real estate with room for large quantities of gym equipment is hard to come by. Opening a boutique fitness studio can have smaller upfront costs and a greater reward, if done right.

Gear your class schedule to your target audience

Depending on your location and target clientele, class schedules and types vary greatly. If you’ve chosen a suburban location on a main road for commuters, schedule class times around commute times. If you’re in the middle of an area with many stay-at-home parents, you may want to schedule classes midday, when kids might be on play dates or in part-time care.

Since women are six times more likely to participate in group classes than men, you may consider offering more classes like barre or pilates, two of the top group exercise activities among females. Males prefer classes like tai chi and cardio kickboxing, and may sign up for personal training sessions.

Calculate costs – and risks

Opening a boutique fitness studio can cost up to $500,000, but as little as $30,000. The good news is that they also tend to earn more than two times the amount commercial health clubs do per customer, with up to 40% of customers paying over $100 per month.

Burn baby, burn

Productivity increases during studio workouts, since there’s less downtime and distraction of technology. If you’ve got an audience looking to burn calories, offer more classes with higher intensity.

For lower cost options, bikram (hot) yoga and kickboxing, where class goers are responsible for bringing their own mats, towels or gloves, burn between 500-1,000 calories per session. Spinning or cycling is also a high calorie-burner, if you have the space and budget for bikes.

Opening your own studio is feasible – it just requires an analysis of your target clientele before you get started. Check out the rest of our latest infographic for more stats and tips to get you pumped up for your new venture:

fitness studio infographic

Don’t Be Scared To Share: The benefits of using social media as a small business owner

According to research done by the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, Americans spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on Social Media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the statistics can’t be ignored. Americans, as a whole, like to spend large amounts of time scrolling through news feeds. Interact with your community through social media: Social outlets don’t appear to be going away any time soon, and they offer small and local businesses an opportunity to interact with customers, get vital feedback, and expand their audience cost-effectively. Unlike larger chains, as a small business owner your store is unique; it’s a little piece of you. Local businesses have the opportunity to cultivate deep relationships with their customers, and with social media that interaction can extend past the time the customer is physically in your business. People have been infatuated by the personal attention and customer relationships they’re able to create with small businesses for years. Social media provides businesses with a new opportunity for the owner-customer relationship to grow even deeper.

How to use social media to your benefit: Social media offers a myriad of opportunities for small businessesFrom general branding purposes to sharing coupons and offers that encourage repeat purchases, social media also provides a platform for customers to promote your business to their extended personal networks. Meaning once you’ve cultivated your specific identity, social media gives you the platform to show it off to a broader audience. Running your own business is no easy task. However, clearly you’re passionate enough about your industry to take on the challenge each and every day. Social media is simply another opportunity to let that passion shine.

Here are a few tips to help with your social media goals:

Use pictures to get more views: Hubspot suggests you share photos, because articles with images get 94% more total views than articles with out images. The post could be about a sale, a store renovation, or even just a friendly hello. Either way, when posting, remember posts with images drive more traffic through the door.

Engage quickly with your “friends”, “followers”, etc: When someone reaches out to you on social media, treat it as if someone were walking in your door. Having an active social media account allows your relationship with your customers to blossom and will keep them coming back again and again. Responding quickly to negative comments can save a customer relationship and demonstrate to future customers that you’re listening and care about customer satisfaction. This can be seen in a recent study published by Texas Tech, which shows that brands that engage in social media see a higher rate of customer loyalty than brands that do not.

Schedule Your Posts: As a small business owner, your wear many hats and adding social media to the pile can be daunting. Instead of trying to remember to post everyday, try scheduling your posts for the entire week or setting alerts to remind yourself it’s time to post. You can post about new shipments, holidays, or any exciting events that may be coming up for your business or industry.

SinglePlatform makes it easy to share with your social networks with our announcements tool. Learn more about all our features here!

Back-to-school spending: An opportunity to increase sales for computer repair shops and dry cleaners

As the summer comes to a close, pain in the pocketbook typically accompanies the start of a new school year. The back-to-school time period is usually the second busiest shopping event of the year; yet, this year’s statistics reveal a sharp decline in sales.
Analysts predict that parents of students in kindergarten through high school will spend an average of $434 on back-to-school items, a 20% decrease, compared with past years. Two major reasons for the decline in sales are that students are extending the life of their back to school items and changing the way they use technology. While one industry is seeing a decrease in sales, other industries have the opportunity to capitalize on it. Here’s how other industries can take advantage of changing back-to-school spending patterns: 

Computer Repair Shops

According to Alison Paul, Vice Chairman of US retail and distribution, part of the average decrease in back-to-school spending is due to the fact that laptops and tablets are no longer strictly back-to-school items. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows 84% of US households, and 73% of household have a computer with broadband access. Our constant reliance on computers for everything from schoolwork to entertainment means the cost is spread out more smoothly throughout the year. Repair shops however, should consider specials offers during this time, to freshen up old laptops or wipe the hard drives of computers slated for teens heading off to college or for laptops being passed down to a younger sibling.

Alterations Shops/Dry Cleaners

39% of the decrease in the back-to-school spends can be attributed to students who plan to reuse last year’s supplies and clothing. While big-box stores may be losing out on back to school purchases, dry cleaners and alteration shops can capitalize on families wanting to extend the life of their wardrobes. As Allison Paul points out, the Internet has made it much easier to make back-to-school purchases during the year. Shoppers are spacing out their purchases until they truly need them, and sometimes this doesn’t fall in the original back-to-school time period. This could be a great opportunity for a fantastic seamstress to capture a new set of clients. They could alter every day clothes or school uniforms for families opting to reuse. Comparatively, a smart dry cleaner can offer specials on sprucing up existing wardrobes. 

Industry shifts caused by change in consumer behavior

As Paul puts it, “I don’t think it [the change] is bad news for the economy. I think it’s more about [consumer] behavior.” Consumer behavior is changing, and this is an opportunity for different businesses in various industries to make the most of the change. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, these business need to have an accurate and up-to-date online presence. Declining spending in one area often means new opportunities for other businesses. By ensuring your potential customers are up to date on your services and specials, you provide them with accurate information about your business online. Additionally, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Mark Harrington, VP of Marketing at Clutch, emphasizes, “there is no getting around the increasing mobile adoption among consumers, so ensuring your online and ecommerce sites are mobile compatible is critical so consumers can easily navigate and shop your business with their smartphones.” By providing customers with the best information about your business where they’re searching for it, you give your business the best opportunity for success.

To find out how SinglePlatform can help with your business’ online presence, click here.

NYC Restaurant Week: KRISTALBELLI

Situated in the heart of Midtown, Kristalbelli combines upscale dining with Korean barbecue – a truly unique experience that was only enhanced by Restaurant Week pricing.
Arriving for our reservation at 7pm on a Friday night, we were greeted by two friendly, formally dressed hostesses. Seated right away, we were in the center of the dimly lit dining room and surrounded by two other parties. Although the group next to us was quite large, the tables were positioned just far enough as to not let their conversation overpower ours.

Approached almost instantaneously by our waiter, we were presented with the task of choosing the dishes for our prix fixe meal. Starting with the appetizer, the three of us remained uniform in choosing the Truffle Tteok and Cheese. Although it was a dish that felt more Italian than Korean barbecue, it didn’t disappoint. Complimented by my favorite (white truffle oil) and made of rice gnocchi and cheese, I was in food heaven – and after a few bites, already pretty full.

As soon as we signaled to our waiter we had finished our appetizers, another member of the wait staff was already bringing out our entrées. Ordering the Kristal Bibimbap, the dish wasn’t anything to brag about. Don’t get me wrong – the dish was still very tasty and the chili pepper paste tied the vegetables, beef, and rice together nicely, but I wasn’t overly impressed. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen to go with the Wagyu Ribeye for the full Korean barbecue experience.

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Wrapping up our entrées, the three of us opted for the espresso-flavored gelato accompanied by a cinnamon sugar donut. While the donut was subpar in flavor and freshness, the gelato was to die for. With subtle hints of espresso that didn’t overpower the overall taste, the dessert was definitely one of my favorite parts of the dining experience.

Not only was the food delicious and the price for it a steal, the wait staff was extremely attentive without interrupting the flow of our conversation.

Whether it’s a girl’s night out or a romantic date, Kristalbelli provides an intimate setting with incredible food and service – a restaurant you truly can’t go wrong with.

Wake up and smell the coffee: Why consumers are drawn to local coffee shops

Most Americans can’t start their day without a nice big cup of coffee. Whether it’s iced coffee, black coffee, hot coffee, or coffee brimming with cream, everyone has his or her preferences. What’s interesting is how the growth of gourmet coffee has truly skyrocketed. It was found that Americans drink less coffee today than we did in the 30s, but they’re drinking higher quality, better-brewed cups. This is happening because coffee shops are “trendy” and often feature dessert-like drinks. When it comes to coffee, options aren’t limited anymore; modern-day coffee drinkers can practically create a drink that resembles a small ice-cream sundae. Small coffee shops that offer both high quality drink options and a friendly environment, continue to crush sales. Customer service is a huge aspect of a successful business. A warm welcome upon entering goes a long way with customers, and remembering the orders of regular customers goes even farther; 96% of consumers believe local businesses offer more personalized service. Apart from personalized service, customers easily convert to repeat ones; 95% or so of regular customers will order the same drink every day according to MyCoffeePro. Capitalizing on your customers’ routine and ensuring their experience is both satisfactory and personalized each time they visit will ultimately expand your customer base and increase your business’ profitability. Think about a time when your favorite barista has a drink you order consistently already waiting for you. This is a key example of quality customer service. Small gestures like that truly allow your customers’ coffee run to be more of a personal experience.

Great customer service allows it to be easy for someone to support a local business. This is because it is easy to love a small business when they have so much passion and love for their customers. Besides great customer service, it has been made clear that there are many other factors that contribute to the success of locally owned coffee shops; Success is driven by consumer taste and income level, as well as shop location and atmosphere. Small coffee shops offering first-class service and a high-quality product can be effective competitors in a market that continues to grow. Locally owned coffee shops continue to thrive day after day. This is because they care about each and every customer; they continually strive to improve their service and product. When these three characteristics are combined, you have yourself a great coffee shop that will continue to be successful.

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