Restaurants are Moving Towards Urban Gardens

The local food movement, better known as “farm-to-table,” has been gaining popularity in the restaurant industry. To respond to the increased demand for fresher and more sustainable foods, “hyperlocal” restaurants have begun using soil-free, on-site, and urban gardens to enhance their kitchens. “Hyperlocal sourcing,” or restaurant gardens, came in seventh place on the National Restaurant Association’s list of “What’s Hot in 2015.” Learn more about the different ways to cash in on this craze.

Urban Gardens

Restaurants can build in-house or rooftop gardens where they grow local produce such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs to add increased freshness to their meals. No need to worry if you don’t have a large space to build a garden or if you live in an area susceptible to inclement weather, portable self-watering EarthBoxes can grow up to 1,000 pounds of produce for you to transform into fresh dishes in your kitchen.

Differentiate Yourself

In-house gardens are a great way to differentiate your restaurant from other restaurants in the area. Not only is it a great way to enhance a dining area by adding a unique dimension to a dining space and create a soothing ambiance, but it can also increase property value. Additionally, sustainability efforts help you stand out and attract positive PR for the business.

Decrease Costs and Increase Profits

In many cases, it costs less for restaurants to grow their own produce than to buy it elsewhere and have it shipped to them. The upfront costs of gardening supplies, labor, and building materials may seem like overwhelming, but it reduces spending on food sourcing in the long run. Restaurants will also find that customers are willing to pay a premium for meals that are made with homegrown organic food. Moreover, going green and serving local organic produce is becoming a key driver in attracting and retaining loyal customers. Not to mention the flexibility that it provides for chefs who now have an easy and affordable way to grow rare, expensive, or otherwise hard to find crops to incorporate in seasonal dishes.

Benefiting the Environment

By growing local produce close to where you live, you are decreasing the amount of carbon expanded from long-distance transportation. They also have the ability to reduce many negative effects of urbanization and help filter pollutants from rainfall.

To learn more about up and coming trends in the restaurant industry follow us on our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Power of Online Reviews for Your Salon

With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews, it is no wonder why salons and reviews go together so wells.  When choosing a salon, customers trust reviews especially when you consider that 87% of consumers are unwilling to consider a business with low ratings or reviews. While having bad reviews is detrimental to your business, so it not having any reviews at all. Without reviews to endorse your business, consumers will likely pick your better-reviewed competitors. Use the following tips to get more reviews from your satisfied customers:

Keep it Simple

In most cases, less than 10% of consumers will actually leave a review. When trying to encourage reviews, convenience is key. Having a tablet where customers can review their experience as they are leaving is a strong strategy to getting more reviews.  Social media, newsletters or other social pages can be used as outlets to invite consumers to share their positive experience. 

Offer a Guide

Some customers might be intimidated by the prospect of leaving a review. They can feel out of their element and not know what to say. In social media posts or on in-store provided tablets, you can offer them questions to get their thoughts in order. By framing sentences in a positive way will likely prompt positive feelings in a respondent such as “Did you feel you received good service today?”.  

Go Above and Beyond

Customers are more likely to leave a review if the experience was memorable. To ensure that you are getting more positive reviews you need to make sure that your customers have a remarkably positive experience. That might mean throwing in a freebie like a smoothing mask for their hair or to add a little extra pampering. A complimentary glass of champagne during a highlight would set you a part in many customers’ minds. Adding small touches that make your customer feel special are noteworthy and will inspire more customers to leave a review. 

SinglePlatform allows you to monitor your reviews as well as take control of your online presence. Learn more today

 

The Best Of Tech for Small Businesses: eCommerce Platforms

As a local business owner, being aware of the ways customers want to shop is important to your success. Whether you repair computer parts or groom your neighborhood’s pets, your customers want the ability to engage with you online.

The first step towards increasing your sales and expanding your customer base is adding an eCommerce option to your website that is tailored to your business’s offerings.  Maybe you want to offer a way for customers to pay for appointments ahead of time, to buy branded merchandise, or allow them to purchase gift certificates with added convenience—no matter your business, making click-to-purchase easier means more revenue.

To help decide which eCommerce platforms are right for you, we have compiled a list of industry-leading options to guide you:

Squarespace

With the option to choose from an array of different template styles for your online store, Squarespace offers two plans for small businesses. One option is for businesses just getting started and one option offering more advanced capabilities for businesses ready to take things to the next level. An easily customizable and design-friendly platform, Squarespace is popular among businesses like restaurants, salons, spas and creative service professionals.

Equipped with everything from a mobile-optimized website to unlimited storage, bandwidth and contributors, the basic plan packs in everything your small business might require to get started. The advanced plan includes everything the basic plan does as well as features like abandoned checkout auto recovery and real time carrier shipping.

The Basic plan is priced at $26 per month when billed annually and $30 per month if billed month to month, while the Advanced plan is priced at $40 per month when billed annually and $46 per month if billed month to month.

For more information on the services they provide, check out Squarespace.

Shopify

Offering over 100 professional templates to choose from, Shopify allows you to customize your online store to match your business’s style. Shopify gives you the ability to manage your orders, communicate with customers directly, track your sales, and monitor the service packages that are purchased the most. These extensive features help your business expand online to meet the needs and desires of your customers. With tools to use in-store as well as online, Shopify is great for brick-and-mortar businesses with an online purchase option.

Shopify is packed with a website builder and blog, unlimited bandwidth, over 70 international payment gateways, global tax and currency support, gift cards and discount codes as well as tools to be fully optimized on search engines.

Offering three plans to accommodate the needs of any business owner, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify, they’re priced at $29 per month, $79 per month, and $299 per month, respectively.

To learn more about Shopify, visit their website.

Zoey

Built by eCommerce giant Magento, Zoey gives small businesses access to eCommerce features reserved for large-scale corporations. With the ability to design a website sans code, integrate preset buttons like menus and banners, mobile-compatibility, SEO resources, and unlimited bandwidth, Zoey is great for non-tech-savvy business owners looking to advance their online store’s capabilities.

Zoey makes sure your site and customers are well protected with security features like 24/7 infrastructure monitoring and site wide HTTPS and PCI compliance. In addition, Zoey offers over 50 payment gateways to make the payment process a seamless one.

The platform caters to every small business need with three distinct plans. The Professional plan is $89 per month, the Business plan is $199 per month, and the Premier plan starts at $599 per month. To learn more about Zoey and how they can help your small business, visit their website.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce offers features like mobile-optimized sites and checkout, faceted page search, automated fraud protection, email marketing tools and resources, over 100 storefront templates, as well as the option to move an existing online store into their integration. In addition, BigCommerce offers automated integration with the Google Trusted Stores trustmark and an analytics dashboard and insights. Not only are these features included, they also allow you to use the payment solution of your choosing.

Dividing their services into four plans, the Standard plan is priced at $29.95 per month and the Plus plan is priced at $79.95 per month. Both of these plans are geared towards new and fast-growing businesses. For high-volume businesses, the Pro plan is priced at $199.95 per month and the Enterprise plan is priced according to the specific needs of your business.

For more information on BigCommerce, visit their website.

WooCommerce

Built specifically to integrate with websites created on WordPress, WooCommerce is a free plugin available for all WordPress sites. WooCommerce is a great, free option for businesses looking to expand their online abilities on WordPress with features like mobile-compatibility, global or nation-wide selling, customizable storefronts, and customer support. WooCommerce also offers an active community of users as well as documentation that covers a vast amount of topics related to running your storefront on the WooCommerce interface.

For more information on how to install the plugin on your WordPress site, visit their website.

Choosing Your eCommerce Platform

Understanding the features each eCommerce service offers will ultimately guide your decision in selecting how to best run your online storefront. Considering more than 75% of adults surveyed order products or services online, you can’t afford to lose out on online opportunities.

To learn more about how SinglePlatform can help your business succeed on the web, click here.

The Ultimate Checklist for a Successful Online Presence

With 85% of consumers searching for local businesses on the web, your online presence is now more important than ever before. Whether you want to attract new customers, stand out amongst the competition, or get chosen more often, harnessing the power of the internet is an important step to take. SinglePlatform understands how important your business’s online presence is so we’ve created The Ultimate Checklist to help you get discovered and chosen today.

Make your Gym Friendly to Seniors

The baby boomers are approaching their golden years, which will significantly change the role that the elderly play in our country. In fact, the 85-and-older population is projected to increase 351 percent between 2010 and 2050. The increasing numbers of this population creates an opportunity for savvy fitness professionals. Use these tips to make your gym friendlier to seniors.

Tailor Routines to Your Clients

Offer educational opportunities that will help older clients reach their specific goals. In your later years your clients may not have the same fitness motivations as their counterparts. Make sure you know what those goal are, sometimes things as simple as being able to stand up and sit down unassisted, and provide classes or training sessions that will focus on those fitness milestones. Offering a Par-Q test will help determine client’s readiness for a particular activity.

Focus on The Warm Up

Offering a mini-session to warm up muscles and joints before jumping straight into exercise is a great way to support a smooth workout.  These classes can be helpful for older customers whose bodies cannot rebound from a strained muscle as quickly as your younger clients.  This time can also be used to monitor clients and make sure they are not experiencing any discomfort

Strength and Aerobic Training

Aerobic and strength training at a moderate level can be great ways to increase physical health of your clients. Offering aerobic and strength training can increase the body’s range of motion which helps balance and reduces fluidity to joints.  Since muscle strength progressively declines after the age of 50, all weight and cardio training should be done with lighter weights.  Taking the time to find a comfortable level for your clients is important and weight should be increased as their muscles gain strength.

Offering classes tailored to an older generation can help improve your client’s quality of life and will also help you to expand and diversify your customer base.  Sign up for our newsletter to learn about more ways to help grow your fitness business:

iPad Point of Service System and its Effect on Tipping

Technology is evolving faster than ever and that means big changes for the restaurant industry. As a restaurant owner, you’ve probably noticed them popping up in your communities and potentially in your competitor’s restaurants. Point of Service (POS) systems that utilize new mobile devices have gained popularity over the past few years and according to recent research it seems that this systems may increase tips for your servers.

Increased Tips

According to Software Advice, an online business that recommends restaurant POS systems, when a server is nearby 41% of diners will increase the amount that they leave in a tip.  As an employer, keeping you staff happy is a priority and increasing your staff’s tips is a great way to keep morale up.

No Tip Options

Many iPad POS systems prompt diners with preset tip percentages to expedite the tipping process by removing the math. Many of these systems also provide diners with a no tip option, which surprisingly actually increases the likelihood that a diner with leave a tip.

iPad Tipping Popularity

Even if iPad POS systems increase tipping, if it makes your diners uncomfortable then it’s not really a worthy investment. Diner’s preference for iPad tipping varies based on what kind of eating establishment they choose. Casual and Fast Casual restaurants seemed to be the restaurants with the most to gain from considering iPad POS systems.

iPad POS systems seem to be a strong choice for restaurant owners who are interested in increasing tips left for their servers. However, there are other potential downfalls that should be considered when deciding if this is best for your business. iPads can be expensive and may not hold up well to the natural wear and tear of a bustling restaurant. To learn more about industry news and updates, sign up for our newsletter:

The Best Of Tech for Small Businesses: Online Ordering and Delivery

When it comes to technology, small businesses have an arsenal of tools to help them reach customers and drive revenue. Considering that 70% of Americans feel they don’t have enough time in the day to achieve all the things they need to get done, busy customers are increasingly expecting convenience and speed from businesses.

With 91% of Internet users using their desktop computers to search the internet and 80% of them using their smartphones to do so, enabling online ordering and delivery at your business can increase order volume and attract customers looking to purchase with a click of a button.

The number of orders placed online has more than doubled from 2009 to 2015, which has significantly disrupted the marketplace. Online ordering platforms eliminate the need to call a business, the hassle of being placed on hold, and the inaccurate orders due to a miscommunication over the phone. Combine the convenience of online ordering with the convenience of delivery and you are creating the easiest experience for your customers.

While online ordering and delivery are important features for any business looking to grow, determining the best platform to partner with depends on the type of business you have and what your specific needs are on a daily basis.

To help your small business choose which partner is right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best platforms available.

Delivery.com

Partnering with over 10,000 local businesses, Delivery.com has connected customers with the products and meals they’re looking for since 2004. Restaurants, grocery stores, wine and liquor stores and laundry services have access to over one million users through their site.  With no setup fee and a system where businesses only pay for the orders placed through Delivery.com, the site allows virtually any kind of business that offers food or services to have online ordering and delivery capability.

In addition to online ordering and delivery, Delivery.com markets businesses using email promotions, social media marketing and marketing collateral, as well as out-of-home and digital advertising. With the capability of managing orders from any device as well as monitoring customer insights, Delivery.com allows local businesses in more than 38 cities the opportunity to grow their customer base.

GrubHub and Seamless

Specializing in the restaurant industry, GrubHub and Seamless partnered in August of 2013 to expand and include more restaurants nationwide in their delivery service. GrubHub and Seamless have an extensive customer base that rakes in 267,000 orders daily and serves seven million active users.

In addition to their far-reaching customer base, local businesses will be glad to know that the cost of becoming a partner is low. Sine they will waive the setup fee, Seamless and GrubHub only charge your restaurant for the orders that come through their site. With an estimated 13.5% commission fee per order, restaurants will need to evaluate their budgets to determine whether this service is right for them. Keep in mind that your restaurant will be able to manage delivery orders from any device, process two orders per minute, and either enable orders on your own website or allow GrubHub to help create your own customizable site.

Amazon Prime Now

Amazon has officially joined ranks with online food delivery services by launching a meal delivery service in September of 2015. While Amazon charges restaurants a 27.5% fee per order, the benefits may be worth the higher commission for some businesses. Restaurants gain access to a wide array of potential new customers because Amazon Prime members are offered free delivery at partnered restaurants in the ten cities currently serviced. Amazon also provides the delivery staff needed to service this demand.

While your restaurant must have a Kindle in order to take and accept orders, Amazon provides restaurants with a free one that comes pre-loaded with their merchant app. Amazon also provides free training on how to use their technology.

Postmates and ChowNow

Postmates is another online ordering platform to consider using as they produce one million deliveries per month in over 200 cities. Recently partnering with ChowNow, a meal delivery and marketing insight service, the two companies focus not only on delivery, but promoting restaurant through online strategies and in-store collateral to drive online and mobile orders as well.

ChowNow’s features like branded iPhone and Android ordering apps, a marketing launch package, and unlimited dashboard access that lets you accept orders and choose accurate pickup times, are available through three different plan types. The monthly plan charges $149 each month and comes with an initial $399 setup fee per location. The annual plan charges $119 per month and comes with a $199 setup fee per location. The two-year plan charges $99 per month and has a $199 set up fee per location.

Yelp and Eat24

Serving 30,000 restaurants in over 1,500 cities, Yelp and Eat24 partnered last year to merge search and discovery with delivery. Using Eat24 can increase your restaurant’s reach to millions of Yelp users. Eat24 is a cost-effective way to get your restaurant in front of more customers with no sign up or set up fees.

In addition to the free set-up costs, Eat24 offers live chat, email and phone support 24 hours a day, every day, and provides free maintenance and a free, optional website. If your restaurant already has a website, their online ordering system is compatible with existing sites as well.

Choosing the best online ordering platform for you

While there is a vast range of online ordering and delivery platforms to choose from, understanding which is most compatible with your restaurant’s needs is essential in increasing reach and successfully serving customers through these sites.

Learn more about SinglePlatform and how we can manage your business’s online presence. Get started today!