What Is Menu Engineering & Who Is Gregg Rapp? Menu Engineering Article Series Part 1

When you hear the word “engineering” what comes to mind? I’m sure you may be thinking of a civil engineer, an electrical engineer, or even a railroad engineer. The word is diverse & encompasses many different skills, disciplines, and careers. But, have you ever thought of engineering in the sense of menus?

Yes, menu engineering is a real thing! By definition, engineering is:

“the creative application of science, mathematical methods, and empirical evidence to the innovation, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of structures, machines, materials, devices, systems, processes, and organizations.”

Menu engineering takes into account the elements of both science & art that go into perfecting the structure of a restaurant menu. Pretty cool, right?

If you’re a new restaurant owner just building out your first menu, or even if you’re a seasoned vet looking to switch things up, menu engineering can be a secret weapon to your success. Engineering has proven to not only influence customers’ decisions but boost sales.

You’re probably wondering how exactly this works. Nope, it’s not magic. But, there are many elements and strategies that go into perfecting menu design. In a team-up with menu aficionado Gregg Rapp, we’ll be discussing different elements of the engineering process. Topics will include everything from boxing certain menu items to name dropping in your menu descriptions. But first, we’ll introduce the man behind the menus, Gregg Rapp.

 Gregg Rapp with an engineered menu. Gregg Rapp with an engineered menu.

Gregg is the menu engineer. With over 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Gregg has reimagined menus for some of the most well-known restaurants across the globe. He transforms menus based on research, statistical data, and cost. Gregg continuously hones his craft by working with professors at Duke University, Cornell University, and the Culinary Institute of America.

Gregg’s expertise has been featured in the Wall Street Journal & the New York Times, and on news programs, including The Today Show, ABC News, and CBS News. He has traveled the world giving restaurants advice on pricing strategies and menu design.

I sat down with Gregg to talk about his history and experience.

How Did You Get Your Start as the Menu Guy?

Like many young entrepreneurs, Gregg began his journey in menu engineering during college. At the time, he was going to college while running a restaurant in Seattle. During that time, he was tasked with coming up with the restaurant’s new menu. When he started the process, he realized there wasn’t much information available when it came to menu design and structure, so he decided to find information hidden in other sources. Gregg studied newspapers and magazines since there was a science behind how people read them.

Another great source of influence for him was the supermarket. He studied item placement, from how products are placed (which encompasses not only the location on a shelf but also where the items are displayed within the store), to the abundance of items and how that plays into how well it sells. A lot of the tools he uses today in menu engineering are derived from his grocery store research.

Gregg also credits his former professor and mentor, Don Smith, for inspiring him to begin a career in menu engineering. Don’s research helped lay the foundation for menu engineering, and his work in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group actually developed tools for the menu engineering quadrant (which we’ll discuss more later in the series). Gregg worked with Don closely for 36 years during his career to develop new processes for menu redesign.

When Did You Make Menu Engineering a Full-Time Career?

I asked Gregg about how he finally decided to make menu engineering into a business. He specifically remembers when the lightbulb went off for him. He realized that there was something to make of all of this information about menus and that he wanted to share this knowledge with restaurateurs everywhere. At the time when Gregg got his start, which was in the early 1980s, menu printing was a booming business. Different printing companies were competing for business and were charging hefty prices for full-color printing services. They were focused on their own profit, not the layout and design of the menus. Gregg knew that this was an opportunity to really help restaurateurs design menus that would result in their profitability. And so from there, he went to Denver to work with his first client – Dean Peterson. Dean ran a group of restaurants in Denver and was a restaurant innovator who drew inspiration from other restaurants in diverse locations. Gregg helped him to restructure and redesign his menus.

Over three decades later, Gregg Rapp is still a successful menu engineer who is just as excited about coaching restaurateurs to build better menus as he was when he started. He’s worked with hundreds of restaurants across the country and has helped them to achieve profits they never thought were imaginable. Gregg has branched out from Denver and still frequently travels across the country to provide his expertise to restaurants everywhere.

So, how exactly will this engineering pay off for a restaurateur? Gregg is confident that within 30 days after a restaurant puts out their redesigned menu they will see new profits of at least $1,000 (or else he provides a money-back guarantee). One high-volume restaurant even saw $18,000 in new profit PER MONTH after working with Gregg to redesign their menus. That’s a lot of cash!

Gregg makes sure to note that he is a coach in the entire menu engineering process. He is against going into a restaurant and simply redesigning the menu on his own and calling it a day. He hosts boot camp sessions, works one-on-one with the staff, and gives them the tools they need to create the new menu together. This way, they can use the knowledge they gained in the meetings to re-engineer menus on their own in the future. The hands-on approach to Gregg’s business is what has helped restaurateurs walk away with not only newly found profit, but valuable information to be used in years to come.

So, now that you know a bit more background about Gregg, you’re prepared to dive into more detail about just what goes into menu engineering.  In our exclusive series, we’ll discuss Gregg’s menu engineering process and provide you snippets of tools you can use for your own restaurant menu. Stay tuned to see what’s next.

Interested in working with Gregg? Check out his website & contact him for more information!

Does your restaurant have a solid online presence? 93% of people are looking at menus online before dining out, so it’s essential to be everywhere they’re searching. SinglePlatform can help! We get your menu and business information across a wide range of relevant search engines, review sites, and social media channels so you can be discovered by new diners. Want to stand out everywhere that matters online? Get in touch with us today.

School’s Out for Summer: 7 Useful Tips for Providing a Kid-Friendly Dining Experience

School is out for summer, which means more time out on the town with mom and dad. Over the next few months, parents will be looking for kid-friendly restaurants that welcome their hungry children. Is your restaurant prepared?

Now is the perfect time to ensure that your restaurant fits the bill. We’ve compiled a list of 7 ways you can make your restaurant more kid-friendly in time for the influx of young diners that will be occupying seats and high-chairs.

1. Make Sure You Have the Proper Equipment

This first one is pretty obvious. If you plan to serve families with young children, you will need the proper furniture and equipment. For example, all kid-friendly restaurants should be equipped with changing tables, clean high chairs, and kid-friendly cups. If you do not have sippy cups or plastic cups with lids and straws, avoid spills by serving kids’ beverages in short glasses that are less likely to tip. Providing extra napkins just in case can’t hurt either!

2. Give Kids Something to Do While They Wait

Many parents will agree that one of the most difficult parts of dining out with kids is making them sit still for the duration of the meal. To make the dining experience easier on parents—and to prevent kids from running around your dining room—offer tabletop activities to keep kids busy. Recently, some restaurants have added walls of iPads pre-loaded with educational games (perfect for keeping kids sharp over summer vacation!) However, splurging on tablets isn’t necessary. You can also keep activity books to lend to diners or give kids activity placemats complete with things like mazes and word searches. You can either customize placemats to include your kids’ menu items or purchase pre-made placemats for as little as $15 for 1000. Additionally, paper tablecloths are a huge crowd pleaser because they allow children and adults alike to doodle while they wait for their food (and make cleanup easier too!).

3. Keep Up With Food Trends

Kids these days will eat more than just chicken fingers and buttered noodles. According to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast,” diners are increasingly interested in healthy, ethnic-inspired, and gourmet options on children’s menus. These interests are consistent with the biggest food trends of the past year (in 2017, healthy kids’ menu options ranked in the top three overall trends in full-service restaurants, 70% of diners said they were more likely to choose a restaurant with healthy menu options, and 52% of adults were looking to try a greater variety of ethnic cuisines). This means that your children’s menu does not need to stray too far from your main menu. Instead, turn dining out into a fun summer activity by offering children new, exciting dishes to try.

4. If You Don’t Have a Kids’ Menu, Make Sure There are Kid-Friendly Options on Your Main Menu

While offering a kids’ menu is an obvious way of showing potential diners that your restaurant is kid-friendly, you can also cater to young diners with your main menu. Aya Tanaka, who writes the “Kids Welcome” column for Serious Eats said that she often looks to appetizers and side dishes to build meals for her young daughter. To that end, if you’re hoping to attract more families to your restaurant, you should make sure that you have a few menu items that can easily be simplified to satisfy children’s palettes and prep your servers on kid-friendly options that they can recommend to parents if they ask.

If you choose to create a menu specifically for kids make sure to post it online. Diners with hungry children will be looking up places to eat before choosing where to go. Online menus are particularly useful for parents because they allow them to check if restaurants have menu items suitable for children. Online menus also allows parents to plan their meals ahead of time, which makes the actual restaurant experience more relaxing. If they see that you have a dedicated children’s menu, or even kid-friendly options, you’ll have a better chance of bringing them through your doors.

5. Make Nutritional Information Readily Available

According to Webstaurant Store, parents are more concerned about childhood obesity and what is in their kids’ food than ever before (this explains the healthy kids’ menu trend). Therefore, you can cater to health-conscious parents by making nutritional information, calorie-counts, and ingredient lists available upon request. It is also helpful for parents if you denote which dishes are suitable for diners with common allergies or dietary restrictions.

6. Bring Food Out ASAP

Kids can get impatient when they’re hungry, and slow service can make them irritable. Therefore, you should try to get food on the table as soon as possible. If you do not already offer complimentary bread, consider bringing it or another snack like cut-up vegetables (perfect for hot summer days!) out soon after families are seated.

You can also have servers ask parents if they would like their kids’ food to be brought out first instead of with the rest of the meals that could take longer to prepare. According to one commenter in a Serious Eats forum about what parents look for in kid-friendly restaurants, Southpark Seafood in Portland, Oregon offers a unique serving order that minimizes the wait time for children.

User NWcajun wrote, “Round one comes FAST; Drinks for the parents and appetizers for the kids. Second round: the main course for kids, appetizers for parents. Third round; kids get dessert while parents have the main course. This works very well and the only sacrifice is no dessert for the grownups (that may be considered another benefit).”

7. Offer Special Deals for Kids

At some restaurants, kids eat free. This is a great way to draw more families to your restaurant. If you’re not interested in offering completely free meals for children, try offering special deals during “kids’ happy hours.” Choose a block of time before peak hours when kids’ meals are half off or when kids get a free dessert. Not only will these happy hours attract new customers, they will also encourage families to visit your restaurant earlier in the day. That way, children won’t disturb other diners during your peak hours.

Summertime is an exciting few months for people everywhere – especially kids! You’ll probably see an influx of younger diners in your restaurant soon, so be prepared. Use these 7 tips to help make the dining experience more kid-friendly and fun! 

Running a Restaurant vs. Marketing One. What’s the Difference & How Can You Achieve Both?

At SinglePlatform we have the privilege of speaking with thousands of restaurant owners on a daily basis, learning about each of their businesses on our phone calls. Each owner we speak with has a unique business history and interesting background. They come from across the globe; some are one-shop operations that have been serving their community for decades, some are new franchisees who are fulfilling their lifelong dream to be a business owner. The cuisines they offer are diverse, from traditional Northern Italian fare to trendy Asian/Mexican street food.

They also tend to have different approaches to restaurant marketing. Some are old-school and believe word of mouth is the best way to capture new business, while others recognize the need for technology, a website, and social media. Some choose to invest in local advertising efforts, while others rely heavily on online advertising.

Although these restaurant owners don’t have the same strategies when it comes to marketing, every single one of them relates to a common theme: they love their business and they work hard to continue to make it thrive (which often means wearing many different hats in order to get the job done). You’re a restaurant owner too, so you can relate. Since opening up your restaurant, you’ve probably acted not only as an owner, but as a waiter/waitress, a cook, a busboy, a hostess, an accountant, a grocery shopper, and a bartender. You do it all in the name of helping your business to prosper, which is what any dedicated owner would do! But, when you’re busy having a hand in every aspect of the operation, you don’t have time to take a step back and look at your bigger picture. Unless you have designated staff members, elements like marketing and advertising in order to drive new business can often fall by the wayside.

But, marketing is essential when you’re looking to grow your business. If you can rely on your repeat customers to keep you afloat, that’s great. But, most restaurants need a steady influx of new customers in order to enjoy a healthy profit. Of course, you’ll want those new customers to turn into loyal ones, but the first step is getting the new diners through your door.

We talked to real restaurant owners to get their opinions on the most important marketing tactics in the industry. We’re discussing 3 of them with you today.

Getting Involved in the Community

Owning a restaurant shouldn’t be just to prove you have the town’s best pizza. As a small business owner, your community is what helps you thrive, so giving back in any way possible is wise. One restaurant owner suggests, “find a way to give back to the community. Donate to nonprofits or school PTAs within the community your restaurant is in.” We love this idea! Find opportunities to get involved with school events, fellow small business efforts, and town celebrations, markets and street fairs. Donate food and/or your time to local charities and causes. Putting the faces of your staff and a personality to your restaurant’s name helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty. Attending events and giving back shows that you care about the community you serve.

Although there are plenty of ways to promote yourself online and in traditional advertising, old-school word of mouth is still an extremely useful tactic and can be achieved by attending events. One restaurant owner said, “word of mouth has been really great ahead of my business opening. I’m in a small town, so many people already know me, and they’re excited about what they’re hearing about my grand opening.”

Getting involved locally is a win-win for you as well; share high-quality photos of the events on social media to build your brand presence online. You can even offer exclusive discounts when sponsoring or attending events to encourage locals to dine at your restaurant.

Leveraging Social Media

Social media is free (unless of course, you want to do some paid advertising), and easy to set up. Not to mention, mostly everyone is using it! As a restaurant owner, you should at least one social media platform for your business. But, it’s key to know your demographics when deciding which ones you should be using. If your average customer is a woman between the age of 45-60, Facebook is probably the way to go. 68% of adults in the US are on Facebook (two-thirds of the country!) Post weekly specials and events to your page and engage with followers whenever possible. If your demographic is on the younger side, let’s say you attract after-school high school kids for dinner, you may want to try out a different channel. Some 78% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat and 71% use Instagram. These social media outlets may be better in reaching those younger customers. If you’re having a daily special or exclusive menu item, update your Instagram or Snapchat story. You can see who views your story and follow them to increase your social community.

One restaurateur said “I started using social media and quickly noticed how a community was created within my small town. It was great to see people coming into my weekly happy hour event because they saw my reminder on Facebook. It’s an easy tool to interact with my customers on these platforms too. Social media keeps the conversation going and helps build those important relationships.”

To take it a step further, you may want to try out small paid advertising campaigns to reach a targeted audience. As we always say, make sure if you’re posting photos that they’re clear, enticing, and attractive. If you’re publishing blurry or unappealing photos, chances are people will scroll on by. It’s also important to note the correct dimensions for posting on different social accounts.  This is a great guide for determining what size your photos should be to achieve the best quality. Your social media may be the first taste of what you have to offer for some potential diners, so make sure it accurately reflects your brand.

Prioritizing Online Menu Management

We’ve said it before & we’ll say it again, online menus are crucial! The majority of people (93%) are looking at online menus before dining out. SinglePlatform data shows that certain holidays, like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are proven to show spikes in online menu views as people plan celebrations. You can post beautiful photos of your restaurant and food, respond to reviews, and keep your website fresh, which are all things you should be doing as part of your restaurant marketing strategy, but the information people most want to know is what food you’ll be serving them when they walk through your door.

We talked to a restaurant owner who realized his missed opportunity when it came to menu management. When asked about marketing his restaurant he said, “I knew I needed a better plan for getting more people into my restaurant for holidays and occasions like Mother’s Day. I also knew I needed a way to communicate to diners that I was offering a special brunch menu for the holiday. But, my staff is small, so in the months and weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I was busy taking orders, greeting guests, cooking in the kitchen, and doing all of the ordering of supplies. I simply didn’t have the foresight or the time to plan ahead. I’m sure as a restaurant owner you know the feeling. Needless to say, when Mother’s Day rolled around, my restaurant was almost empty and I lost out on the opportunity to make a ton of money. I wish I had thought ahead about marketing and getting my menu online earlier to make the holiday a success for my restaurant.”

Menu management allows you to get out there past just your business website. People are looking for places to eat on websites like GoogleTripAdvisor, and Yelp. You want to be there, and accurately represented, on all of these search engines and review sites. And menu management can get you there.

You’re a restaurant owner, and maybe you’re too focused on the day to day operations of your business to think about marketing. But, getting the word out there about your business is crucial if you want to get new customers and make more money! There are a ton of marketing strategies to try, but some are more beneficial than others. These three marketing elements we shared are simple, effective ways to help you build your business that don’t require countless hours or tons of money to get the job done. Choosing your marketing mediums wisely and being consistent with them will go a long way.

About the Author: Joe Sclafani is a Sales Training Manager here at SinglePlatform. He has the privilege of teaching new sales talent the importance and benefits of getting restaurant owners’ menus online. He enjoys interacting with business owners on a daily basis and even has prior experience in working in restaurants as well.

Veganism is at an All-Time High: Is it A Fleeting Fad or The New Norm?

It seems like no matter which way I turn, what restaurant magazine I’m reading, or food blog I stumble upon, the word vegan is showing up more than ever before. This isn’t a coincidence, my plant-based friends (and carnivores alike). Veganism is on the rise, and there are stats to prove it. In this blog, we explore the current state of veganism and how it is influencing changes in the restaurant industry.

The Facts

[There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S. in the last three years. According to a report by research firm GlobalData, only 1% of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014. And in 2017, that number rose to 6%.]

A 600% increase in veganism in the U.S. in only 3 years is a staggering statistic. It’s pretty obvious that more and more people are moving toward a plant-based lifestyle. But, when I look at this green machine revolution from my own perspective, the presence of veganism doesn’t seem as overwhelming as research shows. I only know one vegan personally. I also have a couple of vegetarian friends, but for the most part, the majority of my circle enjoys a good cut of beef. Still, I live in Brooklyn, which as of recent has been known for its influx of innovative restaurants and as a hub for food trends. Needless to say, there are vegan options galore if you’re looking for them, or even if you’re not. I’ll bet that if I walked within a few blocks of my apartment I could find non-dairy fettuccine alfredo or buffalo tofu sliders in 100 steps or less. More and more I’m seeing popular, traditionally meat-filled Americana classics, like burgers and buffalo wings, transforming into vegan-friendly dishes. There are even meat-free burgers that take on the disguise of real ones, red with “blood” and all.

Just as with anything else, location plays a huge role in current restaurant and food trends. If I was living in the heart of Houston, I’m not as confident that there would be such an abundance of vegan options.

This shift in dietary decision isn’t only within the United States. The adoption of a plant-based way of life started as a fringe movement but is now echoing around the world. Search data from Google Trends shows an impressive worldwide increase in the interest in veganism from 2004 to 2018. Top regions include Israel, Australia, Canada, Austria, and New Zealand. Seven percent or about 3.5 million people now identify as vegan in Great Britain. But, although the U.S. and U.K. round out the top 3 vegan countries by percentage, India takes the first spot with veganism encompassing 27% of the population. This comes to me as no surprise, though, as India has long been known as widely vegetarian. It will be interesting to see how these percentages shift if embracing of the diet continues to trend upwards.

The Reasons

So, why do people turn vegan in the first place? As we can see from the influx in recent years, it’s not just because they were born into the lifestyle. Most people probably made an educated, conscious choice to swear off meat and dairy altogether. A study based in the U.K. reveals:

It doesn’t surprise me that health and weight management are the top reasons why people are turning to veganism. Food allergies have been on the rise, with 1 in 13 children affected in the United States and a 50% increase in allergies from 1997-2011. Top foods that cause these reactions? 90% of food allergies come from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. A large number of people also suffer from food-related illnesses like celiac disease (1 in 133 Americans) and lactose intolerance (30-50 million in the U.S.), which have a direct influence on diet choices and food restrictions.

Aside from allergies and conditions, some people go vegan in hopes of living a healthier lifestyle. Red meat has long been linked to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Chicken is notorious to be a breeding ground for salmonella, and fish poses a threat of mercury. Some people just believe that plants are healthier than animal products.

Research conclusions from recent studies have come out on both sides of the coin.

A Time Magazine article explores whether or not vegan is actually better for health. From that, we extract some key findings from both sides:

[A 2015 Study from the University of North Carolina showed that veganism came out on top as the best diet for weight loss. Another study linked it to “significantly lower rates of heart disease and cancer.” However, a professor from Colorado State University notes that there aren’t any clear mortality benefits, and that vegan diets may be less healthy than those including meat due to the lack of essential nutrients like B12.]

In my opinion, it’s too early to say whether or not a vegan diet can significantly improve health. I’ve heard about a number of different diets and each and every one has been both praised and discredited. Personally, I stick to eating meat (and vegetables too, of course) because I find it to be both delicious and a good source of protein and other nutrients that I just can’t see coming from all plant-based products. Of course, I don’t suffer from any dietary restrictions, which plays a part in what I choose to eat. If I had an allergy or condition, I’d have to make the proper adjustments. Still, since veganism has just recently picked up in popularity, I think it’ll be beneficial to revisit the research in the coming years, with a larger sample size, so we can get a better comparison between different diets to better weigh the positive and negatives.

The Effect on the Restaurant Industry

So, just how is veganism affecting the restaurant industry? It’s been identified as a major food industry trend for 2018 by chefs around the world. And some restaurants are already acting on it. Gauthier Soho, a French fine dining establishment in the U.K., has plans to go completely vegan within the next two years. When I came across this article I thought to myself, “wow, I don’t even know what I’d order there.” Now I know how it feels to be a vegan in a steakhouse.

Forbes is even predicting that fast-food giants will incorporate vegan options into their menu strategy, noting that a chain, Plant Power Fast Food, is already making its mark on the industry. I think that we’ll see even more well-known restaurant chains and popular dining establishments adopt a more vegan-friendly menu in the near future.

But, let’s take a step back for a minute. Even before the rise of veganism, restaurants throughout history have had to make adjustments to suit all different kinds of needs, from dietary restrictions like allergies to including vegetarian options. Being dynamic is an essential part of being a business, especially a restaurant, owner. Having the capability to adapt to this increase in veganism can help you gain a competitive edge. As more people make the decision to go vegan, there will be a heightened need for more inclusive dining options. Be there to fill that void before every other restaurant does.

Incorporating vegan items into your dining landscape is an example of how you can dynamically adapt to change.  Of course, that’s not to say that you should change every menu item from sirloin to tofu, but having a diverse offering can help you expand your customer base. An all-inclusive approach can not only help to win you more business but keep each and every customer satisfied.

If you are planning to go vegan, make sure you let your potential customers know. With 93% of people looking at online menus, it’s pretty much guaranteed that people are specifically looking for vegan options. Your in-house and online menus should accurately and clearly reflect your offerings so you can drive more business and fill more seats.

Clearly, adopting a vegan lifestyle is becoming extremely popular across the globe. As for me, I’m going to stick to my omnivore ways, but will be on the look-out for how restaurants and grocery stores continue to adjust. It’ll be interesting to see if the restaurant industry will evolve significantly in order to become more inclusive of vegan diets. For now, I’ll sit back, order a steak, and watch.

About the Author: Taylor Kelly is SinglePlatform’s Content Marketer.  She loves reorganizing words and cabinets, drinking iced coffee whether it’s summer or winter, and checking out the best happy hour spots New York City has to offer. Her goal at SP is to provide creative & informative content about anything restaurant & small business related.

How to: Change the Order of Your Menu Items

You’ve already mastered uploading your menu in the SinglePlatform portal, linking your menu to Facebook, and claiming your business on important search engines and review sites. What’s next? Well, maybe you’ve decided that after learning a little more about menu engineering you want to switch up the order of your menu items. You’re in luck! Within the SinglePlatform portal, making changes to your menu is easy as dragging and dropping. We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of reordering your menu, menu items, and sections so you can always keep your content up to date.

Reorder Published Menus

The order of your menus (if you have more than one) is seen in the Menus section of your account. When a customer clicks on the More Menus pulldown menu on your SinglePage and other listing sites, they can select which menu to read. If you want to change the order of your menus:

  1. Click Edit on the menu whose position you want to change.
  2. Click inside the box to the left of the name and change the number to be the new position you want it to be.
    Note: The menu in the top position is number “0”.

3. Click on the Menus section button in the left navigation bar to                  verify the menu order is correct.

4. Note: This is how it will look on your SinglePage.

Reorder Menu Items

  1. Once you’re in a specific menu, place your cursor over the item you want to move, and click down on the handle to the left that appears.
  2. Drag your item to its new position.
  3. Release your mouse.

Reordering menu items is as easy as that! Let’s take a look at reordering sections next.

Reorder Sections

  1. Place your cursor inside the section you want to move, but not inside of a field.
  2. Click down and drag the section to its new position. You will not see a handle or the cursor change shape.
  3. Release your mouse. Now the item will be in its new position.

Congratulations – you are now a menu reordering master! Need help or want us to do the work for you? No problem – contact us via email or at 929-254-0250.

Holiday, Celebrate! SinglePlatform’s Newest Feature: Upcoming Holidays Tool Designed to Maximize Marketing Potential

Holidays are times for celebration, so including them as part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy is wise. In our Customer Lifecycle Value blog, we discussed how to move potential diners through the marketing funnel, from gaining awareness of your business to becoming regular customers. As a restaurant owner, you’re probably always looking for new ideas on how to market your business. Holidays are a great way to get your name out on social media and are viable reasons to run promotions and offer discounts. But, you may not realize just how many holidays there are! Of course, federal holidays are widely recognized across the country, but there are plenty of other celebratory days to capitalize on. With our newest feature within the SinglePlatform portal, you can quickly recognize these opportunities and act on them with a few clicks. Upcoming Holidays announcements are here!

In order to help you improve your marketing tactics, we dug deep to find the nationally recognized holidays that would be most relevant to your restaurant. For example, did you know that July 21st is National Junk food Day, or that July 30th is National Cheesecake Day? It’s true! You can have your junk food and eat it too (on July 21st, at least). These celebratory days stir up excitement on social media and inspire people to take part in the revelry.

As a restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity to get into the conversation and inspire more customers to dine with you by enticing them with limited-time offers. And we just made it easy to do so within our portal with the Upcoming Holidays feature.

Upon landing on your SinglePlatform Dashboard within the portal, you’ll now see the newest addition on the right side of the screen, “Upcoming Holidays.”

At a glance, you’ll be able to quickly decipher which holidays are coming up next on the calendar. But, it goes further than that. Hover over a holiday and you’ll see a button “Schedule Announcement.”

When you click the button, a screen will pop up and prompt you to schedule your post.

A pre-populated message is available for you to utilize, just fill in the blanks! If you want to offer 10% off all onion rings on June 22nd, you can do so by filling out the “Discount Amount” field with 10% and “Discount Item” field with Onion Rings. Voilà! You’re ready to go. You can schedule your announcement immediately and choose when you want it to be posted and removed. The message will be automatically pushed out to your integrated social media platforms and Google Posts (now available in SinglePlatform with a verified Google My Business account).

If you’d rather take the customized route, just switch from Suggested Announcement to Custom Announcement mode. You’ll be able to type your unique message into the text box and follow the same steps for scheduling and removal. And of course, when creating your customized message, you aren’t required to offer a discount. You can let customers know about extended hours, a special event, or any other fun update you have going on because of the holiday!

Here are some of our suggestions when using the Custom Announcement feature:

  1. Make sure your customers know when your discount or event is happening (include the word “today” or use the date)
  2. Let them know what the celebration is for (mention that it’s National Cheesecake Day in your post)
  3. If your SinglePlatform portal is linked to your business’ Twitter page, use hashtags (#NationalJunkFoodDay is sure to have some hype on social media)
  4. Make it fun while including the facts! You want your posts to attract your customers’ eyes so they’ll pay you a visit.

Benefits to this new feature? Of course, as we mentioned before, even more marketing opportunities! You may feel like it’s hard to keep your marketing ideas fresh, but this is another tool you can use to maximize your online exposure and draw more people through your door (which in turn = more revenue!)

Plus, it helps you stay informed about what’s being celebrated so you can not only advertise but educate your customers (who wouldn’t want to learn that it’s National Grilled Cheese day?)

Not to mention, the tool is so easy to use that you can schedule messages in a matter of minutes and get back to your other responsibilities. You can even schedule all of your posts for holidays happening in the upcoming month to cover all of your bases at once.

Having a social presence is important and it’s worth the extra effort! Creating a conversation around current events helps to keep the relationship alive between your restaurant and your customers. Offer content that will not only make them double-tap but inspire them to make the trip to your restaurant (I know I’d definitely travel for discounted tacos!)

Calculating Your Restaurant’s Customer Lifetime Value

Customers are what make your restaurant thrive. But, do you have an idea of the path your customers take to arrive at your restaurant?  Every business owner understands that a successful business starts with driving sales and revenue.  Occupied restaurant seats lead to full cash registers.  But how much are your customers really worth? Let’s explore the concept of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and what it means for your business.

One particular metric that many business owners consider is their Customer Lifetime Value.  Simply put, this is the dollar amount that a customer spends with you over a period of time.  Not all customers can be considered equivalent when it comes to a monetary value; there’s a significant difference between a fickle explorer and a loyal regular.  Ideally, you’d like to turn those first-time diners into repeat customers.

To calculate the Customer Lifetime Value for your restaurant, start by identifying the average order amount. To do this, divide your total revenue by the total number of orders over a set period of time (ideally a full year to account for any seasonal fluctuation). This figure is a good benchmark to refer to when considering not only CLV, but how to increase the typical order amount as well.

Next, you’ll need to determine how frequently your customers visit.  Divide the total number of orders by the tally of unique customers.  This will give you a figure for your average customer’s purchasing frequency.

** Note that this can be an inexact science. Some customers pay in cash, and not all point of sale systems log your customer names in a sortable format.  Try using some rules of thumb to estimate.  Restaurants in tourist-friendly areas will have more unique guests, whereas more rural locales will have a smaller customer base and naturally more recurring customers.  Can you estimate what percentage of your customers have eaten with you before?

To finish calculating Customer Lifetime Value, just multiply the purchasing frequency by the average order value.  This is the customer’s value over the course of the year.  We have one more variable to consider: how many years are in a ‘lifetime?’  Longstanding restaurants and brands can last generations.  Starbucks uses 20 years as an expectation for its repeat customers.  If you’re less established or on a shorter timeline, consider using five years as the window you can expect to make money from your typical customer.

Here is an example calculation of a Customer Lifetime Value:

When it comes to Customer Lifetime Value, the location of your business should be taken into consideration.  If your business is in a densely populated area or features a fair amount of tourism traffic, you will enjoy some first-time customer traffic naturally.  Your CLV may trend a bit lower, but you have the opportunity to win over that many more people.  The opposite is true for those restaurants in more rural or secluded areas. These locations rely on loyalty and repeat business, meaning the CLV figures must be higher by necessity. The good news is that a positive first impression goes that much farther in terms of driving tangible future sales. Need advice on how to attract first-time customers to your restaurant? We’ll dive into that next. We also discuss this in our 9 Simple Restaurant Marketing Ideas blog.

Customer Lifetime Value can give crucial insight into how much money your customers are worth beyond just today’s order. You can also get a picture of how much you should be spending on acquiring new customers in the first place. The goal of any marketing or advertising campaign is to generate a positive return on investment. So how do you ensure you’re maximizing these returns and getting the most out of your marketing efforts?

Let’s go back to a customer’s decision making path resulting in eating at your restaurant.  This funnel chart by SEO company Moz outlines the decision-making process:

To win new business, customers must first discover you.  Everything from the sign on your front door, to word-of-mouth, to search results on popular search engines play a part in enticing first-time customers to come in for a visit.  Every avenue counts, although restaurants in more populated areas have a natural advantage.

Once your name is out there, potential customers can begin their consideration process. Some questions they may ask themselves: do you serve what they’re in the mood for?  Is your price range within what they’re willing to spend? Are you in close enough proximity to their home? In the era of smartphones, even hungry people right outside your door may pause to qualify your restaurant before giving you a shot. They have access to photos, reviews, and business information right at their fingertips. This is why your online presence is crucial. Is there enough positive and accurate information about your business online to inspire a customer to pay you a visit?

The conversion aspect of funnel comes into play when a customer finally decides to dine with you. Ideally, the experience is in line with the customer’s expectations.  Are the most popular menu items available?  Was the customer greeted promptly by a friendly staff?  Did the food itself win them over?  If your restaurant provides consistency in these respects, your first-time customers have experienced a positive representation of your business, and your regulars can rest assured that they’ll be pleased the next time they come back.

After the bill is paid, the customer still has more to offer your business. This part is all about retention. A memorable dining experience, whether positive or negative, can result in an online review.  All business owners should be conscious of their feedback and manage accordingly, as this content becomes part of the consideration process for the next round of customers.  An equivalent method of receiving feedback can be in the form of a simple survey card with the check, which gives the opportunity for the customer to leave contact information for future communication.  This is absolutely an invitation for follow-up business, so act on it! Start by putting together a list with all of your gathered customer information. Then, you can create a monthly newsletter for your customer base to keep them in the know and keep your restaurant top of mind. Do you have rotating specials that might catch their interest? Do you host live events? Even consider offering coupons or promotions to inspire them to return as well.

If you work potential diners through the marketing funnel effectively, retention should come easily. It starts with making people aware of your restaurant through non-invasive methods and ends with putting in the effort to retain them as loyal customers through meaningful communication.

The Customer Lifetime Value figure is influenced by each of these individual steps.  Being cognizant of the decision-making process help you as a restaurant owner maximize the money that each individual customer is willing to spend over time. To improve your restaurant’s own CLV, try making small, but effective refinements to the customer experience. There’s plenty of room for creativity and improvement!