Are You Setting These Goals for Your Restaurant to Boost Profits?

As a restaurant owner or manager, how many hours a day do you spend exporting and updating Excel sheets to gauge the success of your restaurant?

And when you finally have those numbers, do you set data-driven restaurant goals down to the year, month, and day? Or, do you look at the plethora of numbers on the sheet and say, “well, my restaurant is earning money, so I must be doing something right,” and call it a day?

The truth is, restaurant numbers can tell any story you want them to tell. By setting short and long term goals for your restaurant you can dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of your restaurant sales and menu analytics.

Plus, with the right restaurant analytics platform, you can drill all the way down to the “extra cheese” on nachos to instantly determine exactly which parts of your business are indicators of success or areas of improvement, instead of spending hours grappling with charts and pivot tables to get the same answer.

7 Restaurant Goals Examples

Here are seven examples of short term and long term goals for a restaurant that you can set to improve restaurant KPIs like net sales, labor cost percentage, and more.

1. Increase Monthly Net Restaurant Sales

Net restaurant sales might be the most important metric for your business; it’s the foundation of all of your restaurant analytics. Your success — and, if applicable, your investors’ success — is wholly dependent on this number. Net sales is gross sales minus discounts, and it can be a pain to calculate every day, rifling through yesterday’s receipts. If you could access that number from anywhere at any time, you could focus less on finding those numbers and more on increasing those numbers.

Depending on your restaurant’s historical numbers, location, and what you know about how seasonality affects your restaurant, you could set goals for your net restaurant sales to increase month over month.

2. Increase Daily Net Restaurant Sales

Sometimes, it’s nice to see a daily snapshot of net restaurant sales. The restaurant above, for example, ran a weekend promotion on December 14 and 15 which brought in the majority of sales for the month. Without that promotion, they may have seen an average net sales per day of approximately $3,000, but now they’ve improved that number to approximately $5,000.

This promotion obviously improved sales for this restaurant, so maybe they want to add it to their playbook to run once a month or quarter.

3. Decrease Theft and Improve Employee Productivity

Restaurant sales data can also help you decide when to staff up and staff down, saving on prime cost and labor cost percentage.

For example, the restaurant above is busiest between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. They should staff their best employees at those times to improve labor cost percentage.

It’s also telling that there are sales transactions happening between midnight and 6 a.m. Is the restaurant even open at that time? If there are transactions going through the system during off hours, you may want to see who was staffed to prevent against theft.

4. Improve New Revenue Streams

According to the 2017 Restaurant Technology Report, 54% of diners marked loyalty programs as “somewhat” or “very” important, and 36% marked gift card programs as “somewhat” or “very” important. Obviously, these revenue streams are important for growing your guest base.

The restaurant above had 70 transactions with a gift card, which is 6% of total; those gift cards, however, only brought in 4% of total sales.

You could start a competition with your servers to see who can sell the most gift cards with a goal of increasing the percentage of gift card transactions.

5. Improve Your Top Selling Items

If you’re familiar with menu engineering, you know the “stars” of your menu are the most popular and the most profitable.

The dashboard pictured above will show you which three menu groups, menu items, and menu modifiers are most popular. You can then focus solely on making those “stars” even better.

Is there a cheaper cut of 10 oz sirloin steak you can buy to improve your food cost percentage? Could you change your menu design to move another item higher on the menu to beat out calamari, which might be costing a pretty penny to make?

6. Test New Menu Items

With a breakdown of your product mix, you can see exactly how a new menu item is faring, and even get ideas for other menu items based on popular modifiers people are ordering. Your customers, unbeknownst to them, are often your best idea-generators for new recipes.

To test a new menu item, calculate the average net sales per menu item in a month. Then, add a new item to your menu for one month. After the month is over, see if the monthly net sales for the new menu item beat out the average. If it did, you might want to keep it in your lineup!

7. Test Service Charges

With the minimum wage rising in 18 states, and tip pooling laws possibly changing in our new administration, restaurants are experimenting with several new ways to drive down labor costs including implementing service charges for the back of house and/or front of house staff.

The restaurant above has a sales category for “non-gratuity service charges,” so they can measure the effectiveness of this strategy.

They can also see, in quick view, how much their customers are spending on food, alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as which items have not been marked in any of those categories.

What Are Your Short and Long Term Restaurant Goals?

Many restaurants are thinking about how to set reachable long term goals — but also what they can do to improve sales next week.

What are your short and long-term restaurant goals?


This post originally appeared on [The Toast Restaurant Management Blog] & has been reprinted with permission. Email our partners at Toast at blog@toasttab.com to learn more!

The Coffee Industry is Changing: How Will Your Business Adapt?

Coffee. For most people, coffee is the fuel that gets them going in the morning (I know it is for me). Whether it’s a cup brewed at home or an iced latte grabbed on the go, the average coffee drinker has 3 cups per day. In the US alone, there are 150 million daily drinkers. Of course, drinking coffee isn’t a new trend. It’s been around since the discovery of the “coffee berry” in Ethiopia way back when in the year 850.  But, the ways in which we consume the hot (and cold) stuff has quickly evolved in recent times.

Because of its increasing popularity, the $100B coffee industry itself is currently experiencing growing pains. There is ample room for opportunity, but where there’s opportunity, there are also threats. CBInsights says:

[Global coffee production is hitting record highs this year, and analysts predict consumption growth of 5-7% through 2025.

Young people in China are drinking more coffee, while Americans are drinking more expensive coffee — opening huge opportunities on both fronts.]

Good news, right? Of course, coffee production companies will have to adjust to supply accordingly, especially those suppliers in the U.S. More countries that are usually top coffee suppliers are becoming avid coffee drinkers, which means fewer beans available for export to the US. Here are the top 4 coffee exporters based on 2017 data:

  • Brazil: US$4.6 billion (14.1% of total coffee exports)
  • Vietnam: $3.5 billion (10.7%)
  • Germany: $2.64 billion (8.1%)
  • Colombia: $2.58 billion (7.9%)

The United States is 12th on that list, which means we’ve got to step up our coffee production game if we want to keep enjoying those fresh cups of joe.

So, what does all this coffee news mean for the restaurant industry? Well, the demand for coffee is present and will most likely trend upwards. But, brick and mortar locations are at a low when it comes to growth rate. Why? Because there are plenty more options today than just grabbing a hot cup of coffee at the local diner or cafe.

If you’ve recently been in any big-box supermarket or convenience stores, chances are you’ve seen a dozen or more options for grab-and-go coffee. Bottled, boxed, or canned, coffee is available in multiple forms and flavors. This segment of coffee is called the ready-to-drink market and major brands like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have already caught on. Cold brew, a term that was foreign until the late 2000s, has become a massive phenomenon in recent times. Cold brew is served both in brick-and-mortar locations and in the ready-to-drink form. And it’s a huge hit with millennials.

 via Spoon University via Spoon University

According to CNBC:

[The ready-to-drink coffee market is forecast to show 67 percent sales growth from 2017-2022, according to Mintel. It also said the ready-to-drink coffee market is the fastest growing segment within the retail coffee market.

“The ready-to-drink coffee market is growing at a very, very strong rate and one of the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverages in general,” Bryant told CNBC.

The ready-to-drink market is certainly a strong competitor to kind of traditional coffee shops because these drinks have become more premium, more specialized and come in a variety of flavors as well,” said Caleb Bryant, senior foodservice analyst at Mintel. “And generally they might be less expensive than something you get at a coffee shop.]

Of course, brick and mortar restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops have to keep this ready-to-drink segment on their radar. But, the good news is millennials are willing to spend more for a fancy caffeinated beverage. As a millennial myself, I think that the ready-to-drink options are convenient and useful in a pinch, but I would still much prefer enjoying a fresh roast at a real cafe.

When it comes to how coffee drinkers go about prioritizing what’s important, we found this infographic by My Coffee Pro quite interesting:

It’s clear to see that people find convenience, location proximity, and good quality product the most important factors of their coffee decisions.

Since the brick-and-mortar growth rates are currently low, you should jump on the opportunity to make it known that you serve what the masses are looking for. Market your business creatively and get your full menu online. Millennials are a great demographic to target & they’re doing online research to discover new spots to drink & dine, so it’s essential to be in all the places they’re searching. Get hyper-local in some of your marketing efforts to make sure you’re reaching an audience near your location. Most people are looking for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up nearby, so you want to let it be known that you’re available and close!

In the wake of a changing coffee landscape, below are a few ideas on how to stand out from the rest of the java crowd.

Create an Exclusive Drink

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte isn’t a drink, it’s a lifestyle. Dunkin Donuts chooses seasonal syrups like Cookie Dough and Peppermint Mocha and then includes the limited-time flavors in any drink you can think of. McDonald’s just released frozen cold brew – a midsummer day’s dream. The moral of the story: people love exclusivity, limited-time offers, and creative concoctions. So, come up with your own! The big guys aren’t the only players who can entice customers with one-of-a-kind items. Dream up, test, and serve drinks that are exclusive to your business and too delicious to deny. Then market those drinks as a limited-time summer (or fall, winter, or spring) offer and get people excited to try them out. You can create buzz around your business simply by being creative and original. But, remember, marketing is a key tactic in all of this. Drum up buzz on your social channels, send email blasts, and make sure your menu is updated everywhere!

Make it An Experience

You may not be a business solely dedicated to coffee but still serve it as your restaurant. Even if you are exclusively a coffee shop, you may want to consider making the experience more “DIY.” Although fast-casual dining is uberly popular, people are still interested in making dining out a true experience. According to a survey by Eventbrite, 75% of people said that they believe unique dining experiences are worth paying more for. So, capitalize on this by offering a one-of-a-kind experience at your location. Try out an upscale coffee bar, complete with different mix-ins and toppings, so guests can create their own potent potion. You can charge a fee per addition or a flat fee based on cup size. You can even set up a photo station with great lighting and props to inspire guests to take photos to post on Instagram.

You may even consider a “pop up” coffee stand outside of your location’s entrance or even in a completely different location. You can make this a limited time offering just for the warm months to offer cold brew and iced coffees. If you have an inviting outdoor area, you may just tempt guests to stay a while longer.

Market, Market, Market!

 via Kays Boutiques via Kays Boutiques

It’s tough to compete against big-name brands and convenient coffee options. But, as we already mentioned, you’ve got something that makes you unique. Marketing goes a long way when it comes to both customer retention and bringing in new guests. Make sure to dedicate some effort to marketing. You can send email newsletters to customers you have email addresses for to tell them about new item releases and exclusive drink deals. If you’re feeling generous, offer coupons for new drinks or a rewards program for multiple visits. Post updates frequently to social media and use high-quality, attractive photos to catch followers’ eyes. Make sure to geotag your posts and encourage others to do so as well so new guests know where you’re located.

Get your menu online, with the help of a menu management company, so people searching for “coffee near me” can find you (remember, location is important to customers!) With the help of menu management you can gain visibility on the sites that matter – like Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and many more. Getting the word out there about your brand and your products will help you attract more coffee lovers.

Coffee has been around since before you or me, but the way in which we drink it has changed drastically over the years. A simple percolated pot of coffee has evolved into an artistically topped latte and cold brew in a can. As a restaurant or cafe owner, you should be mindful of how the coffee landscape is changing and how it affects your business. You want to continue to bring in business despite the existence of competition, so think of new and exciting ways you can offer, and market, your cup of joe.

Meal Kit Delivery Services: How Will Your Restaurant Compete?

Each morning, I listen to a podcast on my way to work. Without fail, at least twice a week, the regular programming is interrupted with advertisements for Blue Apron and HelloFresh. You’ve probably heard of these companies too. They, along with a slew of other meal kit services, deliver pre-portioned ingredients straight to customers’ doors so that they can make restaurant quality dishes like brown butter gnocchi and provolone burgers with marinated kale at home.

 via Hello Fresh Instagram via Hello Fresh Instagram

The meal kit delivery concept originated in Europe in 2007 and has exploded in the United States over the past few years. Now, there seems to be a delivery service to cater to every culinary niche. For example, Sun Basket offers paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian options, Purple Carrot is 100% vegan, PeachDish focuses on Southern specialties, and GreenBlender is exclusively for those who prefer to drink their meals. Collectively, meal kit services are said to rake in a whopping  $1.5 billion in sales each year and, as of last year, the industry was worth an estimated  $4.65 billion.

So, where are those billions of dollars in sales coming from? According to Nielsen, one in four Americans had tried a meal kit service as of March 2017. Neilsen’s study also found that men of all ages are 40% more likely to purchase meal kits than women of the same age and that Millenials and Gen Xers are 321% more likely to buy them than older generations. Moreover, households with children are 326% more likely to purchase meal kits than households without children.

While restaurant traffic has slowed over the past year, meal kit sales are growing exponentially. Now, grocery stores and other major retailers are getting in on the action.  In 2017, Kroger introduced a line of Prep+Pared meals and Amazon began offering meal kit deliveries to select cities. This year, Walmart rolled out its Home Chef Meal Kits at more than 2,000 of its stores. This means that meal kits are now more readily available to the general population than ever before. Therefore, it’s not so hard to believe that the meal kit delivery market is predicted to be worth about 11.6 billion dollars by 2022.

So, how can your restaurant compete with these services? We’ve compiled a list of ways you can make sure you don’t lose sales to meal kit delivery services.

Make Ordering a Cinch

In order to compete with meal kit delivery services that automatically send meals to customers’ doors, you should make ordering ahead as quick and easy as possible. For example, instead of requiring customers to place pickup and delivery orders over the phone, allow them to place their orders online.

Not only is online ordering convenient for your customers, it’s also better for you! Online ordering improves order accuracy (there’s no risk of mishearing a customer and customers can check their selections before they submit them) and digital orderers spend $4 more on average than non-digital orders.

If you’re already partnered with a third-party food ordering service like Grubhub or Seamless, that’s great. Not only do these services make ordering easy, they can also make it easier for new customers to find your restaurant.

It can also be very beneficial to implement your own in-house online ordering software so that customers can place their orders directly on your website. Not only does in-house software allow you to customize your interface, you also won’t lose profits to middlemen. As a result, you’ll boost your revenue. Check out how easy it is to place and customize your order on Boloco’s website.

Offer Cooking Classes

According to a study conducted by Market Force Information, of respondents who had tried a meal kit service, 44% did so because they thought it would be a fun experience, 27% did so because they wanted to learn new cooking techniques, and 26% did so because they wanted to improve their culinary skills.

You can offer diners all three of those things by holding cooking classes at your restaurant. Restaurant-bakery Le Pain Quotidien holds a variety of cooking and baking classes. Prospective students can choose from a course catalog including artisan pizza making and biscuit and scone making. New York eatery Thaimee Table, formerly Ngam, offers Thai cooking classes. Whatever your restaurant’s specialty is, diners may be interested in learning how to make it. Consider gaging interest in a class at your restaurant in order to boost revenue.

Bread making class at Le Pain Quotidien (Tiny Oranges)

Highlight High-Quality Ingredients and Healthy Menu Items

Another common reason that individuals opt for meal kits is for their high-quality ingredients and options that accommodate different dietary restrictions. Many meal kit services heavily advertise their use of organic, antibiotic-free, and sustainable ingredients as well as their low-calorie and diet-friendly options. Additionally, home-cooked meals are generally assumed to be healthier than restaurant ones.

Because restaurants meals often get a bad rap for being unhealthy, you should make it a point to mention if ingredients are organic or locally sourced and if dishes are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise healthy options. You should also make it as easy as possible for customers to alter dishes to accommodate their particular diets. Some restaurants even note on their menus which items can be made vegetarian or gluten-free upon request.

Make Customers Offers They Can’t Refuse

Many of the meal kit companies offer special deals to attract new customers. For example, Blue Apron offers $20 off of each of customers’ first three boxes and HelloFresh offers up to 50% off customers’ first boxes. According to Fast Company, all of the price competition between services leads many customers to jump between companies so that they can take advantage of the discounts that each of the companies have to offer.

Clearly, discounts are a good way to acquire customers. So, to better compete with meal kit delivery services, consider offering coupons or Groupon deals or implementing loyalty programs that reward customers for repeat visits. In case you need another incentive to start a loyalty program, customers spend 46% more when businesses have loyalty programs.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join “Em

Finally, you can try offering meal kits of your own. 49% of adults said they would buy a meal kit from their favorite restaurant. So, why not give the people what they want?

You can either try a pilot program in which you deliver meal kits that help customers prepare your most popular dishes at home to their doors each week or just sell meal kits at your location.

(Restaurant Hospitality)

Strip House in New York City offers “Steak to Go” kits that include two each of barrel-cut filet mignons, prime center-cut strip steaks, and dry-aged boneless ribeyes as well as the restaurant’s signature pepper blend, oil, seasoning, steak sauce, and grilling tips. They typically sell 20-30 kits each week.

(Restaurant Hospitality)

Dos Caminos restaurant offers a “Guac’Tailing To Go Kit” that includes all the ingredients customers need to make guacamole and margaritas at home.

The creators of  Boston Burger Company created a BurgaBox Burger Meal Kit that provides ingredients for four burgers and two sides. Co-owner Chuck Sillari shared some advice for other restaurant owners hoping to get into the meal kit business. “I think only operators who can execute properly should consider meal kits; they’re a totally different world compared to running a restaurant. A lot of testing and tasting go into the creation of every kit,” he told Trendista. “But, if you love making your people happy and can do it right, I say do it. It’s great to see people get so excited about provides what we’re doing.”

Meal kit delivery services are everywhere. Is your restaurant ready to compete?

The Current State of Employment’s Effect on Your Restaurant

In today’s employment market good help is hard to find. And the current state of employment in the US directly affects your restaurant business. Of course, as a restaurant owner, you want to stay afloat despite any potential difficulties. It’s important to stay in-the-know about current industry trends and realities in order to adjust accordingly. Today we’re discussing the state of the employment industry as it relates to the restaurant industry & what all of it means for your restaurant.

Low Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is currently holding steady at a record low at 4% (the lowest it’s been in 17 years). This is a great thing for our economy but can pose threats to your restaurant business. If everyone has a job, they don’t need a new one! Despite the unemployment rate, the restaurant industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. There are too many positions available and not enough talent, which really makes it an employment seeker’s market. This notion means that candidates might strategically negotiate higher wages because they know restaurants desperately need roles to be filled. And if a potential new hire isn’t happy with your offer, they might just go across the street to another restaurant to negotiate for a higher wage. Current minimum wage varies; you can see the current minimum wages by state here.

Without enough employees, you’ll find it even more difficult to keep running your operations smoothly. That’s why creating a solid company culture is ever-so important. Although it may currently be a challenge to bring on new employees, you should also focus on keeping the ones you already have happy. A business is strengthened by its people and without your staff, you’d have to close up shop.

Ideas for Increasing Employee Longevity:

  • Offer ongoing training opportunities
  • Create some attractive company perks and incentives
  • Establish an open line of communication between owners and employees

High Staff Turnover

Another factor,  the elephant in the restaurant dining room, is high staff turnover. As a restaurant owner, you know it exists. We discussed staff turnover in our blog on company culture and offered up some ideas on how to improve your restaurant’s culture.

Unfortunately, the hospitality industry sees over 70% in turnover rates. There are many factors that contribute to this in restaurants.

Many restaurant workers are part-time, using it as a first job opportunity and as extra cash while they’re in school. On the other hand, some employees discover that the long and demanding work hours just aren’t for them.

Plus, many restaurant industry jobs are tip-based, which can prove to be an undesirable source of income for some workers. And when it comes to tips, the current tip debate may pose additional threats. Although some believe that having a pricing model where the tip is already factored into the cost can help mitigate tip theft and other issues, others are standing strong against it. According to the article by Food & Wine:  “Some servers say this means lower wages and more turnover.” 

The turnover percentage varies based on restaurant type as well, with fast-food restaurants experiencing the highest rates.

According to the National Restaurant News:

[Turnover among limited-service restaurants is 153 percent, including a 60-percent turnover rate among managers. Full-service restaurants have a turnover rate of 101 percent, with managers churning at a 37-percent rate, he said, citing data from Dallas-based analytics firm TDn2K.]

The cost of turnover is detrimental to restaurants, as rehiring and retraining are an ongoing burden for your finances and resources. This is another reason why keeping your current employees happy is extremely important.

Of course, not every employee is going to stick around for a lengthy tenure, but it’s wise to have a plan in place for keeping workers around. Creating a solid and desirable company culture can help your employees see the benefits of working for you.

Ideas for Boosting Company Culture: 

  • Fun, interactive team outings
  • An inviting break room
  • Consistent check-in one-on-one meetings

Current Government Status

The government’s crackdown on immigration laws is also influencing the restaurant industry’s hiring pool. Since 2017,  seasonal work visa allowances for immigrants has lowered. An article by The Sand Paper states:

[Prior to the Trump Administration, the U.S. would allow some 66,000 non-agricultural workers to work seasonally on what’s called an H-2B Visa, where business required more labor than the local workforce could supply. Traditionally, workers who returned season after season weren’t included in the 66,000 cap.

These are legal, temporary immigrant workers who are taxed. They return to their home country at the end of the season.

The current administration decided to keep the cap at 66,000, which has left many U.S. businesses scrambling, particularly ones that are busiest in the summer. In May, the Department of Homeland Security raised the cap, allowing another 15,000 workers. But for some businesses it may be too late.]

With fewer workers on visas allowed into the country for seasonal work, there are even fewer options when it comes to temporary hiring. Businesses, especially those who boom in the summer months, are finding it difficult to fill roles even for a short length of time.

Aside from legal immigrants, illegal immigration is being closely looked at as well. Undocumented workers are aplenty in the restaurant industry, but their potential deportation poses even more of a threat to restaurant staff numbers.

Studies from 2017 show that immigrants make up 17% of the US labor force, with almost one-quarter of those workers being undocumented. Pew Research finds that if immigration declines, the workforce numbers will fall along with it. As Baby-Boomers phase out and the US birth rate remains low, there are less homegrown citizens in need of work. It’ll be important to keep tabs on the state of immigration laws and how they evolve to see how they’ll impact the workforce.

Piecing it All Together

It’s no secret that there are many factors making hiring and maintaining employees difficult in the restaurant industry currently. As a restaurant owner, you’re probably feeling the effects. If your business has had a history of high-turnover, consider some of the suggestions we’ve made for keeping employees around longer.

Work as an Experience

Today, employees aren’t just looking for a paycheck; they want incentives and benefits that make the job worthwhile. Implementing even the smallest of changes to make the work environment more enjoyable can help keep workers around longer.

Educational Opportunities

Giving your employees additional opportunities to learn an advance can prove to be beneficial. Ongoing training and education can inspire workers to climb the ladder at your company instead of going elsewhere. Providing opportunities to learn shows that you care about their career path.

Preparing for the Inevitable

Of course, turnover is always going to be a factor in the restaurant industry. How you deal with it will help in the long run. If you have a tried and true training strategy mapped out, it will be easier and faster to bring on new employees. Make sure that your training staff is well-educated and prepared to take on new hires.

Smart Recruiting

When it comes to immigration laws, there isn’t much that we as common citizens can do about them. But, instead, the restaurant industry should prepare to adjust.

Get creative when recruiting new employees. Showcase what makes your restaurant unique and provide reasons why prospects should work there. Make sure that the application process clearly shows your brand identity and highlights your strengths. Be transparent during the interviews so the candidate knows exactly what to expect from the start.

Referrals are also a great way to reel in quality employees. Ask current driven employees if they know anyone who would be a great fit. Of course, you should incentivize the employees who gave you the recommendation if you decide to hire their referral.

Don’t just hire to hire, hire because you see the individual as a great fit for the company. Although these ideal employees may be hard to find, they have more of a chance of lasting longer.

The employment landscape is always changing, but as a restaurant owner, you need to know how to adapt quickly in order to stay afloat. It’s important to be aware of current employment rates, industry turnover percentages, and government regulations. Being informed and prepared will aid you in making more informed decisions so you can hire smarter and keep employees around for the long haul.


Thanks for reading. Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.

Partnership Profile: Tripadvisor

 

The Background

Tripadvisor. Chances are you’ve not only heard of it but have used it. Tripadvisor is the world’s largest travel site, covering the biggest selection of travel listings worldwide. The review site, headquartered in Needham, MA, empowers people to discover information and opinions on destinations to visit, restaurants to dine at, and activities to book, from real people giving real reviews.

When their CEO, Stephen Kaufer, founded Tripadvisor in 2000, his mission was to help travelers around the world plan and book the perfect trip. Today, Tripadvisor powers over 630M reviews and opinions and has an average of 455M monthly visitors. At SinglePlatform, we’re a proud partner of the Tripadvisor brand.

Millions of people turn to Tripadvisor to read reviews and see pictures of places they’re considering visiting. With 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, Tripadvisor has seen immense success in the travel and hospitality world.

But, Tripadvisor doesn’t only benefit the reviewer or the reader, it benefits you, the business that’s being featured as well. The popular forum is a great way to gain exposure for your restaurant online by getting in front of millions of people who are using the website or app every day. Plus, claiming your listing on Tripadvisor is free for your restaurant, so it’s basically a no-brainer.

The Facts

So, just how influential is Tripadvisor when it comes to choosing a restaurant? The company performed research to find out how many people actually use the tool for dining decisions. The response was overwhelming. 96% of people noted they use Tripadvisor when looking for restaurants while traveling. When researchers are at home, Tripadvisor influences 78% of dining decisions. People trust Tripadvisor when it comes to the trustworthiness and accuracy of online reviews. They also find that Tripadvisor has the most helpful restaurant reviews and photos.

When it comes to new restaurants, 90% of people in the US note that they’ve discovered new restaurants to dine at by using Tripadvisor. Clearly, Tripadvisor has a huge impact on where people choose to eat. Want more facts and stats? Check them out here.

What Can You Do on Tripadvisor?

Creating a Tripadvisor account is free! With a free Tripadvisor account, you can edit your business details to ensure information accuracy, add photos, and respond to reviews (this is important!) It’s essential to take control of your restaurant’s online presence, so we encourage you to claim your Tripadvisor listing to ensure you’re being represented truthfully online, and so that you can interact with users.

Upon entering the Tripadvisor website, users are prompted to search for a destination or hotel, so they can start a search as vague or specific as they’d like. But, they don’t just stop at hotels. Tripadvisor also covers the restaurant industry. They have a separate tab specifically dedicated to restaurants, which can be accessed through the homepage. Tripadvisor currently features over 4 million restaurants worldwide and gives the user the option to search by location, cuisine type, or restaurant name. Plus, searchers can even make online reservations through Tripadvisor if they find a restaurant they decide is a must-visit.

Here’s an example of how a restaurant’s listing looks on Tripadvisor:

You can easily see the overall bubble rating, the contact information for the business, photos, and even the menu (that’s where we come in). If a user likes what they see but wants to do more research, they can easily navigate to the restaurant’s own website from Tripadvisor or make a reservation directly from the Tripadvisor listing.

Once you’ve claimed your Tripadvisor listing, it’s easy to customize your page with your business information, menu, and photos. If you’re already using SinglePlatform, some of the work will be done for you.

Our Partnership

As mentioned, SinglePlatform powers menus on Tripadvisor and has been doing so for years. As a menu management company, we push our customers’ menus from our portal to all of the websites that matter, including Tripadvisor. This ensures that a restaurant’s online menu is distributed with consistency across channels and accurately as owner-verified information. An accurate menu and restaurant profile mixed with online reviews is a recipe for a restaurant’s success.

An Expanded Presence

Tripadvisor didn’t just stop there. They’ve expanded their offering by introducing Tripadvisor Advertising, which allows restaurants and other businesses to drive traffic to their listings through sponsored placements. These ads are shown on desktop and mobile and are pushed out to a highly targeted audience who are looking for places to dine in your area. The purpose? To give restaurants the option to gain even more visibility on Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor also offers a Premium product for Restaurants, which gives you additional tools like Storyboard, Top 3 Reasons to Eat Here, Favorite Reviews, and exclusive data & insights. To explore Premium, learn more here. 

Looking Ahead

Tripadvisor & SinglePlatform stress the importance of a solid online presence and encourage you, as a restaurant owner, to take advantage of the tools available to you. In a world where word of mouth spreads online, it’s essential to be part of the conversation. Tripadvisor can help you do just that. We look forward to working together to provide our customers with the online exposure you deserve.

Questions about Tripadvisor? 

Contact them today: (800) 895-5613

6 Easy Ways to Boost Your Restaurant Website’s SEO

SEO is a buzzword that you’re probably familiar with. If not, let’s define it.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s defined as the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid or organic results. Basically, SEO helps your website rank higher in search results.

Why does this matter? Everyone has competition. When people are searching for a keyword or a business online, you want to be found in search results when the search is relevant to you. If your restaurant has a website (and it should!) you should be aware of the benefits SEO can provide for your business’ online visibility.

How do you go about tackling SEO? There are plenty of companies who specialize in search engine optimization who can do the work for you. If you want to hire a third-party, here is a list of the Top 50 SEO Companies of 2018. Of course, you’ll have to pay for these services. But, if you want to take matters into your own hands, there are ways to do that too! Today we’ll discuss 6 easy, “DIY” tips on how to enhance your online presence through SEO.

Post Quality Content

You want customers to WANT to read your information. The amount of time a customer spends on a website actually does have an influence on how your website is ranked on the web. It’s important for your website to have relevant and interesting information because this will encourage visitors to spend more time reading and interacting with the site. Aside from the core information about your restaurant, you should also have a blog. There, you can create blog posts that are relative to your audience. As a restaurant, you can post about new specials and events, ideas for recipes, local community endeavors, or even current industry food trends. You may be wondering why having a blog is so important. Let’s talk for a minute about content marketing.

As of late, content marketing has become an increasingly important part of an overall marketing strategy for companies everywhere, large and small. Content marketing allows a brand to gain not only visibility and higher SEO, but trust and loyalty from website visitors and customers. Consider this: Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without. That right there should be enough for you to want to start (and maintain) a blog! Not to mention, 77% of internet users read blogs.

Be sure that you’re blogging smartly and strategically. Don’t just write about things that are irrelevant to your audience just to say you have a lot of blog posts. Make sure the content you’re providing is useful, informative, and will draw the reader in. Strive to make your posts longer, too. You used to only need about 300 words for a blog post to rank well online, but times have changed! Try to have at least 1,000 words per blog post. It’s all about quality here, so remember that when you’re creating new content.

Link to Outbound Websites

Of course, your own website’s information and blog posts are important, but you should go a step further by linking out to content from other sites. Good content will include references, facts, and statistics from other websites in order to strengthen the information you’re providing to your reader. Linking out to other websites will not only add some depth and alternative opinions to your website, but will increase the legitimacy of your site, and Google will definitely take notice of this when ranking for SEO.

When linking to outside sources, do so strategically. Don’t link to irrelevant content just for the sake of linking. Make sure the sites you’re linking to are relevant and provide additional insights to the reader. As you start to provide more and more outbound links to other relevant websites, you’ll be able to form a network of other websites, bloggers, and companies. This is great because once other websites start linking back to you, it’ll help boost your SEO even more!

Provide Links That Actually Work

I know, this seems like common sense. But you would be surprised by the frequency of 404 error codes people run into on the web. 404 error codes happen when someone searches for an incorrect or removed URL. I’m sure you’ve come across something like this before on the Internet:

There is no greater frustration than clicking on a link that is supposed to show you a restaurant’s weekly specials and getting a blank page. How is the customer supposed to know what you serve if they can’t find it anywhere on your website?

When you’re posting a new page or blog, make sure the links work! Not only will broken links deter customers from staying on your website (and therefore seek out other businesses with information that does in fact load) but this also does have an impact on how you are ranked on Google. Basically, broken links = BAD. Test the URL yourself before promoting the new page to your customers. This will help to avoid frustration and confusion from your followers.

Luckily, you can find online tools to help verify your links work correctly; I highly recommend the Google Webmaster Tool for this exact purpose.

Of course, mistakes happen, and when someone is typing a URL, the chances of a typo are high. Because of this, there’s a chance your website visitors will run into a 404 Error page on your site. Lighten the mood by personalizing the page. Here are two creative examples of customized 404 URLs:

 realtor.com has a relevant, witty 404 Error page that is relevant to the real estate industry. realtor.com has a relevant, witty 404 Error page that is relevant to the real estate industry.  Lego's 404 Error page is so cute, you can't be that mad!  Lego’s 404 Error page is so cute, you can’t be that mad!

Have a Mobile-Friendly Site

It’s no surprise that a cell phone is as essential to some individuals’ survival as food and water these days. Look around as you walk down a street – most people will be holding a phone, whether they’re texting, surfing social media, looking up directions, or making a call. And they’re not just playing games and texting friends, they are also looking up information on what to do and where to go. In fact, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.

It is incredibly important that your website is mobile optimized, as we are a generation where we find a majority of our information on mobile devices. 57% of people will not recommend a business to others if the business has a poorly designed mobile site! Yikes. Not only does a mobile-optimized site raise you in Google’s search rankings, but it also makes the user experience easier.

I can guarantee that a customer will be more likely to interact with your website if it is well formatted to the phone screen, quick to load, and does not require you to zoom in on a menu PDF (the most frequent frustration I myself run into). Not only does Google find mobile-friendly websites to be more legitimate, but they actually began penalizing websites that are not mobile optimized, which will lower that actual website in search results.

Have Social Media Icons

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have proven to increase SEO, while also allowing you to self-advertise socially. The more social media available, the better. Customers like to know what they’re going to get, and social media sites often help exemplify what it is you offer. You can post high-quality photos and videos, use relevant hashtags, and even link out from social media to your website to drive traffic.

You should have social media links on your website to your social media accounts. This is a great way to market your information because customers will be able to easily share the social media links themselves, therefore giving your business free marketing. It’s easy to install social links on a website, and they often have cute little icons that are easily clickable to direct the customer to the more creative content of the business. The social media sites for brands are also often shown in search results for that business. This is great because people can easily look at your social sites to get more of a feel for your restaurant through the content you post socially.

You can also create social links that allow people to share your website content on their own social media channels. This is a great way to help your blogs and other content gain traction online (without you doing the work!)

Include Keywords (But not too many!)

Customers are looking up different phrases on the internet constantly. You want your content to include the keywords and phrases customers are searching for, that are relevant to your restaurant, because your site will appear in search results more frequently for those keywords. Try to stick with phrases (also known as long-tail keywords) instead of a single word, as customers are more likely to search for “strong spicy margaritas” as opposed to “margaritas.” Plus, long tail keywords are easier to rank for because they’re more specific and less generic.

Google’s ranking algorithm puts the importance of keyword’s at 15%, clearly stating that it’s an essential element of a website’s SEO.

While I stress the importance of including keywords in your content, try not to overdo it or else it can appear that you’re unnaturally marketing, and Google will penalize you for doing so. If you’re putting “strong spicy margarita” in every sentence, Google, and your readers, will catch on.

Choose keywords that you want to rank for, that are relevant to your business, and that you can create content around. You can even start off by doing your own keyword research to find out what people are searching in order to discover your website. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to help do so. Then, make sure you’re using those keywords in the copy on your site and incorporate them into blog posts (but remember, don’t “overstuff” your web pages with a keyword).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential process to consider when maintaining a business website. It is important to know how you rank in search results and how you can improve your ranking online. As mentioned, there are plenty of companies that specialize in SEO that would be happy to help you, but there are also DIY ways to get the job done. Use these 6 tips for improving your website’s SEO. Good luck!


Thanks for reading. Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.

IGTV: 5 Restaurant Marketing Ideas Using Instagram’s New Video App

Marketing is essential for any business, especially a restaurant. You’ve probably already invested in some marketing, whether it be creating an online presence, participating in local advertising, or trying out new social media tactics. IGTV is a new app that you can use as part of your overall marketing strategy. Today, we’ll discuss IGTV, what it is, and how it can help your restaurant gain visisbility (and maybe even virility) on social media.

What is IGTV?

IGTV was launched on June 20, 2018. Instagram TV, or IGTV, was created to celebrate the app hitting 1 billion Instagram users. Instagram realized how much people love video content, but has a time constraint that only allows for 60-second videos and 15 second Instagram story videos. And so, because of this need for longer video content, IGTV was born.

On IGTV, users who are verified and have a large following can post videos up to one hour in length. All other users can post videos up to 10 minutes long. There is a separate app for IGTV, but the longer content can also be seen in the original Instagram app. All videos are vertically displayed for an easier mobile experience.

How can IGTV be used to your restaurant’s advantage? More opportunity to provide content! As a restaurant owner, you’re always looking for ways to market your business. This is just another channel to do so!

“According to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.”

Of course, you don’t want your Instagram presence to be considered weak! You should already be posting high-quality photos of your restaurant and food. But, now you can take it to the next level with in-depth videos.

In this article, we give you 5 ideas on how to creatively use IGTV to boost your restaurant’s social media presence.

Cooking Lessons

Food Network has gained a cult-like following and has turned everyday home cooks into kitchen ninjas by providing cooking lessons, recipes, and competitions on television shows featuring famous chefs. The binge-worthy channel has taken cooking as an art form to a whole new level – (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t addicted to Cake Wars). It’s clear that people are interested in learning new recipes and picking up kitchen tricks by watching their favorite chefs on the silver screen. So, why not take this phenomenon to your own social media?

Use Instagram TV as an opportunity to show people how you make your best dishes. Of course, you’ll want to leave out any secret ingredients, but this is a fun way to let your followers go behind the scenes of your restaurant operations. Take the viewer into your restaurant kitchen, introduce your head chef, and give them a step-by-step look at how you make a favorite entree or dessert. You can even choose to do shorter snippets, on a weekly basis, of quick kitchen tips from a restaurateur. Of course, make sure you’re promoting your IGTV presence on your other social media accounts so followers are aware that you’re using the new app to provide content.

VIP Restaurant Tour

People love “inside looks” into places, whether it be a luxurious home, a royal palace, or a really awesome restaurant! HGTV has made a business out of taking people into mansions and tiny homes (virtually, of course). Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives give people a firsthand look into restaurants and cuisine from across the country. Put your own twist on this!

Give your followers a taste of your restaurant’s stomping grounds by giving them an inside (and outside) tour of the space. You can discuss the history of the restaurant, tell viewers why you chose the decor, and share the ins and outs of your restaurant kitchen. Providing your followers with insight into how you got started and what makes your restaurant unique helps make it a more personal experience when they come to dine with you.

Meet the Staff

Take the dining experience with your restaurant to a personal level by doing a virtual meet and greet with your staff members. Each week you can choose a new employee to feature. Do a Q&A session and ask questions about how they got started in the business, what they like to do in their free time, and what their favorite dish at your restaurant is. Make sure the video isn’t totally restaurant-promotional, but really tells the story of the person you’re interviewing. Putting faces to your restaurant’s name helps make your online presence human. When a social media follower comes in for a meal, they’ll recognize their hostess or waiter from seeing them on the screen.

Loyal Customer Spotlights

Chances are you’ve got those patrons who have been dining with you for years, come into your restaurant quite often, and are like family members. Use this opportunity to include them in your IGTV efforts. You can ask these loyal customers to be featured in a video bit called “Customer Spotlights.”

Let them tell the viewers why they love your restaurant, what they like to eat there, and any other anecdote they may be able to share (do they remember the first time they dined with you? That could be a great story in itself). Leverage the loyalty of your customers to create unique pieces of content that will inspire others to give your restaurant a try.

New Menu/Item Releases

Use IGTV to create buzz around menu updates and new items. Release a new video when you publish a seasonal menu or add an interesting new item to your offering. Show real footage of the dishes, explain what ingredients are being used, and talk about why you chose to add this new item to the list. If your seasonal menu is only available for a certain time, make that known in the video to create a sense of urgency, i.e. “this addition of four new summertime desserts is only available through August 31st, so be sure to stop by soon!”

Pictures are worth a thousand words, but videos are worth even more than that! If you incorporate mouth-watering footage of your food, it will inspire people (especially hungry ones) to come to your restaurant and try it out for themselves.

Additional Helpful Tips

When creating content, you always want it to be high-quality and eye-catching. Depending on your budget, you may want to consider hiring a professional to shoot the video. Take into account the atmosphere, especially the lighting and background noise. There are apps you can test out for quality video, like Filmic Pro, Pro Cam, and Videograde.  The video is a reflection of your restaurant, so you want it to look and sound the best it can.

As far as length of time goes, shorter tends to be better. According to Brandastic, short, two-minute videos are typically what most people are willing to watch regardless of where the video is. Medium Marketing & Growth Hacking says the sweet spot for video length is between 3-5 minutes. People’s attention spans tend to drop off after a few minutes, so try sticking with a shorter time frame. If you want to experiment with a longer 10-minute video, go for it! Longer videos may work well for your audience. You can always use the analytics feature (located in the “…” next to the like, comment, and share buttons) to see what videos are working better than others so you can film more of those in the future.

Don’t forget to write a description of your video and use relevant keywords to help people understand what the video is about. You can even add a link for people to click on to be taken outside of the video (to your website or menu) in order to drive traffic elsewhere.

The next phase of social media video is here. IGTV allows you to expand your Instagram video presence from one-minute snippets to longer length videos. Create captivating content that will give your audience an inside look into your restaurant so they can get to know your business even better.


Thanks for reading. Interested in improving your restaurant’s online presence? We can help! SinglePlatform puts your menu and business information accurately on the search, review, travel, and social sites people are using to find new restaurants. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand out everywhere that matters online.