Turn Discovery of Your Restaurant into Action

We’ve talked a lot about social and content marketing best practices, marketing ideas, and promotional options for your restaurant. The end goal, of course, is to drive more customers, boost sales and increase profits. But, wouldn’t it be great if you could convert a consumer’s discovery of your restaurant into action immediately? There’s good news. You can.

With all of the ways to build a brand presence online, it may seem difficult to quantify the effort you’re putting into it. You can gain thousands of followers on social media and monitor your monthly website traffic, but how does that translate to in-house sales?

As a restaurant, you don’t operate as an e-commerce business, so you need customers to either come in to dine with you or order food for delivery. With a goal of converting people from online researchers to restaurant diners, it’s wise to provide the opportunity for an individual to act on their interest in your business immediately.

How?

Online reservation companies like OpenTable and Resy allow people to book tables for specific dates and times with a few clicks.

ChowNow, Postmates, UberEats, and Seamless offer app-based delivery services in major cities.

These companies were created to make it even easier for diners to visit or order from you. In a world where we’re getting more dependent on technology (and arguably lazier) they’ve enjoyed huge success.

But, when a customer is checking out one of these sites or apps directly, they already have intentions. They’re either starving right at that moment or planning an event in advance.

Capturing these unique opportunities for more business elsewhere helps to increase foot traffic and sales.

But, where?

Social Media

We already know social media is popular. How popular? Over 3 billion people use social media each month. And social media users spend an average of 135 minutes online per day. They’re liking friends’ photos, scrolling through feeds, looking at ads, and finding new businesses like yours. This is the perfect opportunity for your restaurant to turn that discovery into an action.

Instagram realized this opportunity for conversion and acted on it. They recently launched their brand new restaurant reservation service.

According to a report by The Caterer:

[The new service offers business account users the option to link directly to their reservation page through the social media site’s smartphone app. The service can be used to access several reservation sites, including Opentable and Quandoo.]

So, what does this mean for your restaurant? Diners can now book a reservation with you without having to close out of their Instagram app. This is convenient. But, it goes beyond that.

It’s an opportunity to capture a customer at the moment of inspiration.

Say that social scroller just stumbles upon a really delicious-looking steak you just posted to your account. It inspires them to go directly to your restaurant Instagram page to find more delicious photos.

They start looking through new posts, old posts, and customer comments. They think “Wow, I really need to try this place out.”  Now, you’ve made them hungry. Before they know it, they’re clicking on your reservation button to secure a spot for Saturday night.

Without the influence of social media and that discovery, they may have never dined with you.  A discovery was turned into an action immediately. And now you’ve not only gained a loyal social follower, but a customer.

Your Online Menu

Your online menu matters for a number of reasons. Having it distributed across the sites that people are searching on helps you gain visibility. Being able to easily update your menu with new specials and prices is essential to keep customers informed. It’s a powerful marketing tool for many reasons. But, it can do more than just show what cuisine you offer.

If your online menu is in the right format, like on a SinglePage, (which is your SinglePlatform menu on its own webpage), it can host online order and reservation buttons. What better way to turn a discovery into an action than being able to order or reserve right after you’ve checked out a menu?

People viewing your menu have high-intent. They’re hungry right then and there, or they’re looking to plan a special event for a later date. What your restaurant offers is of most importance to them when performing an online search.

Once they can see that you have want they’re looking for, the next step is to act. Book a table. Place and order. Turn discovery into action.

When using SinglePage (available to all SinglePlatform customers), you can choose to incorporate an action button. It will appear in the right hand corner of the menu.

 Example of a SinglePage with an action button Example of a SinglePage with an action button

Once a customer clicks on the “order online” button, they’ll be immediately be redirected to the delivery service (or online reservation) service you use.

From there, they can place the order, checkout, and wait patiently for their meal.

Just like that, an online menu view was converted to an in-house sale. There’s no better way to close the loop.

As technology continues to advance, there are more and more ways to do things easier and more efficiently. As a restaurant, you still need your in-house business, whether it comes from a person dining with you or ordering takeout. But, just because your business is brick-and-mortar, doesn’t mean you can’t turn an online discovery into a tangible action.

Instagram is the first social media channel to make it easy for consumers to take action right within the platform. Here at SinglePlatform, we already give your customers the opportunity to take action too. We understand the importance of giving consumers a chance to act at the moment of intent in order to drive more sales. That’s why, in the last six months alone, we’ve powered over $2 million in online ordering sales through our action buttons.

Like anything else, we’re sure more social channels will follow suit on this reservation concept, but the opportunity to provide action is available to you now. Consider taking advantage so you can start turning more researchers into customers today.

To learn more about how SinglePlatform can help you turn discovery into action, contact us today.

5 Tips for Improving Restaurant Ambiance

Going out to eat is about more than just the food, it’s about the experience. After all, diners take in your restaurant’s ambiance long before they take their first bites. The first thing we all do when entering a restaurant is to scope out the aesthetics. Because of this, it is critical that the restaurant provides a good first impression. Having a great ambiance will encourage patrons to enter, stay longer, eat and drink more and ultimately increase profitability for your restaurant.

So, how do you know what’s right for you? We’ve done the research and compiled a list of helpful tips for creating an atmosphere that will enhance the dining experience at your restaurant to increase profits.

Make a Good First Impression

The old saying tells us to avoid judging a book by its cover. But, we can guarantee people will judge your establishment by how it looks from the outside. Make it attractive! Start with a prominent sign out front. The concept of your restaurant will determine what style you should go with. Maybe you’ll have a custom sign made from old barn wood or maybe you’ll flash some neon.

Let’s face it, today everyone is documenting their every move on social media. If you have an appealing sign introducing your restaurant, people will photograph themselves in front of it.

Consider adding a cool focal piece that they’ll want to have an  “Insta” shoot in front of. Murals, giant Adirondack chairs, even bicycles are all elements that people will want to snap a photo with.

Toro Loco in NYC has a Mexican Day of the Dead theme and incorporates pink as their pop of color. They placed a pink bicycle outside of the front door and it became an attraction for guests.

These easy additions can become your trademark and all those social posts are free advertising for you. If guests geotag your location in their post, followers can easily navigate to your own social account.

Interested in learning more about Geotagging and what it can do for your business? Join our webinar on Wednesday, August 15th. 

Having outdoor seating or a patio is another good way to look attractive from the outside. If people can see and appreciate your concept even before they enter, it will make them more likely to come in and see what you’re all about.

Do you have a bar as part of your restaurant concept? Having a bar inspires people to spend both more money and time at your establishment. If you are an upscale restaurant, having a 10-12 seat bar will allow people to enjoy a drink or two before they sit down for their meal. If your dining floor is busy, having a bar helps patrons pass the time while waiting for a table to become available. The bar area can create an ambiance of its own. It should be attractive, clean, and well-stocked.

Let There Be Light

Everyone who has gone out to eat has experienced both restaurants that are too dark or too bright for their liking. Getting the lighting right is important to guests. Just because we all have cell phones doesn’t mean we want to squint over a menu using the flashlight feature.

Like the ideal music, the ideal lighting for your restaurant depends on the style of the restaurant. Low lighting creates a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere that encourages diners to really savor their food while bright lighting helps increase customer turnover (perfect for midday rush).

It is crucial that a restaurant finds the proper lighting to appeal to their customers. Determine the mood or the concept you want to achieve and then match it with the lighting.

A romantic setting should be dimly lit. Try a nice chandelier or incorporate candles. If you run a fast-casual concept, use natural light through big windows (with adjustable shade options), or try a bright, upbeat color scheme. Finding the proper lighting will set the tone for your restaurant.

Lighting isn’t only essential for the guest experience during the meal. As we mentioned above, people want to take photos of their experience!

When it comes to photo lighting, some restaurants are going to great lengths to ensure their customers get the perfect photos. The second branch of steakhouse Boston Chops that opened this year features a special “Instagrammers’ table” complete with moveable, adjustable lights ideal for photos.

 The Instagram Table at Boston Chops via The Daily Meal The Instagram Table at Boston Chops via The Daily Meal

Be Aware of Sound

Listen to the music! Research has shown that diners are willing to spend the least money at restaurants that don’t play music, so a silent or music-less restaurant can be detrimental to sales.

However, not all music is created equal. Different styles of music work best at different types of restaurants, so you probably shouldn’t just play your personal favorites unless they fit well with the vibe of your restaurant.

Studies have shown that people eat at the speed of the music being played. In other words, they spend more time at restaurants (and, as a result, increased the bill) when slow music is being played and less time in restaurants when fast music is being played.

If you’re a sit-down restaurant where customers like to sit and talk and often order additional courses like dessert, slower music is a good choice. If you’re a fast-casual restaurant that prioritizes customer turnover, fast music is probably your best bet.

Just make sure the mood is right for the food! Don’t bring in the Elvis impersonator to your upscale steakhouse. Figure out your concept and demographic and choose your music based upon that.

When it comes to music, live bands are also an option to consider. There are sultry jazz singers, reggae bands, even old school pianists to choose from.

To read more about how to build the perfect restaurant playlist, check out our guest blog post.

A restaurant’s sound doesn’t just come from the music being played. Whether it be music, laughter, noise from the kitchen, or the sound from a television, you want to make sure you’re cognizant of what’s happening in your establishment.

Keep the hustle and bustle of the kitchen confined to that area so you’re not disturbing your guests. Listen to customers’ requests to lower TV volume. Keeping your guests happy is the priority, so keep in mind that there needs to be room for adjustments. Also, remember to consider the ceiling heights and the acoustics of your space.

Color the Experience

The colors in your dining room influence diners more than you might realize. For example, red increases blood pressure and heart rate which in turn increases hunger. This is thought to be evolutionary, as red signaled energy-dense, sugar-packed fruits and vegetables to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Orange and yellow are appetite stimulants too. Orange increases mental activity and gets customers thinking about healthy food and yellow makes customers happy, thereby improving the overall dining experience.

Red, orange, and yellow are all good choices for decor. Be advised though, red plates have been shown to cause diners to eat less.

 24/7 Restaurant via Travel Curator 24/7 Restaurant via Travel Curator

The yellow decor at 24/7 Restaurant at The Standard in Los Angeles creates an upbeat ambiance.

You may want to avoid using a lot of gray, black, brown, purple, and blue because those colors are known appetite suppressants. Gray repels us from the thought of food; black diminishes our appetites; brown reminds us of burnt food; purple is associated with unpopular foods like eggplant and blue makes us sleepy and can slow our metabolisms.

Let the Staff Set the Tone

Having appealing music and lighting is key, but your staff interacts with your guests. They are the ones who bring the energy and excitement to your restaurant. Your servers should be welcoming and helpful. Have them recommend dishes and be open to answering any and all questions about a menu item/drink. Enthusiasm sells! At the same time, they should also avoid the practices diners consider annoying.

Make sure your staff wears proper uniforms or attire to match your restaurant’s concept. They’re a direct reflection of how you want to present your restaurant to diners. Of course, t-shirts and shorts are unacceptable uniforms for a fine dining establishment, but they might work perfectly for a sports bar.

Some restaurant concepts call for a different type of staff behavior. Take Ellen’s Stardust Diner for example. They are known for their Broadway-themed dining experience, so servers entertain guests with renditions of Broadway classics.

This isn’t typical staff behavior, but it works for them. Find what works for your restaurant and run with it!

As a restaurant owner, it is vital to create the proper ambiance of your establishment. Customers who feel comfortable dining with you will want to keep coming back for more.

Having a positive experience will ensure that people recommend your restaurant to others. Create a buzz! Word of mouth and social media combined will be two of your most powerful means of advertising. Capitalize on this by laying the groundwork with factors that extend beyond the meal itself. Look around and make sure you have “set the table” with all the right ingredients.

5 Back to School Restaurant Promotions

It’s about that time again. Summer flew by in a blink and kids are gearing up for a brand new school year. With the beginning of the school year comes an even busier time for both parents and students. Juggling work, school, extracurricular activities, and homework is a small feat. With less time to cook and more time dedicated to a busy schedule, parents are looking for simple solutions for dinner. They’re also looking for discounts and deals. 75% of consumers report scouring their inboxes for relevant discounts. So, why not market some back-to-school restaurant promotions?

Your restaurant can help busy families enjoy a cost-effective meal! Check out 5 creative restaurant promotions that you can use in the spirit of “back to school.”

BOGO

Buy-one-get-one is an attractive restaurant back-to-school promotion because it means diners get something for free. And who doesn’t love free? For families with two or more children, this is an awesome deal. Attract larger crowds by offering this buy one get one free deal on kids menu items.

If you only want to run the back-to-school promotion during a specified time frame, you can do that as well. Offer BOGO on weekdays from 5-7pm, which is prime for dinner time. Or, run an after-school special from 2-4pm; this can be the perfect option for families that are eating between school and a soccer game.

You can even designate a day for BOGO and run it for the entire day. If you choose Tuesday as your BOGO day, let it be known that parents can receive a free kids’ meal with the purchase of another all day on Tuesdays.

Want to set a limit? Run the promotion through the beginning of the school year only and let people know the deal expires at the end of October. If you find the deal was successful for increasing foot traffic and profit, you can consider running another one in the winter or spring.

Of course, you can mix up the parameters based on what you feel comfortable offering. Maybe you want to offer a free kids’ meal with the purchase of a regular entree, or just keep it confined to the kids menu. How you choose to restrict the offer is up to you.

Half-Priced “Happy” Hours

If you’re an only child (like me) the BOGO kids meal promotion won’t be too helpful. Half-priced menu items can go a long way for any family of any size. Host kid-centric “happy hours” during a certain time period on weekdays. Slash prices on kids menu items in a specified timeframe to encourage even more foot traffic during those times.

Most schools let out around 2-3pm, so you can start the half-priced happy hour at 2 and extend it until 5 right before the dinner rush.

Don’t want to discount the entire kids menu? Choose certain items to offer at a discount or slash prices on your regular menu appetizer and dessert items for the whole family to share.

When it comes to happy hours, they can really affect your bottom line! Traditional bar-based happy hours have proven to boost sales. A study by point of sale company, Cake, found that bars with happy hours had 33-percent higher transactions than those without. This can translate to your kid-centric happy hour as well. Make sure to dive deep into the numbers and find out if you’re enjoying more transactions and profit during this happy hour timeframe than you did before offering the discount. If so, you may want to consider extending it past just the beginning of the school year.

Of course, you can pair this kid-friendly promotion with your regular happy hour specials so both parents and kids can partake in the fun!

Great Grades Reward Program

Excelling in school deserves a reward, right? Start a program that recognizes students who do exceptional work. Encourage kids to bring in a report card or graded assignment in order to receive a free meal or discounted dessert. Upon showing the waiter their gleaming grades, kids can receive a ticket good for a free or discounted item of their choice.

This program isn’t only beneficial for parents’ wallets, it makes the kids feel special, too. Rewarding students for succeeding in school can even inspire them to continue making an effort to do well in class.

A reward program like this is perfect to incorporate into your social media strategy. Come up with a unique hashtag for the promotion using your restaurant name, like #BistroKidsGetGreatGrades or #LuigisLovesStarStudents. You can ask these stand-out kids to pose for photos with props you create and then post them to your social accounts promoting the program. Of course, you’ll have to ask the parents’ permission to use the photos – but spreading the word socially can really help expand awareness of the sweet deal.

Bonus Tip

Consider informing local newspapers and websites about the promotion as well and see if a publication or news station wants to write a story about it. Creating buzz around the program and your restaurant can help attract more customers.

Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs go a long way in the restaurant industry. In fact, 77% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands. There are plenty of loyalty apps that make it easy for restaurants to offer customers a digital way of keeping track of points and rewards. Some examples include Belly and LevelUp. Let diners rack up points with each bill or run a “buy x get one free” promotion for select items. Knowing that they’ll receive free items encourages customers to keep coming back, and you want repeat visits!

If you want to gear the program toward kids, offer punch cards instead. You can give kids their own rewards cards and let them mark off each tally with a sticker to make the process more fun. Kids will be excited to know that they’re earning something by being a loyal customer.

Our advice? If using the punch card system, you should also keep track digitally using parents’ emails or phone numbers. This way, if a card is lost, you can easily pull up the information so kids can still receive their free item.

Student ID Discounts

This promotion is geared toward the “older kids.” Encourage students with a valid ID to show it at your restaurant in order to receive a specially discounted or free item. You can even offer a percentage off the total bill with a valid ID.

As with the other discount programs we mentioned, you can choose to offer this during a specified time frame or on a certain day of the week. If the promotion is running well and raising profits, consider extending it to a larger time frame.

This Student ID program is great for restaurants in college towns. College students are always looking for promotions and discounts in order to save a few bucks. Offering a student ID discount will encourage them to want to dine with you. If college kids are satisfied with their food and bill, they’ll most likely tell their friends and fellow classmates to check you out as well. Everybody wins!

Test out the Student ID idea during different time periods. Run a lunch promotion for a period of time and then change it to a late night offer. See which time of day works better for making a profit. Choose which time works best for your restaurant and run with it for the semester.

The back-to-school season is a perfect time to consider running a new restaurant promotion in order to drive more foot traffic and boost profits. Consider these five unique back-to-school restaurant promotions when preparing your restaurant for the new dining season. Market these deals heavily during the school year in order to gain maximum exposure. Parents and kids will be excited for these exclusive offers and discounts and you’ll enjoy the positive perks as well.

Is Your Restaurant Marketing to the Right Target Audience?

When marketing a restaurant, it can be a challenge to define your demographic and hone in on your target audience. Restaurant owners tend to focus too closely on who they want their customer to be instead of focusing on who is going to be their customer. This can be problematic because when you do not focus on your target audience, you often miss the mark when marketing your business.

Marketing to the right demographic using the right channels can help bring more customers through your doors. But, how? We discuss ways to boost business by marketing to three common target audiences.

Millennials and Post-Millennials

The “Younger Crowd” of Students and Young Professionals

According to Pew, millennials are part of the generation born between 1981 and 1996. Post-millennials are those born thereafter. This age group is currently 37 and younger, tech-savvy, and have some pretty serious spending power. According to Forbes, in 2017 millennials had $200 billion in spending power. In 2018, they have more buying power than any other generation.

If your target audience is made up of millennials and post-millennials (think young career professionals and students), you need to market to them in a way that they’ll listen. It can be a challenge to cut through all the noise streaming through Airpods and the social content being scrolled through, but if you market start, you may just win a millennial over and turn them into a loyal customer.

Social Media

Let’s first discuss the younger portion of the millennials and post-millennials – those that are “students” either in high school or college. If your restaurant is located in a college town or near a high school, building an online presence is key. According to a study by Johnson & Wales University, 45% of college students spend 6-8 hours a day browsing social media sites. As a restaurateur, you have to use this to your advantage.

Create social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram for the restaurant. College and high school students are constantly scrolling through these social channels, so they’re a perfect outlet to target millennials. Social media is an easy way to get the word out about new dishes, happy hours or special events your restaurant is hosting.

Consider running paid ads on social media as well to reach a more targeted audience. When doing paid advertising on social, define your target audience so you can reach this specific age group in your surrounding area. If your advertisement is relevant to them, they’re more likely to check you out online.

But, millennials aren’t just young students. People well into their thirties are part of this generation as well. By this time, they’ve established a career and may even have families of their own. They’re still tech-savvy and active on social media, but most likely have different wants when dining out.

Young families with young children are also excessively using the Internet to find dining options and deals for their families. Be sure to use social media platforms and publishing sites to your advantage. Parents are busy and they do not have time to open up a hundred different tabs and pages to figure out where to go. In this age group, convenience is key. Make finding a restaurant an easy step in their hectic day.

According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 6 out of 10 diners take into account a restaurant’s child-friendliness when choosing where to eat. Promoting your kids’ menu on social media or having a “kids eat free” night every Sunday are simple ways to market towards your target audience.  Coupons and loyalty programs are other great tools to use with this demographic. App-based loyalty programs, like Belly, digitally give families an incentive to come back to your restaurant time and again.

Customer Interaction

When it comes to interaction with your customer base, social media and review sites are great places to do so. 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. College students and millennials want to be seen and heard, so make sure you are replying to their comments on social media and addressing concerns or issues in their reviews. They will appreciate that you took the time to respond and will feel like their voices were heard.

Online Presence

Besides these platforms, you need to make sure your menu and business information are listed on sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare as well. Sites like these are places that college students and other young people are constantly searching to find new restaurants and places to eat. Make sure you are searchable, but on top of that, make sure any information a student could be looking for is readily available. Do you deliver? Are you BYOB? How late are you open? This is all essential information that people want to know before choosing to dine with you.

93% of diners look at a menu before going into a restaurant.  And this is 93% off all diners meaning you better believe that college students are of vast majority. You also have to remember that college students don’t have an endless amount of money to spend. A great way to maximize your customer base is by running specials or discounts specifically for students. Half off appetizers with a student I.D. or a student loyalty program can easily attract more business to your restaurant. If you have a deal geared toward students, they’ll be more likely to visit you (and tell their friends!)

Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation

The “Older Crowd” of Working Professionals and Retirees

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and range in age from 72 to 54. They were a hugely influential generation and make up a large percentage of our overall population. The silent generation, also known as the greatest generation, came before them; that group is made up of people born between 1925 and 1945. They are currently 72 and older. Marketing tactics will be different for people in this age bracket than those that we’ve just discussed.

Social Media and Online Presence

If your restaurant is in a town of a dominantly older crowd, tactics used with college students and other millennials won’t be as effective. Tweeting and ‘checking in’ won’t attract the same buzz that it does with younger diners. This doesn’t mean you should ignore social media altogether; you just have to handle it differently.

The millennial generation uses all social platforms interchangeably, while baby boomers and older diners primarily use Facebook. According to Forbes, baby boomers are 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation. This means it is imperative that your restaurant has a strong Facebook presence to create a buzz and keep customers informed about current happenings. Update your followers on daily specials, happy hours, and weekly events. If your customer base knows what type of entertainment and deals you’re offering, they’ll be more likely to dine with you if something catches their eye.

Baby boomers also aren’t as attached to their phones as younger people are. Pew Research finds that 94% of people 18-29 own smartphones, while 73% of 50-64 year-olds do. When it comes to 65+, the amount of smartphone users drops to 46%. So, running paid advertising on social channels will not be as effective when targeting an older demographic. However, since Facebook is the most popular among that crowd, you can try Facebook paid advertising as a tactic.

Despite not being as active socially, this generation of diners is still viewing menus online (93% of all people are, remember?) They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re putting your essential business information and your menu online across search engines and travel and review sites. Although this generation may be more inclined to give you a call to make a reservation instead of using OpenTable or Resy, they’re still doing their research to find the best spot to eat online before dialing your phone number.

Local Advertising

Instead of being social-focused in your marketing efforts, local radio and newspaper and magazine ads and flyers are ways that can help market your business to older diners. Although older generations aren’t on their phones as much, they still use other devices like desktops and tablets. Local news websites can be great opportunities for advertising.

Attractive Events

Running specials and events that are specifically targeted to your audience is also important. Early bird specials and senior citizen discounts are examples of promotions you should be running when targeting this demographic. Loyalty programs, like punch cards, can also work well.

Consider hosting events at your restaurant that can become weekly or monthly traditions. Canasta and Bingo nights are great ways to get customers in the door to enjoy good food and good company. Live music offering popular “oldies” tunes can also be of interest to baby boomers looking for a social night out.

Mixed Demographic

If you truly have a mixture of demographics that dine with you, first focus your marketing efforts on the largest crowd. But, don’t leave the others out. Implement a mixture of the strategies we discussed above so you can reach different audiences with different tactics.

Demographics play a huge role when it comes to marketing your restaurant smartly. Understanding your target audience can help you market more effectively in order to bring in new business. Conversely, marketing towards the wrong audience can be a waste of time and money.

Instagram posts and tweets are not going to have the same effect on the older generation as millennials, just like how promoting a kids menu is going to attract young families instead of college students. Focus on the demographic that is your largest customer base and use the proper marketing tools and techniques to stand out to your target audience.

Partnership Profile: Toast

The Background

Toast. Yes, it is that deliciously warm breakfast bread that goes well with basically everything. But, Toast is also the name of a restaurant-specific technology suite.

Toast was launched in 2013 with the purpose to power successful restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that combines restaurant point of sale, front of house, back of house, and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications.

The company helps restaurants to streamline their operations, increase revenue, and provide an unforgettable guest experience through their innovative technology platform.

The Product

Because Toast only serves the food service industry, they’ve built a cloud-based platform full of industry-specific features specifically for restaurants. Whether you operate hundreds of full service restaurants or a single-counter fast casual concept, Toast equips you with everything you need now and to scale in the future.

By combining POS software, hardware and payment processing with a suite of best-in-class partner integrations, the Toast platform offers restaurateurs one powerful view of business performance across the entire operation.

The Toast Go™, a fully integrated mobile point-of-sale device transforms how restaurateurs run and staff their business to increase revenue. Guests can enjoy a mobile ordering experience and receive text notifications from the Toast Kitchen Display System when their food is ready. And they also offer powerful digital solutions like Toast Gift Cards, Loyalty, and Online Ordering at an approachable price point to help local restaurants provide delightful, mobile-first experiences to their guests.

Plus, Toast’s hardware is built to last and durable enough to handle heat, spills, and drops — not to mention the wear and tear from punching in dozens of orders. The system is always working, even if your network connection drops, so you can take payments no matter what and never have to stop service.

The Accolades

In 2017, Toast was recognized as the third fastest-growing technology company in North America on the Deloitte Fast 500 and named to the Forbes Cloud 100.

And there’s no sign of Toast slowing down.

Just last month, Toast announced the $115 million Series D funding they received. They are now valued at $1.4 billion. This funding will be used for research and development, recruitment of new talent, and an expansion of market presence. Toast looks forward to growth and the further development of their product.

The Partnerships

Toast recognizes the importance of giving restaurants the tools they need to be successful. But, when it comes to technology, the landscape can be a bit overwhelming for restaurant owners. Toast has cut through the noise by determining the best-in-class restaurant technology companies to partner with. They have created their own portfolio of partners that, together with Toast, deliver the solutions restaurants need, from accounting technology to online ordering and menu management.

Toast’s integration with other partners allows restaurant owners to save money, labor costs, and headaches. SinglePlatform proudly partners with Toast in a joint goal to better serve the restaurant industry.

Toast Mission Statement

We empower the restaurant community to delight guest, do what they love and thrive.

A point of sale solution is essential for a restaurant in today’s technology-driven world. Toast has recognized this niche need and tailored a technology solution specifically to restaurants. If you’re on the market for a point of sale in your restaurant, contact Toast to learn more today.

Interested in learning more? Book a demo today!

Should Restaurants Go Cash-Free?

One of the hottest debates in the restaurant industry is whether or not restaurants should go “cashless.”

Cashless restaurants do not accept cash payments and instead require customers to use credit cards, debit cards, cash cards, or contactless payment systems.

So, should your restaurant go cash-free? We’ve done some research and rounded up the most common arguments for and against going cashless.

Danny Meyer, who has led the charge against going tip-free, has already gone cash-free at four of the restaurants in his Union Square Hospitality group, mega chains Sweetgreen, Dos Toros, and Tender Greens have banned cash at all of their locations, and Dig Inn has gone cashless at most of its locations.

 Sign at the register of Meyer’s Daily Provisions via FourSquare user Chris M. Sign at the register of Meyer’s Daily Provisions via FourSquare user Chris M.

There are some clear reasons that more and more restaurants have been ditching cash.

First, it’s safer for restaurants to not have large sums of cash on site. If you don’t have cash, you’re far less likely to be robbed. Park Cafe in Baltimore was robbed five times in just four months before it went cashless in 2017. Not only is it safer to not keep cash on-site, it’s also cheaper. When restaurants accept cash, they transfer it to banks in armored vehicles. Doing away with cash lets restaurants cut that cost.

Going cash-free makes things easier for restaurant employees as well. At most restaurants, employees spend time counting cash and also change out cash trays in between shifts. Without having to manage cash, employees will be able to devote more time to their other job duties.

Many restaurants believe that going cash-free is better for customers too. Salad chain Tender Greens, says that going cash-free has been popular with their customers who are often in a hurry. At cash-free restaurants, customers merely need to slap down a card instead of searching for the right amount of cash and waiting for change. If everybody at a fast-casual restaurant pays with a card, the line will move much faster.

 Tender Green on a busy day via Inc Tender Green on a busy day via Inc

Moreover, when customers always pay with cards, it is easier for restaurants to track their purchases. According to Toast:

[It’s difficult to understand an individual’s buying patterns or reward them for their loyalty when they always pay with cash. If they use the same card every time, your machines will remember them. The same is true if customers pay with their smartphone using an app like LevelUp, which also helps them accumulate rewards points (plus, mobile payments are forecasted to grow to $142 billion by 2019). You’ll gain a better understanding of your individual customers with this data, which will drive your business insights.]

Also, paying with cards is way more sanitary than paying with cash. TIME reported just how germy cash really is:

[In a 2017 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers swabbed $1 bills from a bank in New York City to see what was living on paper currency. They found hundreds of species of microorganisms. The most abundant were ones that cause acne, as well as plenty of harmless skin bacteria. They also identified vaginal bacteria, microbes from mouths, DNA from pets and viruses.]

The report also noted that cash can carry E. coli, salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus, all of which can cause serious illness.

It’s pretty unnerving that the same people who handle and deliver customers’ food are also regularly handling cash, isn’t it?

A statement released by Dig Inn about why they chose to go cashless at most of their locations echoes many of the sentiments of other cash-free establishments and adds that most customers now pay with cards anyway:

[In some of our restaurants, we’ve chosen to eliminate cash, accepting only debit/credit cards and payment through the Dig Inn app. We made this change in restaurants where 8% or less of transactions were cash. We exhaustively debated the decision, considering it from all angles before finally opting to go cash-free.

At Dig Inn, we carefully examine how every business action aligns with our values of sourcing ingredients from as close to home as possible, investing in our chefs, and serving delicious, vegetable-forward food. Most of our chefs’ time is spent prepping and cooking fresh produce, coaching kitchen teams, creating innovative lunch and dinner specials, and getting to know guests. All of this contributes to their growth and development as culinary leaders. But a sizable chunk of each day was dedicated to cash management – two hours to be specific. While we’ve got amazing cashiers tending the registers, our chefs are also restaurant managers and responsible for counting the cash, writing deposit slips, making bank runs, and buying change. Since we’ve removed the burden of cash from our teams, they can now devote their time and energy to serving guests and cooking great food.

Investing in our chefs also means investing in their safety. Moving to card-and-app-only payments means our teams aren’t holding onto large amounts of cash at any time, making them less of a target for theft in the restaurants or on the way to the bank.

As for your experience as a guest, eliminating cash leads to a more efficient and faster checkout, meaning more time for you and your sweet potatoes.]

Going cash-free sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not exactly.

Although there are some pretty compelling arguments for going cash-free, there are also some hidden costs.

By not accepting cash, restaurants are inadvertently discriminating against people who don’t have debit or credit cards (including ⅓ of Americans ages 18-37).

According to Linnea Lassiter, a former analyst at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, employment status, income, race, and immigration status are among the biggest factors influencing whether or not somebody has a bank account. For example, many low-income individuals don’t have bank accounts so that they can avoid fees if they fail to meet a minimum balance requirement.

Cash-free restaurants also discriminate against teenage diners who are old enough to visit restaurants without their parents but too young to have their own bank accounts.

Some argue that refusing to accept cash payments violates customers’ legal rights:

[State lawmakers, a civil rights group, the National Retail Federation and a company servicing ATMs are all pushing back against the trend, claiming that refusing the greenback—on which  the US Treasury writes “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”—is simply un-American.]

Two years ago, Massachusetts signed a bill barring cashless restaurants into law. Now, other cities and states are mulling over legislation of their own.

On June 26th, D.C. city council member David Grosso introduced a bill that would prevent local restaurants from going cashless. The bill would make it illegal to discriminate against cash as a form of payment, post signs that cash is not accepted, and charge different prices for customers who pay with cash as opposed to a card.

Many restaurant owners also stand against the cash-free movement.

In an email to the Washington Post, Amsterdam Falafelshop owner Arianne Bennett wrote:

[Not everybody is able to buy a smartphone. Not everybody is in a position where they can get a credit card. Not everybody is even in a position where they have a stable bank account to be able to use the debit card. But they are hungry too and have $10 in their pockets and they would like to spend their legal American form of tender, known as cash, with you.]

So, should your customers put their cash away? As you can see, there a number of factors that you need to consider before deciding if going cash-free is right for your restaurant.

SinglePlatform Customer, Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers, Honored on TripAdvisor’s List of Top 10 Burgers in America

Yet another SinglePlatform customer was recognized on TripAdvisor’s recent Top 10 Burgers in America. We know, our customers rule!

Travel site and our partner, TripAdvisor, released the juicy list last month. To qualify, the restaurants had to have at least 200 reviews, at least 4.5 out of 5 stars, and 10 locations or fewer. The ranking was based on the millions of reviews and opinions the site has accumulated, so we’re pretty confident that spots on the list were well deserved. And Pearl’s Deluxe, a SinglePlatform customer, was one of the deserving burger joints to make the cut.

We talked about the other SinglePlatform winner, Brooks Burgers, last week on our blog. Today we’re focusing on the other honoree, Pearl’s Deluxe.

Pearl’s Deluxe

  • Where: San Francisco
  • Since When: 2003
  • Signature Burger: “The King” 1/4 pound patty topped with a 1/2 pound hot dog, American cheese, cheddar cheese and 1000 island dressing

Pearl’s Deluxe is a pleasant surprise where you least expect it. The small facade on a San Francisco strip has been home to some of America’s best burgers for fifteen years now. And although the outside isn’t all glitz and glam, what they’re serving up inside is something to talk about.

The menu items are a mixture of simplicity and specialty. All burgers can be made with a chicken breast, turkey, or veggie patty instead of beef. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also upgrade to a buffalo or Kobe patty. The classic burgers come topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go with one of Pearl’s 11 “special burgers,” all of which come in ¼ pound and ½ pound sizes. The Phat Bob boasts BBQ sauce, bacon, mayo, onion rings, and jack cheese. The Bula is topped with jack cheese, bacon, mayo, and spicy BBQ pineapple sauce. The Bomb? An open-faced burger with homemade chili, shredded cheddar, and diced red onions.

Pearl’s uses natural beef from Niman Ranch, and offer other Americana staples like hot dogs, milkshakes, and an assortment of fries in addition to the burgers.

In fact, Pearl’s signature burger, rightly dubbed “The King” is topped with a ½ pound hot dog! The massive creation also features American cheese, cheddar cheese, and thousand island dressing.

 The King via The Hungry Muse The King via The Hungry Muse

If you’re not in the mood for plain fries, Pearl’s Deluxe also serves sweet potato fries, garlic fries, and homemade onion rings that TripAdvisor user Peterisme called “out of this world.” Can’t choose between fries and onion rings? The restaurant is also known for its “Frings,” a mixture of the two served in a single dish.

 Frings made with Pearl’s sweet potato fries via TripAdvisor user magnoliaeleven Frings made with Pearl’s sweet potato fries via TripAdvisor user magnoliaeleven

As for the owner, Sylvia Yi is a Korean American born and bred in San Francisco. She describes San Fran as a “food mecca” which influenced some spicy additions to the Pearl’s Deluxe menu.  And Sylvia’s family is no stranger to the restaurant industry. Her mom ran American diners, while her aunt and uncle had a fish and chips place. At Pearl’s Deluxe, Sylvia’s love for spicy foods has inspired her to mix south of the border ingredients with flavors from her Korean heritage.

The TripAdvisor reviews attest to the large selection in such an unassuming place:

“Wow wow wow wow wow!”

“Quite possibly the best burger I’ve ever had! I’ve had a fair few in my time and this really does rank somewhere in the top 2 ever. The place only has about 14 or so spaces to sit so you may have to take away but it’d be well worth it for sure. There’s a broad selection of both meat and veggie options and a plethora of sides, drinks and options to make the meal your own. The chips and onion rings (Frings) were sublime and the coffee milkshake brilliant. All in all a great establishment and one I hope to visit again before the end of my stay here.”

“Best Burger I’ve Ever Eaten!”

“I can not recommend Pearls enough. It’s a tiny little place, very friendly with a really varied menu. My burger was delicious! I shared ‘Frings; with my husband which onion rings and fries together. The portions were huge! You can eat in but there are limited seats. Nice clean place. Located a short walk from Union Square. Please don’t miss this place out, it’s well worth the short walk there!”

“You won’t find a tastier burger across San Francisco!!”

This small, little cafe type burger bar is a hidden gem; especially if you want something quick and tasty. The staff are very helpful and the food is so good, we have been back twice. If you really fancy a good burger, and don’t mind squeezing into the small cafe, you won’t b disappointed!!”

And this isn’t the first accolade Pearl’s Deluxe has received. Did we mention that Tyler Florence chose Pearl’s Deluxe as his pick for The Best Thing I Ever Ate?

He’s not the only celebrity chef to give Pearl’s Deluxe two thumbs up. On GrubStreet’s The Food Chain, Susan Feniger called the Spicy Sly burger topped with jack cheese, grilled onions, grilled peppers, mayo, and habanero sauce a personal favorite. “I really love a gooey burger,” she said. “And this one is really gooey.”

 Spicy Sly via TV Food and Drink Spicy Sly via TV Food and Drink

Burgers are an American staple. But, the mastery of burger making goes far beyond the grill in our backyards. Pearl’s Deluxe has perfected the art of burger-making, from the quality of the ingredients to the abundance of the toppings. And after they were chosen as one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Burgers in America, it’s safe to say their burgers are pretty darn delicious.

Congratulations Pearl’s Deluxe!

Pearl’s Deluxe has been a SinglePlatform customer since 2013.