How to Drive Restaurant Profit with Staff Communication

By now it’s common knowledge that turnover in restaurants is very high – 20% higher than in the private sector, in fact. Add to that, 70% of employees say they are not engaged in their work.

With the odds against restaurant employers to retain and engage their staff, communication is key for your staff feel listened to, comfortable, and a part of the larger vision of your organization. Effective communication means staff members are likely more engaged and loyal to your business, which in turn creates more efficient operations and higher profits.

If staff communication is paramount to a restaurant’s success, it’s important to understand how you can best communicate with your staff to ensure that success. Here are four simple ways to streamline team communication so you can ensure that your entire staff is on the same page.

Leverage Your Existing Social Platforms

According to a poll from Ipsos MediaCT 80% of restaurants in the United States already use social media for marketing. Given that your staff are likely already active on social media platforms, it makes sense to use your existing posts as a means to engage and communicate with staff.

By encouraging your staff to follow and engage with your restaurant on social media channels you create another opportunity to communicate information to those within the business. By scheduling and automating your social postings using a tool like SinglePlatform you can keep your team informed without having to wait for another opportunity like a staff meeting.

Whether it’s tonight’s specials or an event that is happening soon, using a social media channel your staff members are already checking means you have a higher likelihood of communicating what is important without having to specifically call it out.

Use a Work-Specific Communication Tool

Texts or chat tools like Facebook Messenger can be great for quick one-to-one check-ins with your employees, but to really get everyone on the same page and encourage transparency in communication, consider turning to a work-specific tool that you control.

Restaurant scheduling software, such as 7shifts, provide in-app chat tools for quick and easy team communication. Rather than relying on multiple tools and platforms to communicate with your staff, simplify your operations by having all work-related communications in a single channel that they can’t miss.

Staff can use workplace-specific communication tools for one-on-one conversations, group chats, or managers can send one-way announcements to all staff.

When your main communication tool between managers and staff is part of a tool you already use – a staff scheduler – it’s easy to extend the communications benefits by letting staff complete tasks like submitting availability or time-off requests all in one place.

Go Old School

While new technology can often bolster communication, sometimes you just can’t replace good old fashioned face-time to check in on your employees, make sure they are happy with their work, and hammer out any ways operations can be improved.

If you aren’t doing it already, consider incorporating staff meals into your operations, or if that is not possible, meal allowances to staff. By treating your staff to the benefits of your business, it is an easy way to boost morale, and if you are a full-service restaurant, for the kitchen to use any soon-to-be-expired ingredients.

When staff are comfortable and feel taken care of, you’d be surprised by the valuable information they might provide that could smoothen your operations. Small annoyances that prevent your staff from performing their jobs to the fullest often come pouring out, allowing you ample opportunity to address those problems in a professional and productive manner.

A staff meal before a shift can also be combined with general information about the upcoming service, such as any menu changes or the special of the day. If you have a new menu, also consider “staff tastings” to allow your staff to gain intimate knowledge of your menu through first-hand experience in order to provide the best sell to your customers.

Other ways of “going old school” to improve staff communication is to have one-on-one staff meetings periodically to address staff complaints or find ways they or the business can improve. Going one-on-one is a good way to offer employees a chance be candid, as they might keep some issues to themselves if in a big group.

Internal Newsletters

Part of great team communication that can ultimately boost your profits involves employees feeling comfortable in the workplace and motivated to work their hardest. That all comes down to company culture, and a great way to boost company culture is with an internal newsletter.

Sending mass newsletters by email is easier than ever these days thanks to specific online tools, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.

Newsletters can be a great way to highlight when an employee went above and beyond, as well as to make note of any upcoming changes employees should be aware of, or announce any wins the restaurant received, such as a super positive online review.

When making a newsletter, try to make it as fun as possible and really incorporate some personality into it. Don’t be afraid to go very specific in your references to funny quirks in your restaurant or inside jokes among your staff to put a smile on your staff’s faces and give them something to talk about at work that can help unite the team.

Newsletters are also a good way to break down silos between departments and get everyone on the same page. For example, you can outline how a business initiative was a great success from the efforts put in from marketing, to the great job the kitchen did on execution to the wait staff that upsold that extra bottle of wine. You’re all in the same boat – feel it!

In Closing

By making sure everyone is on the same page with easy to use technology, making better use of the social tools you already have at your disposal, and by creating opportunities for staff to feel comfortable sharing their opinions, you will be creating a work atmosphere that put communication – and the benefits that come from it – first.


About the Author: Eric Stober is a freelance content producer for 7shifts, an employee scheduling platform built for restaurants. Eric has written for publications such as Global News and the Toronto Star, and has a keen interest in travel, technology, entrepreneurship, spirituality and mindfulness.

TechTable Summit 2018: A Round-up of This Year’s Restaurant Technology Event

The TechTable Summit 2018 took place on October 17th. SinglePlatform members attended the event to discuss trends and learn more about the current state of the restaurant industry. We’re sharing this year’s highlights with you.

About TechTable

TechTable Summit celebrated its fourth year with this year’s event execution. Founded in 2014, the vision was to create a way to intertwine technology and the hospitality industry. The annual summit brings top leaders and entrepreneurs across these industries together to discuss relevant industry topics, products, and ideas for the future of hospitality technology.

This year’s panelists and speakers included influencers from Dig Inn, Bareburger, Toast, Vivino, Sweetgreen, Lettuce Entertain You, Resy, and Chipotle, among many others.

As a hospitality-focused technology company, SinglePlatform was in attendance to represent the online presence management we provide to thousands of restaurateurs. We believe in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, and attending the TechTable Summit is a great way to be part of the conversation.

This Year’s Hot Topics

When marketing your restaurant with effectiveness, knowing your target audience is essential. We discuss the importance of defining your audience here. This was also chewed over at the TechTable Summit regarding loyalty programs and targeted marketing strategy.

Let’s face it, in a world of hyper-connection, we have the world at our fingertips. Diners are craving interactions with your business that are more personal and less mainstream. At this point, personalization is arguably expected. How can you, as a restaurateur, achieve this while doing everything else you need to in order to keep a restaurant in business?

There are plenty of technologies that can help you zero in on customer behaviors in order to take action. We recently discussed the importance of customer retention, which included a discussion on the impact of loyalty programs. Customer order history can also help you tailor marketing to them based on what they like to order, when they dine with you, and etc. Turning these insights into impactful marketing can help you maximize your revenue.

GoParrot, an online ordering and marketing platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), was a part of the TechTable Summit. The technology GoParrot offers is helping restaurants achieve this personalization. They segment customers by behavior so restaurants can send targeted marketing through loyalty programs, emails, and even text messaging.

If this all seems overwhelming from where you’re at right now, don’t be afraid. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take small steps to becoming more educated about your customer base, research technology partners, and plan marketing campaigns from there.

This topic isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. But, it is important. If you’re still completing restaurant operations all by hand, you’re living in another era. There are tons of products available to you to help make your life as a business owner easier. Sure, it comes with a cost, but the ROI to your restaurant is arguably worth the upfront or recurring fees.

Although you wouldn’t necessarily think it, TechTable discussed that restaurant owners should focus on the automation of daily tasks that don’t provide immediate value to customers. Using these tools that provide an owner additional visibility into their business and operation will ultimately improve quality and customer experience.

For example, point of sale systems streamline operations from inventory to checkout and also provide analytical insights to the restaurant owner. From those findings, owners can make more educated decisions on everything from menu items and pricing to adjusting inventory levels based on popularity. Plus, using a point of sale system helps to get customers checked out faster to improve not only the guest experience, but table turns as well.

Emmanuelle Skala, Senior VP of Customer Success at Toast, was in attendance at the TechTable event to discuss “Beyond POS” with Adam Landsman of Sunday in Brooklyn, a segment that covered automation in the restaurant and the future of mobile pay.

You don’t need to implement every hospitality tool there is, but you should explore your options and see what makes sense for your business.

It will be interesting to see how, with the influence of AI and other advances, the hospitality technologies continue to evolve.

With 1 billion active monthly users, it’s no secret that Instagram is an extremely popular social media outlet. This was echoed in all but one session of the entire TechTable Summit. Attendees discussed how restaurants can leverage the popularity of Instagram to build a strong audience to tell their story.

Of those 1 billion monthly users, half of them are accessing the platform every single day. There have been 50 billion photos shared since Instagram’s inception and 100+ million more being uploaded per day.

Food photos are popular with Instagram users, so if you post worthy content, you may just see your follower base skyrocket. You won’t, though, if you don’t have a plan for social.

Unfocused and unappealing photos won’t get you many likes in a world where tons of delicious food photos can be discovered. Use high-quality images, appropriate hashtags, and witty captions to win people over. Don’t forget about the additional features Instagram offers, like IGTV and Instagram stories.

TechTable Summit is a future-focused conference held annually to bring minds in both hospitality and technology together. This year’s event covered a wide range of topics, from eliminating manual processes in your restaurant to leveraging the power of social media and targeted marketing.

An important factor in your restaurant’s visibility is your online presence, which can be achieved by getting your menu and business information in the places people are searching for new restaurants. If you haven’t yet heard, we recently released a few exciting new features, including our Holiday Calendar, Activity Stream, and Navigation Pack.

SinglePlatform, along with the other technology participants of TechTable, looks forward to the future of hospitality innovation through the use of products and tools.

To learn more about how we can help your restaurant’s online visibility, contact us today!

Transition Your Business from Paper to Automation with Restaurant Technology

Technology is taking over many aspects of our daily life – how we communicate, work, gather information, shop, and even eat! Yes, from mobile apps that allow us to order and pay wherever we are to the more high-tech VR/AR gadgets that take these steps to a whole new level, there is no stopping technology from revolutionizing the food industry.

Restaurant Automation

Whether you’re a newbie to the restaurant trade or have been in the industry for a long time, you should greatly consider incorporating technology built for restaurants to better your business. Speaking of restaurant technology, one of the most important things that many restaurant owners really benefit from is automation. Automating business processes makes so much sense these days when people have a high demand for quality service and convenience.

What aspects of the restaurant business can be automated?

The answer is almost everything. While you leave it to your chefs and crew to prepare good food for your customers, some other things are best addressed by technology. Below are the most common processes which you can tremendously improve through automation:

Ordering and Billing

Many people fancy the idea of shopping from the comforts of their homes. What’s more, they are constantly looking for ways to save money. There is no wonder why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of online shops these days. Not only are they able to buy items at a cheaper price, they also get so save money on gas and avoid long lines at checkout.

Restaurants are adopting this concept of online convenience as well. Just last year, even McDonalds launched its ordering app to expand its delivery services! Order automation benefits both the customer and the restaurant. In the customer’s point of view, it is much more convenient and faster. On the other hand, the restaurant minimizes risk of getting the order mixed up. The same thing applies to billing. Automating this process ensures that no delays and errors, which all improve customer experience.

Accounting, Analytics & Other Back Office Work

Record-keeping is a tedious task which many business owners dislike. But it is also a very critical part of running a business. Imagine having to manually input sales data, transactions, and other financial details every single day. The great news is there are POS and other accounting software that accurately gather and analyzes data for the owner, making it possible for them to focus on running their business.

Inventory Management

Same with accounting, this is often a time-consuming task. Thankfully, the majority of POS software programs incorporate inventory management system (IMS) which automatically counts available raw materials and stocks in the kitchen, analyzes how such items are going to last, and analyze kitchen requirements which all help reduce wastage.

From Paper to Software – How to Automate Your Business

Shifting from paper to automation can be an exciting yet overwhelming time for every restaurant. Here are the key steps in making the transition smooth and easy:

1. Start With the Easiest Processes

Start with tasks that are easier to manage without human intervention, such as accounting and record-keeping. These are important processes that let you avoid human error and can greatly save you time and effort. You should also consider the tasks that are easy yet repetitive and start from there.

2. Focus on Improving Business Functions

Take time to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your restaurant. What are the areas that could greatly benefit from automation? If you have poor billing process, then you can prioritize automating it. If you’re having a hard time reaching more customers, consider creating an ordering app. Pick a function with a solid ROI.

3. Seek Professional Assistance

You need assistance from automation experts. There must be a core team who will analyze your business automation needs and implement an effective process. Choose a technology partner who has the experience and technology to help you.

4. Train Your Employees

Don’t forget to update and train your staff accordingly. They should know how to use such tools in order to carry out their individual tasks efficiently. Encourage feedback from them too (as well as from your customers). This way, you will know how to further improve your business automation.

In Closing

Automation through the use of restaurant technology isn’t just for the corporate giants. Even small businesses and restaurants can take advantage of helpful technology to boost productivity and efficiency. From receiving orders, processing payments, and making reservations, to back-office work like managing inventory, tracking numbers, analyzing sales data, and so much more – your restaurant can greatly benefit from automation.

Not only does automation makes everything more efficient in your business, it also tremendously helps save you money and boost your revenues. Take note that automating your restaurant doesn’t have to come in full blast. It is best to make the transition one step at a time, focusing on the most tedious, repetitive processes and the vital ones.

November Restaurant Marketing Ideas

The months are flying by and we’re entering the second to last one of the year. You’re probably busy with menu changes, events, and just the typical hustle and bustle of a crowded dining room. We want to make your life as a restaurant owner easier by providing you with marketing ideas to use in November. Read on for November marketing ideas to fill seats in your restaurant.

World Vegan Day

The Vegan Society was established in 1994 and has been celebrating World Vegan Day on November 1st ever since. The entire month is celebrated by the society as a way to commemorate how the vegan movement has progressed.

If you’re a vegan restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate! Run promotions, offer prizes, and introduce a limited-time menu for the day (or the entire month). If you’re not a vegan restaurant, you might still consider celebrating the holiday by offering discounts on your vegan menu items or offering an entirely vegan menu for the day.

Get creative and educate your guests on The Vegan Society and World Vegan Day. There is a lot of history and news associated with veganism. This is a great way to spark a conversation about the impact the movement has had.

You can incorporate social media efforts as well. Ask guests about their experience with veganism, what made them go vegan, or what some of their favorite vegan meals are. You can post customer highlights on your social media pages throughout the month and tag all relevant trending hashtags for more exposure.

World Sandwich Day

Just two days later, on November 3rd, is World Sandwich Day. Whether it’s a PB&J, a Philly Cheesesteak, or an Italian submarine, sandwich lovers rejoice!

If you serve up sandwiches, offer a buy-one-get-one deal on select, or even all, sandwiches on your menu. Create combos to sweeten the deal, offering a side of chips and a drink for a low price.

Make the celebration fun by creating a “World Sandwich Day” exclusive sandwich. Give the guests who order the item a discount card or code to be used for next time. This inspires repeat business through incentive.

You should start advertising for this holiday soon to create buzz and excitement. Send out a fun email blast letting customers know you’ll be celebrating on November 3rd. Spread the word on social media and post an announcement on your SinglePage menu.

If you’ve found success with direct mail, send out coupon cards to redeem in-store on November 3rd only. Testing out different marketing strategies can help bring in more business.

Remember, our new Holiday Calendar keeps you informed of all upcoming holidays relevant to your restaurant. Learn more about it here.

Fall Festival or Holiday Bash

If you didn’t ring in fall in September or October, it’s not too late! Host a fall festival or usher in the holiday season with a holiday bash. Offer guests complimentary cider and sweets, provide entertainment, and throw in a few contests or giveaways.

Plan this event at a time that’s typically slow for your business to get the most out of the gathering. Get people excited about upcoming holiday celebrations, surprise them with a seasonal menu, and give them a reason to leave the couch during hibernation season.

Thanksgiving

Arguably the most celebrated and most filling holiday of the month, Thanksgiving is taking place on November 22nd this year. Although many people cook their turkey and stuffing at home, some have made a tradition of dining out for the holiday.

In fact, the NRA found that in 2017, 1 out of 10 adults (9%) were planning to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving.

If you’re open to serving guests on Thanksgiving, make sure they’re aware of it. If they haven’t already, people will soon be making reservations for the feast. There are limited dining options with some restaurants choosing to close for the day, so inform guests of your availability. Make sure your hours of operation are correct online so people can plan accordingly.

You’ll most likely serve a pre-fixe menu with all of the traditional fixings. Determine pricing for the event and advertise it by posting a Thanksgiving-specific menu online. People will want to weigh their options before making a reservation, so give them all the information they’re looking for. Need help? SinglePlatform can get your holiday menu and business information online ahead of Thanksgiving (contact us!)

Are there any other elements that help you stand out as the place to be on Thanksgiving? Maybe you’re streaming the Macy’s Day Parade or the sought-after football games. People are looking to celebrate by continuing the traditions they’ve had for years. Let them know about the entertainment you’ll be offering. Social media, your website, and emails are all great ways to keep guests informed.

Small Business Saturday

Riding on the coattails of Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday on November 24th. Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season as a whole, but Small Business Saturday is a way to inspire communities to support their local businesses. It is supported and marketed by American Express; they even provide free marketing materials that you can use.

Small Business Saturday has seen success in recent years. According to American Express:

[In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spend.]

Although you’re not a retail business, you can still participate. If you want to get involved by providing specials to people looking for a break from their shopping journey, go for it. Coffee, snack, and lunch specials can go a long way when serving hungry shoppers.

Do you offer holiday gift baskets, gift cards, or other items around this time of year? Promote the sale ahead of Saturday. You can even put up a sidewalk sign letting passersby know that you may just have the perfect gift.

Participating in Small Business Saturday is a great way to interact with your community and attract more business. In fact, according to Business Wire, 90% of consumers have noted that Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community. Kick off the holiday season by getting involved this November.

In Closing

The calendar keeps turning and November is just days away. Plan your marketing strategies for the month now to get a head start on attracting customers to dine with you. There are plenty of holidays to recognize and events to host in order to make the most out of the month. Use these restaurant marketing ideas for November to inspire new business.

Interested in other generic restaurant marketing ideas? Check out our 9 Simple Restaurant Marketing Ideas blog.

How Loyal Are Your Restaurant Customers? 3 Ways to Boost Customer Retention

Every business owner knows that customer retention is key to long-term success. Studies have consistently shown that acquiring a new customer is much more expensive than keeping one. This infographic highlights that notion, illustrating that the cost of acquiring a new customer is 5x higher than retaining an existing one. Not to mention, loyal customers spend 67% more than new guests!

Of course, you want to retain existing customers, build that loyalty, and keep them interested in coming back to dine with you.

However, figuring out what makes some customers leave—and what inspires some to remain loyal—can sometimes be a guessing game. While the specifics may vary, the root cause is usually the same. According to a recent study by RightNow, 82% of US consumers stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Poor customer service is a huge deterrent for someone looking for a positive dining experience. And the data supports this fact, as businesses are losing $75 billion per year due to negative customer service!

Looking to keep more diners loyal? Here are 3 simple ways you can improve your customer service and boost customer retention:

1. Keep the Customers’ Dining Experience in Mind

Sure, food and ambiance play a factor in a guest’s dining experience. But, customer service is just as, if not more, important than these other elements. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a friendly face, but your staff’s behavior has a huge impact on customer retention.

73% of people who stop patronizing a business leave because of a rude employee. And after just one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again. You don’t want to lose a customer forever just because of a staff member’s less than impressive behavior.

Although it can be difficult to remain upbeat with challenging customers, resorting to snarky behavior will damage both your relationship with individual patrons and your business’s overall reputation.

Make sure you’re always training your staff on proper etiquette and paying attention to how they act when serving customers. If a customer is a regular, go out of your way to remember their name and favorite dishes. Guests will really appreciate that you know them on a first-name basis and pay attention to them when they dine with you.

Of course, you should always encourage positive attitudes, friendly faces, and the notion that the customer is always right.

Being friendly isn’t the only thing your staff should be. They should be knowledgeable about your restaurant and your menu offerings. If a guest is unsure about what meal to choose, waiters should weigh in, giving an honest opinion based on their knowledge of the menu items, ingredients, and flavor. This shows that your staff is invested in the restaurant and in helping your customers.

You should also consider customer experience online. Engage with guests on social media and respond to reviews to keep the conversation going both before and after a customer visits you. Our Review Monitoring and Social Media tools can help you build these relationships with your guests online.

Bonus Tip: Keeping your staff happy can help inspire them to treat customers well. Looking for ways to boost your company culture? Read this blog.

2. Create a Loyalty Program to Keep Guests Engaged

What better way to keep customers loyal than with a loyalty program? Incentivizing patrons is a great way to keep them engaged, excited, and inspired to return to your restaurant again.

What exactly is a loyalty program? Hubspot’s definition:

[A customer loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a company to customers who frequently make purchases. A loyalty program may give a customer free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or even advance released products.]

There are many benefits to a loyalty program, from customers racking up a higher bill in order to earn more points, to getting repeat business with guests joining you for their birthdays and other events offering promotions.

You can get creative with what you want to offer with your unique loyalty program; it could include branded swag items or coupons and deals. Test out different offerings to see what resonates best with your customer base.

Don’t know where to start? There are plenty of tools out there for you that will do the majority of the work for you.

Upserve is a restaurant point of sale system that also offers a loyalty feature. Instead of an app or a card, Upserve uses a guest’s credit card to keep track of their earnings, which makes it easy for both you and the customer.

Belly is a loyalty app that functions on an iPad in your store. Guests can sign up for your program and log in to earn rewards. Plus, if someone hasn’t visited in a while, Belly will send them an email reminder to encourage them to stop in.

LevelUp is a mobile payment tool offering customized loyalty experiences. Customers can order food through the LevelUp app and the technology even allows you to notifications to customers if it senses that they’re near your restaurant.

Loyalty programs don’t just have to include freebies and discounts. You can create memorable experiences for guests to make them feel exclusive and appreciated. A cocktail hour for diners with a certain amount of points or holiday gathering for all loyalty program members can help differentiate you from your competition.

Do your research when deciding on the right loyalty program for your restaurant, get creative, and start retaining more guests.

3. Maintain a Great Reputation

If consumers have heard wonderful things about your business, they’re more likely to remain a customer. Conversely, if they’ve heard bad things about your restaurant, they may hesitate to visit you again. Maintaining a good reputation can be a lot of work, but it’s work that needs to be done in order to keep customers’ respect and loyalty.

How do you maintain a great reputation? Well, it all starts with the customer experience. And it extends to your online presence. If someone has a bad time at your restaurant, they may go online and post a scathing review. This will influence other people’s dining decisions. And it’s the prime opportunity to make amends. As we’ve mentioned before, always respond to reviews, positive or negative, to show you care.

As mentioned above, be interactive whenever possible, even when the plates are cleared. Respond to social media comments, post user-generated content, and create a personality for your business. You’ll become easily recognizable to guests.

Keep your restaurant top-of-mind by sending email newsletters and other campaigns to encourage guests to come dine with you. Make them aware of upcoming events and specials, and keep them in-the-know about what’s going on. If you make them feel more like a friend than a customer, they’ll notice.

In Closing

When it comes to customer retention, great customer service is essential. Make sure you and your staff are making the most of everyday opportunities to go above and beyond for your customers. Get creative by incentivizing guests to inspire another visit. You’ll get the best kind of thanks for your retention efforts — happy clients and repeat business.

Restaurant Catering for Events: How to Price Them Right

The typical dinner rush is most likely your bread and butter. But, if you have the space and the resources, offering catering for events can be a lucrative addition to your restaurant business. Especially with the holiday season upon us, it’s a great opportunity to increase activity.

According to MarketResearch.com, the global contract catering market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% from 2016-2021.

Hosting a one-time event is very different than a busy night for dinner on your restaurant floor. It requires a different type of planning and coordination, as well as a unique pricing model, and a set menu.

On a typical day-today basis, you probably serve lunch and dinner a la carte and determine that pricing accordingly per dish. But, usually events have a set, customized menu featuring specific items the customer chooses from a longer list. So, how do you go about establishing prices for your event menu? Find out below.

Learn how to strategically price menus for your restaurant’s catering events so you can enjoy a profit and make your customers happy.

Pricing it Right: Determining the Cost of a Catered Event

In order to keep margins at a reasonable level so you can enjoy a healthy profit, you need to determine a menu pricing strategy.

Food Cost Percentage

A good place to start is by calculating your food cost percentage (FCP). This equation is pretty simple:

How much the ingredients cost / (divided by) How much you sell the dish for

= Food Cost Percentage

The range you want to keep your FCP is around 28-35%. Of course, you want to keep the percentage as low as possible without taking away the quality of your meals.

Let’s look at an example. If you sell a pork tenderloin dinner with a side salad and rice for $25 and the ingredients cost you $8, your food cost percentage will be:

$8.00 / $25.00 = 32%

For this dish, you’re right in the sweet spot. Make sure you calculate your FCP for each menu item, not just dishes you add as time goes on. You can even do this calculation for the total menu. Add together all menu item costs and the revenue to get your total FCP.

When you find the FCP of a certain dish is too high, consider using less expensive ingredients or adjust your price accordingly, keeping in mind what customers will be willign to pay based on the quality they’re receiving.

Although it may seem like 30-35% is high, remember that you’re not only accounting for the food cost. You have to factor in other restaurant costs, like rent, bills, and the labor that goes into bringing the meal to life.

Gross Profit Margin

You should also consider your restaurant’s Gross Profit Margin. With this calculation, you’ll want to factor in labor, rent, and other outlying costs. Typically, the Gross Profit Margin for a restaurant can range between 0-15%. Full-service restaurants typically see a GPM of 3-5%.

Menu Pricing for Events

As we mentioned, pricing menus for catered events is a different animal. Typically, events are hosted for a specified amount of people with a pre-determined menu. Most often, there is a pre fixe menu with a cost per head.

This is considered fixed pricing.For example, buffet style event may offer 3-4 appetizers, 3 selections for entrees, a salad, and three dessert options.

It’s wise to use the Food Cost Percentage in this situation as well. Calculate how much all of the food will cost and divide that by the cost you plan to charge per person.

Fixed Pricing Calculations

Let’s say the food ingredients for a buffet-style engagement party will cost you a total of $800. There are 70 guests in attendance and you plan to charge $30 per guest.

$30 (pricing per person) x 70 (amount of guests) = $2,100

$800 (food cost to you) /$2,100 (what you’re charging the host) = 38%

Your FCP is still pretty high. Try bumping the cost up to $35 per person and recalculate:

$35 x 70 = $2,450

$800/$2,450 = 33%

Raising the amount you’re charging per person by $5 lowers your FCP by 5%, which is a solid improvement. If you’re trying to reach a lower point in that 28-35% mark, research different suppliers for certain ingredients to drop food costs by $50 or $100.

$35 x 70 = $2,450

$700/$2,450 = 28.5%

Pricing effectively is all about strategy and crunching the numbers in order to avoid selling yourself short. Of course, you want to please customers and give them a fair deal in order to win the business & hopefully lock them in as a loyal patron. So, let’s talk about something you should avoid when it comes to pricing restaurant catered events:

Sacrificing Customer Trust For Your Own Gain

A main goal as a business owner is to, of course, earn profit. But, you should also strive to receive loyalty from patrons and to delight your guests with your food and service. The age-old saying “honesty is the best policy” applies to this situation.

Be reasonable and fair when charging guests for an event. Don’t drive your charge per person way up just to see higher profits for yourself. A higher cost must be justifiable. Being greedy is bad for business and might make you lose the deal altogether.

Remember, most of the time people compare different venues before making a final decision. Don’t sell yourself out of the game by being unreasonably priced.

Diversify the Menu Offering

Strategy comes in once again when you’re building the menu for a catered event. Of course, it won’t be wise to only offer filet mignon, caviar, and escargot, because those are all expensive!

Find a good mix between high cost and low cost items and offer an assortment of those. This ensures that there are impressive food options that are still reasonably priced.

Reuse ingredients when possible. Food waste is a hot topic these days and you want to do your best to avoid it. If you’re making a chicken dish with mushrooms, you can buy those mushrooms and bulk and use them in an accompanying risotto. Arugula used in a salad with parmesan can be wilted and used as a side dish. Keep costs down in an effective way without sacrificing taste.

Tiered Pricing Calculations

Fixed pricing isn’t the only option for catered events. A tiered structure can work as well. With tiered pricing, there is a fixed cost per person that lowers with the more guests you have. So, if a party is between 0-50 guests, the cost per person may be $40. But, if the guestlist grows to 50-75, you can charge $35 per guest.

Of course, you’ll have to do some calculations to see what makes sense. But, tiered pricing is a great option for events because it shows customers that the more people they invite, the merrier!

The lower cost with higher guest count might appeal to some because they’ll see it as an opportunity to invite more guests without adding on a ton of additional cost.

If you’re including other fees, like a room set up charge or space rental fee, make sure you factor those into the pricing structure as well and outline them in your contract.

Quick Tip

Always do some research on the competition. Find out how much other restaurants or catering services are charging so you can make sure you’re not priced out of the market and win more business.

In Closing

Incorporating catering into your restaurant offering is a great way to reel in more profit and diversify your business’ offering. Although hosting an event is different than running a restaurant day-today, there are benefits.

When branching out to offer catered events, consider your pricing options, do the math, and figure out what works best for both your restaurant profit and your customers.

Tricks & Treats: Halloween Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Spooky season has commenced and the Halloween holiday is just around the bend. Your restaurant can utilize the festivities of October 31st to do some effective marketing. We highlight the Halloween restaurant marketing ideas that will have guests in for a treat.

The Facts

Just how popular is Halloween? Well, in 2018 it’s projected that 175 million Americans will be celebrating! A total of 9 billion dollars is projected to be spent on the holiday alone this year.

Run a Costume Contest

Who doesn’t love to dress up and take on a new persona for Halloween? Sure, wearing a costume isn’t for everyone, but many people will be willing to participate, especially if there is an incentive.

Run a costume contest at your restaurant either the weekend before Halloween or the day of. You can even keep the party going all week long and have a different theme each day. Each day of the week can offer prizes for a new category, like scariest costume or most creative group idea. Allow all participants to vote on the best costume, tally the votes, and treat the winner of each category to a free meal on the house.

Or, let everyone win by offering a discount or free menu item to anyone who comes with a costume. Take photos of participants to post on your social pages so all of your followers can tune into the fun.

Quick Tip: You should start marketing your contest in email, on your social accounts, and on your SinglePage announcement now so customers can brainstorm ideas and put together a winning costume.

Cook Up Spooky Treats and Eats

Channel your inner ghoul or goblin and come up with an inventive Halloween exclusive menu that’s only available surrounding the holiday. You can incorporate autumn flavors, like maple, pumpkin, and cinnamon to create irresistible menu items for humans and zombies alike. Get creative with the names and descriptions, riffing on popular Halloween-related characters like Dracula, The Mummy, and The Addams Family (to name a few) to make it more fun.

Stir up some tasty elixirs, both alcoholic and non, to delight guests on the chilly autumn night. Witches’ brew, zombie potion, and Dark n’ Stormy cocktails will get diners in the spirit of spook. Take the presentation to the next level by serving the drinks in cauldrons or with dry ice.

Offering bar snacks? Make those festive too. Throw some candy corn into your Chex Mix or popcorn and add pieces of chocolate to your nut assortment. Because Halloween is mostly about the candy, right?

Quick Tip: Make sure to post your All Hallow’s Eve menu online early so hungry diners can make plans to visit your restaurant for the holiday.

Host a Trick-or-Treat Event

Although trick-or-treating is meant for kids, both youngsters and adults should be able to participate at your restaurant if they wish.

Offer up some candy treats or goodie bags to all of your ghoulish guests on Halloween night. If families know you’re hosting this type of event, they will be inspired to dine with you prior to their door-to-door candy-scoring journey. You can start their quest for candy on the right foot by getting in on the fun.

To make things more interesting, include some restaurant gift cards in random bags and let customers know they have a chance of winning a special prize.

Ask parents for permission to take photos for your social accounts and post them throughout the night on your Instagram story.

Quick Tip: Send out a reminder about your trick-or-treat event on social media and post about it on your website prior to Halloween.

Hire a Murder Mystery Company

There’s no better time of year to host a murder mystery dinner at your restaurant. There are companies that specialize in providing all the props, characters, and storylines needed so you can focus on the food. Ask guests to buy tickets in advance and come prepared for a challenging and suspenseful night.

Depending on the company you hire, you can choose from different themes, whether you want to host a roaring 1920s event or a creepy mystery from the 1980s. Encourage participants to come in a costume that reflects the theme to make it more genuine. And let the games begin!

Quick Tip: Do some research to see how much hiring a murder mystery company will cost you so you can properly price the tickets for the event. Then, market it to your customers!

Sponsor a Local Event

Your involvement in Halloween-related revelry doesn’t just have to take place inside your restaurant. Find out about Halloween events happening in your town and see if you can get involved.

The local school or rec center might host a scary movie night; find out if there’s opportunity for you to provide the snacks. Haunted trail rides are another popular activity at this time of year. Host a pop-up stand where people can find refreshments like apple cider and dessert.

Pumpkin picking, Jack-O-Lantern walks, and haunted houses are also common Halloween happenings. If you become a sponsor, you can hand out branded swag items for guests to take home. They’ll remember you next time they’re looking for a place to eat.

Even if you don’t participate in the event, you can sell tickets for the events at your restaurant to lend a helping hand to local efforts. Becoming a participant in your local community will go a long way for your business.

Decorate!

Arguably the easiest of all these Halloween restaurant marketing ideas, a little decoration goes a long way. Incorporate pumpkins or Jack-O-Lanterns, faux leaves, and other spooky elements can help set the tone for the holiday. You can find inexpensive decor online and in local craft stores. Use it and reuse it by storing it with the rest of your seasonal decorations.

In Closing

Ghosts, and monsters, and vampires, oh my! Halloween is approaching quickly, and similar to many other holidays, is the perfect reason to come up with some new restaurant marketing ideas. Whether you choose to host an event in your restaurant, get involved in your community, or just inspire some fright through your menu, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween this October 31st.

For more restaurant marketing ideas, check out the homepage of our blog.

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