Where to Begin Your Digital Marketing Campaign as a New Restaurant

Let’s face it, the restaurant industry is fierce—a recent study even shows that most new restaurants close within their first year of operation. That means that not only do you need a killer menu and environment that keeps patrons coming in droves, you also need to get the word out to potential customers. Here are the top tips for creating a digital marketing strategy for your new restaurant.

Be Active on Social Media

Creating a Facebook business page and a Twitter page is a must for establishing your contact information and location, as well as for sharing information on discounts or specials, new offers, and for general promotion. But Instagram is a smart platform to use for foodie photos that will both make mouths drool and grow your business (more ideas on creative social media ideas below).

The most important facet of your social media strategy is that you keep up with it. A maintained social media presence shows a hardworking business that has something worth showing off. This extra effort and drool-worthy photos (as well as an outlet for you to be fun and friendly) will win over new and existing customers alike). Of course, running a restaurant is a busy job, but that’s where social media management tools like HootSuite or Sprout Social come in handy. Use them to create custom streams and pre-schedule your posts so you can reach out to customers at meal time when you’re busiest and they’re hungriest.

Encourage and Maintain Reviews

Research shows that  88% of customers look to online comments and reviews before considering where to eat, which makes it clear that encouraging and maintaining your restaurant’s reviews is a must. People will review your business regardless of whether or not you have an account–especially on Yelp, the go-to review site. That’s why you’ll need to create a Yelp account and also prepared for negative reviews, no matter how great your food and service is. The key to making reviews work for you—rather than against you—is to respond to all reviews, especially the negative ones, in a constructive and positive manner. That way, an anonymous disgruntled customer doesn’t take away any business for you because they found a dish to be too salty for their liking.

Get Creative on Social Media

Social media is where you get to establish your name, a following, and your brand’s identity. If you’re a sophisticated date-night venue with expensive fare, cater your content to reflect this, by showing off wine and dinner pairings, photos of patrons dining in candlelight. If you’re a casual lunch cafe with healthy fare, share photos of your dishes and include calorie counts, nutritional information, and special ingredients. Whatever you do, make sure you’re snapping photos in a well-lit spot, and that the surrounding area is clean. Use hashtags of your own making to generate buzz (and encourage your patrons to use these on their own accounts), and hop on board to join in on the most popular food hash tags of social media.

Leverage the power of SEO

Learning how to use SEO the right way is a make or break for websites and businesses alike, and for restaurants—who usually rely on the business of patrons in their specific geographic location—local SEO can be a godsend for ranking higher in Google search results. You can even utilize analytics  to find out exactly who your users are, what they’re searching for, and how they’re finding you, so that you can tighten your strategy according to their needs.

Google My Business is the first step in ranking higher on Google’s search results, so that your restaurant will be found more easily and quickly. You can also have your menu pop up in the search results, which simplifies the research process for customers (no more visiting each restaurant’s website and then locating, downloading, and reading a menu). Because your menu will be much more accessible to patrons, you’re much more likely to reap more business.

Brianna Barcena is a Content Specialist at TrustRadius. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys reading, watching a good historical drama, doing yoga, and going on adventures with her dog, Deeks.

5 Ways to Create the Perfect Restaurant Holiday Playlist

Music is part of what makes for an enjoyable vibe in a restaurant. During the holidays, changing things up a little can help your restaurant fit in with the festivity and can help increase sales of seasonal items.

Many restaurant owners have a variety of questions about restaurant holiday music; do customers like holiday music? How early should it start? What type of holiday music is best?

Whatever the case, my aim with this article is to answer all of these questions for you and provide you with the information you need to make a more informed decision.

1. Start With the Basics of Restaurant Music

Restaurant music in general can be a complicated topic. We’ve discussed how to build a playlist for your restaurant before, but we’ll go over some of the basics here.

In restaurants, music can be used to influence consumer behavior in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Making the music louder and choosing faster songs causes people to eat faster, which leads to higher table turnover.

  • Soft, slow music can get people to stay in your restaurant longer, which can lead to higher revenue per customer in some situations.

  • Customers spend more with the presence of classical music.

  • Depending on the genre, customers may perceive taste differently.

These are some general guidelines you can use to help curate your holiday playlist. If your goal is high table turnover, choose higher tempo songs. For a high-class restaurant where the goal is to increase alcohol sales, piano covers of holiday songs would be a great pick.

Finally, before you play music in your restaurant, make sure it’s properly licensed.

2. Keep Your Brand in Mind to Choose the Right Genre

Even when choosing holiday music, it’s important to choose songs that reflect your brand’s style and the preferences of your target audience.

You can find many different versions of the same song. For example, if you search Jingle Bells, on Spotify, you’ll find that there are hundreds of different versions.

These different versions offer enough variety for you to be selective of genre and tempo for any holiday song, making it easy to create a playlist that fulfills your song preferences, the genre requirements of your brand, and the tempo requirements based on your restaurant’s business objectives.

If you have a coffee shop designed to embrace a culture of carefree relaxation, a playlist of slow acoustic and indie rock holiday songs might do the trick.

For high-end restaurants, low-tempo piano covers can be your go-to.

3. Don’t Play Holiday Music Too Early

Starting holiday music too early, like before Thanksgiving, can frustrate many customers. In fact, many people believe that anytime before Thanksgiving is too early for holiday shopping to start.

However, people do enjoy holiday music. According to a study conducted by SOCAN, a Canadian performance rights organization, 58% of participants thought holiday music improved their shopping experience – but only if played in December.

Employees like holiday music too. 43% of participants in the SOCAN study said they would like to hear holiday music in their workplace, provided the timing is right.

Starting your holiday playlist at the end of November or beginning of December is ideal. For best results, start layering holiday songs in with your existing playlist so they play every three or four songs, then increase the frequency as you approach the end of the month.

4. Don’t be Repetitive
Starting holiday music too early is one thing that can annoy guests, but another is too much repetition.

Not only will it frustrate your customers, but your employees can also grow frustrated from hearing the same songs all week. As you hopefully know, unhappy employees can result in a poor experience for your customers. And customer experience is a topic we talk about often because of its importance.

Choosing the top 100 holiday songs isn’t enough to keep your customers and employees happy. If you’re frequently playing the same songs that every other restaurant and retail store in town is playing, customers may perceive this as repetitive and will grow frustrated. Employees will easily get tired of hearing the same songs in their workplace that are played everywhere else as well.

It’s okay to play popular songs, but to combat the perception of repetition, make sure your playlist includes plenty of variety. Include less popular holiday songs, cover versions of classic ones, or a mix of these in addition to the top 100 holiday songs you hear every day on the radio.

5. Be Festive in Other Ways, Too

It’s not enough to simply put on a playlist full of holiday songs. To truly capture the feel of the holiday season, you need to be festive in other ways too.

Try decorating your restaurant. Maybe have some hanging garland, a miniature tree, or even some simple lights to create an ambiance. The holiday music you’re going to play still needs to fit the atmosphere of your restaurant, and decorating can help accomplish this.

Offering special holiday deals or introducing a special, time-sensitive holiday menu can also be a great way to reinforce a festive vibe, and can get potential customers to choose your restaurant over another due to fear of missing out.

There are tons of ways to promote your restaurant during this time of year. Just get creative.

Nick Rubright is the founder and editor at Dozmia and the lead guitarist for the band Days Gone By. He has a passion for playing the guitar, writing new songs, and creating awesome blog posts like this one.

The Tax Forms You Need to File for Your New Restaurant

Opening your own restaurant soon? Congratulations! The foodie culture is at an all-time high. When done right, you could be having a highly profitable business.

But of course, just like any other business, one of the most important things that you should pay attention to are the taxes you need to file and settle. Failure to file taxes or consistently filing late can have a terrible impact on your business, from hefty penalties to suspension and legal charges.

Some restaurant tax forms are similar with other retail businesses. But there are certain tax forms that are exclusive to companies offering food and hospitality services.

Taxes could mean another expense for your business. But they are critical for your business to survive. Payment could be more difficult for those who have bad credit. Thankfully, online personal loans for bad credit are available for people who need financing assistance to settle their business taxes.

Below is the list of tax forms that you need to file for your startup restaurant.

Form 941 – Employer’s Quarterly Tax Form

This form is used by employers to report federal withholdings from their employees. It contains essential information like employment taxes taken from the employee’s compensation and the amount owed to the IRS. It also reports the number of employees, and Medicare and Social Security withholdings. The Form 941 is applicable to all businesses that withhold taxes from their employees. If you have workers or staff who only work on a seasonal basis, they need not be included in the tax form unless they worked during that quarter. This form has to be filed by the end of April, July, October and January.

Form 944 – Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return

If Medicare, social security, and withheld federal income tax liability is less than $1,000, you don’t have to pay taxes every quarter but only once a year. This tax rule is relatively new, having been announced only in 2007. Usually, businesses with paid wages amounting to $4,100 fall into this category. If you’re eligible, you can register and file it online. The Form 944 has to be filed at the end of January for the previous year.

W 9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification

This form is meant to secure the tax identification numbers of your employees. Make sure that you are able to verify all of the information from your staff, including their address so their personal income taxes are processed smoothly.

Form 8027 – Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips

Specifically designed for businesses in the food industry, this tax form is used to report receipts and tips and determine allocated tips for tipped employees. This is an essential record keeping document that will help you avoid disputes with the IRS concerning your tipped income. Not all food establishments are required to file this tax. The ones required are those large-scale restaurants that make tipping customary. If you have 10 or fewer employees, you are exempted from this tax.

There might be other tax forms that you need to fill out and file before the IRS, depending on where your restaurant is situated. Remember that cities and states have varying tax requirements. It is a great idea to work with a tax advisor or consultant to ensure that you’re not missing out on anything.

Tax Tips and Deductions

You might be overwhelmed with so many tax policies that cover restaurant businesses. But don’t worry, there are ways to lessen the cost and get deductions.

•Food and beverage costs are deductible. You can even account indirect costs like those of oil and condiments, as well as spoiled, wasted or discarded food.
•You can maximize your tax savings by deducting costs of your recently purchased equipment. You can deduct it in the year in which it was purchased or in smaller amounts over several years.
•If you offer great perks and compensation benefits to your employees, you could also get a deduction from IRS. If you offer free meals to your staff, those are deductible too.
•You can also deduct your transportation costs (mileage) and the actual expenses you incur for driving to and from your restaurant.
•Check if you qualify for Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). If you hire employees from “targeted groups” such as veterans, former felons, and PWD, you may also qualify for deductions.
•If you donated to charitable institutions, you can also get deductions, particularly on the cost of food.
•You can also get tax savings for remodeling your restaurant if it considered “ordinary and necessary”.

In Closing

For the smooth running of your business, paying your tax dues before the IRS is essential. Hopefully, this article has given you adequate information about the tax requirements and necessary tax forms for startup restaurants and how you can maximize your tax savings.