9 Tips to Write Engaging Restaurant Blog Posts that Increase Sales

Blogs can be a powerful marketing tool for a restaurant. We talk about them in our Content Marketing 101 blog as well. When people are looking for a new restaurant to try out, they turn to the internet. Blogs are great for showing off what your restaurant does best, whether that is featuring fun events, new items, great photos of your food, or stories from staff and customers.

Here are nine tips to write engaging restaurant blog posts that increase sales.

Plan It Out and Post Consistently

“You should have a plan before you begin posting. Don’t just write about what you feel like, do some research and see what keywords and phrases your customers are using online. Once you’ve got some ideas and are ready to begin posting, be sure to post at a pace you can maintain consistently,” recommends David Behling, food blogger at EliteAssignmentHelp.

Once a week is a sensible starting place for a restaurant blog. Don’t worry if you feel like you have more things to say, you can always write posts and then have them set live later on your schedule.

Talk About Recipes

People are always searching online for new recipes and having yours available can be a great way to get some buzz and some new patrons. Not only does this give you a chance to brag about your amazing cuisine, you’ll also get to help out a potential customer. Give them a taste of what you’ve got to offer and then just wait for them to come in and try out the real deal.

Consider Local Interests

“Blogging about local-specific interests can be a great way to make your restaurant stand out. Think about some local foods and traditions and integrate them into your menu,” writes Jane Smith, content marketer at BigAssignments. People love an establishment that takes pride in its community, and they also love unique takes on local niche foods.

Write About Special Events You’re Opening

People are always looking for a fun new event to attend, and it’s not always easy to find one. Plan out some fun events at your restaurant and then write about them in your blog. Not only will your regulars love it, but you’ll get some new fans once the event is over. One good way to approach this is to write a blog post with the top five things to do in your town, and then have your event as one of those ideas.

Feature Your Employees

It never hurts to ask your employees for ideas on what to blog about. Spend a few minutes picking their brain and you’ll probably get some new ideas and perspectives. If they’re open to it, ask them what they like best about the restaurant or even just what they like to do for fun. Most important of all, ask them what their favourite dish you offer is. Your customers will love getting to know the people that make and serve them their food, and your employees should have fun too.

Answer Common Customer Questions

Keep track of the most common questions you receive from customers, or better yet, ask for some feedback on your social media. Make a post or two in which you answer these questions. Ask your staff for their input as well, they are the ones who interact with your customers and have their finger on the pulse. For every person who asks a question in person, there are many who are wondering about it, or asking online, so these kinds of posts can be very helpful.

Feature New Menu Items

People get excited whenever there is something new, especially when one of their favorite restaurants has something new on the menu. If you have a new menu item, be sure to share it on your blog and create some buzz.

Write about the process and inspiration that went into creating the new dish. A blog about a new item is also a great way to remind old customers why they loved your restaurant in the first place and will inspire them to pay an overdue visit.

Make Your Blog Visually Appealing

The way your blog looks matters. It’s best to go with a clean, simple design that doesn’t distract from your writing. If you have an established look then try and keep your blog consistent with that.

One of the most important aspects of a restaurant blog is having quality visuals. Don’t just describe your food, post appealing photographs of the dishes you’re talking about. Did you just host a really fun event? Put up some photos and prove it. Don’t forget to include photos of your restaurant full of people enjoying themselves.

Use Some Online Resources to Help Write Your Blog

Before you get cracking on those restaurant blog posts, you need to make sure your writing is as good as it can be. These online writing tools can help you improve the quality of your writing:

  1. ViaWriting, WritingPopulist, and Grammarly – If you find grammar a difficult thing to grasp, you’re not alone. These grammar resources can help make sure you’re not leaving any grammatical mistakes in your posts.

  2. Essay Writer and UKWritings – These online proofreading tools, suggested by UKWritings review, will make your editing process a whole lot smoother and easier.

  3. AcademAdvisor and StateofWriting – Check out these blogs and read through their useful writing suggestions. It never hurts to mix things up and try out a new strategy.

  4. EssayRoo and BoomEssays – Try out these editing tools and see how much better your blog posts are as a result. They are dependable and have been reviewed at AustralianReviewer.

  5. MyWritingWay and LetsGoandLearn – Use these writing guides and make sure you are following a complete, well-rounded writing process. Good writing takes time and effort, so it’s good to use a guide.

Conclusion

Blogs are an amazing way for restaurants to inform people about what they have to offer, as well as build buzz and excitement. They provide a great platform to do things such as answer FAQs, announce new menu items and events, share recipes, and post photos of your venue and dishes. Follow these nine tips to write engaging restaurant blog posts that increase sales.

Top 5 Restaurant Industry Trends 2019

It’s about that time of year again. It seems like we were just talking about the Top Trends for 2018 and now another year has gone by! I’ve done some research on what the top food mags, sites, and experts are saying about the restaurant & food trends for 2019. And I’ve picked our top 5 favorites to share with you.

Read on for my picks for the Top 5 Food Trends for 2019. And of course, comment below to tell me what you think will be all the rage in the new year!

Wild, Wild Hummus

hummus with pomegranates and cashews

Hummus is already popular, but why not take the craze to the next level? National Restaurant News predicts that the chickpea explosion will happen in ‘19. Exotic flavors of hummus will surface in restaurants around the country. Hummus milkshakes? It’s possible; the chain Hummus & Pita Co. released a line of dessert hummus, proving that the legume isn’t only meant for salty or savory dishes.

Chickpeas will also take centerstage, piggybacking off the healthy eating phenomenon that’s inspired the replacement of brown rice with cauliflower and broccoli. Chickpea tater tots anyone?

I also predict that along with the popular chickpea staple, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines in general will continue to flourish. In 2018 we mentioned that ethnic foods and ingredients would be a big hit, and they have. Middle Eastern food has even made its way into fast casual, with chains like Roti growing rapidly.

The Mediterranean diet, with its incorporation of vegetables and proteins, is highly sought after for its freshness and health benefits. Plus, who can resist the flavors of tzatziki, tahini, lemon and dill? They’re some of my personal favorites.

In large metropolitan cities, like New York, stand alone restaurants of these cuisines are popping up all over as well. I definitely think the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences will continue to gain prominence throughout grocery and restaurant concepts, so stay tuned!

Purposeful Purchases

bakery filled with bread and two employees in the background

Just as people have become for eco-conscious, they want their favorite brands to be considerate to causes. Whole Foods predicts that philanthropy will be a focus for consumers this year. People will feel more loyalty toward those brands whose values align with theirs and in turn will be inspired to purchase more often from them.

Of course, we’ve all seen different food brands and other companies aligning themselves with a cause, whether it be pet food advocating for animal welfare or donations for children’s hunger. You can adopt this concept too in your own restaurant by supporting other local business or donating a portion of your proceeds to a charity of your choice. Interested? We wrote a blog on different ways you can give back.

Owning a business goes further than just churning out great food and earning a profit; in 2019 people will be looking for businesses that go above and beyond to get involved and give back. Get a head start by thinking of ways you can show your support the causes you care about.

All Oat Everything

glass of oat milk on a cutting board

You may have recently heard about the oat milk craze. No, I didn’t say goat milk – oat milk, made from steel cut oats soaked in water, blended, and strained, is replacing other nut milks that have been popular in recent years. With more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle, it’s no surprise that milk is being made from all types of non-animal products.

Although I didn’t see oat milk coming, I’m excited to try it. I’ve replaced most of my 2% milk intake with almond or cashew, but experts say oat milk has less water and more heaviness, making it a more sustainable option. It also has more protein than nut milk, but less than soy or cow’s milk. So, pick your poison!

I’m sure oat milk will be popping up as an option in coffee shops everywhere in 2019. Step aside, Starbucks coconut milk (just kidding, that is my favorite). I can even see it being a new blended seasonal drink additive at major coffee chains. When there’s a craze, these places capitalize on it big time. And don’t rule out grocery stores. Supermarket News says Quaker will be launching an oat beverage in January, so look out.

Another NRN prediction for 2019 is the return of carbs, which relates to the oat phenomenon as well. Dare I say that avocado toast will be replaced with hearty oatmeal bowls at brunch? (Made with oat milk, of course). Only time will tell.

Get Ghost(ed) Restaurants

wok of vegetables being cooked on a stove

Although this trend sounds spooky, it will actually improve efficiencies and customer deliverability. As online ordering and delivery continues to trend upward, there is a need for a quicker way to get orders out. Ghost restaurants, much like ghost writers, do the behind-the-scenes work to churn out meals. Ghost restaurants don’t have physical storefronts, instead they are food kitchens used solely for the purpose of ordering and delivery.

Ghost restaurants already exist, but there will be more technological advances coming. According to Forbes, automation will take over with the incorporation of robots and AI programs. These establishments are great solutions for areas where the rent is high (cough, cough, New York and LA) because owners don’t need a fancy dining room to attract a crowd. The business can defer the sometimes high cost of delivery services by keeping other costs, like rent, lower.

Ghost restaurants even allow multiple food concepts to exist in one kitchen, so diverse meals can be churned out in one space, improving efficiency even further. Plus, with more investments focused on the kitchen, there is opportunity for more customization of food items.

If you’re looking to open up a risky restaurant business without funding a storefront, this may be a good option for you. If you find success with your concept and cuisine, you can consider opening a full brick and mortar.

In the same vein, we predict that online ordering will continue to explode, catering to the millennial generations that are always on the go and always on their phones. Check out our blog on online ordering and deliveries to learn more about your restaurant’s options.

For the Love of Protein

plate of dinner with steak egg and vegetables

And by protein, I don’t only mean big, juicy hamburgers (although I personally am a huge fan). As I mentioned above with the oat milk, people are looking for more diversified protein sources, both meat and non-meat. Whether it means turkey, veggie burgers, or meat made in lab, we’ll be seeing more of these innovative dishes in the new year.

What exactly is lab grown meat? Some companies are using fetal cow blood (nope, not appetizing in description), to grow cells and culture meat within a laboratory setting. The cost is quite high, but are beginning to be cut down as technologies improve.

The Beyond Burger, which we’ve talked about before, is known for being plant-based, but still having that meat texture that even has a blood-like ooze when you bite into it. And other veggie-based products that have been on the market for quite some time continue to see success.

Of course, the hunt for more diversified protein sources is definitely influenced by the health crazes, fad diets, and fitness trends. When you lift things up and put them down, you need the protein to refuel and grow muscle. But, pounds of chicken can get boring after a while (sorry Tyson and Perdue). Look out for the use of these alternate protein sources popping up, and think about how you can incorporate them into your menu.

In Closing

flat lay of mediterranean food hummus pita and vegetables

So there you have it, my top 5 picks for the 2019 trends in restaurants and food. Do you agree with my predictions for what will be hot in 2019? Comment below with your thoughts and prophecies for what the new year will bring to restaurants.

Reshaping Your Restaurant Management With the Right Software

Managing a restaurant is not for the faint of heart. But as a restaurant owner, you already knew that! From effectively managing inventory to upholding health standards, restaurateurs and those in the hospitality industry have their work cut out for them.

To help manage all the puzzle pieces of running a restaurant, it is important to utilize today’s latest restaurant and hospitality software. Restaurant SaaS products can help you automate tasks such as scheduling, point-of-sale (POS), and marketing.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reevaluate your current business tools, review your upcoming year’s budget, and prepare for a busy and profitable year ahead. To get you on track for a successful 2019, below is a list of software that can help you run your restaurant more efficiently.

What to Look For in Restaurant Management Software

Restaurant management software is built to help you focus on what you love: food and happy customers.

Many restaurant leaders can find themselves inundated with logistical details that can distract them from their passion. Accounting, inventory, scheduling, planning, marketing, and more are necessary tasks to make a restaurant successful.

These aren’t always the easiest tasks to keep under control. That’s where modern software comes in. Restaurant solutions keep all the necessary management aspects of a hospitality business running smoothly and efficiently. We will take a look at helpful softwares aimed to enhance your scheduling, point-of-sale systems, and marketing strategy.

Keep Those Schedules Organized: HotSchedules Brings Your Team Together

Hotschedules is a restaurant management solution aimed to help you make schedules faster, communicate changes more efficiently and reduce labor costs.

HotSchedules provides an easy-to-use online template that managers can easily upload schedules, approve shift swaps, enforce clock-ins, and keep PTO, time-off, and availability hours all in one spot.

Employees can receive alerts via text, messaging, or email. If an employee has an emergency, they can message the other staff in the platform to see if anybody can cover them immediately.

This solution reduces time, errors, and headaches over knowing which employee should be where and when. There is no more need for sticky notes or last minute calls between different staff members. Restaurant scheduling can be easy.

Improving the Customer Experience: Custom Point-of-Sale Solutions with Agilysys

Agilysys is a food service and hospitality software company that has a lot of bells and whistles. One of the most helpful features this solution provides is restaurant point-of-sale (POS) solutions. Agilysys offers several different POS options. There are traditional kiosk systems, pay-at-the-table tools, self-serve kiosks, tablets, and mobile ordering from any device, such as customer phones.

For more advanced options, the software includes features that allow reservation and table management, inventory process management, and the ability for workers to utilize wireless and mobile phones to manage food inventory on the go.

Reach Customers Where They’re At: Online Marketing

Most customers find local restaurants by doing online research. They can find your listing on Google, social media platforms, review sites like Yelp, and more. To find new customers and to engage with your current customer base, it is important to be proactive in your digital marketing. There are several different software solutions to help you plan out your social media posts, email campaigns, and local listings.

The important thing is to get yourself and your menu out there in front of hungry potential diners. 93% of your future customers want to check out online menus before deciding which restaurant to choose.

SinglePlatform wants you to get noticed online today; in fact, SinglePlatform customers reach, on average, 4x more diners with their online menus.

It is crucial to invest in a software solution that can handle the financial, logistics, and event side of the food service management industry. Before purchasing a software, be sure to do some research to check out what other users have to say about the software in question.


About the Author: 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.

Strategic Planning Tips for Restaurant Owners and Managers

As a restaurant owner or manager, what is your main goal? Of course, profitability is up there (and may even be #1), along with building a reputation that retains loyal customers. It’s every restaurateur’s dream to be the new hot destination for delicious fare and an attractive atmosphere. And it’s also wise to look at the bigger picture to determine how you’ll keep your wheels turning year after year.

Although there are hundreds of thousands of restaurants in the United States alone, it’s possible to approach the top tier of eateries with the right combination of data quality management and an impressive operation spanning from staff efficiency to food quality.

Data quality management simply means collecting the best information available and keeping it up to date. To do so, you should run reports often in order to keep tabs on all aspects, from sales to inventory levels and most popular items.

For a restaurant, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you keep tabs on all aspects of your business. Point of sale systems, like Toast or Upserve for example, do just that. They have extensive reporting capabilities that span from your transactions to your inventory and overall staff efficiency.

With good data and a firm understanding of your business goals and needs, you can make decisions that can potentially catapult your restaurant to the “must go” list for everyone in your surrounding area.

In this blog, we’ll discuss ways you can take a deeper look at your restaurant’s operations, and ways to improve on those operations, in order to set yourself up for success.

Start with SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is an exercise to determine your restaurant’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (hence the acronym SWOT). When performing a SWOT, you should look at both internal and external factors to get the best picture of the current state of your restaurant.

Among your strengths may be the popularity of your food, your marketing strategy, and your managers’ years of experience. Use these to propel your business forward, constantly maintaining (or improving) what your company is already good at. This is your angle that can help edge you ahead of your competition.

Weaknesses may begin with an inability to extract, analyze, and use the data at your fingertips. They may also include the inability to stay on top of industry trends, an issue with keeping track of inventory, or constant turnover of wait staff. Retention is tough in the restaurant business, and paying a premium for good, experienced employees may pinch the bottom line but result in significant long-term returns by retaining customers.

Opportunities can include business visibility through online reviews, the chance to grow your social presence, growing your online presence, and leveraging your loyal customers through word-of-mouth and marketing campaigns.

An easy way to act on an opportunity, like your online presence, is to have a clear strategy for responding to your reviews, both negative and positive. This is low hanging fruit that doesn’t take too much effort.  Of course, another opportunity to take control of your online visibility is by working with a menu management company like SinglePlatform. With 97% of people finding businesses through a search engine, this is key to attracting new customers.

Threats to your restaurant may include nearby competitors, an inconsistent social media presence, negative reviews, or poor staff management. You should pay special attention to these threats because they are the most risky factors that can tour your success sour.

Putting SWOT to Use

After putting together your SWOT Analysis, begin to create an action plan for business improvement. Determine which challenges you’ll tackle first and map out a timeline with goals and checkpoints. Without having a solid plan in place, you may push your responsibilities to the side in order to solely focus on the here and now instead of the future.

Start off by determining how you’ll improve on your weaknesses. Your weaknesses are your biggest hurdles and the elements that pose the most difficult challenges to your business. Then, focus on how to combat your threats.

And of course, don’t just focus on your threats and weaknesses. You should make those top priority, but don’t forget to continue to fortify the areas of your business that make you shine. Your strengths should be consistently monitored, and if needed, improved over time.

Competitive Analysis

Once you’ve examined your business inside and out, put a laser focus on your competition. After all, the surrounding restaurants with similar concepts are probably some of your biggest threats.

Make a comparison list between your restaurant and those of your competitors. Determine what you do better and what they exceed at. Analysis can include pricing, menu items, location, staff, and more. Be brutally honest in this appraisal, don’t just downplay a competitor’s strengths to make yourself feel better.

Putting Competitive Analysis to Use

If there’s something that a competing restaurant does very well, think about how you can put your own spin on it and use it in your own business.

Say their printed marketing materials are more eye catching than yours – consider hiring a graphic designer to help you take your brand to the next level. Or maybe they’ve got an enticing curb appeal that magnetizes passersby. Consider investing some budget into making your exterior more attractive.

From this competitive analysis, you will discover more areas in your restaurant in need of improvement in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s better to be aware of your surroundings than to turn a blind eye to those doing business around you. Staying informed about your competitors will help your business thrive.

Take A Look At Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing your business with success takes a lot of planning and strategy to uphold the creative aspect. We talk about marketing often in this blog, because it’s really important! Do an evaluation of your current, and even past, marketing strategies and tactics. What was successful? What was a complete flop?

Did you have success with paid advertising on Instagram? Have you seen an uptick in reservations since placing your action button on your social media? Maybe you sent out a direct mail piece with a discount and attracted large crowds. Use those tactics that work and repurpose them in new marketing campaigns. Like they say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

At the same time, you should always be evolving and keeping up with present day demands. Marketing is a bit of trial and error, so don’t be afraid to test out something new. A pop up event for the holidays could help boost sales. Maybe hosting a Valentine’s Day date night will inspire ticket sales. You won’t know until you try. Just make sure your plan is solid and the budget needed is there.

Of course, we believe a crucial part of your restaurant marketing is your online presence. If you’re not searchable online, you’re missing the chance to attract new customers that have never dined with you before. That’s equivalent to throwing away cash! Learn more about why it’s important here.

In Closing

Marketing can help you bring in business – but your overall restaurant operations will help you retain customers for the long run. Strategic planning is essential to any business and can help you get a firmer grasp on what you excel at and which areas of your restaurant need improvement. It keeps you in the know about your own internal landscape, as well as what you’re facing with your competition. Use these strategic planning tips to create a solid foundation for your restaurant and let the rest fall into place.

5 Holiday Preparation Tips for Your Restaurant

‘Tis the season for more restaurant business – whether it’s a company holiday party or just a celebration among friends, your restaurant will probably be experiencing an uptick in busyness in the coming weeks.

Although it’s a positive to bring in more customers and higher profit, it’s also wise to be prepared for the rush.

To get you in the spirit, and to prepare you for a busy season, we give you 5 holiday tips to incorporate into your restaurant strategy.

1. Make Your Staff Schedule & Check It Twice

Santa’s making his list, and you should too. Plan ahead when it comes to staffing for the holidays. Plenty of people will be requesting off for travel and hoping for earlier hours, so make sure you’re ready to roll throughout the season.

If you’re old school like Mr. Claus, you may still be using a pen and paper to write out daily schedules. This is both time-consuming and unreliable – it’s easy to lose a paper schedule and forget when your shift begins.

Utilizing a staff scheduling tool will help to make your operations easier and will keep employees informed about when they’re expected to work. If an employee needs the day off, they can request it easily through the system and wait for approval on an app.

Plus, with the app capabilities, any changes in your schedule will be reflected in real-time, ensuring everyone is in-the-know about last minute changes. Learn more about employee scheduling tools at 7shifts.com.

2. Make Sure Your Cupboards Are Fully Stocked, But Not Overloaded

There would be tons of disappointed kids on Christmas if Santa Claus forgot to load his sleigh with toys. And you’d have some hungry customers on your hands if you forgot to fully stock your kitchen with necessary ingredients.

Making sure your inventory ready for an influx of customers is key – and you can check your levels with the help of a point of sale inventory tool, like Toast. Utilizing a tool within your point of sale system again eliminates the need for pen and paper or convoluted spreadsheets.

Plus, inventory reports will give you a clear picture about your food cost and waste, helping you make better informed decisions. Although you want to make sure you have all the ingredients needed to serve your customers, you don’t want to throw out rotten food or unused goods because you ordered too much. Learn more about the benefits of a POS here.

If you’re introducing a seasonal menu, you’re probably using in-season ingredients, like those we mentioned in a previous blog. Keep tabs on the availability of these items, which could be compromised by weather conditions or other outlying factors. For example, there’s currently an avocado shortage, which is proving to be a challenge for Mexican restaurants and other businesses that rely on avocados for many recipes.

If you do in fact find out there is a pomegranate or clementine shortage, you’ll have to improvise and make menu adjustments to substitute the ingredient in your recipes.

3. Make Your Guests Feel At Home With Holiday Decor

‘Tis the season for decorating! The days are cold and the nights are long, it’s the time of year when most people opt for ordering in instead of dining out. Although you probably (or should) have a plan in place for online ordering and delivery, you still want guests to come through your decked out doors in the winter months.

An inviting, cheerful ambiance will help to inspire diners to join you. I know I’m partial to sitting home by my Christmas tree during December, but going to a place that’s draped in holiday cheer might just get me off the couch.

Show off your own personal style by incorporating holiday decor that suits you and your restaurant. Hanging lights, a tree, and some ornaments can liven up your space without breaking the bank. Something as simple as a festive place setting can make a subtle impact.

Rolf’s German Restaurant in New York City takes holiday decor to the next level and is well-known for their over-the-top Christmas displays.

  Rolf’s
Rolf’s

Although this may be a little extreme for your establishment, you can take some cues and put your own spin on holiday cheer.

For example, the Refinery Rooftop is more, well, refined. Simple string lights and a few sprigs of greenery immediately transform the space into a winter wonderland.

  via In Good Company
via In Good Company

Whatever decor you choose, make sure it keeps with the theme and atmosphere of your restaurant. And of course, make it merry.

4. Ensure Your Staff is Merry & Bright

Having disgruntled Grinches as employees won’t heed great feedback from your customers.

The season is about happiness and merriment, so make sure your staff is putting their best foot forward throughout their shift. You should have greeters welcoming each guest, attentive waitstaff ready to answer questions, and a well-oiled system for getting food out fast, not only to please guests, but to efficiently turn tables.

Creating a solid company culture can help inspire your staff to be at the top of their game. Make sure that seasonal employees are well-trained, call frequent staff meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page, and keep everyone updated on any new seasonal menus or bar items. The better informed your employees are, the better the guest experience will be.

Show your employees you care by hosting a holiday gathering or putting on a Secret Santa event. Making work fun is a way to increase staff positivity and loyalty, and it’s great for your company culture.

5. Give the Gifts That Keep on Giving

Of course you want to fill seats at your restaurant during the holidays, but what about after the trees are taken to the curb and the string lights are put in the attic? The winter months following the end of the holiday season are quite dismal, but you should strive to keep business alive during that time.

Think of ways to encourage repeat business after the holidays – gift cards are a great way to do this. People are always looking for present ideas for family members, friends, and co-workers. A gift card to their favorite restaurant (yours, of course), is a more personal option than just a generic gift card or cash. You get the profit ahead of time, and the recipient gets to enjoy a delicious meal.

Don’t offer gift cards? There are other ways to get customers to come back. Ask them to sign up for your email mailing list to receive exclusive offers and coupons throughout the year – if diners hear they can get free stuff or discounts, they’ll be more willing to give you their contact information. This is email collection is a great addition for your marketing efforts.

Keep the holiday high going by releasing an event series for the happenings you plan on hosting in early 2019. Get patrons excited about what’s to come in the new year so they can mark their calendars ahead of time.

In Closing

The holidays are here – is your restaurant prepared? There are plenty of ways you can set yourself up for seasonal success and ride on the high of holiday revelry.

From tasteful decor to checking inventory levels, make sure your restaurant is properly prepared for the most wonderful time of the year.

5 Steps to Optimizing Your Restaurant’s Employee Lifecycle

With an average annual turnover rate of 73%, according to The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurateurs know that employees are going to be coming and going from their business with frequency. However, not many restaurateurs think about how they can optimize the processes of both employee hiring exiting.

Since high turnover is likely, it is in restaurants’ best interest to consider the lifecycle of an employee as a whole, and optimize the journey to make sure the business gets the most of each employee, which helps keeps costs down and morale amongst staff high.

Roughly speaking, this journey can be thought of as 5 distinct stages which an employee moves through: Hiring, Onboarding, Training, Scheduling and Engaging.

We’ll take you each step of this process and provide some helpful tips, strategies and tools to help you save you time, money and stress when it comes effectively managing your staff.

Any employees journey with your restaurant staff starts with the hiring process. There are a many things you can do while hiring to make the process easier and help make sure you get the right candidate who will be a productive and efficient team member.

Before releasing your job posting, make sure that your restaurant’s online presence is top notch in order to attract top talent. Give your online presence a quick audit to make sure you like everything that is out there, from social media to your website to reviews of your establishment. Ensuring that your restaurants brand is polished is increasingly becoming a reason potential employees choose one company over another to apply to!

SinglePlatform can be used to make sure that what you’re putting out online, such as menus, your website, and social posts, are the best they can be.

Next, place your job postings in the right place. Job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor or your own social media networks are good options, but there are also hospitality focused job boards such as Poached. Make sure you use the right keywords in your posting to give it better placement on job boards.

Also use your own professional network to find qualified employees. Let all your employees know you’re hiring, and consider providing an incentive for a referral. A referral can be great for building team morale and a consistent company culture.

Approaching the hiring process carefully and with an eye for quality can save you money and time in the long run because it can attract the best possible hire, not just the quickest.

Once an employee is hired, the next step is to onboard them to your operation make sure they feel comfortable, are learning as much as they can, and are welcomed into your workplace.

Up to 20% of employee turnover happens during the first 45 days of employment, so it is important to have a tried and true onboarding method in place to make sure you don’t lose those great new hires. Organizations with a standard onboarding process have 50% greater new hire retention.

A checklist is a good idea to follow an onboarding process, and software, such as Process Street, is now available that can help you create and follow a checklist. Process Street outlines each step of the way, from getting an employee’s details to assigning them a mentor on the first day and following up to see how they are doing. Having a checklist gives you a great, transparent way of monitoring progress that is purely analytical.

Following an onboarding process will allow for further refinements in the future and can remove the stress of not knowing how to make a new hire part of the team.

Much like onboarding, training also requires a plan. When creating a plan, think about the goals of the training ­‑ what you would like your employee to know and in what timeframe. Don’t just hand your employee a handbook and set them to work immediately. Think of training as a continual process that requires patience and many check-ins.

Break each role down in your restaurant into a set of tasks and design your training around teaching each of those tasks. When clear goals are set within a specific timeframe, then you and your employee share the same expected outcome and tracking progress is easier.

You can also look at implementing hospitality-specific learning and training systems like Wisetail which can help track and test the knowledge of your new employees to ensure they have the skills they need to do their job well.

Also consider an initial skills audit of the employee so you don’t waste time on training them on things they may already know. Monitor an employee’s performance through performance reports that use data collected monthly and weekly to see where an employee may need more training to be optimal.

Once a new employee is hired, onboarded and trained on what they need to do their job well, the next step is to get them on the schedule! Luckily the days of “penciling them in” for a shift are long-gone. Modern restaurants can take advantage of web-based scheduling tools which make this process a breeze.

Restaurant scheduling software provides great features to help you save time and money adding new staff to your schedule. For example, with a web-based scheduling app you don’t have to worry about dealing with complex availability for new staff – you can simply add them to your schedule and then your new staff can submit their own availability which a manager can then approve.

A scheduling tool like 7shifts takes this one step further by allowing employees to provide shift feedback after their shifts which managers can then use to keep track of their onboarding and training to see if any further action is required and to quickly act on issues that may affect an employee’s on-the-job performance.

To help retain your staff, a good idea is to become knowledgeable of the pain points your staff feel and learn from past employees.

Consider measuring how long staff stay with your restaurant, which can help you understand what you need to do to keep them longer. If your average server stays for 24 months, design incentives around that time frame to keep your employees motivated.

Incentives and rewards are a good way to retain staff. Implement small wage increases every year, staff meals, holiday parties or fun group activities to make your staff enjoy working in your restaurant more. Learn more about creating a solid company culture here.

If an employee does leave, perform an exit interview to see why and what can be improved in your entire employee lifecycle program so the same mistakes aren’t done twice. Also have regular check ins with your employees to make improvements before it is too late. It’s important to identify stressors in your workplace by talking with your staff so you can make strides toward improvement.

In Closing

Since your restaurant may see a lot of staff come and go, use that repetition to always be enhancing and strengthening how you manage an employee’s lifecycle. From using your network and the best job platforms to find the right candidate, to having a tight process for onboarding and training, then regular check-ins to make sure your staff is happy, you will find that approaching an employee lifecycle strategically will save you time, stress, and money in the long run.

10 Ways You Can Give Back To Your Customers This Holiday Season

The holiday season is all about what you can do for others, and that includes your customers.

If you can provide your customers with a memorable, personal experience during the holidays that other brands just aren’t providing, you’ll be top of mind next time they seek out your business.

Here are 10 ways you can give back to your customers during this holiday season.

1. Offer A Sale

A sale is an easy way to give customers something without taking a loss. The sale can be targeted at returning customers to encourage them to return to your business, or target new customers as an effort to draw in new business.

When offering a sale, make sure it’s on a product that provides real value to your customers. Discounting certain menu items or offering a free drink with the purchase of another can work well for a restaurant. At the same time, you want to keep an eye on your margins. It could be a good idea to offer something completely for free, but only if this has a high probability of pulling in additional sales.

Whatever the case, make sure you run the sale in a way that doesn’t kill your profits.

2. Run Conditional Promotions

Similar to running a sale on an individual product, you can offer conditional promotions that encourage your customers to purchase more overall.

You want to position these promotions in a way that provide your business with a profitable sale while providing value to your customer. Here are some examples of how you can do that:

  • Buy one get onethis can work well if you have a product with margins over 50%. Do you sell merchandise or “swag”? The holidays are a perfect time of year to offer discounts on current inventory – and you’ll make room for new products!

  • Spend X amount and get a % off For this one, make sure you choose a price point that’s positioned to get customers to order additional items to increase the dollar amount of their purchase.

  • Buy a specific item to save a % If there’s a specific product that provides you with the majority of your profits, this can help encourage sales of that product.

3. Host A Contest With Rewards

This requires creativity, but it can be worth the extra time spent preparing. Running contests can also help you collect email addresses to be used in email and online marketing efforts.

Social Contest

On your own Instagram account, ask patrons to take a photo either in your restaurant location or with a branded item (like a to-go coffee cup or branded t-shirt) and tag your Instagram handle along with the contest hashtag (for example: #HolidaysAtHansens). To enter the contest, they’ll also have to follow your Instagram page (to boost your organic following).

Then, choose your favorite photos, either based on different categories, or simply on creativity. Award the winner with a prize, like a $50 gift card to dine with you. This encourages repeat business and inspires guests to get involved.

Bonus: You can use this user-generated content in your future social marketing campaigns!

In-Store Giveaway

The contest can also be in the form of a raffle. If you’re trying to get people to stay in your business longer, a raffle is a great way to accomplish that. Ask people to write their email address and name on a piece of paper to be entered. Put together a gift basket, or simply raffle off gift cards to your restaurant or merchandise. It’s that simple! Pull a name from a hat and inform them of their winnings.

If you’re feeling extra generous, do this for 12 days to align with the 12 Days of Christmas.

4. Display Products

Have a bunch of products displayed within your place of business for people to see, and offer guests a way to win select items. Similar to the idea above, you can use this as a way to gather emails.

The products can be anything tailored to the image of your brand. If you’re a coffee shop, for example, maybe choose music and art products to give away to your customers. You can find acoustic guitars for under $500, artwork from local artists, or albums from musicians in a relevant genre to give away to your customers.

If you’ve ever dined at the Cracker Barrel chain, you know they have a store attached to their dining room filled with novelty items, holiday decorations, and even old-fashioned candy. It turns an entire visit to their restaurant into an experience and inspires people to buy more than just food. Consider how you can incorporate this concept into your restaurant strategy, even if just for the holidays.

If you need some inspiration, you can find a good amount of Christmas gift ideas here.

5. Make A Holiday Album

Music is a great way to connect with your audience. If you’re playing holiday music in your business, maybe create an album of those songs that you can sell at a discount to your customers as a way to fully embrace the holiday season.

Another option is to create remixes of holiday songs that fit your businesses style. With the proper licenses in place, you can easily accomplish this with an online mixing and mastering service.

If you need artwork for your businesses holiday album, check out 99 designs for some inexpensive, but high quality, design work.

6. Design Holiday-Specific Items

Another great way to embrace the holiday season is to create a product specifically for the holidays.

Many businesses do this, and it can work for any holiday. Starbucks, for example, consistently releases seasonal flavors of coffee, along with merchandise like mugs, cups, and keepsakes.

Whatever your product, design something specific to the time of year that will appeal to your customers. We talk about seasonal menus and how they boost profits in another blog; these tips can apply to any season!

7. Host An Event

Events are a great way to create chatter among your target customers. You can have an open mic, holiday themed trivia, or another type of event that fits within the interests of your customers. We discuss some December Marketing Ideas in our recent blog post.

When running events, plan them a few weeks in advance so you have time to build buzz around them through your email list and social media following. The earlier the better and the more the merrier!

8. Surprise Them

What better way to create an amazing customer experience than with something great they didn’t expect?

Part of the enjoyment of opening a gift is that you have no idea what it is. You can replicate this type of experience for your customers. Throw something personal in their bag, like a $5 gift card with a note about why they’re awesome.

You can even set limits on this type of gift. For example, you can throw the surprise gift cards into bags only after they meet a certain dollar amount on their bill to protect your margins.

They’ll love it, and will definitely tell their friends about this experience. Not only that, but giving away a surprise gift card will encourage them to come back to use it.

9. Put The Spotlight On Customers

If your customers are generally creative, a great way to show your appreciation for them is to put the spotlight on their creations.

Invite local musicians to submit their songs to be considered for your playlists, or have paper and crayons for kids to draw a picture of Santa Claus to be put on your wall for everyone to see.

Making things about your customers will convince them that you care about them on a personal level and not just for the profits they may bring.

10. Send Snail Mail

If you have your customers’ addresses, sending them a gift card, coupon, or a special, personalized offer in the mail can be a great display of appreciation.

If you don’t have access to your customers’ contact information, you can make an attempt at reaching new customers with a direct mail campaign targeting households in your area.

Whatever the case, you want to make sure you run your campaign effectively. Here’s a resource that can help you with that.

Wrapping It Up

The holiday season is all about giving and it’s the perfect time of year to show your customers you care and appreciate their patronage.

Use these ideas to go the extra mile to give back to your guests this season – and all year!


About the Author: Nicholas Rubright is the founder of Dozmia and lead guitarist in the band Days Gone By. He has a passion for writing, marketing, and collecting some of the best acoustic guitars out there.

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