Are You Making These 5 Restaurant Marketing Mistakes?

Mistakes happen. With all of the noise, social influences, and marketing tactics out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when deciding how to market your business. Maybe you’re focusing too much on restaurant operations that you haven’t even had time to think about marketing. Maybe you’ve put your eggs in too many marketing baskets & you’re just not seeing results.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to evaluate your marketing plan and ensure you’re not making these 5 common restaurant marketing mistakes.

1. Not Defining an Audience

Yes, food is a primal necessity to all human beings and creatures alike. Everyone needs sustenance and most of us are usually looking forward to our next meal. But, although you’re in an industry that serves the masses, when it comes to marketing, you need to define a target audience. Successful companies have done their due diligence to define their target demographic before marketing to them. Why? Because it makes your marketing much stronger and thus, more enticing.

Take Dunkin’ (yes, they’re getting a brand new name come January!) for example. They are in the midst of re-branding and shifting their focus to be more coffee-centric and less about the food and well, doughnuts. When you think about Dunkin’s target audience, think about their slogan. “America Runs on Dunkin’” is a powerful catchphrase that is apparent in much of their marketing efforts. And it pertains perfectly to their target audience – middle-class working professionals ages 18-45.

Whether you’re headed to an early college lecture or on your way to work on a Wednesday, coffee is a pick-me-up for most people with hectic schedules. Dunkin’ is there to be the fuel to get you through the day. And their marketing resonates with you because it hits on that nerve.

When it comes to your restaurant’s marketing plan, think about your customer base. Are there mostly families visiting for dinner after school and work? Do you cater to teens and young adults with trendy Instagram-worthy drinks and desserts? Or maybe you run a brew pub that sees an influx of sports fans on nights and weekends. The way in which you market to these different audiences will be extremely different. Think about who your target, ideal customer is and then build your marketing strategy around that.

Of course, you may have a more diverse customer base, which is fine. Come up with different marketing personas that can be the guideline for each target audience. Want to learn more about what marketing personas are? Read this Buffer article. Then, devise your marketing campaigns and the best way to disseminate your message each target group. It’ll be much more successful than pushing out generic content with no real purpose.

To learn more about marketing to your target audience, check out this post.

2. Keeping an Outdated Website

 This is Apple’s website circa 1997! Via CNN This is Apple’s website circa 1997! Via CNN

If you were born before the turn of the 21st century, you remember dial-up Internet and computers larger than the size of a New York City apartment. Having a website was a rarity that could be compared to receiving snail mail today. They were ultra hip, but looking back now, very, very cringe-worthy.

Today, there are so many different options for buying a domain and creating a stunning, modern website. And it’s never been easier to make one or have someone else create it for you. With the ease and availability of it all, there’s not a great excuse for having an outdated website that hasn’t been updated since you first heard about Y2K.

An outdated website isn’t a good representation of your brand, and in turn, your restaurant. People are looking for high-quality photos of your dishes, a full menu with all of your offers, and any other information about upcoming events or specials. If you don’t have a clear, concise, and attractive website, web surfers will probably hit the escape button before they even scroll.

Your website should also be mobile-responsive so it renders well on any type of mobile device from an iPhone to a tablet. Pew Research shows that 77% of people in the US search on mobile devices, so give them an experience that is streamlined rather than cumbersome.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a website because it was too difficult to navigate on my phone, find out more information, and even make a purchase. And I’m not alone. 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load. You don’t want to lose website traffic or potential customers due to a lousy mobile or desktop site.

Unsure of where to begin? As mentioned, there are plenty of options out there, like Weebly, Squarespace, and Sitebuilder, to name a few. We can also help you create the website your restaurant deserves. Plus, we have a crew of seasoned professionals that can do all the heavy lifting for you. Get in touch to learn more about our website services.

3. Posting on Social Media Haphazardly

Social media can be both confusing and overwhelming. When you open a social app, you can’t be sure if you’re going to see a bunch of memes, some vacation selfies, or politically-fueled rants. We’ve given basically everyone a virtual milk carton to stand on and millions are taking advantage every day. Instagram has 500 million daily active users and Facebook? 1.47 billion.

So, how do you break through all the clutter?

One way to not be effective on social media is to post haphazardly. When I say this I mean just posting for the sake of posting, distributing low-quality content, and not thinking about how social media is going to positively impact your business.

Let’s face it, people on social media love to look at food. The hashtag has about 300 million posts associated with it, and there’ll soon be more where that came from. But, people don’t necessarily like to look at all photos of food that are floating around in cyberspace. If you’re posting blurry, unappetizing pictures of meals, you’re not going to make any mouths water or fingers double-tap.

As a restaurant, you have the golden opportunity to build a steady following because of your awesome content. So take advantage! Think about your goals for social media. Are you trying to gain more organic followers? Entice people to dine with you? Inform diners about an upcoming event? Base your content around your goals.

Make sure that the images you share are clear, appealing, and high-quality. You may even want to consider hiring a professional food photographer to capture some awesome shots (that can also be used on your website).

Think about the captions you use. Don’t be stiff and unwelcoming. Social media is about interaction. Create a voice for your restaurant, engage with your followers, and add a sense of levity. People will notice.

If you’re in a bind when coming up with creative content for social media, we can help. We created a holiday calendar that keeps you aware of upcoming food holidays so you can plan social posts, discounts, and more. To learn more about this new tool, check this page out.

To learn more about social strategies, check out this blog.

4. Missing Essential Business Information Online

Don’t leave your potential customers feeling like FBI agents on the hunt for your phone number, address, or restaurant menu. The essential information they want to know should be easy to find whether they’re performing a Google search, reading reviews on TripAdvisor, or poking around your website.

With the use of smartphones, voice-enabled devices, and other technology, people are more impatient now than ever before. Avoid disappointment by giving them that content they are searching for on the platforms they’re searching on. And of course, make sure the information you’re giving them is accurate.

Claiming your business on these different search, review, and travel sites is a good idea as well. It helps ensure you’re in control of your online identity and allows you to interact with customers online. We’ve written some blogs about how to claim your business on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, so check those out if you’re interested.

When owning your own restaurant, worrying about your online presence can seem like a time-consuming hassle. But, it doesn’t need to be. There are other companies and people out there who are ready, willing, and able to do the work for you. And SinglePlatform just happens to be one of those companies.

We’re dedicated to getting your accurate menu and business information in all the relevant places people are searching, like on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and many others. Why? Because if people have never heard of your restaurant before, chances are they’re not going to head to your (beautifully branded) website. They’re going to use search engines and other sites to find the information they’re craving. And you should be present in all those places so they can find you.

Interested in learning more about online menu management? Just get in touch, give us the information, and we’ll make it happen.

5. Not Engaging With Your Customers

No one likes being ignored. And the last people you want to give the cold shoulder to are your loyal customers and potential new guests. Today, the interaction between your staff and restaurant diners extends beyond the dinner table. Keep the conversation going both before and after the meal. You have plenty of chances to make an impact by listening to feedback and responding accordingly.

Social Media

There are plenty of outlets to engage with guests outside of the restaurant. When you receive a comment on social media, respond. Whether it’s positive or negative, it’s important to address concern and praise. Making the interaction conversational shows that you care about your customer base and want to keep the conversation going. Create a brand voice that makes a distinct impact.

Wendy’s does a great job of being quick, witty, and humorous in their social responses. Check out the back and forth banter that ensues when a customer asks for some Wendy’s knowledge:

Creating a recognizable social presence has worked for Wendy’s; they’ve amassed over 2 million followers on Twitter alone. They’re notorious for creating online “beef” with other fast food joints and pushing the envelope through entertaining dialogue.

Think outside the box when it comes to your social strategy, act more human than robot, and never let a comment or concern go unnoticed.

Online Reviews

Of course, you can’t forget about online reviews. According to BrightLocal research, 85% of consumers are more likely to visit a restaurant that responds to reviews. Reviews serve the modern day word-of-mouth, and traditionally word-of-mouth has been a great source of business for restaurants. Whether the review is singing your praises or highlighting your faults, have a plan to respond. We wrote blogs on how to respond to each type. For advice on responding to positive reviews, head here. For how to handle negative reviews, check this blog out.

Looking for an easier way to manage your online reviews that exist on different online platforms? Our Review Monitoring tool makes it easier for you to see the entire picture of your online reputation so you can take action.

In Closing

Marketing your restaurant can seem like a big, scary feat. But, it doesn’t have to be. After learning about these five common restaurant marketing mistakes, take a step back and look at your own restaurant marketing strategies. Are you making any of these errors? If so, take small strides to make big improvements. You’re sure to see results by putting in some tangible effort.

You don’t have to be the most skilled marketer to reap the benefits of a solid marketing plan, you just need to take into consideration your goals and then execute on them. Make sure to measure the success of your changes and continue to adapt and improve from there.

For more marketing advice and restaurant tips, check out some of our other blog posts and sign up for our email newsletter. Good luck!

Why You Need A Restaurant Scheduling Tool Instead of Excel

The year is 2018, and modern restaurants are beginning to realize that scheduling with Excel just doesn’t cut it for the functionality that is needed for maximum efficiency.

Creating a staff schedule in 2018 and beyond is a dynamic process with constantly changing factors, such as staff availability, vacation requests, or variable sales.

Excel has proven itself to be a time consuming and cumbersome affair for scheduling, most notably because it is a one-way tool – managers have to constantly inform staff of changes made. What a time suck!

Shifts are rarely set in stone and often change quickly, which easily leads to headaches for managers who must stay on top of changing requests and make sure the entire team knows about those changes.

According to Snag, a marketplace for hirers and job seekers, managers spend approximately 25 percent of their time making a schedule each week and dealing with schedule management issues, such as shift swaps.

That’s a long time to spend using an inefficient tool. However, scheduling doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, once you have the proper tools you can make scheduling something that you will look forward to completing. Here is why using a dedicated schedule tool beats Excel every time.

Always Up-To-Date

The one-way nature of Excel means that whenever there are updates to be made to the schedule, a new version of the schedule has to be sent out to employees. This is very time-consuming and cumbersome, especially when changes are coming at you frequently. For this reason employees often do not know if the version of the schedule they have is the “final” one, which leads to missed shifts and miscommunication.

With a cloud-based scheduling tool you can eliminate this miscommunication because shifts are constantly updated. The moment you make an update to the schedule, all of your employees will have access to their most up-to-date shifts, and can be alerted if their shifts change. This virtually eliminates the excuse of “I didn’t know I was suppose to work?!”

With online restaurant scheduling software, you can also accommodate last-minute time-off requests from staff using free mobile apps –  such as the one 7shifts offers. With a scheduling app, you can easily approve requests or update availability on the fly, which are then incorporated into your schedule.

Better Communication

According to Forbes, two of the top five reasons employees are unhappy at work directly relates to a lack of communication. Scheduling with Excel can only exacerbate this problem. Nobody wants to show up to work only to realize they weren’t scheduled, feel that their vacation requests are not being taken into consideration, or ended up playing phone tag with another member of their team.

Just as SinglePlatform offers multiple outlets for you to provide customers menu information, restaurant scheduling software offers a variety of ways to communicate with your employees.

Employee scheduling software allows staff to communicate directly with one another using messaging and team chat, as well as provides managers the ability to send one-way announcements to their staff for things like special events or even tonight’s special.

If an employee can’t make a shift, it’s easy for them to let their coworkers know or even help find a shift replacement, saving managers time in having to reach out to each employee individually.

This connectivity closes the communication loop between everyone on your team – ensuring excellent communication and job satisfaction, which in turn leads to increased staff retention.

Make Payroll More Accurate

Payroll can be a headache for even the most experienced restaurant manager due to constantly changing shifts and swapping between employees. Not only is it tough to stay on top of payroll, it is always very time consuming – over a quarter of small business owners spend up to five hours a month dealing with payroll, according to Score, a non-profit that mentors small businesses. Payroll is also unforgiving – if the numbers are slightly off, then the calculations must be done all over again, or worse, the employees are paid incorrectly.

When scheduling with Excel, payroll problems can easily add up due to human error, such as calculating payroll with an outdated schedule that does not accurately reflect who worked when. Nobody wants angry employees who have not been properly compensated.

Employee scheduling software can help avoid these pitfalls listed above by integrating with your restaurant’s existing payroll system to sync the hours that are actually worked with the proper pay. This takes human error out of the equation and can allow you to let out a sigh of relief knowing everything is accurate.

Look for a scheduling tool that comes with either direct payroll export or comes with integrated time and attendance, which can help eliminate manual errors that result from improperly updated Excel spreadsheets.

Automation & Time Savings

Excel is great for saving time calculating data using formulas, and automating simple calculations, but as powerful as it is, it has no way to automate the creation of your staff schedule every week.

This is where scheduling software really shines. Similar to how you can use SinglePlatform to automatically post to your social media feeds, restaurant scheduling software you can set up schedule templates to help you create your schedule automatically. This efficiency and time savings means you can spend more time on other parts of your business that need your attention.

And remember that automation doesn’t just end with schedule creation. With dedicated restaurant scheduling software you can automate tasks like overtime alerting, shift reminders and more to help make you time on repetitive tasks.

In Closing

Don’t make life harder than it has to be – working in hospitality is hard enough already! It is up to a manager to use all the latest tools at their disposal to create efficiencies in order to stay competitive and profitable. Making the switch from Excel to a dedicated scheduling tool may take some adjustment because Excel is what you and your team are used to, but once you make the switch, you’ll never look back!

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.

5 Useful Tools for Every Hospitality Business

It can sometimes feel impossible to keep up with the demands of the day-to-day grind of the hospitality industry, especially because of the fast-paced nature and constant focus on customers. Thankfully there are some great technology tools available that can help ease some of the workload – anything from staff learning and scheduling rosters to taking your menu digital – all to ensure that your days are more productive.

We highlight 5 handy hospitality industry tools you should be using now:

1. 7Shifts

Organizing your team’s roster can often be challenging, particularly when your staff don’t work regular hours. The clever thing with 7Shifts is that their cloud platform allows you to auto-schedule your staff based on their availabilities and create custom templates to suit your business, making it easy to coordinate your team. To take it one step further, you can also use their platform to manage sales and labor costs.

2. Sidekicker

Finding qualified seasonal staff is a common problem in the hospitality industry, where you may just need temporary staff for a one-off event, or a short contracted period. Sidekicker is an on-demand staffing platform that helps resolve this issue. Their database has over 11,000 experienced staff in hospitality, promotions, events, business administration, and retail. Staff profiles are detailed, rated and reviewed so that employers can easily find the right people for the job.

3. Typsy

Learning and upskilling should always be a priority for every hospitality professional, particularly as the industry faces a skills shortage. Typsy’s online learning platform offers hospitality businesses, staff, and schools the ability to assign professional hospitality courses and lessons with their 350+ video library. Users can learn essential industry skills in areas of culinary, beverage, service, marketing, and business. Courses are led by world leading hospitality professionals, including champion baristas, restaurant consultants, restaurateurs, and chefs.

4. ScreenCloud (Digital menu app)

Digital menu signs are beneficial for restaurants with certain concepts. Of course, you probably wouldn’t consider using them in a fine dining establishment, but they work really well in a fast-casual setting. Digital signage is not only aesthetically pleasing, it makes it easy to update information on menu items, discounts, and more.

With ScreenCloud’s menu feature, users can easily create, edit and customize digital menus in real time and manage it remotely for in-store display. Their software is also compatible with plenty of devices, meaning it can be displayed nicely across most screens within venues.

5. Upserve

Having the right point of sale system in your hospitality business is crucial for efficiency and a smooth operation. It’s also important for your POS to be industry-specific in order to ensure it can meet the demands of our industry. There are plenty of point of sale systems out there, but not all are geared toward restaurants and hospitality. Upserve is tailored to the restaurant and hospitality industries. Aside from basic POS functions, Upserve features like mobile payment, marketing tools, inventory control, and more.


Using online tools in your hospitality business definitely has its benefits –  it’s efficient, saves time and it’s cost effective. By incorporating these tools you’ll increase productivity and have more time for priority areas in your business. Why not give these a shot?

About the Author: Glennise Pinili is the Social Media/Marketing Coordinator at Typsy, which is an online learning platform for hospitality businesses, staff and schools. Their bite-sized video courses help hospitality professionals skill up, serve the world better, and make every hospitality moment exceptional. Learn more at, and follow them on FacebookLinkedinInstagram and Twitter.

Are You Missing Out On Making Your Restaurant More Profitable? (In Ways That Have Nothing to do With Marketing)

We talk a lot about how to smartly market your restaurant. But, how do you increase profits in ways other than marketing? Today, we discuss what else you should be doing to make your restaurant more profitable.

Pricing it Right

Your menu has to be priced competitively, but not too competitively. You need to make money, but you also don’t want to turn guests away with a price tag that’s too high. So, how do you find a happy medium? Think strategically about your menu prices and consider not only the cost to you, but the amount local competitors are charging as well.

In order to make smart decisions about menu pricing is by getting an understanding of how much each plate is really costing you vs. how much you’re making off of it. You can do this by calculating your food cost percentage (FCP). The equation is pretty simple:

How much the ingredients cost / How much you sell the dish for

= Food Cost Percentage

The general sweet spot for restaurants is to keep your FCP around 28-35%. However, the percentage is based upon what type of food you serve. Steakhouses are going to have higher food cost percentages (more on the 35-40% side) than pasta restaurants because the ingredients they use cost more. Of course, you want to keep the FCP as low as possible without taking away the quality of your offerings.

Let’s look at an example. If you sell a pasta dish with diced chicken and vegetables for $21 and the ingredients cost you $6, your food cost percentage will be:

$6.00 / $21.00 = 28%

For this dish, you’re right in the range where you want to be. Make sure you’re going through this calculation with each menu item (of course, you need to be aware of your ingredient cost for every dish).

Let’s look at an example where the food cost percentage is high. You’re selling a steak and potatoes with mixed vegetables for $32. The ingredients cost you $13.

$13.00/$32.00 = 40.6%

This is above the average FCP range, but it’s not surprising because it’s a steak, which is typically a higher quality item where the ingredients cost more.

When you find the food cost percentage of a certain dish is too high, consider using less expensive ingredients or adjust your price accordingly, keeping in mind what customers will be willing to pay for it. It’s good to have a mixture of items, some higher end and some with a lower food cost, so that they balance out the menu and FCP nicely.

Understanding the Importance of Menu Design

We’ve introduced you to Gregg Rapp, the menu engineer. Gregg has made a career out of helping restaurant owners restructure menus to gain more profit.

The way your menu is designed, where items are located on a page, and whether or not you use dollar signs in front of prices, all have an influence on the profitability of your menu. Other factors, like how many items are within each category, and the font you choose, also play a role in the success of your menu.

How long has it been (if ever) since you last took a good look at your current menu? Take the time to examine your menu with the consideration of profitability for your business. This attention to detail can uncover new opportunities to earn you more money.

Want Gregg’s help? Visit his website to get in touch.

Considering Your Gross Profit Margin

Calculating your food cost percentage is essential, but remember that you’re not only accounting for the cost of food when considering how much profit you’re making.

Gross profit is what is left after you deduct the direct costs of goods sold, such as food costs and labor costs directly associated with preparation and serving, from your revenue.

Of course, this means you should consider your restaurant’s Gross Profit Margin (GPM). With Typically, the Gross Profit Margin for a restaurant can range between 0-15%.

You can calculate the Gross Profit Margin by subtracting the cost of goods sold (and the labor costs) from the revenue and then dividing that number by the revenue.

GPM = Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold/Revenue

Let’s say in a year’s time your restaurant makes a total of 1.25 million dollars in revenue. In order to produce the food you spent 1.1 million dollars.

Gross Profit Margin = (1,250,000 – 1,100,000)/ 1,250,000 = 12%

Calculating Your Net Profit Margin

This calculation is considered when determining whether a restaurant can sink or swim. It’s different than your Gross Profit Margin because this is the amount of money that’ll actually be going into your pocket.

When it comes to your Net Profit Margin (NPM), you have to factor in other restaurant costs than just food and labor, like rent, bills, salaries, marketing efforts, and equipment. Your NPM is the profit you’ll actually be taking home.

NPM = Revenue – All Costs/Revenue

As a frame of reference, the average net profit margin for all S&P 500 companies is a little over 8 percent. When it comes to restaurants, in 2017, full-service restaurants had average profit margins of 6.1 percent. So, what does an example of a net profit look like?

Last year your restaurant made 1.25 million in revenue. After all was said in done in calculating all costs, you determined you spent 1.16 million.

Net Profit Margin = 1,250,000 – 1,160,000/1,250,000 = 7.2%

That 7.2% is a healthy margin by restaurant industry standards. Do this exercise to determine your Net Profit Margin. Is it too low? Reevaluate your costs including aspects like your rent, monthly bills, and payroll. You can also consider cutting costs of food and beverage or changing your menu to be more cost-effective.

Marketing is a great tool to help gain more profit for your restaurant. But, there are many other considerations you need to take into account when looking to become more profitable. Keeping a pulse on how your business is performing can help you make actionable decisions that will result in more money for you!

Should You Open a Second Restaurant Location? 3 Things to Consider

Being a restaurant owner has its ups and downs (what career doesn’t?) You get to do what you love every day, but also face responsibilities of being in charge of the whole show. Still, you’ve found success in opening and maintaining your first location, so much so that you’re considering a second. Because of the prosperity of your first restaurant, you may be excited to bring on a new addition. But, because of this success, you may also be fearful of how the introduction of a second restaurant location will affect business.

There are numerous factors to contemplate when toying with the idea of a second restaurant location and we’re discussing three important considerations to make today.

A Steady Cash Flow

Before rushing into opening another restaurant, consider the cost. You’ve already done the legwork of opening one location, so you know the amount of capital that’s needed to get a business off the ground. You’ve been profitable so far, but do you have enough to do it all over again?

If you have enough cash flow to be able to fund the second location without having to look elsewhere, you’re likely prepared to open a second location. But, be wary of utilizing funds from your current restaurant to break ground on a new one. You don’t want to sacrifice your current profits when taking this risk.

An option is to seek out funding from an external source, especially from investors who are more focused on growing your business than seeing immediate returns. But taking on debt with high rates of return is always risky, especially when your new location likely won’t be turning a profit for the first couple months to a year.

It may have been a little while since your first restaurant’s opening, so consider all of the costs you’ll have to face:

  • Building rent or purchase & ongoing maintenance
  • Equipment & supplies
  • Staff salaries
  • Food inventory

The takeaway: Be confident in the cash before taking the leap.

A Smart Location Choice

You know the old saying location, location, location. But, in this situation, we’re talking about where you’ll open up shop in relation to your first restaurant. Being too close to your flagship poses a risk of depleting your customer pool. Conversely, opening up a second location nearby might be an option if your product is trending and competition is low.

If it’s too close for comfort, consider moving further out from your current restaurant where you might get a slightly different crowd. Of course, you’ll have to consider the population of the area as well as the competition. If you’re considering opening an Italian restaurant in a town where there are already 5, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

We love the idea that gives regarding market research: [pilot test sales of your products and services in the proposed new target market.]

If feasible, test out a “pop-up shop” in the location you’re considering. You can gauge the audience, demand, and popularity to see if it’s a good fit.

When starting the pop-up, you can either make it a mobile kitchen or rent out an empty space that previously housed a restaurant. Set up a dining space (if it’s in a physical location) and market the pop-up in a way that makes its limited-time factor clear.

Make sure your staff explains the purpose of the pop-up to your guests and asks for their feedback in a survey. You can get honest opinions on whether or not customers would like to see your pop-up restaurant become a permanent staple. From there, you can make a decision on whether you should open up there or keep hunting for a new spot.

The takeaway: Do your research on the location before making a determination.

The Manpower and Resources Necessary

You have the cash flow, you found a perfect location, now consider the long-term. You’ll need a stellar staff to be trained and maintained if you want your second location to prosper. As the owner, you can’t be in two places at once (unless you have superhuman powers) so you need to make sure the people who will be running your restaurant are ones you can trust.

At the beginning of your second location, you’ll want to be as involved as possible. By now, your first restaurant should have a staff that’s a well-oiled machine, thriving enough on its own that you can trust it does well with the current management team in charge. You’ve already set the standards for quality at your first location so it’s important to set your second location up to have just as much success. Being heavily involved, as the owner, in the beginning stages can help ensure your operations are running as they should be.

During the early stages, dedicate your time to the new locations so you can be hands-on in training your new staff for success (of course, you’ll have to put in the effort to hire them first).

Oversee each area of the restaurant, from front of the house to back, to ensure things are running as smoothly as possible. If there need to be adjustments, it’s better to get those out of the way early. Focus your efforts on this new location to make sure you’re giving it the attention it needs as it takes off.

The takeaway: Plan strategically to execute successfully.

With the success of your first restaurant, you may be considering opening a second location. This is an exciting venture to consider, but it also comes with some potential risks you must face. Before jumping into anything, make sure you think everything through to ensure you’re making the correct decision. And if you do decide that all systems are a go, we wish you much success with your new restaurant location!

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

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

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

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

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

7 Restaurant Goals Examples

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

1. Increase Monthly Net Restaurant Sales

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

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

2. Increase Daily Net Restaurant Sales

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

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

3. Decrease Theft and Improve Employee Productivity

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

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

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

4. Improve New Revenue Streams

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

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

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

5. Improve Your Top Selling Items

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

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

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

6. Test New Menu Items

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

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

7. Test Service Charges

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

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

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

What Are Your Short and Long Term Restaurant Goals?

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

What are your short and long-term restaurant goals?

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

5 Ideas For Improving Company Culture

We’ve talked about ways to boost customer retention, but what about your employees? Company culture is a buzzword that’s been going around for quite some time now. Tech startups and businesses alike have embraced this concept as a means to keep staff around longer. They’ve instated everything from casual dress code to beer carts on Fridays and ample time off. Of course, the restaurant industry has a very different business model (and way longer hours!) But, we can take some cues from this new way of doing business and adopt it into the hospitality industry. Why exactly is company culture so important? A positive culture = happy employees. And companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%! Happiness makes employees 12% more productive, while unhappy employees are 10% less productive. Making your restaurant an environment where people want to come to work is essential.

As you probably know, staff turnover rates in the hospitality industry are high. Research shows that the turnover rate is higher than 70%. There are plenty of factors for this; many employees are hired at a young age and use this job as an opportunity to gain experience, some just find opportunities for upward mobility. Still, although the restaurant industry will probably always experience high turnover rates, that doesn’t mean some employees won’t be in it for the long haul. As a restaurant owner, it should be a priority to keep all employees engaged and happy. In this article, we explore 5 ideas for improving your restaurant’s company culture.

Plan Team Nights Out

Restaurant staff work long hours and are usually the people who are serving others, not being waited on. Of course, everyone wants to feel appreciated. Take the opportunity to reverse the usual roles and allow your employees to enjoy a relaxing day or night out. Some fun ideas are an escape room challenge, murder mystery dinner, or art class. To save cash, you can even host the event at your own restaurant (free catering, right?) Close down shop a few hours early and invite the staff to come together to share a meal. If it’s in your budget, you can even hire some entertainment, like a live band, a tarot card reader, or a paint and sip company. An interactive event encourages your staff to build relationships and have fun, which helps mitigate high staff turnover that naturally exists in the restaurant industry. Plus, your employees will appreciate you going the extra mile to provide something special.

Encourage Employee Recognition

We’ve all heard of the employee of the month. Your program doesn’t have to be as cliche as that, but employee recognition is still important for company morale. Global studies show that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving. A little appreciation goes a long way. In fact, recognition is sited as the #1 thing that employees say their manager could inspire them to do great work. A  genuine way to showcase employees’ accomplishments is to allow coworkers to recognize each other. Set up a board in your break room that is dedicated to the program or print out some blank certificates. Employees can then nominate each other for different categories, such as an act of kindness, providing a helping hand, or teaching something new. At the end of the quarter, round up all of the awards and give special shout-outs during company meetings. This gesture helps to show employees that their efforts count and are noticed by others.

Make It (Somewhat) Fun And Games

Your restaurant is a home away from home for many employees, and they probably spend more hours there than they do at their house. So, fancy up your break room! Make the environment inviting so it seems less like work and more like fun. You can put a few games or a foosball table in your back room to encourage employees to take the edge off during a break. Consider installing a TV so they can catch some of their favorite shows or have a reading corner set up for bookworms. Provide some snacks, drinks, and a coffee maker so workers can refuel before continuing their shift. You want your restaurant to be an environment that people want to come to, so try to make the common area less sterile and more interactive.

Celebrate The Important Dates

Like the old saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. Employees are like a second family, so you should treat them that way! Create a birthday calendar so you’ll never forget someone’s special day. Recognize birthdays with a gift or a card, a cake, a free meal, or another thoughtful gesture. If someone’s getting married or having a child, you can plan a small gathering with employees to express your well-wishes. Consider having gatherings for major holidays and incorporating games (like a Secret Santa around Christmas time) to keep things fun. People will appreciate that you’re aware of certain milestones in their lives.

Create an Environment of Open Communication

Talk to your employees. Seems simple, right? But, open communication goes further than that. 92% of employees say showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention. Let it be known that as the restaurant owner you’re available to speak with your employees whenever they have a need. Set up one-on-one meetings with each employee to discuss performance, strengths, and areas in need of improvement. Send out surveys to get anonymous feedback about what is working in your restaurant operations and what’s not. Your staff will feel more comfortable if they know you encourage communication and are interested in hearing what they have to say. Transparency is a key to business success.

Company culture is more than just a buzzword, it’s a strategy that, if executed effectively, can boost company morale. Happy employees create a better work environment and are better for your business. Satisfied employees are willing to work harder! Utilize these ideas to improve your restaurant’s culture.

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