5 Ways to Create the Perfect Restaurant Holiday Playlist

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

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

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

1. Start With the Basics of Restaurant Music

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

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

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

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

  • Customers spend more with the presence of classical music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Don’t Play Holiday Music Too Early

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Be Festive in Other Ways, Too

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

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

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

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

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

The Tax Forms You Need to File for Your New Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

Form 941 – Employer’s Quarterly Tax Form

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

Form 944 – Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return

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

W 9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification

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

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

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

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

Tax Tips and Deductions

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

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

In Closing

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

How to Drive Restaurant Profit with Staff Communication

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

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

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

Leverage Your Existing Social Platforms

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

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

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

Use a Work-Specific Communication Tool

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

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

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

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

Go Old School

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

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

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

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

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

Internal Newsletters

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Keep the Customers’ Dining Experience in Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Create a Loyalty Program to Keep Guests Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Maintain a Great Reputation

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

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

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

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

In Closing

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

Restaurant Catering for Events: How to Price Them Right

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing it Right: Determining the Cost of a Catered Event

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

Food Cost Percentage

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

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

= Food Cost Percentage

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

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

$8.00 / $25.00 = 32%

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

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

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

Gross Profit Margin

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

Menu Pricing for Events

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

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

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

Fixed Pricing Calculations

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

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

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

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

$35 x 70 = $2,450

$800/$2,450 = 33%

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

$35 x 70 = $2,450

$700/$2,450 = 28.5%

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

Sacrificing Customer Trust For Your Own Gain

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

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

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

Diversify the Menu Offering

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

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

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

Tiered Pricing Calculations

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

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

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

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

Quick Tip

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

In Closing

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

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

5 Super Effective Strategies to Save Your Restaurant Money

Why do businesses try to cut costs? Simple. They want to raise their profit margin. Regardless of the industry you’re in, one of your primary goals should be to lessen the operating cost and boost your revenues. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.

But how can you effectively save your restaurant money without compromising quality? Here are the top strategies many successful restaurant owners swear by:

1. Track where your money goes.

First of all, to save your restaurant money, you want to watch every penny – constantly. Remember that businesses have different circumstances. Some restaurant owners might simply be having problems with poor sales while others have issues with overspending. A great starting point is to look at your financial records. Which area gets the biggest chunk of your restaurant budget? Why? Are there things that you can change or make better in order to cut the cost? It’s hard to tell if you’re really making money and saving some without looking at your financial reports.

Data shows that 73% of restaurant operators that received monthly financial statements reported being profitable as compared with just 49% of operators who received quarterly or annual statements. It’s hard to identify the best solution without really knowing the problem. So take time going over your financial records now and most of all – make it a habit!

2. Focus on being efficient and systematic.

When managing a restaurant, they key is to be as efficient as possible with everything – from staffing to the actual food preparation and use of equipment and utility. Speaking of utilities, like many restaurants, you rely heavily on the use of electricity and gas which constitutes one of your biggest spending. Of course, you need it for cooking, ventilation, refrigeration, lighting, cooling, etc. According to this report by the National Grid, restaurants in the U.S. spend $2.90 per ft2 and $0.85 per ft2 annually on electricity and natural gas, respectively.

There are many ways to reduce your restaurant’s energy costs. Simply turning things off when not in use (from lights to the AC, heater, etc.) and switching to energy-saving appliances greatly help. The National Grid U.S. says a 20% reduction in energy directly translates into 1% increase in profit. Aside from gas and electricity, try to be frugal with other things as well, such as water and other supplies you use on a daily basis, from that dishwasher soap to the table napkins, disposable plastic containers (consider switching to glass), straws, paper towels, etc. Again, every penny saved is a penny earned.

3. Check if your menu needs some update or rework.

You may not be aware of it, but your hard-earned dollar could be going out with the trash bin or compost pile. Today’s restaurants are giving more attention to managing food waste to rein in costs, according to the National Restaurant Association. In fact, 40% of food is wasted throughout the supply chain, and the foodservice industries are responsible for majority of that number.

Now here’s the deal – for every $1 you invest in food waste management program, you are saving $7 on your operational costs! There are many ways to cut food waste. Begin by revisiting your menu. Check if you can remove those that aren’t selling fast. Rethink how you offer buffet service. Watch out for ingredients spoiling before you get the chance to utilize them. Reduce overproduction and repurpose excess food.

Of course, once you revamp your menu, make sure you are updating it online as well. With 93% of people viewing menus online before choosing a place to eat, this is essential. Utilizing a menu management company, like SinglePlatform, can help cut costs by saving your staff time.

SinglePlatform gets your menu on all of the places people are searching without you having to do all the work, saving restaurants over 400 hours per year!

4. Resort to low-cost yet highly effective marketing approaches.

Whether you’re just starting or have been in the industry for a long time, marketing is vital to your success. On average, small businesses spend 1% of their revenues on marketing. That means if your annual profit is $100,000, $10,000 of that goes to advertising.

If you want to lower your marketing costs, there’s probably no cheaper alternative to online marketing. You can even get free exposure simply by creating a Facebook page or an Instagram account. Of course, these social media platforms have fee-based services, but they are less expensive than traditional marketing approaches. However, to get traction, you really have to commit time on managing your social media accounts, from creating daily posts to answering questions from customers.

5. Get ahead of your bills.

Lastly, never miss out on payments. Whether it’s your commercial space lease, inventory, personal loans, employee payroll, or utility bills, you should settle your accounts payable on time to avoid hefty interests. Plus, it is easier to manage your cash flow when you are just paying for the current bills, and not having to think about penalties, charges and arrears. What are some of the best ways to manage your restaurant expenses? Start by making a list of all your bills. Then, create a payment schedule that works for you. You can streamline the payment process by making automatic bill payments through your bank.

Additionally, pay your business taxes on time. Get clear on your tax obligations. As a rule of thumb, you need to save 30% of your business income to ensure you have enough money for your federal tax dues. To be sure however, consult your CPA early on.

To establish and sustain a profitable restaurant business, one of your major goals should be to save your restaurant money. Despite the downturns in the economy and the food industry, the good news is that you can always cut your costs and save using these five foolproof strategies.

About the Author: Lidia Staron has been working as a writer, editor and literary coach for 5 years. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic-planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

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!