OpenTable Inspires Giving With No Kid Hungry

The holiday season is a time of reflection and a chance to give back. And our partner, OpenTable, is taking advantage of the opportunity by partnering with No Kid Hungry. These efforts strive to end childhood hunger in the United States with the help of donations.

From November 27th-December 10th, diners can donate their OpenTable dining points to the cause. Every 100 points will provide five healthy meals to a child in need. Plus, OpenTable is matching up to 250,000 meals in order to increase the impact.

Does your restaurant use OpenTable for online reservation management? Encourage your guests to participate in the campaign by mentioning it in your restaurant. If you’re dining out yourself on or before December 10th, consider donating your points as well.

Last year, OpenTable and No Kid Hungry ran the same campaign; they donated over 1.25 million meals! Help keep the positive trend going by donating and encouraging participation from your restaurant guests.

How To

Diners can visit their OpenTable profile page to view their points and donate them to the cause. To learn more about No Kid Hungry, visit nokidhungry.org/onedollar.

Partnership Profile: Guestfriend Delights Diners Using Virtual Host Technology

Guestfriend is a company that specializes in providing virtual hosts online for restaurants. They build personalized automated messaging tools for local businesses that let businesses effortlessly engage with their customers in real time across the web, Google, Facebook, and more. Today, we discuss Guestfriend and their innovative contribution to the restaurant industry.

The Purpose

The purpose of the product is to help businesses capture leads across all of their online channels and to make it incredibly simple for customers to get real-time answers to any questions they have about a business. Guestfriend was created to automate customer service for restaurant owners so their staff can focus on running the restaurant.

The Background

Guestfriend was created by restaurateurs for restaurateurs. 90% of people say they would prefer to communicate with businesses via text and messaging apps. Guestfriend founder and CEO Bo Peabody, who operates his own restaurants, Mezze and Allium, recognized the need to address this preference in technology in his niche of restaurants. The realization was sparked internally when Bo was trying to figure out how to correspond with customers online and via text without using too much man-power.

When talking to fellow restaurant owners, Bo realized that there was an opportunity to drive business through texting and messaging customers, but these restaurant owners didn’t quite know how to achieve success with it. So, in an organic series of events, Guestfriend was created.

The company received $5 million in seed funding from Primary Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures, and Betaworks. They launched in early 2018 and since have been educating local business owners on how their product can help drive new business and an improved customer experience.

How it Works

The Setup

The differentiating factor separating Guestfriend from other chatbots available is the amount of time the setup takes. Bo knows firsthand that restaurant owners are busy and don’t have much time to implement new technologies. Plus, with restaurant profit margins being some of the tightest out there, owners don’t want to spend a ton of money hiring third-party developers or agencies. Guestfriend takes minutes to implement and can be further customized later if a restaurant owner chooses to do so.

Once Guestfriend is implemented, it is already fully-customized to the restaurant’s specifications in categories that range from hours and dress code to ambiance and menu. The chatbot is a pop-up feature that appears in the corner of a website. It can also be easily added to your business’ Google search results and your Facebook and Twitter pages. Guests can even interact with it via a custom SMS text message number.

The Interaction

If someone interacts with the bot on your website, on your social channels, or through the SMS number, the bot will respond in real-time and provide answers to hundreds of questions based on the inquiries. It will also direct customers to the correct web pages they’re looking to access. For example, if someone asks about your dinner menu, the bot will suggest a few menu favorites and also provide a link to the full menu.

Of course, since the bot operates through Artificial Intelligence, it can’t always answer questions intended to “break the bot.” If the AI is stumped, it will direct the customer to contact the business directly or submit a simple form so the business can follow up offline. Business owners can even jump into the conversation in real time via Guestfriend’s simple dashboard to answer more complex questions or close a valuable business lead on the spot. Regardless of how complex the question is, customers will always receive either a direct answer or be routed to someone at the business who can help them.

Customer service is taken to the next level with the Guestfriend chatbot. 64% of people have a positive perception of companies who offer communication through text and messaging. Guestfriend is making it easier to have those interactions customers are looking for without an employee being glued to a keyboard 24/7.

The Future

Guestfriend is ramping up their efforts on both the product development and marketing fronts. They are excited for the future of AI and customer service. Right now, their focus is on the restaurant vertical, but they will soon be launching products in other small business verticals like home services, health and wellness, hotels, and professional services.

The team at Guestfriend looks forward to providing restaurateurs and other small business owners the ability to take their customer service up a notch without exhausting the resources of their staff. We look forward to seeing how the product helps business owners, and evolves, in the near future.

For more information on the product, visit www.getguestfriend.com.

Partnership Profile: Toast

The Background

Toast. Yes, it is that deliciously warm breakfast bread that goes well with basically everything. But, Toast is also the name of a restaurant-specific technology suite.

Toast was launched in 2013 with the purpose to power successful restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that combines restaurant point of sale, front of house, back of house, and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications.

The company helps restaurants to streamline their operations, increase revenue, and provide an unforgettable guest experience through their innovative technology platform.

The Product

Because Toast only serves the food service industry, they’ve built a cloud-based platform full of industry-specific features specifically for restaurants. Whether you operate hundreds of full service restaurants or a single-counter fast casual concept, Toast equips you with everything you need now and to scale in the future.

By combining POS software, hardware and payment processing with a suite of best-in-class partner integrations, the Toast platform offers restaurateurs one powerful view of business performance across the entire operation.

The Toast Go™, a fully integrated mobile point-of-sale device transforms how restaurateurs run and staff their business to increase revenue. Guests can enjoy a mobile ordering experience and receive text notifications from the Toast Kitchen Display System when their food is ready. And they also offer powerful digital solutions like Toast Gift Cards, Loyalty, and Online Ordering at an approachable price point to help local restaurants provide delightful, mobile-first experiences to their guests.

Plus, Toast’s hardware is built to last and durable enough to handle heat, spills, and drops — not to mention the wear and tear from punching in dozens of orders. The system is always working, even if your network connection drops, so you can take payments no matter what and never have to stop service.

The Accolades

In 2017, Toast was recognized as the third fastest-growing technology company in North America on the Deloitte Fast 500 and named to the Forbes Cloud 100.

And there’s no sign of Toast slowing down.

Just last month, Toast announced the $115 million Series D funding they received. They are now valued at $1.4 billion. This funding will be used for research and development, recruitment of new talent, and an expansion of market presence. Toast looks forward to growth and the further development of their product.

The Partnerships

Toast recognizes the importance of giving restaurants the tools they need to be successful. But, when it comes to technology, the landscape can be a bit overwhelming for restaurant owners. Toast has cut through the noise by determining the best-in-class restaurant technology companies to partner with. They have created their own portfolio of partners that, together with Toast, deliver the solutions restaurants need, from accounting technology to online ordering and menu management.

Toast’s integration with other partners allows restaurant owners to save money, labor costs, and headaches. SinglePlatform proudly partners with Toast in a joint goal to better serve the restaurant industry.

Toast Mission Statement

We empower the restaurant community to delight guest, do what they love and thrive.

A point of sale solution is essential for a restaurant in today’s technology-driven world. Toast has recognized this niche need and tailored a technology solution specifically to restaurants. If you’re on the market for a point of sale in your restaurant, contact Toast to learn more today.

Interested in learning more? Book a demo today!

Partnership Profile: TripAdvisor

The Background

TripAdvisor. Chances are you’ve not only heard of it but have used it. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site, covering the biggest selection of travel listings worldwide. The review site, headquartered in Needham, MA, empowers people to discover information and opinions on destinations to visit, restaurants to dine at, and activities to book, from real people giving real reviews.

When their CEO, Stephen Kaufer, founded TripAdvisor in 2000, his mission was to help travelers around the world plan and book the perfect trip. Today, TripAdvisor powers over 630M reviews and opinions and has an average of 455M monthly visitors. At SinglePlatform, we’re a proud partner of the TripAdvisor brand.

Millions of people turn to TripAdvisor to read reviews and see pictures of places they’re considering visiting. With 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, TripAdvisor has seen immense success in the travel and hospitality world.

But, TripAdvisor doesn’t only benefit the reviewer or the reader, it benefits you, the business that’s being featured as well. The popular forum is a great way to gain exposure for your restaurant online by getting in front of millions of people who are using the website or app every day. Plus, claiming your listing on TripAdvisor is free for your restaurant, so it’s basically a no-brainer.

The Facts

So, just how influential is TripAdvisor when it comes to choosing a restaurant? The company performed research to find out how many people actually use the tool for dining decisions. The response was overwhelming. 96% of people noted they use TripAdvisor when looking for restaurants while traveling. When researchers are at home, TripAdvisor influences 78% of dining decisions. People trust TripAdvisor when it comes to the trustworthiness and accuracy of online reviews. They also find that TripAdvisor has the most helpful restaurant reviews and photos.

When it comes to new restaurants, 90% of people in the US note that they’ve discovered new restaurants to dine at by using TripAdvisor. Clearly, TripAdvisor has a huge impact on where people choose to eat. Want more facts and stats? Check them out here.

What Can You Do on TripAdvisor?

Creating a TripAdvisor account is free! With a free TripAdvisor account, you can edit your business details to ensure information accuracy, add photos, and respond to reviews (this is important!) It’s essential to take control of your restaurant’s online presence, so we encourage you to claim your TripAdvisor listing to ensure you’re being represented truthfully online, and so that you can interact with users.

Upon entering the TripAdvisor website, users are prompted to search for a destination or hotel, so they can start a search as vague or specific as they’d like. But, they don’t just stop at hotels. TripAdvisor also covers the restaurant industry. They have a separate tab specifically dedicated to restaurants, which can be accessed through the homepage. TripAdvisor currently features over 4 million restaurants worldwide and gives the user the option to search by location, cuisine type, or restaurant name. Plus, searchers can even make online reservations through TripAdvisor if they find a restaurant they decide is a must-visit.

Here’s an example of how a restaurant’s listing looks on TripAdvisor:

You can easily see the overall bubble rating, the contact information for the business, photos, and even the menu (that’s where we come in). If a user likes what they see but wants to do more research, they can easily navigate to the restaurant’s own website from TripAdvisor or make a reservation directly from the TripAdvisor listing.

Once you’ve claimed your TripAdvisor listing, it’s easy to customize your page with your business information, menu, and photos. If you’re already using SinglePlatform, some of the work will be done for you.

Our Partnership

As mentioned, SinglePlatform powers menus on TripAdvisor and has been doing so for years. As a menu management company, we push our customers’ menus from our portal to all of the websites that matter, including TripAdvisor. This ensures that a restaurant’s online menu is distributed with consistency across channels and accurately as owner-verified information. An accurate menu and restaurant profile mixed with online reviews is a recipe for a restaurant’s success.

An Expanded Presence

TripAdvisor didn’t just stop there. They’ve expanded their offering by introducing TripAdvisor Advertising, which allows restaurants and other businesses to drive traffic to their listings through sponsored placements. These ads are shown on desktop and mobile and are pushed out to a highly targeted audience who are looking for places to dine in your area. The purpose? To give restaurants the option to gain even more visibility on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor also offers a Premium product for Restaurants, which gives you additional tools like Storyboard, Top 3 Reasons to Eat Here, Favorite Reviews, and exclusive data & insights. To explore Premium, learn more here. 

Looking Ahead

TripAdvisor & SinglePlatform stress the importance of a solid online presence and encourage you, as a restaurant owner, to take advantage of the tools available to you. In a world where word of mouth spreads online, it’s essential to be part of the conversation. TripAdvisor can help you do just that. We look forward to working together to provide our customers with the online exposure you deserve.

Questions about TripAdvisor? 

Contact them today: (800) 895-5613

Holiday, Celebrate! SinglePlatform’s Newest Feature: Upcoming Holidays Tool Designed to Maximize Marketing Potential

Holidays are times for celebration, so including them as part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy is wise. In our Customer Lifecycle Value blog, we discussed how to move potential diners through the marketing funnel, from gaining awareness of your business to becoming regular customers. As a restaurant owner, you’re probably always looking for new ideas on how to market your business. Holidays are a great way to get your name out on social media and are viable reasons to run promotions and offer discounts. But, you may not realize just how many holidays there are! Of course, federal holidays are widely recognized across the country, but there are plenty of other celebratory days to capitalize on. With our newest feature within the SinglePlatform portal, you can quickly recognize these opportunities and act on them with a few clicks. Upcoming Holidays announcements are here!

In order to help you improve your marketing tactics, we dug deep to find the nationally recognized holidays that would be most relevant to your restaurant. For example, did you know that July 21st is National Junk food Day, or that July 30th is National Cheesecake Day? It’s true! You can have your junk food and eat it too (on July 21st, at least). These celebratory days stir up excitement on social media and inspire people to take part in the revelry.

As a restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity to get into the conversation and inspire more customers to dine with you by enticing them with limited-time offers. And we just made it easy to do so within our portal with the Upcoming Holidays feature.

Upon landing on your SinglePlatform Dashboard within the portal, you’ll now see the newest addition on the right side of the screen, “Upcoming Holidays.”

At a glance, you’ll be able to quickly decipher which holidays are coming up next on the calendar. But, it goes further than that. Hover over a holiday and you’ll see a button “Schedule Announcement.”

When you click the button, a screen will pop up and prompt you to schedule your post.

A pre-populated message is available for you to utilize, just fill in the blanks! If you want to offer 10% off all onion rings on June 22nd, you can do so by filling out the “Discount Amount” field with 10% and “Discount Item” field with Onion Rings. Voilà! You’re ready to go. You can schedule your announcement immediately and choose when you want it to be posted and removed. The message will be automatically pushed out to your integrated social media platforms and Google Posts (now available in SinglePlatform with a verified Google My Business account).

If you’d rather take the customized route, just switch from Suggested Announcement to Custom Announcement mode. You’ll be able to type your unique message into the text box and follow the same steps for scheduling and removal. And of course, when creating your customized message, you aren’t required to offer a discount. You can let customers know about extended hours, a special event, or any other fun update you have going on because of the holiday!

Here are some of our suggestions when using the Custom Announcement feature:

  1. Make sure your customers know when your discount or event is happening (include the word “today” or use the date)
  2. Let them know what the celebration is for (mention that it’s National Cheesecake Day in your post)
  3. If your SinglePlatform portal is linked to your business’ Twitter page, use hashtags (#NationalJunkFoodDay is sure to have some hype on social media)
  4. Make it fun while including the facts! You want your posts to attract your customers’ eyes so they’ll pay you a visit.

Benefits to this new feature? Of course, as we mentioned before, even more marketing opportunities! You may feel like it’s hard to keep your marketing ideas fresh, but this is another tool you can use to maximize your online exposure and draw more people through your door (which in turn = more revenue!)

Plus, it helps you stay informed about what’s being celebrated so you can not only advertise but educate your customers (who wouldn’t want to learn that it’s National Grilled Cheese day?)

Not to mention, the tool is so easy to use that you can schedule messages in a matter of minutes and get back to your other responsibilities. You can even schedule all of your posts for holidays happening in the upcoming month to cover all of your bases at once.

Having a social presence is important and it’s worth the extra effort! Creating a conversation around current events helps to keep the relationship alive between your restaurant and your customers. Offer content that will not only make them double-tap but inspire them to make the trip to your restaurant (I know I’d definitely travel for discounted tacos!)

HowUdish Kickstarts a New App to Help Diners

Diners are more aware of ingredients, preparation, and portions of food now than ever before. Some are health conscious because of the diet they choose, and some are restricted based on health constraints. Keto and Whole30 are currently popular diets that have created not only buzzwords, but a following of people looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Limitations like gluten and lactose intolerance have forced some to cut certain foods out of their diet altogether. This change in the landscape of food has had a significant impact on the food and restaurant industry as a whole.

As a restaurant owner, you’ve probably also had to adapt your menu to fit the needs of a diverse array of dietary restrictions. You may now offer vegan items or dishes made with less sodium. It’s important to be inclusive of all lifestyle choices and diet requirements, not only for the success of your business, but for the consideration of your patrons.

HowUdish, an app geared toward restaurant discovery, recognized the need for a tool to help individuals quickly find restaurants that are friendly to their diets. So, the company behind the idea created HowUdish for iOS to make it easier for diners to enjoy a meal away from home.

The truth is, it’s much more difficult to stick to a healthy diet plan or abide by health restrictions when you’re on the go. If you’re not cooking it, chances are you don’t know exactly how the food is being prepared. But, this uncertainty shouldn’t hold diners back from enjoying a dinner out with friends. And from this notion, HowUdish was born.

The app curates nearby restaurant offerings and dietary information in one place. Users can filter by dietary restrictions (so if, for example, they’re gluten-free, they can choose that setting) to see what options are available in their area. They’ll get nutritional information including calories, fat, carbs, protein levels, and more. Dining out without the guilt has never been easier.

Along with nutritional discovery, Dishers can keep track of diet progress in order to close the loop on their nutritional journey. They can track weight loss, interact with other Dishers, and even save meals they enjoyed to remember them for next time.

From a restaurant owner’s perspective, this app can be extremely useful for attracting more diners to your location. If you offer the options they’re looking for, you become easily discoverable on the HowUdish app. These users are looking for very specific menu items and ingredients, so if you can fulfill their needs, you have the chance of not only being discovered, but being talked about among app users. With the diverse dietary restrictions that are prevalent today, it’s important to showcase your offerings wherever possible.

When you take off your business owner hat, HowUdish may still be relevant to your personal life. If you stick to a strict diet or have an allergy or limitation, the app can help you find more menu choices when you’re dining out. HowUdish’s mission is to make the world a healthier place, but to do so, they need our help.

HowUdish has already been around for about 6 months, but they are looking to expand their business by launching a brand new app for Android. Currently, the app is only available to iOS users, which limits its reach. HowUdish hopes to expand its presence and help more people discover restaurants that suit their needs by being available on any type of operating system.

In order to make the Android app a reality, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get the job done. And you can contribute! Follow this link to read more about HowUdish and consider making a pledge. There are some great perks, and opportunities for you to market your restaurant.

With HowUdish, hungry diners everywhere are finally able to find a place to eat, no matter what limitations they have.

Visit http://www.howudish.com/ to check out their product features, blog, social media, and more. Happy Dishing!

SinglePlatform Spotlight Series: Joe Sclafani

At SinglePlatform we work hard & play hard! Our people are a big part of our success, so we want to introduce you to them.

Today, we interview our Training Manager Joe Sclafani. Learn more about him & his contribution to SinglePlatform in our Q&A below!

What is your role and what is your favorite part of your job?

Since last October, I have been a Sales Training Manager. I really enjoy working on improving the sales process through innovation, which is one of our core values. As much as I like working “on” the business, the greatest reward I currently see is helping shape new sales professionals into sales rockstars by sharing my knowledge and experience with them. There is no greater feeling than coaching a brand new sales rep into completing their first sale which helps them professionally as well as helps our customer, the small business owner.

How did you get started at SinglePlatform? 

I learned about SinglePlatform from a friend who was working at SP. I knew I wanted to be in sales because of the potential to make a lot of money, and my referral told me with hard-work the potential income would be limitless. Before SinglePlatform, I owned a restaurant so I know the challenge that restaurant owners have when trying to gain visibility for their business, their menu, and their location.

What positions have you worked in within the company?

My career path at SinglePlatform has been rewarding, challenging, and most importantly, fulfilling. I started as an entry level sales representative and throughout my career had the opportunity to test new initiatives across the business with the goal of improving our process, our product and our business overall. I have been fortunate to  work closely with the sales leadership team and learn how a sales organization functions while learning how to overcome obstacles. The skillset and general business knowledge that I have accumulated has helped me to  become a sales training manager at SinglePlatform.

What is your favorite part of SP in general?

My favorite part of SinglePlatform is working alongside some of the most talented and fun people this city has to offer. Most sales reps on our team have no sales experience before starting at SinglePlatform so, although we may not have been the most talented sales representatives when we started off, the transformation that I experienced personally and what I’ve seen from my teammates are really cool to see. I have met some of my best friends at SinglePlatform and seeing them evolve both at SinglePlatform and where they have taken their career elsewhere is amazing.

As a sales trainer, what are your main goals for new classes of students?

As a sales training manager my number one priority is providing newer reps with the necessary tools to learn and improve at the job. With that being said, I try and make the process as fun and enjoyable as possible. We have a strong work-hard-play hard mentality here and I personally believe the happier a person is, the more successful they can be.

Did you come from the NYC area, or did you travel here because of work?

I grew up in Pearl River, New York. I never would have dreamed that I would have an opportunity to live in one of the greatest cities in the United States, but because of SinglePlatform I have been living here for the last two years, which has been an incredible experience.

What is your favorite restaurant in NYC?

My favorite restaurant in NYC is O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub located on 120 Cedar Street, NY NY 10006. The food is great, the staff is amazing and the atmosphere always has good vibes. Not to mention they are a SinglePlatform customer!

 O'Hara's Restaurant and Pub O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub

When you’re not at work, what are some of your hobbies?

When I am not at work my favorite hobby is seeing my family. The work-life balance SinglePlatform provides is incredible. I am able to go golfing with my brothers (when the weather is nice!) or out to eat with my sisters. I come from a large “close knit” family and the more often I can see my parents and siblings the happier I am.

 Joe (second from left) and his family Joe (second from left) and his family

What piece of advice would you give to people just starting out at SP?

The biggest piece of advice I can give people just starting at SP is to put in the hard work and the effort. For many, this is the start of their careers and the skills you will learn at SP will be the foundation for the rest of your career. Take it seriously, work hard, learn and you’ll be able to do anything!

What is something unique about you that others may not know?

Something unique that people may not know about me is I’ve hustled my whole life. I started working at bars as restaurants at a young age, got my real estate license early on, and was also involved in managing and running a restaurant. Life is about grit and getting it done. Opportunity is out there and you just need to figure out what best fits you. Never stop trying!

Interested in a career @ SP? Learn more.