Digital Operations

  1. 4 Delivery Services You Should Register Your Restaurant For

    4 Delivery Services You Should Register Your Restaurant For

    In the past, running a restaurant only required consistent customer service, a clean location, and delicious food. Although these components are still important to consumers, they expect more from the restaurants that they dine at. Notably, they want to have access to delivery services, so that they can eat in the comforts of their own home, at the office, or wherever else they spend their time. Even though many restaurants take delivery orders over the phone or on their website, there are other ways to earn additional delivery sales. In fact, there are numerous mobile apps designed to connect patrons with nearby restaurants. If you want to earn more sales by offering delivery services, read this post to learn how to register for four popular delivery apps.

    How to Register for Four Restaurant Delivery Applications:

    1. Uber Eats


    Chances are, you’ve heard of Uber and use it for your transportation needs. But did you know
    that Uber also has a restaurant delivery app? If you’d like to list your restaurant on Uber Eats,
    simply fill out the company’s Sign Up form. After you provide this information, Uber will contact
    you to let you know if your restaurant is a good fit for their platform. It’s important to note that
    Uber Eats is available in these cities, so you won’t be able to sign up if your restaurant is located
    elsewhere. If they decide to onboard your restaurant, it’s fairly simple to utilize the service. Your restaurant
    will be listed on the app so that nearby patrons can order food from your establishment. Once
    they place an order, you can accept the request, and an Uber delivery partner will pick up and
    deliver the order to the customer. Using the app, your customer can track the progress of their
    order, which will also save you time, as you won’t have to follow up with them on their delivery
    status. Want to learn more about becoming an Uber Eats partnered-restaurant? Click here.

    2. GrubHub


    GrubHub is a restaurant delivery giant. The company merged with Seamless in 2013, which is

    another restaurant app you can register to be listed on. Before you apply, make sure that
    GrubHub operates in your city. If it does, you’ll simply need to fill out their general inquiry form,
    which can be found on this pageOnce accepted, you’ll have access to GrubHub’s technology, which will allow you to track
    orders. Plus, they provide their own drivers, so you’ll save money that you’d otherwise have to
    spend on hiring your own drivers and providing them with a vehicle.


    3. DoorDash

    DoorDash prides themselves on their quick onboarding process; once you complete their
    registration form, they claim that you can start accepting delivery orders within the week! Like
    other delivery apps, DoorDash handles customer service and logistical issues throughout the
    ordering and delivery process, so your restaurant can focus on cooking delicious food. In
    addition, depending on your preference, you can receive order updates via fax, computer, or
    your tablet.


    4. Postmates


    To register for Postmates, you’ll need to ensure that they offer their services in your city. Once
    you determine that they do, you’ll need to complete this form. The company claims that their
    average restaurant partner sees a 4X increase in orders once listed on the Postmates app, so if
    you’re looking for growth, this could be a promising opportunity! With numerous restaurant delivery app options, it’s important to conduct research and determine which app is right for your establishment. Determining which apps are available in your geographic area, finding out which apps your competitors are listed on, and finding out about their fees and onboarding costs are all factors to consider. We encourage you to pursue all your options so that you can find the right home for your restaurant’s delivery services!

     

    Katie Alteri

    is the content marketing coordinator at Fora Financial, a company that provides
    small business loans to companies across the U.S.

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  2. National Food Holidays in 2018: Marketing Calendar for Restaurants

    2018 food holidays

    With 2018 comes a new year and a new opportunity to impress your guests every single day.

    We all know about Mother's DayChristmas, and Valentine's Day - but in your restaurant, do you observe the popular national food holidays?

    I'm talking about everyone's real favorite days of the year - National Taco Day, National Shrimp Day, National Cheeseburger Day, and all the other national food days.

    Arguably, national food holidays are more important to your restaurant than the more "traditionally observed" holidays because, in a way, these days were made for restaurants. It's up to you to come up with creative restaurant promotions and marketing ideas to bring more customers into your restaurants on these days. 

    These national food days are also a fantastic opportunity to leverage your restaurant's loyalty program and sell more gift cards throughout the year.

    Here are 16 popular food days and national food holidays you can start planning for in your restaurant. Be sure to take note of them in your 2018 Restaurant Marketing Calendar.

    Download the 2018 Restaurant Marketing Calendar

    National Chocolate Cake Day – January 27

    16.png

    National Chocolate Cake Day (January 27) celebrates a staple of the restaurant industry – from bakeries and cafés, to Happy Birthday sing-a-longs at casual dining chains, to exquisite Bavarian delight in fine dining restaurants. Since desserts are among the most highly marked-up sections of the menu, don't dismiss this dessert's day.

    Try out a couple ideas for your National Chocolate Cake Day promotion:

    1. Bake a limited-edition National Chocolate Cake Day cake.
    2. Offer a free chocolate cake slice per table.
    3. Give a coupon for a free slice of cake for a guest's next visit. 

    National Pizza Day – February 9

    national pizza day

    National Pizza Day (February 9) is just around the corner! Pizzerias rejoice - this is one of America's most beloved foods, with 3 billion pizzas being sold each year in this country alone. If you create a promotion to celebrate the true joy that pizzas bring, your customers will definitely embrace it.

    If your restaurant sells pizza, try one of these promotions for National Pizza Day:

    1. Half-price pizzas with two or more toppings.
    2. A free small cheese pizza with the purchase of a $25 gift card.
    3. A complimentary slice of pizza to everyone who stops by and is a member of your loyalty program.

    To raise awareness of whatever promotion you decide on, share the special on your restaurant social media pages and send out an alert to your customer database and loyalty program members. 

    National Margarita Day – February 22

    national margarita day

    National Margarita Day (February 22) is clearly here for the 21+ crowd. Have some fun with this one for your bar or full service restaurant!

    Consider one of these promotions:

    1. Offer an extended happy hour to celebrate the day.
    2. Host an event for unlimited or discounted margaritas. Sell tickets in advance and serve light apps or chips and salsa. 
    3. Keep it simple and offer half-off margaritas.

    National Shrimp Day – May 10

    national shrimp day

    National Shrimp Day (May 10) lands just as the weather starts to get warmer and people get excited for summer months. Bars offering shrimp cocktail and classier seafood restaurants could see a surge in business. Acknowledge the day with one of these promotions. 

    1. Host a "Cocktails and Shrimp Cocktail" event in your bar. 
    2. Make your specials menu entirely shrimp-centric. 
    3. Offer a free fried shrimp appetizer with the purchase of any other appetizer. 

    National Wine Day – May 25

    national wine day

    National Wine Day (May 25) promotions will be most successful in bars, full service, and fine dining restaurants. Whether you have a limited selection or a wide array of fine wines, bring attention to your vino menu with one of these ideas.

    1. Offer a complimentary sampler of wines during dinner when guests order a meal over $40.
    2. Highlight a few featured wines that are new to your menu and aren't getting the attention they deserve. Add them to a special National Wine Day menu and sell them for a lower price to see if your guests enjoy the drink or determine if you should remove them from your menu.
    3. Offer a prix-fixe menu and include some of your finest wines as the selected beverages.

    Whatever you decide to do, it might be beneficial to turn Wine Day into Wine Week, especially if it falls on a weekday. Make the announcement on your restaurant's website and social media pages.

    National Egg Day – June 3

    national egg day

    National Egg Day (June 3) opens up a ton of possibilities for diners and for restaurants that offer breakfast. Whether you scramble 'em, fry 'em, or hard boil 'em, people love eggs, with the average American eating 250 eggs each year. Here are some ways restaurants can capitalize on this.

    1. Discounted omelets all day long. After all, who says no to breakfast for dinner?
    2. Bonus loyalty points for members of your loyalty program who stop in to visit and order a dish with eggs.
    3. Free toppings in omelets today only.

    For National Egg Day, share your promotion idea on any signs or boards you have in your restaurant so your regulars know it's coming up.

    National Onion Ring Day – June 22

    national onion ring day

    National Onion Ring Day (June 22) may just be the predecessor to the next major national food holiday (more on that later), but it's still a chance to bring some attention to an otherwise underrated appetizer. Try a couple of these ideas to get some sales rolling. 

    1. Charge a fee for upgrading to onion rings? Nix that for the day. 
    2. Give all tables a free onion ring tower if they purchase drinks. 
    3. The week before June 22, give all patrons a coupon for a free side of onion rings if they come in on the 22nd. 

    National French Fries Day – July 13

    national french fries day

    National French Fries Day (July 13) honors the staple side dish of almost every American meal. Some restaurants show their french fry appreciation in many forms: curly, sweet potato, parmesan truffle, you name it. Try some of these strategies to boost sales on National French Fries Day.

    1. Pizzerias can throw in an order of fries to all orders of $15 or more - even those that don't ask for it! This is called surprise and delight, and your customers will be gleefully taken aback.
    2. Fancier restaurants can offer a complimentary side of house fries (like parmesan truffle or sweet potato) at all tables.
    3. Post that it's National French Fries Day on your social media channels and say that all members of your loyalty program who come in and say "Happy National French Fry Day!" get a free side of fries. (Also mention that if they're not a member of your loyalty program they can easily join!)

    For promotion, it's best to stick to social media for this one. You can even try posting the announcement to your Story on Snapchat!

    National Vanilla Ice Cream Day – July 23

    national ice cream day

    "Anyone care for dessert?" 

    To get more of your guests to answer "yes" to that question, try these strategies on National Ice Cream Day (June 23).

    1. Any dessert with ice cream is buy one, get one free.
    2. Make any dessert a la mode at no extra cost. 
    3. Gift card special for the week: free ice cream cone/dish when a guest purchases a gift card $20 or more.

    National Oyster Day – August 5

    national oyster day

    National Oyster Day (August 5) finally brings us around to seafood restaurants, which have been waiting for their turn on the National Food Day calendar all year. Now that it's here, try these promotion ideas.

    1. All-you-can-eat oyster bar for a discounted price.
    2. Host an oyster eating contest at your restaurant. 
    3. Give a complimentary coupon for a free side order of oysters on the next visit when guests buy a $50 gift card.

    National Cheeseburger Day - September 18

    national cheeseburger day

    That picture is making me very hungry and I now wish that National Cheeseburger Day (September 18) were tomorrow. When it finally does arrive, these ideas may be worth a try.

    1. No charge for cheese or extra cheese on a burger. (It's National Cheeseburger Day, after all!).
    2. Double loyalty points when someone buys a cheeseburger today (and double points when someone signs up today).
    3. Free drink and fries with the purchase of any cheeseburger.

    Start promoting a week or two in advance. Social media is best, and reaching out to your customer base via email marketing will also work well. 

    National Coffee Day - September 29

    national coffee day

    Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee every day - it's almost like every day is National Coffee Day. Regardless, here are some ideas to help you celebrate.

    1. Free coffee for your loyalty program members. If money is tight at your restaurant or cafe, try offering a free coffee with the purchase of a pastry or food item (or vice versa).
    2. BOGO coffee when you come in with a friend.
    3. Complimentary coffee after a meal for fine dining restaurants.

    National Taco Day - October 4

    national taco day

    Forget Cinco de Mayo; October 4th is the real National Taco Day. Here are some ways you can embrace tacos in your restaurant.

    • $2 tacos all night long with the purchase of a drink.
    • Experiment with a limited-time taco menu - taco pizza, fish tacos, etc.
    • Taco eating contest. Enough said.

    National Nacho Day – November 6

    national nacho day

    National Nacho Day (November 6) embraces the classic bar snack. Add guacamole, chicken, salsa, corn, you name it. Everything seems to go with nachos. Promoting your National Nacho Day specials on your restaurant Instagram account with enticing images of chips smothered in melted cheese will have millennials flocking to your restaurant. 

    Here are a few options for specials:

    1. Offer free add-ons to any basic nachos.
    2. Promote a special of bottomless nachos with the purchase of any drink.
    3. Host bar trivia. The winning team wins a gift card redeemable for ten free nacho appetizers over the year.

    National Cookie Day – December 4

    national cookie day

    National Cookie Day can be a big seller for your cafe or bakery. Use social media to help promote one of these strategies.

    1. Complimentary dozen of cookies with the purchase of a $25 gift card and/or half off a dozen of cookies for everyone.
    2. One free cookie to everyone in your loyalty program and/or one free cookie with the purchase of another item for everyone else.
    3. Sell a limited-time cookie variety box with limited time varieties. Listen to the feedback you get and consider adding one of the types to your menu!

    Aside from social media, leveraging your customer database here is another smart idea.

    National Lager Day – December 10

    national lager day

    Cheers to you, National Lager Day! December 10 is the time to grab a glass and be thankful for the beers in your life. These days, Americans are obsessed with hoppy craft IPAs. If you have any German or Euro-inspired lagers, showcase them on your draft line this day. 

    Here are a few ideas you can give a whirl:

    1. Replace all of your ale kegs with lagers.
    2. If you can't swap out your kegs cost-effectively, offer half-off lagers. 
    3. Have a "two bears for the price of one" special to fill more seats at the bar.

    Preparing for National Food Days in Your Restaurant

    These are just ten of the hundreds of National Food Days and National Food Holidays your restaurant may want to prepare for. But how can you plan for the rest, not to mention every other holiday, like Mother's Day, Christmas, and Easter?

    We know how challenging it can be for restaurants to balance their marketing over the course of the year. 

    That's why we've whipped up a 2018 Restaurant Marketing Calendar. It's an interactive template you can use to plan out your marketing budget, activities, and promotions alongside 2018's national food days.

    We also connect you with the resources you'll need to formulate a restaurant marketing budget best fit for your restaurant.

    We've already made a dent in 2018 - it's time to start planning for the rest of the year in your restaurant.

    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  3. 8 Things to Avoid When Managing a Restaurant in 2018

    restaurant trends in 2018

    The New Year always brings about a sense that things can be better. It’s like you get a mulligan for the last year; a fresh start filled with hope, promise, and ambition.

    This article is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.

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  4. 4 Refreshing Beer Trends for Brewery, Bar, and Restaurant Owners

    4 Refreshing Beer Trends for Brewery, Bar, and Restaurant Owners

    While the summer season is quickly coming to a close, the heat hasn’t exactly died down yet.

    Did you know that beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United States? With that many people drinking beer, it’s important for your restaurant to keep up with the latest industry trends. And even if you don't offer beers or alcoholic beverages now, you may want to in the future - bar and restaurant beer markup can range from 350% - 600%.

    Here are 4 beer trends to keep your customers refreshed all year long.

    1. Food and Beer Pairings

    We’ve all heard about food and wine pairings. Heck, there’s even a magazine called Food and Wine

    But what about pairing food and beer?

    Lately we’ve seen a trend with more restaurants giving recommendations on what kind of beers pair well with food.

    Looking to launch some of your own restaurant beer pairings, but not exactly the "craft beer snob" your 22-year-old nephew is? Fear not - check out this list compiled by The Hangout in Orange County below, or check out this blog post.

    2. Sours

    Personally, I'm feeling the Boston heat roll in. On days like this, the last thing I want is a heavier beer weighing me down.

    This summer, sour beers are the new beer of choice. One extremely popular type of sour is the gose. What’s a gose you ask? According to BeerAdvocate, gose is an unfiltered wheat beer flavored with coriander, salt, and often citrus flavors. Its tart and fruity flavor puts it under the category of sour beers. Compared to a more traditional beer, a sour is definitely an acquired taste - but it's one that plenty of people have been acquiring in 2017.

    Gose-Beer-Gear-Patrol-Lead-1440.jpg

    Flanders red ale, lambic, and gueuze are also popular types of sours. What makes these beers unique is their Belgian history and use of different yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. Although mysterious yeasts and bacteria may not sound very appealing, these beers are the perfect refreshment for a hot summer day.

    3. New Brands

    According to the Brewers Association, there was more than a 16% increase of craft breweries in the United States between 2015 and 2016. That equates to over a thousand new types of new beers to try!

    It’s now common for people to break out of their usual habits and try a new beer when they go out (adios Bud Light, make way for Trillium, Tree House, and The Alchemist).

    Having a large selection of beers to choose can help differentiate your restaurant and keep customers coming back. Try having different rotating beers on draft so customers can try something new and be excited to return and try the latest offering the 21st century masterminds of craft beer have to offer.

    4. Colorful Cans

    Yes, beer bottles are and always will be a classic way to consumer your beverages. But this year, cans are gaining more popularity.

    Using cans over bottles has multiple advantages like light protection, tighter seals, and easier transportation. We aren’t completely sure why consumers are crazed over cans all of a sudden, but it most likely has to do with the recent hipster craze of PBR.

    Regardless of the reason for this trend, consumers have become more gravitated to the bright colors and designs. As mentioned earlier, the market has been flooded with new brands of beer, so unique artwork helps companies stand out among the masses. It’s also common to see breweries make special small batches with can artwork to go along with the releases.
     

     
    So next time someone tells you “not to judge a book by it’s cover,” ditch the book.  Grab the most colorful can of beer you can find and display it prettily on your bar for customers to gaze at, give into temptation, and buy.

    If you want to check out some awesome designs, go to Oh Beautiful Beer to see their top artwork picks. 

    Conclusion: Beer Continues to Crush it in Restaurants

    Now that you know the most important trends, you can expand your beer offerings and become the go-to spot for after work drinks.

    This blog entry is compliments of Toast.

    As always, check out Restaurantsupply.com for all your restaurant needs.
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  5. Should You Create an App for your Restaurant?

    Smartphone with apps

    Apps are cool. Apps can drive loyalty. Apps can let customers know when they are close to one of your locations, house your customer database, and provide quick reminders (via push notifications) to your customers of your specials, deals, etc. They are also not terrible expensive to make - an app can cost anywhere from $1500 - $5000 to produce and maintenance is minimal and can typically be conducted by an employee once the app is developed. However, there are still many considerations to be taken before investing in an app.

    First off - do you need it? Do you have multiple locations? Do you have a loyalty program that customers can tap into? An app that doesn't have a purpose is not likely to be an app that your customers will download or use - and even if they do - what's the point? Make sure there is some functionality built into your app which will allow it to be a valuable tool for your customers.

    Second - what is your competition doing? Download the apps of all your competitors and study them. Some may impress you and some may not, but chances are good you'll learn valuable lessons from seeing what they are doing and what is in the market before you begin creating your own app.

    Next - who is going to make this app for you? There are multiple freelance vendors and agencies who can assist. Get someone you can trust and beware ongoing monthly fees - if the actual cost is low but there is an ongoing maintenance cost, chances are you'll pay much more long term for the same product and you may want to look at the competition. Quarterly or annual app updates may be necessary, but a monthly service charge will significantly increase the cost of your app over time.

    Once you've established what you're doing and who you're doing it with, consider your marketing plan. People will only download the app if you tell them about it. Will you advertise it? Put it on your social media? Hand fliers to your customers in their check bills or at your register? Not matter what your method, you're going to want to make sure to get as many downloads as possible for your new app, and market it constantly moving forward as you attract new costumers.

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  6. Big Data and its growing importance to the Restaurant Industry

    restaurant energy use

    Big Data used to be inaccessible to all but the largest companies, but the rise of computerized information means that restaurants large and small can now take advantage of it.

    Although “big data” seems complicated, it’s just the process of collecting as much data as possible about customers in order to better serve them. Everyone realizes that understanding analytics is imperative to improving business operations, but few people actually know how to use it.

    Previously, big data analytics was the domain of major corporations such as Amazon. Now, thanks to advances in software and hardware capability and access to cloud-based services, restaurants of all sizes can use big data software to mine information from their POS, marketing, accounting, inventory and scheduling systems.

    Analyzing and understanding big data allows for restaurants to reduce waste and increase efficiency, particularly with food orders and labor costs. In addition, it allows restaurants to better predict trends for year over year sales.

    Analyzing this data will help readers better understand customer preferences, improve menus and service, and improve operations providing customers with a better experience. This will ultimately lead to significant improvements in the bottom line.

    Since competition in the restaurant business is at an all-time high, having an effective big data system is critical. Stay on top of your business and pay attention tot he analytics. Investment in reporting can pay off big when it yields a massive increase to your bottom line!

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  7. Protecting your online reputation: what you need to know!

    Protecting your online reputation: what you need to know!

    We live in a digital world. Your customers will be posting their pictures and opinions of you on Instagram, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more! While we hope that everyone is a fan, it's easy to have issues (or unhappy customers) who can hurt your reputation and influence whether future customers frequent you - or your competition.

    Even though it's time consuming and sometimes no fun at all, it's very important to protect your online reputation. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your game:

    1/ DON'T offer free items to make the problem go away. It's easy to respond to a negative review with an offer for a free beverage, meal, heck, anything to make the customer happy. But it's a much better idea to find out WHAT the problem was and try to fix the issue and apologize (if warranted). That way, you are improving the success of your business and guarding against future (false) negative reviews from folks looking for a freebie.

    2/ DON'T ignore negative commentary. Even though it's no fun, it's very important to respond to unhappy customers online. There may be an easy fix to the problem, and even if someone really 'dropped the ball' on food or service, at least by responding you are showing your dedication to the customer and that it's important for them to have a good visit. Avoid long, drawn out public conversations and provide a phone number or email for follow up, and make sure to get to the bottom of their issues whenever possible.

    3/ DO respond to positive commentary. A 5 star review is a wonderful thing to have. Make sure to take a moment to say thank you when someone goes out of their way to say something nice about your business! I simple 'thank you' goes a long way and helps to reinforce the positive relationship.

    4/ DO Know your rights and manage your online presence. If someone is being unnecessarily vulgar, abusive, or even works for your competition and is writing false reviews, you have every right to flag and remove them . Get to know the terms of service for Yelp, Google, and Open Table so that you can flag anything that doesn't belong or is dishonest. It's also important to find out where your customers are talking about you - stay on top of social media trends and monitor your restaurant pages across as many sites as your customers do to ensure that you don't miss the conversation.

    5/ DO encourage people to talk about you! Most of your customers are biggest fans - that's why they are in your restaurant! Engage these people by letting them know your Instagram handle and other social media presences, as well as asking them to review you. By asking for reviews, you'll ensure that the happy people take some time to write about you: unhappy people are more likely to take to the internet if they feel the need to report an issue. And of course, encourage your front of the house staff to ask for feedback often so that any problems can be fixed (hopefully) before they make their way online.

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