Jeremy Julian

Education

Why Your Restaurant Needs A Cause (And How To Do It)

August 12, 2019

Move over, food bloggers and Instagram influencers: there’s a new restaurant partner in town.

Joining forces with a charitable organization is an emerging trend in the hospitality industry. Of course, some restaurants have allied themselves with a cause for years (or created their own foundation entirely, like BJ’s), but it’s now, in a social media world of high visibility, that this movement is really gaining traction.  

Below, we’ll take you through the main reasons why your restaurant would benefit from a cause, as well as how you can put this into practice. Read on for inspiration.

It’s good for business

As a restaurant owner, you might not see supporting a charitable organization as high on your priority list. With overheads and market competition rising, not to mention treading the fine line between a profitable markup and angry customers, it can be tough to figure out where you’d even get the cash from. And what’s the point, if you don’t get anything back from it?

You may be surprised to learn that the positives of giving money away aren’t all “warm, fuzzy feelings”.

Supporting a cause can help you to generate more business: it can draw new customers to you, happy in the knowledge that their money isn’t only being spent on a tasty meal, but also benefiting somebody else. You will also find that customers are more likely to become loyal returners, as they appreciate your charitable efforts.

We’re becoming more socially conscious as a society, and this is reflected in what consumers want. In a recent survey, 78% of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money — they should positively impact society too.

It connects you with your local community

Supporting a local cause as a restaurant shows compassion and humanity to the people around you.

People within your community will be aware of your philanthropy, employees will value your altruism and will be more inclined to view your business more favorably. Basically, you’ll be seen as a good guy by everyone.

No man is an island, and this is true for independent restaurants as well. Having the support and blessing of the community that you live and work in is crucial to the survival of your business. It’s important to support your community in return.

How to find your cause and provide support as a restaurant

So after reading about why your restaurant needs a cause, you’re probably wondering how to go about doing it.

First, you need to choose a charity that is related to your restaurant, and shares similar values.

For example, if you run a seafood restaurant, you could partner with a nonprofit that works to end overfishing and destructive fishing methods, and educates on sustainable fishing instead. Your customers will appreciate you investing in the future of our oceans and promoting healthy, conscious choice-making.

As to how you support your cause, there are a number of ways that you can help. Mostly, it depends how hands-on you want to be as a business.

Below we’ve listed a few suggestions to inspire you with starting your charity work.

Food donations

Donating food is both admirable and logical: not only are you helping those in need, but you are also cutting down on food waste by getting rid of unsold excess products.

Take a leaf out of these restaurants’ books by donating your unsold food to a local food bank, soup kitchen or homeless shelter at the end of each service or day.

If you are considering setting up a food donation scheme, then check with the nonprofits you plan to work with so that you know what their rules and guidelines on food donations are.

Monetary Donation

Donating money is another strong option if you’re thinking about how to support a cause.

It may feel like a bit of a cop-out (as opposed to donating food or hosting events), but think about the end goal: whatever money you raise will go towards a great cause and help people in need.

There are a few different ways you can incorporate this into your overall restaurant strategy. For example, you could add a dollar donation from the sale of a best-selling dish. Make sure you write this on your menu to let your customers know that the proceeds are going to this worthwhile charity.

Alternatively, you can partner with a charity to sell products online and split the profits. If you have your own restaurant website, you can add e-commerce functionality with a plugin, or alternatively create an online store that customers can visit easily. You can sell branded items like tea towels or crockery, your own charity food products like Newmans do, or create curated recipe books — then just split the profits with your nonprofit partner. It’s a fun, creative way to raise awareness and visibility of both your restaurant and your cause.

More simply, you could just give a monthly donation to your charity or nonprofit of choice.

Volunteering in the community

Volunteering for your local nonprofit is a great way to give back while raising the profile of your restaurant. You can partner up with a charity, get together a team of volunteers and spend a day every few months helping them out.

The great thing about this idea is that it’s something your staff can get involved in. They get to see firsthand what a difference your restaurant and your team are making.

Spending the day outside, planting or working with children is excellent for team building and boosting morale.

You can take pictures and write about your volunteering experience on social media, going into more detail on your restaurant blog about what this opportunity meant to your staff and business.

Host your own charity events

Foodie events and pop-ups are a fun and creative way to get attention as a restaurant, so why not incorporate this into your charity campaigning?

Hosting one-off events will generate a buzz around your business by creating an exclusive feel as well as showing a more personal, human side to your brand as you raise money for your charity.

If done properly (with effective promotion), charity pop-ups can be hugely successful for your business long-term too. The new customers that your event attracts will enjoy your food, love your innovation, and become regular customers, increasing your trade afterward.

There are many reasons why you should support a charitable cause as a restaurant. This is an opportunity to simultaneously provide help to those who need it, while boosting your own business’s profile.

5 Tips to Make Your Restaurant Kid Friendly

July 3, 2019

Our good friend, Lisa Brown from Ekuep, is back with some helpful tips on how to make your restaurant kid friendly. As we all know, more and more parents are looking for kid-friendly dining options … take it away, Lisa!

Make Your Restaurant Kid Friendly

By Lisa Brown

A family with four kids approaches your restaurant and you start panicking. Your staff gets annoyed just by the thought of the extra mess, screaming, and tantrums coming their way.

As messy as these little guys are, you can turn them into a business opportunity for your restaurant. With so much competition in the restaurant business, becoming a kid-friendly service will give you an edge over others and improve your profits. While you may not be able to discipline the kids that come your way, you can make it easier for the parents. Making the dining process comfortable will be highly appreciated by parents. They are bound to come back again and again because they know how difficult it is to find places that accommodate their kids and gives them a chance to relax.

Just making some minor changes in your place can draw a whole new audience of loyal customers to your restaurant. Get affordable kitchen projects done in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, and Al Khobar through Raqtan!

Children can actually turn out to be your best customers if their parents find your place caring and catering to the needs of their kids. Including a play area might be the only visible change needed here. Here are a few things you can do to attract families with kids to your place.

Train Your Staff

Train your staff to treat kids with courtesy and respect the same way they do with adults. Any signs of annoyance to a child from the staff’s side will not be easy to hide and your customers might never come back. Your staff should respect a child’s needs and not be rude or impatient with them, otherwise it makes no sense to have a play area in the restaurant if you’re waiters are not willing to accommodate them.

Your staff should also be trained to offer larger tables when the families step in. A crammed up table filled with all the infant/toddler gear could ruin the whole dining experience. A few tips you can give to your servers are:

  • Ask the children directly what they would like to order and wait for the parents to approve it.
  • Tell them about a play area if present or give them some activities to do such as coloring books and crayons, arcade games or toys while the order is being processed.
  • Ask the parents if they need anything like a high-chair, extra table or plates.
  • Bring the order as fast as you can because hungry kids can get out of control pretty quick.

These little things can go a long way. Your staff’s patience and flexibility are bound to be appreciated with huge tips and long-term loyalty from the customers.

Serve Healthier Kids’ Meals

With child obesity on the rise, a lot of parents these days prefer healthier snacks over French fries for their kids. Offering healthy options on the menu like veggies, baked chicken with cheese dip, grilled chicken with steamed broccoli, pasta or fruit slices can give you an edge over other restaurants. This doesn’t mean you have to let go of the traditional items like French fries or chicken nuggets. Keep them on the menu along with many other healthier options. Here are some more kid’s menu tips:

  • Many parents choose items from appetizers or sides that come with entrees for their kids. So you can either include kid-friendly items in your appetizers or offer smaller portions in the kid’s menu items.
  • Don’t add a lot of spices in kid’s meals. Be wary of adding too much salt, fat, or chilies.
  • Make sure you mention the ingredients on the menu so that parents can be aware of the potential allergens such as dairy, gluten, nuts, etc.
  • Include some vegetarian items also.
  • Add some desserts or sweet also.

Provide Necessary Equipment

Equip your restaurant with family-friendly furniture items. Families with kids, especially those who have babies, need bigger tables, high chairs and booster seats. Your bathrooms should also have changing stations to allow parents to easily change their baby’s clothes and diapers if needed.

Providing kid-friendly furniture, such as highchairs and booster seats, will help make your restaurant kid friendly.

Along with furniture, your restaurant should have coloring products and toys. You can get crayons, pencils, and placemats to let the children stay occupied near their parents. Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Highchairs, and booster seats
  • Child-safe cutlery like sippy cups, plastic spoons, plates, and glasses
  • Changing tables in the bathroom
  • Diapers
  • A small stool in the bathroom to be used by kids to reach the sink for washing hands.

Build a Play Area

The only thing that’ll attract the kids to your restaurant is a separate play area where they’re not controlled by parents but still supervised from a distance. A playroom also ensures that other people in the restaurant are not disturbed.

A play area is a great way to make your restaurant kid friendly and offer parents some relief.

Build a play area according to your restaurant’s budget and space. Make a jungle gym if you can and create an artsy corner where kids can color, draw or read. If you can make it in your budget, setting up a TV showing cartoons or educational programs will keep older kids occupied as well. It’s always good to have activities suitable for different ages.

If you can’t afford to make a whole separate room for kids, take a section of your restaurant and accessorize it with colorful paint. Put some small, bright colored tables and chairs, and place some mats with cute pillows on the floor. Set some coloring books, toys, and games like Lego and puzzles on a shelf or a table on the side.

Wherever you plan to make a play area, always remember to ensure that it’s visible from all angles of the dining area because parents like to keep an eye on their kids no matter where they are.

Take Precautions

Everything in your restaurant should be safe for kids. Look out for sharp corners and open sockets. A little child-proofing won’t hurt.

Take precaution when mopping floors and install non-slippery tiles if possible. Be wary of fragile utensils in the dining area. Check the play area daily for sharp objects and small toys as a precaution to choking. Keep it clean and monitor the toys, pencils, and crayons as well.

The Cost of Restaurant Employee Turnover

February 27, 2019

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Program, the overall annual employee turnover rate in 2016 for the “restaurants and accommodations” sector was a jaw-dropping 73%—the highest of any industry!

 

Let that sink in a moment.

 

That is astonishing. Our readers are in it every day, but when you put a figure like that on paper, you take notice.

 

A study conducted by TDn2K in 2018 dubbed, ‘Recruiting and Turnover Report,’ reported that the average cost of turnover per manager for restaurants is $13,867.

 

Sure, the transient nature of the restaurant workforce plays a part. But for many restaurants, a disengaged work culture is also to blame. Disengaged employees are more likely to leave and less likely to engage customers.

 

This is an ominous problem as the industry faces evolving consumer demands and disruption to the traditional service model. For restaurant leaders, optimizing customer experiences to boost customer loyalty is more critical than ever.

 

Have you thought about the substantial cost of recruiting, hiring and training? Investopedia says the cost of hiring an hourly employee can be upwards of $3,500 when you factor in the entire hiring process.

 

Recruitment is just the first step in this costly process: according to business advisor William G. Bliss, there are various, potentially high costs in the process of recruiting alone, including advertising the opening, time cost of internal recruiter, time cost of recruiter’s assistant in reviewing resumes and performing other recruitment-related tasks, time cost of the person conducting the interviews, drugs screens and background checks and various pre-employment assessment tests.

 

Once the right person is finally in place, businesses need to provide adequate training so the new employee can do the work and start producing for the company.

 

Training turns out to be one of the costliest investments a company can make.

 

And, in a 2017 study by Training Magazine, companies spent an average of over $1,886 annually on training per employee. When that investment walks out the door, your bottom line takes a direct hit.

 

Not every new hire will demand the same process, but even an $8/hour employee can end up costing a company around $3,500 in turnover costs, both direct and indirect.

 

How to calculate your own cost of turnover
To help you quantify turnover cost, we’ve put together a simple formula: your company’s cost of employee turnover is equal to the number of departures, times the average cost of those departures.

 

The number of departures will simply equal your number of employees times your annual turnover percentage.

 

While we cannot capture every single expense or even some of the big intangible costs like impact on employee morale, we can get a good sense by analyzing four major buckets:

  • Cost of hiring
  • Cost of on-boarding and training
  • Cost of learning and development
  • Cost of time with unfilled role

 

So we can now describe your overall annual cost of turnover to be:

 

Employee Turnover Calculation - Restaurant Technology Guys

 

As an example, if you are a 150 person company with 11% annual turnover, and you spend $25k on per person on hiring, $10k on each of turnover and development, and lose $50k of productivity opportunity cost on average when refilling a role, then your annual cost of turnover would be about $1.57 million.

 

Reducing this by just 20%, for example, would immediately yield over $300k in value. And that says nothing of the emotional headache and cultural drain felt from losing great people.

 

You can use this spreadsheet to plug in your own numbers to get a sense of what the costs look like for you.

 

Employee turnover will always be a part of the restaurant game, but knowing how it affects your business is vital. There are techniques, technology and simple managerial skills to positively impact your employees’ well-being and satisfaction. When that happens, your employees worry less. They’re happier at work and they’ll stick around longer.

 

Serious about updating your POS? Check out the Northstar POS system to improve the power and effectiveness of your restaurant!

 

4 Tips to Improve Website Navigation

February 20, 2019

The navigation bar on a website is an often overlooked and ‘simple’ section, but it is quite possibly one of the most important areas on your website. We have all experienced it before: poor website navigation. You try finding an address or article, wasting minutes, and it’s not where it logically ‘should’ be. It is incredibly frustrating.

 

I want you to remember that feeling, because you could be inducing that same feeling onto users that visit your website.  The best content in the world does not mean anything if users cannot navigate to it.

 

So, what can you do to fix this issue?

 

Tip #1 – Start with a visual sitemap
Just like a blueprint to a house, before you build your website, you need a structured plan. A sitemap is the blueprint to your website. It lays out the user journey and where important items like, blogs, contact info and other content go. Below is an example:

 

Sitemap Example - Restaurant Technology Guys

 

Once you create a sitemap on paper, you can create a digital version that can live on your website, which is important for search engines.

 

For a more formal sitemap definition, according to Google, a sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site. And this is a crucial starting point in building positive SEO.

 

Tip #2 – Keep it simple
We are firm believers in the KISS methodology: Keep it simple, stupid. Not only is great for life and many other aspects, but it rings especially true for web design. Avoid creating too many options, or on the flip side, not having enough options.

 

If you have too many choices in your website menu, you make it hard for visitors to decide where to go. You’ll wear them out, and they may just leave your site and never return.

 

In addition, name your links so your website visitors know just what they’ll get when they click on the menu item. Avoid using industry jargon or ‘getting cute’ here because people may have no idea what you are referring and get frustrated.

 

Use wording in your links that makes sense and sends users to the right pages. Period.

 

Tip #3 – Text matters
In the past, web designers used buttons for links in the menu bar. Don’t do this. This was past and is best to be left there.

 

Today, you want to use actual text instead of icons or buttons because it’s better for search engine optimization and mobile/responsive designs. If you do not format an image correctly, it could look wonky on a cell phone or tablet.

 

Search engines use the text in your menu bar as they crawl your site. They use this text to determine the most important parts of your site.

 

Also, when choosing a font, find something with readability; nothing too thin or wispy and definitely no Comic Sans. Just stay away from that. We suggest Roboto, Georgia, Lato, Verdana and Helvetica. These should put you on the right track.

 

Tip #4 – Link your logo
This one may seem intuitive, but a lot of people forget this tip. There is no longer any need to put a ‘Home’ link on your navigation. If users want to go to the beginning, just click on the logo. We do it every day, you just may not realize it because it is ingrained in our behavior.

 

We hope you have found these tips helpful when putting together your site’s navigation.

 

Just remember: people are looking for an easy and seamless experience. Make sure you give it to them.

 

Serious about updating your POS? Check out the Northstar POS system to improve the power and effectiveness of your restaurant!

 

Restaurants Need To Be Mobile-Friendly

February 13, 2019

Smartphones and tablets are changing the way we live our lives. And, this on-hand technology has changed the way people find restaurants. Have you ever wondered how many customers use mobile devices to find restaurants, and more specifically, your restaurant?

 

According to the latest study from SinglePlatform and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, restaurants are the most searched industry by consumers through both mobile applications and browsers.

 

The study, compiled through the feedback from 1,497 consumers who own a smartphone, found that 81% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile app and 92% through a web browser in the last six months, outperforming other highly searched industries, such as entertainment, retail outlets, hotels, and personal services.

 

Further, 75% say they often choose a restaurant to dine at based on those search results.

 

This means your customers are mobile and actively looking. It is up to you to meet consumers halfway and optimize your website for mobile users and search engines.

 

Here are some more takeaways from that study that all restaurateurs need to know, especially in this digital age:

 

  • iPhone owners are more likely to search for a restaurant than other smart phone owners.
  • 80% of consumers think it’s important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant
  • 70% of consumers think it is important to be able to read the menu of a restaurant on a mobile device
  • 62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device
  • 84% of consumers are likely to look at more than one restaurant before choosing where to dine.

 

So what is this telling us?

 

Users want an easy and seamless experience when they are in the Evaluation stage of the decision making process.

  • Customers want to be able to find the menu and view it without trouble.
  • They want to be able to find the address and phone number without having to search the entire site.
  • If ready, they want to make a reservation or place an order right then and there.

 

What can your restaurant do to meet these needs?

 

  1. Set up and ‘own’ your business listing on ALL search engines. This includes the big ones like Google and Bing, but also Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Open Table and many more. This will ensure that your business information is properly indexed and able to be found by people searching for your restaurants information.Google Business Screenshot - Restaurant Technology Guys
  2. Make your website and it’s files mobile-friendly. We cannot stress this enough. We are in 2019 people; customers of ALL ages have cell phones or mobile devices and are actively searching. Put yourself in their shoes: if you find a website on your phone and it’s a crappy experience, you leave and never come back. That business is seen as less in your eyes. The same thing happens when users find your site and it doesn’t render or function properly.
  3. Allow for mobile reservations or orders.

 

 

 

We hope these facts and tips have inspired you to take a look at your own mobile experiences. Our world is increasingly more mobile and more things are being done on phones. Isn’t it time restaurants catch up?

 

Serious about updating your POS? Check out the Northstar POS system to improve the power and effectiveness of your restaurant!

 

Should Restaurants Blog?

February 6, 2019

Yes. 100% yes. Restaurants should blog.

 

But do restaurants actually blog? No.

 

It’s because blogging is hard and it takes time. Having an effective blogging strategy is key to long-term success in a crowded field. Did you know that about 2 million blog posts are created every day? That is a lot and a bit ridiculous if you think about it. So, if restaurants want to blog, what can it do for their business?

 

Be first on search results
We have talked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on the blog before. If you are unfamiliar with SEO, here is an intro into restaurant website SEO.

 

So how does a blog matter to SEO?

 

Content.

 

You’ve probably heard it before: “Content is king.” Bill Gates made this prediction in 1996 and it’s as true as ever today.

 

Content is important to SEO - Restaurant Technology Guys

 

Why?

 

Because a Google user is happy when s/he finds the result that serves their need(s) in the best way. Google always tries to give you the best possible experience by directing you to the most relevant content it can find.

 

This means your number one job is to produce good, relevant content.

 

SEO is no different than any other skill – the great results will always come from big effort. Just like the best marketing in the world won’t help you sell a bad product, super advanced SEO will be useless if your content sucks.

 

So you may be asking, “what exactly makes ‘good content for a blog?”

 

Glad you asked! Here are factors in Google’s eyes that make up good, relevant blog content:

 

  • Quality – Position yourself as an authoritative figure in the space. Provide useful and meaningful content that is valuable to readers.
  • Keyword research – Doing your keyword research up front is a crucial part of great content. Out of all on-page SEO factors, this is the one you should spend the most time learning. What terms are your customer using to search for your restaurant? How would YOU search for the site? What SHOULD it be?
  • Use those keywords – Google has gotten smarter over the years. While you should, of course, use your keyword throughout your content, jamming your keyword into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings, rather than improve them. As long as you make sure your keyword is present in strategically important places (like headlines, URL and meta description), there is no need to mention it tons of times in your text. Just focus on the reader and seamlessly integrate your keyword a few times.
  • Keep the content ‘fresh’ – Posting frequently will drive higher search results. But that does not mean creating new content every single day or week. Take old content and update it – include new sources, updated data and links. Even push your content out on other blogs to help keep new eyes coming to your content.
  • Answer directly – Finally, one of the more recent updates provides searchers with direct answers. If your content is written clearly enough for Google to recognize it as an answer to a particular question, it will show up directly beneath the search bar.

 

As we laid out above, creating useful blog content takes A LOT of work. But when done correctly, your organic traffic will skyrocket, creating additional revenue. Not to mention the social media implications and following you will be able to generate; which in the business world is precious gold.

 

We highly suggest getting into the blogging sphere, but before you do, take some time to work with members on your team. Strategize positioning and create a content calendar for at least half the year. This will help put you on a path for success. As you receive data from on-page and social media, you can adapt to see what is engaging users and what is not.

 

Happy blogging!

 

Serious about updating your POS? Check out the Northstar POS system to improve the power and effectiveness of your restaurant!

 

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