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Two-Bite Protein Snack!

 

Egg Solutions 2 Bite Egg Bites

We are so excited about this delicious 2-bite protein snack!

 

On-trend, these products will help operators develop and capitalize on the all-day breakfast and snacking trends.  There is virtually zero labour - just heat and serve!

 

Watch this video to learn more:

 

Egg Solutions Two Bit Egg Bites on a plate

 

 

3 Crowd-Pleasing Flavours:

  • Bacon & Cheddar
  • 4 Cheese
  • Red Pepper & Spinach Egg White

 

Product Numbers:

110157 EGG SOLUTION EGGSOL EGG BITE BACON CHEDDAR IW 80/1EA

110158 EGG SOLUTION EGGSOL EGG BITE FOUR CHEESE IW 80/1EA

110159 EGG SOLUTION EGGSOL EGG BITE RED PEP & SPINACH IW 80/1EA

 

Available in microwaveable heat ‘n’ go single-serve formats!

 

 

 

 

 

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Person typing on a laptop giving a one star review online

What They're Saying "IS" Word of Mouth Advertising

 

Over the last decade, like burning wild fire, word of mouth advertising has erupted into a fierce, influential, and potentially detrimental digital landscape called online reviews.

 

Platforms like Zomoto, Yelp, Dine, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and Google Reviews have given public opinion an open forum to share their restaurant dining experiences on a global scale. If, and how you manage these digital guest reviews can make a significant impact on your brand’s reputation and business success. So, not only is the guest’s review influencing whether or not potential guests will come and dine with you, but so is how you respond to the online review, and what your total star rating is.

 

How to effectively manage online guest reviews

Managing your online review profile can be your most influential marketing strategy, second only to social media. It requires a plan with daily dedication and management consistent with your restaurant guest service standards. I’ve termed this strategy “Digital Guest Relations,” and this is your opportunity to increase your conversation rate of digital guests (visitors) into actual guests. Customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews, so set that as your objective.

 

  1. Begin by identifying around the three most critical online review platforms, by reviewing where the most review activity is taking place by guests. Ensure the number you commit to is manageable on a daily basis, as ideally you are responding to each review within 24 hours to maintain an above average response rating.
  2. Where possible, claim your online review profile page and update your profile with photography, menus, hours of operation, contact information, descriptions of the service level, and any other key details that set your restaurant brand apart.
  3. Train a senior team member or members on how to use the platforms. Many of the platforms have phone apps, which are useful in responding to guests in a timely manner on the go.
  4. Develop a response strategy that your trained team members can use as a guide, with example situations and responses, to maintain consistent guest service standards.
  5. Train wait staff, bartenders and floor managers to encourage positive guest reviews in the restaurant during service. In a recent study, 68% of consumers indicated they will leave a review if asked (BrightLocal), and a half-star rating increase translates into a 19 per cent greater likelihood that a restaurant’s seats will be full during peak dining times (UC Berkeley). This guest touch point might also uncover dissatisfaction with a guest’s experience, providing another opportunity to turn a potential negative review into a positive experience.

You can go even one step further by incentivizing the guest with a complimentary dish or discount as thank you for their time and feedback. This can be really effective to retain your regulars and encourage repeat business.

 

Only 13% of consumers will consider using a business that has a 1 or 2 star rating

 

Good to know: Add a personalized touch to each response in addition to using the guest's name. Remember, potential guests are reading your responses too!


How to come back from negative online reviews

I recently supported a restaurant client who experienced the wild fire destruction that negative online feedback can cause. A guest had found a worm in their dish, snapped a picture of it, and posted it online with a detailed reenactment of the situation from their perspective.

 

Within two days the negative review had spread to 200 additional guest comments, with the majority of the comments supporting the guest, and a community now claiming to boycott the establishment.

 

The restaurant had experienced a loss of over $50,000 in just 48 hours, and was in panic mode, as the wild fire continued to burn. What was lost from the one-sided online review were the facts:

 

  1. This was the first and only time this had happened in the 10 years of being open.
  2. Management had apologized profusely and did not charge the table.
  3. The food and safety inspector was brought in immediately and found that their recent shipment of organic cabbage was the source of the problem, and it was quickly removed. Being organic, the cabbage is not sprayed with pesticides and therefore attracts insects.

The biggest concern was that although the restaurant was given a clear report to continue operations, no one was listening. So, we took immediate action, were honest and transparent both publicly and digitally:

 

  1. Developed a lengthy and thorough apology to the guest and the public incorporating the “facts” and posted in online.
  2. Posted images of the health and safety report to be as transparent as possible.
  3. Followed up with a highly successful guest appreciation weekend event for the entire community.

Within seconds, the wild fire went out, as guests appreciated the transparency of the response and learning all the facts. The online community began to advocate for the restaurant brand, recognizing that sometimes, just sometimes, mistakes do happen and the customer isn’t always right.

 

Moral: it is possible to come back from negative online reviews when brand authenticity is paired with transparency.

 

Good to know: First and foremost – be prepared to respond to ALL guest online reviews. Not just the good, and not just the bad.

 

Another effective approach is to take the conversation offline, by encouraging the guest to contact management directly to resolve the matter. Restaurant guests will continue to post their experiences in the digital space, which is becoming the first touchpoint potential guests have with your brand before they walk through your front door.

 

Written by Kate Engineer, a hospitality communications expert.  Blog post was originally posted on chefconnexion.ca.  Visit the site for more great tips and recipes.

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Schneiders Canadian Farm-Raised Pulled Meats

Three sandwiches with schneiders pulled meats on buns and toppings

 

 

Made with Natural Ingredients

 

Like many, I've been enjoying Schneiders products for years.  I am happy to share that their pulled meats are delicious!  Convenient and something you can confidently serve your guests.  They are fully cooked (or perhaps I should say slow-roasted for several hours), and they don't come with any sauce which allows you to get creative and make them your own.  

 

One of my favourite features is that all the pork, beef and chicken are Canadian.  The sentiment to support local is higher than ever, make sure you let your customers know that you are purchasing Canadian farm-raised meats.

 

Features

• Canadian Farm Raised pork, beef, and chicken
• No sauce added - versatile
• No preservatives* or artificial flavours
• Fully Cooked - ready for use
• Convenient pack size
• Gluten Free
• Slow-roasted to keep flavour in

 

 

Click here to see the fact sheet

 

 

 

Looking for some inspiration?

Patio Pulled Chicken Flatbread

 

Schneiders pulled chicken with tomotoes olives and other toppings on pizza board

 

Tender Canadian pulled chicken served on a crisp herb flatbread with an artichoke and asiago base with peppers, tomatoes, olives, shredded cheese then finished with fresh arugula.  A great starter on the patio.

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Piri Piri Pulled Chicken Wraps

 

Schneiders pulled chicken piri piri wraps on a wood background

 

Spicy piri piri seasoned Canadian pulled chicken wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla with lettuce, peppers and red onion, finished with a lemon vinaigrette and fresh cracked black pepper.

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Italian Beef Sandwich with Goat Cheese & Red Peppers

 

Pulled beef sandwich with onions goat cheese and toppings on a white plate

 

Here’s a hearty sandwich that requires no cooking at all—but is loaded with flavourful ingredients and vibrant colours.

 

 

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Contact your sales representative today for more information.

 

 

 

 

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Make your Drive Thru Safe and Tasty

 

Sign promoting Drive Thru on a black background

Have you opened a drive-thru to supplement income from takeout and delivery? Here are some key considerations to make sure you have the safest, cleanest window selling environment, from Paul Medeiros, Managing Director, Consulting, Technical and Retail Audit Services at NSF International.

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING REMAINS KEY
Drive-thru employees may find the two-metre distance guide challenging, especially if drivers stop their vehicle too close to the window or if staff need to take the meal out directly to a parked car. Here are some ideas that may help keep physical distance working:

 

1. Ensure your bollards are properly positioned (and present) to help guide drivers away from the window. Attach a small flag (similar to the flags you see protruding from the side of bikes to keep cars away.


2. If your drive-thru window design doesn’t allow the installation of a plexiglass shield (like those in grocery retail), train employees to avoid leaning out the window or moving closer than necessary to the vehicle. A plexiglass is still the best bet, and all you need is around 12 inches at the bottom to slide through products.


3. Place signage at your drive-thru menu board, letting your customers know that you’re ‘keeping space’ and asking them to do the same.


4. Consider using takeout trays for all drinks as they reduce the risk of employees making direct contact with customers.

 

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE CONSUMER
Restrict payment to tap only, online payments or other ‘frictionless’ ordering methods. If cash is used, the employee needs to wash hands thoroughly after handling the cash and before touching other surfaces or items. The debit card machine keys also need to be wiped down between customers.

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE EMPLOYEE
Conduct a safely check and verify the drive-thru window automatic open/close mechanism is working. Manually opening and closing the window introduces a common touchpoint.

HANDWASHING 
Employees need to wash hands thoroughly after each customer order.

BAG HAND-OFF 
Even though your staff will wash their hands after each order, care must be taken to avoid hand contact. Bags are easier to handle in this case but takeout drinks and trays often result in hand-to-hand contact. Note: with all the extra handwashing, rotate employees often so that hands get a rest from washing.

GARBAGE HANDLING 
Most customers are very considerate, but some have taken to throwing out potentially dangerous items in drive-thru trash receptacles. The option of removing these (and posting accompanying signage) is an option, but could result in greater littering. The most common option is to make sure the employees who handle the garbage wear adequate PPE (gloves and apron) and that the garbage is double-bagged. Assume all garbage contains potentially harmful materials including used masks.

RETURNED ITEMS 
Do not handle a bag or package after it has been given to a customer. If a customer tells you an item is missing from the order, hand them another.

COHORT STAFF 
Hospitals and nursing homes taught us long ago the value of ‘cohorting’ staff and patients. Cohorting basically refers to the segregation of people into ‘groups’ or ‘pods’ or ‘bubbles’ or ‘shifts’. By cohorting people and avoiding contact between cohorts, you minimize the spread of infection. If someone in a cohort gets ill, then only that cohort is affected. The food industry has been applying this concept as one way to address COVID-19 risks. This should serve as a reminder to all foodservice companies with multiple sites to make sure they limit their employees to working one site only. If possible, maximize employee hours so they are not incentivized to work multiple part-time jobs, which introduces them to various ‘cohorts’ and could increase both their risk and yours.

 

And two other tips:

• DRIVE-THRU SHOULD SUPPLEMENT TAKEOUT. Not everybody has a car so recognize you may be missing out on sales if you do away with instore/curbside takeout.

• CASH MAY STILL BE KING AT TIMES. Not everybody has access
to noncash payment options, so be prepared to have to handle some cash or deny
some customers access to food.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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100% Takeout

Lord Elgin Fish and Chips logo with pictures of fish and chips and burger

 

Lord Elgin Fish & Chips, a family-owned fish and chips restaurant located in Port Elgin, Ont., will be celebrating 40 years of serving the community this May. Owner-operator Mike Lemcke grew up in the business and, with his wife Janet, bought out his parents 22 years ago. The 3,500 sq. ft. restaurant with 145 seats appeals mainly to a family and seniors crowd.
 
Mike spoke to Brand Points Plus about how Lord Elgin Fish & Chips has been able to pivot quickly from dine-in with some takeout to 100% takeout:

What was business like for you before the coronavirus hit?

Winter is normally slow for us and we close for five weeks at Christmas, usually reopening the last week or two of January. We had just reopened and managed to get through February. Then in March just as business started to pick up, COVID-19 hit. Usually each month gets busier from March to June, then July and August are crazy busy, come September things start to slow down again, and each month from September to December things get considerably slower. Takeout sales generally varied from 15%-25% of our daily business.

When did you see the handwriting on the wall and decide to convert to takeout and delivery? 

We converted to takeout on the Tuesday the Ontario government mandated dining rooms to close. We still haven’t started delivery as we have set up a very safe pickup procedure that’s working well. If we see that people are no longer willing to pick up their orders, we will consider delivery. [Check out Lord Elgin's Facebook page to see how easy they've made it to pick up and go.] 

 

What was your first reaction when you realized you’d have to make this change?

We knew we could make the change quickly and just had to perfect the system. We had to adjust it a few times as we kept finding little things to change to make everything run smoother.

 

What steps did you have to take to convert your operation?

Five years ago, we developed a frozen battered fish product that customers can buy and cook in their oven. We have slowly increased the sales each year. This product has been very popular since restaurants had to convert to takeout only. We have added our homemade frozen fries to this product line temporarily.

What changes have you had to make to staffing?

We decided to lay off our staff and run the business with just our family of four. We have many kitchen staff who live with vulnerable people so they didn’t want to work. We decided to open only Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 12-7, to funnel as much business as we can into three days to limit our overhead. We took a few items off the menu with short shelf life to limit the amount of food waste.

What challenges have you faced in converting to takeout?

No real challenges, but we continue to rearrange the kitchen to make it more efficient for takeout. It has been interesting seeing how quickly and easily we were able to adapt to takeout only. Luckily, we already did takeout so we had all the packaging figured out already. We got the word out to our customers that we were switching to takeout mostly through Facebook and our big LED road sign. We make sure we attach a special thank you to each order for the support during this time.
 
Are your efforts bearing fruit? How have you measured success?

We are very happy with where we are at this point. Obviously, our sales are down considerably, but so are our expenses.

 

Lord Elgin Fish & Chips' top tips:

  • Trimming costs and limiting any waste is more important now than ever before.
  • Look at every little cost including how often you get garbage pickup.
  • If you find you are not very busy, reduce the days you are open.
  • If you have a product people want, they will come the few days you are open and you can reduce operating expenses.
  • Consider adding other items to your takeout menu

 

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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Think like a Grocerant

 

Bags of produce in brown paper bags on a wood background

 

Since the mid-teens, traditional grocery stores in Canada have been blurring the lines between grocery and restaurant foodservice with so-called “grocerants.” These intersections of grocery and eatery have seen a number of food retailers, like Longos, Loblaws and Farm Boy (Sobeys) add in store restaurants and full meals for shoppers who want to do more than pick up their bread and bananas. For Millennials on the go, especially, these hybrids have offered the perfect combination of convenient food shopping and a hospitality experience.

 

Fast forward to 2020 and the changing world under COVID-19. More and more people need groceries – and prepared meals – at a time when grocers are reporting shortages of key products, and consumers are scrambling to satisfy home needs.

As more and more restaurant operators pivot to offer their customers takeout & delivery, why not pivot even more? Many restaurants have surplus supplies and continued access to food from their distributors. Savvy operators are already becoming food “purveyors,” and not just restaurants as they realize they are in the “food business,” and not only in the restaurant business.

Operators are turning from takeout & delivery and converting into restaurant-grocers offering meal kits, take-home/make-at-home meals, and more.

Set up your online grocery section

Earls Kitchen and Bar’s website now features an entire Grocery section as the chain adds a virtual grocery store to its regular takeout & delivery menu. Customers can buy grocery staples such as produce, dairy and toilet paper by the roll, as well as DIY meal kits and prepared meals.

Try food box subscriptions

Farm-to-table operations have been sending fresh boxes of goods to customers via subscription for years. Restaurants with access to local and seasonal ingredients can get into the game with their own branded food boxes. If you already send e-newsletters to your regulars, you can easily introduce this new service to supplement your takeout & delivery sales. The food box can contain meals as well as grocery staples...and even a roll of toilet paper.

Replicate the restaurant experience

Pre-packaged ingredients, meal kits, and menus can help turn your social distancing regulars into sometime gourmet cooks.

Upscale Toronto eatery Buca has created branded packaging of its favourites for customers who want to replicate the experience of eating a Buca meal, but in a take-home grocery format. Even traditional pizzerias can add groceries to their deliveries.

The pie is still the main event, but your customers will appreciate having access to other pantry staples too like milk, butter, tomatoes, cheese, and olive oil. And yes, you can even throw in a roll of toilet paper.

 

 

Tips:

1. Get the word out on your website and social media platforms that you have groceries, as well as prepared items, on offer.

2. Use the opportunity to brand your grocery packaging. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.

3. Choose your delivery platform carefully. Will you DIY or rely on a third-party service like Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, Foodora or Uber Eats? While you may save money doing it yourself, consider if you can increase your geographical reach using one of the biggies.

 

 

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

 

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9 Top Tips to DEEP Spring-Clean your Restaurant

Variety of cleaning products including gloves sponges cleaning cloths

by Jane Auster

 
Whether you've closed your restaurant temporarily or converted to takeout, delivery or drive-thru only, the coronavirus offers an opportunity to do the kind of deep cleaning that makes regular spring-cleaning look like a light dusting.
 
"Cleaning is getting the visible; disinfecting is getting the invisible, the germs, the viruses," said cleaning expert Mark Mellish, owner of Saskatoon Janitorial, in an interview.

 

1. Think like Mr. Clean. It's not just about cleaning now, it's about sanitizing. That means sanitizing all work surfaces (i.e., countertops, equipment, etc.) and focusing on key touchpoints (tables, chairs, door handles, credit/debit machines, self-serve kiosks, light switches, utensils/plate ware...anywhere hands can carry germs). Back-of-house and front-of-house should both receive heightened attention.
 
2. Move the furniture. Don't just move tables aside, but disinfect them in the kitchen and move everything away from the area you are disinfecting to prevent chemical contamination.
 
3. Institute a cleaning schedule. Even without dine-in business and with fewer staff in place, you still need a rigorous cleaning schedule and checklist that you share with all employees. Hourly cleaning may sound excessive, but it will ensure your surfaces remain clean – and likely germ-free.
 
4. Read the labels. The fine print on cleaning products recommends how long to keep the disinfectants on the surface for them to be effective at killing germs. Also, make sure you're using the right product for the right job. Homemade mixtures with vinegar, for instance, have not been shown to be potent enough against COVID-19.

5. Don't forget your washrooms. While washrooms are removed from the kitchen and dining area, they, too, need extreme cleaning. That means toilets, stalls, hand dryers, toilet paper dispensers, sinks, waste bins, and any other people-facing equipment.
 

6. Mind your menus. If menus can be discarded, whether they're made of paper or plastic, replace them with new ones. If you have laminated menus and this isn't feasible, disinfect them carefully and "isolate" them from everyday use until it's safe to return to more normal operations. If you've converted to delivery and takeout, likely you're relying on online orders in any case.
 
7. Remember, the little things count. Deep, COVID-19 cleaning means taking into consideration even the smallest items, such as the salt and pepper shakers. Empty them before cleaning and allow them to air dry before refilling. Empty and thoroughly clean any other tabletop food containers, like ketchup, mustard and vinegar dispensers.
 
8. Give walls, curtains and blinds a thorough cleansing. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and not considered to be a food-borne illness. To be on the safe side, clean vertical surfaces, which may carry air-borne pathogens.
 
9. Let your customers know. Use social media and signage in your front window to tell diners what steps you're taking to keep your operation clean. Use this as an opportunity to keep in touch and keep customers informed and loyal. They'll thank you for the care you're taking.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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Using Instagram to stay connected during COVID-19

A hand holding a hash tag sign on a yellow background

 

If you’re not on Instagram, you don’t exist. That’s the hard truth. The social media landscape has quickly become the dominant marketing tool for restaurants to connect globally and directly with existing and potential customers. No biggie, there are just around 1 billion of them.

The “gram” user, combined with Instagram algorithms, continues to challenge restaurants to push creative limits, in order to achieve Follows, LIKES and Comments.

What are some social media tactics your restaurant can employ to develop impactful social campaigns?

 

START WITH A MONTHLY PLAN

Take the time to plan out your key messages and posts for the upcoming month by developing a social media content calendar. Your goal should be to support and highlight initiatives within your restaurant operation that set your brand apart, while reinforcing key brand messages.

PUT YOUR BEST POST FORWARD
During COVID-19, Instagram can be a powerful tool to stay in touch with your loyal customers, to let them know what you're doing:

how you've changed your menu for takeout and delivery
strategies you've put in place to retain staff
gift cards and other loyalty promotions to keep customers engaged while your restaurant is closed to eat-in dining

 

TIMES TO POST
Social media reporting suggests that the social guest is most engaged in the early mornings, lunch and dinner hours, and later in the evening. These moments tend to be when we are taking a "break," which results in spikes in social media activity. Instagram for businesses also provides effective reporting on your social guests' most engaged days and times per day. Utilize this data to identify the optimal days and times of when to post.

#HASHTAG IT!
Hashtags can make or break the effectiveness of your content strategy by how relevant they are to the content you are posting. Digital users can follow hashtags to collect content on their feed that is of interest to them. The goal is to use hashtags that will place your content on the feeds of your target guests. Popular hashtags are identified in the "TAGS" search bar on Instagram by the number of times they have been used in a post.

Follow these five top tips to develop a list of hashtags relevant to your brand content:

  1. Research what competitors and the foodie community are using as popular hashtags.
  2. Identify 30-50 hashtags that align with your menu offerings and location, and are popular, and reference them selectively within your content calendar.
  3. Post hashtags that match the photography or video content you are sharing.
  4. Post the hashtags as a "comment" to your post, versus within the post.
  5. Post between 15 and 30 hashtags from your list per post.

As you monitor the effectiveness of your social campaign, be aware of spikes in your engagement when certain hashtags are used in your posted content, to identify your top-performing hashtags.
 

UTILIZE APPS

Developers are launching innovative useful social media content editing, organizing and
publishing apps on a monthly basis to support small businesses in managing digital campaigns. We recommend downloading a few different apps to test them out and understand which will be most effective in supporting your social media goals.

Using Instagram and Facebook to build a community of engaged brand advocates can seem intimidating, until you realize what makes them work. Implement these tactics to see what a powerful tool social media campaigns can be for your restaurant business.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 


By Kate Engineer
Kate Engineer’s agency, Fervid Communications, was recently acquired by The Fifteen Group Inc., a restaurant consulting company with offices in Toronto and Vancouver.

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Rae's Bistro weathers the COVID-19 storm...and so can you

Person carrying take out bags in hand.

 

Until March 2020, 4,800-sq. ft. fine dining restaurant Rae's Bistro, in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, was a popular spot offering fusion comfort food. Co-owned by Jillian Flynn and Danny Van Lancker, Rae's was noted for its 50-bottle wine list, 12 craft beers, scotch flights, and a premium atmosphere appealing to an adult clientele.

 

"We were known for our service and fresh feature chalkboard (rotated weekly), and guests would come in to hear our staff 'romance' the 10 features to them. It was almost a form of entertainment," says Danny.

 

Before March 17, Rae's Bistro did not offer any takeout or delivery

 

"We were just too busy to seek other revenue streams. We were on track to do $1.5 million in sales our second fiscal year. We were busy all the time (from 11 a.m. to midnight or later, if demand was there), with lineups, reservations, loud bar top, funky new age music, cool looking staff."

 

All that changed on Friday, the 13th - auspicious!

 

By Monday, March 16, sales had declined 60%. On the next day, Rae's Bistro closed to the public for dine in.

 

"On Monday, we reached out to the local health authority for advice and spent the day researching the science behind the pandemic and looking at the leading scientists' predictions/models. Pratt's (a great partner to have) obtained proper viral sanitation products for us.

 

"We jumped into action immediately. We laid off 22 staff by issuing emergency payroll and ROEs, and all staff applied for EI by Friday. Our first reaction was concern for the Rae’s family. It was completely devastating to think about taking away 22 people's source of income."

 

Ramp up for takeout

 

Rae's kept on a core staff – culinary, suppliers, the CFO – to adapt to the new reality. Within a matter of two days, working around the clock, the team approached their task with military precision. They created a takeout menu, bought Safeway thermal boxes to launch the service, designed banners for the windows, printed temporary menus, completely revamped the website to focus on the takeout menu, and branded takeout bags with personalized messages and menus.

 

All packaging is recycled brown paper, and even the takeout cutlery is wood, as the co-owners are committed to respecting the environment. (In fact, that is one of the reasons they had not considered offering takeout before.)

 

"By Friday, March 20th, we realized this might work, with two takeout specialists on staff, two drivers, and an additional kitchen employee we brought back. Much to our surprise, by Saturday, it was working and offering a flawless experience to all guests. Our delivery team is now our two veteran servers and bartender. We take responsibility for each order, text when on the way, and follow up with guests...treating them as a table and not a delivery. I personally close every box and write a thank you note to this day. I insist on a proper food chain of command. Safety officer/expo is my new position."

 

Create an effective menu

 

You need to accept that your regular menu likely will need adaptation. The Rae's team streamlined their menu to focus on high quality sandwiches, snacks, pizzas, pastas, steaks, ribs and fish.

 

"Stuff that travels well, and a lower price point for our entrées (not a discount, just not over-$30 items). People are going to be eating comfort, and more often now. We need to focus on our lower priced items without sacrificing our commitment to quality."

 

Rae's takeout/delivery challenges

 

Labour modelling, having to do it day by day as there is no past to use for forecasting.
Infrastructure, going from a single (phone) line to multiple lines with busy signal.
Communicating continued relevance to the public.
Delivery tracking, estimating and planning.
Installing mobile POS terminals for at-door payments.
Figuring out how to translate personalized service to guests in a different way.

 

Success!

 

By pivoting quickly and effectively, Rae's was able to turn around the operation from dine-in to takeout/delivery – and see significant sales increases.

 

From a modest beginning on March 18 to see if takeout and delivery would even work, Rae's is now up to nearly $7,000 in sales on the weekend and $1,000-$1,700 on weekdays. A scheduled postal drop of advertising may see even higher numbers.

 

 

Rae's top takeaways

 

  • Take care of your team first and foremost, do the right thing and lay them off so they can apply for EI.
  • Get proper sanitation measures in place. This is a serious thing, so don't do half measures. Get higher grade quat sanitizers.
  • Offer over-the-phone payment and curbside pickup.
  • Carefully consider your delivery model. Try to use existing staff for delivery rather than turning to a service that may charge a premium.
  • Get your social media game on. Do daily posts and reminders that you are open and relevant. Put some money into social media ads to farm page likes and get followers.
  • Use (old school) mail/email. Junk mail is now prime reading material, says Danny. Take advantage of this phenomenon, do flyers, post notices in your window.
  • Look at this crisis as an opportunity. "Remember that a bomb was just dropped on our industry. Independents are at a level playing field with mega chains. This is an opportunity to beat these entities to a new emerging market. Nothing will go back to normal. Don’t wait this out. Act now."
  • Be your best self. "Just get out there and be the best damn takeout and delivery business you can be."

Focus on the personal touches

  • Keep your brand front of mind. "Within a week we created the most amazing branding on our bags; every box, bag and container is sealed with Rae’s Bistro branded labelling. They also have spots for the guest's name. I got the idea when I opened a DVD this week and it had the frustrating plastic circle sticker on it. I couldn’t get it open, had to get up and find a knife. The feeling of 'this is brand new' as I sliced it was satisfying and I knew I had to bring this feeling to our guests.
  • Raise customers' spirits. "All bags get a takeout menu with a personalized message of good will." Treat your guests as a table and not a delivery. They will appreciate the service.
  • Talk up your menu, even though it's takeout. "We still romance our features over the phone to our guests."
  • Ramp up your social media. "We now have full-time social media and email monitoring. A daily feature wall is now posted daily with fresh content for the guests eating multiple times a week." But "old school" window signage is also attracting new takeout/delivery business. People have the time to stop and look.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

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Ontario Pork Supports Local Restaurants


Ontario pork producers know that supporting local restaurants through these uncertain times is the right thing to do. Whether that support is through ordering delivery/take-out or buying gift cards online, we should all come together to ensure local restaurants have a steady income into the future.

 

This is why they are offering free social media advertising — paid for by the producers — to eligible local restaurants that serve Ontario pork in the province. This Facebook and Instagram ad will target over 5,000 or more customers in their area, and promote that their restaurant has delivery or take-out options.

 

Ontario Pork is offering to support local restaurants. Contact jeremy.yim@ontariopork.on.ca

 

They are talking about an actual paid and targeted ad, not just a normal social media post.

 

Professional digital marketing is an area that many restaurants can’t normally tap into (even in normal circumstances), so they are offering our team to support.

 

All they need from restaurants is a high-quality photo of a pork menu item, and they would do the rest— so you can focus on running the business.

 

Please contact Jeremy Yim, Retail and Food Marketing Specialist at Ontario Pork for more information and to sign-up to the free branding program.

 

Together we support local.

jeremy.yim@ontariopork.on.ca
1-519-766-7893

 

 

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