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10 Creative Marketing Strategies

Restaurant worker on an ipad

10 Creative Marketing Strategies to Increase Revenue

 

Marketing your restaurant brand successfully, meaning you’re actually experiencing a return on your marketing dollars, can often seem an insurmountable task.  

 

It’s important to keep in mind that some of the most effective restaurant marketing strategies are designed to produce long-term results, as guests need constant visual reminders and communication about your brand to persuade their decision-making.

 

Here are 10 restaurant marketing strategies to leverage with the core objective of increasing revenue in the short- and long-term: 

 

1. Targeted Digital Advertising

Instagram and Facebook have made it extremely easy to attract and gain new guests with targeted digital advertising. Set your ad objective to target audiences similar to who follows your social pages, and drive them right to your website for reservation bookings. You can track the results, and not only begin seeing your social community grow, but also your reservation bookings.

 

2. Ticketed Events and Experiences

Create a seasonally inspired ticketed experience or event that requires guests to secure their spot in advance with a ticket. Not only does this guarantee a full house, but also allows you to manage the profit margin to increase your revenue, while creating a unique experience for guests. Try EventBrite for ease of ticket management. 

 

3. Promotional Marketing

Promotional marketing has a reputation of hurting the bottom line, but that isn’t always the case if planned strategically. There are many ways to maintain your brand experience and reputation, while offering a nominal perk to encourage guests to dine with you, and spend a little bit more. The objective with promotional incentives should be to increase the average check, by upselling the order on profitable menu items. Themed menu nights, pre-set menus, menu specials, alcohol features, and combos are all forms of promotional restaurant marketing that can increase revenue.

 

4. Sampling and Tastings

What better way to encourage sales than by giving someone a complimentary experience first! This marketing tactic allows you to communicate one on one the key selling features of the menu item or beverage, while making the guest feel special with a complimentary tasting. Work with your suppliers to create the experience and provide additional support and product, which will also reduce your expenses and increase your profit. 

 

FACT: Customers are 93% more likely to purchase an upgraded bottle of wine ($10 more) when offered a sampling. 

 

5. Pop-Up

Why wait for the guests to come to you, when you can go to them? Pop-up carts, booths, and street activations can be very a cost-effective way of reaching a new audience and marketing your brand experience directly. Be sure to hand out a promotional piece, such as a complimentary appetizer or dessert card, to invite guests to your physical location to dine again!  

 

6. Private Label Products To Go

Consider leveraging your most popular dishes, sauces, or made-in-house products that have the highest profit margin, and packaging them to go for guests to enjoy at home. This out-the-door form of marketing keeps your brand top of mind in guest homes, sparks word-of-mouth advertising, and provides your business with another revenue stream. 

 

7. Dining Rewards

Most restaurant point-of-sale systems have built-in rewards programs that track guest’s information and dining history. The systems are extremely sophisticated, and often provide digital marketing opportunities to reward guests based on their dining behaviour and milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Whether it’s a complimentary birthday dessert or points towards achieving a unique experience, be sure to maximize the preexisting marketing tools in your point-of-sale, or reservation booking systems, to encourage repeat business. 

 

8. Brand Collaborations

You know the saying – “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”? This rings true for restaurant competitors too! Over the last few years, as restaurants have struggled with new industry challenges, we’ve witnessed the birth of restaurant and chef collaborations with the objective of bringing unique experiences to guests and driving new business. Consider hiring a well-known chef to design your seasonal menu, or feature some unique menu items designed by another popular restaurant that serves a different type of cuisine, or collaborate on a pop-up to share costs. The ideas are endless, and with the right collaboration the results can be very positive for the bottom line.  

 

9. Google Business

When it comes to marketing your restaurant brand, Google Business is a tactic that many restaurant brands have still not tapped into fully. Google Business pages provide a platform where you can showcase images, post daily updates, create digital promotions for guests, link to your website and social platforms, and encourage guests to reward you with 5-star reviews. When a guest Googles your brand, your Google Business page is likely the first thing that pops up, which is why it’s so critical to manage this platform. The best part, all of the digital tools are free. 

 

10. Own Your Restaurant Website

Let your website be the front door to your restaurant where diners can learn about you before they make a reservation. Your online strategy isn’t complete without one and sites such as the all-in-one platform Sociavore was developed for independent restaurant operators like you to be in full control of your brand, content, online ordering and reservation booking system. Your website attracts visitors and drives sales, so take control of your online presence. Book a Sociavore demo here.

 

Take your marketing efforts to a more profitable level by implementing one or more of these creative strategies for your restaurant brand. 

 

Written by Kate Engineer, originally posted on chefconnexion.com.

 

Visit chefconnexion.com for more articles

 

 

 

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 1:11 PM
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The Art of Food Plating

Steak and shrimp plated

The Art of Food Plating

Top tips to raise your plates to new heights

 

You don’t need a fine art degree to execute beautifully presented plates. Somewhere between Chicago restaurant Alinea’s Da Vinci-esque attention to detail and a cafeteria scoop and slap, there is a style of food plating that represents your very own establishment. Plating, like art, is personal and should tell the story of your menu.

 

Menus changed dramatically in the last year to cover losses from restrictions and shutdowns. Entire menus were downsized, menus became hyper-focused and the individual menu items remaining were squeezed to maximize profits. Has your plating adjusted accordingly? 

 

With a splash of art, a touch of math, and a dollop of common sense, you will be on your way to palatable plating. Follow these handy tips:

 

  • Find your focal point. All meals have a focal point. Likely the starting ingredient you used to design the flavour of the dish. Focus on that one ingredient, usually the protein, and build complementary flavours around it. Apply the same principle when plating.
  • Splash some colour. Plate colour should enhance the food. White plates are popular because they provide a blank canvas and great contrast for your dishes. However, a flavour-popping special’s ingredients that lean towards beige would benefit from a coloured plate instead.  Black dinnerware gives a negative contrast matching well with brightly coloured ingredients.
  • The colour of the ingredients can be adjusted for further visual appeal without compromising on design flavour, like using purple fingerling potatoes instead of white.
  • Mix up your texture. Offer different visual textures on the plate by mixing and matching to find a balance. Adjust textures while maintaining flavour. Hard, soft, smooth, grainy, fluffy, flaky and coarse.  
  • Find your best size. Choose plates large enough to accommodate food without overcrowding. Oversized plates offer a dramatic flair but can give the impression of too-small portions. The less on the plate, the more precision required as focus is tight.
  • Scale down. Perception of quantity increases if your portion sizes match the scale of the plates, bowls or platters. Simply put, smaller portions on smaller plates. Reducing portion sizes by 10 per cent but visually filling the plate is good for your bottom line. However, if your dinnerware inventory doesn’t contain the size you need and purchasing a new size is out of the budget, strategic placement and arrangement of smaller portions on larger dishes can still deliver.
  • Follow the rule of thirds. In food, the rule suggests placing the focal point to the left or right side of the plate. Go further and apply a well-used photography rule to your plates (or bowls or platters) no matter the shape or size to artfully showcase your focal ingredient.
  • Work the odd numbers. Although never scientifically proven, many chefs believe an odd number of elements, like shrimp or meatballs, is more visually appealing and gives a perception of more food. Even numbers typically require more precise placement for balance. 
  • Consider shapes. Consider the shape of the food and the plate.  Circles (dots of sauce, a timbale of grains, brussels sprouts) on a square plate add instant drama. Include height and depth.

Common Sense

  • Learn to fit in. How the dish reads on the menu should translate easily to the plate.  The customer shouldn’t be confused as the order is placed on the table. Plating must fit within the capabilities of the kitchen and skill level of staff.A poor choice of plate, its size and colour, can throw off a well-organized kitchen if it doesn’t have a logical place.
  • Watch the trends. Tightening and reducing portion sizes on menus is smart business.  Turn it up to brilliant by marketing your menu as nutritionally balanced to hit those customers craving healthy, tasty and beautiful food.
  • Make it a movable feast. Walk around with your plated meal. Does it move?
  • Step back. However beautiful your plate looks, it always comes down to how it “eats.” Sit in the diner’s chair and dig in. Is it the experience you were aiming for?

Remember:

  • Use a clean plate – no chips, fingerprints, scratches or markings
  • Plate quickly enough to maintain proper food temperature
  • Don’t let food touch the rim
  • Pick a focal point/ingredient
  • Ensure servers know the direction in which the plate should be served

Elevating your food with thoughtful plating gives a memorable first impression before your customers even take a bite. If they grab their cameras before their forks? Your food plating is a masterpiece.

 

Written by Cheri Thompson, originally posted on chefconnexion.com

 

Visit chefconnexion.com for more articles

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 1:06 PM
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Managing guest expectations during times of constant change

Managing guest expectations during times of constant change through effective communications tactics

 

Social media icons on a tablet

 

Keeping your guests informed and up to date about what to expect when dining at your establishment has never been so critical to the success of your foodservice operation. The restaurant industry remains in a state of constant change, and to maximize the allowable dining capacities, you need to up your communications game.  

 

Start off by keeping these key questions top of mind for a more tactical approach to your communications: 

  1. What do guests want to know right now about my restaurant?
  2. How will the message we’re communicating make them feel?
  3. Where and how do they want to receive messages?
  4. How will they respond and how can our team be ready?

Transparency is a Winning Tactic

First and foremost, a transparent and authentic approach is critical in achieving effective communications that will leave your restaurant guests feeling comfortable, safe and informed about the NEW dining experience at your establishment. Be first to share your health and safety procedures, operational changes such as seating and team updates, and menu modifications, so guests know upfront what to expect without having to ask. This tactic will help to demonstrate that your team takes the changing circumstances seriously, you’re informed, and you want to provide the best guest experience. 

 

 

Consistent and Timely Information is Key for Restaurant Marketing

In a recent poll, 59% of respondents shared that they use Google to find out information about a restaurant, while 41% use Instagram.

 

Reservation booking platforms, search engine listings, your website, social media, and review websites all share pertinent information about your restaurant that informs guests decision-making. The information listed on these digital touch points must to be current and consistent for maximum awareness. There is nothing more frustrating for a guest than showing up to find a closed restaurant, when online it says it’s open. 

 

Here is the key information guests are looking when they search; be sure to keep it updated:

  1. Health policies and procedures
  2. Hours of operation and seating times
  3. Menus 
  4. Reservation system 
  5. Takeout and delivery options
  6. Specials 
  7. Contact information

 

 

TIP:  Help reduce email inquiries, direct messages, and phone inquiries by providing a few frequently asked guest questions and up-to-date team responses on your website, Facebook, and Google Business page! 

 

 

Focus on the Fun

It’s easy these days to overuse the pandemic in our communication, however when the time is right, focus on the new and exciting things happening at your restaurant to entice guests back in to dine and continue to take out. New menu items, improved service, seasonal drinks, revamped décor and design, weekend events, and special occasion celebrations are all things to communicate that will remind guests of why they should choose to dine with you versus a competitor.  Promote what you’re best known for, and feature it on all of your communications platforms! 

 

 

Get Even More Social

Social media is your simplest and quickest way to share what’s happening at your establishment with guests, and to spark two-way communication. Up your posting to daily, and share the unique brand experiences that will excite guests the most. With health and safety top of mind for diners, ensure your photography and video content showcase your team following the proper procedures, in order to resolve any guest concerns; transparency is absolutely the best policy. When boosting your social media presence be prepared for increased guest inquiries through direct messages and comments, and have a plan in place to respond within less than 24 hours. The FAQs and responses are also a useful tool when responding on social media. 

 

 

Land in the Inbox

Whether you send monthly emails or have never sent email communication from your brand, now is the time to get in the inbox. You’ll be fighting for space, however email communication is a great tactic to provide more detailed information for guests to help keep them informed of your weekly or monthly happenings. E-newsletters should be short and sweet, with a catchy subject line, and include hyperlinks either back to your website or a direct email for more information. Utilize email communication to feature operational and safety news, menu features, and special events.  

 

 

 

TIP:  Can’t afford a graphic designer? Try Canva at no charge for a well-designed branded e-newsletter you can create in no time. 

 

Guests are eager and excited to get back to in-dining, and the most effective approach to filling your seats is to communicate timely and accurate information that sets a clear guest expectation. Your brand can’t over-communicate right now; it’s time to get loud!

 

Written by Kate Engineer and shared with permission from chefconnexion.com

 

Visit chefconnexion.com for more great tips

 

 

 

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 1:21 PM
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Add smoke flavour to your menu

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: how to add smoke taste to your menu

Smoke on a black background

 

Our love affair with the scent and flavour of smoke is primal, evoking memories from deep within us. Canadian diners continue to be enchanted with all things smoke.  

 

Gone are the days where customers only want smoky flavours associated with BBQ. Smoke continues to waft across menus. Although proteins (both animal and plant-based) continue to dominate the smoky spotlight, this delectable flavour profile now permeates salads, desserts and even drinks.

 

Go all in with in-house smoking or utilize the flavour packed offerings from Canadian suppliers who know their smoke. Fan those delicious smoky flames and ignite your menu.

 

Not fizzling out

 

Smoking and smoke flavours have been around for millennia, but restaurant customers still can’t get enough as smoke continues to waft through menus across the country.

Technomic’s foodservice industry intelligence platform tracks flavours and preparations on menus. And they see smoke!

 

Among the foodservice establishments Technomic tracks, 45% of operators have menu items featuring smoke flavour or smoke preparation methods. And depending on the segments, the rate is even higher. Food Trucks – 75%, Upscale CDR – 68%, Fine Dining – 66%.

 

It all makes sense when you consider that poutine appetizers, specialty burgers, sushi and even breakfast platters boasting this flavour profile continue to show growth. When you look at meal parts, desserts that feature smoke are showing an astonishing 33% growth.

 

Yes, smoke for dessert. And well beyond s’mores, banana boats and mountain pies. How about Smoky Banana Bourbon Bites, Apple Pie with Smoked Cheddar Crust or Smoky Spiced Chocolate Cake?

 

 

Blaze a trail  

Hanging out at the cottage, delighting in bonfires and watching grandpa at the BBQ are fond memories evoked by the smell and taste of smoke for Victoria Horton, sales and quality assurance for Horton Spice Mills.

 

“People love smoky flavours because of the memories. It reminds us of summertime, nice weather and social gatherings.” And who isn’t craving that right now? “The scent gives us a moment to reminisce, but the flavour is delicious and keeps us coming back for more,” she adds. 

 

“Operators should add smoky flavours for the experience,” Horton suggests. “And for the nostalgia.”

 

“Smoking meats and other ingredients takes time. It’s a low and slow process,” she reminds us. “If operators want to achieve dishes with smoky flavours without all the work and time needed, spices and seasonings can do the trick. Add them before, add them after, or both, to whatever you are cooking.”

 

Horton Spice Mills has a few items that can bring smoke to a dish without all the time and effort. How about a Smoky Salted Caramel Pear Tart using their smoked salt. Or a quick Portobello Mushroom Paprikash with smoked paprika.

 

“Our chipotle seasoning adds a hint of smoke and we have created a Smoked Montreal Steak Spice,” says Horton. 

 

All fired up

“Smoky flavours offer a sensory experience like no other,” says Steve Hutchinson, VP of marketing for foodservice for Parmalat/Lactalis.

 

“It’s a flavour adventure not easily replicated with in-home dining and can therefore make dining out an incredible experience. Operators who can create these unique smoky flavour experiences and link it to their signature dishes can keep customers coming back.”

 

Cheese and cheddar are top ingredients paired with smoke. Lactalis takes it a step further with Balderson’s Double Smoked Cheddar. Using it on the menu can impart intense wood smoke flavour, and the fact it pairs well with dark and amber beers, ales and lagers is a bonus.

 

Kick it up a notch higher and pair smoky appetizers with smoke-infused cocktails. A Manhattan, Bloody Mary or Martini will take centre stage when you add smoky elements – infused spirits, smoked ice cubes, smoking the glass or adding a smoked garnish. 

 

Smoke signals

“Differentiation and craveability are key to gaining new customers,” says Unilever Corporate Chef Kyla Tuori, who has been working with operators to help their businesses excel for the past 14 years.

 

“The flavours we associate with “smokiness” add complexity to so many recipes, craveable enough that they are now being incorporated into vegetables dishes,” she says.

 

“Smokiness in your dishes allows for simple, yet impactful, enhancements for a variety of cuisines. Adding smoke flavour, or the process of smoking can be introduced as a subtle background note or leading flavour.”

 

Not all operators have access to smoking equipment or the inclination to add another process to their busy kitchens. But there’s always another way.

 

Says Chef Kyla, “Unilever created the Knorr Intense Flavours Deep Smoke. This concentrated liquid seasoning allows you to easily add the rich smoky taste.” 

 

She also reminds us that yes, smoky is amazing but adding other flavours can further enhance your dishes. Knorr Citrus Fresh Flavour is a great example of a complement to smoky dishes but can also be used multiple places on your menu.

 

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Grab your ingredients, add the fuel of your imagination and creativity, stay true to your brand and add some major heat to your menu.

 

Written by Cherie Thompson and shared with permission from Chef Connexion. For more great articles and recipes visist chefconnexion.com.

 

Visit chefconnexion.com

Flanagan Foodservice at 12:56 PM
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Take steps now to make your restaurant staff feel safe

Take Steps Now to Make your Restaurant Staff Feel Safe

 

Waiter wearing mask and wiping down table

 

It’s a fact. Restaurants across Canada are on the brink of reopening, whether to patio dining, in-restaurant meals, or both. Diners are understandably excited to return to their favourite culinary haunts. But what about restaurant staff, many of whom have been furloughed for part or all of the pandemic? How safe is it for them to return?

 

As Jeff Dover, principal of fsSTRATEGY Inc., says, “Very few cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as spreading in restaurants; this includes areas of the country where indoor dining has been allowed. In short, the restaurant industry was [already] doing a good job of keeping staff safe.”

 


“Very few cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as spreading in restaurants. In short, the restaurant industry was [already] doing a good job of keeping staff safe.”

Jeff Dover, principal of fsSTRATEGY Inc.


 

But keeping restaurant staff safe and having restaurant staff who feel safe are two different things. Canadian Restaurant Workers Coalition has been petitioning provincial governments to improve restaurant workers’ protections like paid sick leave and overtime pay. As reported in the Toronto Star, Not 9 to 5, a non-profit providing resources for mental-health well-being among hospitality workers, recently introduced the Mind Your Health project. The project includes a certification program on workplace safety from a psychological perspective, along with an online survey to collect data on mental-health well-being among hospitality workers.

 

 

Where to start

“The key for me is to ensure that staff wear masks and, even more so, keep six feet apart when possible,” advises Dover. “When staff have to be within six feet (e.g., taking orders, picking up food), the time of exposure should be limited. One of the primary challenges is tight kitchen spaces such as a line with multiple stations not six feet apart. Redesigning the menu to have fewer kitchen stations will help keep the staff safe. COVID-19 is more likely to be transmitted indoors and in close spaces. Redesign your workflows to eliminate or limit such interactions.”

 

Sanitize regularly. Tables, work surfaces, and other areas, both front and back of house. 

Reduce staff sharing. For instance, kitchen staff should never share utensils at back of house. 

 

Change your menuing. Other changes will need to be instituted to ensure the safety of both your guests and your employees. Reusable menus, for instance, may become a thing of the past. Many restaurants, says Dover, are putting QR codes on tables to limit contact with shared items. “When guests request menus, they should be provided with a single use copy. Condiments should not be kept on tables and should be sanitized before use. Cutlery should be rolled and brought to the table after the guests are seated. Simple adjustments like these will assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19 for both guests and staff.”

 

Appoint a COVID-19 point person. “I recommend having someone responsible each shift to ensure COVID-19 prevention practices are adhered to,” says Dover. “This person could also be the go-to for questions about practices being employed to keep customers and staff safe.”

 

Organize vaccination days. A number of restaurant chains in the US have said they are providing pay for staff to get vaccinated and are even helping their employees to book appointments. 

 

Offer paid sick days. This is key, says Dover. “You don’t want staff to come to work when they are not feeling well. Take advantage of federal and provincial paid sick day programs if you can. Paying sick days will be less expensive in the long run than having your restaurant closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.” Should you experience an outbreak, make sure you have records of which employees worked when, along with info on your dine-in restaurant customers and who served them. Contact tracing is key.

 

Ramp up your communication. Let your staff know what you’re doing to keep them safe, and then inform your guests of the steps you’ve introduced to keep them – and your employees – safe. “If you are able to pay sick days, I would communicate it,” Dover advises. “The restaurant chains in the States paying staff (I heard two to four hours) to get vaccinated received great publicity. We have seen in jurisdictions that have opened up that there is significant pent-up demand. However, not all staff will be comfortable working and not all potential customers will be comfortable in dining rooms. Communication on the safety practices being employed will help alleviate any such fears.”

 

Your restaurant safety protocols checklist

Employee safety, testing and validation will be key to successful restaurant reopening. Healthcare and foodservice workers may be required to validate their health status before handling food in the post-COVID-19 environment. Here are some protocols you should initiate to ensure the highest level of safety:

  • A Validated Body Temperature Check and Log for employees before they enter a place of work. These records will need to be maintained or even submitted to a higher authority on a regular basis, following the lead of most healthcare facilities.
  • Food Safe Certification (or comparable) for all foodservice workers. 
  • Face Masks. All food handlers (and maybe even service staff) will be required to wear a protective mask. Ensure you have masks available for all your staff.
  • Hand washing. Training in proper sanitary handwashing must be demonstrated and followed frequently.
  • Sanitary uniforms. Many restaurants require uniforms but leave them up to employee. Gone may be that favourite Che T-shirt as a uniform of choice, along with unwashed shoes, baseball caps, or cargo pants and shorts, as operators pivot to requiring uniforms laundered daily and professionally, and not left in staff lockers or change rooms. 
  • Work surface sanitation protocol and records. Sanitizing of work surfaces, equipment and documentation of all protocols is recommended.
  • HACCP enforcement. Temperature and travel logs must become second nature. HACCP (time temperature tracking) will become the most critical safety/sanitation issue in the future. 
  • New procedures for clean dishes, flatware and glassware. Flatware must be free of contamination before menu items are plated and delivered to a guest. Discuss with your chemical service providers how to ensure products and equipment are safe for staff and guests.
  • Health inspections. Develop a plan to interact more with your local health department. Involve chefs and managers to create a flow of information.
  • Focus on safe distances between employees. The typical design of a restaurant leads to the smallest amount of kitchen space to accomplish the job – leaving more space for revenue generation out front.
  • Seek opportunities for menu change or equipment location swap to increase safe distancing in the kitchen and service area. While 2 metre social distancing may not be possible at all times, plan to incorporate more space.
  • Rethink your staffing. Use the opportunity to rehire as many of your good staff as possible, but also consider adding new and better hires with more experience. Will you be continuing to offer delivery? Make sure you have the right staff for your right jobs.

 

Written by Jane Auster and shared with permission from chefconnexion.com

 

Visit chefconnexion.com

 

 

 

 

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 1:45 PM
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