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10 Creative Marketing Strategies

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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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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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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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Serve your Diners on a Winning Patio

Restaurant patio with plant on table

Get Ready for Patio Season!

 

Whether you are seating 10 guests or more in a physically distanced space, creating an outdoor patio environment that is just as good as your indoor guest experience should be the key focus throughout your patio planning.

 

The space may be temporary, but guests’ experiences are long-lasting and so are their memories, so it is remains critical to a restaurant brand’s overall success to invest sufficient planning and development to create a seamless dining experience.

 

By being thorough in designing and executing your perfect patio experience, you will be in an ideal position to attract diners.

 

Daniel Lemin, Strategy & Analytics Lead at Convince & Convert, says, “When choosing a restaurant, GenZ and Millennials are 99% more likely to rely on social media and online reviews than are GenX and Boomers.” By being thorough in designing and executing your perfect patio experience, you will be in an ideal position to attract these diners.

 

Seasonal patios often pose many challenges for restaurateurs. Should you install heat lamps for cooler nights? What’s the seating plan? How do you schedule wait staff for patio season? What patio trends make sense to your restaurant brand?

 

There are many considerations in how you approach your patio to ensure it is “the place to be seen” this summer with many Instagrammable moments. To create this winning formula, you must consider important factors from an operational perspective as well as the details of the atmosphere.

 

What you serve inside, you serve outside

Be prepared for your kitchen to handle the extra capacity. Consider your current equipment capacity, the amount of space in refrigeration and storage, as well as your team’s skill level. A streamlined offering or change of purpose for the area is a better option than having your customers wait an extra 30 minutes for food because you cannot execute to expectations.

 

Stock up!

From plate ware, glassware and cutlery to napkins, to-go containers and chopsticks, all items need to be stocked up to support the additional seats to service. Be prepared by ordering in advance, as suppliers tend to get busy with patio orders as spring approaches.

 

Need more staff, but how much?

Calculate the number of shifts per week this will add to your front-of-house schedule and determine the date your new staff need to be hired and trained by. Then work back from that date to allow for enough time for hiring and training.

 

TIP: Hire gradually over a few months to alleviate the pressure of mass training to allow new staff to get comfortable and ready for patio season. It does incur higher labour costs on the front end, but will pay off with greater productivity and less turnover throughout the summer.

 

Your patio design, décor and overall outdoor experience are the fun part of the planning process, and also what define your patio as a place to be and shared on social media.

 

So, what are the “rules” of patio design?

 

Know the laws

Each province and municipality has different laws on what restaurants can serve, how they serve it, when they serve it, and where they serve it. Some local laws prohibit outdoor bars while others require partitions or café barriers around sidewalk seating. Educating yourself on local laws and obtaining permits sounds about as appetizing as a spam and prune salad, but it’s a crucial part of the process. Punishments violating local laws and not having proper permits can range from a citation to fines or even closure. Before you start building your outdoor patio, research your local laws and be sure to obtain the proper permits.

 

Design your seating plan

Your gut instinct might be to place as many tables and chairs in your patio design as possible. After all, more tables mean more customers and more revenue, right? Not necessarily. Make sure you have ample space between tables and chairs for both servers and guests to manoeuvre through your restaurant’s outdoor seating, struggle free. A cramped floor plan can take away significantly from the patio experience and have a negative effect on sales.

 

As well, ensure your patio can take advantage of a view if you have it with as many seats possible. Obviously, these will be in high demand and the more you can take advantage of the view, the more you can mitigate potential customers being upset. If a view is not part of the patio experience, use high walls to create a more intimate experience. Some of the best patios are ones in parking lots that have used this strategy to make you feel like you are in an oasis.

 

Find appropriate furniture

TIP: Do NOT reuse your interior table and chairs for your patio.

 

A patio requires patio furniture made of durable materials that can hold up to the wear and tear of the outdoors. Look for furniture that’s weatherproof and easy to clean. If space and storage are an issue, opt for stackable chairs. Additionally, make sure your patio furniture jives with your restaurant’s décor and atmosphere. For example, if you run a high-end restaurant, you may want to reconsider outfitting your patio with foldable plastic chairs.

 

Patio pitfalls

When serving outdoors, you must be prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store. You’ll need solutions for keeping bugs away, providing shade from the sun, keeping your diners warm on cooler evenings, and of course what to do in case of rain! Your weather preparation plans can significantly add or detract from the outdoor dining experience.

 

Patio perfection

Acceptable restaurant patios have these basics and essentials mastered, but great restaurant patios take it a step further. Give your outdoor seating a personal touch to distinguish yourself in the market. Enhance your diners’ experience with food and bar specials, live music or yard games. A restaurant patio that’s well planned, unique, and full of character can quickly turn those one-time customers into regulars and boost profitability. And remember, 35% of Canadians prefer to visit a restaurant or bar when going out with family and friends – far ahead of the second-favourite option, outdoor activities, selected by 23% of Canadians (Source: Restaurants Canada-sponsored poll). Canadians will come if you build your patio the right way.

 

When all these items are considered in your patio planning, the result will be a patio experience that customers will remember and great word of mouth for your brand. With your operational overhead covered by your revenue inside, a well-operated patio can add 30% profitability on the additional revenue brought in. It can be very lucrative indeed to ensure these details are part of your plan to create the perfect patio experience!

 

Written by Sephen Hamelin and shared with permission from Chef Connexion.  

 

Visit chefconnexion.com for more great articles!

 

 

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 8:21 AM
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What’s the true cost of proteins?

What’s the true cost of proteins?

Cooked steak on white background

Centre-of-plate proteins are some of the most expensive ingredients. Implementing strategies to lower food costs without sacrificing quality and presentation can help your bottom line while feeding creativity and inspiration in the kitchen. Selecting less expensive cuts, marinating with creative sauces, creating soups and stews, and choosing sides that complement well while providing exceptional value are just some of the ways to tame the food cost beast.

 

Contribution to margin 

Rather than deciding what proteins to use based solely on food cost percentage, consider contribution to margin by subtracting food cost from your selling price. “By working from a contribution to margin calculation, operators can more clearly see how customers might choose one item over another if the value isn’t strong enough on price point,” says James Keppy, national culinary chef, Maple Leaf Foods. “It also illustrates how paying attention to pricing can make the difference between making a sale or not, and to your overall sales and profit margin.”  

“Do you go to a lower grade or a smaller portion?” Keppy asks. “Does it have to be a 10-ounce steak or could it be an eight-ounce? If you go to a smaller cut, then you can add protein with chick peas and lentil options. And by keeping your sides flexible, you add ability to respond to food cost pressures.” 

 

 

Fresh vs frozen

No surprise, fresh product is time-limited. Frozen cases offer more flexibility since you can take out as many bags as you need without fearing that the rest will spoil. This flexibility enables you to plan ahead, forward buy, and more accurately assess your needs.

 

Remember that markets dictate price, and by understanding the fluctuations, operators can gain maximum pricing advantage. Supply and demand pushes steak prices up during grilling season; hips and chucks begin to rise in August based on future bookings for delivery in October.

 

The AAAs have it

According to meat experts, a well-aged AA program will produce higher value steak than a lesser-aged AAA program. A quality product depends on proper aging, but if you age AA and AAA beef in the same ways, the AAA will offer a consistent, flavourful and juicy product.

 

Working with chicken? Test for yield.
Do your due diligence and carry out a proper yield test on your raw chicken breast to see cooking loss against a competitor, Keppy recommends. “The loss can be significant if you are buying an inexpensive frozen chicken breast. Protein is reduced by the amount of water that is added and that water is purged out leaving a smaller cooked product.”

 


 

“It is the sign of a good cook who can prepare tougher cuts.”

James Keppy, national culinary chef, Maple Leaf Foods

 


Lesser cuts can mean more profit

Offering a skirt steak or top sirloin in place of tenderloin, or a chicken thigh instead of chicken breast can make a great meal with even more flavour, Keppy says. “It is the sign of a good cook who can prepare tougher cuts. Depending on your operation, a value-added product may be the best answer because of the staff savings, portioning and hold times that can balance off a raw product with labour, cook time and waste.”

 

Celebrate the story

Canadian meats are among the best in the world. By proclaiming place of origin on menus, operators can build pride and customer loyalty.

 

Quick tips

TIP: Build a feature menu item. Try offering a mix grill with three smaller servings of protein like a three-ounce chicken breast, a small dinner sausage, and three-ounce piece of steak.


TIP: Work your seasonings. A cheaper cut marinated and seasoned properly can show off your talents as much as a top cut.

 

 

Visit chefconnexion.com for more great articles

 

 

Written by Lawrence Herzog

A writer, photographer and broadcaster for 30+ years, Lawrence Herzog is an experienced and accomplished communications professional with a specialty in foodservice and tourism. He was editor of Flavours magazine and contributing editor of Your Foodservice Manager magazine.

 

 

 

 

Flanagan Foodservice at 12:05 PM
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