The Restaurant Group Blog

Use Customer Tracking to Keep Up with Local Consumer Trends

Customer Tracking

You’ve opened your restaurant, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of customers to start streaming in. They start showing up, singly, in pairs, or in large groups, and they seem happy with the experience. But when they leave, you may never see them again. If you aren’t keeping track of your new customers, you could be missing a serious cog in the revenue-making machine.

Customer Tracking Helps You Understand Your Consumers

Gone are the days of consumer complacency. These days, your customers want the best you have to offer. But offering the best isn’t as simple as it sounds – what exactly is “the best”? How can you improve the restaurant experience? What kind of customers like to frequent your place, anyway? Keeping track of your customers, through loyalty programs, social media, or even simple feedback cards, provides an invaluable understanding of your consumers.

Customer Tracking Heads off Dissatisfaction

When you know what your customers want, you are less likely to receive complaints. And when you have good feedback mechanisms in place, such as a Facebook page and even an email address where they can directly reach you, you are more likely to appease unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback and for a locally owned restaurant, negative feedback can mean the virtual death of your online reputation.

Customer Tracking Reminds Hungry Consumers That You’re Open

Customer tracking is a two-way street; it allows your customers to interact with you, and it allow you to reach out to them. Simply asking for customers’ email addresses can allow you to periodically send them alerts when you have a new menu item, a special is going on, or hours of operation are changing. Send these emails out at just the right times and to just the right customers – think late Friday afternoon for families, and Monday at happy hour for college students and you will begin to see an increase in the amount of repeat business at your restaurant.

Without Customer Tracking, You Can Only Rely on Chance

Customer tracking gives you the boost your restaurant needs to thrive. Without it, you are an island floating in the ocean of chance, just waiting to see what the next wave will bring. Get personal with your customers, and they will have a reason to keep coming back to your place of business.

 

For assistance with your restaurant contact a TRG Restaurant Consultant.

Beverage Trends 2017: Coffee

Beverage Trends – Coffee

Beverage Trends Coffee

Are You Offering Fresh Coffee?

Is your drink menu full of only standard options and written in at the bottom of your menu corner? If so, you may want to consider adding in coffee, or a few coffee options, to join the growing market of restaurants that feature coffee as an all-day option and has a growing customer base of people stopping in to get a drink and a snack or to do some work at your tables.

A sort of Starbucks phenomenon is taking place in a wide variety of restaurants. Consumers aren’t always looking for a full sit-down meal or even a meal through the drive-thru window. A lot of the time, especially if your restaurant offers free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi with purchase, what customers really want as a place to sit down with or swing by for a hot coffee, a cold coffee, or any sort of the numerous customizable drinks that have become increasingly popular. While coffee is still predominantly associated with breakfast and business offices, it is increasingly a universal drink  that can draw in a crowd — especially if you offer novelty, convenience, or both. Customers are looking for hot coffee for their commute, a cold drink for the afternoon, or sometimes even a late-night pick-me-up for when office hours or studying stretch out. Being the local restaurant or the reliable franchise that offers what your customers are looking for consistently can go a long way to not only retaining customer loyalty but bringing in customers looking for a snack or a quick meal, too.

It used to be that drinks accompany a meal. But with new trends, new consumer behavior, and increasing numbers of people working on the go, it’s turning out that everything else may be accompanying the drink. If you are looking to expand or want to further capitalize on this market of busy coffee drinkers, our consultants at TRG can help you devise new business strategies, start an operational analysis, and see where your business can grow now and in the future. Please contact us at TRG Restaurant Consulting if you have any questions or want to talk to a consultant.

2016 Beverage Trend Review

2016 beverage trends

We’re crazy about all things restaurants here at TRG. Forecasting trends, real time analysis, and review and reporting are our bread and butter as restaurant consultants. With the end of 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest 2016 beverage trends. No surprise, locally sourced ingredients tops the list (as we’re sure they will continue to), while thoughtfully composed mocktails have been a hit, and renewed fanaticism in Tiki has been a win on both sides of the bar. Read on to check out our full list of 2016 Beverage trends.

 

2016 beverage trends artisanal cocktails

Local and Artisanal Ingredients

The beverage world of 2016 has seen a continued move away from complicated ingredients, preparations, and presentations. Master mixologists with their overdone drinks are out, while fresh, simple, and local ingredients are in. Aside from local breweries and wineries, the likes of small batch tonic, ginger beer, and liqueurs have now made it to the big stage, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

 

2016 beverage trends cocktails

Mocktails

Long gone are the days of virgin daiquiris and margaritas as the only non-alcoholic cocktails options. Mocktails today are being crafted with equal attention to detail and composition as their boozy counterparts, utilizing savory elements such as herbs, as well as more premium ingredients like non-alcoholic falernum.

 

2016 beverage trends tiki cocktails

Tiki

Perhaps in attempt to pay homage to the cocktail kings and queens who paved the way,  bartenders today have gone tiki-crazy. A quick glance at the high end cocktail bars of San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Boston show rifts on tiki-classics from the likes of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. With approachable flavors and ingredients, historical relevance, and eye catching presentations, Tiki drinks are a beverage trend here to stay.

 

2016 beverage trends OAC rum

Rum

Forget the spiced Captain Morgan handle you used to swig in college and make room for the new era of rums. A neutral spirit capable of many forms and expressions, today’s rums are on a broad spectrum with everything from Jamaican rum to Demerara rum and  AOC-protected rhum agricole. Complex and versatile, the past year has seen this once-forgotten spirit back in action.

 

2016 beverage trends draft cocktail

Draft Cocktails

Imagine being able to turn out a whole sleuth of good drinks – fast. Welcome to the world of Draft Cocktails. Bartenders prep and batch drinks prior to service so that a pull on the draft handle is all you need for a perfected composted cocktail. The advantages here are many, speed and efficiency topping the list, but be sure to keep an eye on things like proper scaling, dilution, and clean tap lines.

 

2016 beverage trends lower abv drinks

Lower ABV Drinks

Two martini lunches a la Don Draper are a thing of the past. Guests now are happy to enjoy sake, sherry, vermouth, and wine based cocktails and still be able to drive home. These are great bridges for non-cocktail drinkers, and a valuable tool for restaurants without a full alcohol license.

5 Great Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant in 2016

Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant

 

Restaurant Marketing

 

As a busy operator making decisions about how to best market your restaurant brand often takes a backseat to the day to day business of running your operation. And, in a marketing world that is constantly evolving, learning the ins and outs of new strategies is difficult. Moreover, figuring out how to deploy them for your restaurant may seem overwhelming and impossible. But, armed with a few new and emerging ideas and some straightforward implementation ideas, restaurant managers and owners can leverage the best of the current marketing trends to raise brand awareness and increase traffic and revenues.

Let’s explore 5 powerful, cutting edge ideas and strategies and how you can put them to work for your restaurant.

 

Get Visual

Visual content in the form of videos, animated GIFS and short-form looping videos such as Vines allow restaurants to engage their target audience in a completely new and interesting way. Restaurants have a unique opportunity to create rich visual content through action videos both in the front of the house and the kitchen and through special events, cooking classes, charity tie-ins and community involvement for example. By promoting their own branded video content on their website and on social media, restaurants can create brand building campaigns that raise awareness and invite customer interaction in ways not possible before.

Email marketing, which remains one of the most effective and cost friendly marketing methods for restaurants, takes on a entirely new dimension with the addition of quality, short animation and video content. Look to an email service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact to make creating robust email campaigns easy.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 1

Get Mobile

The mobile movement isn’t coming. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. In fact, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches well over a year ago (see graph) and searches for local businesses make up the majority.

Consumers are making buying decisions on the go making it especially important for restaurant websites to be mobile-friendly. It’s not enough to just be found when potential customers are looking for a restaurant to visit. You must have a website that offers up the information they are seeking in an easy to navigate, “thumb-friendly” format. Your menu, location, hours and contact information must be easily accessible and your website experience must be seamless and smooth. Make it hard for your online visitors and they will bounce off your site and move on to your competitor.

Mobile websites are easily attainable and a responsive site, meaning one that adapts to the device being used to access it, can accommodate simple and inexpensive online ordering and reservation applications.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 2

Get Content

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, coined by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, “Content is King” and, without a doubt, it still holds true.

There is no substitute for quality content on your website in optimizing your site for search and reaching your target market. Great content is characterized by its laser focus on specific groups and their interests. It must be original, interesting, informative and easy for your potential restaurant customers to digest. Being well written and free of misspellings and grammatical errors goes without saying.

The time and/or money spent creating or acquiring great content is well worth the investment but savvy marketers are finding new paths to great content by encouraging user generated content on their sites. Content generated by your website visitors or social media followers can come in the form of comments, tweets, images, video clips, reviews, etc. Either way, good quality content is imperative to make a solid mark on the digital landscape.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 3

Get Social

Restaurants that fully engage a social media strategy can connect with their customers in a very direct and personal way. Having a strategy for social media doesn’t mean employing every form. It involves choosing which platforms will be most effective for your brand and utilizing social media as part of a larger marketing strategy for your restaurant.

Each platform offers something unique and has certain attributes that fit with particular brands. Facebook is well suited for restaurants because of its wide appeal and range of features such as photo and video sharing, event creation, reviews, groups, chat and presence technology which allows members to see which contacts are online and, most recently, where they are located.

Creating a page gives you the ability to promote your restaurant through both organic means and affordable paid advertising. Creating events allows you to publicize, invite guests and track those planning to attend.

Live-streaming video through Facebook and other applications such as Periscope and Meerkat is a great way to tap into your audience in a spontaneous and meaningful way. You can use it to share live events in your restaurant or action in the kitchen such as cooking demos for example.

Followers can interact with your brand in a variety of ways and the ability to connect social media to your other marketing efforts exponentially expands your reach.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 4

Get Personal

The days of the anonymous customer are over. Our connected society is digitally engaged in each other and the brands they are interested in. How you interact with your customers must transcend the transaction and enter into the relationship status if you want to create brand ambassadors. Getting to know your customers and what resonates with them is the key to developing an effective marketing strategy for your restaurant.

How do restaurateurs gain an understanding of what motivates their community of customers and personalize marketing to them? By mining information from their POS systems, social media interactions and other data which is now easy to access and understand.

Tools such as Google Trends allow you to access data at a local level in order to understand what’s on the minds of your target market. Google Trends is a dynamic and easy to use platform that will only cost you, as a restaurant operator, a little of your time. From this data you can gain valuable insights to help you chart the course of your marketing months ahead and keep your concept relevant, fresh and on the cutting edge.

In the future personalized, relationship oriented, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important so start thinking about how you will connect with your customers in this way.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 5

Get Going

The marketing world around us is evolving rapidly and while it may seem too complicated to engage and understand the long term success of your restaurant depends on you not just keeping up but getting ahead of it. That being said, you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order get onboard. Chances are by better utilizing the tools you already have and adding in some new and exciting applications you can create a compelling and effective marketing plan. Take some time to add some new ideas and applications to your marketing toolbox and watch your business grow in 2016 .

 

For More Restaurant Marketing Advice Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting.

Innovative Restaurant Technologies

The perennial advancements of technology, never cease to captivate and astonish the diehard enthusiasts of innovation and advancement. At this year’s 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas every year, besides the usual parade of electronic gadgetry, storied introductions of product previews, and climactic announcements of nascent technology for improving the quality of life in general, the food service industry took center stage with numerous technological developments in the way food is processed. The organizers of CES call them Smart Kitchen Innovations. The list that follows provides highlights of some of the most important features of these kitchen devices.

IRS Restaurant Service Charge vs Tips (REV. Ruling 2012-18)

Photo by: VXLAVXLA
Photo by: VXLA

How does the 2014 IRS Rev. Ruling 2012-18 affect restaurant service staff and restauranteurs?

2014 has brought many changes to the restaurant industry and one of the most buzzed about topics is Rev. Ruling 2012-18 according to news channel WFAA. This ruling implies that restauranteurs must differentiate between automatic gratuities and voluntary tips which can ultimately cost restaurants big bucks. Any sort of gratuity that compels patrons to automatically pay an additional percentage on their meals and services is no longer considered a tip and must be calculated as part of a server’s wages.

The State of the Craft Beer Industry’s Growth

Craft Beer Industry
Photo by Jono Haysom

Craft Beer History

Brewing craft beer has been a long-held tradition for centuries throughout European history, but breweries slowly crept over to the States as people migrated west. Because of prohibition and other various factors, craft beer breweries have trickled in and out of America over the past few decades, but in recent years the craft beer movement has expanded its reach in America and today’s breweries appear to be here to stay.

Online Marketing for Restaurants “do’s and don’ts”

Restaurant Marketing

Currently, the top marketing trend for restaurateurs involves the use of social media sites. Facebook of course heads the list of the top most popular and successful sites to advertise on.

However, Google+ and Twitter have become equally as important. The key to making these sites work for you is in making a commitment to maintain and follow up with key information on a daily basis; otherwise like any other tool when not utilized properly results will be unstable at best. While many business owners see this as just another chore, having a successful Facebook presence can increase revenue as well as your customer base. If done right, using social media for marketing can be easy and profitable.

Is a Restaurant Consultant Right For Your Business?

Restaurant consultant
Image credit: National Restaurant Association. www.restaurant.org

If  you’re Considering a Restaurant Consultant for your Business, you are not alone.

39% of restaurants in the US have used a consultant.

Most restaurant consultants are not like Gordon Ramsey, by far. After all, a consultant’s job is not to increase a TV show’s ratings by creating drama. Instead, a restaurant professional consultant’s main role is to guide and assist owners in their business.

5 Tips To Lower Your Restaurant Food and Beverage Costs

Food and Beverage CostsThis is one of the most frequently asked questions from restaurant owners and operators;

“How can I lower my food and beverage costs?”

In this article we will provide 5 effective steps you can take towards lowering your food and beverage costs. This outline encompasses the basic steps needed to get you on the right path to a more profitable business.  You will also find we have provided a very useful Menu Analysis Template to your use. You may download it for free in section 5 below.

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