The Restaurant Group Blog

Opening A New Restaurant: The Right Way

Opening a restaurant the right way

Is there a wrong way to open a restaurant? Indeed there is, as indicated by the high failure rate of new restaurants.

A popular belief is that 90% of restaurants fail within the first year. Whether this is true or not, no one knows. However, a study by Ohio State University indicated that 60% of new restaurants crumble after the first year, while 80% do not make it past five years.

Such dire statistics beg the question, “What should you do differently?” “How do you start a restaurant and ensure it succeeds?”

First Create a Business Plan and Do an Adequate Feasibility Study

The agreed-upon starting point of all the great businesses is to have a well drawn out business plan followed up by a study to determine if the plan is practical.

Next, Find The Right Partner to Guide You Through Concept Development

“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” said a wise man. Concept development ensures that your restaurant does not stay as merely a wish. It moves you forward by helping you come up with a long-term plan of action that perfectly aligns with your goals.

Essentially, the partner you hire will help you conceptualize your set business goals, trim the unnecessary, and strictly focus on what will guarantee success.

Select The Right Site

The benefits of starting right are well-known. With a new restaurant, picking the ideal location is the starting point that helps ensure you do not become a failure statistic.

You must analyze the demographic data of a location, examine tax data audits from nearby competitors to spot trends and consider security issues. Simply stated, research once, and then do it again and again.

With that done, and convinced you have the perfect location, it is time to consider the next step.

Develop A Restaurant Design That Works

Arguably, this the most exciting step. Beware though, because this is a step that trips many. While you might have an interesting and elaborate design in your mind, it might not necessarily be what’s best for your restaurant.

The best thing is to get an experienced consultant who will help you marry your designs with what the industry demands, and to see what has worked for other successful restaurants.

Create an Attractive Menu

If you’re starting a restaurant, you more likely have a great passion for food. Bring that passion when developing your menu, but also be very deliberate. Be sure you are offering unique menu options that your competitors do not provide.

Opening A New Restaurant The Right Way-TRG Restaurant Consultants Design Development Startup

Contact TRG Restaurant Consultants for assistance with your restaurant startup.

 

Restaurant Trends – Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants

Restaurant Trends - Third-Party Delivery

As Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants, Customer Base Broadens

 

Move over Domino’s, there’s a whole lot of restaurants doing delivery these days. 

A recent Los Angeles Times article about an NPD Group study reports an explosion of delivery by restaurants through third-party aggregators such as UberEats and GrubHub. In fact, the industry has seen a 20% increase over the last five years, according to Warren Solochek, NPD’s senior vice president of industry relations. NPD Group is a market research firm that recently published the study which monitored trends in food delivery between 2012 and 2017.

From the local deli to the big McDonald’s, why are so many jumping on the delivery bandwagon?

Looking at the study, Solochek believes more people are staying home, comfortable on the couch, streaming content all night long. Fewer people seem to want to bother with even fast-food drive-thrus, and restaurants are feeling it. “Restaurants have had to do something to get people to continue to use their product,” Solochek says.

Do the commissions to the third-parties pay for themselves?

Hard to say, yet, but the customer base broadens as people try restaurants they wouldn’t otherwise know about, much less drive out of their way to try. “If a restaurant isn’t in your neighborhood, you may not venture into that restaurant, so with delivery, we’re able to expand a store’s customer base,” said Jessica Lachs, of DoorDash.

Delivery is probably here to stay.

Kate Rogers reports for CNBC in “Postmates generates $1.2 billion since 2017, as on-demand economy heats up,” that this isn’t a trend, and experts like R.J. Hottovy, senior restaurant and retail analyst at Morningstar, believe it is here to stay, especially in urban markets. “I think where delivery works is really a byproduct of the market itself, how densely populated it is and spending patterns of consumers,” says Hottovy. “There’s been a debate over whether this is a fad or not, but I don’t think it’s going away.”

To find out if delivery services are the right addition to your marketing efforts, call or visit us at TRG.

What Restaurants Are Doing to Try and Lure Millennials

Restaurant Millennials

With millennials expected to outnumber baby boomers by 2019, it follows that businesses are desperate to capture and keep the attention of this social media-loving generation. Restaurants are no different.

Just Two Weeks Ago, At the Beginning of This Month, Applebee Released an ASMR Video on YouTube Aimed at Millennials

ASMR is an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a tingling sensation often experienced at the back of one’s neck when watching or listening to something that affects you deeply.

The video by Applebee is an hour-long video of different proteins sizzling and cooking over a grill. The idea is that consumers will connect with the sounds and visuals of the cooking protein and identify with the brand’s comfort food.

So far, the video has been viewed 4000 times. An executive at the Applebee insists that the only way to capture the attention of millennials is to be a bit different and think of social media from a broader perspective.

Whether it works is a question yet to be answered, so we can only wait and see.

A Restaurant Conference in Chicago Recently Addressed How to Build Loyalty Among Millennial Customers

The Restaurant Revenue Growth Conference via notable speakers attempted to help restaurateurs generate ideas that connect with millennials and are in line with 2018 consumer trends. Numerous restaurateurs attended because they understood how important it is to capture Millennials.

Verdict

Across the United States, restaurants are coming up with different strategies to try and attract the Millennials. Social media is no longer enough, it requires something else, something different.

While the above strategies might not work for you, it’s critical that as a restaurant owner, you find ways to do the same because there is clearly a need for the restaurant industry to capture the attention of Millennials.

 

Restaurant Consumer Trends: Dealing With Declining Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends - Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends

 

At your restaurant, you may have noticed a phenomenon that is definitively occurring nationally: lunch business is sagging a bit more than it used to.

According to market research firm NPD, lunch visits were down 4 percent at the end of the year, a notable decline in a broader context that has restaurant business in general sagging at all times of the day.

Why Lunch is Losing its Luster

Simply put, people have fewer reasons to leave their homes. Busy office workers are turning into busy home office workers, no longer commuting to business districts that tend to support a healthy community of restaurants. Working from home increased 24 percent over the last decade.

On the more casual end, one-time lunch customers who used to work in brick-and-mortar retail are largely moving out of that flagging sector and taking on work as subcontractors. Rideshare drivers, online customer service, and many more options are filling up the economic strata that once had a regular base of workers commuting to the same location every single day.

How to Attract New Lunch Diners

Value is the main driver. Yet diners aren’t looking for the cheapest food possible; fast food restaurants have also seen a decline during this same period because while people are dining out less, they’ve also raised their standards.

Here’s how restaurants can improve their lunch business: Customers want consistent quality, for lower prices. This is a tough proposition for restaurants to meet, but it isn’t impossible. Smaller lunch menus built around the most popular dishes lower overall food costs, streamline kitchen operations, simplify the server’s role, and keep regular customers happy due to all of those facts combining at once.

Focus on serving a few great dishes you know your customers love, cut out the food waste inherent to maintaining a larger menu, and you’ll likely see greater earnings on your lunch business overall.

 

For help with your restaurant contact TRG Restaurant Consultants.

5 Things Every Restaurant Owner Must Know

Open a Restaurant

 

Owning opening a restaurant is a fun and exciting experience. However, there are things that everyone must be aware of going into the business. Here are the five most crucial things every restaurant owner must know before opening.

1. Know Your Concept- To be successful, a restaurant needs a clear concept. Often, people go into the restaurant business knowing what food they like to eat or cook, but fail to have a clear image of things like atmosphere, dining style, and decor. To begin, a restaurant owner must develop a concept statement. A concept statement will include your culinary theme in terms that are broad enough for menu versatility but narrow enough for identity. Next, describe the atmosphere and dining style. Dining styles to consider are buffet, casual, fast food, bistro, cafe, counter service, and fine dining. Finally, your concept will be complete when you choose the decor that provides cohesion of the menu, atmosphere, and dining style.

2. Know Your Customers – Identifying your target market is a crucial step. To do so, you must understand how your restaurant concept will appeal to this group. Think about your customer in terms of demographics like gender, age, race or ethnicity, income level and geographic location. These factors will determine to whom you will market restaurant and help you develop successful advertising campaigns. It will also serve as a guide for you to use as you further develop your concept.

3. Know Your Community – It is important to know the community in which your restaurant is located to best determine hours of operation, peak hours, pricing strategies, and special promotions. If you are located in a bedroom community you could expect to have a larger evening and weekend service, whereas a community of retirees would be markedly different than a college town.

4. Know the Rules – The restaurant business operates under a number of regulations from the health department to regulations involving pay. There will be state and local regulations as well. You must ensure that you are in compliance with all these rules and regulations before you can expect success. A few employment regulations to be aware of are the minimum wage and tips reporting requirement. Depending on the size of your workforce you need to also be aware of human resources issues such as documentation of employees and discriminatory hiring practices.

5. Know Your Bottom Line – Most people that go into the restaurant business, do so for the love of the food, not for the love of crunching numbers. Understanding the business side of things, however, is one of the most important things a restaurant owner should do from the start. If you are new to the industry, taking classes in hospitality management and hiring an experienced management staff are two important first steps.

To learn more about the restaurant and hospitality industry and to discover how we can make your dreams of restaurant ownership a reality, connect with us today.

The Perfect Recipe For Maximizing Your Restaurant’s Potential – Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

 

It takes so much more than a few outstanding recipes or a single acclaimed chef on the payroll to raise your restaurant’s visibility in the ever-growing dining-out market.  With the public being educated by cooking shows that feature some of the world’s most beloved chefs, the bar is now raised, the gauntlet thrown, for dining-out experiences.

When patrons choose your establishment to spend their hard-earned money, they now expect the best; greeted warmly upon entry, seated quickly, immaculate and spotless table settings, something to “take the edge off” while awaiting drinks and appetizers.  If customers are comfortably seated and eagerly scanning the menu, that’s great–but if the meal and FOH service don’t meet their high expectations, the rest of their visit may soon be forgotten.

While FOH is the first impression your customers have of your eatery, your BOH must run like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes.  Efficient planning, productive prep and wait staff, proper equipment and counter space are obvious needs. Is your pantry well-stocked, freezers and coolers running at peak efficiency? Does your kitchen comply with all state and local health codes?  Is your staff properly trained, in the right place at the right time, willing and able to do what is necessary to keep things moving at all times?

How does your restaurant rate? Are unoccupied tables a reason for concern?  Is your menu trending? Does your wait staff ensure repeat business or are you losing ground due to poor productivity? Word-of-mouth advertising offers the most profit and potential for increased sales, and at TRG Restaurant Consulting, we look at your business, tell you what’s working and what needs an overhaul. We tell you what people are saying and show you ways to maximize your presence in a highly competitive field.  Let us help your restaurant set the bar for high standards in your community. Contact us today for an in-depth Operations Analysis, tailored to your specific needs.

Various industry leaders take credit for the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out-of-the-way.” Now it’s your turn.

Feasibility Studies – The Best Way to Maximize Restaurant Success

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Restaurant Feasibility Study

Starting any project or venture in the restaurant industry is a massive risk, and failure is common. Luckily, there is a way to pre-check the potential success of a new restaurant; it is called a feasibility study. As the name suggests, a feasibility study examines whether or not a project is feasible with the provided resources. Although there are many benefits to a feasibility study, the main ones are as follows:

Optimal Location

Feasibility studies examine multiple potential locations, as well as potential issues with said locations. Everything about these places is taken into account, from the demographics and foot traffic in the area to any natural or man-made barriers that could potentially affect business. For example, if one potential site is in a city center and another is on the outskirts of the same city, there will be different needs within the demographic. A feasibility study would take these demands into account and provide the best location for a specific restaurant.

Competition

When deciding whether or not to move forward with a restaurant project, considering any potential competition is crucial. A feasibility study will consider both direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition is a company that produces a virtually identical service, while indirect competition is a company whose service could satisfy the same need. By examining both types of competition, a feasibility study can provide the most accurate picture of any potential competitors.

Staffing and Management Advice

Excellent staff can keep a restaurant running smoothly, and heighten the experience for customers. On the other hand, bad staff can quickly tank a profitable venture. A feasibility study can show the staffing potential of a project, as well as provide specific staffing and management advice for the restaurant. This helps avoid any staffing issues, as well as boosting the abilities of managers and staff.

A feasibility study will provide the best options for any new venture. If you think a feasibility study would help your project idea, feel free to contact us at TRG for more information.

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.

Menu Development – Increase Your Restaurant Revenue

Increase Your Restaurant Revenue During Off-peak Hours  Menu Development

Snacking is not just for in-between meals – Menu development for the next generation

 

Over the past decade, eating habits are shifting in response to a shift in the American culture and lifestyle. In 2014, Bloomberg did a study that indicated people are spending almost as much money dining out than eating at home. The possibilities for increasing profits may lie in the way people are eating today. The demand for quick, healthy snacks are on the rise among people who like to eat a few small meals a day.

 

Changing Menu Preferences

The Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report highlights the importance of snacking and reveals some opportunities for restaurants to increase market share in this space by capitalizing on the trends. The report indicates that 60 percent of consumers snack at least twice a day and 37 percent would like more restaurants to offer mini-sandwiches that they can eat as a snack or light meal. These trends had double-digit increases and suggest that restaurants may need to revise their menu development.

Some of the key takeaways of the report are diners want healthy snacks in place of, or to go with full course meals. The trend has rapidly changed as 40 percent of consumers are eating healthier foods between meals, more than they did just two years ago. According to the 37 percent of respondents, if bundled mix-and-match snacks were available, they would order them. These diners are not looking for a typical meal. Proper menu development is critical in this aspect because studies show that 49 percent prefer snacks that are different from breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. 

 

A Transforming Culture And Demographic

Having to conform to a hectic lifestyle, dual income parents and single parents are eating outside of the home at least once a week. Additionally, many parents want to provide healthy snacks for their children in between meals. However, the real “snackies” are the millennials. There are three defining characteristics about this group. They are budget conscious, they want healthy food and eat a few small meals a day and they prefer to eat at off-peak times. As their purchasing power increases, restaurants will have to rethink their menu development in order to capture their business.

In the Technomic 2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report, some of the responses by millennials were not that surprising. If available, 44 percent of millennials would order snack delivery from restaurants. Additionally, 54 percent of this group prefer unique flavors and pairings in their healthy snacks.

 

Where The Opportunities Lie

The report also generated some interesting information that has the potential to drive more revenue and increase market share in the snack category. A restaurant consultant can help you with your menu development to capture these missed opportunities.

While 56 percent of snack purchases are planned, 44 percent of people attribute their snacking to an impulse buy. Restaurant consultants can help catch that impulsive buyer with better placement and creative menu design. Leveraging the restaurant consultant’s knowledge can also help restaurateurs take their share of the snack market. With statistics that demonstrate consumer snack buying behavior favoring 77 percent of snack purchases at retail locations and only 23 percent bought snacks at restaurants there is room for growth. Work with a restaurant consultant to develop an atmosphere that grabs some of the 72 percent of people eating their snacks at home.

Learn more about how menu development can help transform your snack business on our TRG consulting service pages.

Resources:

2016 Snacking Occasions Consumer Trend Report [Technomic]

Americans spending on dining out just overtook grocery sales

How Restaurants Can Appeal to Millennials

Restaurants Millennial-01

Millennials are the rising tide of the economy. This demographic, which ranges in age from 18 to 33 make up about one-fourth of the US population and spend approximately $1.3 trillion annually. Many marketers are vying for the attention of this group and for restaurateurs capturing their business is essential as millennials eat out more than any other generational demographic.

Who is the Millennial?

So what is the millennial looking for in a dining experience? To understand how to serve this customer you must understand what the millennial is looking for in a restaurant. There are key characteristics of this demographic that make them more unique than other generations. These customers value the relationship they have with the brand and they have particular needs to meet their lifestyle.

A taste for fast casual

The industry has expended a great deal of resources trying to understand this misunderstood generation. Recent studies indicate that while the restaurant chains fluctuate, categories are consistent; casual dining and fast casual industry establishments. Some of the notable chains in the casual category include Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Chili’s. In the fast casual sector, millennials embrace chains like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Pei Wei Asian Diner. Additionally, fast food franchises such as Subway, Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mikes.

Health Conscious with Customization

The millennial wants fresh, healthy and artisan food. They may occasionally eat at McDonalds, but they consider most fast food as unhealthy. For the millennial, fresh food is healthy food and choice of having it their way is important. As a result, according to a recent Nielsen study, millennials are 74 percent more likely than average to visit Chipotle. The same study indicated that when it comes to fast food, the chain of choice is Subway because it is fresh and inexpensive. The study also concluded that 73% of millennials said they planned to eat at Subway again.

Socially Conscious

In the case of the millennial and brand relationship, the reciprocity principle applies in two areas. This generation is socially aware and they want to patronize companies who give back to the community and to their customers.

Companies such as Panera Bread and Chipotle have programs that donate heavily to good causes. Panera with its Panera Cares® community cafes provides meals to those who can’t afford it. Through this program, the company also partners with other non-profits to offer job training.

The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation donates over a million dollars to non-profits that promote everything from food literacy to improving farming. Some of the organizations receiving money include International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program, The Kitchen Community the Ecology Center in Orange County. 

Social Media Conscious

The second part of the reciprocity principle applies to social media and brand feedback. Millennials, who are foodies will post their opinions online, with pictures. If the experience is good, you can expect them to sing your praises; a bad experience will be posted as well. As many restauranteurs have learned, Yelp can either boost your business or kill it. The by the Pew Research Center reported that 87 percent of online adults in the US aged 18 to 29 use social media sites. So you can expect that they turn to their friends on social media for recommendations on where to eat.

Technologically Conscious

It goes without saying that the millennial is the most tech-savvy of all generations. According to Nielsen, more than 85 percent of millennials in the US own smartphones. Millennial need to connect to restaurants via their smartphone to make a reservation, place a takeout order or find a promotion or pay online. Additionally, free Wi-Fi for this group is a necessity, not a luxury.

Beside the characteristics listed above, it is also noteworthy to mention, millennials expect value because they can and do use technology to find the best deal. Moreover, these busy people eat on their time schedule. They seek breakfast at lunchtime and enjoy late night dining.

Restaurant chains of all sizes and types are catering to this foodie generation who is the largest group of people who dine out regularly. It is critical to the food industry to understand and embrace this demographic like never before in order to be successful entrepreneurs.

Sources: Nielsen, bcg.perspectives, Food, Drink and Franchise, Pew Research Center

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