Restaurant Trends

Combating Food Waste in Your Restaurant

The last thing you want as a restaurant owner is to watch your money get thrown out in the garbage. Unfortunately, when you waste food, this is exactly what’s happening. It’s seemingly easy to do, some milk here, apples there, and right before your eyes, thousands of dollars have gone to waste. Because it’s so easy, it’s estimated that there are 60 million tons of food wasted annually throughout the United States, and it’s likely that your restaurant is contributing. So how can your restaurant put anti-food waste steps into effect? Here are some actionable steps your restaurant can take to help cut down on food waste.

Create a committee. Either find individuals motivated to take a stand against food waste or incentivize the position, but make sure you have people from different areas in your restaurant as part of the committee. You don’t want to involve your whole kitchen staff, only to leave out the wait staff. You also need your purchaser on board (whether that’s you or an employee).

Practice FIFO. If you don’t know what FIFO is, listen up! A ‘first in, first out’ system allows your food preparation to run more smoothly, while keeping in mind the issue of food waste. When a new food order comes in, put the new food on the right and shift the previously-purchased food to the left. Cooks then grab food in a reverse order (left to right) to make sure they are using the items that will expire more quickly than the food on the right hand side.

*Pro Tip: When organizing your storage area, beware of cross-contaminating foods. Raw chicken does not belong next to fresh produce so don’t let all your rules go out the window to focus on FIFO. Shelf-labeling is handy while keeping in mind newer versus previously-purchase food and the types of food that can be stored together.

Control portion size in the kitchen. This requires due-diligence from your staff. As kitchens get busy, eyeballing ingredients (aka not paying attention to the pre-priced amounts from your menu plan) becomes more common but this is one way that customers end up with more food than they need and often more than they paid for. American restaurants are notorious for unnecessarily large portion sizes. You want to satisfy your guests, but not at the cost of your bottom line. A great way to cut down on food wasted by customers is to allow them to choose their portion size by offering lunch and dinner sizes on the menu. The less food that’s left on your guests’ plates, the better.

Repurpose ingredients. Have a lot of leftover shredded chicken from yesterday’s fajita special? Make chicken tortilla soup! If you’re flexible with your specials, soup can turn leftover nightmares into the next day’s featured dinner.

Make over your menu. Speaking of flexibility, you’ll want to check in on how each of your menu items are doing. If you must buy highly-specialized ingredients for a few items, make sure they’re worth it. If they are sub-par performers on your menu, change it up! It’s easier to broaden your menu with dishes that have more universal ingredients. A lot of restaurants turn to a focused menu to use up any surplus and still offer a variety of options without sacrificing storage space while cutting unnecessary costs.

Compost. Chances are your restaurant probably builds up (and throws away) a lot of produce scraps. Whether it’s from leftover salads or unused portions, these scraps can easily be composted. If your restaurant has its own little garden that grows herbs, use these as fertilizer. Or build community relations and reach out to farmers who could use the compost to help supplement their crops.

Donate what you can. If your restaurant has exhausted the options to using leftover food, consider donating. There are many organizations around the country that help excess food get to those who are in need. If you’re concerned about liability and the legality of your donation, review the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 to understand your rights as the donating party.

Full dumpster

Keeping food waste in the forefront your mind when running your restaurant and making operational decisions is crucial in combating the problem. Taking the steps above are just a few ways your restaurant can have an impact on this destructive global trend. Integrating these better choices into your business model can cut down on food waste and save you money at the end of the day.

Do you have plan for food waste in your restaurant? What steps do you take to combat it? Tell us below in the comments.

Pizza Shop Design Trends For 2018

When someone tells you to imagine a pizza place your brain might immediately jump to images of a classic pizzeria.  You know the one. It has black and white checkered floors paired with red walls, a few chairs and tables, usually in a bistro style design, and checkered tablecloths. However, the pizzerias of today, both large and small, are bucking that traditional look and opting for a more updated image.

You might be wondering why that should matter, studies show that ambiance can affect customer perceptions in a big way. Things such as how much and how fast customers eat, how much they spend, how long they stay, and their impressions of your responsiveness and reliability. To make sure you are sending the right message to customers, we’ve gathered together some of the industry’s leading trends.

Back to Roots

In the pizza business, along with many other businesses, we are seeing a shift back to their roots. Many pizzerias are doing this by installing brick ovens into their shops. More and more, customers are wanting not just food but a complete experience. Brick ovens are part of that experience that screams authenticity. Brick ovens also benefit the taste of the pizza: toppings are crisper, and they boost food flavor. They also cook the pizza faster than a conventional oven and are an energy saver.

Open Kitchen Design

Customers are more interested than ever in not only the ingredients going into their food but how it is being made. To accommodate this pizza shops are opting to go with an open kitchen plan. The open layout allows customers to see exactly what is going on during the preparation of their food. Everything from the ingredients being used to the cleanliness of the chefs is available for viewing. Your cooking method is part of your brand.

Besides the practicality, it also adds to the experience of a pizzeria. Seeing dough being tossed into the air has a real feeling of authenticity.

Decorating Using Tools

A lot of pizzerias are using what they already have to decorate their shops. Pizza peels, rollers, and cutters are making an appearance on walls and in other areas of the restaurant. For that something extra, pizzerias are having their names engraved onto wood pizza peels to display at their entrances or on hostess stands.

Tile

Tile is back in a big way. For years the material has been relegated to the bathroom, but no more. Placed behind a bar or as a backsplash in an open-air kitchen. White subway tiles are very in and create a nice clean look. Tile can also be used to create an accent wall with texture.

Murals

Mural walls are a great way to bring color into an otherwise neutral palette full of earth tones and pull focus. Colors help to create an inviting ambiance that has customers staying longer and ordering more. Murals don’t always need to be paint. Some restaurateurs have started combining metal and wood to create focal walls. They will use boards of wood to cover one wall and then hang some form of metal art on the wall. If the budget allows, logos can be cut out of metal to create a cool branding opportunity.

Your branding will help dictate which route you should go. If your brand is more playful or eclectic, a colorful mural might fit right in with your branding. If clean lines and neutral colors are your thing then a wood and metal combination might fit best in your shop.

Reclaimed Wood and Brick

Many pizzerias are favoring the brick and reclaimed wood look. It is a combo of craft/artisan and more modern.  Especially when paired with metal accents. The texture of these materials brings in the artisanal feel while the straight lines they have ended up having a modern aesthetic. “Nothing goes better with pizza than reclaimed wood,” according to Pizza Today. Utilizing brick is also a great way to incorporate street style into your restaurant.

Whether you are considering a complete reimagining of your shop, or simply looking to add a few updated pieces like customized peels, one of these trends is bound to work for you. It will keep your shop looking fresh and your customers coming back for more.

Which one of these trends is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Wood and Metal Hybrid Restaurant Furniture Works

Elliot Bar Stools

Move over Ramen burgers and Korean clam chowder, the infatuation of making two very different concepts work together in flavors and offerings is not limited to food in the restaurant industry. Commercial furniture is reflecting the mashup trend by taking differing materials and combining them to create unique pieces to accent your restaurant.

You wouldn’t bat an eye at a wood table top and metal base, but what may catch your attention is these two materials together in a chair or bar stool.

This trend has gone by many names: rustic industrial, modern rustic, vintage industrial. The list goes on and has been present in the home décor and architectural industries for some time. These materials together highlight their contrasting points while also making a great pair.

When wood is used in design, it carries a warmth and neutrality with it. It feels earthy and organic. In contrast, metal can bring a manufacturing-like or contemporary vibe. With its hard an unbending feel, it’s completely the opposite of wood that is soft and easily affected by its environment. The wood and metal hybrids are a marrying of the two that create something totally new yet familiar.

Visually these compositions meld together but they also work well structurally. In a restaurant, metal is less easily scratched and cracked, making it ideal in combating daily wear and tear over wood. When metal is used to reinforce a wood seat or back in a frame, the chair or bar stool becomes more durable.

With the popularity of the wood and metal hybrids, we have quite a few designs that are right on trend for your restaurant.

 

1) Erwin Collection

Solid oak wood and black powder coated metal come together in the Erwin Collection. The rustic look of this collection is defined further with a traditional X-style back and stylized legs.

Erwin Bar Stool and Chair

2) Elliot Collection

The Elliot Collection updates the classic ladder back design by using solid oak wood and a weathered iron for an industrial look that’s softened by the wood back and seat.

Elliot Chair and Bar Stool

3) Henry Collection

The Henry Collection keeps it simple with squared off wooden backs and seats, giving this collection an understated modern look. The distressed wood paired with the slim yet sturdy, black powder coated frame makes it an easy pairing with other restaurant furniture.

Henry Bar Stool and Chair

4) Piper Collection

The metal frame of the Piper Collection brings a breath of fresh air to restaurants with its hairpin leg design. Embracing the rustic industrial look, the sleek steel contrasts the deep tones of the oak to warm up any dining area.

Piper Bar Stool, Backless Bar Stool, and Chair

5) Gladiator Collection

From window pane to full ladder back to vertical back, we have all your classic styles covered with the Gladiator Collection. Traditional back designs make this collection extremely versatile and are right on trend with their steel frames and variety of wood seat options.

Gladiator Bar Stool and Chair with Wood Seats

6) Simon Collection

Think grit, think modern, think mechanical. All of these can describe the strong metal look of the Simon Collection. Because this collection comes with a variety of wood seat options to offset the smooth steel, Simon’s are a standout statement piece in a rustic restaurant atmosphere.

Simon Chair and Bar Stool with Wood Seats

Each of these collections use a metal frame with a wood seat and/or back. Together, these materials create a unified theme for your restaurant by pulling from warm and cool tones. Restaurants need furniture that can meet the hectic demands of the industry with durability and visual appeal. And just like a leader of the mashup movement, the cronut, these wood and metal hybrids give you the best of both worlds.

Do you use wood and metal hybrid furniture in your restaurant? What are your thoughts on this hybrid furniture trend? Tell us in the comments below.

2017 Fads Turned 2018 Trends

When the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, it symbolizes a new year and a new beginning. But this doesn’t always apply to the restaurant industry; fads turn to trends and stick around from one year to another. We’ve rounded up the popular restaurant trends from 2017 that are going to be around for the ball drop and the first part of 2018.

On the Menu:

Less is more cocktails Less is more cocktails. Many restaurants are beefing up their drink list with lower proof drinks by getting more playful with ingredients and lessening the alcohol content. Not only do bartenders get to have more fun with the flavor palate of the drinks, the profit margin widens as well by using less alcohol.
House-made condiments House-made condiments. Restaurants are striving for originality, down to their sauces. Think house ranch, mayonnaise, and sriracha-infused ketchup. Chefs are getting creative and complementing dishes with flavors that round out the tastes.
Cold-brew coffee Cold brew coffee. Lose that koozie! Cold brew coffee is past the fad phase and rocketing into 2018 as a staple in many coffee shops and restaurants. This new way to brew coffee offers many facets of customization that lets the restaurant owner (and customer) get a little creative when it comes to more caffeine in the same cup.
Local beer partnerships Local beer partnerships. You can grab your favorite local brew just about anywhere. Many restaurants are partnering with local breweries and wineries to put their fares on tap right next to the big distributors. This not only promotes businesses in the area, but also increases a sense of involvement in the community.

On Operations:

New ways to order New ways to order. There are very few things in this world you can’t use your Amazon Prime account for anymore, including food delivery. And it’s not just Amazon. Food delivery services range from Amazon to the restaurants themselves to GrubHub and Postmates. These services get food to the consumer, without them every stepping foot in your restaurant.
Conscientious cooking Conscientious cooking. The world’s eyes are wide awake to the food waste problem and is reflected in the restaurant industry’s attitude towards less-waste cooking. A restaurant adhering to more sustainable practices is becoming much more common.
Inclusive menus Inclusive menus. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are showing up on more and more menus. Being more inclusive with dietary restrictions has been on the rise in 2017 and will continue into 2018. Adding these options to your menu can be the deciding factor for customers with food allergies and auto-immune disorders like Celiac.
Herb gardens Digitizing payment. Customers can now eat, drink, and pay all from the comfort of your restaurant booth. From kiosks to digital receipts to mobile payment, many restaurants are moving towards using paperless payment for a streamlined procedure for customers. As this technology becomes more affordable, the practice will continue to spread in 2018.

On the Design Board:

Food halls Food halls. After exploding onto the scene, food halls are becoming more and more the norm. Per Cushman & Wakefield, “the number of food halls operating in the United States is expected to exceed 200 in 2019”. This number has grown every year with many slated to open in 2018 in urban markets like Atlanta, Manhattan, and Austin.
Wood and metal hybrid furniture Wood and metal hybrid furniture. Here’s a juxtaposition we can get behind! Combining the warm tones of wood and the industrial cool of metal create quite a contrast in furniture, this trend is all over chairs, bar stools, POS stations, and tables. With hybrid furniture, it becomes so much easier to pair pieces together when there’s a little bit of both wood and metal in them. Who doesn’t want the best of both worlds in their furniture?
Introducing color  

Introducing color. Whether it’s the furniture, centerpieces, or a mural wall, restaurants are gravitating toward bright colors rather than darker browns and blacks. This kind of design gives restaurants more of a fun and fresh feel, often set on a white backdrop.

Tile is here Tile is here. 2017 brought the tile out of the bathroom and put it behind the bar. Restaurant designers are using tile on backsplashes, bar fronts, and accent walls to add texture and focus. Move over wallpaper, this is the year of tile!

Which of these trends do you see sticking around longer into 2018? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Stabilizing Design with a Turnbuckle Table

The rustic industrial design trend has been a favorite of restaurateurs for a while now but our Turnbuckle Table is here to shake up your décor, no matter the theme.

So what is it about this table that makes customers stop and stare when they enter your dining room? Meet the turnbuckle, a mechanism that can expand and contract table legs.

Turnbuckle

Traditionally, turnbuckles were used to sturdy the legs of old workbenches and is made up of two threaded eyebolts. One of these screws into each end of a small metal frame the other separates into a left-hand thread and right-hand thread. Turnbuckles are used to adjust the tension between cables or ropes. This tension is altered by rotating the frame, simultaneously screwing the eyebolts in and out, without twisting the eyebolts or attached cables.

Other uses for turnbuckle engineering include construction, aircraft, shipping, sports, entertainment industry, pipe systems, and now, restaurant furniture design.

Turnbuckle tables are especially popular in restaurants that have a very homey feel to provide contrast. Reminiscent of the workbench look, the combination of metal accents and vintage wood come together for an industrial feel in breweries, farmhouse-style restaurants, and coffee shops.Turnbuckle Table

This turnbuckle table is made of reclaimed oak wood salvaged from vintage barns. Each table top is fully sanded and sealed with a heavy sealer to preserve the rustic elements that come with weathered wood. A steel turnbuckle connects the hand hewn, wood beam legs that is functional as well as aesthetic. Make this table all your own by choosing one of our three finishes: Natural Reclaimed, Antique Black, and Whitewash. Custom edging and additional premium finish options are also available.

Tipping: A Thing of the Past or a Continued Tradition

Tipping to express your gratitude for good service from a restaurant’s wait staff has been a long-standing tradition in the United States. So, whenever you receive your bill at a restaurant and you find the gratuity line nowhere to be found, it can be a bit out of the ordinary. But, in some restaurants, this has become the norm.

Some restaurants have taken it upon themselves to ensure their front of house workers and kitchen staff are receiving equitable wages by instituting no-tipping policies and raising their prices by 15-20% instead.  They claim that these higher prices enable them to pay all of their employees a higher wage. Advocates for the no-tipping movement also insist that not giving customers the chance to tip poorly can give the service industry a more professional appearance and shrink the income gap between the wait staff and cooks.

Americans have become accustomed to rewarding wait staff with a tip but in other areas of the world, the service industry is handled differently. For example, many restaurants in France operate service compris, or “service is included”. With this model, prices have absorbed the cost of service. If you receive extraordinary service, leaving an additional 1 to 2 percent tip can be appreciated. In contrast, if you are at a restaurant in Japan, tipping is not a typical part of the culture. Leaving a tip can be seen as rude and will often be refused by the staff.

Originally, tipping came about “to insure promptitude” in the service industry. Mid-19th century Americans began using tips as a show of wealth and knowledge of European gentility rules, and by the 1900’s, tipping was a common practice.

But isn’t that what minimum wage is for? Not exactly. The only employers required to pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before tips are in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The other 43 states require employers to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage at or above $2.13. In other words, if your wages are set at $2.13, a regular 8-hour shift will earn you $17.04 pre-taxes. Even with their subjective nature, tips can help those in the service industry have a livable wage. For more information on your state’s tipping law, please refer to the standards set by the United States Department of Labor.

No-tipping policies have been a hard change for both customers and servers to get used to. Tipping has become so ingrained in the American dining experience and can keep restaurant prices low. But because tipping is very subjective, it’s easy to see that it may not always be a fair practice. While some customers may over tip their server, others may have a mission to only tip 10 percent anywhere they go, regardless of actual service quality. It’s not easy getting customers to relinquish their control over how much their server is rewarded, especially in a post-recession world. So instead of trying to change a single way of thinking, restauranteurs have the challenge of altering two ideologies.

In late 2015, Joe’s Crab Shack became the first casual-dining chain to try using a no-tipping policy in 18 of its nationwide restaurants. After the first six months of implementation, there were only four that continued to use the policy. To make up for the difference, the restaurant raised wages by increasing menu pricing. As a result, Joe’s Crab Shack saw less customer traffic and a large turnover in staff who couldn’t/wouldn’t conform with the wage change. At least in chain establishments, gratuity-included dining hasn’t quite caught on.

While Joe’s Crab Shack customers didn’t take to the no-tipping policy, there are numerous restaurants in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York City, and more that are getting along just fine with the added policy.   Most of them are operated by “celebrity” chefs that have pricing power that the rest of the market doesn’t enjoy.

What’s your view on implementing a no-tipping policy? Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

Not Your Mother’s Food Court

Food Halls Taking Over!

‘Fall’, ‘collapse’, ‘failing’, and even, ‘dying’. These are just a few of the words that have littered headlines the past year, describing the closure of America’s malls and vacant retail spaces. But with the death of brick and mortar stores, one section of retail has thrived—food.

Food has become more than just daily sustenance; people want to experience their food in exciting ways. In 2008, food trucks were all the rage, a trend that is still visible today. Almost ten years later, food halls are taking over the US, one city at a time.

Thanks to the perfect storm of the Food Network, millennials, and “foodie” culture, the food hall trend has skyrocketed in the US market. Per Cushman & Wakefield, the number of existing food hall projects increased 37.1% in the first nine months of 2016. This trend has left its mark on cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles and is moving its way into Austin, Washington D.C., Miami, and Charleston in 2017.

But what is the difference between the food courts of yore and these newfangled food halls? Why quality, of course. In food halls, you won’t find the stereotypical hot dogs that have been turning on rollers for the past week or slushies with Red Dye 40 like you would a traditional food court. Instead, you will find artisanal enchiladas and hand-rolled chicken dishes.

With a new mission and business model, food halls can escape the confines of a mall food court, bring quality food to surrounding communities, and offer a restaurant incubator-like setting for new chefs.

Here’s Why Food Halls Are Taking Over:

Space Revival

Food halls can be a range of sizes, making blueprints malleable and transitional for just about any location. Not all halls have the sheer size of Chelsea Market (clocking in at 165,000 square feet) or Eataly (not looking too shabby with 50,000 square feet), others can hold their own with smaller spaces like the Smallman Galley (with 6,000 square feet) or the Pennsy (at 8,000 square feet).

Because they can fit a variety of spaces, food halls can be located anywhere that a space is open. For example, empty mall anchor stores can be a good foundation for larger food halls, while the ground floor of office buildings can provide adequate space for smaller models. If there is an available space, food halls can fill and occupy it, giving new purpose.

The ability of food halls to morph into any shape or size free space allows them to focus on the root of their business: providing quality food to the community.

Eataly

Community

Interestingly enough, food halls are not a new concept. It’s no surprise in the United States that this trend first started to take hold in the cultural mecca of New York City. According to Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate powerhouse, New York City accounts for more than 25.4% of all United States food hall projects.

With a flexible location, food halls bring together different palettes, diets, and preferences, all under one roof. Because of the vast offerings in a single space, it creates opportunities for the surrounding community to gather. In the U.S., food halls have gravitated toward cities, because they give office workers a haven to snag lunch, coffee, and a break from their cubicle. If they offer seating, food halls will often use communal tables because the dining space is like no-man’s land. Whether you’re a fan of communal dining or not, this type of seating arrangement leaves the decision up to the patrons whether they want to mingle or stay in their proverbial bubble.

Food Hall Spread

Operator-Friendly

New businesses can drive traffic to neighborhoods and often increase profits of other businesses in the area as well.  The business model of a food hall is no different. These food halls present a lower risk option for both developer and hopeful restaurateur, with quick customer turnover and fewer startup costs. While building owners have the ability to charge a higher rent rate (taking popularity into consideration as well), that rate is still less than the cost of an entire restaurant for a chef just starting out. Instead of a sole tenant being responsible for the cost, utilities are often split, lessening what a typical restaurant would pay. Food halls serve as a restaurant incubator for up-and-coming chefs that maybe aren’t quite ready to break out all on their own.

Spices

While the quality of food halls is much different than that of a food court, the concept is similar. The beauty of food halls is that they aren’t restaurants; change is a part of the norm. These are places where food-lovers of all kinds can gather together and enjoy new fares daily. The cyclical fashion of always bringing in new talent, food, and customers is exciting for the restaurant industry, even when other sectors of retail seem to be flopping.

With this trend still sweeping the nation, the list of cities with food halls continues to grow, check out this list to see if one is headed toward you!

Need help outfitting your food hall? Call our customer care representatives at 1-800-986-5352 for the latest trends in commercial furniture and what would work best in your establishment.

Our Premium Bucket Bar Stools, the Best of the Best

825 Bucket Bar StoolsWhen you’re searching for the right bucket bar stool, the over one million search results can be daunting to say the least. We supply a variety of commercial bucket bar stool options for restaurants to choose from to complete their look.

Within these categories, you’ll find buckets placed according to comfort, price, and quality. If your business model focuses on quick table turnover and getting the most food sales in, our 525 and 625 bucket models are your best bet. But if your strategy involves keeping customers in seats so they can graze and increase your menu’s cross-selling capabilities (and profits), our premium bucket bar stools are more your style.

Whether you’re after the undeniable comfort of the 825 bucket or the vintage look of the 925, our premium buckets will become your customers’ new favorites spots to eat and drink.

By choosing an 825 bucket bar stool, your customers will love leaning back and relaxing in what we call the ‘Cadillac of bucket bar stools’. Our customer care representatives can confirm, once you sit on the 825, you’ll buy it. It’s that comfortable! This bar stool boasts a higher end look with better grade molded high-density foam seat and back. Choose from our wine, brown, or black vinyl to complete the look of this bar stool.

825 Bucket Bar Stool Features

If you are looking for a model with vintage accents, then the 925 bucket bar stool is for your restaurant. With its deep tuft and button accents, this bucket is reminiscent of a comfy library couch. This bar stool has a reinforced, flexible steel back to parallel the high-density foam seat and back, made for cradling your customers. To keep the vintage vibe flowing, this bucket comes in chestnut brown and black vinyl options.

925 Bucket Bar Stool Features

Both premium bucket models sit on top of our sturdy 900 base. Fully welded 16-gauge steel and the large footprint of the base makes for an excellent support system. This frame comes in clear coat, rust brown, or black to match any bucket or decor.

When you invest in luxury bucket seats, you should also keep in mind the durability of the swivel system. All of our bucket bar stools automatically come with an imported swivel. While these swivels can do the job, we also offer an upgraded domestic swivel option that has a 10-year warranty for a long service life.

Domestic swivel mechanisms last longer because of the way it swivels. Using two nylon ring bearings, this swivel can turn effortlessly, silently, and is tested up to 500,000 turns.

By using premium bar stools and upgraded swivels, customers can feel right at home sitting at your bar area.

Loyalty Programs: The Profit Behind the Rewards

The phrase “customer loyalty program” often brings to mind images of punch cards and freebies, but loyalty programs have evolved through the years into so much more. Technology and data mining techniques have turned the programs from cheap promotional tactics into big data goldmines that allow smart establishments to tailor their marketing to each customer.  In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different types of loyalty programs, why your restaurant needs one, and the best practices for implementing it.

How it works

In the restaurant industry, there are two basic types of loyalty programs: points based systems or tiered systems. Points-based systems reward customers for dollars spent or frequency of visits, while tiered systems benefit long-time customers by awarding them special access and exclusive opportunities.  To determine what type of system would work best at your restaurant, consider which behaviors you would like to reward.

Why You Should Implement a Loyalty Program

The numbers are in and they show that it is much more lucrative to focus on creating loyalty in your customers than gaining new customers. A study by Bain & Company reported that a 5% improvement in customer loyalty can increase lifetime profits by as much as 95%. Even more, a whopping 70% of customers who participate in loyalty programs report purchasing more.  New business is great but it costs more to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one: in some cases, up to 6 or 7 times more.

Some restaurants who have implemented loyalty programs have also seen a reduction in attrition and an increase in referrals.

The kind of loyalty that influences the frequency of a customer’s visits occurs when customers relate to a dining establishment. Take a look at the demographic that you would like to focus on and make sure that your business positioning and processes align with those of that demographic. Creating a customer persona could be helpful during this process. Customer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

For example, in a college town, your customer persona is probably an early 20-something looking for a meal at the most affordable price point. If you are located in a more family friendly area the persona might look more like someone in their mid-30’s who is willing to spend a little bit more for a higher quality meal.

Return on Investment

Having a loyalty program can also do wonders for collecting customer data. By tracking the items purchased, the frequency of visits, and dollars spent, you can determine the best areas to invest your money. Managers or owners can even take the gathered analytics to analyze the popularity of a dish and determine what other items could be purchased to pair with it and increase sales. For example, if one of your all-time best sellers is a poultry dish, you might want to consider ordering a new chardonnay known to pair nicely with chicken.  You’re customers receive a better all-around experience and you see an increase in profits.

These same analytics can be used to analyze customer behaviors, which can then be organized into data to develop promotions that are designed specifically to appeal to a certain group of customers.  The ultimate goal is to create motivational offers to influence a customer, increasing the frequency of return visits as well as per-visit spending.

Loyalty Program Best Practices

  • Provide an Immediate Incentive
    • That instant reward for signing up might be just enough to convince any customers that are on the fence about joining to take the plunge.
  • Make it Easy to Join
    • Don’t force your target audience to have to scour your website to find your sign-up page. Have it in a highly visible spot as well as talking to your staff about encouraging customers to sign-up in the restaurant. Signing up should take no longer than a few minutes.
  • Take only the information you absolutely need
    • Customers don’t want to spend their time filling out long surveys just to sign up for your program. Try to limit your questions to essentials like name, birthday, and email address.
  • Personalize offerings to members
    • Loyalty programs often fail because their offerings are too general. By creating specialized incentives based on what the customer has previously purchased you are more likely to see them walking through your door.

What Not to Do

  • Limited Time Offers
    • Limited time offers can be a great way to get customers in the door and increase traffic, but these strategies are not enough to create loyal customers. Spending money on these promotions may see an uptick in new customers but these are the same customers who are not likely to return until you run another promotion.
  • Don’t Have Customers Wondering if the Rewards Will Work
    • Make sure your employees are well versed in redeeming your loyalty system. It can lead to frustration on both sides if customers are trying to use a loyalty program reward and aren’t able to because of faulty programming or a poor system. Your relationship with the customer is the most important thing.
  • Don’t Forget to Use the Data
    • Customers will expect relevant offers in exchange for the personal information they are providing. It is crucial to make use of the information provided to tailor your message as much as possible.

Loyalty programs may seem like they are geared more towards benefiting the customer but in the end, it is a mutually beneficial relationship. The value of the data gathered, and brand loyalty that is inspired far outweigh the costs of a few perks. By implementing and utilizing a loyalty program your restaurant could see a significant increase in profits.

 

 

 

How Your Outdoor Patio Can Boost Your Restaurant’s Profits

 

restaurant patio

Imagine soft laughter, the clinking of glasses. Touches of sunlight illuminate plates of fresh food. A light summer breeze weaves between tables, but not just any tables, these are your tables on your restaurant’s outdoor patio. And these tables are full of happy customers enjoying the great outdoors all the while paying for drinks and food.

patio setup

 

Offering al fresco dining is so much more than just expanding your seating capacity or increasing your curb appeal.

So how can building an outdoor patio boost your profits? Because it gives your customers more space for special events, shows off your restaurant from a distance, and gives them a comfortable spot to stay longer and keep the good times going.

Here are just a few of the benefits that your restaurant can take advantage of by integrating an outdoor patio into your business plan.rooftop dining

 

 

Patios add more space. By having a patio space, you not only have room for more activities, but also an opportunity to offer a breath of fresh air to your restaurant.

This is all depending on the environment around you. The empty lot next to your restaurant could be your future bustling patio.  But acquiring space is not always the answer, sometimes you can make better use of the spot you already have. If you’re short on space but have some room in front of your restaurant, adding sidewalk seating can be an option and create a café vibe.

If you have a flat rooftop that you have access to, you’re in luck! Rooftop bars are very trendy and give a secluded feel to what are often crowded city bars.

Having a patio can give you room for exciting events like live music, games, or a fire pit for chilly evening dining. More involvement at your restaurant can lead to more people having a reason to stop, staying longer, eating and drinking more, and therefore, increasing your profits. All of which can happen right in the outdoor space you may already own.

restaurant patio customerPatios are free advertising to foot traffic. Making a successful outdoor patio space could be your best advertising asset. Depending on the way that your restaurant is set up, it may be the very first thing a customer sees.

If your location is by a landmark, attraction, or even just a beautiful landscape, having an outdoor dining area should be a given for your restaurant.

The sight of current customers having a great time and the scent of fresh food can bring potential customers from the street that would have maybe not chosen your restaurant. It’s like a free sneak peek of what customers can expect when they come to your restaurant, and can be used to your advantage.

While customers are having a wonderful night out with friends and family, make sure you have your social media hashtags and Snapchat usernames in plain sight. If guests take a picture and post it, they will know exactly what location to tag. With that in mind, it doesn’t hurt to create a Snapchat filter exclusively for your business either.

Creating a patio that is visually-stimulating can attract and keep potential and current customers coming back for more. More traffic means more sales for you!

Patios relax customers, leading them to spend more. If you already have a happy hour, make it a patio-exclusive. Patios are a great way to give happy hour guests an exclusive area for drinks and appetizers, making it feel less stuffy than trying to crowd them in with those enjoying a meal. Having a patio-only happy hour can make guests feel relaxed and can lead them to staying longer, which often means the drinks continue to flow.

customers on patio

By allocating happy hour to your patio space, you are giving guests a place to gather together and increase your sales simultaneously. With profit margins on bar drinks being anywhere from 60-85%, depending on the beverage, you can still make a pretty penny on patrons that are ready to blow off steam after work.

Just make sure you have a bar that is fully-staffed and ready to roll in your outdoor area to reduce staff having to run back and forth.

Once your patio is up and running, keep these tips at the top of your mind to ensure continued success.

  • Maintain your patio. Keep your furniture clean and floor space free of garbage. If something spills, clean it up. Don’t use your extra outdoor space as a graveyard for uneven tables and less than supportive chairs. The patio can be a goldmine for increasing your profits, so make it look like that.
  • Keep up with outdoor trends. According to the National Restaurant Association, you should be updating your patio every five to seven years to keep it looking modern, similar to your dining room. Your outdoor patio is an extension of your restaurant; don’t let the average passersby think otherwise.
  • Staff appropriately. You don’t want your indoor crowd to suffer at the hands of your outdoor patio, especially at peak dining times.

Depending on what stage your patio is in (fully-functioning, needs improvement, or non-existent), will give you a ballpark of how much you need to pour in to make it a successful space. Having a patio space will not break your business, but it certainly could help make it.

Let our customer care representatives guide you on your journey to furnishing the perfect outdoor patio at 1-800-986-5352.