An email sent out yesterday by NRA executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy, stated that doing away with the credit would present “an impossible challenge to restaurant owners” to remain open.
The email also opposes boosting the national minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Not every operation would see labor costs potentially skyrocket to untenable levels but wage changes could see restaurants, bars and other businesses in some states hit the cited 600-percent increase. If the majority of restaurant operators saw sales decline last month, as a previous NRA report said operators predicted, and that trend continues, the association’s standpoint could be proven right.
While the NRA continues its support for making the RESTAURANTS Act part of any new stimulus relief bill, the association has made their positions on the matter of a minimum wage hike and elimination of the tip credit clear:
“But now is not the time to insert wage changes–a hike in the minimum wage and elimination of the tip credit–to a stimulus bill. Tipped servers generally earn between $19-$25 dollars per hour, and this plan would punish these workers who use restaurant jobs to make a better life for themselves.”
The NRA appears concerned that the Biden administration’s efforts to quickly get Congress to pass a Covid-19 relief bill are short-sighted and will end up hurting tipped workers and the hospitality industry overall.
According to the message sent out yesterday, the majority of tipped workers across the country have, historically, opposed efforts to eliminate the tip credit. Per the NRA, tipped workers earn between $19 to $25 per hour when the tip credit remains intact.
Instead, the NRA prefers the next stimulus relief bill–there are currently two competing bills, one for $1.9 trillion plan and a GOP counterplan with a price tag of around $600 billion–to go with the Senate version of the RESTAURANTS Act.
KRG Hospitality Expands Team with Director of Business Development
by KRG Hospitality – 12/1/2020
December 1, 2020, Burlington, Ontario, Canada–KRG Hospitality, a strategic and creative hospitality consulting agency, today announces the addition of industry veteran and journalist David Klemt to the team. Mr. Klemt will take on the role of Director of Business Development at KRG Hospitality.
Before joining KRG Hospitality, Mr. Klemt gained decades of experience in hospitality working in multiple roles. He kicked off his career as a host at an international chain restaurant, worked as a server at restaurants big and small, became a bartender, co-founded a nightlife-specific valet company, and moved into nightlife marketing and promotions.
For the past 15 years, Mr. Klemt has reported on the industry as a hospitality business journalist. He held the title of editor for Nightclub & Bar’s digital publication for five years. Mr. Klemt founded hospitality news and resources site Hospitality Villains earlier this year after losing his editing job due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re entering a new era of hospitality brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and an industry-wide reckoning with the old way of doing business that forced operators to accept single-digit profit margins,” said Mr. Klemt. “I’m excited and eager to help hospitality professionals thrive as the industry undergoes its next evolution. KRG Hospitality is a driven, dynamic and creative solutions-based agency that aligns with my values and passion for this industry.”
In his role as Director of Business Development at KRG Hospitality, Mr. Klemt will be responsible for developing the agency’s partner network, hosting the Bar Hacks podcast, writing informative articles, publishing expert contributors, and overseeing KRG Hospitality’s social media platforms.
About KRG Hospitality
KRG Hospitality is a storied brand with a proven track record. The agency has delivered exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad over the past decade. KRG Hospitality provides a clear framework tailored to each client, writing detailed strategic plans; creating award-winning concepts; facilitating start-up projects; finding gaps in existing strategies; developing solutions to known problems; identifying opportunities for growth; and inspiring others through unique seminars, workshops, and on-going coaching methods. Currently, KRG Hospitality operates in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, and the Eastern Caribbean. Visit KRGHospitality.com to learn more.
Hotel Food & Beverage in a Post-Pandemic Landscape
By Doug Radkey – 07/22/2020
Nearly all of our favorite and most popular travel destinations around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a horrendous financial loss for hotels, resorts, and the entire hospitality industry alike.
Research by the American Hotel & Lodging Institution suggests that hotel recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until the year 2023—or perhaps even later with the expected ‘long-term’ loss of business travel and international leisure travellers.
Sadly, many properties have not survived and will not be opening their doors again. Some of those who rely on international travel see little benefit in resuming service while many borders remain closed. And those who are ready to reopen face a very different business environment to the one they were once accustomed to.
There are numerous strategies and alterations to consider moving forward for the operation of a hotel property post-pandemic; but one area that can help properties to regain their guests’ trust plus revenue and profits is that of the food & beverage program.
For years, one could rely on a hotels restaurant and bar for a steady supply of traditional fare. Hotel food wasn’t necessarily an after-thought, but menus lacked (and in some cases continue to lack) inspiration.
However, in today’s global hotel market; both pre-covid and post-pandemic, a cities best and most innovative and creative food & beverage menu could be found in a hotels restaurant and bar.
But it is not longer just about the food. Hotels obviously have their chef(s) – but moving forward they must also consider a ‘director of mixology’ – even for smaller boutique properties.
Consider for a moment, instead of creating cocktails to match the food menu, doing it the other way around and starting with the beverages. You may be surprised by the results.
This is a secret to a successful, high-profit full-sensory on-premise (and off-premise) program.
While there is significant social and economic changes expected (post-pandemic), there will be a growing and potential multi-billion dollar opportunity for hotels to better cater to guests through their food & beverage options – if the venue can weather the current storm.
As the population regains their confidence to book a hotel stay, guests who visit for either business or leisure may be reluctant to travel to too many spots around town due an ongoing fear that it may not be 100% safe to do so.
Furthermore, many (potential) guests will find their finances dramatically affected by the economic downturn which is now inevitable throughout most of the world, and this will also lead to demand for more affordable cuisine and experiences.
Therefore, a food & beverage program with multiple revenue streams including a balance in pricing found within a trusted hotel that provides a consideration towards a full sensory experience for multiple day-parts is critically important.
Hotels today must increasingly try to attract local residents partly because today’s visitors increasingly want to eat where the locals hang out and secondly – because that noted business & leisure travel is expected to be slow for the next 12-18 months.
The food & beverage programs and experiences must shape guests’ understanding of the hyper-local region by supporting local farms, vendors, & culture.
Hotels today and moving in a post-pandemic landscape must promote strong relationships & partnerships with local farmers and producers and introduce their products & flavors to guests in delicious and sometimes, surprising ways.
It is anticipated that hotel guests will expect venues to rely less on imported goods while using more locally-produced items within a 75 mile (100 km) radius due to support local initiatives, the need to embrace the local culture, current (and future) supply chain restrictions, and simply more robust, fresh flavors.
Remember waking up at a hotel and strolling down to the lobby for the breakfast buffet? Sadly, that will be just a memory for most moving forward. It’s likely no secret that it will be a long time before buffets come back. Even with sneeze guards, hotels must (temporarily) shift to à-la-carte menus, made-to-order options, and individually packaged grab-and-go items.
The buffet concept (for breakfast and other day-parts) could also opt to switch to cafeteria-style model instead of self-serve stations (with physical distancing measures in place). Even hotel restaurants with self-serve beverage stations, breakfast bars, salad bars, and a toppings bar will likely need to eliminate these self-serve stations in order to comply with guidelines from both a government point of view and guest sentiment point of view.
These “serving stations” could be individually prepared & plated in real-time by staff from behind the counter which likely means more labor – but providing a safe experience which will win guests over – providing opportunity for further awareness, revenue & profits.
Many hoteliers and hotel brands around the world have begun to shift their food & beverage operations amid the pandemic, catering to locals by launching both takeout and curbside pickup options.
With the introduction of this new revenue channel, it is anticipated that it will stick around for quite some time.
Hotel F&B programs must also offer access to more premium grab & go options and also meal-kits. Whether for a day out exploring the city (remember they may be hesitant to stop in a restaurant they don’t know), or on the way to a business meeting, hotels are uniquely positioned to meet guest needs by leveraging their full-service kitchens to supply pre-made meals, snacks, and even F&B experience kits.
From mid-scale to luxury, some hotel brands are taking the resurgence of “at-home” dining to the next level by creating unique F&B packages for micro-groups at the hotel itself.
As an add-on at booking, guests for example can upgrade to a private dining package that includes customized tastings, cooking tutorials, wine pairings, and cocktail making – all in a private space.
For some hotel & resort properties, the often abundance of outdoor space can also provide ample opportunity for seasonal or year-round food & beverage experiences. Picture open-fire kitchens, bar pavilions, and an atmosphere complete with comfortable seating, temperature control systems, and (hopefully) impeccable views for couples, families, and small group gatherings.
There are a lot of ways technology will enhance hotel operations and experiences moving forward, both in and outside the food & beverage department.
Inside the kitchen, remodels are expected to happen over the next 1-3 years to adhere to the quick-service demand, the demand for the noted new experiences, and the potential lack of qualified staff. This means more self-cooking oven stations, simplified processes, smaller footprints, and smart kitchen technology.
A high level of convenience and contactless service will also be critical on the consumer side, when it comes to on-premise (F&B) room service.
One way to ensure a frictionless experience is through the use of technology.
Approximately one in four hotel guests surveyed by the American Hotel & Lodging Institute, think it’s important for hotels to have 24-hour room service. They want the option to have incredible food and beverage, no matter the time of day.
Post-pandemic, this will still hold true but the service sequence needs to change so that it includes the use of technology and contact-less service, both in the hotel restaurant(s) and in-room. The data shows that one in five guests also want the convenience of ordering with technology – via the hotels app on their phone or even through the TV in their room.
The order can then be packaged & delivered to the outside of the room, to their table in the restaurant, or by having a technology-driven “pick-up locker” in the lobby with mobile phone use to access the food delivered via the hotels kitchen or any third-party delivery partners.
And when it comes to customizing mini bars, 14 percent of guests would choose a hotel where the mini bar is personalized to snack and drink preferences based on the historic data from previous stays or allergies. While some argue the mini-bar is done due to the pandemic – we think hotels just need to personalize it and then make it a point of sanitation between stays.
Quick summary; hotel food & beverage programs must continuously react, adapt, and execute as consumer demand and sentiment fluctuates; both short-term and long-term while providing both unique one-of-a-kind experiences and brand activations.
Articles Submitted To Media Partners During Covid-19 Pandemic
By Doug Radkey (March 2020-July 2020)
Take Time to Recharge: Self-Care During a Crisis
During times of crisis, everyone feels something: sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, or anger.
It can be easy for many within the industry to become overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that need to be made not only for their business, but for their family, staff, and community.
One area that often gets overlooked, particularly among business and community leaders, is their own self care.
From watching the news every hour to making tough decisions, to hours of volunteering, to scrolling through your social media a little too much, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of what’s going on around us in the time of crisis.
When faced with a lengthy business shutdown, it can be a roller coaster of emotions when you learn it’s time to re-open. While it is understandable that you want to open your doors as quickly as possible, you also want to ensure you’re doing it correctly and in a way that will not cause further damage to your brand, bottom line, staff, or guests.
The truth is, as a variety of government bodies have indicated; you’re likely going to have to open your venue in a series of phases. Are you financially & mindfully prepared for that?
You are also going to have to pivot (are you tired of that word yet?) if you haven’t already in addition to diversifying your menu and offerings.
Understanding flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will make you a valuable leader — one who can reliably deal with many different opportunities and scenarios. You will then find change is not something to fear, but something to welcome and turn into an advantage. For restaurants with a large on-premise business model, change is happening and you need to prepare – now!
The biggest fear factors for many with a significant dining room are the new seating recommendations and capacity levels for dine-in restaurants. Everyone reading this will be in a slightly different scenario, pending the size of venue, location, and style of concept, so it is hard to create a cookie-cutter solution.
However, there are some new strategies and standards to consider that will help you adapt, pivot, and embrace these changes. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Adapting to Change; Seating (Part 2)
To maximize your seating, encourage guests to make reservations, preferably online. Your guests will want to pick their spots, their proximity to others, and their proximity to high-traffic areas. Your new seating arrangement should ideally be online to review and should also be flexible.
Having a reservation system will also allow your staff the appropriate time to fully sanitize and prepare each area for the next number of guests in a reserved party.
With reservations, it may be wise to also consider time restrictions; guests who are used to travelling to tourism hot spots will be accustomed to these types of rules. Don’t be scared to put a 60- or 90-minute timestamp on reservations to encourage more table flips, which you’ll want to do as many times as possible within safety guidelines. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Maintaining Financial Health During Pandemic
You already know the majority of restaurants run their business on extremely thin margins, and in the the time of COVID-19, the financial health of the industry has become all the more precarious. In fact, a recent (U.S.) National Bureau of Economic Research paper gave restaurants a 30 per cent chance of reopening if the pandemic lasts four months; this estimate drops to 15 per cent if it lasts six months.
The average restaurant, it found, had enough cash on hand to last approximately two weeks. Why such little time? Because the 3- to 5-per cent profit margin of the average restaurant or bar simply can’t cut it in this environment.
Here’s the thing – we can’t continue down this doom and gloom route. The industry will prevail, and some will come out even stronger – if they push forward now. Restaurants must operate with the mindset of achieving 12- to 15-per cent profit margins – and the secret is, it is possible. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Hotel F&B in a Post-Pandemic Landscape
early all of our favorite and most popular travel destinations around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a horrendous financial loss for hotels, resorts, and the entire hospitality industry alike.
Research by the American Hotel & Lodging Institution suggests that hotel recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until the year 2023—or perhaps even later with the expected ‘long-term’ loss of business travel and international leisure travellers.
There are numerous strategies and alterations to consider moving forward for the operation of a hotel property post-pandemic; but one area that can help properties regain their guests’ trust plus revenue and profits is that of the food & beverage program. Continue Reading on KRG Hospitality
Once your idea has been researched and the market, location, technical, business, and financial viability of the idea has passed a series of reviews throughout a feasibility study, a concept development plan can then be started.
Remember, outside of being scalable, you want to build a concept that is sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent.
Bar concepts over the years have gone from being tame (or lame) or overplayed, like tiki bars or sports bars, to concepts that push the boundaries of what a bar can be. One of the best ways to build a customer base is to go off the beaten path to create a bold and fresh new bar concept.
A concept plan will focus on ‘chapters’ and visual storyboards that include an overall:
Concept Summary (a one page summarization similar to that of an Executive Summary)
Owning a bar is a dream for most that must be met with the right research, planning, and mind-set.
One’s market will, and must, define the concept. To be successful, you must be open to building a venue the market both wants and needs.
Concept development is giving your ‘idea’, both soul and character. A bar’s concept is the lifeline of its brand and longevity in the market. It makes your venue stand apart from the competition, and it’s ultimately your bar’s unique selling proposition.
Have you ever walked into a bar and been confused about its identity? The interior doesn’t match the beverage offerings, the social media experience doesn’t reflect the actual experience, and even the music doesn’t seem to match the vibe of the bar.
This is what happens when there isn’t a clear and detailed concept development plan in place, and it is a sure fire way to be just average at best.
It’s More Than Just a Drink
Most conceptual ideas start at the food & beverage level. A bar however, needs to remember that they don’t just sell food & beverage; they sell experiences through the enhancement of guest emotions.
When planning a concept, it’s imperative to have a focus on the style of menu and niche of entertainment – but a winning concept will elevate a guest’s variety of senses. Here’s how:
Visual: Use the mindset of a traditional bar meeting on-trend beverage effects. Consider the style of beverage vessels, the use of unique ice cubes or even dry ice, the garnishes used, and potentially a variety of ‘smoking’ techniques within a variety of your signature cocktails, providing a visual effect that grabs every guest’s attention.
Plus, it will be hard to find a guest who is not taking a photo and sharing it on social media – an easy promotional tool to make each of their individual networks feel as if they’re missing out (FOMO) on the best experience in town.
Auditory: Music, drinks, and food share an intimate connection. From the beginning, this should be a focus. Every day, every weeknight, and every weekend must be filled with strategic decisions around sound.
From your day-part strategies, to the sound of cocktail shakers, to live music calendars and even proper speaker placement – your venue must see why 76 percent of bar customers surveyed believe they stay longer due to the sound of the environment.
Olfactory (smell) System: Like sound, a pleasant and subtle fragrance can lead to an improved perceived quality of the environment and can enhance the mood of guests, causing them to stay longer. Our sense of smell is after all, directly linked to the part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion – two things bars need to strive for.
For example; consider a Smoked Cedar Plank Whiskey around the Christmas season. The scent of the smoked cedar will fill the bar area with a subtle Christmas tree aroma, prompting the guests attention and need to spend more money.
Gustatory (taste) System: Food & beverage pairings have never been more important, and it isn’t just for wine. Consider appetizers (snacks) within your food & beverage program that pair with miniature versions of your signature beverages (beers, wines, and even cocktails) that could be served on flight boards; elevating all flavor profiles.
Your remaining food & beverage menu should be small, balanced, and targeted around flavor profiles that your ideal guests desire.
Summary; When you combine these efforts, it’s easy to see how a successful brand can build a community around thousands of fans – within 30 days of opening.
This is something you can easily replicate if you focus your decisions on layout, design, food, beverage, training, and events around the above sensories.
We Have a Problem – There’s No Team Spirit in Many Bars
Within the industry, we always talk about ‘experiences’ – and rightfully so. At the end of the day, experiences are what bars and restaurants sell to customers. All of the emphasis however, is on customer or guest experiences; but what about staff experiences?
Do your staff show up, do their job, and go home? Is there any sense of ‘family’ in your establishment? Is there laughter, or just silence, or even worse…complaining?
Time to Hit the Reset Button!
Desirable experiences shouldn’t stop with just your customers – your team craves experiences too! As owners, operators, and managers, it is up to you to make your concept more than just a ‘job’ or way for staff to ‘pay their bills’.
Implementing the right culture statement and team-based strategy, will assist in controlling your labor costs and reduce turnover – resulting in not only stronger consistency within your operations, but a positive environment that will flow to your customers and help amplify word-of-mouth marketing.
Here are some #BarHacks to help you get started:
Web Presence & Social Media
Bar enthusiasts are seeking to learn and understand the culture of a bar when deciding on their eating, drinking, patio, or party destination.
This is a great opportunity to showcase your team on your social media channels and on your website. Create a bio for your staff noting something unique about them, take a photo (or better yet, a video) of them and share this content to your ‘community’.
This will equally make your staff feel like they’re a part of a team and the business development process.
Create That Stay Interview
Many of you have likely heard the term ‘exit interview’, but what about a ‘stay interview’? Take video to the next level by interviewing your staff and developing a series of testimonials as to why they love working for your bar.
This tactic will create a sense of place and family among your team and also assist in your hiring process; positioning you to attain higher quality candidates who seek a positive working environment.
A great team member is one who craves learning and one who brings the same set of values as you do to the table. Keep in mind …
“A bar is only as good as its worst bartender”
Every bartender must be of the same quality at your bar. If not, guests may become a fan of one bartender (and not the bar itself) – leading them to follow the bartender if he/she were to leave for another bar.
Take the time to invest in further training and education for your entire team.
Depending on your overall bar concept and financial model, consider developing an educational program for your team.
Think outside the box and create culinary/hospitality scholarships and/or consider sending your team to farms, breweries, wineries etc. to learn about specific products you offer and their development processes.
Continuous education will create a sense of appreciation, enticing your team to stay loyal to your establishment while benefiting not only their experience, but your customers’ experience as well.
Profit Sharing Programs
It’s safe to say, everyone enjoys working towards a common goal. Consider creating a realistic monthly revenue goal (slightly above your current average) for your bar. Now share this goal with your staff and create a SMART plan for the month on how to collectively obtain that goal.
If you surpassed that goal (congratulations), distribute a percentage (5% for example) of the monetary difference among your team.
Repeating this process each month will not only increase your revenue and profit, but will develop a team working environment, reduce turnover, and make your team feel important to the business and its success.
SMART Staff Reviews
Speaking of goals, there should be team oriented goals (profit sharing) and also personal goals developed within an overall action plan.
You should sit down with each individual teammate at least once every three months.
During this meeting and using SMART (Specific. Measureable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely) objectives, give each teammate something to work on over the next three months.
This could be increasing revenue per transaction averages, providing accurate inventory counts, reducing waste levels, or having accurate end-of-day cash out reports.
Of course, reaching objectives should be rewarded; therefore create a reward program that works for your concept and financial model.
Don’t let your staff get complacent behind the bar by having the same menu month-after-month and year-after-year.
This will lead to boredom, which will eventually lead to turnover. Allow your team to be creative by ‘creating’ food or beverage options that fit within the confines of your concept.
Consider holding an in-house contest each month to choose one featured food and one featured beverage option created by a staff member.
Highlight this on your social media and in-house marketing (effectively creating a story) while rewarding that individual with a commission on sales from that item for the remainder of the month.
If the product sells really well, consider adding that item to your everyday menu the next time you re-engineer your food & beverage menu.
In summary, execute a marketing plan approach to your staff recruitment and staff development program.
The time, resources, and effort spent on this will be well worth it in the long-run.
Let’s be honest, the traditional bar setting serving cocktails is an environmental nightmare.
Let’s think about it; there is high use of energy within ice machines, refrigeration, and glass cleaning appliances. There is enormous waste in garnishes, straws, bottles, and napkins (to name a few). And finally, there are corporate wineries, distilleries, and breweries producing a large carbon footprint delivering spirits to the bar.
When it comes to bars; (or any other food & beverage service provider) the producers, manufacturers, delivery drivers, owners, managers, and servers ultimately share the responsibility to create an enjoyable guest experience within ones concept. As we have seen with restaurant kitchens over the past 3-5 years, there is now also a ‘movement’ towards eco-friendly and sustainable bars, something many guests are seeking as part of their desired experience.
On the surface, it may sound like an easy change, but creating cocktails in particular that are ‘sustainable’ (zero waste), is in-fact difficult to produce while maintaining the required quality, speed, and profit margins both operators and guests, look for.
So how can independent bars make a simple impact within this craft-cocktail ‘movement’? Let’s begin to have a look at some strategies (#barhacks) that one can implement starting today:
Re-Purposed Ingredients – How can you use 100% of an ingredient? Start by looking at the beverage menu. How large is it? Does it have focus? What ingredients are used in each and every drink that’s made? Which ones are used for infused flavour versus visual appeal? Which ingredients are only partially used with the remaining components discarded into compost, for example fruit scraps? Review each drink and look for ways to re-purpose ingredients and their counter-parts, within both the bar and/or kitchen.
Edible Garnishes – Obviously, cocktail garnishes are decorative ‘ornaments’ that often add character or style to a cocktail. They are often used to complement and enhance the flavours in a drink by stimulating the special nerve cells in our nose and mouth. The days of plastic straws, festive umbrellas, plastic skewers, and other non-edibles however, need to stop. Instead, use fresh fruits, flavour infused salts, edible stir sticks, edible flowers, house-made flavor-infused lollipops on candy sticks (yes), and steel skewers for olives and other edible garnishes, if so desired.
Energy Conservation – Take a close look at your glassware and how it is washed. Are you using over-sized glasses (ie. martini glasses) that are taking up too much space on the wash-rack, leading to unnecessary additional washes (which costs money and uses more detergents)? How many glasses could you fit if you changed glassware sizes?
How much ice are you using in each drink? Does the beverage really need ice or could the glass be simply pre-chilled? Take a look at your menu, glassware, fridge space, freezer space, and use of ice machine. Is there a way to reduce used energy within the bar itself to help create sustainable cocktails?
Supply Chain Management – Transparency, traceability, and accountability must be a top concern when deciding on vendors to ensure all products (both food and beverage) entering your bar or other food service business, are not only safe & sustainable for your customers, but for your community. Work with beer, wine, and spirit makers who are equally trying to make a difference. With the growth of local distilleries, breweries, wineries, and produce suppliers; supporting local and reducing the carbon footprint within a bar, is so much easier! Collaborate and work together to make a difference.
In summary, don’t start a goal of 100% zero waste or sustainability – it’s likely not going to happen overnight. Instead, set SMART realistic goals to reduce waste by 15 or 30% over the next 6 to 12 months to begin building a sustainable cocktail and/or bar venue. Once that goal is obtained – double down on that goal for the next 6 to 12 months. You and your customers will notice a positive difference!
Festive Season. These two words signal colder weather (in most areas), delicious comfort food, creative drinks, memorable parties, laughter with friends & family, and of course – gift giving.
These are also two words that nearly everyone seems to look forward to throughout the year, including that of restaurant owners. The reason is quite simple; consumers are often in a generous mood which equals longer stays and more spending dollars.
Restaurants, bars, and cafes have the opportunity to generate an abundance of awareness, an increase in revenue per guest, and even repeatable business in what can be defined as the often slower months following the Festive Season (yes it is possible).
Let’s jump right into some Festive strategies your concept or venue should consider this holiday season:
Make sure that special events and other winter-related promotions are planned for well in advance, ideally 1-2 months prior. This season is such a large opportunity, that a true marketing plan should be developed just for the season. The festive cheer that starts the season, for example, can act as a forerunner to both Christmas and New Years Eve parties, packages, and other revenue generating opportunities such as gift card sales.
Speaking of gift cards – create a marketing program specifically around these money-makers. Restaurants are the most popular choice for consumers to purchase gift cards, with 41% of total gift card spend going to restaurants. But don’t just sell the one card. Create a promotion that includes spending an ‘x’ amount of dollars on a card before Christmas, and receive a second card with an amount of ‘x’ that can only be used in January or February. Add value, be aggressive, and get people through your doors over the next two months when sales are traditionally lagging.
2. Labor Management
Similar to that of the retail sector and depending on the size of the restaurant, additional staff may need to be hired to handle the extra covers that are waiting to come in. This is where planning ahead really comes into play. To be fair to yourself, your team, your new hires, and your guests, you need to ensure you leave yourself enough time for interviewing, talent selection, onboarding, and training before the peak of Christmas season truly hits.
Both front-of-house and back-of-house systems and their teams need to be reviewed to ensure your operations are prepared. Customer service and speed in the kitchen or bar should not be hindered by the fact it’s getting busier. You can ‘scale’ your business by being prepared; create mock schedules and see where there may be gaps to ensure a high standard of service is available when your restaurant needs to shine.
Speaking of staff, let’s not forget about their valuable time! Ensure they’re given time to spend with their friends and family too. Be flexible with your scheduling – and don’t forget to thank them for their loyalty and commitment!
3. Off-Premise Dining
With the increase in delivery and off-premise dining, the Festive Season may not show any signs of slowing that segment down this year. Is your restaurant prepared to market the catering and delivery of food and beverage to office parties and house parties?
This presents an opportunity to offer the catering of a traditional or concept-infused, Christmas focused meal or buffet style dinner — right to their door!
Create a variation of value-added packages for different sized parties and request 72 hours (or more) notice (with deposit) to have it prepped and delivered, right on time. Just don’t forget the high-quality take-out containers and plates for an easy clean-up afterward!
Pre-ordered packages such as this will generate cash-flow, control potential waste, and control staff costs.
4. Food Menu
Is your restaurant in a position to offer a traditionally plated meal or other harvest/winter flavors? How about a unique variation or infusion based on your restaurant’s concept and kitchen structure?
Don’t be afraid to think outside-the-box and get creative. For example, if you’re a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) near a parade route, create an easy-to-eat holiday inspired option for ‘on-the-go’.
Develop a holiday-themed menu with your entire team (kitchen and bar team) with your target market and concept kept close in mind. Make it a fun exercise for everyone. As always, keep the specialized menu small and inviting to reduce inventory, prep-time, additional staff requirements, and potential waste.
You also want to keep in mind that a lot of the guests visiting may have never stepped foot in your establishment before because they’re just tagging along with a large party. Think of allergens and include dishes that vegans, vegetarians, and guests with other primary food sensitivities would still enjoy.
5. Beverage Menu
Having the right drinks on your menu is just as important as the food. The Christmas season is the best time of year to sell both pre-and-after-dinner drinks if you’re a dine-in restaurant.
You have to have the mindset that every drop counts!
While pre-and-after dinner drinks are big sellers, you can make a larger impact by offering ‘session drinks’ – drinks with a lower level of alcohol – or just zero-proof drinks all-together.
The drinking ‘culture’ associated with alcohol, in particular, has definitely changed over the past decade thanks to strict driving laws, the cost of ‘going out’, and the sophistication of consumers.
Show off your bar teams talent by creating ‘theatre’ in your beverages in addition to a balance in alcohol levels which should be promoted with the right mix of marketing.
When crafting your beverage menu, keep sustainability, speed, price, and perception of value in mind – for both non-alcohol and alcohol driven drinks.
6. Christmas & New Year’s Parties
You have the square footage, you have the approved capacity, and you have the kitchen/bar. These are the needed ingredients required to host an exclusive or intimate type event at any venue. Whether you have the capacity for 20 or 200 plus guests, there is an opportunity to generate awareness, revenue, and repeat customers by becoming known within your community for being the ‘best host in town’.
To make event management work for your restaurant, it must create a unique and memorable guest experience, which is no different than traditional dining strategies. Whether you’re hosting your own New Year’s Eve party or renting out your space before Christmas for a variety of private events – ensure there are defined (but value driven) food & beverage packages and a financial deposit made to protect your bottom line.
You also want to ensure there is a communication strategy in place to let other guests know if your venue is closed for a private event. Maximize each event by being organized, well staffed, and engaged. Take it a step further by providing guests at the event – an opportunity to revisit in January or February with a measurable gift (a coupon for a free appetizer or $10 gift card, for example).
By truly knowing and understanding your target market, your concept, and the neighboring business environment, the Festive Season is an excellent time to showcase your brand and your creativity – ultimately generating awareness, revenue, and repeat business opportunities, ultimately setting the tone for the following year!
Should restaurants ditch third party delivery apps and create their own in-house off-premise strategy? I recently took part in a few online conversations surrounding third party delivery apps – from both the consumer and the restaurant operator point-of-view.
If you follow along – I am not a fan of these services (at all). I’ve never used them nor suggested a brand to use them.
While I embrace technology in the restaurant space (and off-premise dining options) – I feel the business model surrounding these apps (in particular UberEats and Skip the Dishes during these most recent discussions) are lacking in both customer service and transparency while further killing overall restaurant profits (like operators today need anymore of that).
Let’s look at a recent transaction. I recently saw a screenshot from a consumer using a third party delivery application. After a delivery fee, a busy area fee, a peak delivery time fee, and the delivery fee taxes, a meal that was listed as $8.89 on the menu ended up costing them $30.36.
Of that, the restaurant earned a mediocre $6.67 of that order.
It’s not exactly a traditional breakdown of revenue that we see in restaurants, and operators today are struggling to adapt to this ever-changing restaurant landscape. I feel it came at them much too fast and many have jumped on board because they felt they had to.
But I have a question – why are we not doing a better job to get guests to spend that $30.36 they were willing to spend – in the restaurant or at least through our own off-premise dining program?
With a little effort – it can happen!
Here is what we know. Delivery and off-premise dining has disrupted the restaurant industry more in the last five years than anything else. Digital ordering paired with the outsourcing of delivery has impacted restaurant traffic, revenue, profit and overall restaurant operations like no other piece of industry-wide technology.
Based on the conversations this past weekend it seemed liked the only party benefiting from the use of these apps – was the third party. However, if you ask them, they’re apparently not making ‘huge profits’ either.
Here are a few notable quotes from the public chat that took place on Facebook – again from both consumer & operators:
“I’ve deleted the app – every time I’ve ordered, something goes wrong and a lot of times it’s the drivers fault not paying attention” – Consumer
“If you’re doing takeout, pick it up from your local business. Other than that you’re rolling the dice” – Operator
“Their chat-bot told me ‘we are deeply disappointed that we have failed to provide you with optimum service during your orders and for this reason we have decided that it is best to remove ourselves from this relationship’” – Consumer
“Best thing to do is get out and support your local restaurants, leave these rip off merchants congeal back in the gutter where they belong” – Operator
“I had no idea these apps take such a percentage from the restaurant on top of the delivery fee. I will no longer order through an app. I thought I was supporting my favorite restaurant, but apparently I wasn’t” – Consumer
Not much of anything positive.
Here’s the thing; recent stats are showing staggering numbers such as 60% of consumers ordering delivery in the past 30 days. Based on trend reports, this is ‘unfortunately’ only going to climb – even though I personally wish more people would visit restaurants, engage in the experience, get out of their home, and socialize with others away from their smart-phone.
But out of those that do order delivery through these third parties, 30% are experiencing poor customer experiences – with either the app or the restaurant – or both.
That is significantly higher than the number of complaints one would receive at the restaurant level without a third party being involved.
Here’s the next problem; according to a study by Steritech, consumers are placing over 80% of the problems on the restaurant through the use of these apps (even if most problems are not their fault).
Due to the third party app, a gap in communication immediately happens between the consumer and the restaurant. This leads to the restaurant not being able to often resolve the problem in a timely manner before that consumer blasts them for something on social media.
Not a pleasant situation.
This is because they’re sending their complaints directly to the third party app (the platform that ultimately placed the order for them) – which I suppose makes sense from a consumer point-of-view. This however leads to over 25% saying they would not order from the restaurant ever again – not entirely fair considering the restaurant may never have even known about this unhappy experience.
14% say food quality was not as expected (likely due to travel time or packaging)
19% say the order took too long
19% say the food wasn’t the correct temperature when it arrived (timing or packaging issue)
29% say the order was incorrect or missing something
All of this could be avoided! When partnering with these mainstream third party apps – you’re also:
Losing a direct communication channel
Losing positive brand perception
Losing much needed profits to sustain yourself
Losing consumer data for future marketing
Losing foot traffic in your dine-in real estate
Most importantly – you’re losing control once that food leaves your four walls.
Why on earth are we doing this to ourselves for such limited margins?
If you are operating a restaurant and are currently using these apps – though you will never have full control of the situation, there are a number of options available to you to leverage more control.
That said I encourage you to consider your own in-house off-premise program. These options below should be considered whether you’re partnering with a third party or if you’re offering your own in-house platform:
Offering a limited delivery only menu option with higher margins (consumers are obviously willing to spend more)
Offering limited day-part delivery times (example; not at 6pm on a Saturday when the kitchen is slammed)
Using specialized take-out packaging for certain menu items to protect the quality of your unique food options
Using tamper-proof packaging so delivery drivers cannot alter the order (happens often)
Having a quality control program (or expeditor) reviewing meals before it leaves the restaurant
Sending printed customer care promises (how to reach the restaurant directly) delivered with the meal
There are much better options out there for digital take-out, delivery, catering, and off-premise dining that will allow you to keep control of all of the above while maximizing profits including the introduction of your own off-premise strategy – which will often keep costs to under 10% – no joke!
Then, use these ‘savings’ to increase your own marketing & advertising efforts. It surely won’t be 25-30% like what these third party delivery apps are currently taking from independent operators (which you were willing to give up anyway); keeping more money in your pocket.
This type of in-house strategy will also differentiate your brand from the competition that is also increasing each day on these main-stream app platforms.
How will you stand out and make your brand memorable? How will you position your brand for a sustainable future? How will you protect your brand, its profits, and utilize the available customer data?
Don’t partner with them just because it seems like the easy thing to do or ‘because everyone is using them.’
The notion that you must be on them to survive is 100% inaccurate. If you need to use them for ‘marketing’ – you need to learn more about marketing.
Take a stand and learn about your options first.
I am yet to hear a positive story on how these main-stream third party delivery apps have actually helped their business grow in the long-term. In my professional opinion, restaurants should ditch third party delivery apps.
Originally Posted on Typsy – By Doug Radkey 10/02/2018
The development of a restaurant can be extremely daunting with its many moving parts and it’s easy to miss crucial start-up strategies within the mix of it all.
One you don’t want to overlook is your intended media launch strategy. Today, the word ‘media’ means so much more than your local newspaper outlet.
The worst thing you can do is start your marketing and promotional campaigns one week before opening or simply expect a Field of Dreams “if you build it, they will come” type of scenario to work.
Hint: it doesn’t!
A successful restaurant launch includes building plenty of buzz for the three-four months leading up to the opening. It also means developing what we call a communications strategy to deal with the variety of media outlets both before and after opening.
A strong communications strategy will prepare you for the most effective social, digital, and community-related marketing tools in relation with targeted media partnerships which will then target your specified audience across a multitude of touch-points.
Aside from the established chain restaurants, many aspiring and independent restaurateurs do not have the budget for their own in-house marketing team (or outsourcing an award-winning agency). And that’s okay. In order to be fully present within your community both before and after opening, restaurateurs just need to ensure they have the necessary marketing plans in place.
This means projecting the right voice to attract the right audience. This also means determining the tone of your content, the nature of your interaction, and the overall approach to your brands messaging.
It also means knowing how to handle any third party media attention before and after opening.
To develop an effective communications strategy – you want to focus on three key areas: your social media, your public relations, and your direct-to-consumer channels. Let’s have a look at each.
Within both your marketing and communications plan, you firstwant to develop a social media strategy. There is no getting around this today. Use plenty of simple, cost-effective strategies in the weeks prior to opening to create the buzz you want (and need). These methods will also maximize exposure (to both the public and other media outlets) in addition to early revenue opportunities during what’s known as your ‘honeymoon period’ – the first three months of operating.
This includes developing and/or executing on:
Social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, that your target audience actually uses each and every day
The development of strategic monthly content calendars for each social channel
The creation of social media contests and sales-driven promotions
Social media paid-advertising campaigns to further build your targeted community
Digital marketing partnerships where you can leverage both social media and email marketing
Food and beverage photography and videography strategies to enhance your visuals
It’s not easy building an online community from scratch. Your social media presence must have a strategy behind it – not a ‘spray and pray’ method of posting a food photo and hoping your target market will engage with it. It is imperative that you’re consistent, unique, and strategic. You also want to build digital partnerships that will help you successfully piggy-back on another’s already built social media community.
Leading up to the opening and for the first one-to-two months after – you want to build strong relations with your local media partners. Pairing this with a strong social media strategy is crucial in developing the awareness you need to get a head start in generating revenue.
You want to consider the following methods:
The development of your key brand messages to create consistency and reduce confusion
The creation, management, and distribution of press materials including a press kit, fact sheets, press releases, and owner/chef biographies
The development of a targeted media list – online, print, and broadcast. Know beforehand who you want and don’t want to associate throughout your local media. Don’t waste time meeting with media outlets that don’t have the same target audience as you do
Partnering with key influencers (bloggers) and tastemakers (farmers, breweries, wineries, and other key suppliers to your restaurant)
The identification and training of your start-up brand ambassadors; this includes ownership, management, and other priority personnel
At a minimum, you want to send out press releases and contact your local restaurant bloggers, podcasters, food critics, and social media influencers. Engage with your local industry dignitaries on social media and then inform them of your newly developed restaurant. Create an invite only event either before or during your soft opening to maximize on their value and to amplify your story.
To tie all of your social media and public relations together to create a winning communications strategy, you want to include a variety of direct-to-consumer campaigns throughout the first 30-90 days of opening.
You want to ensure your target market is seeing your brand across a variety of channels. Pending your choice of concept – you want to entice them to visit your venue approximately three times before the end of your honeymoon period.
You can achieve this by creating the emotion that your target audience is going to miss out on the hottest new restaurant in town (FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out). You can do this by creating the following:
A variety of menu tasting and beverage pairing events
Direct mail marketing campaigns to targeted hyper-local neighborhoods
Community marketing outreach and partnership opportunities (events, donations, and sponsorships)
Site sampling and street activations by personally taking food samples and marketing material to local businesses (using your developed brand ambassador strategy)
In-house return visit campaigns that measure the return-frequency of customers
How will you reach the maximum number of targeted customers with the least amount of spending to maximize your return-on-investment? How will you plan to be memorable and stand out from the competition as time goes on? Start early and be creative, imaginative, and bold in all of your efforts while being prepared to handle social media, public relations, and direct-to-consumer strategies.