QSR

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Dynamic Pricing or Dynamic Menus?

Dynamic Pricing or Dynamic Menus?

by Doug Radkey

Two sportbikes racing

A key phrase used throughout 2022 was “the new normal.” In 2023, a key term you will likely hear a lot is “dynamic pricing.”

What is dynamic pricing? It can get quite complex, but the global consulting company, McKinsey, defines dynamic pricing as “the (fully or partially) automated adjustment of prices.”

The term is not entirely new to hospitality. Hotels and the overall travel industry have used modules of the pricing model for years. But for restaurants and even bars, yes, it is something new.

It is also a model getting a lot of attention of late, which begs the following question: Why?

As the bar and restaurant industry recovers from the effects of the pandemic, a dynamic pricing model that optimizes revenue opportunities may seem quite attractive. After all, our industry is looking to rejuvenate its sales to pre-pandemic levels.

Essentially, a dynamic pricing model within this industry would work like this: increase prices when demand is up (peak periods), decrease prices to draw guests in when demand is down (off-peak times).

But should this be a model that disrupts the industry in 2023 and into 2024?

While I am all for a little disruption, the industry needs to tread carefully through this potential transition to dynamic pricing (or perhaps just around the phrase itself) that’s based on demand levels.

Guest Experiences

We all know (or should know) that we do not sell a product. What we sell is an experience.

If we can create a positive, memorable guest experience first and foremost, the revenue will follow.

While hotels and travel, as examples, have boasted “positive financial results” over the years through their different approaches to dynamic pricing (while still trying to focus on the end-user guest experience), independent bar and restaurant brands must be careful not to create a hostile brand perception.

Why? Because many consumers view changing prices based solely on levels of demand as being unfair.

Being unfair will certainly create a negative guest experience and/or brand perception. The hotel and airline industries have been able to navigate this perception successfully by offering alternatives. For example, different rooms and amenities or less convenient flight times at different price points. Essentially, companies in lodging and travel provide options and flexibility before customers make the choice to spend.

What about rideshare and surge pricing as another example? Many of you reading this have likely been burned by surge pricing as a consumer, which can be by definition a form of dynamic pricing.

Have you ever tried to book a rideshare during peak periods in a major market? What would normally be a $20 ride is suddenly $40 to $60 (or more) because of their dynamic pricing model.

What did I do in this situation during a recent business trip? I walked another 25 feet up to the cab staging area of the airport and got my ride for $25.

The end results? I had a negative customer experience with the rideshare company, first and foremost. Additionally, that negative experience drove me to the competition. The key here is I was given a choice.

Now let’s switch that scenario to a restaurant.

The Restaurant Scenario

You book a table at your favorite restaurant and order that incredible steak dinner you always enjoy. But instead of it being $50 like you have grown accustomed to, it is now $75 or more. How are you as a consumer going to feel about this new price just because you visited your favorite spot during a “peak period” on a Saturday night? Were you given a choice before the spend?

Of course, this can work in the opposite direction: ordering a meal during a non-peak time and getting it for a cheaper price, thereby getting a discount.

But should we be confusing our customers based on their chosen, convenient time to visit your restaurant or bar? Should you also focus on “discounting” to drive people to your business?

I have even seen recommendations for offering an increased price for peak period but using what was the previous regular price during the non-peak times, labeling the normal price a “discount.”

Should we be framing our regular priced menu options as a discount just so we can charge and make more during a peak period? Is this being fair and ethical to your loyal customers? Should we be going down this road?

With this model (and the phrase “dynamic pricing”), which is based on demand, it is very easy to see how you can quickly confuse or alienate your loyal guests. Unless the industry in its entirety migrates over to this demand-driven model, a similar scenario as outlined above can play out for you and your guests.

Without extremely strong but transparent communication systems in place (which will be a challenge in itself), it is safe to assume that they will likely visit another restaurant up the street and/or provide negative feedback because they feel your pricing model is confusing or unfair.

Dynamic Menus

The phrase that is much more simplified and will be more easily embraced by both operators and guests is “dynamic menu.”

So, what’s the difference?

While it is still by definition “the (fully or partially) automated adjustment of prices,” it is not based on demand throughout the day. Rather, pricing is based on simple supply chain and operational cost adjustments.

According to the National Restaurant Association:

  • 95 percent of restaurants have recently had significant supply delays or shortages of key food items; and
  • 75 percent of restaurants have had to change their menu because of supply chain issues.

With a more dynamic menu, you can adjust pricing to suit those changes accordingly, through the lens of real-time ingredient cost, labor costs, productivity levels, and even the availability of certain menu items.

This simply means that the incredible steak dinner a guest has always enjoyed at your place is perhaps now $53 instead of $50 because the price of beef went up the past week or month. This ensures that as an operator, you will have a minimal gap between your theoretical and actual food costs.

Again, this should work both ways, meaning if the price of beef has gone down, so too should the price.

This means that your guests are paying an accurate value for each item, based on your intended sales mix and contributions, without a loss in margin on your end or negative experience on the guest end.

This means that everything on your menu is “market price” or MP. Where have we seen that before…?

Market Price

We all know restaurant menus will commonly deduct a price and replace it with the term “market price” (often abbreviated to “MP”). This means the price of the menu item depends on the market price of the ingredients, and the price is available upon request. It has been used for years for seafood in particular—most notably lobsters and oysters—in many restaurants.

Therefore, this pricing model is not entirely new. So, why should it stop at just high-priced seafood?

The reason many operators would use the abbreviated MP was because they did not want to reprint menus every single day as the prices fluctuated greatly.

As we move towards digitally savvy restaurant operations, implementing integrated technology and menus, we can begin to find alternatives and ensure that we are actively pricing our menus accordingly based on the market (and overhead costs) to strengthen top- and bottom-line results.

Knowledge is Power

To make a dynamic menu work, whether you’re a QSR, sports bar, casual-dining or fine-dining concept, or any other category of bar or restaurant, you need to know your target customers, provide a targeted menu, and know your numbers (the data).

Curating and engineering a menu should be a simplified process. To be honest, this should have been streamlined prior to the pandemic.

Your menu should be developed based on data, consumer sentiment, regional ingredients, regional suppliers, and local talent within the confines of the overall concept. Food and beverage programs should be developed with thought, care, speed, precision, execution, and last-but-not-least: consistent profits in mind.

Keeping menus “small” (10 to 12 or even 15 items at maximum) will be the new threshold of a successful, more profitable operation. This size of menu will allow bars and kitchens to operate more efficiently; keep inventory costs both low and controlled; control training and labor costs; and provide guests with the most flavorful and exciting items that they truly want.

Be Nimble

You also want to provide menu flexibility by continually reviewing your supply chain. Maintaining a strong personal relationship with your suppliers is imperative. You must also review your costs and inventory on a daily and weekly basis to make dynamic menus work.

To keep inventory, purchase orders, and potential waste to a minimum, it will be crucial that you to ensure your menu is small but innovative. The only way to accomplish this is through effective data management.

However, the new challenge for many independent brands is making data timely, relevant, digestible, and actionable for operators and their leadership teams. The ability to collect, interpret, and effectively react to key datapoints is going to be crucial for anyone who wants to implement a dynamic menu, and for moving forward in general.

At the end of the day, profiting from a dynamic menu is all about making decisions based on accurate cost and productivity data. Of course, there’s only one way to obtain data: embrace technology and create strategic clarity around it.

The Tech Stack

The key to successfully implementing a dynamic menu is integrating a stack of technology that provides real-time data and trend reports.

From point-of-sale software and reports to accounting software, inventory and recipe management software, and invoice management software or a suite that includes all of the above that’s integrated and working together, you can obtain real-time data to adjust your pricing based on real-time ingredient and productivity costs on a daily or weekly basis.

You want seamless movement of data from front- to back-of-house that will position you to make decisions and have a more complete picture of inventory stock levels, costs, and ordering needs, plus itemized sales, contribution margins, and productivity levels.

In Summary

While we must find ways to be innovative, potentially price-gouging our guests during peak periods and discounting during slow periods is not the way for this industry to recuperate and build loyal customers.

Building a strong brand through the creation of memorable experiences and by building connection with your community along with strategic planning, effective marketing, the elements of culture, and efficient operations, you can build sustainable revenue and profit channels.

By following a more dynamic menu approach within your operations, you can still maintain transparency with your guests with less challenging communication methods, remain a fair and well-respected brand within your community, and improve your margins by three to five percent or more with the right people and systems in place.

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. The question here remains: Are you Team Dynamic Pricing or Team Dynamic Menus?

Image: Joe Neric on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

FAST Act Dealt Knockdown Blow

FAST Act Dealt Knockdown Blow

by David Klemt

Boxer being knocked back by punch

A bill we think is one to watch, California’s Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, may be on the ropes already.

Assembly Bill 257, known as the FAST Act, is “on hold” until 2024. So, while the Save Local Restaurants coalition and voters have yet to kill the bill, it may be out on its feet.

We reported two months ago that fast food chains were moving quickly to kill the FAST Act. It appears that the initial attack on AB-257 was successful.

That is, the chains and coalition got what they want: the ballot initiative vote has knocked down AB-257.

For those unfamiliar with the Save Local Restaurants Coalition, the following organizations are members: The National Restaurant Association (NRA), US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), and International Franchise Association (IFA). Further, fast-casual and QSR chain coalition members—including Starbucks, In N Out, McDonald’s, and Chipotle—threw nearly $13 million at the ballot measure that halted FAST.

What’s FAST?

To read AB-257, the FAST Act, in its entirety, click here.

In summary, FAST:

FAST does the following:

  • establishes the Fast Food Council, ten members appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee. The council will operate until January 1, 2029;
  • defines “the characteristics of a fast food restaurant“;
  • gives the Fast Food Council the authority to set “minimum fast food restaurant employment standards, including standards on wages, working conditions, and training“;
  • provides the council the power to “issue, amend, and repeal any other rules and regulations, as necessary”; and
  • allows the formation of a Local Fast Food Council by a county, or a city that has a population of more than 200,000.

Voters effectively stopped California from implementing FAST until November 2024 at the earliest. (That is, if the California Secretary of State verifies that the referendum effort did indeed secure the required amount of signatures.)

Opposition

A statement from Save Local Restaurants reads, in part:

The quick-service restaurants targeted by the law – which include coffee shops, juice bars, pizzerias, delis, and salad shops – already operate on small, single-digit profit margins. These include more than 10,000 small businesses, including thousands of women- and minority-owned businesses.

If these restaurants are forced to absorb the costs, the result will be bad for workers and local communities. To survive, many restaurant owners will have no choice but to reduce worker hours or introduce automation. Some may choose to leave their communities entirely or go out of business.

As is often the case with overreaching California policies, this is likely only the beginning.

Additionally, the National Restaurant Association, a member of the coalition, has said the following:

The impacts of the FAST Act won’t be limited to quick service restaurants in California. The law allows the new regulating council to set a higher minimum wage for quick service restaurants. Independent restaurants will, however, be forced to increase their pay to match, so they can remain competitive when recruiting and retaining workforce.

Takeaway

We believe this bill is one to watch because similar efforts could spring up in other states. Also, just because the bill is on hold until 2024 in California doesn’t mean other states aren’t working on similar legislation right now.

Now, there are obviously two sides to consider. Opponents, as we see above, say FAST will raise prices, eliminate jobs, and hurt families.

Proponents believe FAST will protect the health, safety, and welfare of fast-food workers. Additionally, the Fast Food Council could increase the minimum wage for fast food workers above California’s $15.50 minimum (effective January 1, 2023).

We’ll keep an eye on FAST over the next couple of years. Perhaps the coalition can work with California on a bill that protects fast food workers and doesn’t hurt operators and the communities they serve.

At any rate, FAST is down but certainly not yet out.

Image: Johann Walter Bantz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canada’s Single-use Plastics Ban

How Canada’s Single-use Plastics Ban Affects Operators

by David Klemt

Single-use plastic straws and utensils

With a few exceptions, Canada’s ban on the manufacture, importation, and sale of single-use plastics is now officially in effect.

However, that doesn’t mean restaurant and bar operators need to worry about current inventories just yet. While the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations are in effect, operators have a year to deplete their stocks.

SUPPR is a crucial element of Canada’s overall plan to combat pollution and reach a goal of zero plastic waste by 2030. The single-use plastics ban was announced in June of this year.

“We promised Canadians we would deliver a ban on single-use plastics. Today, that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault the day SUPPR was announced. “By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics. After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean.

Now, six months later, it’s the law of the land.

What’s Banned?

Essentially, Canadian operators must evaluate everything they use for delivery and takeout or pickup. If any items are single-use plastic, they must be gone by December 2023.

Per SUPPR, the manufacture, importation, and sale of the following is prohibited:

  • Checkout bags designed to carry purchased goods from a business and typically given to a customer at the retail point of sale.
  • Cutlery includes:
    • knives
    • forks
    • spoons
    • sporks
    • chopsticks
  • Foodservice ware designed for serving or transporting food or beverage that is ready to be consumed, and that:
    • contains
      • expanded polystyrene foam
      • extruded polystyrene foam
      • polyvinyl chloride
      • carbon black
      • an oxo-degradable plastic
    • are limited to the following items
      • clamshell containers
      • lidded containers
      • boxes
      • cups
      • plates
      • bowls
  • Ring carriers are flexible and designed to surround beverage containers in order to carry them together.
  • Stir sticks designed to stir or mix beverages, or to prevent a beverage from spilling from the lid of its container.
  • Straws include:
    • straight drinking straws, and
    • flexible straws, which have a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend, packaged with beverage containers (juice boxes and pouches)

For accuracy, the above comes from the Government of Canada website directly, unedited.

What does this mean for Operators?

Again, operators in Canada don’t need to toss their current stock of the above items.

However, Restaurants Canada does recommend that operators contact suppliers and customers if they import, export, or sell prohibited items currently.

The single most important thing for operators to do now is research single-use plastic alternatives. Items need testing as changes will affect F&B items and the guest experience.

Of course, it’s possible an operator’s current supplier already offers alternatives to single-use plastics. That could prove convenient but costs, supply chain reliability, and impact on menu items need careful consideration.

Sustainability and responsible practices are no longer just conversation topics within the industry. As of this week, in Canada, they’re the only way forward.

Image: Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Restaurant Revitalization Back?

Restaurant Revitalization Back on the Table?

by David Klemt

US Capitol Building and cloudy sky

After watching the Restaurant Revitalization Fund die a slow, painful death earlier this year, three senators are trying to help the industry again.

Three Democratic senators seem to think that the RRF battle isn’t over. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Patty Murray (D-WA) are trying once again to help RRF applicants. As a refresher, Sen. Cardin is among the original RRF legislation authors.

Last Thursday, the senators introduced the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act. Now, before we get into the details, it appears this bill is a stop-gap of sorts. A statement from Sen. Murray suggests as much.

Per a statement from Sen. Muray, the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund left too many behind. I believe we need to replenish the Fund and will keep pressing to do so. Until that happens, bills like the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act will help keep restaurants afloat.”

It’s safe to say a significant number of operators prefer replenishment of the RRF to a tax credit. However, this could represent a step in the right direction.

The Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act

For those with an interest in dissecting the bill, the text in its entirety is here.

In summary, here’s what Sens. Cardin, Brown, and Murray want to see become law: a payroll offset of $25,000. Of course, it’s not that simple—there are requirements and nuances.

First, the only eligible restaurants are RRF applicants who didn’t receive a grant. Second, the restaurant must prove:

  • operating losses of at least 30 percent in 2020 and 2021 in comparison to 2019; or
  • losses of at least 50 percent in either 2020 or 2021 in comparison to 2019.

Additionally, applicants must have been operating at least as far back as March 14, 2020. There’s also a payroll tax requirement: the applicant restaurant must have paid the taxes in at least two quarters in 2021. But wait—it doesn’t end there.

Restaurants with ten or fewer employees could offset a maximum of $25,000 in payroll taxes for the entirety of 2023. However, for every employee over ten, the refund cap drops by $2,500.

So, this bill appears to target very small operations for assistance. Assistance, we can only hope, that’s meant to help until the Senate and House replenish the RRF.

After all, Sen. Murray did say this bill—”bills like,” to be precise—is meant to “help keep restaurants afloat.”

It’s difficult to view this effort through anything but a skeptical lens given what happened earlier this year. And hope, as the saying goes, isn’t a strategy. But I suppose this bill represents a glimmer of hope that the estimated 175,000-plus RRF applicants who never received a grant may still get the help they deserve.

Image: J. Amill Santiago on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The NRA’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

by David Klemt

Cheesy chicken sandwich on paper wrapper

Ahead of the beginning of a new year, the National Restaurant Association unveils their culinary trend predictions for 2023.

The report is the result of a collaboration between the NRA, Technomic, and the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

For those unfamiliar, Technomic is at the forefront of foodservice trend tracking, industry research, and analysis. Likewise, the ACF is a premier industry organization. Tracing its founding to 1929, the ACF promotes “the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.”

To predict what will be “hot” next year, the NRA, Technomic, and ACF sent the 17th annual What’s Hot survey to thought leaders and chefs. In direct partnership with the Technomic Menu Research & Insights Division, the NRA predicted the top menu trends from 110 items spanning 11 categories.

Now, this isn’t a full dive into the report in its entirety. Rather, we strongly encourage our readers to download a copy of What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast for themselves and their teams.

What readers will find below are the top 10 trends for 2023. Additionally, we’ll share the top three macro trends for next year, as forecast by the NRA and their partners.

More than Food

Somewhat surprisingly, the NRA’s top-ten list of culinary trends isn’t just a list of food items. Instead, this forecast paints a picture of where restaurants are heading in 2023.

While there are some specific cuisine predictions, the NRA’s top culinary predictions show us, in part, how consumers want to experience the restaurants they visit.

  1. Southeast Asian cuisines (examples: Vietnamese, Singaporean)
  2. Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
  3. Globally inspired salads
  4. Sriracha variations
  5. Menu streamlining
  6. Flatbread sandwiches/Healthier wraps
  7. Comfort fare
  8. Charcuterie boards
  9. Fried chicken sandwiches and Chicken sandwiches “3.0” (example: fusion of flavors)
  10. Experiences/Local culture and community

As we can see, operators and consumers expect tighter, more concept-specific menus. Also, comfort foods; shareable (and “Instagrammable”) items like charcuterie boards; and items that show local and global influences may be hot in 2023.

One can consider, then, streamlining their menu to include their top sellers along with local and/or global flavors authentic to their brand.

Below, readers will see that three of the trends above make up the NRA’s top-three 2023 macro trends:

  1. Menu streamlining
  2. Comfort fare
  3. Experiences/Local culture and community

Operator and Consumer Behavioral Shifts

Looking at the macro trends, it’s reasonable to believe the past few years will influence 2023 heavily.

Operators are dealing with inflation, higher costs for everything, labor shortages. Further, according to Datassential, more than a third of American operators are experiencing low traffic and sales levels.

We can expect these issues to follow us into 2023, at least for Q1 and Q2. Therefore, the NRA’s macro trends forecast makes sense. Streamlining menus often leads to streamlining the back and front of house. In turn, doing so can lower costs and boost staff retention.

On the consumer side, it appears comfort foods, chicken sandwiches, and experiences are driving visits and online orders. These are, as we all know, behavioral shifts we can trace back to the start of the pandemic.

We always suggest proceeding with caution, logic, and data when considering embracing trends. Missing out on trends can be just as costly as latching onto a trend too late.

That said, the macro trends certainly seem reasonable. Only time will tell, but the NRA’s 2023 forecast certainly contains several items operators and their teams should give serious consideration.

Image: Arabi Ishaque on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Merchants Support Credit Card Act

100s of Merchants Support Credit Card Competition Act

by David Klemt

Customer paying via Square terminal

Perhaps at least somewhat unsurprisingly, support for the Credit Card Competition Act is growing rapidly among merchants.

In fact, 1,802 merchants are making their position on the bill clear. Those hundreds of merchants drafted, signed, and set a letter to the House and Senate.

The crux of that letter? To tell our lawmakers to support and pass the Credit Card Competition Act.

To view the letter, sent by the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), please click here. For the bill and its status, follow this link.

The Credit Card Competition Act: A Quick Summary

According to the MPC, credit and debit card transactions just in the US reached $3.49 trillion in 2021. Along with those transactions came $77.48 billion in merchant fees—just for Visa and MasterCard.

Why call those out those two processors in particular? Well, it’s because they’re behind about 576 million credit cards. Oh, and they also control 87 percent of the processing market.

In the span of just one decade, Visa and MasterCard swipe fees have risen 137 percent. So, it’s not surprising that merchants are supportive of the Credit Card Competition Act.

There are, indeed, restaurant and hospitality groups attached to the MPC’s letter to Congress. Taking a quick glance, Denny’s franchisees, Dutchman Hospitality Group, and Mandalay Hospitality Group are among the signees.

Obviously, this makes sense—swipe fees are among the highest costs operators face every day.

Where’s this Bill Currently?

It shouldn’t be too shocking to find that this has yet to make much progress. The bill’s sponsors, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Marshall (R-KS), introduced it in the senate at the end of July.

Three months later, October 28, an attempt was made to include the bill in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For those who are unfamiliar, the NDAA is known as a “must-pass” bill. After all, it specifies the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) budget and expenditures each year.

Along with a reported 900 other “riders,” Sens. Durbin and Marshall tried to get their bill passed within the NDAA. Unfortunately for the senators and supporters of the bill, the NDAA vote was pushed until the middle of November…which we’re now past.

Of course, the US did just undergo a mid-term election cycle. So, I suppose it’s reasonable to be a bit more patient with the Senate and the progress of this bill.

Those who work in or support our industry can make their opinion of this bill known. Just follow this link to the National Restaurant Association Credit Card Competition Act portal.

Image: Clay Banks on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

by David Klemt

Newfoundland and Labrador during daytime

If you’re wondering which province in Canada is the happiest, Statistics Canada has the answer—and the happiest may surprise you.

Of course, those who live and work in the happiest province won’t find it shocking. After all, they’re largely happy to be there.

However, if you expect the happiest province to be the home of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Canada… Well, you’re in for a surprise.

Earlier this week we took a look at the happiest cities and states in America. Congratulations Fremont, California, and Hawaii, respectively. To learn where 181 other cities and 49 states rank, please click here.

The Happiness Survey

Or more accurately, the “life satisfaction” survey. For this survey, that’s what Statistics Canada reveals: life satisfaction.

Interestingly, the survey is very simple. Apparently, Statistics Canada simply asked participants to rate the satisfaction of living in their province, zero through ten. For this survey, zero is least satisfied, ten is most.

Ages 15 through 75 (and older) were able to participate. The survey was also broken down to gauge the satisfaction of men and women.

Before we jump into the breakdown of province satisfaction or happiness, some good news. Reviewing the Statistics Canada data, most participants across all age groups are happy. In fact, age groups 65 to 74 and 75-plus appear to be happiest.

On the other side, ages 15 to 54 had the most people who rated their life satisfaction between zero and five. Even so, just over 20 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction a five or less.

So, on the whole, Canadians seem satisfied or happy with their lives, regardless of the province in which they live. Personally, I find that to be great news.

The Happiest Province

Okay, let’s dive into the reason you’re here: to learn which province is the happiest.

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Prince Edward Island
  3. Quebec
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Manitoba
  6. Alberta
  7. Saskatchewa
  8. Nova Scotia
  9. Ontario
  10. British Columbia

The above rankings are determined by the percentage of survey respondents who rated their life satisfaction eight, nine or ten. So, if you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, wow—you’re apparently one incredibly happy person.

Conversely, below you’ll find the rankings as determined by the largest percentage of respondents who rated their satisfaction a five or lower. As you’ll find, the list below isn’t simply the inverse of the one above.

  1. Ontario
  2. British Columbia
  3. New Brunswick
  4. Alberta
  5. Nova Scotia
  6. Prince Edward Island
  7. Manitoba
  8. Saskatchewa
  9. Quebec
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador

As far as Canada overall, the results of this particular survey are positive. Just 19.4 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction or happiness zero through five. And only 28.9 percent provided a rating of six or seven.

More than half of Canadians, 51.7 percent, rate their lives an eight, nine or ten. That’s some great and welcome news.

Image: Erik Mclean on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

2023: Year of the POS Systems?

2023: Year of the POS Systems?

by David Klemt

SpotOn POS system on laptop

Image from SpotOn press release

According to SpotOn, the industry could be in for a tech revolution next year as independent operators pursue more powerful POS solutions.

The results of a survey conducted by the cloud-based POS platform are rather revealing. In an effort to better understand where the industry is heading, SpotOn surveyed 300 independent and small-chain restaurant operators.

Both full-service and limited-service (LSR) concept operators participated in this SpotOn survey. Intended to identify the challenges operators face currently, the results reveal much more.

Below, the picture these survey results paint for the industry.

Legacy vs. Innovation

This isn’t the first time I’ve stated the following: Our industry hasn’t been the fastest to implement new technology.

However, we did appear to turn that around in 2021. Now, heading into 2023, our industry may be pursuing cutting-edge tech solutions even more fervently. Today’s guest expects more tech, and your team likely wants access to more modern tech that makes their jobs easier.

Per SpotOn’s survey, 81 percent of independent operators still use so-called “legacy” POS systems. These are “traditional” systems from companies that have been around for quite some time.

It’s not difficult to understand why the vast majority of independent operators continue using legacy systems:

  • Investing in a new platform requires expenditures of money and time.
  • Introducing a new POS platform requires staff training.
  • Staff need to grow adept at using the new system.
  • It can be daunting to research the available platforms and implementing change.

So, independent and small-chain operators have a choice to make: Stick with the familiar or invest in the future. Change can not only be intimidating, it can be expensive.

However, it seems that most operators are ready to throw comfort to the wayside and embrace innovation.

State-of-the-art Benefits

Should the SpotOn survey prove to be accurate snapshot of the industry, 75 percent of operators will implement new tech next year. According to SpotOn, this is largely in response to growing labor challenges, such as scheduling and retention.

The restaurant, bar, nightclub, and food truck platform found that operators are spending as much as 20 hours per week on administrative tasks. State-of-the-art POS systems can slash those hours by:

  • streamlining operations;
  • making scheduling simpler;
  • calculating tips and payout for payroll; and
  • managing overtime, an increasingly common task.

More modern POS platforms can automate labor management tasks, saving operators time, money, and frustration. Automation and streamlining give operators something invaluable: time.

In particular, innovative and helpful tech solutions provide an operator with time to focus on growing their business. When weighing whether to keep a familiar but less feature-rich POS system or invest in a modern platform that seamlessly integrates many solutions, ask yourself a couple important questions:

  • What’s my time worth?
  • What am I focusing on every day?
  • Am I growing my business or stagnating?
  • Is my current POS system helping or hindering my team?
  • Does my POS system streamline and automate any tasks?

Image: SpotOn

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tipping is on the Ballot in Washington, DC

Tipping is on the Ballot in Washington, DC

by David Klemt

Folded dollar bills

Out of concern that people who work for tips aren’t making minimum wage in Washington, DC, Initiative 82 is on the ballot.

This is interesting for several reasons. One of which is the fact this isn’t the first time this issue has been voted on in DC.

Back in 2018, Initiative 77 was presented to Washington, DC, voters. The initiative took the $3.33 per hour minimum wage for tipped workers up to $15 per hour, the full minimum wage.

In June 2018, the measure was approved by voters. However, the Washington, DC, Council held a vote and repealed Initiative 77 after if had been passed.

Phil Mendelson (D-Chairman) of the Washington, DC, Council, introduced the bill that ultimately repealed Initiative 77 in October 2018.

“The Council amends laws all the time. And if a law is a bad law it should be amended or repealed,” said Mendelson at the time. “It doesn’t matter if the law was adopted by Congress, the voters, or ourselves.”

Further, Mendelson claimed that tipped workers themselves—bartenders, servers, valets, manicurists, and more—didn’t hold a favorable view of the passing of the initiative.

“77 may be well-intentioned, but the very people the Initiative is intended to help are overwhelmingly opposed. If we want to help workers – protect them from harassment and exploitation – there are better ways than Initiative 77,” Mendelson said.

One council member, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), opposed repealing Initiative 77 and addressed claims that it was harmful to tipped workers.

“Although I take these claims seriously, in my view they are speculative and not borne out by the experience of the other jurisdictions that have one wage,” said Cheh.

Support

Whenever increasing tipped worker wages to full minimum wage comes up, we tend to encounter the same arguments for and against.

Currently, the tipped hourly wage in DC is $5.35 per hour. In comparison, full minimum wage in DC is $16.10 per hour.

Now, as the law reads, if a tipped worker’s wages don’t equate to full minimum wage, their employer is expected to bridge the gap.

The key argument for the passing of Initiative 82 is simple: tipped workers should make at least minimum wage. These workers deserve the stability of knowing how much they’ll make each shift and earning a living wage (consistently, hopefully).

Those who support Initiative 82 also say that since the measure doesn’t outlaw tipping, tipped workers would earn more than minimum wage.

Opposition

Opponents, however, argue that the initiative will harm tipped workers. Some say that operators will cut shifts and increase prices in response to Initiative 82 passing. This will, of course, lead to servers, bartenders, and other tipped workers making much less than they did in the past.

Traffic may also decrease because it’s assumed that operators will increase costs significantly.

There’s also the argument that’s often (if not always) made when this topic comes up: Tipped workers themselves don’t support these initiatives.

“I have not met a single server who wants this,” Washington, DC, bar owner David Perruzza told the Washington Blade. Perruzza added, “The people who support this don’t know anything about the service industry.”

A Few Questions…

I’ve made no secret of my cynicism when it comes to politicians and their relationships with our industry.

My main argument was made for me: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund saga. We watched for months as Congress failed to replenish the RRF, leaving more than 177,000 operators and their staffs to fend for themselves. This, after months of dangling replenishment in front of all of us. Ultimately, they abandoned us.

Tellingly, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) referred to RRF replenishment as a “bailout.” And apparently he doesn’t think much of the challenges operators have faced since the start of the pandemic, asking, “Where’s the emergency?” The closures of tens of thousands of restaurants and bars, often the cornerstones of communities across the country, doesn’t rank as an emergency, apparently.

So, Initiative 77, Initiative 82, and similar measures beg a few questions:

  • Do politicians actually ask their tipped-wage constituents their thoughts on this topic before introducing these ballot measures?
  • When these initiatives are being considered, do people just ask a few operator friends their opinions?
  • Do local, state, and federal politicians really have a grasp of our industry?

One thing is certain: Industry eyes across the country are on Initiative 82. If it passes, we can likely expect similar measures to be introduced in cities and states. Should it fail, it may be a while before another jurisdiction sees this type of initiative again.

Image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

by David Klemt

Closeup of hands holding burger

Those wondering what food and beverage menu items are performing best among consumers throughout Canada need wonder no more.

And why is that? Well, Restaurants Canada has the answers, revealing the top ten food and top ten beverage items.

Further, the organization compares each item’s performance. In this instance, Restaurants Canada analyses the percentage of orders that contained each food or beverage item from January to April 2022 in comparison to 2019.

These insights (and many more) are available in Restaurants Canada’s 2022 Foodservice Facts report. In fact, you can find our reviews of several of the restaurant advocacy group’s report topics via the links below:

For your own copy of this year’s Foodservice Facts report, click here.

Top 10 Canadian Drink Menu Trends

As you’ll see below, coffee is outperforming nearly every other beverage category. Specifically, Hot coffee is at the top, while Iced or frozen coffee is ranked third.

Unsurprisingly, Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda split the two coffee categories. According to Restaurants Canada, the Carbonated soft drink category can credit its performance in large part to QSRs.

  1. Milk: 1.8% (2019) to 1.8% (2022)
  2. Iced tea: 2.9% (2019) to 1.6% (2022)
  3. Milkshakes / Smoothies: 2.1% (2019) to 2.0% (2022)
  4. Fruit juice: 3.8% (2019) to 3.0% (2022)
  5. Hot tea: 5.5% (2019) to 4.5% (2022)
  6. Alcohol beverages: 5.1% (2019) to 5.7% (2022)
  7. Water: 6.6% (2019) to 5.0% (2022)
  8. Iced or frozen coffee: 5.3% (2019) to 7.5% (2022)
  9. Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda: 19.7% (2019) to 20.2% (2022)
  10. Hot coffee: 40.9% (2019) to 41.9% (2022)

Compellingly, Alcohol beverage performance in restaurants fluctuated by age group between 2021 and 2022. Alcohol order shares in restaurants, per Restaurants Canada:

  • Legal drinking Age (LDA) to 34: 46% (2021) to 43% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 21% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 37% (2021) to 36% (2022)

Alcohol order shares in bars, according to Restaurants Canada:

  • LDA to 34: 35% (2021) to 35% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 19% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 49% (2021) to 47% (2022)

Overall, the 35 to 49 age group appears to be consuming less alcohol in bars and restaurants in comparison to the LDA to 34 and 50-plus cohorts.

Top 10 Canadian Food Menu Trends

As Restaurants Canada notes, the Sandwich / Sub category has grown in 2022. Interestingly, the category just below it in growth, Chicken, is partially responsible for boosting Sandwich / Sub performance.

As far as entrees or “main attractions,” the Burger category remains at the top, beating out Breakfast, Sandwich / Sub, Chicken, and Pizza menu items.

  1. Cake / Squares / Muffins: 3.7% (2019) to 3.3% (2022)
  2. Salad: 4.3% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  3. Donuts / Beignets: 3.0% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  4. Breads: 4.3% (2019) to 3.4% (2022)
  5. Pizza / Panzerotti / Calzone: 4.1% (2019) to 4.3% (2022)
  6. Chicken: 7.6% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  7. Sandwich / Sub: 8.0% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  8. Breakfast: 10.8% (2019) to 11.4% (2022)
  9. Burger: 9.0% (2019) to 10.9% (2022)
  10. French fries / Potato / Sweet potato / Onion rings: 15.0% (2019) to 16.1% (2022)

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Top