Promotions to Run on Tax Day April 18th

Tax Day PromotionsTax Day is just around the corner! April 18th this year. Nobody likes writing a big check to Uncle Sam but there is some good news: Tax Day also means free stuff, promotions, deals, and specials abound. Restaurant customers are on the lookout for any deals that may be out there.

Here are a handful of ideas that you can do to promote tax day.

1. Have items that are on special for $10.40.
2. Promote using a word to get a discount, i.e., Tax Day or Tax Crunch, etc, via Social Media.
3. Offer something at half-price.
4. Have a discount for accountants that can show a valid CPA license.
5. Have a tax day coupon that can be printed or used via a mobile device for a discount.
6. Off items at an 18% discount.
7. Taxed Themed cocktails – the Rebate, Uncle Sam, IRS, The Man, and so on.
8. Provide a discount to tax preparers or have a drawing using their business cards submitted for the day for a gift card.

Have fun with the day and make sure that you get it promoted via your web site, social media channels and in-house marketing. Get your staff prepped so they can talk to guests leading up to the 18th.

Do you have a Content Calendar?

If you are using any type of marketing for your business (social media, web site, email, print, radio, etc), then you should be using a content calendar to help you stay organized and proactively putting out fresh and relevant content to promote your business.

I recommend a content calendar. You set this up by the week for an entire year. This allows for you to load every holiday, special event, unique occurrences and really any instance where the promoted event would have an impact on your business.

A snapshot of the social media content calendar.

I would make sure and work at least one week in advance but realistically if you were 14 days out on the plan that would be much better. You don’t necessarily have to load something every single day, but, you could. This also gives you the opportunity to pinpoint where the content is going.

So for example, Sunday could be a Facebook post, Monday you send out an email campaign, Tuesday a Facebook post, Wednesday you update your web site and have a Facebook post, Thursday would be a Facebook post and a table tent created internally, Friday and Saturday would be 1-2 Facebook posts per day. If you have more channels that you promote in you would put this in accordingly, i.e., Twitter, Radio spots, Instagram and more. Then you put down where the content is going you would list the actual content going out.

You would also be able to track any metrics within the spreadsheet as well. It is important to measure the interaction you get with your audience – Facebook (reach, reactions, comments, shares), Email (open rate, click thru), Web site (traffic, stickiness) and internal POS systems (track promoted items, categories, times). You can never expect what you don’t inspect.

A simplified monthly overview using a blank template.

Using just a blank monthly calendar template could even suffice as long as you can keep accurate details of the marketing content you are putting out.

 

 
Want to get a content calendar in place for your business? Contact us and we’ll come in and do an evaluation of your marketing strategies to see how we can assist you.

The Professional Chef – A Great Resource

An essential book for every chef from the Culinary Institute of America. I refer to this book quite often for recipes. I also like to have it as a reference when watching my favorite shows on the Food Network like Chopped and they have some obscure food as an ingredient. Great instructional component to this book as well for those that may be new to the profession. Enjoy!

Are You Taking Advantage of March Madness?

It’s tournament time! Every year we have the NCAA Basketball Championship at this time. The selection committee seats 64 teams in the country, well, really 68 teams as there are four play in games. Win and your in the 64 team bracket. That seems to be the ultimate buzz word at this time, bracket. There are plenty of people playing online, ESPN has over 13 million brackets submitted, at the office and at your favorite bar or restaurant. If you want to print a bracket for your own needs, here is this years printable bracket.

The tournament schedule is as follows – 1st and 2nd rounds are March 16th thru the 19th, the Sweet 16 is March 23rd & 24th, the Elite 8 is March 25th & 26th, the Final Four is April 1st and the National Championship game is on April 3rd.

So what can you do to take advantage of this very exciting tournament time. Here are some ideas to help you:
1. If you have TV’s make sure that they are tuned in to the games. The games are being played on CBS, TruTV, TBS and TNT networks.
2. Offer a happy hour special from the bar during game times and maybe feature some appetizers. Make them shareable or sampler platters for a group.
3. Have a large bracket printed out and updated for guests to see where the tournament is at.
4. Offer specials based on rounds. For example, second round can be $2 Drafts or nachos, while the Final Four can be $4 burgers. Get creative!
5. There will always be some customers who just prefer to watch at home. Be sure you offer great takeout deals to encourage those customers to eat your food during the games.

If you are going to run some promotions during the March Madness tournament just be sure to utilize your Social Media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), your web site and your email newsletter to let your customers know that there is something special going on. That covers the digital realm, don’t forget to promote internally with posters, table tents, menu inserts and the like. Contact me directly to help with marketing and promoting the next three weekends.

Good luck with your bracket if you played. I did mine using the ESPN Tournament Challenge app and I have two brackets submitted. I have North Carolina winning in one and Kansas winning in the other. Makes it fun to follow the tournament.

Do you spend enough time working on your business?

Recently I was reading some industry news regarding some large chain business and I found it a tad disturbing that these sizable chains were not doing well in the most recent quarter for a year over year same store sales look. Here are the two separate releases about results for Applebee’s and for the Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill group.

Julia Stewart has resigned as CEO of IHOP and Applebee’s parent DineEquity after leading the franchisor for 16 years. Simultaneous with the announcement, DineEquity disclosed that Applebee’s domestic comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2016 fell 7.% from the same period of the prior year, and IHOP’s same-store sales slipped 2.1%.  http://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/news/julia-stewart-resigns-ihop-and-applebees-parent

After suffering a quarterly loss and a decline in same-store sales for all but one of its brands, Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands said it will close 43 underperforming restaurants. The four-concept company pegged its losses for the fourth quarter of 2016 at $4.3 million on a 4.3% decline in revenues, to just over $1 billion. Bloomin’ reported a profit of $17.7 million for the same period of 2015. Bloomin’s core brand, Outback Steakhouse, posted a domestic comp-sales decline of 4.8% on a traffic slide of 7.7%. Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill’s same-store sales slipped 2.3% and 1.9%, respectively, on traffic declines of 3.8% and 5.2%. http://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/news/outback-parent-close-43-restaurants-after-posting-loss

In all my years working within the independent foodservice operator world and talking about the chains having deep pockets this news can be disturbing and possibly disheartening to the independent operator. My message to these operators is that it is time to do that major evaluation of your business to ensure that you at the very least maintain your profitability. The ultimate goal would be to be able to grow your sales and profitability once you have put the magnifying glass on your business.

There are always the stock benchmarks that you need to be looking at, food and liquor costs, labor cost, occupation cost including utilities, insurance and maintenance to be able to find any glaring numbers that would dictate a closer look. How much time do you spend evaluating your costs? This needs to be part of the weekly recap of your business.

The closer look at one of these areas, Food and Liquor Costs, would include some of these key points as follows:

✓    Individual Menu Cost Analysis
✓    Your vendors pricing – check on rebates, product options, better pricing
✓    Your menu looked at for accurate sell price and engineering
✓    Portion Control, Prep, Receiving, Storage Procedures
✓    Inventory Control Measures and Accuracy

The list could go on and get much more specific but I am sure you get the idea for this category and the others mentioned above.

This is just one piece of the profitability pie and as I have always said you can’t save your way to prosperity. In future pieces we will also be spending time talking about how to grow our sales and profits through your menu, your waitstaff, your marketing efforts, your tenacity, your creativity and more. Let us come in and use our magnifying glass to help you evaluate the numbers. Let’s see if we can find more of that much needed profitability you are looking for.

So, Do I have to Count Everything?

InventoryThat dreaded word to the majority of kitchen workers, inventory. This is a much needed restaurant process and important to a multitude of areas within an operations profitability. Most kitchen folks hate the idea of doing inventory but if you are a stakeholder in a restaurant you need to stress the importance to those involved to be part of this process.

Why is inventory so very important? There are many reasons that it is important to take inventory – accurate food costs, internal fraud reduction, food specification consistency, pricing controls, quality control with FIFO rotation, vendor order ease & accuracy and ultimately profitability.

There are some critical components to the inventory process that can help with the process.

*Accurate inventory worksheets. These list should be everything that you buy and have the latest values of each item on them. These should be easily attained from your vendor in Excel spreadsheet format.
*Accurate ways to count each item. There are many variables on how to count each item. Make sure to be specific on how you are going to count each item, by the case, the pound, the unit and so on. This should be set to maximize the most accurate way to count as well as the most efficient way to count them.
*Get your inventory areas set up and organized.
*Have the same person take inventory. Less chance for errors. Maybe create an incentive for your inventory manager.
*Set up your frequency of inventory – daily for high cost, perishable items (steaks, seafood, etc), weekly (this would assist with ordering and fraud protection) and then of course monthly. I would always recommend taking inventory monthly at the very least. Taking inventory annually for tax purposes does not do much good to monitor your food cost.

Back to the original question, do I have to count everything? Well, the answer is yes if you want to have an accurate food cost. So that means counting all your back stock at the end of a business day so that nothing goes in (receiving) and nothing goes out. That is where open stock comes in. Everything gets counted and that includes the open stock with in the kitchen line area, prep area and waitress areas.

The takeaway, get organized, get motivated and get counting, accurately of course, to help your operation to better cost control and profitability. Get with me about how I can assist you with this process and get your inventory on track and where you want it to be. Should I say where you need it to be.

The Art of Following Up

Recently I purchased a car and the process was very smooth. The dealers people involved were friendly, knowledgeable and sincere in wanting to help me purchase a vehicle.

I arrive at the dealer on a Wednesday to start the process and the selection process, test drive and paperwork goes fairly quickly and you can tell my sales guy here has done this a time or two. I schedule to pick up the car on Friday and all is set to go thru with the finance and wealth of paperwork to complete, but, again, went quickly and it was very organized and explained in detail. On a side note, feeling famous as I signed or initialed documents roughly 30 times.

I also have to say the the car was up front, totally detailed and ready for me to drive away. Just another piece to the overall experience.

The Lost Art of Following UpHere is the part that I always truly appreciate and it is the art of following up. Within a week of picking up the car I get a hand-written card from the two gentleman that assisted me in the process. There is always a moment of surprise when you do get one of these because it actually happens so rarely. Truly appreciate the follow up and of course I will be thinking of them for future use as well as a referral source for them.

I have had the occasion recently to do some of the same follow up for recent meetings. One was a hand-written thank you card for the meeting and two were emails with the same type of message. It is a lost art to do this type of follow up. It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out message. Here are the two emails that I sent:

Great meeting with you this morning. There should have been smoke coming from our area with as much info as we tossed around. I truly enjoy our in-depth conversations.

I also included some items that were referenced in our meeting and an actionable next step for a future meeting.

The other email was:

It was great meeting with you yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to the next opportunity to meet with you.

Both emails garnered a response from the individuals that I had met with.

Here are some key points for you to use when do your follow up.

1. Make it quick. Send an email or similar method (LinkedIn, Facebook Message, etc) within 24 hours of the meeting or event. Send a ‘hand-written’ card within 72 hours.
2. It should cover the reason for the communication, reference something from the meeting or event and have some actionable next step or steps.
3. Be sincere. Show gratitude. Be Thankful.

Following up is a component of great customer service, salesmanship, professionalism and it doesn’t have to be a lost art. Start following up today!

What is your value proposition?

Adding ValueIf you look up the definition of the word value you get this: An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.

If you were talking to your customers about your value proposition, do you mean – A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged.

When any business talks about value-added services that typically would include valuable services that are included in the price of the products and/or services already being offered.

Do you have a value proposition in place today? What is it? Is it good? If not, why not? Do you need to look at some great examples of how to develop one – check these out at http://plantostart.com/10-value-proposition-examples/.

Why is value so important? It provides you with the opportunity of working with your customer where you can focus on their retention and building a great long term relationship. I have always said it takes product and price out of the equation. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be competitive in the marketplace. That is a given. I believe you can be the same or even have a higher price but deliver enough value that it impacts the profitability. Focus on quality, service and ultimately the customers profitability.

I can provide you with some of the value-added service examples that I have provided to my food service accounts. There is server training that focuses on exceeding guest expectations, upselling, creating an exceptional customer experience, I have done four-walls marketing (table tents, posters, placemats), menu development, social media & technology support and much more.

Customers truly appreciate getting more than what they are paying for in what I always call perceived value. Become that asset that customers can’t do without. Don’t be just like the next guy and just deliver your product and/or service.

Step it up and get outside the box and deliver the value that separates your from your competition.

Do You Deliver Exceptional Customer Service?

Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

This is a question you need to revisit and evaluate on a regular basis. With virtually every business segment diluted by brick and mortar competitors and throw in the online options, customer service is the true way to differentiate yourself on retaining existing customers. This philosophy applies to B2B and B2C business sales models.

If you have not already done so you need to define customer service within your organization. This can be tricky because you may believe you are delivering exceptional customer service but in reality may not be. I have always said that customer service is not what you believe it to be but what the customer perceives it to be.

Here are some items to be thinking about when creating your forward-facing customer service program.

*Do you train all employees on the program
*Do you hold all employees accountable to deliver this program
*How do you measure customer service success
*What ways do you deliver customer service currently
*Rate your current service from 1-10, with 10 being world-class
*Do you know what your customers really want

That’s a half-dozen items to get you started on the path to delivering exceptional customer service. Through this program you can develop great customer relationships, focus on customer retention, enhance customer satisfaction and most importantly fostering customer loyalty.

Much more to come on this topic!