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From surprise proposals to a dozen roses, Valentine’s Day is a special day for many. This takes many on a hunt to find the perfect place to spend their evening. With an average of $143 being spent on a Valentine’s Day dinner and a total  of 19 billion being spent, it is one of the biggest nights of the year for the restaurant industry. As a restaurant it can be hard to stand out amongst the competition, but we have complied a list of some of the best ways to attract couples to your restaurant for an amazing experience.

 Early Reservation Specials

Reservation! Reservations! Reservations! One of the biggest aspects of Valentine’s Day is securing the perfect reservation time. Things can become chaotic and overwhelming when customers wait till the last second to book a reservation. One way to entice customers to book early is by offering different early reservation promotions.

These deals can range from dessert to drink specials. It’s a simple promotion that will encourage dinners to book well in advance. Simply set a date that customers have to make their reservation by in order to receive the special.

The Details

It’s all about the little things! This  Valentine’s Day show your customers that you care by going the extra mile. This can manifest in a variety of different ways, but be creative! Below is a short list of different ways to personalize the dinner experience;

  • Name cards
  • Personalized wine list/recommendations
  • Flowers
  • Proposal Packages

A quick way to receive more information from guest is to ask a few questions about their preferences while they are making their reservations. This also presents the opportunity to showcase different packages such as a proposal or flowers option. One possibility is to partner with a local florist to have flower orders prepared for guest. By collecting all this information during the reservation process it makes the process simple and gives your customers the ability to enhance their overall Valentine’s Day experience at your restaurant.

Valentine’s Day Drinks and Meals

With a large influx of diners on the special day one of the best ways to simplify your menu, without hindering a customers experience is with a price fixe menu. This gives you the opportunity to showcase your chef’s best dishes. Putting a Valentine’s Day spin on them is also a perfect way to celebrate the occasion, such as heart shaped deserts or red garnishes. Guest will definitely appreciate the added touches.

Don’t forget about the drinks! Being able too offer guest with the perfect pairing suggestions is a great way to encourage them to purchase glasses of wine with each course. For pairings with beef and fish options, check out our pairing guide!

There are also plenty of creative cocktails that offer the perfect cocktail experience, along with their creative names. Below is one of our favorites!

The Juliet & Romeo | Toby Maloney of The Violet Hour in Chicago

Ingredients:

    • 2 ounces gin
    • ¾ ounce lime juice
    • ¾ ounce simple syrup
    • 3 drops rose water
    • 3 drops Angostura bitters
    • 3 slices cucumber
    • 3 sprigs mint
    • A pinch of salt

Directions:

Muddle the cucumber, mint and salt, reserving one mint leaf for garnish. Try to mash up the cucumber the most when you’re muddling. Add the rest of the ingredients, then let the drink sit for 30 seconds (time allowing) to better infuse the flavors. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with one floating mint leaf with one drop of rose water on top of the leaf, and then drizzle three or more drops of Angostura on the surface of the drink.

Personal Valentines

Valentine’s Day is  the busiest day of the year for some and the perfect opportunity to make a great impression on first time diners. One way to enhancing their experience is by providing guest with their own Valentines. These small gifts can be tokens of appreciation or even include special offers to encourage customers to come again.

Think beyond with Galentine’s Day

While February 14th is the main attraction, many groups of friends will be looking for places to celebrate Galentine’s Day. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is a day around Valentine’s Day dedicated to the girls. With small and large group’s of gals looking to celebrate each other and their friendship. Very few restaurants take advantage of this unofficial holiday, so this serves as the perfect opportunity to stand out amongst the masses. Offering different drink specials or even a special wine tasting opportunity with dinner is a simple, but perfect way to attract groups looking to celebrate Galentine’s Day.

Social Media Promotion

While all of these idea are essential in creating an amazing overall Valentine’s Day experience, it’s just as important to get the word out. One way to do this through social media. Giving sneak peeks to what diners can expect on Valentine’s Night is the perfect way to build up some excitement.

Sneak peeks of the special Valentine’s Day Menu, red speciality drinks, and different flower arrangements. The glimpses into what guest can expect on their evening will help encourage those on the fence to choose your restaurant as the place to be!

The post 6 Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Valentine’s Day appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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The New Year is upon us and so are the endless new year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, for most restaurants and bars this means millions are promising to save their coins and be healthier by eating out less. On top of that, the winter time blues are real and the preference to stay home to avoid the cold and the snow will only grow stronger as the winter progresses. But, there is still hope! No one can resist a great deal or a night of fun, so below is a list different ways restaurants can attract customers during the slow months.

Promotions Birthday Benefits

Everyone loves to celebrate their birthday and what better way to do that than with a free birthday treat! The options are endless and completely up to your business on what you think would be the best gift. Some examples are a free drink, a free appetizer, or even a free entrée. This can this bring in a customer, but also most individuals celebrate with friends leading to larger groups and orders. One way to collect birthday information is through your website, which will increase traffic and give you the opportunity to  inform customers of other events and promotions being held.

Loyalty Programs

Bringing in new customers is important, but so is retention! It can be a lot easier to encourage previous visitors to come again than constantly searching for completely new ones. One of the best way to increase customer retention is a loyalty program. There are a variety of different loyalty programs but some of our favorite are punch cards, points rewards, and referral programs. These are great starter programs that are not complex but they also allow for increased visits and new customers.

Punch Cards

Punch Cards are a great way to encourage repeat visits and can be used for food items or drinks.

Points System

Point systems are a great way to reward customers for spending. With each visit customers can earn points based off the amount of money spent. Different points levels can unlock different benefits. A great option for bars during the winter time is to offer skip the line privileges to high point earners. During the winter this can be a deal breaker to customers that don’t want to wait in the cold.

Referral Program

Some of the best individuals to bring in new customers are your current ones. Friends are more likely to take recommendations from those they know and offering referral benefits will surly put your establishment at the top of someones referral list. Discounts for both parties will definitely entice visitors.

Newsletters

While all of these tips are essential, a newsletter is definitely at the top of the list. Hosting new events and different promotions are great ways to drive new customers, but these efforts can be wasted if there is little to no awareness. One way to achieve better awareness is through email newsletters. They provide the prefect way to inform customers of exciting new deals and events.

Happy Hour Mix Up

Happy hour deals are a classic example of a restaurants efforts to increase sales during the slowest periods of the day. However, at most places happy hour menus never change and can get old rather quickly. So changing up your happy hour menu can get customers excited all over again.

Events Live Entertainment

What better way to liven up a party than with live entertainment. This can happen with local bands performing on slower nights or even on the weekend. Another option is with open-mic nights. Different performers bring friends and family for support and tons of business for your restaurant or bar.

Themed Nights

Themed nights can take many forms. For instance they can focus on your food and drink menu such as Taco Tuesday. On the other hand, themed nights can be aimed at attracting a particular customer. For Instance ladies night, singles night, or a decade night. These fun events can get customers excited to visit your establishment while also having a great time.

Game Day

Game day is huge money maker and with  different sports running year long, this is the perfect way to bring in business during the slow months. Between College Basketball and the NFL playoffs, there are tons of sports fans looking for the best places to watch the game. Game day specials and different sports related events are the perfect way to attract new and old customers a like. Some creative ways to stand out is with speciality game day food and drink menus.

Partnerships Local Business

Partnering with local businesses is a great way to build connections within your community. By offering businesses special coupons for their customers allows you to increase your brand awareness within the community and also gain new customers.

Charity

Wanting to establish your restaurant or bar in your community can be important in gaining loyal customers. A great way to gain the support of the community is through giving back. From supporting the local baseball team to the local animal shelter, there are several different ways for you to give back. This can be accomplished through re-naming drinks or menu items to fit the occasion and donating a certain percent of the earnings.

Social Media

While all of these ideas are great ways to bring in more business during the slow months, it is important that effort is also put into promoting the various methods. The best way to do this is through social media. Creating Facebook events and sharing fun pictures of different events is a great way to let potential customers know what is going on at your restaurant.

Influencers

Visibility is very important and another way to reach a larger audience is to work with local influencers. These individuals have strong follower bases on social media and a able to communicate with their supporters easily through social media. By providing influencers with a special coupon for their supporters or them documenting their experience ,is a great way to bring in new customers and spread the word about different events.

The post How Restaurants Can Attract Customers During Slow Months appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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Technology in the restaurant industry is booming and within the next year its impact will be very apparent.  The new tech trends that will surely shake up the restaurant industry in 2019, are augmented reality,  mobile scheduling apps, and digital beverage management. The 2019 restaurant technology trends will impact almost every step of the dining and running restaurant operations. 

A Step Into the Future: Augmented Reality

The future of restaurant menu interactions is here. Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the biggest tech trends to look out for in 2019. This new form of technology will allow customers to have a visual experience like no other. AR allows customers to use their phones or restaurant iPads to view 3-D renderings of menu items. This gives customers not only an image of the food, but to view it as if it was right in front of them.

While this concept sounds very complex and expensive, it is actually quite simple.

Tech start up Kabaq is at the forefront of the AR trend. Its  application allows restaurants to add the 3-D experience to their menu within just a few weeks.

With the use of high quality images and other image guidelines,  Kabaq is able to process them and create a 3-D food model. The customer is then able to access the 3-D renderings through Snapchat. Customers are first prompted to scan a Snapcode and this gives them access to the 3-D menu items. 

There are multiple benefits to adding this technology to your restaurant. The first is sales: A study conducted by Kabaq says that restaurants saw an increase of 25% in dessert sales alone with the use of AR.

Another way AR can increase sales is through increased foot traffic. The AR trend is still in the early adapter phase. As a result those that choose to participate now will have an appeal that other restaurants do not. This can generate all sorts of marketing opportunities that will attract new customers vying for something new.

Tackling the Hassle of Scheduling

One of the biggest hassles of restaurant management is scheduling.

With complex schedules, last minute call offs and vacation time, creating schedules can be complicated and time consuming.

However, with scheduling apps like 7Shifts the process is a lot easier.

The app allows employees to enter their availability and even swap shifts.  Users even have the ability to request vacation time. With this information the app is then able to generate a schedule that takes into account everyones availability.

Some applications even have the ability to use previous scheduling data and sales information to assist in the process. This is an added benefit because it can combat the issue of under or overstaffing the restaurant. The scheduling process streamlined with technology it can officially become a hassle of the past. 

Going Digital: Beverage Management iPad Menus

Paper menus are quickly becoming a thing of the past because iPad menus offer so many benefits to restaurants.

While the task of replacing paper menus with iPads seems daunting, companies like Uncorkd have made the process cost efficient. Along with its affordability, there are numerous benefits to iPad menus that can save your restaurant money and increase sales.

Restaurants that used Uncorkd’s iPad menus noted a substantial increase in wine sales.  The increase in sales can be attributed to menu features like suggested wine pairings, menu analytics, and the ability to feature new items. 

The digital menus provide customers with a unique experience that includes tasting notes for wine, bottle images, and even producer details. Which is great in a restaurant climate where customers always want more information about what they’re ordering.

The iPad menus are especially perfect for restaurants with extensive wine lists because customers are able to search by region and color, among other specifics. 

From an operational standpoint, Uncorkd’s iPad menus allow restaurants to view various menu analytics reports. These reports can tell managers which items customers are looking at the most and which items are  underperforming. This also allows chef’s to add and strike things from the menu within minutes. This avoids the costly process of changing and reprinting menus. The list of benefits to iPad menus seem endless, as they provide benefits to restaurant operaters and the customers.

Digital Inventory

The days of spending hours taking inventory by hand are officially over. In terms of restaurant operations digitizing, the inventory process was a given.

The use of spreadsheets and taking inventory by hand runs the risk of small mistakes leading to costly outcomes.  Inventory can now be completed with the digital inventory program by Uncorkd.

This system allows for multiple individuals to use their mobile phones or tablets to take inventory at the same time.

Beyond saving time, this inventory system gives you access to a variety of different inventory reports. These reports can notify you of inventory inconsistencies along with notifications on when an item need to be ordered. The Uncorkd solution also allows you to place orders with distributors so you don’t have to waste time typing up orders to send to each individual sales rep. 

More advanced inventory systems, like Uncorkd, also have POS system integration. This means that whenever a drink is served the amount of product used is automatically subtracted from your inventory. This feature is a big money saver because it can highlight when servers or bartenders are over pouring. This tech trend will be vastly popular with its ability to simplify the inventory process and will take 2019 by storm. 

The post Technology Trends that will impact the Restaurant Industry in 2019 appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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You see it all the time. Restaurant flyers crammed in mailboxes. Facebook and instagram posts promoting daily specials. Restaurants are constantly chasing down customers, spinning their wheels on ways to bring in more guests to drive up sales.

But what happens if all that effort spent on attracting new customers doesn’t work? You can double your losses by spending marketing dollars that don’t bear fruit. But restaurants looking to grow their bottom line don’t need to chase customers in order to drive up profits. Looking internally to cut restaurant operational costs and reduce dollars tied up in inventory can help save restaurants. 

Reducing Labor Costs at Restaurants

Finding ways to reduce labor costs at restaurants can help grow profits by making each sale more valueable. How can you go about cutting labor costs? Well, it’s important to look at how you qualify and identify your costs. Here’s a few ways to do that.

Consider Your Prime Cost

Your prime cost is the total cost of goods + labor costs. Check your invoices to find out your cost of goods, and vet your payroll to identify labor costs. You need to know your labor costs before you can reduce them.

What is a Good Prime Cost?

Most sources will tell you that restaurants should aim for 60% prime cost. That is, the cost of doing business equals 60% of your revenue. But it doesn’t have to be an equal 30/30 split.

Ways to Lower Labor Costs

First, you should segment the different employee costs in your restaurant. An easy way to do this is to split costs into these simple segments:

Front-of-House: Servers, Bartenders, Hosts, Support Staff

Back-of-House: Chefs, Line Cooks, Prep Cooks, Dishwashers

Managers: General Managers, Assistant Managers, Sommeliers

Miscellaneous: Cleaning Crews, etc.

By segmenting these costs, you can identify which areas of labor contribute the most to your total cost of labor. Make note of areas where you can reduce labor.

Some Ideas to Reduce Restaurant Costs

Overtime: Reducing overtime pay is a great way to limit your labor costs. Identify which employees tend to go into overtime often. Then look to see how duties can be delegated differently, or schedules can be reworked in order to reduce the potential for overtime.

Slow Times: Look at your covers and sales data during different points of the day. What times are your slow times? Can you make due with a smaller staff and still cover the necessary work?

High Value Employees: Reward employees that provide the most value per dollar spent on their labor. If you’re considering back-of-house employees, then ask questions like which employee is most efficient in prep? When can line cooks be pulled from the line to take on some prep duties because business is slow?

Or, if you’re considering front-of-house staff,  then which servers can handle large sections? Or which bartenders are skilled enough to operate without a barback?

Another important question: which employees average the highest sales? If you have a rockstar server who can sell bottles of wine at lunch, then give them more important time on the floor to increase revenue and sales to get better margins on labor/sales.

Focus on Profitable Items

It’s important to identify which items generate the most profits for your restaurant. It’s also good to remember that your bar program is the highest profit center for your restaurant. Focus on selling more alcohol at better margins. There are a few ways to do this.

POS Sales Data

Use your point-of-sale system to track sales to see which items are most popular. Then take a look at your costs of goods to calculate which items generate the most profits. Find ways to promote these items to guests to ensure that more of these high value items are sold.

Here’s some ways to do this:

  • Put call outs for these items on your menu
  • Have servers promote them at the table
  • Highlight these items on social media
Third Party Software

Using software to track POS transactions and your purchasing costs is a great way to maximize your sales potential. For example, Uncorkd provides an ordering service to place orders with distributors that allows you track all of your purchasing data, like the cost of each item.

Uncorkd also integrates with many POS systems to track inventory so you can run reports that will automatically calculate your margins, or sale price – cost of good. With Uncorkd, you can quickly run reports to list each drink by profitability.

Leverage Distributor Deals

Once you’ve identified your highest selling and most profitable items, then the next step is to make these items even more profitable. You can do this by building good relationships with your distributors and getting deals on these items.

Look to buy in bulk. Many distributors run “case drop deals,” which provide significant discounts on bottle cost if you buy multiple cases at once.

Reduce Your Liquor Inventory

Conducting inventory is essential for successful restaurants. If you don’t manage your inventory, then you are operating blindly.

When it comes to liquor and bar inventory, the dollar value of your inventory on hand can cause your pour costs to sky rocket. Meaning you generate less profits from your bar program because you have so much money tied up in inventory that doesn’t sell, otherwise known as dead stock.

So it’s important to identify which items are under performing and limiting your profits.

How to Identify Dead Stock

Running inventory monthly is the only way to really know which items are dead stock, or just slow movers. A great way to quickly identify your low value inventory is with an inventory platform like Uncorkd’s.

With this system, you can quickly identify low value inventory by running reports on slow moving stock, identify the shelf life of specific items in your inventory, and looking at the frequency of ordering for each item. If you can identify which items don’t sell, you can make a concerted effort to sell them to get them off your hands. Once dead liquor inventory is sold down, you will know not to order them again.

Repurpose Dead Stock

There are many ways to find new uses for dead stock. Here are a few way:

Liquor: Create cocktails with slow moving liquors to find a new way to sell them. Promote these cocktails as specials and have them highlighted by your servers at tables.

Beer: Run beer specials or put slow moving items on your happy hour menus. It’s better to sell an item for a lower profit than be stuck with it in your liquor room.

Wine: Run specials. Make sangria with it. Use sparking wines in cocktails and for mimosas. Just get creative with it.

The post How Restaurants Can Ignore Sales and Increase Profits appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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Springtime is like the impatient little kid, buckled in the back seat during a long drive, pulling fruitlessly at the seat belt strap while their feet kick air, repeatedly asking, “Are we there yet?” It’s an anxious season. People are anxious to feel the sun and refill their stock of Vitamin D. Buried seedlings are anxious to flower and bloom. And wine drinkers are anxious to shake off weighty winter reds in favor of light flavors and bright wines.

If you’re in charge of your restaurant’s wine list, then you’d be right to capitalize on how much everyone is anxious to take up new drinking habits this spring. If you want your new spring wine menu to capture people’s attention (and dollars!), then take stock of these wine trends that will reward your guest’s eagerness to enjoy spring.

British Sparkling Wine is The New Britpop

The Ridgeview English Sparkling Cavendish in Uncorkd’s database. Earned a score of 92 points from Wine Enthusiast.

New royalty is rising in the ranks of the British aristocracy: Sparkling wine. England’s wine production grew by over 67 percent from 2012 to 2015, and is expected to grow by another 97% by 2020.

With the increased production, English wine producers are pushing for larger distribution to the States, which means more English sparkling wines will be landing spots on wine menus in restaurants and wine bars across the country.

In other words, the British are coming. And that is a good thing for drinkers in the U.S. and abroad. English sparkling wine is rivaling Champagne from France in quality, beating out French entries in a Paris wine tasting, in which the expert judges rated English sparkling wines ahead of champagne in 2 out of 3 categories, and drew even with Champagne in a third category

Lighter, Atlantic-Style Reds from Galicia

Adega Cachin Mencía Ribeira Sacra Peza do Rei in Uncorkd’s database. Rated with a score of 89 points by Wine Enthusiast.

At Uncorkd, we’ve been long been fans of Spanish wines, and have written about Iberian white wines like Albariño and Txakoli rosé previously.

Now, people are taking note of another region of Spain where winemakers are producing beautiful wines.

In Galicia, in Spain’s northern Atlantic coast, the  unique climate (for Spain; cool, wet, mountainous) is giving root to gorgeous red wines that are in line with French red’s like Cabernet Franc and Gamay. One varietal, which only grows in a few regions in Spain and one region in Portugal, is Méncia.

In an article from February 2017, Punch writer Jon Bonné wrote that Méncia “should well become known as the world’s next great red variety.” 

Méncia’s production can range from floral reds with bright red fruits and a touch minerality to more concentrated wines with spicy black pepper notes and biting tannins.

As wine drinkers break from traditional drinking habits, exciting red wines from Galicia should stand out on spring wine menus as the perfect pour for a cool, wet spring night.

Wines From Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast

Both wine regions represent the best of United States wine production. And last year, they were two of northern California’s wine regions that were wrecked by wildfires that raged throughout the area in 2017. With these wine regions in recovery, the wine world is ready to support the wine makers whose livelihoods and passions were torched.

Expect to see more wines from the Napa and Sonoma Coast regions this year being promoted on menus in effort to financial support the wine industry there and assist in its recovery. And ordering wines from these regions is a simple, effortless way to support that recover . Here is one recommendation for a perfect spring sipper that captures the summer vibes we are all yearning for.

Tres Sabores Ingrid & Julia Rosé

According to the Tres Sabores website, they are now pouring their 2017 vintage of this rosé. The producer’s tasting notes for this still rosé note its “intense strawberry aromas with playful citrus zest.”

It’s a dryer wine, that the producer and wine tasters liken to French rosé from Provence.

The wine takes its name from two rose (the flower) varietals, playfully named “Ingrid Bergman” and “Julia Child” named after the director and famed cookbook author, respectively.

The post 2018 Spring Wine Trends appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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Spring has sprung! Well, almost for those of us in the Midwest. The new season changes our daily routines and tells us to go outside again. The warmer weather also welcomes changes to our diet, and that includes the types of beer we’ll want to drink.

Liquid Gold

Baseball season has officially begun and that can only mean one thing: ballpark beers. You know the kind – light-bodied, crisp, served in a 20oz plastic cup. Lucky for us beer snobs, that’s quickly evolving as the craft beer scene is exploding onto the baseball scene. Ballparks, like the ones home to the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego’s Padres, have invested in some serious craft beer build-outs. Craft breweries are following suit with lagers that pair perfectly with outdoor sports. A newly released favorite that currently graces my refrigerator shelf is Founder’s Solid Gold. This is a great representation of a premium lager as it features high quality ingredients and a low-ABV. Lagers like this allow you to enjoy a few while also staying alert and attentive on game day. With some even at a slightly lower price point than your usual craft 6-pack, that makes these modern lagers even more accessible to your old school beer drinker.

New England Style IPAs

Also known as the “Hazy IPA,” this style is opening the door for new IPA drinkers. They exhibit much less bitterness and floral characteristics than it’s English or West Coast counterparts. You’ll also notice that a hazy IPA might look a lot more like orange juice than beer, but don’t let that turn you off. “The haziness is a byproduct of how they’re working with the hops and yeast. They set out to get a certain flavor and it happened to be hazy, not the other way around,” says Kyle Kensrue of New York City’s Randolph Beer. In exchange for less bitterness, NEIPAs tend to be fruit-forward and juicy. They definitely provide a refreshing taste experience that pairs perfectly with a little sunshine.

Drink Local

As warmer weather draws us outside, it’s time to explore new brewpubs. Since 2013, the number of operating craft breweries has been on a steady rise of roughly 800 each year in the United States. Last year, it surpassed 6,000 which means if 2018 follows suit, there’s a lot more craft beer to discover! The local movement doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and consumers are curious about what’s brewing in their area. We’re only a few months into the year and already we’ve seen some favorites open new brewpubs (like Odell Brewing in Denver and Marz in Chicago) and new breweries opening their doors (like Original Pattern Brewing Company in Oakland). Spring presents the perfect opportunity to refresh your beer list and get to know your neighborhood breweries.

The post 2018 Spring Beer Trends appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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Online reviews posted by consumers on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook have changed not only the ways diners search for and discover places to eat, but also how restaurateurs today market to their audience.

This underlines the need for executives to keep customers’ needs at the forefront in order to build a community of loyal patrons. Sure enough, winners and losers in the industry will be determined by their ability to manage and monitor online reviews, harness customer feedback, and deliver 5-star-worthy guest experiences.

Let’s dive into some of the ways online reviews and ratings are shaping restaurant-going behavior.

Consumers really depend on restaurant reviews

Online reviews are particularly influential in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, more consumers (61 percent) have read online reviews about restaurants than about any other type or category of business.

Moreover, almost twice as many consumers reported reading restaurant reviews compared to doctor and dentist reviews, the second most popular category.

Star ratings matter, even to the hungriest of diners

When diners search online for a restaurant, they’re keeping an eye out for something more than mouth-watering Instagram food photos or business-card-in-a-fishbowl loyalty programs. They are assessing places based on star ratings.

According to research, 33 percent of frequent restaurant-goers stated they would not eat at a restaurant with an average rating of 3 stars out of 5 on review sites. And findings from an online reviews survey found that 80 percent of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars.

Facebook is the fastest-growing review site for restaurants

Yelp and TripAdvisor are not the only review sites worth monitoring. A social media giant is among the top of the list, too.

Customer feedback software company ReviewTrackers analyzed online reviews of 250+ restaurants over a 6-month period and found that, among major restaurant review sites (including Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and Foursquare), Facebook reflected the highest growth rate in reviews, with new reviews coming in at a pace that’s 4 times faster than on other restaurant review sites.

Responsiveness matters

A restaurant’s methods of engagement with diners shouldn’t stop after they leave the restaurant. Engagement should extend to cover the entire customer journey, which means that execs must stay responsive on platforms where customers are sharing their feedback.

According to ReviewTrackers, 53.3 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online review within 7 days. This marks an increase from 51.7 percent in 2017.

But there is a gap between review response expectations and reality, with 63.3 percent saying they have not heard back from the business they reviewed.

Tech is shaking up the industry, but hospitality remains paramount

The explosive growth of online reviews is part of an overall trend in which customers are embracing technology before, during, and after the dining experience.

  • Diners believe that customer-facing technology offerings like menu software, online ordering, and digital loyalty programs should be high-priority items for restaurant companies.
  • 7 in 8 consumers routinely turn to technology to discover dining destinations, and 86 percent regularly check out menus online before they eat out.
  • People are 25 percent more likely to consult reviews from other diners than from professional critics.

More than ever, the end-to-end guest experience — from research and reservations to ordering, delivery, consumption, and payment — can now happen in a handful of screen taps or mouse clicks. But technology is simply expanding the range of crucial touchpoints. At the every restaurant’s strategy should be making a fierce commitment to the dining experience, and to meeting the evolving demands and expectations of today’s customers.

The post What Restaurateurs Need to Know About Online Reviews appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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2018 is quickly coming to an end and this means it’s time predict the biggest wine trends for 2019. In the last year, we’ve seen various trends in the wine industry. From the continuous love for Rosé to the rise in the popularity of premium wines. The majority of wine consumers are now millennials, and as result, they’re shaping the future of the wine industry. We can officially say that 2019 will be the year of millennial.

The Rules of Attraction Call For Eye Catching Wine Labels

Similar to wine trends we saw in 2018, packaging matters. Millennial wine drinkers are not as interested in brand loyalty as previous generations are. Young wine lovers are focused more on what catches the eye.

In stores with hundreds of different selections, millennials are more likely to go for the bottle with the more creative label. This emphasizes the idea that visuals are becoming more and more important for selling wine.

In a study conducted by Portland State University, they concluded that millennials look at 3 different aspects in determining a wines value:

Label Color

Size of Logo

Kind of Logo

Ultimately, these factors will impact their willingness to purchase the item. For restaurants, this adds an importance on visual presentation and visual aids being present on their wine menus. With Uncorkd’s iPad wine menus, bottle photos coupled with tasting notes make a big impact with customers, and these visuals have helped restaurants using Uncorkd increase their wine sales by 20% and more.

From Popping Bottles to Cracking Cans: Wine in a Can Still Growing

Typically, wine has been packaged in glass bottles and the occasional box.

But that’s changing with the dramatic increase of canned wine production. Thanks to the rise in millennial drinkers, canned wine is growing strong and saw a 43% increase in sales between June 2017 and June 2018 .

Canned wine offers several different advantages over the standard wine bottle, such as pricing and portability. Feeling intimidated is common for first time wine consumers when faced with the range of wine available, but the relaxed nature of a can eliminates this feeling while also providing a quality wine experience.

With its sudden increase in popularity, larger known brands are jumping on board to produce their own lines of canned wine. These lines range from canned rosé to canned sauvignon blanc. And wine in a can isn’t just growing in retail wine sales. Canned wine has been available and growing on restaurant menus since 2017. In 2019, expect to see the launching of more canned wine lines and their popularity to continue to sky rocket.

Millennials Drink Global With International Wines

Over the last year there has been a steady increase in imported wine. This trend is expected to increase exponentially going into 2019, as more and more millennials begin to explore international wines.

This increase in popularity is happening because of the increase in foreign “gateway wines.”  In the past it was common for these gateway wines, a person’s first glass, to be an American brand. But this is starting to change with an increased interest in French, Italian, and New Zealand wines.

So expect to see an increase in imported wines. It will be interesting to see how American producers decide how to combat this growing trend.

For restaurant wine programs, it will be important to appeal to millennials’ international wine tastes to help boost wine sales. Wine buyers should consider adding a few more international selections to their wine lists. Especially adding imported options to the glass pour list as a more affordable and approachable place for young drinkers to make a purchase on a gateway wine.

Increase in Demand for Bordeaux Wine

Wine from the Bordeaux region has always been considered a classic. But tough competition and high prices caused a decrease in popularity, particularly with younger wine drinkers.

Now Bordeaux wines are making a return. Stephanie Libreau, the sales and PR manager with Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion , stated that Bordeaux wines are becoming “more approachable and more drinkable for the customer.”

The new push from the Bordeaux region along with more affordable prices, has prompted a desire to return to the classics. As a result, millennials are flocking to taste the classic wines and experience the rich reds from the region

Wine trends in 2019 will surely be interesting. Being aware of how millennials are impacting the industry is key to keeping your menu up to date.

The post Top Wine Trends of 2019 appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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It’s officially fall and that means it time to make some of the most creative Halloween cocktails around. From a spooky twist on your favorite cocktails to entirely new ones, the list below is bound to spice up your cocktail menu. Give these tasty drinks a try and lets us know what you think!

Unicorn Blood

Unicorns are the mystical creatures we all wish existed. Their supposed pure and fairy like demeanor calls for a sweet and fruity cocktail. Unicorn Blood, known as the elixir to eternal life, is a supernatural twist to the cocktail favorite Purple Rain. A clever way to take purple rain from an ordinary cocktail to a Halloween favorite is ultra fine edible glitter. This takes the purple drink to the next level and allows customers to have a unique visual cocktail experience. Use your signature recipe for a purple rain cocktail or try our recipe below, but don’t forget the glitter!

RECIPE
  • 1 ½ oz. Vodka
  • 3 oz. Lemonade
  • ½ oz. Blue Curacao
  • 1/4oz. Grenadine
  • 1/8 tsp ultra fine food safe edible glitter

 

Devil’s Cocktail

Every one loves a well-made Bloody Mary, but nothing is more devilish than a tequila twist on this go to cocktail. This one ingredient change will completely awaken your taste buds for an eye opening and flavorful experience. For this cocktail you must due away with the normal celery stick garnishes and instead use 2 red or green peppers. The peppers transform you normal cocktail glass into one with devil horns.  This is a simple change that will allow your customers to have an even spicier experience for Halloween.

RECIPE
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash lime juice
  • 3 dashes celery salt
  • 3 dashes pepper
  • 6 oz tomato juice
  • Garnish: 2 chili peppers on glass rim ( to resemble devil horns)
Vampire’s Bite Shooters

Nothing is as rememberable as a vampire bite and this shooter is no different. With a mix of coconut rum and peach schnapps this shot will surly leave a lasting impression. The best part of this shooter that will leave your guest in the Halloween spirit, is the splash of grenadine to resemble the blood of a bite. Fangs are optional but if you’re really ready to participate in the festivities it will take you Halloween cocktails to the next level.

Recipe
  • 1 part Coconut Rum
  • 1 part Peach Schnapps
  • 1 part Vodka
  • Splash of Grenadine (resembles blood)
  • Optional Garnish: Mini Vampire Fangs
Morgue-A-Rita

Tequila alone can already be a bit frightening, but nothing takes it to the next level like this Morgue-A-Rita. The recipe calls for a red wine, such as a cabernet, that will definitely add a new flavor profile to the agave flavoring of Tequila. This cocktail is perfect for the Halloween season with a name to match.

This cocktail offers a unique cocktail experience for you guest as the tequila mixture is pour first and the red wine sits on top, creating a 2 contrasting layers of liquid. For the most drastic Morgue-A-Rita experience leave 1/4 inch of room in the glass to layer the red wine on top.

Recipe
  • 1 ½ oz. tequila blanco
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup
  • Red wine ( such as Cabernet)
Mad Scientist

The first things that comes to mind when thinking of a mad scientist is a lab full of strange chemicals and an abundance of smoky fog. Well this drink will bring the same spooky Halloween vibe to your bar or party.This cocktail idea has a lot of room for flexibility, but will surely be a hit. The recipe below offers you a fun and fruity green cocktail, but any bright and fun colored cocktail will work to create the mad scientist allusion. The most important aspect of this cocktail is the fog! This can be accomplished in a variety of ways but the most popular is with dry ice. But beware, dry ice can be a little tricky to handle. Below is the recipe for the cocktail itself and click here for advice on how to add fog to any cocktail on your menu.

Recipe
  • 1 oz. Hpnotiq French cognac
  • ¾ oz. vodka
  • 1/3 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 2 oz. lemon-lime soda
  • Dry Ice of Liquid Nitrogen

The post 5 Hauntingly Tasty Halloween Cocktails appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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It’s difficult to be a restaurant manager. The position requires long hours. A gumbo of personal, organizational, and strategic skills. And it is often considered thankless. But restaurant management can also be incredibly rewarding. Providing quality service and memorable experiences to your guests and employees can make the stress worth it. The leadership skills and qualities needed to be a restaurant manager take time to build and train. This post will give you guidelines to become a good restaurant manager, or to recognize one when you work for them. 

Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid

While researching the topic of restaurant management skills, I came across a helpful and insightful guide on the qualities of a good manager. The Management Skills Level Pyramid was developed by Dr. Kammy Haynes, who has a Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology and is the CEO of her own management consulting group. She knows her stuff.

Uncorkd’s visualization of the Management Skills Levels Pyramid

Why a pyramid?

The pyramid system is useful because it shows the skills that you need to adopt in order grow and become more successful as a manager. It acknowledges that building skills, and growing a career, take time and effort.

For this post, we’ll separate the different levels of the management pyramid in order to put them in context of the managing a restaurant. Here’s a link to read more about the management skills pyramid if you’re interested.

Level 1 of The Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid

The foundational level of the pyramid deals with more tangible skills like planning, organizing, and directing your employees and restaurant. That means the core traits of a successful restaurant manager have to do with being proactive, mindful, and a strong communicator.

Skill 1: Plan

This is most basic level of management. It essentially describes the basic job functions of a manager. Working in a restaurant means the unexpected is to be expected. It’s crucial that a manager takes the time to plan and account for the resources needed to operate a restaurant, such as:

  • Scheduling employees
  • Maintaining inventory levels
  • Hiring and utilizing proper staff
  • Preparing for events

Proper planning comes down to being mindful of what your restaurant requires to run properly each and everyday. When I was still bartending, one manager constantly repeated a mantra, “set yourself up for success.” A good manager sets his employees up for success with proper planning.

Skill 2: Organize

After planning comes organization. How will the plan be executed? It comes down to organization. This includes organizing staff and co-workers into a system that is primed for success and handling the unexpected.

Here are some ways to a restaurant manager establishes organization:

  • Setting up standard operating procedure
    • Steps of service for managing guests
    • Assigning server sections and necessary service staff
    • Establish consistent schedules for breaks or staff meal
    • Putting floor managers in a position to assist service
  • Establishing a chain of command 
    • Who reports to whom?
    • Who should staff talk to about certain complainants?
    • What role does a lead server or bartender play?
  • Create work flow
    • What tasks are employees responsible for?
    • What side work needs to be done to maintain quality service
    • How are check outs performed at the end of the night?
Skill 3: Direct

Direct is the first interpersonal skill in the pyramid. It’s the communication of what you’ve planned and organized. It’s about providing guidance for your staff on a daily basis to ensure they know what the standards and expectations of working at the restaurant are.

Direction is a crucial element of management, and it requires being proactive and open with your employees so there isn’t any uncertainty with the day-to-day tasks they’re responsible for.

  • Communicating goals in pre-shift meetings
  • Building a proper training program
  • Staff accountability
  • Applying consistent standards
  • Delegating responsibilities

For example, if you require your servers to get their side work approved by a manager or lead server, then make sure each server knows the procedure when they begin working for you. You will be able to avoid many issues this way, and also be able to spot underachieving employees quickly.

Skill 4: Control

Control is the myriad systems put in place to monitor and evaluate how the restaurant is operating. Whether it’s tracking financial performance, establishing a depreciating budget for liquor and food purchasing, or ensuring that service is consistent and employees are performing.

Here are some examples of control:

  • Analyzing sales and service reports from POS system
  • Useing an inventory management solution to better take and track inventory
  • Using and reviewing checklists for server and bartender side work
  • Inventory and financial reporting
  • Purchasing budgets
  • Food waste controls

Level 2 of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid

If the first level of the pyramid was the head of a good manager, then Level 2 is the heart. This level deals with less operation and clerical skills than level 1. It focuses more on promoting a positive work environment that creates professional and personal growth for your employees.

Skill 5: Motivation

Motivating your employees isn’t an easy task. And there’s no single tactic that will motivate every employee. Sometimes it’s easier to start by identifying things that de-motivate employees than it is to spot successful motivational tactics. Things like a lack of effort from management, poor planning, poor organization, will create a sour work environment.

Essentially, a de-motivating environment is created when management doesn’t display any of the characteristics of a good restaurant manager listed in level 1 of the pyramid.

It’s important to remember that motivation doesn’t have to take the form of rah-rah sports motivation often seen in pop culture. Consistent, good work and responsibility is a good way to motivate people, for example. Motivation doesn’t always require the high energy of a tense moment in a crucial game, or the victory speech before a big battle in Game of Thrones.

Here are some good ways to motivate staff:

  • Employ and reward a high performing staff to motivate others to work hard
  • Allow professional growth by promoting from within
  • Recognize good and hard work, or employees who exceed their basic job duties
  • Listen to feedback from employees and implement their ideas to improve operations
  • Be competent and reliable yourself

You can also implement more competitive elements of motivation to persuade employees to work harder.

  • Sales competitions with a reward
  • Share server or bartender sales numbers
  • Promote good employees to work large parties, events, or other opportunities to earn more money
Skill 6: Training

Training has a lot to do with organization and planning. But execution of training requires good communication and motivation to improve employee skills.

For example, providing insightful wine training is a great to engage employees by giving them the opportunity to learn new information skills that will help them upsell to guests and earn more money.

Here are some ways to implement productive training:

  • Create a training manual and employee handbook
    • This establishes standards right away and can be referenced later
    • Provide helpful information on the wine, beer, spirits, and food served in your restaurant
    • Detail the company culture and expectations for both new employees and management
  • Conduct ongoing training 
    • Invite producer and distributor reps, local influencers, and others to come into the restaurant to train staff in different areas

Skill 7: Coaching

Coaching and training sound similar, but the goals associated with them are different. Training is focused more on practical knowledge and operational procedures. It relates specifically to the products you service and the way your restaurant functions.

Coaching, on the other hand, is focused more on performance and professional growth. It could be giving guidance on how to deal with stressful situations, or dealing with co-worker disagreements.

Coaching also provides insights into how to improve performance, and the logic behind handling situations in order to achieve the best outcome.

Here are some ways to implement coaching in your restaurant:

  • Be observant of your employees moods, behavior, and stress level 
    • This allows you to approach staff who are dealing with a problem and coach them through it before the problem escalates. It can also help prevent staff burnout that can lead to turnover.
  • Explaining why something is done behind
  • Putting their work in the context of achieving goals
  • Mentor employees who want to grow within the restaurant industry
Skill 8: Employee Involvement

This is a key skill of being a good restaurant manager. Employees want their voices to be heard. No one wants to feel like they’re just a body at work. Giving employees the opportunity to make suggestions, improve operations, and impact their workplace will go along way towards employee satisfaction and limiting turnover.

  • Hold regular meetings to get feedback from employees
  • When new procedures or features of a restaurant are introduced, survey employees to get their feedback
  • Promote from within
  • Utilize employees non-restaurant skills
    • The restaurant industry is full of multi-talented people. Have someone on staff who is into graphic design create promotional materials for events. Or have a musician on staff curate playlists for the dining room.
Level 3 of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid

This set of skills is focused on the manager themselves. While the bulk of management is managing others, how you manage yourself is also important. It will dictate your ability to execute all the skills involved in the first two levels of the pyramid.

Skill 9: Self-Management

This is about knowing yourself.  Your strengths, weaknesses,  and your limits of endurance. Understanding the skills you need to improve on, or which tasks should be delegated is important.

The restaurant industry can be overwhelming for managers. So it’s important not to becoming a load bearing structure, where if you collapse, the whole thing comes crashing down. Taking on a larger work load than possible is not a noble thing, because you’re shorting yourself and your employees.

Here are ways to improve self management:

  • Take time away from the restaurant
  • Delegate tasks
  • Understand your triggers and paint points
  • Communicate issues with other managers
  • Focus on areas you need to improve on
  • Establish personal goals to work towards

Skill 10: Time-Management

When you work in a restaurant, time disappears faster than shift meal. So it’s important to understand how to invest your time when you’re at the restaurant.

Create a schedule that works for you. If lunch service is hectic and it pulls you away from office work, then plan your day accordingly so you can get office tasks done without interruption.

Here are some strategies to improve time management:

  • Make a to-do list each day
  • Set calendar reminders to remind you to finish weekly or unique tasks
  • Delegate tasks that others can do
  • Invest in technology that will ease your workload
  • Keep a consistent schedule when possible
Top Level of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid

Congratulations, you’ve reached the summit. Once you can learn to handle the technical, organizational, motivational, and self-management skills required to be a successful restaurant manager, you can focus on the bigger picture.

Top Level: Leadership

Leadership is more than simply managing employees and operations. It’s having the ability to inspire people to work with and alongside you. A good leader executes all the skills of a good manager, but they do it consistently, and with passion, so people are willing to follow them.

It means that your overall vision for the restaurant – what you want to be known for, how you want to be viewed within the community, what experience you want to provide your guests – is consistently served by the strategies employed through the lower levels of the pyramid.

Essentially, a good leader holds their vision accountable to the work that needs to be done to achieve it.

The post Restaurant Management Skills Level Pyramid appeared first on Uncorkd iPad Wine and Beverage Menus for Restaurants.

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