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Running a restaurant requires a wide facet of skills. Being objective should be at the top of that list. Instead, too many restaurants are preoccupied with the three things that lead to a restaurant’s demise: ego, pride, and denial. It’s not your fault entirely. Perhaps people have been telling you that your food is good. Maybe you even have quite a few good reviews on social media. 

But let’s talk about being “good.” It’s become the new standard. Everyone expects it. Good food. Good service. A clean restaurant. “Good” has been diluted to become…well, not that good at all. Good is something we settle on.

The restaurant industry is fast approaching market saturation. The economy can only support so many restaurants. Think of it as an economic survival of the fittest. Good restaurants, the average ones, get drawn into the middle of the market to become a commodity. When brands become a commodity, they have to compete on price. That pricing war erodes precious profits and will leave you doubting if all this is worth it. Well, it is, if you can escape the realm of average.

Focus on Fundamentals 

Maybe your food needs help. The first thing to look at is your product mix report. You want to know without question which items are the most popular with your guests — knowing what people spend their hard-earned discretionary income on it a key to long term success. Detach your ego from this exercise and instead ask what else could you serve that resonates with what your guests are buying. In other words, even if you love that quinoa bowl, it’s not worth it to keep around if you only sell two per week.

Get your menu out and examine it with a lens of objectivity. Which items are your hits and which are misses? Which ones does your team execute without missing a beat and which ones end up with a bad online review? An effective menu engineering strategy helps you stop making blind guesses without data. With that data, you can learn what is hot with guests. 

Leaders, not Bosses

Get back to teaching the elements of hospitality. We often train only with new hires in our restaurants. This method is the biggest mistake out there! Lack of continuing education is one of the main reasons we have such a high turnover in the industry. We all need to grow. It’s wired into our DNA for evolution and survival. When you fail to provide consistent training (or retraining) to your team, they soon fall into bad habits that send a ripple effect across the bottom line. 

Training is never out for the true professional, and as the leader, that starts with you! You must be setting the example that you want your team to emulate. There are no bad employees, just bad leaders who failed their team by not setting and living the standards they create. 

It’s easy to go in and be the boss. You can bark orders. Few dare to step up and be a leader within their restaurant. It takes courage to stand up and declare your standards as high and without compromise, to lead by example and not be a hypocrite. It takes courage to put others before yourself. Leadership is an act, not a title. It’s the conscious act out of helping others become their best. 

Don’t Be So Sensitive

When your brand is in the public eye, you won’t be a hit with everyone. You need to accept this, but don’t ignore it. That means if people keep saying that something on your menu sucks, it might suck. Be mature about this and have a look into it. The common problem is that sometimes the cooks get “creative” with recipes and plate presentation. These instances are where solid training and standards of critical! The leader has to identify that standard and hold others to it. When it comes to standards in your restaurant, you can’t be democratic about the process. Your standards aren’t negotiable. 

If your ego is too fragile, then remove yourself from the process of being critical about your food. Use a third-party service, such as a consultant or secret dining service to help you get an objective look at your menu. Make sure to interview them just like you would anyone joining your team. You want someone with real restaurant experience, not a weekender who thinks they are a food critic. 

What’s Next?

With some honest feedback, you have what you need to create an action plan to fix it. Don’t ignore the negative reviews from third parties that say your hosts need to smile. Don’t simply rely on your own experiences either! It’s when you are not around that the real personality tends to come out. 

Break your action plan down into small, doable steps or you’ll overwhelm your team, and they won’t follow through on it. Change happens as a result of small and consistent pressure to improve. Don’t go in and make lots of changes too fast, or you’ll freak them out! While entrepreneurs and leaders welcome change like a breath of fresh air, most people resist it. Your team that works for an hourly wage…not so much. Don’t be disappointed about this. You need people who can come in day after day doing the same tasks. Just remember that what gets you motivated is most likely not the same things that motivate your team (hence why most sales contests don’t work). 

Getting a better restaurant all starts with getting more from yourself. It begins with the concept that restaurants become better when the people in them become better people. What are you doing to become a better leader? To become a better person? What are you doing to improve your team? 

Answer those questions, take action and you’ll see that your restaurant might not suck so bad. 

Want to get the scoop on everything restaurant tech, marketing, industry news, and more? We got you covered. Subscribe to our blog to get weekly updates on the most buzzworthy restaurant industry topics.

About the Author

Donald Burns is The Restaurant Coach, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. A restaurant consultant for a $4.2-billion-dollar company, he works with restaurants around the globe that want to build their brand, strengthen their team, and increase their profits. His first book, Your Restaurant Sucks!: Embrace the Suck. Unleash your Restaurant. Become Outstanding, is an international bestseller.

The post Does Your Food Actually Suck? No B.S. Restaurant Evaluation for Managers appeared first on QSR Automations.

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Restaurant management involves so much more than making and serving food. There’s all the prep-work, the cleanup, hiring, scheduling, marketing and a whole host of other duties that occur after you’ve locked the doors. Oh, not to mention the exponential tasks of managing multiple restaurant sites.

As a practical restaurant manager, you likely know the value of technology to your operation. These devices help simplify your processes, allowing you to “work smarter, not harder.” Moreover, through restaurant analytics and reporting, you break down your restaurant’s service, segment by segment.

Using data, your devices can generate reports on how long it’s taking your chefs to prepare items, how long guests are waiting, and much more. By analyzing these reports, you can identify problem-areas or chokepoints in your flow and make adjustments.

Data paints a vivid portrait of your restaurant that you can use! Moreover, though, robust restaurant technology allows you to be in multiple places at once. By accessing these reports remotely, you can effectively maintain operations from anywhere. Here’s our quick and easy guide on using data to manage your restaurant remotely.

A Data-Powered Restaurant

The first step in creating restaurants you can manage remotely is by ensuring they’re data-powered. Look for front and back-of-house technology which allows access to data, and that provides reports on the processes most relevant to you (we’ll get to that in a bit).

For best results, seek restaurant devices that can work with another, like a kitchen display system that integrates to your guest management device or POS (if you have them). These integrations help connect the different sections of your restaurant(s), providing an active high-level view for you to analyze and adjust. It also means you can track the processes of your entire restaurant, from the kitchen to the guest floor.

An Enterprise Portal

To manage your restaurants remotely, you need a way to log in from offsite. Seek restaurant technology which provides enterprise or portal software. With a portal login, you only need a computer and an internet connection to access your restaurant data and reporting. When managing multiple sites, you could access all of these reports in one sitting, allowing you to cross-analyze and compare, all without having to leave your home.

Going Mobile

In today’s world, any software that’s worth its salt will provide a mobile app variation of their service. It’s no different for restaurant technology. A mobile insights app offers the same benefits of an enterprise or portal software, with the features available directly on your phone. These apps make you even more mobile, putting all that data power in your pocket on a device you’re already carrying with you everywhere. Seek a well-designed app that’s intuitive and easy to digest

Real-Time Updating

It’s one thing to collect data and get it offsite. To gain the best active restaurant insights though, you’ll probably want data that’s close to real-time as possible. Most restaurant reporting features will indicate the level of real-time data you can get. For example, some reports will update every 15 minutes, whereas some will only update every hour. Some will even let you customize these increments.

Analytics is often a two-pronged approach: measuring historical data, as well as the active data in your restaurant. Make sure you can access both of these.

Remote Restaurant Management Data You Can Use

With data and technology on your side, you’re ready to manage your restaurant remotely. What should you look for in these reports? This list isn’t a comprehensive breakdown but provides some “must-haves” in restaurant data analytics.

Front-of-House Wait Times

These metrics show how long it takes, in a given moment, for a party of a given size, to be seated at a table. Not only does this help to demonstrate your own guest management abilities, but also gives a window into your guests’ satisfaction. Longer wait times means flustered guests. If you see these times increasing, try to remedy.

Turnaround Times

In order to plan for the future, it helps to know your average turnaround metrics. How many parties do you typically serve within a designated period?

Average Party Size

On average, how big (or small) are your parties in a given period? These figures can fluctuate, especially in coordination with peak times and rush hours.

Average Guest Counts

On average, how many guests do you have in your restaurant at a given time? It’s a more global variation of the metric above, but just as important. This metric gives you a clear vision of your bandwidth, from the front to the back.

Seating Efficiency

How well you’re utilizing your seating economy at any given time. Though you won’t likely hit it, your goal is always to be as close to 100% as possible.

Back-of-House/Kitchen Data Speed-of-Service Data 

Each time a cook bumps an item from one phase of its order to the next, a KDS writes a report of when the order started, how long it took to cook, and how long it took to get the order from the kitchen out to the customer. If you see speed-of-service times inflating at various times, or on individual dishes, you can make staffing adjustments.

Cook Time Variance

This shows the average time it usually takes an item to cook,  and the actual time your chefs take to cook it now. You can use these metrics as an appendage measurement to your speed-of-service, as well as an indication of where you might need to (for example) open a new grill.

Window Times

 How long, after being cooked, does your food sit in the window? You can set thresholds in your technology (example: 2 minutes). If you see these high window times popping up often, you will likely see an adverse reaction in customer satisfaction and food quality ratings.

Ready to Manage your Restaurants Remotely?

Data is one of the most potent, actionable resources you can use to improve your restaurant, whether by efficiency, revenue or customer satisfaction. Utilizing that data with a mobile app or software allows you to harness this same power, from offsite.

There’s so much that goes into managing your restaurants remotely. Learn more about how you can gain active mobile insights, for all your sites, through a mobile app! 

About the Author

Dylan Chadwick is a Content Marketing Specialist at QSR Automations. He graduated from Brigham Young University with an English degree and journalism focus and loves to write about technology. When left to his own devices, he enjoys loud music, adorable dogs and documentaries about the aforementioned.

The post Wherever You Are: How to Manage Your Restaurants Remotely appeared first on QSR Automations.

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New customers excite us. New dishes and menus excite us. The premise of black bottom lines excites us. Writing employee handbooks? Not so much. These seemingly dull tomes often produce a variety of yawns and eye-rolling from new hires and current employees. Despite the pushback, for an operator, knowing how to write an employee handbook is one of the most important aspects of creating a company culture.

Now, no one says you have to write an employee handbook; in fact, no legal statute mandates it. If you want to minimize risk though, starting one now is a wise move.

Reframing your thoughts on how to write an employee handbook will help. Start with the title: Employee Handbook sounds stodgy and dry. It certainly doesn’t entice a reader! Instead, try something like calling it a “Team Guide, “The Way Things Work Around Here Manual,” or even a “Better Dining Experience Doctrine.” Choose what works for you.

Innovative employers cut through the tedious handbook copy of yesteryear to embrace a new approach. They seek to do more than command staff but to build a culture and create value for employees. No, it likely won’t end up on the Best-Seller list, you’ll do well to make your handbook lively. To highlight just how creative employers have become, the Society of Human Resource Management shared a few inventive employee handbooks in 2018, created by restaurant operators, that engage readers on a different level.

Why Create a Restaurant Employee Handbook?

A polished employee handbook serves both employee and employer alike. With policies, procedures, and rights documented, you’ll be less likely to encounter employee misunderstandings that turn into costly litigation.  Employee handbooks will also:

  • Help new hires feel at home in their position. Clarity eliminates ambiguity and increases trust from them.
  • Provide a better defense in a litigation claim. Documentation and consistency are the foundation in these defenses.
  • Create more accessible and consistent policies. When you detail the rights of employees, as well as the responsibilities and obligations of the employer, you instill the conviction of equality in all your employees.
  • Outline management expectations. When you detail various job duties and insert your expectations of employees, you can increase employee cooperation.
Where to Begin 

First, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local employment laws that apply to your restaurant. Each state has unique employment laws, so you may need to write different handbooks if you operate multiple sites in different states.

Second, if possible get your hands on a few employee handbooks from other restaurants. What do you like about theirs? Where can you expand? While this may not always be possible, it’s well worth the effort as it helps you understand what’s currently out there.

Third, many sites provide online templates to create employment handbooks. You can get an idea of the basic outline here while personalizing policies for your restaurant. If your documents read like every other restaurant’s, you run the risk of collecting document sign-offs that no one reads.

This level of engagement isn’t insignificant either. A 2108 Forbes article cited that 53% of Millennials haven’t read their employee handbooks.  It’s difficult to get employees invested in a company brand and culture they haven’t read about!

Legal Restaurant Handbook Requirements

To protect yourself against legal nightmares, you should include the following in your restaurant employee handbook:

  • Workers’ Compensation Policy. Most states require you to detail workers’ compensation policies in employee handbooks. By doing so, you signal to employees that you take work-related injuries seriously.
  • Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO) policy. The Department of Labor also requires the inclusion of Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination policies in your employee handbook.
  • Family Medical Leave Policy. Depending upon the size of your restaurant, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave during any given year due to illness, childbirth, or being the primary caregiver of a child or sick family member. Spell it out for your employees.
  • Anti-harassment Policy. In today’s culture, a “no tolerance” attitude towards sexual, verbal, bullying or electronic harassments is imperative. Document it clearly and ensure all new staff reads and agrees.
Making the Restaurant Employee Handbook Your Own

Once you have the legally-mandated components, it’s time to decide on the remaining content of your handbook. While you want a handbook that nips every potential problem in the bud, an 800-word novel is hard to digest in one go. Worse, you’ll encourage participants to skim it once and never re-engage. Choose the most critical components to include for your restaurant and remember this is a living document that you should update regularly.

Start with a “Welcome Letter” from you, the CEO, or founder, and include a history of your business. Including your mission and vision statements, along with why employees choose to work at your restaurant versus another workplace generates pride and ownership.

What Else do you Need?

After you obtain the legally-required information outlined in the previous section, you’ll want to cover some or all of the following:

  • Time off, weather-related closures, and leave policies for military service, voting, vacation, sickness, disability, grief and anything else which may arise
  • Schedule swapping, and break policies
  • No-call, no show policy
  • Hours, overtime policies, and recognized holidays
  • Payment schedule like bonuses, your system on pay increases and the expectations to achieve those benchmarks
  • Benefits, including any health, dental and vision insurance documents that detail the benefits you provide
  • Employee code of conduct like your standards for dress code and behavior (Note: It’s here where you’ll likely need to document the more unsavory elements of employment like disciplinary procedures)
  • Safety policies, as well as how employees can report unsafe incidents
  • A basic breakdown of any restaurant technology you use, like your kitchen display system or point-of-sale, and potential training. 
  • Referral program
  • Phone use, like your policies for employee use of mobile devices
  • Termination, resignation and exit interview expectations and procedures
  • A clear disclaimer which identifies your handbook as an outline of general guidelines and information and not intended to be comprehensive (more on this below) 
  • Sign-off form for all employees to sign and date, indicating that they have received, read and understood the employee handbook
A Disclaimer on Disclaimers

Disclaimers protect you and your employees by dictating the limits of your handbook. First and foremost, a disclaimer should state that the restaurant employee handbook is not a legally-binding document. A good disclaimer should state that the employee handbook does not include all the possible applications of, or exceptions to, the policies and procedures outlined. This is to say it’s not an all-encompassing document for every possible scenario: only those most common and expected. A disclaimer gives you the right to change or update your restaurant handbook at any time, should you need to.

Finalizing Your Restaurant Handbook – 3 Last Steps

You’ve given every part of your business and processes careful thought and clearly outlined your expectations. With these in place, you feel ready to distribute your restaurant’s employee handbook. You’re almost there! Before doing so, though, these last three steps will ensure that you’ve dotted every “I” and crossed every “T.”

  1. Get a legal review – find an employment law attorney to review and ensure the document’s language is appropriate and within legal parameters.
  2. Retain past versions of your handbook – If you’re creating a new handbook, don’t throw out the old one. Not only will it be handy to reference in the event of litigation, but you can also use them to track changes in your restaurant’s policies.
  3. Introduce the new restaurant employee handbook to your current staff – Sure, it’s new, but not everyone on staff is! It helps get the entire team on board and will go far in clarifying expectations, policies, and procedures. Everyone needs a refresher course.

While you may find your restaurant’s employment handbook most valuable to new hires, you must distribute to all current employees, as well. Some may wrongly feel that perhaps they aren’t doing their work within management expectations, so introduce the handbook as a way to clarify expectations, policies, and procedures.

Training new restaurant employees can be so multifaceted. Learn more about industry best practices on how to onboard restaurant employees in our article below! 

About the Author

Amber Mullaney provides and guides all things marketing for QSR. A proud Texan native, she graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Public Relations. She spent her career in the healthcare industry before making the switch to QSR. Amber has a long list of loves, including tacos (especially tacos), sweet tea, Texas, the outdoors, and traveling with her husband and two daughters.

The post How to Write an Employee Handbook your Restaurant Staff will Read appeared first on QSR Automations.

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As we kick off another year in the restaurant industry, it’s time to take a good look internally and realize that what we’ve been doing in the past may not be the best option to carry us into the future.

Let’s recap some things that helped create a successful 2018, so we can build on that momentum and create meaningful 2019 restaurant goals & resolutions.

Carryout Strategies

Last year we saw a rise in off-premise dining options and restaurants capitalizing on this new revenue stream. Off-premise dining is everything from carryout options to curbside pickup and delivery. You can incorporate any off-premise dining through various tweaks or full-on technology investments in your operation.

The first step is optimizing your carryout strategy. To do this:

  • Build a destination in your POS that highlights or prints differently so the kitchen and service team members know it’s a takeout order.
  • Research new packaging options for carryout items. Green alternatives are more popular than ever and boast the number of recycled materials on each piece. Improvements in bowls, platters, and options for fried products are less expensive now than they were in the past. These moves can make the presentation of your menu items more like dining in-house and leave a positive impression on your customers.
  • Create an area in your kitchen and service area for carryout orders. Doing this will help the new stream of revenue have less impact on your in-house tickets. If this goes well and you begin to see sales and revenue improvements consider making this Curbside carryout.
  • Designate a couple of parking spaces for curbside carryout. This simplifies things.
  • Schedule at least one person to manage both expedite and delivery pieces of the curbside process.
  • If you don’t take payment via an app or online consider making a small investment in a handheld device to process payment curbside. Doing so will speed the process along and make your customers more comfortable. 
Restaurant Delivery Trends

The next step is delivery. You don’t necessarily have to hire drivers, change your insurance and buy magnetic signs for their cars. You can hire a third-party delivery service to take your menu items right to your customer. Uber-eats, Amazon Eats and GrubHub, are just a few of the options available that will pick up a customers’ order and deliver it to their home or office. They allow any restaurant to take advantage of delivery without hiring drivers, managing schedules and parking and everything else.

Keep in mind when instituting a delivery strategy:

  • There will be a fee to use these third-party delivery services, so consider adjusting order prices to cover the cost.
  • Make sure that delivery orders are available when you said they would be. This ensures drivers aren’t waiting around to pick up the food for delivery.
  • Be aware that you have no control over the customers’ interaction with that driver. They aren’t your employees, so if the experience is good, the praise may not get to you. However, if the experience is terrible, this criticism may fall on you. Find a vendor you feel comfortable with and maintain communication with them to avoid situations that can put your reputation in jeopardy.
Menu Engineering

Another low-cost trend is menu engineering. The menu engineering process starts with understanding your menu item cost. Creating a menu that balances low and high-cost items to calculate sales and profits. There are many menu engineering resources to help you know how much each menu item costs to prepare and keep on your menu. They can also help you determine if you are charging enough for the food on your menu. If an item is high cost and not selling, you risk raw ingredients going bad. Even worse, you may not have it on-hand when you need it. With social media today, the latter is almost worse than food waste, both are costly issues.

For a solid menu engineering strategy:

  • Review your menu sales and determine what percentage of those sales is the cut off for keeping an item available. For example, you could remove anything that’s less than 5% to boost the sales of other menu items.
  • Pair complementary foods together to balance their high and low-cost. For example, maybe pair a high-end item with a suggested sale cup of soup or side salad with significantly lower food cost.
  • Be mindful of the layout of your menu online vs. in-house. Customers in-house are enjoying an experience with you and your team members. Lay out your in-house menu by course.
  • When posting it online, place your entrees first then add suggested sales for appetizers and sides. Many who purchase online are more likely to accept the suggestion and add them to their cart.
  • Add a few pictures of signature menu items but don’t over-do it. Customers won’t read menus that are too busy. They’ll skim over, and customers may miss great options than creating the situation where items don’t sell.

If you’re part of a larger restaurant brand, you may not have direct control over these decisions. Collecting the data and presenting it in a digestible way could be a kick-start to review their menu or to do the same research on a larger scale. Re-engineering the menu doesn’t cost much in finances, just the time to do research and reorganize remaining menu items to maintain customers’ interest.

More Restaurant Technology

If you can invest capital on technology, consider an online ordering partner or an app for customers to order from you without needing a team member to be on the phone. This partnership will allow a team member to expedite orders or improve the customer experience by with them when they come to pick up their food.

Look into an advanced kitchen display system that can help with pacing orders to the kitchen, splitting menu items to the correct station for preparation and even providing quotes to online customers for more accuracy. Using paper tickets for online orders is risky if they get mixed in with dine-in customers. These quotes could be off if your kitchen volume is busier than the POS realizes, creating a situation where customers or delivery drivers are waiting for orders, or dine-in customers are waiting while seeing carryout guests leave with food.

If you are a table service restaurant, invest in a host stand solution that will free your hosts up to talk to guests. This setup keeps them from guessing wait time quotes or about where to seat the next party. Adding technology to the host stand will also provide restaurant data. With this data, you can better understand table turns, party sizes and wait times. In fact, adding any technology will provide data that you can use to improve operations, streamline processes and re-allocate team members.

Going Forward

Take some time in the New Year to reflect on your successes from the prior year, but don’t allow yourself to become complacent. The future is here and setting restaurant goals for 2019 will bring you even more successes in New Year!

Want to get the scoop on everything restaurant tech, marketing, industry news, and more? We got you covered. Subscribe to our blog to get weekly updates on the most buzzworthy restaurant industry topics.

About the Author

Shari McCauley is the Product Training Specialist at QSR Automations. She focuses on educating employees and customers on the benefits and uses of QSR technology. You can reach Shari at smccauley@qsrautomations.com.

The post 2019 Restaurant Goals & Resolutions: Keeping the Momentum appeared first on QSR Automations.

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As we stepped into the new year, we looked at everything that happened in the restaurant industry in December 2018. Last month’s news includes 2019 technology predictions, pizza company mergers, mobile payment platforms, and the reasons restaurants are losing guests. This platter of news was too good to leave in 2018.

US Restaurants Face Tough 2019

Overall, restaurant chains dealt with many challenges in 2018, and many predict that 2019 will bring more. According to a Bloomberg report, rising food and labor costs could delay plans to expand and hurt profits. International companies are not going to be able to avoid that pain and will need to plan accordingly. For example, Starbucks has already announced plans to close some locations in the United States. Since delivery is still an ever-present trend in the industry, restaurants will be focusing on investing in technology that supports delivery.

Another challenge of delivery is that restaurants have to share their earnings with the delivery service that they utilize, thus making it harder to gain a profit from the mobile or online customers. An issue that will move into 2019 will be the data collected by restaurant chains from delivery services; this data can be used for ads to create return customers for the restaurant. Want more facts and figures concerning issues restaurants could face in 2019?

Pizza Hut Makes One of Its Biggest Acquisitions Ever

Pizza Hut announced that it acquired QuikOrder on December 4, allowing improvements to the company’s ability to deliver. The restaurant reported that about half of its sales in the United States came through QuikOrder’s platform. The acquisition of the two companies will include the current digital ordering platforms of Pizza Hut and the in-restaurant technology of QuikOrder, along with future products and programming. This deal is occurring during the digital race in the pizza industry. A key competitor, Domino’s, is making progress towards the goal of becoming a 100 percent digital experience. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut is going through a $130 million transition that is moving slowly but surely. In Q3, Pizza Hut’s sales barely moved 1 percent internationally and dropped 1 percent in the United States.

According to Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S., challenges to focus on would be dine-in assets and lack of general delivery awareness. He also states that there is going to be a comparable change in the U.S. when it comes to performance. Want other insights about this deal between Pizza Hut and QuikOrder? Check out this article.

Another Way Restaurants are Losing Guests

When it comes to technology, it can be a huge pain point for restaurants. Or, if implemented correctly, technology can help ease pain points that restaurants face. Another interesting dilemma is payment technology. Customers are still dining out at a steady pace. TSYS conducted a study that found that 75% of those that responded to the survey eat out at least once a week, and 42 percent eat out three times a week. For those diners that eat out more than twice a week, 46 percent still prefer to swipe their card, while 41 percent prefer to insert their chip payment. Only 3 percent prefer to pay with their phone, which is an indicator that restaurant operators should not make a massive investment in solely mobile payment options.

The two most essential capabilities according to consumers are secure payments and processing and the speed of the transaction when paying. Where are the opportunities? Customers still desire advanced payment options. Sixty-nine percent of people prefer restaurants to have a pay-at-the-table option. Millennials are the customers that are most likely to choose this payment option if offered. Keep in mind, that if you’re trying out new payment methods make sure that the experience is well-tested and easy to use. One bad experience can affect a restaurant’s reputation. Check out more benefits of payment technologies here.

Why Mobile Payment Is Crucial for Guest Experience

Payment methods have evolved with technology. Over 35 percent of Americans use an Android device; thus more consumers are starting to use mobile wallets for their payment methods on the go. However, mobile payment options are not offered or accepted in most stores. A lot of stores want to create and maintain customer loyalty through physical cards. For consumers, mobile payment options provide a seamless customer experience that links customers’ forms of payment, gift cards, and reward programs. Stores that have implemented mobile payment options have seen an increase of 64-percent in offer redemption and a 15-percent increase in loyalty card engagement. Mobile payment platforms can also create customized targeted messaging based on previous transactions and behaviors.

These options can create a seamless guest experience and allows for merchants to keep customers engaged and maintain their loyalty. Mobile payment platform options are becoming more common, but there are still security issues that are a concern to customers. Read more about how merchants can enable mobile payment platforms.

3 Restaurant Tech Predictions for 2019

Technology is quickly becoming a force in the restaurant industry. What’s on the horizon for 2019? Apps, drones, and automation. Restaurant operators are seriously considering turning to automation due to labor pressures rising. Minimum wage is also on the rise, according to this article, so expect to see more robots and self-service machines as restaurant staff.

In the third-party delivery space, leaders need to figure out what would make them stand out among the competition. How can they stand out? Delivery through drones could be the answer. Allegedly, Uber is making progress in the drone delivery system world with UberExpress that may be operational by 2021 according to the Wall Street Journal.

When it comes to customer loyalty, apps can assist with driving brand buzz. Companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s have begun to promote in-app promotions this year. Other companies are also providing limited time options strictly when someone uses the app for delivery. Brands are starting to use their apps and third-party apps to drive visits through loyalty initiatives and ridesharing incentives.

Want to get the scoop on everything restaurant tech, marketing, industry news, and more? We got you covered. Subscribe to our blog to get weekly updates on the most buzzworthy restaurant industry topics.

About the Author

Devyn Nance is the Marketing Coordinator at QSR Automations. She graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and from Loyola University Chicago with a master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication. She considers herself an (amateur) profiler – trained solely from watching every episode of Criminal Minds. Outside of work, Devyn loves to shop, travel, hang out with friends and family, read, and watch shows on various streaming platforms.

The post Restaurant News Roundup: December 2018 appeared first on QSR Automations.

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Online reviews are a complicated beast for business owners to tame. At their worst, they’re personal sounding boards for miffed customers, looking to rake your restaurant across the figurative coals. When they’re positive though, they’re real guest testimonials and can serve as powerful ambassadors for your restaurant. The challenge for operators then is how to earn positive restaurant reviews, tactfully.

Understanding Online Restaurant Reviews

In the modern era, review sites for businesses are the norm. Third-party services like Yelp allow users to rate these businesses based on their own experiences. These reviews help future customers make decisions. A BrightLocal survey suggests that most customers read an average of 10 online reviews before trusting a business enough to patronize. A whopping 57% of all customers won’t even consider a business if it has fewer than four stars!

Now, there’s a lot to be said about the actual reliability of these reviews. For one thing, the verification process is still a grey area, often meaning that anyone, at any time, can write a negative review of your business, even if they’ve never visited. These users can strike fear into the hearts of many operators!

Additionally, customer experiences can be acute and subjective. They’re not aware of all that’s happening in the kitchen or the line cook who “no call/no-showed.” This article isn’t to discuss the ethics of restaurant reviews though, but rather the reality: they’re not going away, and they’re essential for your business and visibility. Below we’ll detail how to earn more positive reviews for your restaurant.

Know Your Restaurant’s Strengths

You know that you’ve got to keep your restaurant in tip-top shape – from the menu to your customer service. The fact that customers are reviewing this online should provide extra motivation. The basic principle here is that, before you invite customers to consider your restaurant, you want it to be at its best.

Make sure you’ve got a solid customer service strategy in place. Ensure you’ve got everything working, from the menu to the actual workflow and synergy between your front and back-of-house staff. Where necessary, consider employing technology to pace and automate these processes, ensuring high food quality and overall efficiency.

If you’re looking for specific areas of improvement, consider the restaurants that you would give a positive review. What sticks out to you? What delights you about their service? How do you compare to them?

Another way to seek areas for improvement is negative reviews. Whether they’re for your own business or someone else’s, you can identify common themes in these reviews to help make improvements. If guests are complaining consistently about long wait times, you should probably look into your guest management efforts. Address any red flags you notice along the way before soliciting any reviews.

Create the Channels and Methods for Online Reviews

If you want guests to review your restaurant, you need to make it extremely easy for them to do so. First and foremost, make yourself available on as many review sites as you can. Some of these include TripAdvisor, Yelp and Zomato. Many guests already know to use these sites, so being proactive in directing users there shows that you’re open to feedback and goes a long way in humanizing your business.

You can promote your presence on these review sites through social media channels, email campaigns and even through printed table cards and sticker decals in your restaurant. You don’t need to do anything fancy or complicated. Use these channels to encourage guests to review your restaurant on these platforms.

Another way to drive more digital reviews for your restaurant is through landing pages on your website. Through solid restaurant SEO and a clean design, you can drive traffic directly to a review site. You can do this by creating a Reviews page and embedding badges to the review sites in which you have a presence. The general principle here is this: if your customer wanted to leave a review, make it as simple and available as possible.

Ask for Online Reviews

Asking for reviews doesn’t have to be tacky. Your guests use these review websites and know their importance. Unfortunately, in most cases, customers feel the most incentive to leave a review only when they’ve had a negative experience. You can reverse some of this energy in the other direction, by taking things a step further and just sincerely asking.

You can ask for them through social media, email campaigns or even, at your best judgment, in person. It helps if you know a customer has had a good experience. You needn’t make a big deal of it, but you can let them know the option is there.

Digging Deeper

A net promoter  survey helps you gauge customer loyalty by asking respondents a question like: “on a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to recommend this restaurant to a friend?” You can categorize 0-6 as those who are dissatisfied with the business, those 7-8 as satisfied customers who could be swayed by competition and those 9-10 as people who’d be likely to promote your restaurant. When you’ve identified some 9-10 scores, consider asking them for reviews.

Incentivize Online Reviews with Caution

It’s not uncommon to reward online customer reviews. Many will expect it, and it goes a long way to show your appreciation to them. Be mindful, though, if you make the reward the central focus of things, that you can appear desperate and a bit tacky. Don’t say things like “If you give us five stars, we’ll give you 50% off your next meal.” You don’t want to create the idea that you’re trying to manipulate them for good reviews. Be upfront about why you seek reviews: they help you stay in business!

Offer the reward as a sincere token of appreciation that they’ve taken the time to leave it. Don’t use it to bait your customers. Remember also that even if you dangle a figurative reward in front of a guest, they can still leave a negative review – and may do so to spite you! Be cautious in how you reward.

Share the Good Word

When a customer says good things about your restaurant, it carries much more weight than when you do. Future guests who use these online restaurant reviews sites will likely find a genuine review from a customer more compelling than your website.

When you’ve built up a bank of good reviews, don’t be afraid to share them. A simple “see what they’re saying!” campaign not only gets eyes on your restaurant’s great qualities, it can motivate others to get in on the action. These online customer reviews act as powerful ambassadors for your brand. Show them to the world!

Online Reviews and Your Restaurant

Reviews are a significant part of the growth and visibility of your restaurant. While they can seem unruly to many, a positive approach will help you leverage reviews for your benefit. By keeping your restaurant in premiere working order, creating clear channels to review and by sharing your positive reviews, you can earn more positive reviews for your restaurant.

What’s in a bad online review? Read our article on responding to negative restaurant reviews to learn how to make the best of a disgruntled diatribe.

About the Author

Dylan Chadwick is a Content Marketing Specialist at QSR Automations. He graduated from Brigham Young University with an English degree and journalism focus. When left to his own devices, he enjoys loud music, adorable dogs and documentaries about them.


The post Earning Positive Online Reviews for your Restaurant appeared first on QSR Automations.

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It’s that time of year, when everyone is thinking of the future. It’s when we make resolutions to make improvements, and resolve to fortify our strengths. For restaurant operators, this is just as true, though you don’t necessarily need a crystal ball to forecast it. In fact, by analyzing some of the year’s significant restaurant industry trends, operators can prepare for a successful 2019.

Restaurant Food Trends

As has been the case for the past few years, a desire for options, a general consciousness, and convenience (which we’ll get to in a bit) drives most modern restaurant trends. Today’s restaurant consumers understand that they have options, from newer meatless alternatives to probiotics. Guests want to know the source of their food, as well as the intended health benefits it’ll bring. Operators can appeal to this with more menu transparency and an emphasis on providing options. Whether they meatless, gluten-free, or a low fat, consumers appreciate alternatives.

Modern consumers have more access to information than ever before, which means that if you don’t provide a particular option, they’ll seek out a restaurant that does. By delivering these healthy alternatives, as well as transparency in your sourcing, you’ll be perfectly on-trend for 2019!

Restaurant Menu Trends

With consumers’ drive for transparency comes a responsibility for restaurant operators to assist in decision-making. One primary way operators can appeal to this need is through a polished menu. Most modern consumers prefer experience over a product. This means unique illustrations and designs, instead of walls of text, go a long way.

Operators can use their menus to identify sourcing for their food, calories counts, and other options for those with more limited diets. Furthermore, the need for simplicity in a world overrun with notifications means consumers will appreciate an easily scannable, well-designed menu.

Another strategy for an operator is to utilize menu engineering to truly optimize their menu by keeping valuable items and ditching those that cost the restaurant more money than they generate. Additionally, providing a simple lunch menu that features only 4-5 essential items. It may seem counterproductive to thin out your product offering, but you simplify a guest’s choice-making. It also means you can drill down on your efficiency. You don’t have to go all out with an artistic statement, especially if it’s not part of your brand. However, the goal for the modern operator is to make your information easy to read and laid out so that a guest can find what they need with minimal effort.

Restaurant Technology Trends

Nowadays, consumers are free and comfortable with the idea of technology being a part of their dining experience. As a result, convenient, tech-driven options continue to drive modern restaurant trends.

Off-premise dining continues in its upward trajectory with Food and Wine identifying the millennial restaurant audience and their propensity to eat off-premise one to five times a week. Consumers expect it in their restaurants and will choose another option if they can’t get it in yours. Furthermore, third-party vendors like GrubHub and UberEats continue to make off-premise options a viable dining option (and revenue stream!) for restaurants of all sizes and concepts. Whether or not you choose to handle your delivery in-house, or through one of these services depends on your bandwidth and finances, but you’ve got options!

For off-premise dining to work, technological integrations are essential in connecting the various stations of the restaurant. Integrations between the point-of-sale system and the KDS, or joining the guest management (front-of-house) system to the kitchen (back-of-house) will ensure that your off-premise dining strategy is seamless. With an integration, you can accommodate both walk-in and online orders smoothly, without one disrupting the other. It will also make your order quoting more accurate, as these various devices collect their data from the kitchen. They’re not making arbitrary estimations.

Data and restaurant analytics will continue as a focus for operators looking to make improvements in their restaurants. Using data from devices like their kitchen display system, management can obtain metrics like the speed of service times, average party size, and revenue. With this technology in full integration, operators can access even more of this data. From there, they can highlight problems or chokepoints in their operations.

Restaurant Service Trends

Finally, we will continue to see futuristic, cutting-edge developments creep into the restaurant experience. Mobile POS and “pay at the table” movements help simplify things for your customers. It’s easier for them to complete their meal and for you to turn more tables. They also help cut costs. As of now, virtually 41% of restaurants are using some form of pay at the table, with these numbers expected to grow.

AI and artificial intelligence will continue making waves in the fields of hospitality and commerce, with the emergence of online chatbots for ordering. Many operators have employed these to give those customers ordering online a memorable, more attentive user experience.

Finally, ordering Kiosks, equipped with technology to store and “recall” a customer’s previous orders helps offset a diminishing workforce and keeps things moving in your lobby. It also just makes things fun and proactive for guests, as they receive a tailored service.

Going Forward

The only constant in any industry is that change is inevitable. There will always be new trends and developments to sort through. Some will last, and some will not. By taking honest stock of how you can utilize these trends, and how they can improve your restaurant, will keep you ahead of the curve in the years to come.

Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends, marketing tips and tricks, restaurant technology news, and more.

About the Author

Dylan Chadwick is a Content Marketing Specialist at QSR Automations. He graduated from Brigham Young University with an English degree and journalism focus and loves to write about technology. When left to his own devices, he enjoys loud music, adorable dogs and documentaries about the aforementioned.

The post Restaurant Trends to Prepare you for 2019 appeared first on QSR Automations.

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