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The Ultimate Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide (Part 2)

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If you’ve read our previous posts The Ultimate Guide Part 1, you probably know that sales is the one thing that fixes everything.  Part 2 of this guide focuses on how to grow your sales and the strategies behind selling that are easy to master.

Of the hundreds of secret shoppers I have conductive over the past 15 years I can only count on 1 hand the amount of times the server was correctly trained and conducted a perfect dining experience.  Most of the time the server never makes a suggestion or ask me to buy something.  In my experience this is the kind of service that ultimately leads to the demise of a restaurant.

In this next post we will highlight the remaining phases for the Table Side Selling process. As you remember we were just about to leave the table to go an get the guests drinks.  Right before leaving we planted the seed about the two most popular appetizers.  “Before I go and get your drinks let me tell you about two of our most popular appetizers on the menu.”  

The Appetizer Phase

The server returns with drinks and asks:

  • “Would you like to try the ___ or the ___?”

Important step here:  Give the customer time to respond first before asking another question.  The silence you hear during this time is good silence.  If the server starts talking first before the customer has chosen the appetizer they could lose the sale.  Rather let the customer internalize the question and then respond.  There will most likely be 1 of 3 responses:

  • "Yes, bring me the ___." (one of your suggestions. Hooray)
  • "No, I am not interested in either." 
  • Or even better "No I am not interested in either of those, but bring me the ____ instead."

By giving the customer time to respond (and not talking after you ask the question) you are more likely to get response 1 or 3.  If they choose #2 should you be disappointed?  NO! Remember it is their dining experience and they get to chose.  Your servers job is to make suggestions and ask for the order.  Read that again.  You should only be disappointed if your server did not make a suggestion or follow up with asking for the order.  Leaving it up to the guest to ask for an appetizer will not get you extra sales.  
Finally, compliment the guest on there choice (“That is an excellent choice”) and plant the seed for the next phase before leaving the table.  

Next Step: Plant the seed before you leave! Knowing the next phase that is coming up, plant the seed with your guest and make a suggestion on one to two entree's per section (preferably ones with high profit and high popularity) before leaving the table. It looks like this: “Before I go and put in your appetizer order let me show you some of our most popular entree's on the menu.”

The Entree Phase

The server returns to the table and offers a minimum of two entree choices, plus add-ons. Add-ons can help build your check average and give the guest a better dining experience. Offer a side salad, steak topper, and any additional items your establishment may offer that will enhance the guest experience.

Next Step: Plant the seed before you leave! Knowing the next phase that is coming up, plant the seed with your guest and make a suggestion for a minimum of two desserts (preferably ones with high profit and high popularity) before leaving the table. It looks like this: “Before you get too full let me show you some of our most popular desserts on the menu.”  

The Dessert Phase

Once the guest is halfway through the menu, the server makes suggestions for dessert. Dropping by casually with a dessert tray or laying down a dessert card on the edge of the table is a great suggestive way to plant the seed for another round of food. Studies show 30% immediate increase in dessert sales when a dessert tray is used. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to wow guests!

Remember to keep the dessert tray clean and up to date for every table. If you serve ice cream, scoop a dish of shortening in the plate and top with a light sprinkle of cinnamon.  It will make the plate look good and will last longer throughout the night.

The After Dinner Phase

The check is presented. But remember, timing is key! If the server presents it before the end of dinner, it looks like you are rushing the customer. The server thanks guests for coming in, then offers directions to pay.  

Once the payment is collected, the server promptly returns to the table. This is the time the customer is evaluating the “service" and is in the final decision for the server’s tip, so coming back within three minutes or less is key.

The Welcome Back Phase

Last, the server thanks the customer for coming in then asks them them to return at another time.  Then, plant the seed for upcoming events (Rib Wednesday, $2 Tuesday, Live Music Friday or any other holiday or celebration) they may be interested in joining you for in the future.  Pro-tip:  use your name one last time before the guest leaves so the guest will remember you and tell them to ask for you next time they come in to dine.  

When Does Table Side Selling Strategy Not Work?

Table Side Selling doesn’t work when you skip a phase or abandoned it altogether. When staff gets slammed they think it is much quicker to move the process along and say “What can I get you to drink?”, “Are you ready to order?” or “Anything else I can get for you?” A server who does this literally serves a table with those three sentences.  

Doing this doesn’t set your restaurant apart from others. Service is one of the most important things in a restaurant. If your service is the same as the other restaurants, you haven’t differentiated yourself from the rest of the pack. As you can see in this Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide the possibilities to grow your sales are endless if you can just make suggestions and ask for the order.

Customers want an experience. They have come to your restaurant not to look around, but to buy. Take the time to teach your staff how to make suggestions (sell) in a positive manner and you will reap the rewards for years to come.

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The Ultimate Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide (Part 1)

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If you’ve read our previous posts from ShiftNote, you probably know that we are the go-to for all things restaurant management. Whether it’s maintaining an efficient staff, recruiting the right team, implementing an effective system for managing shifts, innovating your workplace, or developing a strategy for better restaurant sales, we offer several solutions that will create a positive change to your business.

An area we have yet to cover is Tableside Selling. The next couple of post will go through what Tableside Selling is, the different techniques used every time you approach the table, when Tableside Selling works, and when it doesn’t! Listen up to these super helpful pointers on how to effectively work this proven strategy to grow your sales with minimal effort.  This is the ultimate restaurant training sales growth guide.

What is Tableside Selling?

From the moment a customer walks into a restaurant, they are primed to spend money. As people in the restaurant industry, you have the potential to upsell patrons as soon as they walk in the door. Tableside selling capitalizes on areas within your restaurant as well as during each segment of the meal to create an opportunity at each phase to maximize restaurant sales.

The benefit to you, if you follow this system, is your restaurant sells more product with little to no extra effort, increases bottom line profits and the server has the potential for a bigger tip. A win-win situation for everyone.

What are the 7 Phases of Tableside Selling?

  • The Seating Phase
  • The Greeting Phase
  • The Appetizer Phase
  • The Entree Phase
  • The Dessert Phase
  • The After Dinner Phase
  • The Welcome Back Phase

Let’s explore each phase, the strategy behind them and review how you can boost your restaurant training and sales by following these strategy's below in greater detail:

The Seating Phase

As the guests arrive to your establishment have the host/hostess open the front door and greet them with a smile. Make sure to welcome the guest to your establishment and ask:

  • Will you have anyone else joining you today? or How many will you have in your party today?
    • (TIP: if it is a single patron, do not say just one? Instead ask, will anyone else be joining you this morning / afternoon / evening?)
  • Would you like smoking or non smoking (If applicable)?
  • Would you like a table or a booth (If applicable)?

Now here is where the restaurant training and suggestive selling starts. Instead of the dead silence while walking the guest to the table, this is a good time for the host/hostess to:

  • Plant the seed and make suggestions for drinks, appetizers, signature items or even dessert. Just pick one and make a suggestion and you are on your way to the first step in growing your sales.
  • Also find out if this is the guest first time to your establishment or if they are returning guests (See bonus below).
  • Lastly, mention the servers name before the host / hostess leaves the table. (I will go get (blank) and let him / her  know you are here)

Bonus: During one of your restaurant training session figure out a way to denote first time guest. Whether it is placing the salt and pepper shakers in a certain spot on the table or putting down black beverage napkins for the first-time guest and white beverage napkins for repeat guests.  This way you can easily view who is who with a quick glance on the floor, and set higher priorities on first time patrons.  What a great opportunity to "wow" this guest and turn them into long time, repeat customers.

The Greeting Phase

Server approaches the table and does the following:

  • Welcome the guest to your establishment
  • Thank them for choosing to dine with you tonight
  • Finds out if they are first time guest (If not completed during The Seating Phase)
  • Use their name at some time during the greeting to start building a rapport
  • Makes suggestions on a minimum of 2 options (One alcoholic and one non-alcoholic)

After the greeting, offer two beverages (a non-alcoholic and a alcoholic Feature of the day) by saying:

  • “would you like to Try one of our __ today?”
    • Goal is to get the guest thinking about something other than water. How much do you make on a glass of water?

Pro Tip: Do not bring water to the table prior to taking the drink order.  This will lessen your chance of selling the guest a drink and could ultimately hurt your overall check average as well as the servers tip.

Next Step: Plant the seed before you leave! Knowing the next phase that is coming up, plant the seed with your guest and make a suggestion for a minimum of two appetizer (preferably ones with high profit and high popularity) before leaving the table. It looks like this: “Before I go and get your drinks let me tell you about two of our most Popular appetizers on the menu.”

Did You Catch Them?

There were three word highlighted in the above section - did you catch them?  These are three words that should be practiced and used in every step of Tableside Selling.  Here is why you should teach your staff to use them.

  • Try: when you ask if they want to try something it means it may cost a little more but it is going to make the experience that much more enjoyable.
  • Feature: Get into the habit of using the word feature instead of special.  Using feature makes it sound like you created something special for the guest as apposed to special which sounds like you need to get rid of something because it is about to spoil and you are marking it down to get rid of it.
  • Popular: Everyone wants whats popular so give it to them.  Tell them what are the most popular items on the menu and they will most likely buy them.  After all you are the expert in this establishment right?  Most guest will trust your suggestion since you work there and you know what the best things are on the menu.

Where to start

Over the next 30 days start incorporating the suggestions from above and tracking your results.  Start with the Host / Hostess (If you have that position) and have them start selling on the way to the table.  Pick one item and then track its success throughout the night. Remember - what you talk about at the tables is what you sell.  Focus on the right items (High profit, easy to make in the kitchen, high popularity) and you will for sure start growing your check average. Your goal is to grow your check average by $1 over the next 30 day period.  So find out what your check average is today and start creating Tableside selling opportunities with The Seating, Greeting and Appetizer phases.

Be on the lookout for next weeks blog - The Ultimate Restaurant Sales Growth Guide (Part 2) where we will discuss the next 30 days ( Selling more Appetizers and Entrees).  You won't want to miss this edition and the secrets behind teaching your staff to sell more Tableside.

Like what you read?  Have other successful tips?  Leave a comment for us below.  We would love to hear your feedback!

Continue reading The Ultimate Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide (Part 2)

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Farm To Table Restaurant Trend - Is It Right For You?


The restaurant industry has experienced many dish and flavor trends throughout the decades. Some stick and some don’t, but staying ahead of the trends and betting on what will work can make your restaurant a leader in the market. One popular trend is the ability to classify yourself as a farm to table restaurant. But what does that mean and what does it take to make yourself a farm to table restaurant? Here is some of our advice on whether this food sourcing method is a good path for your restaurant.

What is farm to table?

The term “farm to table” references reducing the steps it takes to get food from the dirt on a farm,  to the table in a prepared dish. The traditional methods of sourcing food comes from developing many different steps in processing the food and with various deliveries until food arrives at your restaurant. It is said that a single product is "touched" by 23 different people from the time it is harvested to the time your receive it at your back door.  These touches usually requires more preservatives that eventually lead to a lost flavor but yield consistency.

With the farm to table method, the goal is to make these transition steps minimal. Being a farm to table restaurant means sourcing ingredients from local farms, reducing the delivery steps and providing the freshest food possible with the least impact on the environment since growth hormones, packaging, and gas used for transit are not being utilized.

Why is being a farm to table restaurant popular?

The reduced environmental impact is a big deal for many restaurants, especially in urban areas where environmental consciousness is a cause that is part of the culture. Another big reason why people are choosing to visit a farm to table restaurant is the taste quality. Since the food is so fresh, the flavor is rich and outstanding. This gives restaurants a lot of room to play with dishes and really bring out that local flavor. Lastly, people love to support local business and choosing restaurants with farm to table methods means they are supporting local farms.

How does my restaurant benefit?

There are many benefits when you choose to be a farm to table restaurant. The first is an increase in repeat customers. With fresh ingredients, people will taste the difference and continue to choose your restaurant for a bite to eat. Others will go to your restaurant just because you are labeled as farm to table.

Second is the investment in your food quality and dish creativity. With fresh ingredients, you will see a longer shelf life on all your products than you would see ordering them from a big box food store. You will also be able to get more creative with your dishes to really highlight that fresh flavor which in turn influences the first benefit.

Third, your restaurant gets to create a local partnership with area farms. While it can be more expensive to source food from local farms because of the quality and freshness, it is also more beneficial in the long run. Some corporate food companies even provide this service for you.  A partnership with farms is mutually beneficial, both in sales volume and in extending marketing efforts.

Are there any differences between farm to table and organic?

Not every item in a farm to table restaurant will be organic. There are many food companies that provide organic products and, just because you know the dirt where your locally sourced food came from, doesn’t make it organic. According to the USDA, food can only be labeled as organic if:

  • Natural resources and biodiversity are preserved
  • Animal welfare is supported from treatment to lifestyle
  • No pesticides or other artificial materials are used to maintain crops
  • No genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are used
  • On-site inspections are performed annually
  • Food that meets all these requirements is separated from non-organic food

So, just because the food is produced locally does not make it organic. It is important not to clarify your farm to table methods as organic unless the farmer showcases that his or her food products follow USDA guidelines.

What are the drawbacks to adapting to a farm to table restaurant?

Some restaurants in metropolitan areas, such as New York, have a harder time finding nearby farms to accomplish their farm to table goals. Likewise, it can be difficult for any restaurant to order off-season produce from local farms. The biggest challenge, however, is finding farm to table meat in enough supply to meet the demands of your restaurant. There are strict guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture for smaller farms on how much and what types of animals they can have on-site.

Another drawback can be food safety and insurance.  What a large food vendor can bring to the table in this situation is food safety and regulations.  Some larger food companies even partner with local farms and help regulate the GAP certifications and have on site inspectors,  so you know you are receiving and delivering a safe and wholesome product to each of your patrons.  Its best to ask your food service purveyor if they provide this type of farm to table service as well.

How to proceed

If you have a local farm you can work with and if your budget can afford it, adopting a farm to table restaurant methodology can be a huge selling point to your restaurant. Even if you started with a few dishes, farm to table practices can add value and character to your establishment and your menu. While there are challenges to overcome, there are many profitable benefits to implementing farm to table practices.

And some parting words: Make sure you establish the right systems within your farm to table restaurant, using technology like an online manager's logbook and employee scheduling software.

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How To Hire The Right Business Operations Manager


Hiring the right business operations manager can make or break a business, particularly in the hospitality industry.

Common duties for a business operations manager are wide ranging and multifaceted. Business operations manager duties might include hiring employees, negotiating client and supplier contracts, assisting with marketing, maintaining customer satisfaction, and really anything that helps a business function.

An effective business operations manager should be able to communicate effectively, be diplomatic, organized, adaptable, self-driven, and a strong leader. Because the position can be so flexible, a great operations manager should be able to learn quickly and have a broad range of skills.

Consider the Value

The goal of this role is to ensure that your company provides the highest quality product and services across all areas of your business. The value comes from having a “boots on the ground” leader who has a big-picture view while still being in the trenches.

The ROI of a good leader within your business can be massive – from increased sales and productivity to a lower employee turnover rate. The far-reaching responsibilities of a business operations manager is one reason finding the right candidate is so important.

How to Find the Right Fit

Finding the right fit for your business requires looking at the experience and the hard skills a candidate has, as well as their soft skills and ability to learn. Consider what skills can be trained, for example, how to use your POS system, online manager's logbook, or your employee scheduling software, versus soft skills that cannot be trained, such as leadership qualities, problem solving, or , the ability to adapt to new situations and accept criticism.

Make a list of must-have skills and nice-to-haves, and don’t turn down a great fit if the skills they are lacking can be trained.

How to Retain the Right Candidate

After you identify the right candidate, your next step is to make sure to retain your business operations manager. A competitive salary, solid training, and clear expectations are the most effective methods for keeping good employees happy.

Start by offering a competitive salary, which averages around $57 per hour, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If budgetary issues make offering a higher salary an issue, consider offering a better than average benefits package or bonuses based on productivity.

Make sure you give your manager the tools they need to succeed by ensuring they learn about the inner workings of your company. Consider having them spend a week in every area of your business so they have a clear understanding of how all the pieces work together.

What goals and metrics will your operations manager need to meet for them to be deemed effective? This information should be communicated clearly when they are hired and updated during their annual review. Without knowing what is expected, it is impossible for any employee to be effective.

Final Thoughts on Hiring a Business Operations Manager in Hospitality

Your business operations manager serves as your brand’s backbone, connecting all the arms of your business and making sure they work together effectively. Hiring the right candidate takes time and should include multiple interviews. Remember, when effective, this leader can increase your bottom line and make sure your customers and employees are happy. This isn’t a hire that should be taken lightly.

Have ideas on how to hire the right business operation manager? Please share them with us below in our comments section. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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Social Selling: How To Make More Money With Your Customers By Catering To Their Personalities


In the front lines of a restaurant, your #1 focus is your customer and creating a memorable dining experience for them at your establishment. You have the ability to create deeper, even more memorable experiences if you understand who your customer is as a person, and how they are best communicated to. Mastering this "Art Of Hospitality" will ultimately get them to buy more from you and your staff and come back to your establishment more often.

A good front-line worker understands that each person is not cut from the same cloth and will adapt their communication strategy based on your customer’s personality style -- this is what we refer to as "social selling". With social selling, you need to quickly read your customer’s tendencies and become an expert in behavioral styles.

Classifying Your Customer: Four Types of People

People can be classified into four different personality types: Amiable, Expressive, Analytical, and Drivers. There are two strong dimensions of human behavior that drive your customers personality types. They are: responsiveness (controlled emotion vs. outward display of emotion) and assertiveness (tending to ask vs. tending to tell). These dimensions offer insight into the classification of your very own customers personality types based on the following: controls vs. emotes (Y axis) and asks vs. tells (X axis).


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Now that you understand how social personalities are structured, we’ll dive into details and also offer a sales tips for each personality type:

AMIABLE: (High Responsiveness (Outward Display Of Emotions), Low Assertiveness (Tends to Ask vs. Tell))

Think of this personality type like a Golden Retriever. They value people's company and is more of a listener than a talker.

  • Characteristics: Loyal, personable, patient, risk averse, non-confrontational, and agreeable.
  • In a conflict they Are passive, lacks conviction, or avoids the situation altogether
  • Their basic need: To feel secure
  • Social selling example: Make them feel supported by offering a lot of information about your menu offerings. Once they have made a selection, reassure them that they have made the right decision. View our post “Be Kind and Get Paid” for more strategies for the amiable personality type.

EXPRESSIVE: (High Responsiveness (Outward Display Of Emotions), High Assertiveness (Tends To Tell vs. Ask))

Expressive people are enthusiastic, dramatic, and interesting. If they don't receive the attention they crave, they can become "difficult" to deal with. They tend to talk more than they listen.

  • Characteristics: People orientated, attention seeking, upbeat, emotional, talkative, enthusiastic, and dramatic
  • In a conflict they Are unpredictable or emotional
  • Their basic need: To be recognized
  • Social selling example: After they review the menu, give them space to gain composure, ask questions, and identify their choice on their own. Then, applaud their selection.

ANALYTICAL: (Low Responsiveness (Controlled Emotions), Low Assertiveness (Tends to Ask vs. Tell))

On the exterior, analytical people appear serious, unsocial, and indecisive, yet internally their wheels are turning to question and analyze every detail and fact. In conflict, they can "whine", become sarcastic and are often negative.

  • Characteristics: Serious, mull matters over, Indecisive, persistent, ask lots of questions, attention to detail.
  • In a conflict they Whine, are sarcastic and sometimes negative
  • Their basic need: To be correct
  • Social selling example: Offer lots of details about the menu selection but avoid saying “I think” or “I feel”. Listen attentively and offer facts and solutions with little emotion. Always follow through with exceptional service versus telling them that your restaurant delivers good service.

DRIVER: (Low Responsiveness (Controlled Emotions), High Assertiveness (Tends To Tell vs. Ask))

This personality type is task-orientated and efficient. Unlike amiable personalities, they place little emphasis on interpersonal relationships. They are risk takers and do’ers.

  • Characteristics: Task and goal-orientated, determined, confident and adventurous, and efficient.
  • In a conflict they Are aggressive and abrupt
  • Their basic need: To be in control
  • Social selling example: Understand that time is important to them, so be brief. As you walk to their table be assertive from the get-go. Listen and give them meal options.

Learning how to authentically adapt your social selling style throughout every interactions is the key to social selling success. Understand how to quickly pinpoint personality types and have the versatility to speak to each of them will help you make more money during a shift and wow customers.

Remember the foundation sales tips for social selling: modify your assertiveness or responsiveness approaches when communicating to the different personality types and be authentic to your style and you will have return customers for your entire career.

For more selling tips, check out our post on “Slow Sales Problem vs. Symptom”.

ShiftNote is an Online Managers Logbook and Employee Scheduling Software available to make all those hairy management tasks easy to control in one simple interface.  Start your research and see how technology can help your management by exploring ShiftNote!

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The Five-Minute Guide to Boost Your Business With Online Reviews

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While back-of-the-house operations like employee shift scheduling are key to success, equally important are your restaurant marketing strategies.

ShiftNote recently covered ways to improve your online presence to drive more customers into your restaurant. A key strategy to making the online-to-in-store conversion is through location-based review sites. Read on to dig into details of how to tap into online review sites for restaurants...

Why Do Online Restaurant Review Sites Exist?

So, you market your restaurant on a number of online channels to promote your business. You may think “Why do I need to worry about another place to direct my customers?”

  • Online Listings Can Increase Foot Traffic: Did you know that 89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to even stepping foot in your restaurant? Because of this, it’s critical to optimize location-based review websites. A steady flow of customer feedback increases your online presence, which presents the opportunity to rise above your competition. If the review websites are the easiest way for your customers to give you feedback, then that’s what they will use. These online review sites can and should be a steady flow of new customers to grow your sales.
  • Trust: People trust online reviews, so it’s not a questionably effective marketing effort. In fact, 52% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

Keep in mind, your online review site listings won’t appear magically. You need to claim, update, and optimize your presence, as well as solicit reviews from happy patrons and respond to customer comments to demonstrate that you care about their experiences.

Here are some steps to make sure you capitalize on review sites:

STEP 1 - Identify Online Review Websites

There are many online review sites to keep in mind. Here are some of the top ones to consider your restaurant’s presence:

  • YELP: Yelp is a huge driver of business in the restaurant industry, so it’s important to maintain as much detail as you can on your restaurant’s page.
  • GOOGLE MY BUSINESS: Google My Business feeds the map information you see on Google. When searching for a restaurant genre, for example, a map typically appears on the first page of the search result. How did the listings get there? You need to create a Google My Business page to populate important information about your restaurant. In just a few steps, you can reach new prospective customers.
  • FOURSQUARE: Foursquare let users “check in” at different businesses, yet a business is still in the drivers seat with ensuing their business contact information is up to date. While it was big in 2010, it still has 45 million users. Foursquare has a database of 75 million businesses.
  • TRIPADVISOR: TripAdvisor has more than 225 million reviews, opinions, and photos taken by travelers. If your restaurant is in a touristy area, it’s a must to make sure you claim and optimize listings here. The key to a successful TripAdvisor profile is making it as close to the top of their popularity index as possible, so that people searching for information in a specific place see your listing.
  • ZOMATO: Formerly UrbanSpoon, Zomato is another must for restaurant marketing. Users can search by location and genre on their desktop and mobile device, and it allows reviewers, photographers, and bloggers to post feedback. There are currently 1.2 million restaurants on the site, so it’s important to add your restaurant, claim it, then optimize your restaurant’s listing.

STEP 2: Optimize Your Listing

Once you have identified the review sites to target, the next step is to claim your listing. First, find your profile on these online directory and review sites. Simply performing the following Google search will locate most of the sites you need. Then, update your information. Fill out your profile with up-to-date contact information (Name, Address, Phone, URL) and description of your services, using relevant keywords.

Then, bring your listing to life with professionally taken photos and even videos. Upload well-lit photos of your facility and your best dishes. If the review website allows, shoot and upload a virtual tour.

STEP 3: Ask For Reviews

Happy customers are typically happy to post a review for your site. First, you’ll want to make sure that your restaurant has window decals of the review site logos with a call to action to “Review Us”. Also encourage your servers and staff to ask happy patrons to make an online review. They are typically more than willing to do it. While you don’t want to bribe people to give you positive comments, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Then, take time to respond to your restaurant’s posted reviews, both positive and negative. This shows customers you care about their well-being.

Keep up with all online reviews. When claiming, optimizing, and promoting no-cost way to generate tons of new business. Are their any other tips on online review sites we’ve missed? Tweet us your comments.

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5 Online Restaurant Marketing Ideas To Drive Tons Of Foot Traffic

It’s always a good time to freshen your promotional strategy, especially as only 50% of restaurant and hospitality businesses survive within the first five years. While it’s certainly possible to overcome this scary statistic, owning and operating a business does come with a certain level of risk.

The key to success is offering delicious food, maintaining efficient workforce, developing systems, having good management in place, innovating, AND using innovative restaurant marketing ideas, especially online.

It’s hard to stay on the pulse of the go-to restaurant marketing strategies, so we’ve got a few tips to offer some inspiration. Read these five restaurant marketing ideas below and start putting them into action in your business today!

1 - Get Mobile

Did you know more people now access websites via mobile devices versus a desktop computer? That’s right -- more than half of people search for your business via smartphone or handheld devices.

What does this mean for your business? Ensure your restaurant website is built on a responsive platform and can be viewed easily on mobile devices.

  • Responsive = Websites that are developed to adapt to all screen sizes, like a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, and any brand of smartphone. A responsive site also uses the same domain for both the mobile site and the desktop site; this makes the search engines happy.

Most content management systems (like Wordpress, Squarespace, and Hubspot) have responsive website templates, so they automatically will translate your website across any device, yet others do not, so make sure this is not the case!

Most people today review menus via mobile device before they visit your restaurant, so it’s a missed opportunity if you do not have a mobile-friendly website. Make sure your menu and location/contact page is viewable on all types of devices.

2 - Tap Into Emerging Social Media Channels

Snapchat and Instagram, and other highly visual social media channels can be a huge asset for your restaurant business.

Snapchat has more than 300 million monthly active users and growing, and reaches 41% of 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States. Instagram reaches 600 million monthly active users.

These channels are not one in the same. While they serve a similar purpose of sharing and distributing images and videos, they work in different ways. Instagram can be used to display mouth-watering food pictures. Snap pics of your most delicious looking entree or dessert, filter or edit it, then add a caption and hashtags. You can also host user-generated Instagram photos or feature your chef. (Check out more Instagram restaurant tips here.)

(Tip: Did you know there are 1 million+  #foodporn posts on Instagram?)

Snapchat can be used to upload pictures and videos, add text to them, and send them.

Once viewers open a Snap, they have a limited time to view it before it deletes. Food brands like Taco Bell, Cheesecake Factory, and Papa Johns have capitalized on this channel to reach Millennials.

Instagram and Snapchat are cost-effective ways to advertise your restaurant business. Tapping into these channels allows you to reach and engage new potential restaurant patrons. To learn more about creating your own personal social media marketing plan check out this blog from

3 - Optimize Your Presence on Location-Based Sites

Did you know 89% of consumers research a restaurant online prior to dining? Because so many consumers are searching for restaurants prior to even opening your door, it’s critical to optimize location-based review sites like Google My Business and Yelp.

Yelp is a huge driver of business in the restaurant industry, so it’s important to maintain as much detail as you can on your restaurant’s page. Include the following information:

  • Hours
  • Location
  • Menu
  • Additional features: Wi-Fi / accessibility / takeout / parking
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures

Similar to Yelp, your business’ Google page will drive online inquiries into your restaurant. Google My Business feeds the map information you see on Google. When searching for a restaurant genre, for example, a map typically appears on the first page of the search result, like so:

KC Restaurants.jpg

4 - Snap Some Food Porn Pics

Pictures are not one in the same. A good food or restaurant picture conveys quality, decadence, and taste through color, texture, and detail. Invest in a good photographer to take high-resolution photographs of your food and drinks to wow potential and current clients. The photographs can be multi-purposed -- keep them in your back pocket for social media posts, brochures, and even your menu. Show people what your restaurant is really made of!

5 - Identify and Use Social Influencers

Today’s influencers, or those who carry clout and influence in the food industry, come in many forms these days. When once the restaurant critic was the ultimate influencer, social media broadened the archetype. Food bloggers, social media stars, and the old-school reporter can work to generate positive word-of-mouth for your restaurant business.

So, how do you tap into them to improve your restaurant marketing? Invite local food reporters, bloggers, and social media stars to eat at you establishment for free. (Or give them an incentive to come in.)

Forewarn your staff of their arrival and tell them to serve a table full of your restaurant’s best fare. Treat them like royalty. If they have a good experience they will be more likely to share their experience to their network.

Remember: you do not have to use every strategy listed above to rev up your business. Select a few restaurant marketing ideas that make sense to start, see how they move the dial on your business, then plan accordingly. 


Managing Employees With Accountability In The Workplace

accountability chef.jpg

Management is not an easy task. Each management style has its own pros and cons, but each employee also has their own preferred way of being managed. Often this can create issues in communication when managing employees and having accountability in the workplace. There is a little known secret to overcoming this roadblock - separating accountability and responsibility. While the terms may seem too similar to differentiate, understanding the difference can help your business improve  and grow with excellent communication between management and employees.

The Difference Between Being Accountable and Being Responsible

The word responsibility usually gets lumped in with many other definitions, muddling what it means to truly be responsible. When it comes to your employees, responsibility refers to the duties they are obligated to carry out in the course of a shift. Yet many managers assign that word for everything that happens while an employee is on the clock.

This is where the world accountability comes into play. When you are encouraging your employees to own up to their mistakes and successes, that is accountability. This is an important concept to differentiate from responsibility. Being accountable, stepping up when an error occurs and things are difficult, is not easy but is incredibly important when establishing your communication and workflow. This does not only apply to employees, but to yourself as a manager as well.

Taking Ownership and Empowering Employees

With this understanding about accountability in the workplace, you can set up your organization’s structure to empower your employees. This should start with leading by example. When you make a mistake or when something you asked for doesn’t turn out correctly, make a point to own up to your mistakes in front of your employees. Not only should you hold yourself accountable, but you should demonstrate how you plan to correct this problem from occurring again in the future.

As you demonstrate this behavior, empower your employees to begin holding themselves accountable. This can be rocky at first as employees are worried about consequences of admitting they made a mistake. Yet you should use the notion of accountability to encourage your employees to be proud of their achievements and own them. Empowering employees towards accountability will allow your organization to be more positive and uplifting as well as correct mistakes quickly with minimal repetition.

The Key: Communication

In order to reap the benefits of holding employees accountable instead of responsible, you need to clearly communicate your goals with employees. Leading by example, training to reinforce accountability, and rewarding strives towards taking ownership are all communication steps that should be repeated.

Likewise, it is important to have a conversation about what an employee is taking ownership of when he or she takes accountability. The reason why this is important is to empower that employee to always take accountability in the workplace. If they feel worried or afraid or embarrassed to own up to their actions, good or bad, they will not want to do it. The first conversation you have with an employee practicing accountability should be supportive and strategic. Work through the situation and create a plan that focuses on empowerment instead of tearing down. Communication like this is the key to build your employees into leaders who strive for excellence in their work.


5 Profitable Tips For A Successful Mother's Day

mothers-day-tips.jpgMother’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1908, and it was commercialized soon after with cards, gifts and taking Mom out to eat. Though the spirit of this holiday is to honor our Mothers and Grandmothers alike for their selfless sacrifices and unconditional love, this holiday is an opportunity to make money in the restaurant business. No Mom wants to cook on this day, and it's a great excuse to get out and dine at an old favorite or somewhere new.

With this being said, Mother's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants and their staff, and we have some helpful tips and advice to help you get through it and hopefully turn a big profit as well! Here are 5 tips for a successful Mother's day at your restaurant.

1. It's All About The Food

It all starts with your menu. Your marketing, ordering, staffing and kitchen prep will all revolve around your "special" menu for this day. Develop a menu that is pared down from your normal menu and allow your kitchen to prep more efficiently. Do your best to balance out the workload on the kitchen line by offering dishes that come from all the stations. For example, don’t put 4 out of your 6 specials from the saute station. You want everyone on the line to work evenly if possible, driving down ticket times and thus increasing table turns. Nevertheless, be aware of what Mom wants to eat. Avoid fried foods, all meat omelets and messy ribs….I hope you get the point. This menu will become, or is your marketing rally call.

2. Make Sure to Spread the Word

Marketing and getting butts in seats all day is a challenge so use every trick in the book. You cannot afford to miss a sale. Paper the earth with your special menu. Hand it out with every check between now and Mother’s Day, have it at the host stand, and discuss the special day during your staff line ups to insure everyone is promoting it. Make sure to take advantage of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you're able to get some good photos of the special menu items to share ahead of time, do it! Food Porn if well executed, tends to go viral.

3. Schedule for Success

Make sure to schedule your brightest and best for Mother's Day! Shrink sections so Moms will get the extra care they deserve, and more importantly, you'll be able to turn and burn those tables! Also, make sure to schedule for more workers than you need. You can even schedule for positions you might not normally fill like food runners, silverware rollers, carry out help, ETC. There's nothing worse than a sloppy, disorganized restaurant with a bunch of servers running around like chickens with their heads cut-off! Give them the help they need to succeed.

4. Be Involved

This is one shift where hanging out in the back office won't fly. You're going to have to be active making sure your well-oiled machine is working as it should. Be involved with reservations and make sure not to take too many walk-ins if your reservation book is full. Mom's hate to wait! You can also be an extra pair of hands to help out with wherever the crazy might be happening (see chicken reference above.)

5. Make it Special

Lagniappe – this is a Louisiana French term referring to a free extra item with a purchase. Have flowers for Mom or offer a free Mimosa or dessert. Make sure that everyone on your staff is doing everything they can to make Mom feel special, after all, the core of our business is hospitality!

If you follow these 5 tips for Mother's Day success at your restaurant, you are sure to have a smooth and successful shift! We'd love it if you would share your tips and tricks for surviving Mother's Day below!

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Does Your Restaurant Have A Slow Sales Problem or Symptom?


Here is the deal - often restaurants blame problems they are having on slow sales without looking at the reason behind the dip in profit. Some restaurant owners even resolve themselves to believing that their restaurant just has an ongoing sales problem, blaming the reasons on the market, the competition, and a dozen other factors “out of their control”. But slow sales are always a symptom and never, ever, the problem. There is a huge difference when it comes to the terminology. Labeling declining sales as a problem instead of looking at it as a symptom is an incredibly critical distinction to make, and here is why.

Sales Problem vs Sales Symptom

Viewing sales as the problem means that restaurants will hyper focus on solving the problem. Their objective to solve the problem narrows in on only sales while ignoring other issues that are contributing to it. Usually this tunnel vision produces only one plausible solution - more marketing to help increase sales.

Don’t get me wrong - marketing is absolutely an important part of generating sales! But trying to use marketing as a solution to fix a sales problem is like providing electricity to a dead frog. Sure, it will jump, but the frog is still dead. You may seem random bursts of sales increases in marketing, but that is not an ongoing solution to your sales symptom.

Marketing changes when there is already an existing issue will not build guest loyalty, repeat business, and positive word of mouth marketing. More likely, the sales problem has more to do with what you are doing correctly or ignoring in your restaurant every day. The problem is also affected by how the overall experience is perceived by your guests including food quality, service, and atmosphere.

Look Objectively at Your Restaurant

If your sales are too low at your restaurant, it is not just happenstance! There is a reason behind the downturn in profit margins and fixing that problem will be the solution to improving your sales. To figure out some of the many factors that grow a sales problem into a sales symptom, it is important to step back and take an objective look at your restaurant operations as well as the temperature of the local restaurant market. Consider the following:

  • Food Quality: Is your food not only high quality, but consistently delicious? It is important not to rely on your own opinion here and instead find people who will tell you the truth. Ask your servers to test it out and give their honest opinion. Or leave survey cards at the table for guests to fill out. You can offer rewards for both of these to be completed.
  • Service: Is your service staff friendly and responsive? Using a software that helps track sales and staff performance will give you a good view of how the staff is doing as whole since you can’t be there every second of the day to visually watch how they are doing. This will allow you to sort out the one-off sales problems from the ongoing sales symptom in your restaurant.
  • Guest Experience: Are you giving your customers what they want for the ultimate guest experience? Look at the quality provided, the choices customers make when ordering, prices on your menu, cleanliness of the restaurant, service provided, and the overall atmosphere.
  • Competition: How does your restaurant's value proposition and experience proposition compare to what customers get from your local competitors? Send some of your servers to competitor restaurants in the area with the goal of analyzing their guest experience and overall quality. You could learn a lot!
  • Word of Mouth: What are you customers saying about you? While you can’t be a fly on the wall in their homes, there are many places you can check (and monitor in the future) to look at how customers view your restaurant. Supply comment cards and read each one submitted. Check all of the review sites online, including Yelp and Urbanspoon. Explore restaurant blogs and forums as well as local news stations with articles discussing restaurants in the area. Sometimes people will comment about other restaurants in your market that they love or hate.

Whenever you take the time to look at every aspect of your restaurant and your local market, you will learn valuable information that will help you identify factors that you may be missing out on when you believe that a sales problem is the only thing wrong with your restaurant. Without identifying the symptom of low sales, you are missing out on the big picture of your restaurant.

This is why throwing money at marketing when you have a low sales symptom is not the answer. This will make things worse if you spend time bringing in new customers to a restaurant that has ongoing sales problems. Instead, you must look at the restaurant from an intellectual perspective. Thinking objectively about all these factors that are keeping customers away will help you identify the real problem with your restaurant sales. When you look at the symptoms of low sales, it is the only way to come up with effective and lasting solutions.

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