The time for implementation is growing closer for the “Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments,” as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The FDA’s rule requires nutrition labeling of standard menu items in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments.
According to the FDA, menu labeling will ensure consumers have more nutritional information when they make food choices. It is reported that Americans consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home. While consumers can find calorie and other nutrition information on most packaged foods that they buy in stores, this labeling is not generally available in restaurants and similar retail food establishments or visible on food inside vending machines.
The proposed rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that meet the following requirements:
1) part of a chain with 20 or more locations
2) doing business under the same name
3) offering for sale substantially the same menu items in their different locations
If a restaurant or similar retail food establishment does not meet these criteria it can voluntarily register and be covered under the federal requirements. Under this proposed regulation, movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to these proposed regulations as well.
Calories are required on menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards, in covered restaurants and similar retail food establishments; and on signs next to foods on display. The nutrition labeling must be clear and prominently posted. For vending machines, FDA is proposing that calories be declared in close proximity to the food.
You can view the rule in its entirety here. To learn more, please visit the FDA’s website and read through the FAQ’s to gain the information you need to prepare for these changes. MenuMax will calculate the nutritional information for your favorite recipes to help comply with the new rule, to learn more, visit MenuMax.com and see how we can help.
The majority of restaurant owners consider the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as an inflexible “pay or play” proposition that will burden them with unwelcome costs, regardless of the decision made.
However, some experts maintain health care reform offers operators the opportunity to create individualized plans that can help offset some of the law’s anticipated expenses. As the law currently stands, by 2014 businesses with 50 or more full-time employees can opt to either “play” by offering affordable health care insurance to each qualifying worker, or “pay” a penalty of $2,000 each. An individual must work 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month to be classified as a full-time employee.
Under the law, if an employer chooses to pay the penalty, the first 30 full-time employees are considered exempt. Deciding to offer no coverage is a means that operators will incur penalty expenses. However, operators who decide to pay a $2,000 annual nondeductible penalty for each full time employee will spend an average of 70 percent more than current health care costs.
There are some adjustments restaurant owners can make to help address higher costs. One option is to reallocate labor and hours. Operators could reward their best performers by scheduling them to work more than 30 hours, allowing them to be eligible for the health care benefits. At the same time, marginal performers can be downgraded to a part-time status of 28 or 29 hours a week, disqualifying them from receiving benefits.
The law is expected to provide foodservice operators with an initial 90-day “free pass” during which time they will not be required to provide health insurance to new full-time employees or to pay the penalty. Given the industry’s high turnover rate, this will lower costs and ease the operational burden of insuring employees who may not stay with the company long term.
In addition, the law allows employers to examine the work history of veteran employees in a “look-back period” that can extend up to 12 months to determine whether the employees average a minimum of 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. This helps operators to better manage how many full-time workers they employ and insure.
In addition, businesses are allowed to implement outcome-based wellness programs, designed specifically to help an employer better manage the risk associated with the overall health of employees, decrease absences and mitigate costs associated with health care coverage. For example, if a medical exam or health screening reveals that an individual has an unhealthy cholesterol level, the employee would be notified and given a designated period of time to address the problem. If the problem is not corrected, a surcharge of up to 20 percent can be added legally to the amount of the premium that employee must pay. Similarly, such practices such as tobacco use can boost the surcharge to as high as 50 percent.
These surcharges could potentially increase the price of coverage beyond what an employee is willing to pay, thus persuading the individual to purchase insurance with a lesser cost. Employers may be penalized for this, depending on the scenario.
Ultimately, the health care changes will affect restaurant owners, but is not entirely negative, providing the opportunity to create individualized plans that can help offset some of the law’s expenses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. Managing a restaurant can mean you are directly liable for such incidents. Fortunately, many of these cases are preventable and the FDA is looking to protect public health by improving food safety regulations.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President Obama, recognizes that preventive control measures improve food safety only if producers comply with them. But how do they affect you as a restaurant owner? How will this impact your daily operations? We’ve compiled the basic information you need to know about these changes and what they will do to the industry.
Overall, the rules should not have a direct impact on restaurant level operations but rather manufacturers and produce growers/harvesters. However, these regulations will impact the quality of the overall food supply and reduce the potential liability, a positive for the industry as a whole.
The National Restaurant Association is in full support of the FSMA and believes these changes will provide for greater safety throughout the industry. “There is no greater priority than food safety and our customers’ well-being,” said Joan McGlockton (NRA) VP for industry affairs and food policy.
The first rule will require food makers (of all products sold in the US) to develop a formal plan for preventing their products from causing foodborne illness. This rule would also require manufacturers to have plans for correcting any problems that may occur. The second rule requires an implementation of enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms.
While the implementation process will take time, Congress has established specific dates in the legislation. Once the final rules are entered into the Federal Registry, large scale food manufacturers will have one full year to comply. Large growers/producers will have up to two years, while smaller companies may have even longer deadlines.
Restaurant management entails being ahead of the curve for upcoming trends and making efforts to capitalize on them. Three major factors will rule for 2013 including high commodity costs, consumers’ growing sense of culinary adventure and the ingenuity of chefs and restaurateurs. Check out this compilation of the top 10 trends of the year.
Chicken breast: Expect 2013 to be the year of the chicken. With the effects of the drought looming over this year, commodity experts expect most other meat to be expensive for most of the year. Some cuts of pork may be affordable until Easter. Wing prices will be rise, and to the annoyance of restaurateurs who buy wings by the pound but sell them by the piece, wings will likely remain popular. Expect to see more chicken breast items as well as ‘boneless wings’ made of breast meat.
Avocado: Avocado is fast, healthy and indulgent. High in fat, unctuous in texture, and not inexpensive as far as fruit goes, it’s high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and rich in antioxidants and is becoming increasingly popular on sandwiches, for example Subway’s most recent promotion in 2012.
Bycatch: Anything a fishing boat catches when it means to catch something else — flounder instead of shrimp, for example — is called bycatch, and it’s traditionally regarded as waste. However, with high food costs and diners becoming increasingly adventuresome, junk fish is now a delicacy. The ‘bycatch’ will become the new ‘catch of the day’.
Game meat: The chief executive of New York City-based better-burger chain Bareburger says bison burgers outsell the restaurant’s turkey burgers by two to one, and lamb burgers by four to one. Other chefs report a growing popularity of elk, and venison is now a regular addition to Season 52’s winter menu. Antelope is making strides, too, although it might not find its place on menus for a couple of years.
Tropical fruits: Expect to see coconut in iced coffees and cocktails, passion fruit in cocktails and iced teas, and mango and guava in lemonade. Tangerine and pineapple will be popular too. Ginger, though not a fruit, will be seen in a growing array of cocktails, teas and housemade sodas. Tropical fruits allow customs to have the perfect amount of exotic and familiarity.
If you are looking for restaurant management tips, be sure to follow our blog. Learn about ways to reduce your food costs, manage your menus and analyze your existing dishes with MenuMax.
As 2012 comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect on what this year has brought to the food industry. In this article, we have compiled a list of the top news stories from the past year, along with a ‘what’s hot’ list of trendy ingredients seen in 2012.
News Topics of 2012
Three of the major nutrition-related themes of 2012, as reported by Nation’s Restaurant News included proactive industry efforts, healthier food trends and legislation.
Many restaurants are joining the Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell Programs to demonstrate the industry’s proactive, voluntary efforts and to provide Americans with a growing selection of healthful menu choices.
HealthyDiningFinder.com, launched in 2007 in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association and with partial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has grown to include close to 400 restaurant companies, from large chains to independents, spanning quick-service concepts to fine dining, coast to coast. New restaurants that joined in 2012 include California Pizza Kitchen, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Restaurants, Roy’s Restaurants, Flemings Steakhouse, BJ’s Restaurants, Mimi’s Café and Which Wich Sandwiches, as well as many regional restaurants.
Consumer research shows that more than seven out of 10 consumers said they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants today than they did two years ago.
The National Restaurant Association just released its yearly “What’s Hot” forecast, a survey of 1,800 chefs. Top trends for 2013 build upon the top 2012 trends, including healthier kids’ options; locally sourced meats, seafood and produce; gluten-free options; sustainability and increased whole grain offerings. More than half of the chefs surveyed said they always make efforts to adjust dishes and recipes to be more healthful, while 37 percent said they cook with nutrition in mind, but that not all recipes are easily adjusted.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release the final Menu Labeling rules in early 2013, with an anticipated six- to 12-month compliance period. This provision will require restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calories on the menu and have additional nutrition information (sodium, fat, etc.) available. MenuMax can help with nutrition analysis for your recipes and menu items if you are looking for an easy solution to such legislative requirements.
Louisville, Ky., was the only region this year that passed and enforced a regional menu labeling ordinance; however, the federal legislation will pre-empt all state and regional menu labeling provisions.
In November, Technomic released research showing that 65 percent of restaurant patrons favor nutritional labeling in restaurants, with the strongest demand for listing of calories and sodium content.
New York City passed the first legislative effort of its kind, banning the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks that contain more than 16 ounces. This regulation includes restaurants, street carts and movie theaters. Other regions are considering similar legislative efforts.
Rhode Island, following Massachusetts’ lead, approved a bill requiring restaurants to display allergy-awareness posters to inform foodservice workers of the importance of their roles in preventing allergic reactions and the steps they can take to protect food-allergic customers. Additionally, restaurants are required to post a notice on menus and menu boards asking customers to make servers aware when placing their orders if someone in the party has a food allergy. The first-of-its-kind Food Allergy Conference for Restaurateurs was held in Boston to help restaurants develop a program to meet the special dietary requirements of guests with food allergies.
Top Ingredients of 2012
Every year, a handful of ingredients emerge as the stars of dishes on restaurant menus around the country. These are just a few of 2012′s buzzworthy menu ingredients as chosen by Nation’s Restaurant News.
Avocado has been increasingly appearing in restaurant dishes, from independent restaurants to chains such as Subway to Au Bon Pain. A growing number of chefs have turned to chicken skin in a continuing search for ingredients that are unusual enough to intrigue their customers but not strange enough to scare them away, such as the fried spicy chicken skins offered at Tom Bergin’s Tavern.
Game meat such as venison, elk and bison is showing up more often on restaurant menus, particularly at “better burger” chains that are trying to differentiate in a crowded segment, such as Burger Lounge who introduced a similar dish this year.
Greek yogurt’s popularity in grocery stores has shifted to restaurants. Frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry has even started offering this unfrozen yogurt in both sweet and savory variations, proving its rise in popularity.
Kimchi, a spicy, garlicky pickled vegetable dish that’s a staple of Korean cooking, made its way into the kitchens of more American chefs this year.
Pickles, often used as an easy add-on or condiment, are now popping up with more prominence on menus, with some restaurants playing up their house-cured versions and others offering pickle tasting plates.
Pumpkin, a traditional fall favorite, made an appearance on menus but was also increasinglyfeatured in beverages this year, from coffee to cocktails to beer.
Food cost is on the rise with prices of popular holiday staple items pushing even higher as the Christmas holiday approaches. Last summer’s historic droughts, which wreaked havoc on crops nationwide and pushed corn and soybean prices upward, appear to finally be showing up in food prices. Overall, that will mean growth in prices industry wide including poultry, eggs, and dairy products, as birds and cattle tend to eat a lot of corn and soybeans. Growing grocery bills could make shoppers and restaurant owners feel pinched amid the holiday spending season.
“Normally, this would not be that big a deal. People would just absorb the price hike,” says Jeet Dutta, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “But these are not normal times; many people’s budgets are still strapped as the economy continues its uncertain recovery.”
While holiday budgets are taking a hit from the food price hikes, the more costly affects will come in the New Year. “It’s in the first quarter of 2013 that we expect to see the biggest impacts for poultry, fluid milk, and eggs,” he says. Prices for beef and pork will follow as feed costs will be higher. “That’s going to happen throughout 2013,” he says. “It’ll be gradual, spread-out, over the course of the year, consumers and food prices will certainly feel it.”
As we look to the New Year, it will be vital for restaurants to have a handle on their food costs and inventory management. MenuMax provides essential tools to help combat the rising food prices. Call us today to learn more, or visit our website MenuMax.com.
Restaurant management can be very tricky whether it’s food costing or dealing with upset customers, a day in the food service industry can be full of challenges. Take a moment to review the tips and tricks in this article to ensure you are delivering the best quality and service possible.
Treating your guests with care and providing an exceptional place for them to enjoy a meal is part of the reason they will come back to your restaurant again. When customers come through your doors, they expect quality in every aspect of the restaurant. Guests are looking for a value in the things they see, taste and touch, and so providing them with exceptional quality will certainly leave a good taste in their mouths.
Food and beverages are probably the biggest indicator of quality that a customer notices. Food quality is not only important to the customers’ impressions of the overall restaurant experience, but it is important for the their health, as well. Guests’ health should never be compromised. Although not all restaurants can boast the best quality food in town, they can still take measures to ensure that food is stored and prepared safely. Take the following considerations when assuring food quality in your restaurant:
- Be sure to follow proper first-in, first-out (FIFO) rotation with all food products.
- Properly label and date all food products.
- Never serve food that has expired.
- Prepare products safely, avoiding cross-contamination with dangerous bacteria or cross-contact with allergens.
- Wash hands before and after handling food products.
- Prepare and serve foods at proper, safe temperatures.
When guests enter your restaurant, they should feel as though they are in a special, comfortable place. Try these suggestions to create a superior ambience in your restaurant:
- Make deliberate choices with lighting. Consider your concept, and be sure the strength of the light suits the tone you wish to portray to your guests.
- Choose music carefully. Make sure the volume of your music is audible but not distracting. Music should help create the ambience rather than overwhelm it.
- Decorate appropriately. Decorate your restaurant with a special, unique theme or focal point.
- Keep the restaurant spotless. Even a quick-service restaurant needs to demonstrate a high standard of cleanliness for customers to feel good about the quality of food.
- Maintain the temperature. Maintain a comfortable inside temperature in your building. 70°F is usually acceptable. Minimize drafts or hot spots from lights as much as possible.
Perhaps even more important than food quality is the service the customers experience from the time they enter the restaurant until the time they walk out the doors. Although restaurants thrive because of sales, the sale should never be put before the customer’s needs. In any restaurant or food service environment, speaking to customers should always involve the utmost respect and courtesy. This goes for all workers, from drive-thru attendants to servers at fine dining establishments. This is rather idealistic. However, restaurant workers should follow these general guidelines when speaking with customers:
- Use respectful titles, such as “sir” and “ma’am.”
- Be optimistic, and speak with a smile.
- Never interrupt or talk over guests’ conversations if you can help it.
- Know your menu so you can speak intelligently to educate guests.
- Listen with respect and care to what the customer has to say.
- Be sure you ask questions to clarify a customer’s order if there is any confusion.
- Be honest and straight-forward with customers at all times, especially if there is a problem.
Serving etiquette varies depending on the restaurant serving type. The restaurant types where this matters the most are upscale or fine dining restaurants. Managers should train their servers in proper table etiquette if they are unsure of how to proceed in a serving or clearing situation. The following tips describe the basics:
- Serve in the appropriate order. Service order is usually an important standard upheld in fine dining restaurants or formal banquets. In these dining establishments, it is appropriate to serve the guest of honor first, then the female guests and then the males. In less formal restaurants, it is acceptable to simply serve women before men.
- Serve and clear food from the left. Servers should serve and clear food from the diner’s left side. Some formal restaurants advise serving with the left hand for these tasks. Serving from the left is best since most diners are right-handed. Politely excuse yourself if you find that you are interrupting or reaching.
- Serve and pour beverages from the right.Serve or pour beverages from the diner’s right side since that is usually where the glasses are set on the table.
- Serve the correct order to each guest. When serving food, servers and food runners should not call out entrées to see who at the table claims the dishes. Servers and food runners should have a system to identify which plates correspond to which guest without having to mimic an auction house.
- Never rush a party to finish. Good service extends beyond the meal to the entire length of time the party is inside the restaurant.
- Clear all plates at the same time. Unless otherwise requested, clear all plates and empty glasses at the same time, and before presenting the check.
Now and again there are bound to be problems. A customer may be dissatisfied with his meal or may find the quality to be below his standards. Sometimes guests will find the need to vent anger or annoyance before the problem can be resolved. Be sure to train servers the proper ways to handle customer complaints. Retaining upset customers can be a challenge. When you put in the effort and respect to recover distressed customers, you may be able to convince them to return to your establishment in the future.
Customer comment cards are a great way of evaluating the customer experience. Customer comment cards are typically set out on the table or delivered by the server at the end of the meal. Customers can rate qualities of the restaurant, such as food presentation, menu pricing and server friendliness.
Article courtesy of www.foodservicewarehouse.com
Upselling simply defined is the practice of suggesting certain menu items with the goal of getting the guest to spend more money. This tactic is a valuable marketing strategy in any type of restaurant, but must be trained and practiced in order to be effective. Restaurant servers, cashiers and kitchen staff who have contact with the customer should know appropriate and effective ways to upsell menu items. Workers can upsell whether they work in a quick-service restaurant or an upscale lounge. We have compiled some simple methods to help you implement in your restaurant.
Use Embellished Descriptions: Describe the ingredients, cooking process or presentation of a dish as a means to entice customers and convince them to buy it. For example, suggest an appetizer by explaining the ingredients and preparation with vidid language.
Wine Pairing: Wine can provide an excellent complement to a meal. Pairing a specific wine is a great way to upsell your customers. This requires training, experience and extensive knowledge of both the food and wine menus. It is important to ensure that the wine being offered is going to enhance the customer’s experience.
Desserts: Present dessert menus after lunch or dinner. Utilize a dessert tray to show guests how tasty the desserts look. Do not forget to offer low calorie dessert options, which may sway diners who are trying to watch their figures. Also suggest coffee or tea.
Teaching the Art of Upselling to Employees
Upselling does not always come naturally. Make upselling part of the training process by offering tips and suggestions to restaurant workers and servers at the start of every shift, as well as during initial training sessions. Provide opportunities for servers to taste menu items, including daily specials. Make menu knowledge a priority, so servers can speak intelligently about the preparation and quality of food. Role-play with servers to demonstrate how to ask questions or offer more items. Hold contests and offer incentives for servers who sell the most dessert or daily special, giving food or gift cards as prizes.
MenuMax wants to wish you and your family a healthy & Happy Thanksgiving!
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) estimates that more than 30 million Americans enlist the help of restaurants for their Thanksgiving feast by dining out or using takeout, but cooking at home remains widely popular. Preparing that meal safely will ensure an enjoyable holiday with family and friends.
Six food safety tips recommended by the NRA for preparing a Thanksgiving meal are:
- Thaw your turkey in the fridge. While you can thaw a frozen turkey under running water or in the microwave, the best way is in the refrigerator overnight (or longer). Be sure to follow the instructions on the package.
- Store raw turkey away from ready-to-eat food. Make sure your raw turkey is covered and stored in a leak-proof container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. You want to keep it away from foods that are ready to eat, such as desserts and salads, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
- Clean and sanitize your sink and counters. After rinsing your raw turkey thoroughly, properly clean and sanitize the sink and surrounding area before starting to prepare any other food.
- Cook your turkey to safe internal temperature. Use a properly calibrated meat thermometer to check that your turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Insert the thermometer to the dimple on the stem in the thickest part of the breast and thigh for accurate readings.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Prep salads, cranberries and other colds items first and store them in the fridge until ready to serve. Then prep your hot dishes closer to serving time so they stay hot. Keep all food items outside the “temperature danger zone” (41 to 135 degrees) as much as possible.
- Safely reheat leftovers. Whether from a meal prepared at home or picked up from a restaurant, leftovers are part of the holiday tradition. Store each dish separately in clean, seal-able, leak-proof containers and reheat to 165 degrees when you’re ready to enjoy round two of your Thanksgiving meal.
A how-to video showing proper execution of these food safety tips is available on FoodSafetyMonth.com.
Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and the prime time for retailers to turn a profit. With 152 million shoppers expected to hit retail stores this upcoming weekend, restaurants can also cash in with Black Friday discounts. Are you and your staff ready to handle the hungry shopping crowds?
Here are 10 tips (courtesy of AllBusiness.com) to make this a happier, more profitable time for your restaurant, enabling you to capture new customers, increase volume and sales, and establish a loyal clientele for the slow winter months in 2013.
1. Devise a holiday plan with your chefs and managers. Get creative. Treat the five weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year as though they were one long weekend.
2. Staff awareness and focus is critical. Have a full staff meeting outlining your plan, stressing the importance of customer care and service, and reminding the staff that tips increase during the holidays if service is smooth.
3. Establish a variety of holiday specials. Highlight them on your menu. Make sure the items can be prepped early, cooked quickly, and presented with celebratory flair.
4. Portion control equals profits. During the holidays portions can be smaller, as many people are more weight-conscious. This is a proven method to cut food costs and boost profits. Check out MenuMax and the capability it offers when tracking food costing and inventory.
5. Serve up some holiday cheer. Customers love special holiday drinks. Delve into a bar book or two and recreate a few retro holiday drinks to fit your demographic. It is a proven profit center.
6. Consider “catering for the table.” Many businesses have opted for department Christmas parties rather than the huge corporate blow-outs that once symbolized the good years. Offer to prepare a special meal for a larger party. This not only takes some heat off the kitchen but allows for built-in profit.
7. Promote your restaurant. Just because the streets are busy doesn’t mean your restaurant is top of mind. Social networking, email, and that old-fashioned check holder insert are the perfect avenues to let customers know about your holiday plans.
8. Make every trip into your restaurant an experience. Starbucks preaches “the customer’s journey” to their managers and staff. The Starbucks experience begins when the door opens and doesn’t end until the customer finishes his or her drink. If Starbucks’ preaches it, you should too.
9. This too shall end. Five weeks, that’s all you get. Then January knocks on the door. Waistlines have expanded, cash has diminished, and credit card bills come due. But people still need to eat. Holiday bounce-backs – those small incentives to keep customers coming in after the holidays - are vital to your cash flow momentum. Create a few specials, and give them out freely.
10. The customer Christmas gift. These are important. Do not forget to give your best customers a gift certificate for Christmas. Make it generous enough for two, but not generous enough for three or four. It will pay off. Don’t be stingy. It is Christmas. And nothing succeeds like a busy restaurant – especially on a cold Tuesday in January.
MenuMax is very excited to announce our recent partnership with a prominent culinary school. Students will learn to utilize MenuMax as they learn all the important aspects of the culinary world everything from recipe development with nutrition analysis and food costing to menu management and inventory.
With such a user-friendly format, MenuMax allows rising culinary professionals to access their information from any computer with an Internet connection. We are proud to offer cutting edge technology to provide our users with the functionality and tools they need to succeed. This partnership enables MenuMax to grow their user base as well as provide the means necessary for future generations of restaurant professionals to thrive in the ever-changing industry.
For more information about MenuMax, please visit our website, www.menumax.com. If you are interested in gaining access to Menu Max for your school please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Holidays swiftly approach, restaurant managers need to take important steps to capitalize on the festivities of the season.
1. Send holiday greetings. Whether it is a real card in the mail or an e-card via email, a simple card is a good way to remind customers about your restaurant. The card should read like a greeting rather than a promotional message. At the bottom of the card, you can mention your holiday promotion, but keep it simple and enticing, not the main focus of the piece.
2. Sell gift certificates. Gift certificates are the perfect way to capitalize on special occasions throughout the year and during the holiday season. It is reported that approximately 25% of the gift certificates will never actually be used, this means pure profit for your restaurant. Display your gift certificates in a prominent place near the point of sale or the entrance to remind customers that they are available.
3. Put on a special holiday promotion. You do not want to offer a discount. During the holidays, people are willing to spend money. Instead, offer an extra added value or service instead of reducing prices. For example a free glass of champagne on Christmas Eve or free taxi rides on New Year’s Eve will drive traffic but maintain a high level of profit.
4. Throw a holiday party. Nothing says “the holidays” like a good party. Throw a themed party with seasonal decorations to provide customers with a memorable experience. Make the food and drinks the highlight of the event, with some special entertainment with music, movies or performers. Advertise your party through flyers, direct marketing campaigns and/or the local newspaper.
5. Put on a unique holiday stunt. Any type of unique experience is sure to draw in both loyal and new customers, and if done right, gain press coverage. For the holidays, try offering ‘Santa’ visits in a family friendly restaurant., host a contest, or give away a special prize. When it comes to crazy holiday stunts, do not limit your creativity, the sky is the limit.
Spiced Coffee Drinks
Thanks to Starbucks and the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte fall drinks are now a must have. This coveted drink has become such a symbol of the season that salivating fans try each year to determine exactly when they can start buying the drink in stores. The pumpkin pie spices are the key here making everything smell like Grandma’s kitchen, bringing back those warm childhood memories.
How to make it at happen at your restaurant: First, you’ll need an espresso machine with a steam wand for steaming milk. Craft your own special fall flavor, or experiment with classics such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for your own Pumpkin Spice taste. Looking for inspiration? Try this recipe to start.
Flavorful Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt has been a big hit this year. But Summer is typically fro-yo and ice cream season, so it can be challenging to keep this trend alive as the colder months creep up. To keep this trend going strong try including some enticing seasonal flavors like oatmeal cookie, pumpkin pie or blackberry lemon mint tart. These new concepts with tempt your customers taste buds giving them the flavor of fall.
How to make it happen at your restaurant: You will need a soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt machine. Talk to your supplier about getting specific flavors that you want. Unless you have a chef who can put together creative, homemade batches of this decadent frozen treat on a regular basis.In which case, take advantage of this unique aspect and treat your customers to a one-of-a-kind dessert. Get your creative juices flowing with this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt.
Fall Harvest Vegetables
Nothing says fall like a cornucopia of in-season vegetables. Pumpkins, corn, squash, carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables are in season and ready to paint your table with the traditional reds, greens and golds of the season. Fresh vegetables add warmth to your menu and extra nutritional value.
How to make it happen at your restaurant: Customers love to know that their food has been grown locally in their own hometown. Try to develop good relationships with local growers to incorporate fresh veggies into your fall menus. Roasting vegetables is a popular way to prepare and serve them, be sure to stock up on commercial grade roasting pans.
When designing a menu, it is not just a sheet of information, it is a marketing tool used to captivate your customers. Menus can visually help you sell your product, create an atmosphere, improve the perceived value of your restaurant and bring customers back for more. In order for the menu to be successful, it must be enticing and truthful.
A menu is enticing when it follows the general guidelines of menu design and utilizes proper descriptive writing and clever merchandising techniques. A truthful menu avoids misleading the customer. This means that the menu design matches the restaurant’s concept, and all product descriptions and pictures are accurate. Never stretch the truth in your menu. Successful branding cannot occur if the customers do not get what they expect.
When writing your menu, ensure that all of the copy is truthful, well-written and grammatically correct. For the purpose of branding, you should use unique titles for your dishes. Sometimes, even adding one word to the title can make an item seem more appealing. When you write copy for your descriptions, use exciting, exotic-sounding words. Always proof your menu before printing, eliminating any grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. Once you have the copy ready, consider the layout and design. The colors, fonts, logos and graphics should all match the overall design of your restaurant. In general, menu items should be arranged in the order of the dining, beginning with appetizers and ending with desserts. Sides and beverages can go near the end, since customers know to look for them there. You should also make your most profitable items prominent on the page. You can do this by putting your profitable sellers at the beginning and end of categories, where customers eyes are naturally drawn.
If you are going to show pictures of your food, make sure you have quality photographs. If the real food arrives and the quality or quantity does not resemble the picture, the customer might be upset. To be safe, you may want to keep your menu clear of food photography, but if you do, make sure the descriptions of your menu items are detailed enough to be enticing on their own.
Be careful not to clutter your menu with words and pictures. About half of the menu should be empty space. That way, the menu will look clean. Instead of constantly updating your menu to include specials and promotions, consider including inserts. It does not have to be fancy, and can simply be a white sheet of printed paper listing the seasonal, weekly /daily specials, or it can be a small advertisement for an upcoming event or promotion.
Always make sure your menu is up-to-date with your restaurant’s concept. If your concept changes, so should your menu. Be sure your menu matches your entire design concept, including the decorations at your restaurant and any signs, posters, take-out materials and/or advertisements. A consistent design concept is one of the keys to successful branding. Any time your menu prices change, you need to reprint your menu. Never use a pen or marker to update pricing, it looks unprofessional.
Depending on your restaurant, you may need to create multiple menus or a few special menus to supplement the main menu. For example, a take-out menu, lunch and dinner menus, and/or kids menu to cater to your younger customers.
Instead of providing customers with a sheet menu or book-style menu at the table, quick-service restaurants should consider using a menu board. It is cheaper and makes it easier to change out menu items and prices. You could even use a big chalkboard as your menu or to showcase your specials. Just find someone with a good eye and good handwriting to make sure it is not messy.
Great food and service are important, but it is difficult to sell even the most quality of products without skillful merchandising. Your menu is your restaurant’s way of displaying what you have to offer, and if it is well designed and well written, you will sell more and make your customers happy. When designing your menu, keep in mind that MenuMax can help you pull nutritional value and costing, helping you save time and money while successfully managing your restaurant.
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In today’s economy, restaurant managers are always looking for a way to vamp up business. What better way than to draw customers who already enjoy your product and service. Loyalty/reward programs take good customers and turn them into great customers.
In order to take advantage of this, every restaurant should have some kind of loyalty program in place. It can be as simple as greeting regular customers with their first name and offering them their favorite drink or appetizer when they arrive. Or, as complex as a card scanning system where customers collect points to earn a reward. There are many tools and tricks of the trade, throughout this post you will learn how to take advantage of a reward program and best implement it to increase business.
Punch cards: A punch card is probably the easiest to implement. All it takes is some simple cards and you are ready to go. You could punch the card for every item purchased over $3, or you could punch it for every $5 spent or for each visit. Once a customers’ punch card is full, you offer them a reward, like a free appetizer, dessert, beverage or merchandise. Some of the best rewards programs give the most frequent customers free t-shirts, hats or coffee mugs. This fulfills multiple needs by making your customers walking advertisements for your restaurant.
Loyalty cards: These are slightly different because they typically require a higher investment and more advanced technology. Loyalty cards are scan-able with barcodes to keep track of customers’ purchases and offer them appropriate rewards. Most standard POS systems can do this for you. Certain software can track the frequency of customers’ visits, their birthdays and what they buy from you.
Top customer rewards: Instead of a points system, you could create a customer competition where the top 10 or 20 customers receive a special reward, like a free party room reservation or free valet parking. You can use software to determine who your best customers are, or you can simply keep track of regular customers’ names and count the frequency of their visits and how much they spend if you do not have software to track it for you.
Automatic rewards systems: The nice thing about an automatic rewards system is that customers do not have to sign up or carry a card around with them. With the right software, customers that give you their names or pay with credit cards can be automatically entered into your loyalty program. You can then surprise them with a free gift once they have achieved a certain number of points. Tell your customers that you are rewarding them for their repeat business, and you hope you will see them again soon.
Unfortunately, the market is flooded with loyalty programs, and for many, joining just means another card to keep in the overflowing wallet. The average consumer already belongs to 7 to 10 frequency programs, so you need to make sure yours is desirable. You can be creative in the types of rewards you give, but follow these tips to make sure you are offering a good incentive:
Make the reward attainable. A reward that is attainable is good for profits, since the closer customers are to getting a reward; the more likely they are to patronize your restaurant.
Match the reward to your concept. A formal, expensive restaurant should offer formal rewards, like a bottle of wine or the best table in the house. A Mexican restaurant could offer a free jar of their house salsa, while a casual quick-service sandwich shop might provide frequent customers with a free t-shirt.
Go by points, not dollars. In general, points are a better motivator than dollars spent. You can base your point system on dollars spent at the restaurant, but it should appear to the customer that they are earning points toward a reward, not a percentage back on their dollar.
Offer extra points during slow times. If your business is usually empty during a certain time or day, like before 6:00pm or on Mondays, you can offer double points during this time.
As you choose loyalty program strategies, you should try to build up your database with emails and addresses. This will enable you to send rewards or special offers in case there is a lull in their patronage and will set the stage for future marketing campaigns. A loyalty program can work for just about any restaurant, but only if the tools and rewards systems are carefully selected and implemented with the end result being more business and a better experience for the customer.