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How to utilize food inflation data

On a regular basis, the U.S. government measures the rate of price change throughout the country in all industries, including the restaurant and grocery sectors.

As restaurant owners and executives, this data is one of many metrics to review that can be used to compare price changes in your organization with price changes of the restaurant industry, as well as grocers. The data can also shed light on the competitive landscape.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces two indices related to the restaurant industry: Food Away From Home (FAFH) and Food At Home (FAH). FAFH measures the price of eating out, from quick-service to fine-dining establishments. FAH is the grocery index. It encapsulates food purchased from grocery stores (or other food stores), and food prepared by the consumer unit on trips.

Both indices provide important data for the restaurant industry that operators should understand. Reviewing FAFH data for your region helps you understand where your price changes fit among traditional restaurant competitors, while FAH tells you if you are also competing with non-traditional competitors (i.e. the refrigerator).

But while it’s important to pay attention to these indices, there are some caveats to keep in mind as you review the statistics.

Try to take as detailed a look as possible at FAFH data. It’s important not only to look at the overall index, but also to review the specific data for your region and segment if it’s available and appropriate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases new information on a monthly basis for four U.S. regions: West, Midwest, South and Northeast; and the data is further subdivided by population density, separating areas of more than 1.5 million from those with fewer than 1.5 million (8 regions total based on this criteria). Furthermore, 14 major metropolitan areas are also reported on a regular basis. These figures are updated monthly or bi-monthly, so make sure you’re looking at the latest information.

In addition to regional figures, you could also look at the figures for your segment of the restaurant industry. However, these are only available at the national level. BLS breaks down FAFH segments as follows: full service (table service), limited service (quick service and takeout), employee sites and schools (cafeterias), and vending machines and mobile.

Understand how your organization might affect the index. If your organization is the dominant player in a segment or region, you may want to look at a broader view of the indices. Otherwise, if you only look at your segment, you’d be making comparisons in large part to your own organization, and of course, that isn’t very helpful.

The information is broad and might not capture the restaurants down the street from your location. While the indices break down by region and segment, they are likely not as granular or micro as you may like. It’s a fixed basket of goods that are shopped each month and you don’t know which products are shopped, how often the products are switched out, or if a new product or a brand-specific item is being shopped. And you don’t know how all of these factors affect the index.

For example, one of our consultants recently noticed an anomaly in the Atlanta metropolitan data. The Atlanta FAFH data had grown tremendously over recent months, much more so than other regions. After contacting the BLS regional office in Atlanta, it was determined that one restaurant in that market had a change in ownership, and with that raised prices dramatically. Because the Atlanta metropolitan market is a smaller subset, those price changes made a big enough impact to change the index.

For a good indicator of what is happening in your market, you also have to shop your competitors. If you want to know for certain where your competitors are priced at, you have to shop them yourself. This tactic also tells you if competitors are doing something to undercut your prices, if they are charging the same, or if they are making price changes before or after you. And you can’t rely on the prices a chain is advertising because those are often national advertisements and many local franchisees are able to operate autonomously.

Don’t forget to check FAH. Although we think of restaurants generally competing with other restaurants, in today’s environment, grocery continues to add new take-home offerings like deli sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, pre-made salads, etc. While your price changes might be competitive with other restaurants in your area, it’s also good to have a pulse on where you stand versus the grocery store.

Even with the aforementioned caveats, these indices are the best publicly available data for what is going on in the industry related to prices. Knowing what is going on in the competitive environment can help you better gauge what’s realistic as far as combating cost pressures, like minimum wage, with price increases.

For example, the national forecasts provided by the USDA’s Economic Research Service for FAFH and FAH in 2016 is 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent and 1 percent to 2 percent, respectively. If you find that you’d need price changes above 5 percent, for example, to offset upcoming cost pressures, this data signals that this will only be achievable if your restaurant can sustain additional price increases based on your customers’ willingness to pay. Depending on your perceived brand value, you may have to look to other areas within the business to offset those pressures (i.e. getting more customers in the door and/or cost-saving measures like decreasing waste or altering staffing levels).

The best way to know if you’re doing a good job with managing menu pricing is to review transactional data so you can have a deep understanding of how pricing impacts customer traffic and how it affects customer spending at your restaurants.

Original article posted by Nation’s Restaurant News:

6 Things You Never Knew Impacted Your Restaurant Order

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to deciding on your meal when you are dining out. Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab conducted a study on what factors play a role in your restaurant order. These 6 reasons will surprise you, and even make you wonder what other stimuli impact your dining experience.

Reason #1: Your Waiter’s BMI (body mass index)

  • Cornell researchers found that people were four times more likely to order dessert when their water had a high BMI.
  • Diners also drank more heavily when they had a waiter with a higher BMI– up to 17% more alcohol consumption.
  • How do scientists explain this? “Scientists say a heavier waiter might cause people to think ‘what the heck?’ and live it up.”

Reason #2: Your Dining Companions Weight

  • Being in the presence of someone who is overweight decreases the amount of food a regularly healthy person would order and increases unhealthy habits (while at the restaurant).

Reason #3: The Ambiance

  • A relaxed atmosphere makes you enjoy your dining experience more. Therefore, soft lighting, and relaxing music can convince diners that they are enjoying their food more than they actually thought.

Reason #4: The Names of Foods

  • People are much more likely to order descriptive menu items (i.e. “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet” vs. “Seafood Filet”).

Reason #5: The Order of a Buffet

  • The first foods in a buffet line are typically eaten the most and also influence the rest of your choices. The best place to start? The salad buffet.

Reason #6: Menu Specials

  • More people are likely to order a menu special/promotion because, simply, we are lazy when it comes to ordering.

Read entire article here

10 Steps to Improve Your Restaurant Inventory Process

Taking inventory is one of the most dreaded tasks in a restaurant, but also one of the most crucial. It is critical to measure the amount of food, supplies, and other products your restaurant uses in order to control food costs and maximize profitability, yet no one wants to do it. Many managers admit that they have overlooked inventory by not doing it thoroughly or frequently. By initiating some simple structure, taking inventory becomes a much more bearable task, and can improve efficiency.

Here are 10 steps to improve your inventory process:

  • Day of the week and time
    Establish the day of the week and time you wish to take inventory in order to create consistency. It is best to stick to the same day each week, and choose a time before the restaurant opens or after it closes, in order to get the most accurate count.
  • Assign the same two people to always take inventory
    Typically, the kitchen manager and general manager collaborate on inventory together. Each completes their own inventory, then compare results.
  • Take inventory frequently and before a new shipment arrives
    Inventory should be done at least once a week. Some items need to be monitored more frequently than others and should consistently be accounted for. Complete inventory before a new shipment arrives, then add the new stock to your count.
  • Clean out and organize stock areas before beginning inventory
    Dispose expired items and keep stock area organized.
  • Ensure all food and supplies are accounted for
    Make sure that all food gets rung in and accounted. Train servers and cooks to correctly track food that gets sent back and re-ordered, ruined, or comped, in order to have an accurate inventory count.
  • Use count sheets
    Count sheets allow you to track your inventory in a consistent and easy to read manner. They can also be used to track your inventory over time, and see patterns.
  • First In, First Out (FIFO)
    Utilize the FIFO system by rotating older items to the front of the shelves in order to get used first. This is also useful to see how many items are close to expiring, and shows you what item you have an excess of, and need to cut down the order.
  • Calibrate scales
    If you use scales to weigh inventory or measure portions, be sure to calibrate them weekly to ensure they work correctly.
  • Standardize unit cost
    Prices change almost weekly, and need to be accounted for. Always use the latest price paid as your standard.
  • Invest in accounting software
    Accounting software tracks your counts and can turn them into weekly reports. This allows you to view any changes or patterns from a weekly basis.

When a manager establishes structure and consistency for taking inventory, the process becomes much easier. Using the same managers, on the same day of the week, at the same time, and comparing numbers will give you the most accurate result.

See the original article here:

How Promoting Free Wi-Fi Helps Restaurants

BY for RMagazine

Restaurants are always trying to find new ways to increase customers, as well as gain their loyalty. Many restaurants have used the idea of giveaways as a promotional method to gain new customers. Giving stuff away for free you will attract the opportunists, but how long can you run a business like this for? Restaurant owners need to find ways to gain long-term loyalty, and one such method is to promote free Wi-Fi at your restaurant. Wireless Internet is one of the joys of modern technology, particularly for young people who find it difficult to pry themselves away from their smartphones and tablets. Restaurants, coffee shops and retail outlets have started offering free Wi-Fi access to customers as a way of gaining their loyalty, and you should definitely consider doing the same.

The Benefits of Offering Free Wi-Fi

Have you ever sat down in a coffee shop or restaurant and seen a sign that features a Wi-Fi code? You can use this code to log on to their servers and use the Internet for free. There is a good chance that whoever punches in this code will automatically have a newfound love for the establishment they’re sitting in, which in turn will inspire loyalty. If a customer knows they’re getting free Internet access with you, they’ll be coming back in the vast majority of cases.

Free Wi-Fi can benefit your restaurant in a number of ways besides allowing people to gain free access to the web.

For a start, customers who are using the web in your establishment are more likely to Tweet about where they are; upload a photo of their food to Instagram or check-in to your restaurant on Facebook or apps like Foursquare. This is free advertisement for your restaurant, and you got it just by offering free Internet access. Another useful tip for restaurateurs who are offering free Wi-Fi access to customers is to have an email sign-up attached to your access. This means that they will be asked to enter their email address when they log in to the Wi-Fi. Make sure that you give them an incentive to do so, including loyalty card sign-up, competitions, special offers and access to members only materials. You can guarantee that the majority of your customers will opt in, even if it’s just to say thanks for the free Internet access.

Things to consider

It’s important to remember that many hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and shopping malls don’t offer free Wi-Fi, and sometimes the ones that do aren’t supplying high speed internet. The only thing worse than no Internet access is slow Internet access, so make sure that your supplier is giving you a great connection. Many hotels will charge their guests for Wi-Fi access, so if tourists are heading out into towns and cities without having checked Facebook or their emails for a while, finding a restaurant that supplies their customers free wireless internet access is going to gain you some huge bonus points. Here is a really good point to consider: Think about how much time flies when you’re on the web. If your customers are spending more time in your restaurant because you have free internet access, chances are they are going to buy a few more drinks from the bar or maybe they’ll take a little longer with their main course and have a dessert after a little Twitter break.

Either way, there are no downsides to offering free Wi-Fi, because it costs no more to offer it to your customers than it does for you to use it simply for your own use – including powering the point of sale systems of your operation and allowing your offices access to the web. In an age where everybody is on the web at some point during the day, it pays to offer this great service to your customers, and inspire them to become loyal patrons for years to come.

How to Price Menu Items

One of the most effective ways to manage risks in the restaurant industry is through food costing. If you’re a new food business owner, below is a guide on pricing menu items for your restaurant.

1.Breakdown each dish on the menu

First, you should list all the ingredients of the dishes on your menu. This includes the main components and minor additions such as garnish, cooking oil, water and etc. Don’t forget to include the amount per ingredient that goes into each dish. You will want to be as thorough as possible during this stage, or you’ll throw off the numbers later on when the heavy computing starts

2.Calculate yield and cost

Next, calculate for the yield of each ingredient against the amount specified in the dish. For example, if you have an apple that costs 50 cents, and each slice is 10 cents (assuming you cut the apple in five equal parts); then a dish that uses two apple slices will cost 20 cents. In this step, be sure to add the purchasing fees (delivery charges, return fees and etc.) with each yield computation.

3.Include your overhead costs

Now you have to factor in the nonfood costs. These include labor, rent, taxes, electricity and etc. What you are after is the overhead costs per person. Once you determine the overhead expenses, divide it by the number of customers you expect to have daily. For example, if it costs $1,200 to keep your restaurant in business for an entire day and you cater to 200 diners daily, the overhead cost per customer is $6.

4.Determine your final price

Using your overhead costs as a guide, determine your final price. To get this figure, divide the total cost of the dish by the sales or mark up percentage. During this step, you’ll have to establish a mark up percentage that you’re comfortable with.

After pumping out some prices, you might come across some awkward figures. For example, salad that cost $5.17 or a slice of pecan pie that is priced at $5.83. Most restaurants round up to the nearest 10 or 25 cents, depending on the pricing standard for the menu. Rounding down is not common practice.

5.Double check the numbers and get a second opinion

Be sure to run the numbers a couple of times to make sure they are correct. Once you are confident with the prices, it is time to get realistic. Are your customers willing to pay for the new items in your menu? Is there room for you to make a higher profit?

You may need to get a second opinion from people in the area through feedback or surveys. A general average of what your demographic is willing to pay for (when it comes to meals) should help you compete with other food establishments.

This step is critical because you may have your food costing down properly, but if customers are not willing to pay for the dishes, your business will not survive.

Your Restaurant and the Affordable Care Act

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, employers have slowly seen the impacts of this new healthcare mandate. Initially, many were concerned with the impacts on healthcare and insurance industries, but those working in the restaurant industry may only now be feeling its full force. For instance, the complex requirements of the law’s employer mandate, regarding applicable large employers, phased into the industry at the beginning of this year. Due to the nature of the restaurant industry, the Affordable Care Act poses a unique set of concerns for your business, and with the risk of large penalties and fees, the ACA is just as large of a concern for your employees as it is for your business.

To first grasp the potential impacts of the Affordable Care Act on your restaurant, you’ll first need to consider whether or not you fit the bill. For instance, smaller restaurants with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the ACA’s employer responsibility requirements. If you’re teetering on the edge of inclusion, then it may be time to sit down and reflect on your business plan, as passing the threshold for the number of full-time employees (or equivalents) can bump you into the inclusion for the ACA mandates and may drastically impact your restaurant’s healthcare.

If you’ve been coasting along in this category without having offered health insurance at an affordable price to your employees, then you’ve likely already felt the pressure of penalties. Rather than skirting the issue any longer, your restaurant should meet with human resources, payroll, and management to devise the best way of incorporating these new policies into your business plan. Then, discuss your company’s approach to communicating on the best plan and informing employees.

Plan to file ACA-required reports with the Internal Revenue Service and employees in early 2016, and prepare by tracking data for the current year accurately. Keep in mind that as the years progress, the requirements become more strictly enforced and more stringent, and harsher penalties are phased in each year.

New Nutritional Menu Standards and the Craft Beer Industry

In 2016, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be implementing a law that requires some restaurants and food establishments to disclose certain nutritional information for standard menu items. This law will become effective December 1, 2015 and must be in compliance by December 1, 2016. With the new law, chains will be required to post calorie counts, as well as additional pieces of nutritional information. This includes craft beer and will be difficult as not all breweries are able to supply the information.

This is crucial for the craft beer industry because the market has exploded in recent years. In 2014, craft beer sales rose 22% to $19.6 billion. Though the details are still being determined and should the trend continue and grow, this new law will make it incredibly difficult for breweries and restaurateurs as full nutritional labeling for alcoholic beverages has never been required.

With the FDA implementing this law, there will be many guidelines:

  • Restaurant menus and menu boards will include calorie listings for each brand of beer.
  • Chain restaurants will have nutrient figures for each beer for total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar and protein.
  • Restaurants may use a combination of methods to develop the information, including the USDA Nutrient Database, manufacturer-supplied data (that’s where brewers come in), calculations with defensible ideas behind the calculations, laboratory analysis and recipes.
  • Draft beer will be included if listed on a menu. Nutrient values for draft beer will not be required if the beer is not on a menu.
  • Each size pour will require its own listing of complete data.
  • The values for “regular beer” in the USDA Nutrient Database won’t be considered accurate for craft beer and other methods of ascertaining this information will be required

For smaller breweries or restaurants, this might be something that could be harmful. A brewer might have to hire a nutritional analyst in order to obtain the information, or simply drop certain brews because they do not want the additional cost. A large chain restaurant might see the opposite problem as their menu will be overloaded with information. The popular Yard House chain of restaurants has a very beer centric menu and a single location can have over 100 beers available. The beer combined with the size selection means they will most likely have to completely redesign their menu.

Fortunately, not all beers will be covered by this rule. Seasonal beers sold less than 60 consecutive days, but no more than 90 in a year, are exempt. With the final details still being decided, many are hoping that not all of the information will be required or that craft beer drinkers will not care about their calorie intake.

How To Control Your Restaurant Bar’s Profit And Loss

There are many aspects to take into consideration when running a successful restaurant, and one of the biggest concerns is controlling cost. Being able to control your bar’s P & L – or profit and loss – could be a major factor to your bottom line. The National Restaurant Association reports that 75% of all inventory shrinkage happens as a result of theft. This leaves 25% shrinkage, which could potentially come from poor management in your bar. Over pouring, spills, giving away drinks, and wrong pricing could lead to loss of profit from the bar area. Here we take a look at ways to control your bar’s P & L in order to decrease the amount loss from these mistakes.

Portion Control

The quickest way to begin controlling loss profit from the bar is by putting set rules on portion control when making drinks. Make sure each drink has a laid out guideline as to how much goes into it, and enforcing this with your staff will ensure every drink is made the same.

Inventory Control

Having a good inventory system in place is another good way to control the bar area. Always knowing what you have on hand, and what you should have by the end of the day could point out potential theft. You should also keep track of spills and broken bottles, this way you can point out problem areas and find solutions for them before they cost you a lot more money.


Training your staff and bartenders is a good way to solve any issues before they begin. Communicating with them your concerns and the systems you want to have in place will reduce the amount being loss by a great deal. Showing them the importance of following these rules will also help your employees enforce them. Having a good manager oh hand to make sure the correct systems and practices are being executed will ensure more profit for your bottom line, and a smoother running bar.

POS System

A proper POS, or point of sale, could be the most important part of controlling the bar. A point of sale is a good way to keep track of drink sales and cash flow, and will ensure all the proper measures are being taken when serving. If used properly, you will be able to determine how much profit is being made and how much money is being lost at your bar. Following these guidelines can have a great deal of affect on your bottom line, which could make running your restaurant a lot smoother and more successful.

How To Reduce Food Waste In Your Kitchen

There are many ways to mange and control your bottom line, and some may come from overlooked areas. Food waste in kitchens has become a growing concern for restaurant owners so much that it ranks ninth among the top 20 food trends on the National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot in 2015” list, based on a survey of almost 1,300 chefs. There are many things you can do to reduce the amount of waste your kitchen produces. Here we will examine some of the best practices to incorporate into your restaurant. These would include proper training of staff, better inventory practices, and a better supply chain.

Conduct A Waste Audit

First, conduct a waste audit to be able to see how much food is being wasted and where it’s coming from. Training your staff to keep track of this can show them what areas they might need to work on in order to cut down on unnecessary food waste. Implementing strict portion controls can ensure that every meal being made is done the same, which will cut down on over serving. This concept can also be applied to your menu. By seeing which items sell and which don’t, restaurant owners can change around their menu in order to give their customers the freshest product and ensure that nothing gets left behind.

Inventory Control

A good inventory system goes hand in hand with which food items are being thrown away and which sell more than others. Keeping a good inventory can also be beneficial to your supply chain. Knowing where your food waste items are at, you can better adapt your ordering to make sure you don’t order too much of items that get thrown away too often. Having a good real time inventory system in place is key to keeping track of what is being used and how often you are ordering it. The most important aspect is staying on top of your food waste in order to fix any problems before your bottom line gets smaller and smaller.


Proper training is the most important aspect of reducing food waste in your kitchen. Keeping your staff in the knowledge of food waste concern can make controlling it a lot easier. Implementing these practices, as well as other food waste principles, can dramatically cut down on the amount of money being spent on food, which any restaurateur knows, is 1/3 of their cost.

FDA delays menu-labeling requirements

Written by of Nation’s Restaurant News

Restaurants scrambling to comply with upcoming federal menu labeling requirements now have a little more breathing room, after the Obama Administration delayed the compliance date by a year on Thursday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, citing the need for the agency to provide more clarification on the rules amid opposition from supermarkets, has delayed the rule’s implementation until Dec. 1, 2016. The FDA published the rules in November, and previously set a deadline of December 2015.

“Industry, trade and other associations, including the grocery industry, have asked for an additional year to comply with the menu labeling final rule, beyond the original December 2015 compliance date,” the FDA said in its announcement. “The FDA agrees additional time is necessary for the agency to provide further clarifying guidance to help facilitate efficient compliance across all covered businesses and for covered establishments to come into compliance with the final rule.”

The FDA’s move comes two months after a bipartisan group of 32 senators asked the FDA for clarity on the regulations as well as another year for businesses to comply with the rules.

“Businesses, particularly small businesses, will need appropriate time to budget and plan accordingly to meet the rule’s requirements to provide nutrition information to consumers that is understandable and clear, and therefore of the greatest value to consumers,” the senators wrote.

The menu labeling law has been years in the making — it was required as part of the Affordable Care Act legislation that was approved in 2010. The National Restaurant Association was among more than 70 groups that had pushed for the nationwide standard — which the association considers more desirable than a bunch of different state regulations.

“We have been in full support of a nationwide uniform menu labeling standard since the very start,” NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney said in a statement. “This standard makes good sense for the industry and our customers. As we await further guidance from FDA, some of our members are ready to implement menu labeling while others still need more time. We will continue to work with FDA and our membership to ensure a smooth transition for restaurants and consumers alike.”

Many chains have been long preparing for the rules. And many chains have already started complying with the regulations, including Starbucks, McDonald’s and PaneraBread.

But the association had been pushing to include other establishments that are increasingly competitive with the restaurant industry. The rules published in November provided that, requiring that restaurants and “similar food establishments” that include take-out pizza concepts as well as grocery store delis, coffee shops and movie theaters.

Grocers in particular were worried about the law because many of them don’t typically have menu boards for their delis, or they have unique local products that may not have easy-to-determine calories. Grocers are pushing legislation that would free any establishment that gets less than 50 percent of revenues from prepared food from complying with the regulation.

“We’re encouraged that FDA’s commitment will give us more time to at least garner some clarity and answers without feeling rushed to make difficult business decisions in an attempt to comply by December 1, 2015, with regulations that are unclear,” Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, said in a statement. The FMI is a trade group that represents the supermarket industry.

As it stands, the law requires that calorie counts be posted on menus or menu boards at companies with 20 or more locations. The FDA has estimated that the law could affect 1,640 chains around the country, with a total of 278,600 locations.

Complying with the law would cost $1,800 per limited service restaurant and less than $1,000 for a full-service concept, according to the FDA.

How overtime pay proposal could impact restaurants

Written by of Nation’s Restaurant News

Tens of thousands of additional restaurant workers and managers could become eligible for overtime pay under a new rule President Barack Obama proposed Monday that would double the threshold for overtime eligibility.

The rules could significantly impact the restaurant industry and operators’ labor costs. Restaurant operators rely heavily on full-time assistant managers and managers who are salaried and often work more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay. The proposal could make many managers eligible for overtime and force some restaurant owners to alter how they operate.

According to the proposal, which Obama announced in a blog on the Huffington Post, the threshold for overtime pay would increase from $455 a week, or $23,600 a year, to $970 per week, or $50,440 per year.

Nearly 5 million additional workers would be eligible for pay 1.5 times their hourly rate for all hours worked above 40 hours per week. The rule could be in place by next year, Obama said.

“That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t,” Obama wrote.

The restaurant industry has been concerned about potential overtime changes for more than a year, since Obama asked the U.S. Department of Labor to propose revised overtime regulations in March 2014. It would be the first change in overtime regulations in more than a decade.

Restaurants said they are still reviewing the rule and could not comment in detail. For instance, a spokesman for Prairie du Sac, Wis.-based Culver’s said the quick-service operator is still studying the regulation, but that “it will likely increase our labor dollars to get the same coverage.”

Industry trade groups sharply criticized the rules, saying they threatened to block worker advancement up the restaurant career ladder.

“While we are still reviewing the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime regulations, at first sign, it seems as if these proposed rules have the potential to radically change industry standards and negatively impact our workforce,” Angelo Amador, senior vice president of labor and workforce policy and regulatory counsel for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement.

“Supporters of these regulations say they want to increase Americans’ take-home pay, but these sweeping changes to the rules could mean anything but,” Amador said. “More than 80 percent of restaurant owners and 97 percent of restaurant managers start their careers in non-managerial positions and move up with new performance-based incentives. If these regulations stand, that mobility and adaptability of employee schedules, which makes our industry appealing, will be severely diminished.”

The National Council of Chain Restaurants, which is part of the National Retail Federation, said the rule will “seriously impact” chains.

“The regulations being changed today were modernized in 2004 to specifically recognize the unique rule that supervisors in restaurants must perform and the exceptional career advancement opportunities that restaurants provide to hourly workers,” Rob Green, NCCR executive director, said in a statement.

“If allowed to stand, the one-size-fits-all proposal issued today will harm chain restaurant managers’ career advancement, eliminate key management positions, and have a negative impact on customer service and workplace morale,” Green said. “We need policy that encourages workplace advancement and this is a step in the wrong direction.”

Labor advocates have been increasingly concerned that the current rule exempts too many salaried white-collar workers who should be covered because their duties are routine and they have little control over their time.

In its notice of proposed rule changes, the Department of Labor noted that some convenience-store managers and quick-service workers may be expected to work 60 hours a week or more, “making less than the poverty level for a family of four, and not receive a dime of overtime pay.”

The proposed rule change would also automatically update the requirements to distinguish between executives, administrative and professional workers who are exempt from overtime and those workers who are eligible.

For the restaurant industry, the overtime regulations come in addition to other major changes impacting the labor line. That includes requirements that companies provide health care to employees who work more than 30 hours a week — a regulation expected to have an outsized impact on restaurants.

In addition, a National Labor Relations Board classification of McDonald’s Corp. as a “joint employer” of its franchisees’ workers, as well as proposals to increase the minimum wage, also stand as issues expected to cause problems for the industry.

“This is a very unfortunate and consistent pattern that will prevent many employers from hiring more workers and expanding their businesses,” Robert Cresanti, executive vice president of government relations and public policy at the International Franchise Association, said in a statement. “IFA will continue to aggressively oppose this proposed regulation throughout the public comment process.”

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas

See the original article by Aida Behmen on POS

Freedom also means that you can offer whatever you want. Open the door for great fun and extra profits with these 4th of July restaurant promotions ideas.

4th of July is a National Holiday when residents across the USA celebrate freedom and independence of their country, but for you as a caterer it is another good opportunity for additional income and promotion of your restaurant.

Timely organization and restaurant promotions will be simplified if you did a budget plan for restaurant marketing for whole year. If you have some funds destined for this purpose that is great news, but even if you don’t have it you can still do a lot. Keep reading and you will find out how.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas parade

Timely Organization is Path to Success

Be prepared for crowd and high traffic. What you need to do in June to be ready for this holiday:

  • Review your financial situation and determine the available money for celebration of this holiday.
  • Plan your restaurant offer for 4th of July and stick to your financial plan. Create menu, special offer,promotions and entertainment.
  • Do not let that your best waiter got sick this day or maybe that he or she took day off.  Arrange working shifts earlier and let your reserve staff for assistance in the restaurant be ready. Do not leave anything to chance!
  • Write down list of Items that needs to be purchased.
  • Go to shopping. Get plenty of meat, chicken, hamburgers, beers and soda. Do not forget the holiday props.
  • Decorate your restaurant for Independence Day.
  • Promote your restaurant offer through all available promotional channels.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas menu

Restaurant Menu for Independence Day

The data show that 41 million of Americans spend Independence Day outside their homes. Then you can certainly make sure that your restaurant should be filled to capacity on this day.
What do your guests want? People are generally very simple creatures and all will agree that their desires are not too big. If you offer good atmosphere, give a little effort into decorations, give a decent salary to your waitera and they will serve their guests with a smile, do not serve old or burnt food to your guests, and they will surely be satisfied and will come back to your restaurant again.

You do not believe that it is so simple? Be free to try!

But what about Independence Day, that famous July 4th when in cities around the USA are organized various social events, parades and gatherings that attract crowds of people. What Americans like to eat this day? What to drink? Maybe the following statistics will help you to create restaurant offer:

  • Every year for Independence Day in the USA has been eaten 150 million of hot dogs.
  • 700 million pounds of chicken has been purchases in the week leading up to July 4th.
  • 190 million pounds of red meat/ pork has been purchased in the week leading up to July 4th.
  • 25 million pounds is the amount of fireworks that have been sold to cities for public celebrations.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas Menu Ideas

Regarding these data, it is clear that the grilled meat is a favorite food consumed on Independence Day. Highlight the promotional prices of these dishes in the National Holiday offer! To increase sales of targeted products combine grilled meat with most common side dishes, desserts and drinks or create prix fixe menu for this holiday.

Ideas for Independence Day Brunch

Respect the wishes of your guests but keep your menu simple. These food should be gladly found on your 4th of July brunch menu: Juicy burgers, chicken wings and drumsticks, juicy steaks, cleaned crabs, various omelettes, oysters, shrimp, various pastes and biscuits, potato salad and fresh seasonal salad.
For refreshment offer to your guests a refreshing drink like fresh fruit juice, lemonade, iced tea and orange juice. Beer and soda are unavoidable so provide more beer than you can imagine that would be necessary.

Make your grill really hot, spice it with extra spice, make fireworks in your guests mouths! Of course, for those who love it! It is necessary to quench the thirst after all those burgers?
Lure guests with tempting summer desserts such as fruit cakes, waffles with cherry topping, pancakes, ice cream and fruit salad with extra whipped cream. With a little creativity your cakes will become a real cute little patriots as shown in pictures below.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas Brunch Ideas

Place Grill In Front of Your Restaurant

If your restaurant is located in a busy street where will be holiday parade organized it would be a good idea to set up a small mobile grill to attract passers. Install your grill even a week before the celebration. You can set up it on restaurant parking or in front of your restaurant. Make sure that you are not breaking the law, so check with your local authorities if you need a license to operate in this manner.

Be creative with your grill decorations, use colors of America’s flag, blue, red and white colors should dominate in all elements, paper saucer, drinking glasses, paper bags, flags on toothpicks, straws and napkins. Contact on time your local supplier of holiday props.

Do not forget the kids. Buy several balloons filled with helium that look like cartoon heroes. They are really tested lure for children, and irresistible smell of barbecue will take care of their parents.

Give to kids sweets and lollipops in the colors of the American flag for free. They can be bought at very low prices,or home made and will attract the attention of children. With a little luck their parents will become your guests. Share to passers flyers with information about your restaurant’s offer for Independence Day at stand.

Restaurant Decoration Ideas for Independence Day

Patriotic Flower Arrangement. Any occasion would be more festive with fresh flowers on your restaurant table. Use flowers in America’s colors – red and white, that could be hyacinths, tulips, or Canterbury bell and finish floral arrangement with a blue bow. Present the flowers in a pail filled with sand, that would help to hold the blooms in place and lends the table a casual, beachy feel.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas flowers

Balloons are always a good choice, if not my favorite. There is something special in place decorated with balloons. Always remind me on my childhood. You can play with them on a million possible ways and put them where ever you want.

Flags should be everywhere, on the walls, flags on hot dogs, cookies or use the flag as curtain or tablecloths. Show your patriotic spirit!

Uniform for your staff should be in combination of colors: red, white and blue. T-shirts and shirts with American characteristics or decorated with flags that can be used as a scarf around the neck, tie or scarf for your hair.

Candles can be a very nice decoration for the table. You will need color for textiles or you may even use color for food and salt that you can paint in blue and red and put it in a transparent glass as the colors of the American flag. Place it in the glass with small scented candles and enjoy in the romantic National holiday atmosphere!

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas decorations

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas

Choose some of these ideas for celebration of Independence Day in your restaurant:

Host popular musicians. With a good selection of music, good atmosphere will be guaranteed and higher turnover will provide additional money to cover the cost of the contractor.
Popular musicians will attract visitors and bring in new guests – their fans that may become your new regular customers.

Organize a charity dinner or lunch party. Fourth of July is the day when we celebrate freedom and equality for all of us and it makes it a perfect day to organize a charity dinner or lunch to help to vulnerable groups in our society like people and children with disabilities.
These parties always attract the local media, and every occurrence in them increases the popularity of your restaurant and attract new guests. This will strengthen the reputation of your restaurant in your community. It will also make you feel good because helping someone is the best thing that you can do after helping yourself.

Tip: Invite to charity party some of influential or popular personalities from political or cultural life to create a buzz about this event and maximize traffic in your restaurant.

Reward your loyal guests. Provide special discounts to your regular customers. Reward them on this day with free drink or dessert of their choice. Be grateful for their loyalty.

Make a partnership with owners of bookstores, beauty salons, cinemas, spas and similar services. Your partners could also be owners of clothes, shoes or jewelry stores. Surprise your guests with discounts for services in these facilities. In this way you create cross-promotion activities, they promote your restaurant and your restaurant promote their goods and services.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas fireworks

Hire professional photographer, or engage one of your personnel to take a photo camera and capture happy moments and send photos to your guests by email. Take advantage of this opportunity to build or refresh your customer database that can be later used for direct marketing campaigns.

Make a Fireworks for Your Guests

If you want to do something spectacular for this holiday then the idea to make a fireworks for your guests may sound interesting. In any case, do not play with rackets and follow the instructions that will ensure safety conditions during storage, warehousing and activation of fireworks.
If you want to do it by yourself follow these instruction to install and launch fireworks.

  • Check what type of fireworks is legally (allowed) to launch in your city. Call the police or fire station, they will give you adequate and correct information.
  • Find fireworks as desired. Order it at least two weeks in advance. Shipments are often delayed and in this way you’ll ensure getting the shipment on time.
  • Make your show. Draw the schedule for activation of rockets on a bigger piece of paper. Remember that low-intensity firework rockets go closer to the audience and those with high intesity need to be further away from the observer. Make a few plans and choose the best.
  • Wait for complete darkness for the best effects of your firework show. The audience should be at least 50 feet away from the place where you will launch the fireworks.
  • Provide a personnel with a water on both sides of the audience.
  • Make sure you have a lighter. Nothing can spoil a good fireworks as defective missiles that will not start.
  • Enjoy the spectacle with your guests!

Remember: It is extremely important that you any time when working with a flammable substance to make sure you don’t put yourself, other people, your property and the nature at risk of getting burned or set on fire.

4th of July Restaurant Promotions Ideas children parade

Promotion of Your Restaurant Offer for 4th of July

Do not forget to promote your restaurant offer through all available channels.
If you still don’t have profiles on social networks create them and go to action. Start with Facebook, Twitter, G+. Share interesting information, photos and videos that will attract your potential customers. Share content from your website if you have one.

Set billboard advertisement in front of your restaurant door or put jumbo poster on your restaurant windows about your Independence Day party and special offer. These posters need to be attractive and visible for passers, some of them may become your customer.

Let your restaurant shine as one of the stars on the American flag. Be proud on your restaurant, your offer and your team. Do your best and enjoy in the celebration.

Food Cost Fitness: A Case Study

See original article posted by the National Restaurant Association

When restaurant consultant Linda Lipsky came across a client with a whopping 50 percent food cost, the industry veteran set to work slashing expenses. The Broomall, Pennsylvania-based consultant helped the operation reduce its food costs to 34 percent, in line with industry standards. Here’s how:

  • Shopping around. By bidding out its items, the restaurant secured better deals, says Lipsky. Be sure to negotiate with current vendors also, she advises. “There’s not just one set price from vendors,” says Lipsky, noting that some suppliers reward loyal customers who pay on time. With wholesale prices jumping 25 percent over the past five years, according to the NRA 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, many operators are searching for better prices. Nearly nine out of 10 fine-dining operators shopped around for other suppliers in 2014, as did a majority of casual and family-dining operators.
  • Brand management. Lipsky’s restaurant client selectively switched to less expensive brands without sacrificing quality. “Having a branded ketchup on your tables is a quality statement,” says Lipsky. “But does anybody really care if you use a no-name white vinegar in the back of the house?” Likewise, consider less expensive liquor brands for recipes. “In most cases, the alcohol cooks off anyway. Do you really need a name brand?”
  • Proper portion sizes. The operation adjusted its portion sizes, cutting costs while better accommodating guest preferences. “The restaurant had been serving up way too much food—about a pound on a plate,” says Lipsky. “Many people are watching their weight today and are looking for smaller servings.” Simple steps like cutting a fillet from 8 to 7 ounces help control costs, while still leaving guests satisfied, says Lipsky.
  • Product specifications. By specifying a slightly smaller shrimp, the restaurant reduced the cost of making its shrimp salad while maintaining an attractive salad with the same number of shrimp per serving.
  • Meal composition. Lipsky reduced costs by adjusting the balance between main dishes and more affordable side dishes. “Beef up your meals with vegetables and grains,” she advises.
  • Fitted dishware. Large plates led to excessively large servings of pasta, and large bowls prompted staff to serve twice as much of a heavy cream soup as needed. Select dishware that’s appropriate for serving sizes.
  • Appropriate serving utensils. Make sure you’re using the proper serving pieces to ensure that you’re not dishing out more than what your recipes specify. For example, Lipsky’s client slashed its cost for vinaigrette dressing in half by switching from a two-ounce ladle to a more appropriate one-ounce ladle.
  • Freebies. Giveaways like bread and butter can cut into profits. Lipsky advised her client to switch to smaller butter chips that reduced waste.

How to hook top talent

View original article from National Restaurant Association.

Reel in good talent from the labor pool with these steps:

1. Identify what’s a “good catch.” Start by determining what skills and traits are essential. If your restaurant has a set of core values or a mission statement, use that to guide you. For example, Great New Hampshire Restaurants looks to its “Table of Success,” which identifies the company’s six core values, including respect and executing greatness. “A few years back, we decided to define our culture and core values,” says co-owner and CEO Tom Boucher. “We stopped and asked ourselves: What makes us great? We then communicated and integrated these values into as many areas of our business as possible, including our hiring practices.”

Craft job descriptions that list what each job entails. Think about what makes your star employees stand out. “List out all the skills that your good employees have and frame your interview questions around them,” recommends T.J. Schier, president of the SMART Restaurant Group, a franchisee of Dallas-based Which Wich, a fast-casual sandwich chain, and co-author of SMART Restaurant Guide to Recruiting and Selecting.

Consider an initial assessment to screen out unqualified candidates. Schier uses an online questionnaire operated by Snagajob to assess candidates before deciding who to call in for an interview.

When it comes time for the interview, ask questions that help determine whether the applicant is a good match. “Don’t just throw softball questions because you like someone,” Schier says. Start with the basics, like availability, and move on to behavioral-based questions that identify whether the applicant has the skills needed for the specific position. He recommends a two-interview process, with a different interviewer each time.

2. Know where to look. One of the best sources is right under your nose. Ask team members for referrals; consider rewarding them with monetary incentives. “The real value is that they’re getting good people to work aside,” says Tom Tice, a recruiting manager for Seattle-based Starbucks.

Take that approach a step further with “second-interview referrals.” If you have a few open slots, encourage candidates to bring an interested friend to their second interview. Wanting to impress their potential employer, “they’re not going to bring along a slacker,” Schier says.

Tap labor pools that run deep with good candidates. About 250,000 military members exit the armed forces every year, many looking for civilian jobs. Last year, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and active military spouses by the end of 2018. They’re a reliable workforce instilled with values like honor, duty and commitment to a common cause.

“One thing we do really well in the military is take care of people, and that speaks well to Starbucks,” says Starbucks’ Tice, a veteran himself. The company works closely with the military’s Transition Assistance Program to recruit talent and has gained traction through referrals within the tight-knit military community.

Social media offers a great platform to reach potential candidates. “Social media links us to our candidates on a human level,” Tice says. He uses LinkedIn Recruiter to post job listings and find talent, Twitter to publicize recruiting events and encourage a dialogue, and Instagram to share event photos, putting a face on the recruiters and forging a connection with candidates.

3. Lure in the winners. When it comes to attracting and retaining good talent, your company culture makes all the difference. Starbucks fosters a “culture of warmth and belonging” and provides opportunities to connect with the community, Tice says. The coffeehouse chain cultivates a team environment, where everyone is a “partner” and has equity in the company. “It appeals to people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he says.

Benefits and incentives also entice top talent. While medical coverage, tuition reimbursement and vacation can be a big draw, don’t forget to promote smaller perks. Starbucks touts that partners get a free pound of coffee each week; Which Wich, specializing in customizable sandwiches, gives team members customized Nikes.

Schier attracts go-getters to his Which Wich units by offering a commission for bringing in catering business. For snagging a large deal, he creates a photo op and awards the team member an oversized commission check. Elated team members often post the photos to Facebook, spreading the word about Which Wich careers. “When you create an environment that delivers the service you want, it becomes a lot easier to recruit the right people.”

The power of promoting from within

View original article from the National Restaurant Association.

When Elana “Lani” Hobson was a part-time fry cook at Jack in the Box in 1977, she never dreamed of rising to senior vice president of operations. Through the years, Hobson climbed the ranks, first within a Northern California unit, then to district and area manager and regional and division vice president.

Inspirational stories such as Hobson’s abound throughout the restaurant industry. Tales of dishwashers, servers and line cooks who ascend to leadership positions are countless. About 90 percent of the industry’s salaried employees start as hourly workers in restaurants, according to NRA research. While that figure includes employees who move from restaurant to restaurant, many operators foster a culture that encourages employees to stay for advancement opportunities.

Movin’ on up

Promoting from within provides employees the opportunity for career growth. But employees aren’t the only ones to benefit. Restaurants gain the advantage of hiring a known entity.

“When you promote someone, you already know their work ethic, that they’re dependable, that they understand your culture, that they’re a good fit,” says Nancy Cross, chief people officer of Mexican Restaurants Inc. The Houston-based company owns 46 restaurant locations under four fullservice concepts and one fast-casual brand.

By promoting from within, restaurants can slash recruiting and training expenses. Managers hired from outside the company typically undergo a 10-week training program, while internal promotions require only five or six weeks, says Cross.

The possibility of an internal promotion offers employees incentives to stick around. “When you start at entry level and move up, you really develop a loyalty to the business,” says Hobson, whose Jack in the Box career spans nearly 40 years.

Career pathways

To help employees find a career path:

  • Create a roadmap for success. Lay out potential career paths from the get-go, as early as the interview or orientation. “The pathways should be clearly defined to avoid any perception of favoritism,” advises Donna Herbel, director of training and development for Minneapolis-based Perkins & Marie Callender’s.
  • Establish stepping stone positions to help employees gain confidence and gradually take on leadership. For example, top-notch servers at Perkins can become certified trainers who guide new hires. From there, they might get promoted to shift leader, then assistant manager, before being named a manager.
  • Point good candidates in the right direction. When she was 18, Hobson’s manager pulled her aside and said she had an incredible career ahead of her — if she worked for it. “My manager saw something in me that I didn’t even know I had at the time,” Hobson recalls.

Today, Hobson encourages general managers to seek that spark in team members. “Look for people who lead naturally, even when they’re not in a leadership role,” says Hobson. “Look for people who show a passion for the business and for taking care of customers. They show pride in the food and in keeping the restaurant clean.”

Remember, management isn’t for everyone. Even team members who excel at their job, might not be management material. “Getting results from a team takes a different skillset than getting results from your own two hands,” says Perkins’ Herbel.

  • Provide guidance to help train and develop promising candidates. Tell team members what you see in them, so they can retain and further develop those traits, Herbel says. Sometimes an employee gets promoted because he or she demonstrates great camaraderie, but they let go of those interpersonal skills when they get into management because they incorrectly think that’s not part of the job.
  • Combine formal and informal training to prepare employees for their roles. Mangers might informally show a certified trainer how to close the restaurant and then provide a hands-on opportunity to practice the skill, Mexican Restaurants’ Cross says. The company also offers a formal two-day training to new assistant managers.
  • Consider tuition-reimbursement to help managers gain a formal education. Jack in the Box footed the bill for Hobson’s undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance. In return, she became more valuable to the company and climbed the corporate ladder.

“Invest in your people,” Hobson says. “If you spend the time with them, they’ll feel cared for and will develop loyalty.”

Get more information about restaurant career paths at America Works Here, and download our latest research on Who Works in the U.S. Restaurant Industry.