Halloween, Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Halloween And Beyond: The Value of Holiday Marketing

October is here, and with it, we’re inching ever closer to everyone’s favorite fright night of the year, Halloween.

It only seems fitting to take this opportunity, and propose some ideas that we’re confident can generate business — and more importantly, REPEAT business at your establishment throughout the Halloween season and beyond.

Halloween itself is great and all, but before we even get to that spook-tacular night, there’s the entire season of Fall to welcome! For those in areas that experience this glorious change of season, you know that it’s more than just a date on the calendar or a change in the weather, but often represents a shift in the tastes of consumers.

In addition to an invasion of all things pumpkin flavored, the Fall season is also a time when some of the following flavors are typically highlighted:

  • Apple & Apple Cider
  • Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato
  • Butterscotch, Caramel & Toffee
  • Cinnamon, Chai & Nutmeg
  • Chestnuts, Pecans & Walnuts
  • Cranberry
  • Ginger & Gingersnap
  • Maple flavors

A chance to slip some of these flavors into your menu over the course of the season may help you stand out against some of your competitors.

For those that serve beer at their establishments, when the seasons change, or holiday’s approach, beer taps typically change with them. Hosting a beer tasting or two while waiting for Halloween to arrive would be a great way to get some people in your door and some eyes on your beer and food selection. Perhaps a beer and cheese pairing night? A paint night with a Fall or Halloween theme while the pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers are pouring?

It seems like every year, Halloween becomes more and more of a commercial and cultural fixture. Halloween has become more than just a day, but an almost literal month-long celebration of all things frighteningly fun. This offers a tremendous opportunity for your business to tap into the “spirit” of the occasion.

Adjusting some of your menu items (even if just by name) can be a playful way to freshen up your menu:

  • “BOO”-shi
  • “Ghoul”ash
  • BONE-appetite Wings
  • Goblin up burgers
  • Monster mashed potatoes
  • Witch’s Cauldron Chili
  • Sand-witches

Not to mention any number of Halloween inspired cocktails that can help customers keep your name in the front of their minds when heading out for a bite or a night of fun during this time of the year.

Outside of wordplay, there are some more concrete events and promotions you can offer to appeal to your community.

During these “31 Days of Halloween” you can offer customers a punch card, or tracking system of some kind to keep them coming in weekly for a special Halloween-themed food or drink that you can switch up as often as you’d like. Customers who return each week within the month, can earn a gift card or credit towards a future bill after the Halloween season is “laid to rest.”

Maybe each visit earns them a raffle ticket for a larger prize like a free meal. Or link up with other local shops to cross promote your businesses, and perhaps they will offer to donate a prize like a spa day, electronics, movie tickets or something of the like. Providing opportunities like these for your customers are a great way to organically grow your email contact list, giving you the chance to keep them informed of any future offers or events at your establishment.

If something long term like that doesn’t really appeal to you, something as simple as a Halloween movie screening on a typically slow night could be a fun way to break up the norm. Costumed karaoke anyone? The possibilities are endless.

We don’t want to alarm you, but October does feature a Friday the 13th. Some fanfare on that date is sure to be a hit for those too old for trick-or-treating looking to start their weekend off with a fun twist.

Encouraging kids and parents to attend your establishment in costume could be a fun way to initiate some playful buzz. Maybe that can be incentivized with a discount of some kind, on an order over a certain amount of money. Certainly, on Halloween itself, encouraging a costumed visit from children as a trick or treat stop will be something they won’t soon forget, and likely nor will their parents.

Halloween is a unique and special time, but being able to recognize the marketing opportunities offered by holidays in general, is key in keeping your establishment fresh in the minds of consumers — and getting new eyes on what you offer and more feet consistently through your door.

Social media and specific promotions will be key to getting the word out, and we’re happy to say we’ve got your back!  Whatever you need to promote these events or specials, or simply providing holiday themed posts on social media, we’re here to help!

 

online ordering

It’s Time To Join The Online Ordering World.

Look around. Are most people talking on their phones, or do they have their heads down tapping away at tiny keyboards, texting, searching, or navigating their way through the day?

You know the answer – and you currently may be doing the same.

We jam pack our lives with ‘things’ we need to get done, work that must be accomplished, and social calendars that fill in all the blanks — and a lot of our daily duties can be accomplished without even speaking to another human. We aren’t looking to delve into the topic of how this will impact the future of interpersonal skills in today’s younger generation, but instead to shed light on strategic business trends that must be addressed and discussed.

What’s very important to realize, for any business owner, is you need to be where your customers are looking. You need to make sure your opportunity to sell, is in other places besides your physical storefront. You need to be online; and according to some, the fate of your business may depend on it.

Convenience is key in this fast paced world we live in, and if you lack offering a convenient way for your customers to purchase from you,  you may lose them to a competitor. From 2010 to 2015, just 5 short years, the number of individuals placing online orders grew from 403 million to 904 million – more than doubling – resulting in a 124% growth, with 47% of Americans ordering food online. (credit: quartz media)

In addition to convenience for the customer, offering the option to order online can greatly increase your revenue. On average, an online order tends to carry a 23% larger check size than in-store checks. That’s huge!

Remember that “online ordering” doesn’t have to mean “delivery”. Although adding the option to deliver will prove its obvious benefits, if you’re not equipped to add additional delivery staff or manage this service, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with a pick-up option, and then once you can handle the volume and the kitchen has a good rhythm, offer your customers the option for delivery.

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Trends have shown an increase in the amount of companies offering online ordering services, as a result of its growing demand. Choosing the right company to work with can be a tricky one. Depending on your business model,  where you are located, and how you market your business, can hold weight on what takes priority when choosing which online ordering service to use.

Our advice is to be careful!

While some may entice you with low to no monthly fees, you may end up giving away more of a percentage on each sale than you can afford. Some require taking a minimum of 50% of each order, those that act as more of an “online ordering directory” tend to be among them. Companies like this will charge a larger percentage of your orders just so you can show up on the top of their list of restaurants to order from within a certain location – this might work if you don’t need the extra cash, but it helps gain exposure in big (and competitive) cities.

Other companies decide not to take a percentage, but charge large amounts on a monthly basis to use their service, usually tying you in to a year-long, or even a two-year long contract – some even asking for a full payment upfront. Some models will however, set a cap on what they will charge you, so you can predict what you will pay each month, leaving less guesswork in your month to month revenue.

Learn more about what Ordereze offers your business when it comes to Online Ordering. Since we work with smaller restaurant groups and individually owned businesses, we tend to fit that model and provide a boost in revenue, while helping market to your existing customers so they return again and again!

 

 

Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories, Social Media

Why Bad Reviews Are Written About Your Restaurant.

Unfortunately, there are times when bad reviews can be justified; but in some cases, they might just be written by someone having a bad day, and they decided it should be taken out on you.

Thankfully, as the act of leaving reviews has become more popular, people tend to take the outrageous ones with a grain of salt, especially if they are few and far between amongst a sea of positive feedback.

Whether you seem to have a strong hold on your online reputation or not, reviews tend to hold tremendous weight on the success or decline in business at many food service establishments. Below are some of the most common reasons a negative review might be left about your restaurant.

1.) Poor Customer Service.

The customer wants what they want, when they want it; And although some may not meet you with dissatisfied remarks right then at the table, if they feel that their service was lacking in any way, they very well may leave a review about it — and more often than not, never return.

2.) Inconsistency

You are running a well-oiled machine and you have a lot of happy regulars. They are regulars for a reason — you’re doing something (or everything) right! The problem can arise however, if someone has visited your restaurant a few times to experience stellar food and service, and sporadically get met with a night where things are just “off”.

Maybe you are understaffed, the fryer broke, a table of 15 just walked in and are slowing up the kitchen… whatever it may be, your customers won’t care about your problems if they don’t know what’s causing delays with the food or have to wait to be seated. They are there for THEIR meal, THEIR time, and THEIR enjoyment. If the service is not consistent, or the food somehow isn’t how they remember, they may not return.

In addition to this, many often choose that one poor experience to review. Customers tend to be more apt to share the negative before raving about the previous few occasions in which they left your restaurant happy and full.

Sometimes transparency is key. Let your customers know, while they are still in your restaurant, that it’s a bit of a rough night and it doesn’t reflect the norm. You may just earn some hospitality points right there with your honesty!

3.) Food Quality

People dine out for a variety of reasons. Some, simply never cook at home, while others view dining out as something that is done on a special occasion. Either way, the food you serve should be a reflection of you, your standards, and the business you run. If the quality of your food or how it’s presented to your guests is causing it to be sent back or not eaten, you bet someone will not only write a review sharing their experience, but you can be sure that there will be photos attached to the post for all to see.

The point here, is that the food you serve should be as high of a priority as customer service. Guests may even choose to return somewhere with less-than-stellar customer service, just because the food is so amazing.

So consistency, quality, and pride in what comes out of the kitchen is a MUST if you want to remain successful, and avoid negative reviews.

4.) Cleanliness

This really goes without saying. If you don’t run a clean restaurant, chances are your customers won’t be the only ones giving you a poor review — the board of health won’t be far behind.

It is common however, that customers will point out dirty floors, greasy looking kitchens, and even unorganized hostess stations. So for the sake of safety, the health of your customers, aesthetics, and of course preventing a review pointing out that you’re a complete mess… keep things clean!

 

As we mentioned, not all of this is entirely in your control, so unfortunately we must take the bad with the good and respond to the negative reviews when they do happen to roll in. Need help? You can always talk to one of our Customer Success representatives about our options to manage your online reputation for you, or you can check out some tips in our past blog post on how to answer negative reviews.

Marketing Tips

Email Marketing Is Far From Dead — Just Don’t Kill It With These Common Mistakes…

1.) Don’t SPAM your audience.

78% of consumers have unsubscribed from emails because a brand was sending too many emails. (HubSpot, 2016)

How many times do you bypass emails in your inbox because you see the same sender pitching deals and promotions day after day after day? Less is more when it comes to reaching out to your customers. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, perhaps when you would like to promote daily specials to your followers — but this has still been proven to work best when sent on a weekly basis, and then additionally encouraging your audience to follow you on social media for daily updates and engagement.

2.) Keep it simple.

As the number of images in an email increases, the clickthrough rate of the email tends to decrease. (HubSpot, 2014)

Get to the point. Too many words, a multitude of buttons and a collage of pictures will only lessen the impact and muddle the message you are trying to communicate. Plus, most emails are read on mobile devices, so you want to make sure you provide a visually clear and straightforward message, which will cause your readers to click on and read more!

3.) Make it personal.

Brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those that do not personalize. (Source: Experian, 2016)

Don’t make your emails seem too ‘spammy’. In other words, relate to your customers. You know what they want, so talk to them as if they were already in your restaurant or business, and add that personal touch to your email campaigns. For example, sending them emails on their birthday to perhaps offer a free dessert or drink, will let them know you value them as a customer — and they deserve to be celebrated!

4.) People are listening!

The number of e-mail users in the US is projected to grow to 244.5 million by the end of 2017. That number is forecast to grow to 254.7 million by 2020. (Source: Statista, 2016)

It’s amazing when you hear from some experts that email marketing is dead. There is no argument that social media is a necessary tool to market your business, and email provides an outlet to not only specifically target your selected audience, but as a tool to track, inform, and educate your customers in a way that puts the information directly at their fingertips — to read when they have time.

5.) Know that it takes work, in order to work.

Constant Contact surveyed small business owners and found that 49% do not use email marketing data to assist with their email marketing campaigns because they do not know where to begin. (Source: Constant Contact, 2016)

As mentioned above, with email marketing, you can track your audience’s behavior. You can see who has opened your emails, who has clicked into them, and what they clicked on. From here you can target advertising to those groups, resulting in a MUCH bigger potential for converting that email subscriber into a customer, or prompting them to revisit you. So take your time, create thoughtful and impactful campaigns which will help build brand awareness and a larger customer base – but know this takes time and effort, and to ask for help when needed. Marketing effectively is crucial to your business!

Marketing Tips

Creating Your Own Voice On Social Media

Developing a unique personality in a huge digital world can come across as a daunting task, we know – but once you create your own voice and decide what message you need to communicate to your followers, the ability to stay on a schedule rich with content tends to get easier the more you practice.

Here are some tips to start developing your distinct (and effective) digital voice:

1. Know the answer to the question: “Who are you?”

That should be simple enough to figure out right? After all, it’s your business — and all you have to do to begin your marketing efforts is let your social media followers know exactly who you are, what your business model is, what you have going on, and how you plan to (ultimately) get them through your door… Sure, piece of cake! (gulp)

OK, maybe it’s a little more complicated than it seems.

First things first – establish a personality for your business, and stay true to yourself. This may be the most important aspect of marketing your business.

Are you an upscale dining establishment that offers fine wine and a pricey cuisine? Then perhaps using a humor tactic may not fit the vibe you’re going for. Instead you may want to focus on sharing beautiful photos of your food accompanied with wine pairing suggestions, or run specials to attract visitors that may not typically gravitate towards a business like yours.

Are you a fast-paced deli or pizzeria catering to those on-the-go with little time to spare? Perhaps scheduling out daily tweets or Facebook posts before the busy rush will provide those ‘time-starved’ patrons a quick glimpse of what to order when they come in.

Start by writing a list containing the main components of your business. What type of food or service do you provide? Who are your customers? When are you the busiest? How do you fall on average compared to your competitors in regards to price point?

For Example:

  • Food/Drink Served: Italian, Wine, Brick Oven Pizza, Espresso drinks
  • Customer demographic: Men & Women ages 30-50
  • Busy Hours: 8am- 9am, 11am-2pm, M-F
  • Price point: Moderate

When you first start thinking about customizing your digital voice, follow this procedure and it will help you identify who you are and who your customer is. From here, you will tailor how you deliver the message and when you need to speak to your online audience.

2. What are your goals?

We all set goals – in all facets of life. But especially when it comes to your business, make them realistic. Start small then get more aggressive from there as to not get overwhelmed as you begin — but know definitively what your goals are, and keep working at them. Your overall long term goals may include a plan for your digital marketing efforts to save you money while bringing new customers in your door, ultimately allowing you to have more free time away from your business.

When it comes to setting goals for marketing your business digitally, one thing to always remember is that results seldom happen overnight, for many reasons, so patience is key. But how can you be patient and still set accurate and aggressive goals for yourself?

Start by creating a timeline. Perhaps in the first 3-6 or even 12 months, you work hard at building your social media audience. Begin defining your audience by finding out who is looking for you, acting as a consumer yourself. Begin following businesses like yours, take notes of what your competitors may be doing, and stay true to your business “motto” and the overall feel of how you want your business portrayed. You will slowly and steadily begin to gain followers to share your message with.

Next, decide how you plan to share information with your audience and begin to delegate that responsibility. Is managing your social media or digital marketing efforts too difficult or time consuming? Decide whether you need the help of someone else to post on social media for you, or to send out email campaigns to keep your followers in the loop and wanting more.

Marketing your business takes time, and you want to make sure to provide an accurate and consistent message, and to not overwhelm them. Which brings us to our third tip.

 3. Consistency is Key!

Above all, you never want to confuse your Social Media followers. Revisit the answer to “Who are you?” every time you post on social media or respond to a review – and continue that theme throughout all of your marketing efforts.

Use repeated and thoughtful hashtags to begin showing up in online searches pertaining to your business category. Make a schedule of when you would like to post on your social media sites, send out email campaigns, and stay on top of reviews left about your business and make sure to respond to each one.

Sporadic activity and engagement will not only cause you to get lost in the shuffle, but lose effectiveness of your content and disengage your followers awaiting to hear from you. Keep in mind however, that there is a such thing as TOO much activity. A little mystery, leaving your followers and customers wanting more, will typically result in more excitement when you share some news, a new promotion, or spread the word about an upcoming event.

It will be a bit of trial and error while analyzing what your audience likes, but that is all part of growing your social media following, reaching your goals, and creating that unique and profitable voice to fit with your business in the digital world we live in.

Marketing Tips

How To Handle A Negative Restaurant Review

Online reviews can make or break your business—which is why it is very important to respond appropriately whenever you receive one! With 92% of consumers reporting that they read online reviews, making sure that you know how to handle the situation when things turn sour is extremely important. Here are three tips to help guide you through dealing with a bad review.

1. Leave emotion out of your response

Let’s face it, your business means everything to you. It’s hard to keep cool when something you work so hard for is under attack. When you’re notified that someone has left you a 1-star review, your gut reaction is to retaliate and respond to put the negativity to rest – but be careful! A negative review may be completely out of left field, or at times justified (we can’t be perfect ALL the time) but the most crucial thing to remember, is that it’s important to be the bigger person in these situations. Just because someone else lost their cool does not mean that you should.

Additionally, you have more at stake here than they do. While a reviewer may be “untouchable” or anonymous online, you have to think about the public image of your business. How you handle a bad review can be a reflection to online readers of how you value customer service. So take a deep breath and try to not let this get under your skin.

Once you have your emotions settled, now it’s time to get down to responding to your review.

2. Admit if a mistake was made and defend your reputation

Nobody is perfect, nor does every night run smoothly at your restaurant. Unfortunately, after a stressful shift, someone pointing out that it was a rough night by leaving a bad review can be aggravating. But once you have your emotions in-check, it’s time to seriously consider what they have to say. Is there some truth to their critique?

When responding to negative reviews, we often find that being transparent and admitting fault when there was one, isn’t a bad thing. Customers really appreciate the honesty—and by apologizing and promising a better experience the next time, you reinforce that you do care about your customers and you’re willing to work on things to make amends.

That is not to say that you should ever let your customers dictate how you run your business. If what was left in the review is unsubstantiated or untrue (it happens sometimes), it’s very important to stand up for yourself—while also being polite. Address their concern, reinforce the high quality and standards that you set for your business, and offer advice for the future— such as the option to speak to a manager if one feels that their needs are not being serviced properly at the time of their visit.

3. Do not wait to respond to a negative review

Although we do suggest to let your emotions cool off before responding to a negative review, it is very important that you do not wait too long before responding. Addressing a customer’s concern sooner rather than later is not only appreciated by the person who left the review, but since everything is public on the internet, it is noticed by potential customers looking to try your business. Responding promptly, politely, and reasonably when faced with a negative review, shows that you care about your customers and are willing to do whatever you can to solve the issue and set the record straight.

In our experience it is best to reply to reviews within 48-72 hours of them being published. Timeliness is important not just for addressing concerns, but to better protect your business from the potential backlash that a bad review might generate. It’s about being proactive and showing that you care. This is something that all great businesses do, but with the rise in traffic to review sites, maintaining your online reputation is more important now than ever.

Remember – Responding to online reviews means that you care! 

Responding quickly and appropriately to your online reviews is one of the most important things that you can do to protect your business’ online reputation. While it is time consuming, the effort is never wasted as reviews can continue working for (or against) your business for months and years to come.

If you don’t have time to respond to all your reviews, or it just seems too confusing to manage keeping up with them, no need to worry —  We have a variety of options to work with any budget, and fulfill any of your business’ needs!

Marketing Tips, Restaurant Stories

6 Marketing Tips To Attract New Customers

Marketing your business in 2016 is a mix between products, technology and customer engagement.  Having a restaurant before the era of review sites and social media wasn’t as complicated; you went off of word of mouth and cost.  However, times are changing and the demand for a heightened quality of food, efficiency, and dining experience is what really counts.  Not only does it count but now people can write reviews and spread word about your establishment via the internet.

Don’t get stuck between a rock and a hard place by not managing your online reputation and not advancing with the times.  Get ahead of the curve and use Gen Z’s increased sense of engagement via technology to your advantage.  Offer more promotions, coupons and even incentives for people who tag themselves at your business or post a positive review about you on social media.  Make sure all of your listing information is cohesive throughout the internet to avoid wrong phone numbers, hours of operation, or address.  Any wrong information provided about you can deter customers from trying you and going to a new place.  Here are 6 Marketing Trends to Help Attract New and Old Business in 2015.

1 . Dining ‘Farm-to-Fork’

A very popular trend that is emerging is the Farm-to-Fork (or Farm-to-Table) movement.  This is a community food system in which food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed all within a local community.  Many people are turning to a more natural diet with less processed and more organic meats, fruits and vegetables.  This allows people to eat fresher food while helping out to enhance environmental, economic, social and nutritional health within the area.

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2.  Moving to Gen Z

Millennials are also known as the ‘Demand Generation’ which is based on instantaneous gratification.  While this demand will continue, restaurateurs are going to have another issue on their hands.  The next generation known as ‘Gen Z’ are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders, and are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever.  With this generation up-and-coming, restaurateurs are going to need to please this crowd with high-tech service, electronic menus, a heightened level of dining experience and more unique/creative menu offerings.

3.  Expanding Technology

As technology spreads its wings we encourage restaurants to keep up with the changing times.  Instances like below are definitely a step in the right direction:
·         Accepting mobile payments.
·         Providing a tablet to join your mailing list.
·         Presenting menus on tablets.
·         Allowing customer to electronically place their orders on the table.

While Gen Z still requires a high level of demand, they are all about efficiency.  Think about it, allowing people to view and place their order on a tablet provides less room for human error.  Customers can no longer say that the waitress ‘messed up their order’ or claim that they were charged for more than what they had ordered.  Offering mobile payments allows less running around for a waitress so they can attend to more tables which allows you to use less staff.
As with anything new, this trend will be continuously changing and evolving.  Making sure you do your homework and brush up on newer ways to attract customers will help you out in the future.

4.  Designing Shareable Plates

Customers were very intrigued with ‘family-style’ dining in the year of 2014.  This trend does show it is still high rising and will last throughout 2015 and into 2016.  Providing the option to purchase the family-style portion for only a couple dollars more will seem like the right way to go when you have a party of 2 or more.  Customers like to see more ‘bang for their buck’.

Not comfortable with changing around your whole entire menu on a theory?  We suggest creating a ‘Shareable Plates’ section on your menu to see if this is something more and more customers order off of.  Testing its success is a great way to tell if it is something you should implement on your whole menu.

RBK Porky.jpg

5.  Creativity with Your Beverage List

Gen Z and Millennials all love to try new things and if you serve alcohol you want to capitalize on this trend in 2015.  These generations have a more extensive palette when it comes to food and drinks.  Providing shareable punches and a more extensive collection of flavored whiskey, vodka and rum will help you out with creating new and exciting drinks for them to try.

Don’t have alcohol?  That is fine!  Try bringing in some herbal teas, coconut water or any other mixed non-alcoholic beverages you might find interesting.  These people are on a quest for something new and being that they are brand managers it will most certainly be helpful to appease them.

6.  Menu Items for People with Allergies

Did you know that between 1997 and 2011 there was a 50% increase of children with food allergies?  Now you ask yourself; Why do I need to do this?  Answer is very simple, when customers are deciding to go out usually the person who picks the place they are going to will be the one with a food allergy.  This is to ensure that person will have a good time dining out as well.

We know providing a safe-haven for people with food allergies is a big burden and requires strict preparation techniques. However, once you become fluent on all processes you will attract new and old customers who stopped or wouldn’t come to your establishment due to their restrictions.  Make sure you advertise the menu to ensure people know that they should come and try you as well.

Have other trends that you foresee becoming big it 2016-2017?  Share them below!