3 Helpful Tips on How to Use Guest Feedback

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Over the past couple of years, we have visited many restaurants that collect feedback from their guests. In fact, almost every restaurant we’ve been to has tried to collect guest feedback in some way. If you’re already collecting feedback, congrats! You’re halfway to being a truly guest-centric restaurant. However, collecting feedback is just half of the battle – what you do with that feedback is what really counts. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that are sure to make your guests truly vested in your restaurant’s success:

Send a Personal Email to All Guests Who Have Negative Experiences

There are few things worse in life than spending money on something and then getting something you don’t like. Since experiences are always in the eyes of the beholder, your guests are always right. Even if complaints are unwarranted, it’s important to address all negative comments immediately so that guests don’t go online and post negative reviews for the world to see.

With that in mind, get in the habit of sending emails to all guests who voice negative experiences on comment cards at least once / week. At the end of the day, a little bit of effort will go a long way toward improving your guests’ satisfaction.

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Update Guests Who Leave Helpful Comments

If a guest leaves you a direct comment that you find helpful, send them a note back! At the end of the day, every guest wants to feel like their favorite restaurants understand them and listen to their input. If a guest goes out of their way to give you some helpful feedback, make sure you keep them in the loop instead of letting their comments go unrecognized.

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Share Amazing Comments with the World!

If a guest leaves an amazing comment, why not share it with the world? It’s a very easy process – just share your positive comments on social media and post them to your website! Then just sit back, relax, and watch your guest engagement increase. Check out Cameron Bar and Grill Raleigh’s Twitter feed for an example.

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These are simple practices that don’t take a ton of time or effort to implement. If you’re using a digital feedback provider, the process for following these steps is a little easier. However, even if you’re using paper cards or receipt codes, you can still implement these processes. Your guests will appreciate it and, at the end of the day, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

The 3 Habits of Operationally Successful Restaurant Organizations

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Ever wondered what makes the truly elite restaurants successful? How are organizations as large and complex as McDonalds and Chick-Fil-A able to achieve such high levels of consistency and operational excellence? These 3 strategies set great operationally efficient organizations apart:

Setting Goals and Monitoring Progress

What is the highest overarching goal for your organization? Is it to achieve $1.5M in per location sales? Or are you looking to successfully open 5 new stores next year? Whatever your goal is, pin it on your wall to make sure it’s the first thing you look at everyday. Next, pick out 5 goals that will help you achieve your overarching goal. These goals should be “stretch” goals – difficult but achievable. For example, let’s say you want to take per unit sales from $1.4M to $1.5M in a year. How could you go about doing this? Maybe make one of your goals to get your servers to offer appetizers and desserts to at least 90% of your guests. Then use a tool like Tuee to assess whether your servers are doing this. Another one of your goals could be to improve your social media presence. If so, how many followers do you want to have? How many times / day should you be posting to achieve that goal?

This simple goal setting and monitoring process can help turn your organization into a results-drive model of efficiency.

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Building a Culture of Accountability

How can you make sure that the people in your organization are held accountable for their jobs? Sure you can set up job descriptions and evaluations, but that’s just the tip of the spear. Consider doing the following to create a culture of accountability:

  • Use a shift scheduling service like ShiftZen to ensure that servers are held responsible for showing up on time for scheduled shifts. By doing this, you can ensure that your servers communicate their schedules to your managers and that your managers are always in the know about who is scheduled to show up. This solution in particular will hold your staff and managers accountable for shifts and will save everybody involved valuable time.
  • Mandate that each staff member gets a certain number of comment cards filled out per shift. This will ensure that your staff knows they are being held accountable for their performance
  • Implement a 360 degree feedback program where staff can periodically rate the managers and GM and where the managers / GM can rate corporate. This will ensure that every level of your organization is held accountable for their performance.

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Training and Enforcement

Even if you embrace the two philosophies listed above, nothing will truly work unless you properly train your staff and enforce your training periodically. The most effective restaurant organizations have training teams that have standard processes for how to train staff. How long after a table is seated should you wait greet them? How often should you check in at a table? Do you know the menu thoroughly? All of these questions and more should be answered over and over again during a server’s initial training.

In order to enforce these habits, make sure you have a weekly “all-hands” meeting that is never canceled for any reason. This meeting should be used by the GM to ensure that key metrics are consistently being achieved. In addition, this time should be used to resolve any guest complaints and address any important action items for the coming week.

 

Running a restaurant organization is tough, but following these 3 strategies will ensure your organization is on a path to success.

Email Collection – Critical For Your Marketing Strategy

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Most restaurants have some type of email database. Either through business card fishbowls, paper comment cards, or eclubs, most restaurants have at some point collected email addresses. However, very few restaurants place a high level of importance on collecting email addresses. If the average restaurant does approximately 70,000 covers per year, why is it unreasonable that restaurants should be collecting at least 5,000 email addresses per year?

The reality is that although most restaurants collect emails, most don’t place a high level of importance on email collection. In fact, many restaurants spend more time figuring out how to get new guests in the door rather than focusing on retaining current guests and getting them to come back more often. Before you consider investing in a Yelp ad, a newspaper ad, or a Groupon, think for a moment about how much those forms of advertising cost. Then think about this – emails cost less than once cent to send and if you send them right, you can get nearly half of your emailed guests to open and read them.

Joe Welsh is a restaurant marketing expert and runs his own restaurant marketing firm. According to Welsh, “Emails are tremendously valuable for restaurants. If I talk to a restaurateur with few email addresses, one of my first recommendations is to suggest ways to collect more.You can never have enough and email collection should always be a key part of a restaurant’s marketing strategy regardless of how many emails you have.”

 

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Guest relationship management, like customer relationship management, is a philosophy. In service based industries (like restaurants and hotels) much emphasis needs to be placed on delivering a high-quality guest experience. Everybody can think of a time when they’ve had a truly stellar experience in a hotel or restaurant – that time when a member of the staff went above and beyond the call of duty to deliver a truly remarkable experience.

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But guest relationship management is more than providing a stellar in-person guest experience. Every point of guest interaction with your establishment, from social media to your website to your phone and email correspondence is part of the guest experience. Guest relationship management is about consistently delivering a stellar holistic guest experience.

If you own or work in a restaurant or hotel, you’re probably thinking “yeah great – that’s easier said than done.” After all, in service-based industries, there are an infinite number of issues that could arise at any point in time. When you consider that no two issues are the same and that every day has its new share of unexpected situations, “consistently delivering a stellar holistic guest experience” probably seems like the most challenging task in the world.

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And you just might be right. However, there is hope. Guest relationship management isn’t about being perfect all the time – it’s about doing the best you can at what you can control and immediately correcting issues when they do arise. It’s about marketing and operations working together to deliver both a great in-person guest experience and an ongoing guest dialogue that builds brand loyalty over time. When building your restaurant organization, make sure to include guest relationship management is an important part of your strategy. After all, in hospitality the guest is king and building strong relationships with your guests could mean the difference between success and failure for your business.

How do I advertise my restaurant affordably?

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Advertising. It is one of the keys to ensuring that your restaurant stays healthy and successful over time. The majority of your customers will be repeat, but building your customer base and awareness will only enhance your brand and allow you to access more customers. Advertising is one of the most effective ways to drive new customers to your restaurant. However, with all the different ways to advertise (social media, print, fliers, etc.) it is difficult to determine which is the most effective. The answer is different for every restaurant. However, if you follow these simple rules you should be able to determine which is most effective and enhance the ROI on your advertising:

  1. Set goals – Always have a specific goal in mind before you start advertising. Ask yourself: “What would be a successful outcome for this advertising?” Once you have a goal in place you can effectively understand what determines success and failure.
  2. Make sure you can measure the advertisement – One of the reasons most advertisements are unsuccessful is because there is no metric put in place to measure it. Often changes in revenue have nothing to do with the advertising. A good way to measure advertising is to tie a specific expiration or coupon back to your advertisement.
  3. Set a specific time to test your advertisements – Sometimes advertisements are not given the proper amount of time to show a return. Most advertisement need 3-6 months to be fully tested and to see if they are working.
  4. Run advertisements which only work when redeemed – New businesses like groupon and living social allow you to only pay for advertisements when someone actually purchases or uses one. This is great because it allows you to see the real return. However, be weary of too much discounting as it can really hurt your brand.

 

Advertising is a great way to grow your new customer base when used effectively. It should be balanced with an approach to reward repeat guests.

How do I hold my staff accountable?

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Despite their best efforts to control every aspect of the experience in the restaurant, owners and managers are under the mercy of their staff.  The kitchen determines the food quality, the servers determines quality of service provided. In actuality, you rely on your staff to make sure that every guest leaves your restaurant happy. How do you hold your staff accountable to your guests, and make sure that every guest leaves with the best possible experience?

Doing the following things could help:

2.Set Standards

Gather your staff together, and put together a list of “Standards or Rules” which will dictate their behavior. For many restaurants this can be seen as a set of core values. A good set of standards will embody what you expect out of your staff and will relay to them exactly what you want each customer to feel like before they leave your restaurant.

2.Set Goals

A great way to make sure the staff is accountable to your standards is to set goals for them. Goals will give the staff something to reach for. They should always be easy to understand and difficult to reach, but attainable. The link below shows the S.M.A.R.T methodology of setting goals.

S.M.A.R.T Methodology of Goal Setting

3.Regular Staff Meetings

Holding regular staff meetings allows you to keep your staff on target, and keeps them up to date on restaurant’s progress and goals. This will allow you to keep your staff  in the loop, understand their feelings about the restaurant’s progress and make sure that they are meeting the expectations you have set out for them.

Without a proper method to hold your staff accountable, you leave your restaurant at the risk of being run poorly and leading to customers leaving unsatisfied. Holding staff accountable requires a simple set of actions which take 5 minutes to implement, but must be regularly enforced. By setting standards and goals, and holding regular staff meetings you will ensure that the staff understands their role, expectations, and how to contribute to a healthy restaurant.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Staff

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There are so many parts to running a great restaurant – you have to have great food, savvy management, effective operations, and engaging marketing just to name a few. Perhaps the most important part of running a great restaurant is having excellent front and back of the house staff. Over the last year we’ve witnessed some of the best and worst managed restaurant staffs in the world in action. After analyzing all our notes, we discovered that there are a few strategies that separate the great from the weak. By implementing some or all of these strategies, you should see a leap in your staff’s productivity and, ultimately, in sales:

  1. Daily Standups and Weekly Staff Meetings: At daily “standup” meetings, successful restaurants gather that day’s staff and go over topics like daily specials, reservations for that day, as well as pertinent guest comments from the day before. During weekly meetings, topics like guest satisfaction, weekly sales (including % of tickets with bev, appetizer, or dessert orders), and new management initiatives are covered. These meetings ensure that management and staff are all aligned on the same priorities and goals.
  2. Establish Scheduling Rules: Effective restaurants ensure that they don’t get blindsided by staff not showing up as scheduled. Some restaurants have a “3 strikes, you’re out” rule where 3 unexcused absences / tardies results in automatic termination. Others call out staff who were late or didn’t’ show up in weekly staff meetings. Still others actually tie a certain % of compensation to showing up on time. Logistically, to ensure that all schedules are always accurate, most great restaurants use scheduling software like Schedulefly.
  3. Comment Cards: Comment cards are a huge part of successful restaurant groups’ strategy. Not only do they collect email addresses, but they also help identify front and back of the house staff strengths and areas for improvement. Consider sharing positive staff comments during weekly staff meetings and to constructively sharing negative comments privately.
  4. Front of the House Staff Incentives: If there’s a specific initiative you’re trying to push (ex. selling a current special dish or upselling wine), hold short-term contests to incentivize your front of the house staff to perform. During a Saturday night, offer free dinner or a $25 gift card to the server who upsells the most wine. Similarly, consider offering a long term reward to the server who pushes a specific initiative the most over a given week or month. If a server can collect 300 email addresses from comment cards in a month, throw a $50 gift card his / her way!
  5. Manager / GM Incentives: Consider establishing a profit sharing compensation model for managers and GMs. If management has a vested stake in the success of the restaurant, they’ll undoubtedly do everything in their power to ensure the restaurant succeeds.
  6. Make Initiatives Mandatory: Even if you’re trying out a particular initiative and don’t know if you’ll pursue it long-term, tell your staff that it’s mandatory. If something isn’t mandatory, you’ll never get full results out of it – period.

If you own a restaurant and have another strategy for staff productivity not listed here, send it over to us at guest@tuee.it!

-The Tuee Team

Should I Build a Mobile Website?

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Last week, we posted about how much it should cost to build a website.

It’s hard to believe that only 6 years ago, you couldn’t download an app onto your iPhone. Today, nearly everything is mobile – most people can’t go more than a couple hours without using their phone or tablet to do help with a multitude of daily activities like navigating a route, typing an email, checking social media, or playing a game. The mobile revolution is having a huge impact on the restaurant industry as well since more than 80% of restaurant guests look up some kind of information (reservations, ratings, rewards, etc) about restaurants they are thinking about going to on their smartphone or tablet[1].

Most restaurateurs admit to knowing that lots of guests are looking them up using mobile devices, but shockingly 95% of restaurants still did not have a mobile website as of April 2012[2]. This means that 5% of restaurants are capitalizing on where 80% of the dining marketing is looking for dining advice, tips, and reservations.

The good news is – if your restaurant still doesn’t have a mobile website, you‘re most likely one of several restaurants in your neighborhood that doesn’t have one yet. There’s still time to create a mobile website and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. If you’re thinking about creating a mobile website for your restaurant, check out the following companies – all have come recommended from our current restaurant clients[3]:

  1. DudaMobile – this FREE service enables you to put up a basic but effective mobile website within a matter of minutes.
  2. MoBistro – this is a paid service, but is specifically dedicated to restaurants and comes with a one-month free trial.
  3. ThriveSpot – this is also a paid service, but is also specifically dedicated to restaurants.

 



[1]http://blogs.constantcontact.com/fresh-insights/restaurants-most-searched-industry-by-consumers-on-mobile-devices-and-other-hot-topics/

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/27/study-95-of-independent-restaurant-dont-have-mobile-sites-less-than-40-have-online-menus/

[3] These are all recommendations directly from Tuee clients – Tuee has no interest or affiliation with any of these companies

How much should it cost to build a website?

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As more of the world seems to spend its time in front of a computer, they have spent more time researching restaurants. Long gone are the days when someone would just ‘ask a friend which restaurant was best’. Now people search for restaurant websites to learn more about the cuisine, price, dress code, and anything else they need to make a decision.

It is absolutely critical to have a website these days. However, the cost of having a website can vary drastically. Below are some ways to have a website built and approximate costs:

1. Outsourced developer (India/Pakistan/Asia) – You can find a lot of firms who are off-shore and are willing to build a website for you.

  • Pros: Usually cheaper than having a website built state-side, you get a personal contact who you can interact with on a regular basis who will build what you want
  • Cons: Communication is typically a huge barrier, if you haven’t completely thought out exactly what you want the website may be built incorrectly. Making updates to the website are sometimes difficult because lack of clear communication
  • Cost – Approximately – $1,500

2. DIY websites (squarespace & wix) – Recently, a couple of companies have created an easy way to create your own website. Most of them offer the ability to try it out for free and then host your website through them for a small fee

  • Pros: Much cheaper than hiring an outsourced developer, easy to use and easy to update
  • Cons: Requires at the very least an elementary understanding of websites & computers, very difficult to customize outside of the standard templates, requires your own time/effort
  • Cost – $7-$30/month

Depending on your level of expertise and the amount of time you want to invest in your website, there are different routes you can take. However, one thing is for certain, a website is a critical component of success to your restaurant.

How Do I Figure Out Where to Spend My Marketing Budget?

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For any business, monitoring the success of marketing campaigns can be very difficult. Some programs (like a direct mail coupon for instance) can be monitored very easily by keeping track of the number of coupon redemptions. However, most marketing tactics (like Facebook, Yelp, word of mouth, special in-restaurant promotions, and paper advertising) are very difficult to measure. Sales may fluctuate up or down after a new marketing campaign is adopted, but how do you know it’s because of that campaign and not because of the weather, an event down the street, or random coincidence? There are a couple of techniques you can use to measure the success of a new marketing campaign:

  1. Use comment cards to ask your guests why they came in that day. Comment cards are the most direct and effective way to measure the success of your marketing strategies.
  2. Include small gifts (like a small appetizer on the house) as part of all your marketing campaigns for a couple of weeks and monitor how many people redeem. This will give you an idea as to how broad your marketing reach is and will let you know how many guests take action as a result of various marketing campaigns.

Both of these techniques require a little bit of effort. But the benefits for your bottom line can be tremendous. In fact, by knowing exactly what % of your guests come in because of different marketing tactics you’ll be able to:

  1. Save money: Never pay money for a marketing tactic that doesn’t work again. If only 0.5% of your guests come in because of a newspaper ad and you’re paying $5K / month for that advertisement, it’s clearly not worth it.
  2. Save time: If social media is only bringing in 2% of your guest population, is it worth hiring someone to spend 20+ hrs / week dedicated to social media?

Monitoring the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns will enable you to maximize your ROI on your marketing budget. For any restaurant, this is an essential practice that will help grow revenue and cut costs.