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.

How Should I Respond to Guests on Social Media?

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In today’s world, everybody has an online presence even if they don’t want to. Some sites (like Facebook and Twitter) require a business’ consent to have a page created, while other sites like Yelp and Google reviews make it easy for anyone to create a page for a business. For restaurateurs, it is important to understand how these sites can impact guests’ perception of your restaurant. A recent Tuee study of over 11,000 first-time diners across over 30 restaurants revealed that 8.9% of first-time diners make their decisions on where to dine at least partially based on Yelp reviews. This percentage increases to over 12% when you add in other forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Given that such a high % of guests look at online posts and reviews, it is very important for restaurateurs to maintain a strong presence online. Although it can be frustrating that sites like Yelp give little to no control to restaurateurs, it is necessary for restaurants to respond intelligently to comments left by guests in order to maintain a positive online appearance. Here are some do’s and don’ts for how to respond to online guest posts:

DO respond to guest comments, regardless as to how absurd they might seem. If you respond correctly to all guest comments, other guests will see (1) that you are responsive and (2) that you care about guest opinions.

DO create a reputation management plan. Reputation management helps you identify all guest comments being left across all websites. When creating a digital marketing strategy for your restaurant, reputation management is a must.

DO get creative with your social media posts. There’s nothing guests hate more than the same old “stop by Joe’s Shack today and eat!” over and over again. Mix it up – be funny and creative. Guests won’t fault you for thinking outside the box a little.

DON’T delay creating a digital marketing plan. 15% of guests have interacted with a restaurant on social media in the last month, and 31% would do so if offered according to a recent National Restaurant Association study.

DON’T just focus on one form of social media vs. another. If you have a presence online, you need to care about all places where you have presence. That means responding to guests on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google reviews, and anywhere else your restaurant is seen online.

MOST OF ALL, DON’T respond negatively to guest comments – EVER. If somebody posts a rudely worded negative comment, respond positively and apologetically to let them know you care and you want to fix any issues that might have occurred. We know it’s tempting to tell that belligerently angry guest how you feel, but DON’T DO IT!

What Reservation System Should I Get?

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Many restaurateurs have asked our advice on what reservation system to use. This can be a complicated decision since there are hundreds of systems out there and each positions itself as being leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. To make it easier for you to pick a reservation system, we’ve included a side-by-side comparison of some of the more popular reservation systems here, including a detailed list of OpenTable pros and cons:

 

Reservation Systems Graphic 02212014 v1

 

OpenTable Details:

Pros:

    • Attracts new guests – Most restaurants rave about OpenTable’s ability to attract new guests. Over 28,000 restaurants use OpenTable and hundreds of millions of guests surf OpenTable searching for open reservations.
    • Only pay for seated diners – You only pay when diners book a reservation through OpenTable or through an OpenTable widget on your website. You can choose to be listed on OpenTable without getting OpenTable’s hardware and paying up-front.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive – Most restaurants pay $1 – $2.50 per cover booked with OpenTable. In addition, if you get OpenTable’s reservation hardware you can expect to pay around $1,000 in setup costs in addition to a monthly subscription fee of at least $199.
  • Big company – OpenTable is a publicly traded company worth well over $1B. Considering its size, restaurants don’t have as much negotiating leverage with OpenTable as they might have with smaller reservation companies.

 

New Food Trends That Could Impact Your Menu

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Consumer food preferences have changed so much over the past 10 years. Just think back to 2004 – how many restaurants had gluten-free or vegetarian options? Restaurants that don’t adapt to changing guest taste preferences are leaving $ on the table by unnecessarily alienating guests. With that in mind, staying on top of consumer taste preferences is one of the most important things a restaurant can do.

New Brand Analytics and Technomic released reports today revealing some trends that might just surprise you:

  1. 46% percent of guests say they visit certain restaurants based on what soups they offer. 43% say the same for salads.
  2. We all know how popular bacon is. But eggs and egg yolks have now made their way to the top most mentioned ingredient on social media.
  3. Charcuterie (prepared meats) are the top mentioned appetizers.
  4. Brussel sprouts were the most mentioned vegetable (they’ve come a long way from the 90’s when they were the vegetable that everybody hated).
  5. Biscuits topped the list of breads.
  6. Lobsters remained the kings of seafood, topping the list for yet another year.

The next time you’re considering adding a new dish, take a look at some of these trends and let your creativity flow.

Sources:

http://nrn.com/what039s-hot/technomic-soup-salad-drive-restaurant-traffic

http://nrn.com/what039s-hot/charcuterie-egg-most-buzzed-about-menu-items

Should you put your Wine List on a Tablet?

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One of the technologies that restaurants are starting to adapt are tablets. Restaurants have found many uses for them: surveys, data collection, table-side ordering etc. Wine menus are one of the unique uses of tablets. There are many pros and cons to featuring the wine menu from your restaurant on a tablet.

Pros:

  • Additional Background and Details Standard – A tablet will allow the guest to see the details of each wine and make better informed decisions while allowing your staff to focus on providing the best service possible.
  • Less work for Server – Often guests ask their server or sommelier for recommendations on which wine they should drink. This requires many hours of training for staff. It also leads to many times where staff members provide misinformation or forget a key detail when recommending items to the guest.
  • Upsell – A tablet is usually much more persuasive than a server because of the breadth of information and pictures provided on the tablet. Guests are more likely to purchase wine when presented with a tablet.

Cons

  • Higher Costs – Putting wine menus on tablets come with a real cost – the tablets themselves. The best tablets have typically been apple products – IPADs, which retail for around $400 a piece. This is a very high cost for something that may or may not provide revenue.
  • Additional step for server – If you don’t have enough tablets for each server, you may end up increasing the table turn time as servers are required to perform an extra step of grabbing a tablet for the guests.

There are many reasons to use or not use tablets for wine menus. However, tablets will be coming to restaurants in one way or another in the near future.

Still Scheduling Shifts on Paper?

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Scheduling staff shifts is a common headache that a lot of restaurateurs face. If you’ve ever owned or worked in a restaurant, you’ve probably gotten used to scheduling shifts on Excel sheets or pieces of paper printed on walls in the office. These scheduling methods can lead to shift changes getting missed and to general disorganization / inefficiency. In addition, restaurant owners and GMs have to worry about taking precious time out of their days to track scheduling on paper. These unnecessary headaches add just another layer of complexity to an already complex operational effort.

Technology can make the process of scheduling much simpler and can help to eliminate some of these headaches. Through features like automatic emailing of scheduled shifts, direct messaging for GMs, and most importantly access to electronic schedules in an online portal, these solutions reduce headaches and improve scheduling efficiency.

  1. ScheduleFly (www.schedulefly.com)
  2. ShiftPlanning (www.shiftplanning.com/restaurant)
  3. ZoomShift (www.zoomshift.com)