Navigating Supply Chain in the Restaurant Industry
Since the start of the pandemic, safety measures such as social distancing, lockdowns and mask-wearing have completely changed our understanding of how consumers spend on food. We saw customers stockpiling on groceries and supplies in homes instead of going out to eat, raising retail sales by 29 percent over the previous year (1). Meanwhile, sales at cafes, fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, and casual-dining establishments fell by 27 percent.
According to this McKinsey Report, these “changes in consumer behavior continue to ripple through the US food and agricultural supply chains” even today (1). That’s because the supply chain is similar to a system in that each component must work well for the overall network to function. And in a system as large as the US Food System, small changes produce a proportionally larger domino effect, where “one occurrence triggers a chain of subsequent events” with the potentialto bring the overall structure down (1).
What are causing these disruptions in the US food supply chain?
Shortage of workers is one reason. Growing and farming vegetables, meat, fruit, for example, is a crucial step in the supply chain. Many farming businesses, including crop producers, require specific types of labor to perform their tasks (2). Since so many workers are being afflicted with COVID-19, we’ve seen the farming sector experience a widespread shortage of workers who have been trained to complete specific tasks.
Regulation is another issue, as additional rules are needed to ensure that employees are safe and paid adequately while ensuring that the food is safe to eat. Unfortunately, measures set up to safeguard health have overall caused inefficiency and higher prices, which regrettably have caused layoffs for food workers and drivers (3).
It has also been a time-consuming and challenging process to develop an efficient inventory estimate as many businesses had to rely on historical data over current patterns. This has resulted in under-ordering (and dissatisfied customers) or over-ordering (and increased waste).
A lack of communication is possibly the most overlooked problem affecting the supply chain. Even though the ability of supply chain actors to interact has vastly improved as technology has progressed, the sector continues to face numerous issues due to lack of communication due to the fragmentation of the food system and the supply chain (4). For example, each business works with its own logistical system, data-sharing practices and government regulations (or lack thereof) they must follow. This can result in problems with communication and the capacity to work together when issues arise.
Lack of transparency and miscommunication among workers (particularly regarding COVID-19) also continue to cause delays and disruptions in the supply chain. In addition, many restaurants and their vendors do not have access to tools that allow them to see their stock supply and demand in real time (5). What this means is that the relationship between the operator and vendor can be strained as a result of poor inventory control. Problems such as over or under-ordering, food waste, supplier unpredictability, negative customer satisfaction and impact on the restaurant’s reputation can all stem from ineffective inventory management (5). Unfortunately, these issues will remain without a simple, centralized means to provide feedback about the quality of food supplied and the service provided through delivery.
How supply chain disruptions impact us now
Supply chain disruptions are resulting in food insecurity and public health concerns across the world (6). And while food supply chains that are capital-intensive and highly mechanized (for staple crops like wheat, maize, and soybeans) have continued to operate with minimal interruptions in the US, we’re seeing labor-intensive food production like meat supply continue to fall behind (2).
Take the current chicken wing shortage as an example: consumer demand for chicken during the epidemic, as well as supply chain constraints, have driven up poultry rates this springtime (7). Suppliers have trouble finding enough personnel, and fast food restaurants’ “chicken sandwich wars” have pushed demand even higher. Prominent chain restaurants such as KFC, Bojangles, Buffalo Wild Wings, and even some smaller bars and restaurants are currently failing to meet the demand for chicken wings and other items (8).
In fact, Chicken wings are at their lowest level in a decade in frozen storage. “A pound of chicken wings cost $2.65 in the first week of February, up 10 cents from the previous week. Wings for $2.27 per pound kicked off the year.” Basically, wing inflation or shortage is happening because the demand for wings increases in the market, causing major supply chain disruptions. Experts say that it will take about a year for the chicken (and wings) supply to normalize (9).
How to overcome supply chain issues
Here are the top three actionable steps we think will help operators overcome the supply chain crisis.
**This is a summary of our earlier article, “Responding to COVID-19’s Impact on the Restaurant Supply Chain.” You can read our original article here (10).
Multiple Sourcing and Backup
Operators should consider having multiple distribution channels in case they experience shortages. In one study of choosing between single and multiple sourcing based on supplier default risk, it was found that single sourcing had the advantage of a strong partnership between buyer and suppliers while lowering purchase price, but that this dependency created vulnerability and increased risk of supply interruption (11). Meanwhile, multiple sourcing was found to help operators “reduce the probability of bottlenecks due to insufficient production capacity to meet peak demand.” It also had the advantage of allowing the operator to have alternative sources of materials in case of the delivery stoppage by the supplier, as well as the flexibility and agility to react to unexpected events that could disrupt the supplier’s capacity (11).
Alternatively, you can brainstorm on ways to substitute ingredients or supplies you can’t do without. “You should communicate with your supplier for when a product cannot be delivered,” said Meredith Yerkes, Vice President of Business Development in Supply Chain at Consolidated Concepts in Boston, MA (10). Operators can also think of ways to utilize the ingredients you already have or using ready-made pre-cut items to save on labor.
Thus, the best operational strategy for supply chain disruptions is considering the worst-case scenario and establishing backup plans for when your supply has been compromised.
Menu Changes and Flexibility
One thing you can do when you run into supply shortages is simply “go to the market and do with what you’ve got” (12). This is precisely what Akash Kapoor, CEO of Bay Area-based franchise Curry Up Now, has been doing to get around the problem of ingredient deficits.
By being flexible and agile with their menu options, operators can simplify and shrink down their menus to feature ingredients that are less subject to volatility.
While an operator may believe that losing their specialty products and items that differentiates them from the competitors may also lose their competitive edge, the key is to focus on guest experience (10).
Operators should constantly be communicating with their suppliers. According to Tim Hand and Bruce Reinstein from Kinetic12 Consulting in their interview with FSR Magazine, operators should “reach out to their top suppliers for assistance on driving both front-of-house and back-of-house efficiencies. This can include streamlining the food preparation process through labor-saving products, new equipment innovation, new order-taking technologies, supply chain simplification ideas and finding efficient no-touch solutions for self-serve condiment and beverage stations” (13).
Another important consideration for operators is communicating to the staff about their supply status. For example, if your supply shortage prevents you from including certain items in the employee meals, do they understand why? What about issues concerning reducing food waste? Having a transparent, honest relationship with your staff, suppliers and customers will help your business tremendously in the long run.
Although acute ingredient shortages have subsided and we’re seeing all supply chain participants (manufacturing companies, wholesalers, and fast food joints) quickly adapting to this uncertain climate, those who are planning ahead, developing contingency plans, and learning how to be creative and flexible will most undoubtedly be in a position to weather out the supply chain instability.
With the pandemic and climate change being hot topics in recent months, Summer 2021 will have guests wanting to see more healthy and sustainable items on their menu. As a result, there will be a significant push for plant-based dishes and those featuring natural and functional ingredients from elderberries to turmeric. Here we share some of the major food and beverage trends operators can expect this upcoming season.
Plants will continue growing on menus. Think plant-based tacos, vegan burgers, veggie pizzas to oat lattes and coconut milk ice cream. As rising mainstream appeal drives this plant trend forward, we can expect plant-based ingredients to expand to different food categories to even fast food menus where selections are traditionally meat-heavy. For example, Nathan’s Famous is launching a meatless, vegan, plant-based hotdog made with pea-protein and spiced with its signature spice blend. Dunkin Donut is serving up their popular coffee drinks with nondairy milk such as oat or almond. Even Taco Bell is testing a vegetarian taco using proteins derived from chickpeas and peas, a creation they like to call the “Cravetarian” Taco. “By testing and offering a wide breadth of meatless options,” they added, they are “doubl(ing) down on its pledge to bring more innovation to the vegetarian space.”
Natural and Functional
We also expect to see more items prioritizing and supporting immune health this summer. According to the Food Dive Team, more companies have been “jumping on the healthy and immunity bandwagon by promoting immunity-boosting ingredients from elderberries and probiotics to turmeric and moringa.” There’s also been a noticeable sales bump in more natural, functional foods. The Hartman Group’s Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 report showed that 29 percent of consumers have been consuming more functional foods and beverages since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as growing concern of the pandemic and awareness for health has been shifting consumer preferences towards healthier foods and beverages. In the beverage scene, less-sugared, natural products with minimal artificial ingredients are being favored over the sugared juices or carbonated soft drinks. For example, plant-based beverages featuring real and organic ingredients are gaining popularity. Leading brands are focusing on natural juices, tea and herbals. Tractor Beverages is a good example. They are now offering a spectrum of lightly sweetened, minimalist drinks (both carbonated and non-carbonated) from strawberry rhubarb to kola-cola, an organic version of cola made from ingredients such as "kola nut, cinnamon, lime, orange, marjoram, coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, lemongrass, cassia bark, and vanilla." Even Red Bull launched their own organic soda line, focusing on flavors without additives like artificial colors, preservatives, and GMO, from Simply Cola, Bitter Lemon to Ginger Ale.
Continuing on the topic of beverages, we have hard seltzers carving out their own identity in the alcohol and beverage industry. According to this NielsenIQ report, hard seltzer products have "shown the most sustainable growth trajectory across the U.S. alcohol landscape" and have even "managed to pose a risk to mainstream beer brands." Popular beer brands such as Coors Light, Corona and Michelob Ultra are taking advantage of this trend by diversifying their portfolio to include these hard seltzers and other low alcohol drinks. According to Yelp’s 2021 Trend Forecast Report, the rate of review mentions of hard seltzer was up 189%.
The massive success of hard seltzer products and their fast-growing consumer base is, again, the result of the health and wellness trend. One NRN article reported that more people are now “more mindful about how much and when they drink.” According to Donna Berry, writer for Food Business News, consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z’ers, are “reaching for no- and low-alcohol options that provide the experience of imbibing but without the possible negative effects” in their quest for balance and health. We'll be seeing more of these drinks as the weather gets even warmer and people spend more time outdoors. Distilled spirits like vodka and tequila cut with carbonated water will be the “new generation of light fizzy drinks.”
We mentioned chilies and heat back in our Fall 2020 Trend Post but never expected hot honey to be crowned as Yelp’s 2021 flavor of the year. According to Yelp’s 2021 Trend Forecast report, the rate of review mentions of hot honey has been up 48% since 2020. KFC now serves their Hot Honey Chicken at select locations; Dairy Queen has their own hot honey chicken version with their Honey Hot Glazed Chicken Strip Baskets; Taco Time is offering a Pork Burrito slathered in honey sriracha aioli, while Bruegger’s Bagels is promoting their sandwiches served with their own Sriracha Honey Cream Cheese. “Restaurants have been combing sugar and spice for decades with barbeque sauce, and more pointedly in recent years with ingredients like Thai sweet chile sauce,” said an NRN post, so we know the trend's aligned with Americans' long-standing sweet-tooth and a newfound love for spicy foods.
We can expect more menu items incorporating chilies and other spicy flavors as the heat trend (a.k.a. the “Chilies Obsession”) continues.
Low Carbon labeling
Climate-friendly cuisines and foods with low carbon-footprints will be picking up momentum as we approach summer. According to Francesca Cocchi, from Food Network Magazine, the latest diet trend isn’t low carb, it’s low carbon. “Diets with low environmental impacts are becoming all the rage,” said Kishan Vasani, a contributing author to the food & beverage innovation intelligence company Spoonshot. "Interest in sustainable diets increased by 151.7% in the last five years and by 55.5% in the last year alone." As climatarian diets (a diet that prioritizes reducing carbon footprint) become more prevalent, more restaurants will be shifting their focus away from foods with a high carbon footprint (i.e., meat, cheese and imported, non-seasonal food), upcycling, and increasing food packaging sustainability to slow down climate change. The latest movement towards climatarian-friendly diets has been carbon-labeling. Several brands such as Panera Bread and Chipotle, have just started labeling their menu items with emission labels and using ingredients to reduce carbon emissions. According to Just Salad, these numbers serve to show the “environmental impact of growing, producing, and transporting (a menu) item to your plate.” On their website they call it a “nutrition label, but for the planet.”
Our Conclusion? Summer will be fun this year, as chefs experiment on new and creative ways to incorporate these healthy, plant-forward, spicy and climate-friendly ingredients into their seasonal classics.
How Customer Loyalty Programs Can Supercharge Your Restaurant in 2021
The benefits of having loyalty programs—particularly mobile programs—have become more noticeable due to the pandemic. Customers are prioritizing value, convenience and speed more than ever, and loyalty programs that are able to provide these perks are reaping the benefits from growing sales to more return customers. The success of these programs can be seen in the Delivering on Restaurant Rewards brief published by PYMNTS and Paytronix back in January 2021 (1). Data showed that the average monthly amount of single loyalty program user spent on food orders in 2020 was almost double compared to a non-user. This difference was even greater comparing consumers who ordered takeout from dine-in restaurants. “Consumers’ rapid adoption of these apps may have been spurred by the pandemic, given that in-app ordering minimizes contact and time spent onsite,” said the PYMNTS report (1, 4). But “QSRs will likely continue to benefit from increased loyalty program usage in years to come.”
Here are what industry experts have to say about customer loyalty programs and how it can drive your restaurant’s marketing plan in 2021.
Customer loyalty programs offer a way for restaurants to directly engage with their customers on a regular basis. According to Kelly Beaton from the Food Institute, these programs cater to the demand for value and convenience, and restaurants in 2021 must "consider implementing loyalty programs to stay competitive" (2). For example, consider companies that have recently added a loyalty program in the past year, such as Mcdonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell and White Castle. As many as “12% of QSR operators have launched a loyalty program in the past year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Industry report,” Beaton added (2, 3).
Another study by the B2B platform PYMNTS found that loyalty and mobile apps were two QSR sales channels that have become even more effective during the pandemic (4). PYMNTS also listed examples of the most profitable loyalty programs from QSRs such as , Mexican Grill and , which have seen “record-high loyalty program participation as well as high digital sales growth” (4).
Value has become an essential piece in brand loyalty, owing to the economic impact of the pandemic. More than ever, loyalty programs are “being looked at through lens of value,” said Gina Fleck, senior director of strategy and insights and promotion and loyalty solutions at . (5). “Customers want to make sure that they are getting a strong return both in terms of how they earn and how they redeem.”
It goes without saying that if your loyalty program can offer your guests this added value, your business can benefit from return guests and more sales. The best example of this is the Starbucks Loyalty Program. “Starbucks has seen huge success with its loyalty program because of the seamless app experience that makes it easy to order and pay,” Fleck said (5). From easy payment, rewards and benefits such as free refills on brewed coffee, birthday gifts, and the ability to send other members gift cards and hear about upcoming promotions, there are various benefits for the user that allows customers to stretch the program’s value. “It’s not just about the digital experience,” adds Fleck, “it’s the entire customer experience and finding ways to create value and convenience end to end.” The perceived value of your loyalty program will be a crucial component for marketing in 2021.
According to the Punchh website, a San Mateo, CA based loyalty and engagement platform for businesses, “Personalized experiences are what turns anonymous buyers to loyal super fans” (6). These experiences can be as subtle as seeing your name written on your coffee cup, getting a birthday message, or receiving recommendations based on their favorite menu items. It’s little moments like these that engage customers and build relationships. This is exactly how Punchh helps their customers develop their loyalty programs. "Building rewarding relationships with guests as they move along on the journey from anonymous buyers to loyal superfans is the key to building Customer lifecycle loyalty,” they advised (6). Operations should “prioritiz(e) convenience, safety and create customer-centric experiences that build loyalty such as delivering dynamic offers and marketing campaigns that drive Omnichannel engagement across the lifecycle."
No longer can you discount the power of data. According to Andy Wood, the managing director of GI Insight, a full-service database marketing company based in the UK, “a loyalty program provides a sophisticated means of tracking every transaction between a customer and a brand so that the Big Data can then be analyzed to better understand the buyer's habits and needs” (7). In fact, he calls Big Data the “secret weapon” behind loyalty programs. “In the age of Big Data, the loyalty program is fundamental for companies wanting to achieve a customer-focused approach,” Wood stated. “A full program provides your company with the information and tools it needs to retain your best and most promising customers—but it also equips you to extend those relationships by encouraging return purchases and greater spending.” One McKinsey study even found that that “executive teams that make extensive use of customer data analytics across all business decisions saw a over companies that don’t” (8).
Using the provided data to craft a message and storytelling that resonates with your target customer base, your business can launch new products that your loyal customers are more likely to enjoy. This data-driven marketing approach is key to growth, and at the end of the day, helps restaurants save time and resources.
Shyam Rao, Co-Founder & CEO of Punchh, recently gave a webinar with Nation’s Restaurant News reporting the sales data from his 225 customers—which combined serves 175 million consumers (9). Examining the sales data from March 2020, he found that anonymous sales dipped by 55% right after the outbreak, but loyalty sales declined less, only by 36%. Meanwhile, anonymous sales took 15 weeks to recover 90% of pre-COVID sales level, while loyalty sales took only 9 weeks to recover (9). “Loyalty sales recovered quicker and actually bounced back higher,” he said. “So this is one of the reasons why loyalty is so critical.”
Are you interested in adopting a loyalty program in your restaurant in 2021?
Here are some resources that can help you start. You can also reach us via our contact page, where we can guide you through implementing a successful loyalty program for your business.
Retaining Restaurant Employees During the Pandemic
5 Effective Ways to Reduce Turnover
The pandemic has brought a talent crisis to the restaurant industry, with a recent survey showing that more than 55% of hiring managers had difficulty sourcing hourly workers, while about 45% expressed difficulty scheduling interviews (1,2). The pool of younger workers in the industry is also expected to drop sharply in the next five to ten years (3), and workers are also leaving the restaurant industry for good in search of “more stable, reliable jobs” (4).
With most restaurant operators in a tighter bind to find new talent, high employee turnover has come at a greater cost. Retaining employees during the pandemic has become a critical factor in ensuring your restaurant's success long term.
Here we suggest five operators can reduce employee turnover.
Identify stressors and eliminate them.
Detecting why your employees leave and addressing them before that happens is a powerful strategy for employee retention. According to Theresa Navarra from Upserve, a restaurant POS and management software company based in Providence, RI, this is especially true for restaurant industry workers who face a high degree of stress every day (5). “For employees that leave or are unhappy, a common complaint is that they feel as if no one is in their corner and they receive minimal support,” said Navarra.
One such stressor that is highly relevant in 2021 is safety concerns around COVID-19. “Employees are considering their personal safety as a priority these days,” said Danny Klein from QSR Magazine (6). Restauranteurs should consider the following: Does the restaurant have low-contact options, including delivery, drive-thru, and curbside pickup? Is there proper enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing? Temperature checks and counter shields for increased safety? These are all factors that impact your employee's safety and can even be a cause for high employee turnover (6).
Other workplace stressors could include lack of flexible scheduling, conflicts between coworkers, or lack of transparency and communication. “As an owner or manager, identifying the stressors in your restaurant is the first step to working to eliminating them (or at least making them more manageable),” said Navarra (6). “Talk to your staff regularly about their pain points and ask them how you can help.”
Engage Your Employees
There are many benefits to having engaged employees. One Gallup poll found that team members with higher engagement levels generally produced better outcomes, treated customers better and attracted new ones, and were even more likely to remain with their organization than those who were less engaged (7). Another poll showed that "over half of disengaged employees will look for another job, and almost three-fourths will want to quit" (8).
Consider having your employees be a regular part of the business' decision-making process to increase employee engagement. These decisions do not have to be big ones—they can be as small as choosing uniform styles, weighing in their opinions on new policies, or even allowing them to choose the background music. Allowing your employees to be a part of the business decision-making process has many advantages, and according to one Harvard Business School article, team decision-making positively impacts employee engagement and enables collaboration and communication (9). It also makes employees feel heard and holds them accountable for their decisions, which also boosts their motivation and loyalty. These sentiments, when all combined, go a long way to making sure that your employees stay with you and your business.
These are uncertain times, and restaurant workers, like everyone else, don’t want to be kept in the dark. “Understandably, restaurant workers are scared,” said Nick Powills, Chief Brand Strategist for No Limit Agency, based in Chicago (10). “Leaders need to alleviate that fear while being transparent about the challenges facing their business.”
While transparency has always been a cornerstone for building and maintaining great workplace culture, transparency has without a doubt become a top priority in this pandemic. Employees who are disgruntled by poor management are likely to leave their jobs, including their top talents, and that's why operators must communicate openly with their staff. For example, discuss with your employees and new policies or changes in the business before they happen; let employees know when you’re expecting a busy week, so they can be prepared for what’s to come. Operators can also set up text and email threads or even intranet hubs with regular updates about the business and resources for employees who need help (10). According to Powills, these small steps “will advance idea generation and empower teams to work proactively, rather than defensively, to face their challenges” (10).
Raise Your Value
Consider the value your business gives to its employees. For employees, a good job is one where their needs are met and are catered to. A great one is one that gives them ways to develop as better workers and versions of themselves, “one they can’t get anywhere else” (11).
Employee retention increases when your business’s value increases. Giving new opportunities to your team members and supporting their professional growth will increase this value and increase the likelihood of your best talents sticking with you long term. For example, gotlanded.com surveyed 1,000 job candidates and found that 29% of the interviewees prioritized learning and growth opportunities, while salary came at 23 percent and location at 20 percent (12).
According to Vivian Wang from QSR Magazine, operators who wish to retain employees long-term should “think carefully about growth opportunities even if candidates are applying for an entry-level, minimum-wage job, and building career progression into all roles” (13). “This is exactly how Ricky Girardi, previously director of HR and Training at a Chick-fil-A franchise, approached it,” Wang said. He helped reduce employee turnover from almost 200 percent to less than 50 percent in just 16 months by recruiting more thoughtfully and building an environment that promoted employee retention (13). “This involved him bringing in good talent even if they had low availability, being open to hiring younger staff that they could cultivate into long-term employees, and giving existing team members plenty of opportunities to take on more responsibility.”
The second-best strategy to increase your business’s value and reduce employee turnover, not surprisingly, is increasing wages. For example, Upserve’s data team pulled the numbers from their 10,000+ customer database and found that employee turnover was lowest in states with a higher minimum wage (14). In one of their articles, “8 Ways to Reduce Staff Turnover in the Restaurant Industry,” Stephanie Resendes, Upserve's Content Marketing Coordinator, argues that a raise is cheaper than financing restaurant turnover in the long term.
Good workplace culture
Finally, create a positive workplace culture. Research shows that having your team composed of staff whose personality and values align with that of the business are happier and more productive (16). It is this link between employee happiness, engagement, and productivity that lowers turnover and produces profit, and there are many additional benefits to a well-established workplace culture that help cultivate a unique restaurant identity, engage employees and attract customers (17). You can read more about what work culture is and how you can make a great one in our previous blog article here (17).
Your employees are one of your business’s greatest assets. They form the foundation of your brand and contribute much more than their hours by dedicating their abilities, knowledge, and experience to the business. While retaining employees takes effort and hard work, it is important to recognize that it is far easier and costs less to retain an employee than hiring and training a recruit. Consider ways to increase your business's value to your employees and cultivate a positive workplace culture that supports their well-being and growth. Not only will you see an impact in lowering turnover rates, but you'll also most likely find your business reaping profits when your workers are more engaged and productive.
What is Your Restaurant Culture?
Three Reasons Why an Authentic Restaurant Culture Keeps Staff and Guests Engaged
Though words like “work culture” and “cultural fit” have been controversial in the recruiting realm (1), there is no denying that restaurants with excellent work culture benefit from happy employees and many loyal customers.
So what do we mean by culture? And what does it mean to have a great one? In this article, we define culture as a set of guiding or shared organizational values that define behaviors and a restaurant’s operations. According to Denise Lee Yohn, a marketing guru for QSR Magazine, great work culture can be unique to each restaurant, and when done well, attract customers, engage employees and enable better decision making (2).
Here are Three Reasons why we think creating an Authentic Restaurant culture can benefit your business.
Every guest walks inside a restaurant with a set of expectations that is unique to the brand. For example, a person who walks into a Fast Food Chain may expect a fast, no-fuss, and efficient service. Meanwhile, the same person is likely to enter a family diner expecting an entirely different experience like a welcoming atmosphere or friendly customer service.
A great restaurant culture works the same way and is a reflection of the restaurant’s brand and identity. According to James Eling, Founder of Marketing 4 Restaurants, a restaurant's culture is “the way things are done around here” (3). Culture is what is integrated into your business’s core values, vision and purpose. “Your competitors can copy your Menus, your recipes, your process and your ingredients, but the one thing that they can’t copy is your Culture,” said Eling (3)
This is good news because it means that once restaurants create a distinctive and unique work culture that people find authentic, your guests can separate their brand apart from competitors. That’s how you attract attention and draw new guests in.
According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Culture report, almost 9 out of 10 millennials said they would consider taking a pay cut if they could work at a company whose mission and values align with their own (4).
It's no surprise then that having your team composed of staff whose personality and values align with that of the business are happier and more productive (5). It is this link between employee happiness, engagement and productivity that lowers turnover and produces profit.
For this to happen, leaders should “understand that the people within the organization are their best instruments to accomplish the mission they have at hand and by nurturing, developing and leading the team effectively,” said Christopher Conner, the president of Franchise Marketing Systems (6). A great work culture “starts at the top.” Top management should lead by example, communicate with the team often and share the vision of where the business is headed. When employees trust their managers, they can be both "energized and focused on accomplishing both the company and personal goals," said Conner (6).
Though most associate work culture as something defined by the management and employees, one shouldn’t underestimate the impact that employee engagement has on customers.
For example, Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” survey found that happy employees also created happy customers. (7).
A restaurant’s culture is a bigger part of your brand identity and brand promise. Denise Lee Yohn from QSR Magazine uses Southwest, Zappos and Virgin to exemplify great work culture (1). When done right, great work culture is shown in the “personality of their employees and the style with which they served customers created a distinctive customer experience that people talked about and their brands became known for" (1).
Similarly, how Café Rio Mexican Grill manages their team “makes their culture palpable to their customer” (1). Cyrus DeVere, the chief people officer at Café Rio Mexican Grill, described his company's culture with four E's: Energy, Emotion, Excitement, and Enthusiasm (1). When employees display these E’s to their guests, it conveys urgency and attention to detail that customers can latch onto (1).
How to start:
To create a business and authentic company culture, it is essential for operators to consider what kind of experience they want to make for their guests and staff (8). According to Jessica Reimer, Content Producer for 7Shifts, an employee scheduling app company, businesses should “list out actions or behaviors (big and small) that make this experience possible. From there, it’s all about embedding these values into your day-to-day operations and finding ways to show your staff just how valuable their work, opinions, and ideas are” (8).
For example, what do you hope to accomplish as a restauranteur? What do you value? Is it community? Honesty? Hospitality and service? Health? Once the core values are chosen, a restaurant should actively and consistently communicate those values to staff and guests.
“Don’t just tell people what you stand for—show them what you stand for,” said Reimer (8). If one of your core values is transparency, it will go against your established restaurant culture to serve a product that doesn't meet that standard. Your staff should also mirror this value (transparency) by being open to your guests about what is in the food or how it was sourced or prepared.
Openly communicating strong values will help you educate your employees and connect to your customers about what your brand stands for. When done consistently, this can help your business build employee trust and customer loyalty.
How to Adjust Your Restaurant Recruiting Process to Cure Your Staffing Woes
By Bora Kang, Colin Kopel
Restaurant staffing was hard enough before the pandemic, with common hurdles such as no-shows, mistake hires and high turnover rates (1). But the COVID-19 pandemic may have only made it worse. Despite the fact there are more unemployed foodservice workers and less competition now that there have been more than 100,000 restaurant closures nationwide (2, 3), most restaurants face a tighter labor market, and operators are finding themselves in a bind to find more talent. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), for example, 30% of restaurant operators admitted that they have job openings that are difficult to fill (4).
Moreover, the pool of younger workers in the industry is expected to drop sharply in the next five to ten years, with the NRA predicting 1.2 million fewer 16 to 24-year-olds in the labor force by 2028 (4). This signifies a drop in younger recruits that compose a larger part of the restaurant workforce, not to mention how workers may be leaving the restaurant industry for good in search of more stable, reliable jobs (5).
According to an analysis from Workstream, a text recruiting and hiring tool for local businesses, this is partly due to the disruptions in the normal hiring process (6). In their recent survey, more than 55% of hiring managers (out of the 5,000 interviewed) said they had difficulty sourcing hourly workers, while about 45% expressed difficulty scheduling interviews. Desmond Lim, the founder and CEO of Workstream, stated that the applicants may be concerned about the virus and may also look for additional benefits beyond competitive pay (7). These benefits could include a safe work environment, proper enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing; they could also include paid leave, flexibility to communicate and schedule shifts via a mobile device, as well as stability (7).
So, what can restaurant operators do to improve the hiring process and ensure that you have the best applicant pool? Here are some tips on streamlining your hiring process.
You may have candidates applying to positions and they are over or under-qualified. An easy-to-make mistake is dismissing their applications entirely without taking a closer look at their resumes and seeing what else they have to offer. For example, you might have candidates applying for server positions who can still be qualified to be server assistants; there may be a bartender applicant with no previous bartender training but a perfect fit for a server. Instead of judging a candidate based on their qualifications for a specific position, consider the candidate based on their experiences, behaviors and what they can offer. Match them a job that you think fits them best and send them an offer, notifying them of potential growth opportunities, if not possible cross-training. Doing this accomplishes two things. It increases the number of applicants you can select from. Second, it increases the attractiveness of your business because it communicates to the applicants that you are willing to help them grow.
Flexibility and communication are crucial components to attracting and hiring your best candidates. Having a recruiting software, preferably one that allows you to track applicants and automate tasks such as screening and scheduling, helps to make hiring faster and more efficient. Letting candidates schedule ahead of time and on times allowed in their schedule also increases interview attendance rates. A text-driven scheduling system is also a powerful tool that increases interview turn-out.
Be Quick to Respond
Speed is one of the most critical factors in recruiting, particularly in the restaurant industry. "The first employer to respond with an interview and offer almost always snags the best people," stated an article by Paradox, an AI integrated recruiting software company that now works with Wendy's (8). In order to respond to the candidates as fast as possible, recruiting software help to automate tasks like screening, scheduling and candidate Q&A. Such programs allow hiring managers to stay ahead of their competitors in accessing their best candidates early and allow room for more flexibility in hiring workers who are the best fit for their restaurant.
While recruiting software is not necessarily needed to hire new workers, operators should always stay active in the hiring process, and be prompt in responding and offering applicants their interviews.
Likewise, you should be ready to offer your best applicants jobs on site. It is not at all unusual for candidates to schedule multiple interviews in a day. You could lose a good hire if you wait more than a few days to offer them the position. If you are unable to make a decision quickly, you should at least follow up with the candidate and communicate when you would notify them of your decision.
Always be Hiring
Post open positions online, as well as positions that are likely to open. Here are some top search engines and job boards where you can post jobs online, recommended by CareerPlug. See (9).
You should also always be on the lookout for suitable candidates to join the team. We recommend that you schedule interviews every week so that if there are open positions or a sudden shortage of staff, you have a list of candidates you can consider.
Still Consider Fit
Although you may be struggling to find new candidates to fill an open position, it's best to keep in mind that a rushed hire may end up causing more trouble for you in the future. Hiring recruits without considering professional and cultural fit—beliefs, behaviors, and values of an individual and how it aligns with those of your organization—can result in employee isolation, dissatisfaction and ultimately, employee turnover. We recommend prioritizing your business's core values and seek candidates you feel share your restaurant and team's values.
Considering that hiring will only become more difficult in the future, operators must learn to adjust their restaurant recruiting practices to make hiring easier during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
How COVID-19 Vaccination Will Roll Out in Food Service
With the COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out in phases, there has been a question of when or how the vaccines would be administered to those in foodservice. Here is an overview of what is important:
Here in Georgia (1), the COVID-19 vaccinations are currently being administered to those in Phase 1a+, which includes:
Once the vaccinations move into Phase 1b, it will include other essential workers (non-healthcare) who “perform job tasks across critical infrastructure sectors, ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health, safety, economic and national security” (2). This group would include those in food & agriculture, which includes food service employees.
Keep in mind that priority groups for vaccination are decided by state, based on the recommendations from the Federal Government. The CDC recommendation originally classified foodservice workers in the third group, 1c, in the first wave of Americans to receive the vaccine along with people ages 65-74, adults with underlying medical conditions and other essential workers like transportation, construction, and public health workers, but some states like Georgia have placed foodservice workers in 1b.
To find out your state’s vaccination plan, visit your state’s Department of Health website.
Georgia residents can visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine as well as https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-vaccine-rollout-plan
Vaccination Guidance for Employers
The National Restaurant Association’s stance on vaccinating foodservice workers has been strong, stating that the vaccination would “help the entire food and restaurant industry continue growing, selling and serving healthy food even in times of crisis” (3).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has permitted employers to make the COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in the workplace as long as the worker “poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others." Still, the big question has been how employers can implement this approach (4).
While many chains have not yet announced how they will approach vaccinations for employees, some companies are offering incentives to make vaccination more favorable to their workers (4). For example, Darden Restaurants Inc. will be offering 4 paid hours of pay to their workers for getting the vaccine, as will McDonalds (5).
"The key is for an employer to determine the basis for whichever approach it takes, to lay it out early," said Kathy Dudley Helms, a member of labor and employment law firm Ogletree Deakins' Coronavirus Taskforce and Healthcare Practice Group (6). It is also essential to "educate employees as to the need and the requirements [of the vaccine]."
Also, if employers have various types of workers, a “hybrid” may work in many situations. For example, those in front of the house may be required to have the vaccine, while those in BOH may be allowed to take it or not voluntarily. “Again, an employer needs to be able to articulate why he or she is making the choice that it is” (6).
How to Get Vaccinated
When you are eligible for the vaccine (this will depend on the current vaccine phase of your state), you can get vaccinated at select COVID-19 vaccination sites or a local vaccine provider listed in your state’s department of public health website.
For Georgia residents, https://dph.georgia.gov/locations/covid-vaccination-site
Unfortunately, vaccine supply is still limited, even though new orders arrive each week. We recommend that you set up an appointment first before you arrive.
IMPORTANT UPDATES ON THE EMPLOYEE RETENTION TAX CREDIT FOR EMPLOYERS
If you are a small restaurant or business with 500 or fewer employees and you have had more than a 20% decline of gross receipts in a quarter compared to 2019, you may be interested in hearing about this latest news regarding the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). And thanks to the new provision in the law, yes, this applies even if you have already applied for the first or second draw PPP loan.
What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit?
The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable, advanceable tax credit for employers equal to 70% of qualified wages that Eligible Employers pay their employees, which includes allocable qualified health plan expenses (1). The ERTC was first designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll during the COVID-19 Pandemic and is now a way to help businesses that suffered significant revenue reductions from the pandemic.
See full IRS article here:
How much is the Tax Credit Worth?
According to the new provision, the ERTC is worth different amounts for last year and 2021.
For wages paid between 3/12/2020 and 1/1/2021: the maximum credit a business can claim is 50% of eligible wages, up to $5,000 per employee.
For wages that will be paid between 1/1/2021 and 7/1/2021, employers can claim 70% of qualifying wages of up to $10,000 per quarter. This means that businesses could receive a maximum of $14,000 per employee.
For more details, see:
Who is Eligible?
Before December 2020, only businesses with 100 or fewer employees qualified for the ERTC, and only those who did not receive a PPP loan.
However, the new provision in the CARES Act via the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020, amended and extended the ERTC (and the availability of certain advance payments of the tax credits). Businesses with 500 or fewer employees qualify if they have experienced a decline in gross receipts by more than 20% in any quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Here is more on the new ERTC eligibility criteria provided by the US Chamber of Commerce. See https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/coronavirus-employee-retention-tax-credit-guide
How do businesses claim this credit?
According to the IRS, eligible employers should report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns, which will be Form 941 for most employers, beginning the second quarter of 2020. If a company's employment tax deposits do not cover the credit cost, employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.
Employers that may be eligible for the ERTC should talk to their accountants or tax preparers. The IRS is also continually updating their guidance on the ERTC, so check back on the IRS website here, https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/news-releases-for-current-month or contact the IRS for further questions.
Here are some important resources you should check out regarding this topic:
Ask IRS directly: https://www.irs.gov/help/telephone-assistance
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on the ERTC: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-employee-retention-credits-general-information-faqs
US Chamber of Commerce on ERTC: http://uschamber.com/ertc
Small Business Resources: https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/reports/coronavirus-response-resources#smallbiz
Also, feel free to check out our earlier article on the Second Draw PPP Loan, here: https://goliathconsulting.blog/2021/01/14/the-second-draw-ppp-loan-the-latest-news-and-next-steps-for-restaurants-and-small-businesses/
BEVERAGE TRENDS OF 2021: NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Now that 2021 is finally here, it’s out with the old and in with the new. And in the business side of beverages, no topic is more trendy right now than “functional beverages.” Functional drinks are just what it sounds like. They’re beverages that serve a “function,” or basically, products that claim to benefit health, wellness or performance (1).
And according to The Hartman Group’s Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 report, 29 percent of consumers have been consuming more functional foods and beverages since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (2).
The growing concern of the pandemic and awareness for health is shifting consumer preferences towards healthier beverages, and less-sugared, natural products with minimal artificial ingredients are being favored over the sugared juices or carbonated soft drinks (3). Clean, plant-based and healthy ingredients are also reflecting the consumers’ desire to boost immunity.
“Consumers will aim to improve physical health by paying closer attention to macronutrients, maintaining a healthy weight, and choosing products suggested to boost immunity,” wrote Holly McHugh, Marketing Consultant at Imbibe, a Chicago-based beverage development company (4). “Ingredients that promote gut health, improve hydration and have anti-inflammatory properties will be in the spotlight. Superfoods that are naturally rich in immune-boosting ingredients like elderberry, acerola cherry, apple cider vinegar, ginger and turmeric will be popular. Brands will also fortify products with ingredients like zinc, vitamin C, probiotics and prebiotics” (4).
This trend has also spurred the growth of the non-alcoholic drink market. According to Donna Berry, writer for Food Business News, consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z’ers, are “reaching for no- and low-alcohol options that provide the experience of imbibing but without the possible negative effects…in their quest for balance and health” (5).
More interesting is the changing behavior of the drinking majority. One NRN article reported that more people are now “more mindful about how much and when they drink” (1). “They are comfortable deciding not to drink on occasion. It is not a foregone conclusion that drinkers drink every time they visit a restaurant or bar.”
That’s why we think non-alcoholic drinks will help restaurant operators tap into that potential market.
Alcohol-free cocktails are nothing new, but what will be different in 2021 is how they’ll be prepared. According to Julieta Campos, Beverage Consultant and Bar Manager at Chicago’s Whistler, these spiritless cocktails will be more focused on fresh ingredients, as well as “nuanced flavors and stylish presentations of leading craft cocktails” (1).
That opens the door to endless possibilities. “There are very interesting cocktails that you can make without the use of alcohol,” says Perbellini, head mixologist at newly opened Nella Kitchen & Bar in Los Olivos, California (6). “You have to explore the flavors and use what you have in the house and improve the selection… It’s (also) a very good sales strategy because instead of offering sugary sparkling sodas for a low price, you can actually charge $7, $8, $10.”
Here’s some examples of cocktails from a Chicago Restaurant, Table at Crate, that showcase the trend perfectly: a Pretty in Pink (created by Julieta Campos), featuring a medley of green tea, sumac-pomegranate syrup and lime juice, shaken and strained over ice with a fresh tarragon sprig; a Cucumber Crush, a sports fresh grapefruit and lime juice and demerara sugar syrup, shaken and strained over ice with a cucumber wheel garnish (1).
The first drink emphasizes the antioxidant and inflammatory properties of the pomegranate juice to appeal to today’s consumers, and the second uses citrus fruits that help boost immunity. “These are thoughtfully made drinks,” says Campos (1). “You’re not stuck with a lemonade or an iced tea or some other afterthought.”
Zero Proof Spirits
Zero-proof spirits are still a novelty in the U.S., but they have started gaining a strong consumer base as a result of the health and wellness trend. It used to be that “Many of the leading non-alcoholic spirits that have emerged in the past decade hail from abroad,” said Nicole Duncan, Editor of FSR Magazine, “Seedlip, Three Spirit, and Borrego from the U.K.; Lyre’s from Australia; Ceder’s from Sweden; Abstinence from South Africa; and more” (6). Now, American brands are starting to enter this market, with brands like Ritual Zero Proof, Kin Euphorics, and Proteau.
According to the founders of Kentucky 74, a non-alcoholic bourbon, zero-proof spirits provide consumers a way to drink a “cleaner cocktail without the unwanted side effects of imbibing” (6). And these drinks can be as complex as their alcoholic counterparts. The distilled non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, for example, takes six weeks to make and is a blend of complex herbs, spices, and barks selected to create a delicate flavor (7). And despite the earlier skepticism, the non-alcoholic movement seems to be gaining traction as more consumers look beyond alcohol and seek alternatives that offer a new kind of sophistication.
Zero-proof spirits and cocktails address this gap in the market, said Duncan (6). But it’s also important to recognize that the power of this trend has “less to do with proof and more to do with how it redefines the dining and drinking out experience.
Here are some examples of elevated zero-proof cocktails that you can try: Seedlip’s Praying Mantis-Style, a spin on the gin sour that features English pea syrup and celery bitters (7). The Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey’s Hot Toddy uses their zero alcohol whiskey and brings out the citrus notes from the orange and lemon meld perfectly with the spice of the cinnamon and clove (8).
Low Cal, Low Carb Drinks
Drinks that are focused on weight loss, such as those made with sugar-free sweeteners, are also expected to trend this year as many try “to lose the extra pounds gained during the quarantine,” said McHugh (4). “Consumers will also be focused on getting in shape and to improve overall health. Launches of sports nutrition products like protein drinks, electrolyte replenishers, performance enhancers, energy boosters and weight-loss elixirs will increase.”
It’s the Millennials and Gen Z who will be driving this trend forward. “Health and wellness are cited as important purchase drivers for Millennials,” said Scott Helstad, technical services adviser, Cargill, a global food corporation situated in Minneapolis (5). In fact, his company’s trend report says 60% of millennials often opt for a lower-calorie drink.
One way non-alcoholic beverages could appeal to these generations is to offer cocktails that are low in calories and carbs. “This will include reducing sugar or swapping it out for natural low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and allulose, improving nutrient density and incorporating plant-based, functional and clean label ingredients,” said McHugh (4). Zero-proof alcohols are also great in that some brands (such as Ritual Zero Proof) advertise their products as having little to no calories (8).
Here are some examples of low calorie/ low carb cocktails that we like: Chef Diane Hendricks’s Watermelon Moscow mule, using freshly grated ginger, club soda and stevia muddled with watermelon and lime juice—only 110-calories per concoction with the added alcohol (9). A margarita sweetened with stevia would rack up just 110-125 calories, compared to the 200-300 calorie average.
Are you looking to maximize sales and efficiency in your beverage program? Is your restaurant considering a bar reorganization for the new year? Goliath Consulting Group offers a full suite of bar and beverage programs, from inventory, costing, and custom cocktail menus to staff training and safe alcohol practices. Contact GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com to learn how Goliath Consulting can help your restaurant today.
TOASTING THE NEW YEAR LIKE A PRO
How to select bubbles like a career wine buyer
“Champagne is not just for celebrations,” goes the old statement in every beverage manager training manual, “but champagne is perfect for celebrations!” It is time to bid farewell to a tumultuous 2020 and bring in the new year with an inside look at what beverage professionals will be pouring in their flutes this New Year’s Eve. From new world sparkling wine to champagne, prosecco, cava and so many more, there is a sparkling wine for every budget and palate.
Here are some of our favorites to usher in the new year:
The Standard Veuve Clicquot – Yellow Label Brut ($$$)
Starting off the list is one of the most notable sparkling wines from Champagne. Veuve’s Yellow Label is the signature champagne of the House and is a standard among wine lists everywhere. This dry (brut), balanced wine brings aromas of yellow and white fruits, vanilla, brioche bread. Take a sip and enjoy the citrus and pear flavors married with a silky-smooth texture. While enjoyed by sommeliers the world over, this classic champagne is the perfect introduction the sparkling wine newcomers.
The Crowd Pleaser La Marca Prosecco ($)
Twenty years ago, very few wine industry watchers would point to an Italian sparkling (prosecco) brand leading all sparkling wine sales in America. La Marca stands out as a giant in the industry presenting a crisp, clean product with aromas of honeysuckle, fresh lemon and tastes of green apple, peach, and citrus. It is light, subtly sweet, refreshing, and affordable. Pop this cork and it will be clear how it soared to top of national sales.
The Neo-Traditionalist Anna de Codorníu Cava – Blanc de Blancs ($)
Cava, the traditional Spanish sparkling wine, is on the rise and brings the best of old-world flavors and methodology at a price the everyday consumer can celebrate. Hailing from Catalonia, Spain, Cava is one of the most Champagne-like sparkling wines on the market. With fine bubbles and tropical fruit with sourdough notes on the nose, Anna’s creamy, dry, long-lasting finish leaves your palate craving more.
The New-World Connoisseur Schramsberg Brut Rosé ($$)
Think the best sparkling wines come from across the Atlantic? Think again. Schrambsberg Vineyards crafts their brut rosé in the Méthode Traditionnelle (a labor-intensive process where wine goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle – requiring each bottle to be rotated carefully by hand). Do not be fooled by this sparkling wine’s blush appearance, Schramsberg’s Brut Rosé is a dry sparkling wine with candied orange and raspberry preserve aromas followed by tastes of vanilla, strawberry shortcake, lemon curd, and peach. This is California winemaking at its best!
The “Saying Goodbye to 2020 is Priceless” Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc De Blancs 2007 ($$$)
For a sparkling wine to carry a vintage (most are combinations of multiple years’ crops to preserve consistency), the region must have an exceptional year for grapes. In 2007, Carneros experienced an excellent year with ideal warmth, producing ripe and complex wines. Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs is a standout of this growing season. Produced in the Méthode Champenoise (another name for méthode traditionnelle) by The Tattinger Family (of Champagne, France fame), this sparkling wine contains an intense bouquet of ginger, baked pear, citrus and a palate of white peach, green apple, and toasted almond. Savor the balanced acidity and silky mouthfeel while welcoming a new year with new possibilities!
Goliath Consulting Group knows sparkling wine, but we also offer a full suite of bar and beverage programs. From inventory, costing, and custom cocktail menus to staff training and safe alcohol practices, Goliath helps clients maximize their beverage programs. Contact us at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com and let us know how we may be of service to your concept.
FIVE WAYS AI CAMERAS WILL HELP YOUR BUSINESS IN 2021
In our last restaurant technology blog, we discussed COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the growth and development of AI voice technology and how it was quickly modernizing the drive-thru operations as we know it (1). The very same technology has been working on cameras, too. AI tech now enables cameras to perform designated tasks, recognize faces, and alert managers when issues arise in operations (2). In 2021 and beyond, cameras will not be a simple surveillance tool. Rather, it will be what distinguishes restaurants from the old and the new.
Here we list 5 ways camera tech can improve your business in the new year and beyond.
1. COVID-19 Safety
We cannot discuss restaurant AI without first addressing the pandemic. COVID-19 has been a powerful driving force for AI tech particularly in this industry, as stay-at-home orders, social distancing and other safety measures forced operators to rethink how they interact with their staff and guests.
The upsurge and adoptions of other AI systems will increase as demand in touchless technology increases. Even with the vaccine, we expect the focus on safety and hygiene to remain. This is where AI powered cameras will come in handy. According to David Chen, co-founder and director of engineering at Orbbec 3D Technology International, Inc., a manufacturer of 3D cameras, 3D cameras can now be equipped with algorithms that count, track, and log not only the number of humans in a room, but their position and grouping (2). This would be helpful in situations where social distancing must be enforced.
Cameras can also be programmed with new algorithms that can monitor whether people are wearing masks and complying with public health guidance, with facial recognition now being developed so that it can even accurately identify faces even through the masks or face coverings (3, 4).
2. Touchless Service
Cameras will also allow restaurants to serve customers in a touchless environment. Self-order kiosks using smart cameras is sure to become more prevalent as customers prefer a contactless order service. In modern Asian street food restaurant Wow Bao, for example, as well as the fast-growing high-end burger chain, BurgerFi, self-order kiosks with smart cameras have been in use even before the pandemic (5). For example, the cameras would recognize regular customers and make suggestions based on a customer’s previous order history. According to Christopher Sebes, President of Xenial, Inc., producer of such self-order kiosks, this means increased productivity and customer satisfaction (1). “Once you opt into facial recognition, you can reorder and pay for your favorite dish in less than 10 seconds,” he added.
3D cameras also equate to smarter, faster payments. Some research suggests that cameras can be “more accurate than fingerprints or any other form of biometric identification” (2). In this way, 3D cameras not only speed up payment, but also opens opportunities for restaurants to introduce instant loyalty programs. “It allows for faster repeats of past orders and removes the need for credit card swipes or taps,” said Chen, “3D cameras can actually follow hand gestures as customers “air point” to the items they want, as presented on a screen or menu board. The technology enables customers to order one, two or more of any item, adding to their total order as quickly as they can gesture” (2). And the best part? “learning curves are small to non-existent.”
3. Quality Control
When smart cameras were introduced to Domino’s Pizza back in 2019, it was for Domino’s to access whether their pizzas were coming out of their ovens in the right shape, with the right toppings, and cooked properly and ready to go (6). The camera even took pictures of the pizza and Domino’s sent them to customers to show that their pizza had been made properly.
In 2021, however, most camera AI will allow restaurant operators to use photos to show customers that their food had been handled properly by their staff. It will answer questions that customers want answered post-pandemic. For example, did the employee wash their hands? Did they clean the surfaces? Are they wearing gloves? Are they wearing a mask? According to Jenny Splitter of Forbes magazine, this is how restaurants can earn customer trust after the pandemic, since “the end customer, then, can feel a little more comfortable knowing the restaurant followed proper cleanliness procedures” (7).
4. Improve Management and Productivity
Manually keeping track of employee hours can take time and effort, but with facial recognition time clocks installed in AI cameras, checking-in and checking-out employees will offer operators an accurate system with virtually no human error, more security, and the ability to manage your team on the cloud (2).
The AI camera/surveillance system can also evaluate interactions between customers and employees, “track(ing) how quickly food arrives at tables, or how often servers check on diners. The system then offers managers suggestions on how to optimize restaurant operations, and alerts managers of “noteworthy events,” like when wait times run long, and can notify servers if a visitor’s water glass needs a refill” (8).
What this means for operators is that they can use information obtained from AI camera to operation costs and drive revenue by monitoring employees and diners to figure out corrections. They can also use this information to train and educate their staff. All in all, camera AI has the potential to “empower restaurant operators to reduce operation costs and drive revenue” (8).
And for those who may be concerned about privacy, “cameras can be positioned above the employee so that faces aren’t captured. Some of the company’s more recent customers even include kitchens at military bases who are required to keep those faces off camera” (6).
5. Better Delivery
Off-premise dining will continue trending in 2021, with the food delivery market expected to expand (1). According to Dragontail Systems, a Camera AI company based in Melbourne, Australia, camera AI can help ensure order accuracy and improve efficiencies.
For example, their cameras can optimize the food prep process from order to delivery to save time and money (9). The companies' camera cutting station can monitor food prep and cooking in kitchens, detecting order accuracy before it is picked up by delivery.
By optimizing the preparation, delivery and customer contact processes, operators can ensure higher kitchen productivity, lower delivery costs, faster turnaround and ultimately, happier customers (9).
The potential for camera tech to enhance all aspects of food ordering, restaurant operations and staff management is practically endless. 3D cameras will also enable stores to reopen safely, and aid in the recovery of the restaurant industry post-pandemic.
And as more businesses embrace AI, begin to change the customer experience and their expectations of what foodservice can be, we will surely see more restaurants adopt advanced camera technology.
THE 5 BIGGEST RESTAURANT FOOD TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2021
2020 has certainly been a year like no other for the industry. Through stay-at-home orders and extended shutdowns, restauranteurs had to be nimble and creative, relentlessly searching for new business avenues and strategies to keep their businesses afloat. Now that 2021 is only weeks away, we are making predictions on what the new year will bring.
Here are our top 5 food and restaurant trend predictions for 2021 and beyond.
Off-Premise Purchases Will Continue to Dominate
Off-premise dining, such as take-out, curbside and delivery, have grown significantly this year as quarantines, restrictions and mandated shutdowns forced restaurant owners to look for alternative ways to cover the loss of in-dining sales. Consumer behavior has also shifted, many preferring contactless options and off-premise dining than dining in. With the industry's recovery expected to be sluggish, some even estimating that the full recovery could take years (1), there’s little doubt that this trend of off-premise dining will continue to grow in 2021.
For example, a study conducted by a consumer insights company Sense360 found that more than half of consumers used delivery during the pandemic either by third-party or direct ordering since COVID-19 began (2). According to Danny Klein, Director of Digital Content at Food News Media and publisher of QSR Magazine, operators are learning and adapting their businesses by investing in direct or self-delivery. As opposed to third-party services, self-delivery allows restauranteurs to “control the experience and keep the fees down” (1). It is also a more cost-effective option for customers, which can help the self-delivery services grow in the long run.
The demand for drive-thru services has also grown because of the pandemic. According to a study conducted by the NPD Group, drive-thru restaurant visits increased by 26% in April, May, and June quarter and represented 42% of all restaurant visits. Surprisingly, this rate did not fall when restaurants began to reopen in July (3). On the contrary, drive-thru services have been “skyrocketing, and lines growing longer despite multi-lane concepts,” said the report. “Drive-thru visits still increased by 13%, the highest visit increase among the service modes of on-premises, carry-out, and delivery” (3).
Thanks to this trend, there has been no shortage of pandemic-inspired drive-thru concepts cropping up all over the nation (4). Here are some examples of creative minds at work: multi-lane drive-thru windows, dedicated pick-up windows for mobile and food delivery orders, orders delivered to vehicles, and our favorite—car dining accommodations such as overhangs, shades and dedicated parking spots.
Meal kits first started to get more families cooking at home. In 2021, that market will grow as meal kits provide all-in-one solutions for families staying at home and wanting easy, healthy and delicious meals. Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD, a member of Healthline’s Nutrition Team, says one of the reasons why people like meal kit delivery services is because “most of the prep work like grocery shopping, measuring, and cutting is already done. For a busy person who usually eats take-out during the week, this makes eating healthy much easier and convenient” (5).
Another reason people are turning to meal kits is that most of these companies offer ways to make healthier, more sustainable food choices. According to Davidson, the most popular meal kit companies such as the Daily Harvest, HelloFresh, Purple Carrot and the Good Kitchen all provide ways in which customers can enjoy nutritious and delicious foods that are either local, unprocessed or plant-based (5). A focus on local foods, sustainable practices and special diets has helped many of these companies gain favor, particularly in younger generations where they hold high value.
Fast-food chains are now also developing their own meal kits. Chick-fil-A, for example, started selling Chicken Parmesan Meal Kits in May (6). The meal is good for two people, featuring breaded chicken, garlic lemon pasta, marinara sauce complete with Italian-style cheeses. Even Dunkin’ Donuts has released their own DIY Donut Decorating Kit.
We have already seen significant growth in the meal kit delivery services during the pandemic, but there’s still good room to grow in 2021, considering that more people will be looking to dine off-premises and at home. Other ways meal kits are being delivered are through meal kit technology platforms such as Dailykit (7, 8) and through open marketplaces where high-end restaurants can sell meal kits to customers via intermediary companies such as Chef Meal Kits (9).
Mobile Apps and Data
Customer loyalty and rewards mean everything in this new information-driven age. In 2021, restaurant operators will be looking for new ways to reach and acquire online customers, with an aggressive focus on acquiring new mobile app users (1). “Restaurants are battling for digital supremacy as COVID rages on,” wrote Klein (10). In his new article about restaurant technology, he referenced a report from Incisiv, a marketing research firm based in New Jersey, how digital sales are expected to comprise 54% of limited-service business within the next five years (10, 11). With the rising popularity of mobile ordering, carry-out, and curbside pick-up, operators will have to engage the customers in the digital space.
It used to be that “these digital outlets were seen…as incremental levers or ways to reach new guests, especially via third-party delivery,” said Klein. For example, restaurants were trying to funnel third-party users into direct channels by using clever marketing tactics like cost-friendly options like take-out (10). But today, the digital experience will have to be seamless, as well as efficient. This means offering streamlined menu options, contactless delivery, as well as real-time order tracking. According to Incisiv, limited-service restaurants should also provide their guests with additional benefits such as documented safety measures, loyalty programs, offers, promotions and social media integration if they hope to grow their repeat customers (11).
And it seems that most operators agree. Incisiv’s recent survey revealed that 60% of limited-service restaurants already had intent on investing in mobile channels in the future (11).
Integration of AI Technology
The phrase “Restaurant of the Future” used to be reserved for businesses going out of their way to replace people with machines. Restaurant operators had to be careful implementing AI technology into their operations in case it “dehumanized” the restaurant experience (12). What would happen if smart kiosks started to replace waiters and cashiers? Many thought they would lose customers.
The tables have turned now that contactless, touchless have become the preferred way of ordering. Cameras, voice assistants, as well as other AI-integrated technology, will grow in 2021 and years to come as consumer preferences change and demand for more convenience. For example, bot and voice-enabled ordering by Alexa, Siri or Google Home allow customers to place their orders at home and retrieve their orders in a designated pick up location (13). Voice AI can also be implemented in drive-thrus (much like what McDonald's is doing now) with a machine-learning ability that improves their speed and accuracy based on actual orders and spoken language (13).
Camera technology will also evolve alongside voice-integrated tech. Dragontail Systems, the same system used by Domino’s to make sure that their pizzas were cooked, sliced up and boxed properly, announced recently that their system could now be used to detect important safety measures by making sure staff were wearing gloves and facemasks and monitoring how often a workspace is sanitized (14). Other camera systems, such as one developed in Tyrolabs, are now being utilized to identify their employees via facial recognition, with an added ability to tell whether people are wearing masks (15).
You can be sure that the digitalization of restaurants will become an essential element for businesses, as stated in this Deloitte report (16). Guests will be looking for these three things in restaurants in 2021: convenience, frictionless digital experiences and heightened safety.
It used to be that atmosphere, location, variety and novelty mattered most of all when one wanted to run a successful restaurant. That is less likely to be the case in 2021, as shown in this study by Sense360 (17). Their survey of more than a thousand consumers showed that customer perception of restaurant chains had shifted due to the pandemic. For example, the study found that the top 5 attributes that consumers wanted in restaurants were technology, care for the environment, good corporate values, good value for the money, and vegetarian options (17).
While the study indicates that these attributes do not necessarily reflect restaurant performance and profit during the pandemic, it is still an interesting study as it shows us shifting consumer behavior. The survey also supports the idea that 2021 trends will be driven by new tech, convenience and safety. Value will also be a strong driver as many of the population have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
But what about these two attributes, “caring for the environment” and “offering vegetarian options?” Kishan Vasani, a contributing author to the food & beverage innovation intelligence company Spoonshot, explains exactly why that may be the case (18). “Diets with low environmental impacts are becoming all the rage,” she said. “Interest in sustainable diets increased by 151.7% in the last five years and by 55.5% in the last year alone.”
Surprisingly, the pandemic may also have accelerated this trend. According to Melissa Abbott, VP of The Hartman Group, “the pandemic is forcing consumers to think about the environmental impact they’re causing when they order food with excess packaging and single-use plastics” (19). “Despite higher costs associated with organics and food grown without GMOs, consumers are demonstrating a willingness to spend more for products that are believed to be safer for themselves and the planet during the pandemic.”
As climate change becomes a hot issue in 2021, we can expect climatarian diets to become more prevalent. As a result, restaurants may have to shift their focus away from foods with a high carbon footprint (i.e., meat, cheese and imported, non-seasonal food), upcycling, and increasing food packaging sustainability to slow down climate change (19).
Trends have always reflected consumer behavior, and it will not be any different next year. In 2021, we will see restaurant owners using new technologies and innovations to cater to the growing demand for convenience, safety as well as sustainability. AI is quickly changing the way we operate our business and the momentum for new and innovative solutions will surely create new opportunities for restaurants to succeed.
Supply chain issues and Covid-19 are not making it easy to run a bar right now.
The Oktoberfest kegs are empty and public spaces are starting to light up with the holiday spirit. Most bar managers are pulling out their gingerbread martini and hot spiced rum recipes to fill their seasonal drink menus. But in 2020 and the midst of a pandemic, will the same old holiday cocktails appeal to guests? What trends and opportunities can bar programs leverage in the current market with different dining options and guest preferences?
Goliath Consulting Group analyzed data from our clients and national trends to identify some key options restaurants can utilize to expand their holiday business. Here are three innovative ideas to get in on the holiday action.
The Seltzer Market. Seltzers exploded on the scene in 2018 and continue to grow in market share. What started with a few key brands (White Claw, Truly, etc.) is now a booming segment with representation from all the big spirit and beer players. While some brands have flavors that are passable for the holiday season (Long Drink produces a highly rated cranberry seltzer), creating custom flavors is simple and full of endless possibilities. Use a traditional base spirit for your seltzer (vodka, neutral spirits) or spice it up with some gin, tequila, or rum. Look to flavors inspired by the season like spiced apple cider, sugar plum, cranberry maple. Use cinnamon sticks, candy canes, edible flowers to garnish the drinks. Insider tip: Seltzers typically have less than 6% abv. Drinks require less than an ounce of spirits.
Take Advantage of Modified To-Go Laws. With many municipalities modifying laws on delivery and to-go alcoholic beverages, restaurants have a lot of room to get creative. Most restaurant alcohol delivery programs function like food programs. Guests receive enough product for a single meal and an experience they may not typically be able to prepare at home. These options include cocktail kits or ‘build your own six packs.’ They are great for capturing the daily customer, but this holiday season is the time to think outside the box. Cocktail kits, large-format cocktail recipes for families, branded pos (typically provided free of charge from suppliers and distributors) make unique gifts may normally not be available to customers. Remember to check local laws before including alcohol in to-go programs. Some municipalities allow beer and wine only and some allow spirit sales with volume caps.
The Virtual Bar Lesson. Companies like MasterClass.com and the Great Courses offer opportunities for people to learn from experts and expand knowledge. It is time for restaurants hop on this trend and cater to the home mixologist. This group may have read a book on cocktails or watched a YouTube video or two and now they are prepared to make cocktails for the whole family…whether the family wants it or not. Restaurants can leverage their staff’s knowledge and guest service to bring regulars (and soon-to-be regulars) an experience like no other. A quick curriculum of seasonal quaffs mixed in with a signature cocktail or two can help the audience feel like craft cocktail connoisseurs. Use one of the multiple platforms like Zoom or Skype designed for interactive meetings and consider creating weekly curriculums that allow customers to participate based on specific subject material or join along for a ‘semester’ of bar knowledge.
Are you looking to maximize sales and efficiency in your beverage program? Is your restaurant considering a bar reorganization for the new year? The team at Goliath Consulting Group consists of industry professionals with experience in all areas of restaurant operations and marketing. Contact GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com to learn how Goliath Consulting can help your restaurant today.
From pumpkin spice to Chile de Arbol, here we dive into the restaurant industry’s top trending flavors and predict the ones that will last until 2021.
Fall flavors are dominating the market right now. Yelp’s recent data (from 9/21/2020) shows that searches for pumpkin spice foods were up dramatically from last year: pumpkin spice lattes were up 72%, pumpkin pie up 66%, pumpkin cheesecake up 242% and apple cider donuts were up 117% (1). Restaurants are taking advantage of this trend and accenting the flavors of fall in their menus. Take Bonefish Grill, for example, serving Grilled Swordfish & Pumpkin Ravioli with a Fresh Apple Martini made from house-infused apple cinnamon vodka, ginger liqueur, honey and apple juice (2). Meanwhile, Metro Diner is showcasing a variety of pumpkin themed breakfast items and desserts with their pumpkin style croissants, pancakes drizzled with pumpkin cream cheese icing and topped with cinnamon butter and candied pecans (2).
More consumers will be looking for foods tied with wellness and health during and after the pandemic, well into 2021. Immune-boosting foods high in vitamins, as well as fermented and foods high in probiotics have been trending this past couple of months, but botanicals have been the go-to trending “flavor” for being both healthy and delicious (3). According to The Hartman Group’s Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 Report, 29% of consumers said they were consuming more of these “functional foods” or beverages than before (4). “Functional flavors will shape the industry,” said Philip Caputo, marketing and consumer insights manager at Virginia Dare in an interview with Food Technology Magazine (3). “More specifically, the characterizing taste profiles from—or inspired by—highly functional ingredients, such as botanicals, spices, and healing herbs (e.g., turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, lavender, honey), will grow in popularity alongside the increased emphasis on emerging health trends.”
Japanese (2021 Olympics)
Demand for global flavors is up, particularly for Spanish, Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors, but the upcoming 2021 (previously 2020) Summer Olympics in Tokyo is spurring the resurgence of old favorites, such as matcha, as well as new ones like miso caramel (5). According to Yelp data, searches of Japanese glutinous rice “mochi” was up 96% from last year (1). Ibrahima Faye, a Senior Flavor Chemist at T. Hasegawa, stated that Yuzu, a Japanese citrus, could be a popular addition to the ongoing citrus trend, as yuzu offers an aroma “close enough to the well-known citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange and tangerine; but they offer a characterizing aroma profile that clearly distinguishes them from the traditional fruits” (5). Kalsec, a leading producer of natural spice and herb extracts, stated that we’d also expect to see an “increase in Japanese dishes like souffle pancakes and taiyaki (fish-shaped ice cream cones)” (6).
Chilies and Heat
McCormick just published their “McCormick Flavor Solutions’ Flavor Forecast” on Oct. 14, and highlighted an ongoing heat trend that incorporates chilies and other spices (a.k.a. the “Chilies Obsession”) (7). The report put the spotlight on four different chilies that would bring out a “unique and distinctive” heat and flavor: the Aji Amarillo, Guajillo, Tien Tsin and Chile de Arbol. Meanwhile, IFT listed Gochujang, Calabrian Chile, Shishito and Harissa as the top 4 trending foodservice seasonings. “Globally inspired sauces and seasoning blends are trending right now,” said a report from FONA International, a global producer of food and beverage flavors (8). This is apparently due to the surging demand for a greater variety in spicy foods is driven by consumer desire to explore more authentic global cuisines and flavors. “Today’s consumers can easily differentiate jalapeño from habanero or ancho from Thai red chili,” the report added (8). A growing consumer appetite to not only try but educate themselves to a wide range of new flavors is what’s elevating this spice revolution to new levels.
Feel Good Flavors
Fall and Winter have always been about the comfort, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made more consumers lean towards feel-good foods and nostalgic flavors more than ever. According to Keera Perumbala, marketing manager at Sensient Flavors, “[comforting food] means different things to different consumers” (9). “For some, it means cereal for dinner on some days, and for others, it means a sea salt caramel fudge ice cream after dinner. Owing to this, we are expecting some classic favorites to make a comeback [but] with a twist.”
This can mean flavors like nut and toffee, molasses, s’mores, butterscotch, cinnamon and brown butter (10)—all warm and comforting flavors that could be easily incorporated into a dessert, a coffee or cocktail recipe. “Consumers now are programmed to go beyond the basics,” added Perumbala. “So adding a twist will help them feel adventurous while rooted in comfort.”
2020 has been quite a learning experience. From social distancing to customers wearing face masks, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us to new vocabulary and concepts never heard of in the restaurant industry: businesses had to sell grocery items and toilet paper during the quarantine, specialty menu items had to go due to supply chain issues and some indoor spaces had to be closed off to accommodate new safety measures.
This is now the new norm, and we know that some of these changes are here to stay. But now that you’ve learned everything the hard way, what can you do to plan ahead for the new year? Here are our best guesses for the business trends of 2021.
It’s a new era of drive-thrus. Part of its upsurge comes from off-premise dining becoming widely adopted due to the pandemic, but there’s been an overall uptick in digital sales that’s helped drive-thrus gain significant traction. Brands like Starbucks are increasing their drive-thru prevalence to accommodate the demand for contactless orders (1). Domino's launched their “Carside Delivery” Service nationwide this June which would allow customers to receive their online order without ever leaving their car (2). Del Taco has also been expanding its takeout and delivery channels, allowing the chain to keep company dining rooms closed to streamline the service modes more relevant to today’s guests (3).
Meanwhile, Chipotle is testing out new restaurant designs, and now have more than a 100 “Chipotlanes,” drive-thru stores where customers can pick up their digital orders (4). These pick-up lanes are also more profitable, said Jack Hartung, Chipotle’s CFO, adding that the lanes help “drive our high-margin digital order-ahead transaction.” He also has the numbers to prove his point: Digital sales at Chipotle accounted for 19.6% of total sales at the chain pre-pandemic, but in the first quarter, digital sales grew 80.8%, reaching a record $372 million, while digital sales accounted for 26.3% of total sales (4).
Drive-thru spaces aren’t the only thing businesses have been renovating, however. Architectural Digest writer Laura Itzkowitz, New York restaurants have seen a major expansion in outdoor dining space thanks to the Open Streets plan that “gives restaurant owners permission to expand their footprint onto the sidewalks and streets on the weekends provided they meet certain criteria” (5). According to David Rockwell, the founder and president of the restaurant Melba’s in Harlem, we can expect to see “more restaurants redefining the boundary between indoors and out. In the long run, restaurants will have to be adaptable, with seating plans that expand and contract easily and quickly” (5).
This flexibility will key as the cold season approaches (6). According to Guy Bloch, CEO of Bringg, a delivery orchestration software company, “an increased emphasis and more strategy behind the delivery and curbside pick-up is a smart consideration for restaurants right now, especially if they want to remain resilient during the colder months and continue to serve off-premises customers who may become a larger part of their base in cold weather” (7). Which brings us to the next point on deliveries.
Food deliveries have soared in the past couple of months. Popular third-party delivery apps such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub have seen a stark increase in usage since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Seattle Times (8). For example, UberEats reported a 40% increase and GrubHub is up 24% from the same period the year prior (8)
Decreasing on-premise sales, social distancing and the new work-from-home lifestyle have all contributed to consumers opting to have their food delivered than dining in. Back in March, a survey by Statistica showed that 41.7% of consumers in the United States were likely to purchase restaurant food delivery online if confined at home due to the coronavirus (9), and yet when Zagat conducted a similar survey in May (“The Future of Dining Study”) the result was a staggering 90% of consumers (10).
Not surprisingly, we’re seeing more operators are making the shift from third-party delivery to self-delivery; a quick search of food delivery options on google and various name brand restaurants pop up now actively promoting their own delivery options. Businesses like Dig Inn, Modern Market, IHOP, Panda Express have all launched self-delivery as a way to increase sales and meet the increasing demand for delivery. And not just because of the high commission rate either. While it’s true that third-party delivery service fees can be as high as 30% commission (11), having an in-house delivery service means they have more control over their drivers, reduce transit time, as well as increase customer service.
"We understand that convenience and value are what our guests need right now, so we’ve quickly adapted our marketing and business approach," said Andrea Cherng, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Restaurant Group (12). "In order to provide quality meals at a value for families in our communities, we’re creating more regular promotions and speeding up our delivery-as-a service launch by half a year."
A detailed pro/con list of third-party vs self-delivery is found here on our previous blog (13).
Social distancing and contact-free technology will be indispensable in 2021, as sanitation and safety concerns around COVID-19 remain (14). Aside from automatic doors, motion-activated faucets, touchless soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers, more hands-free options are likely to become increasingly implemented in the kitchen area, from touchless trashcans, doors, glove dispensers, sauce, to beverage dispensers.
A big part of the trend of automation for customers will revolve around new payment and menu alternatives. Payment solutions will have to change as well from conventional payment models of cash and plastic credit cards to contactless solutions such as EMV, tap and pay, and mobile wallets (14). And as more customers become sensitive to the use of plastic menus (The National Restaurant Association and CDC both recommend restaurants to use paper menus and discard them after each customer use), more will turn to contactless menu options like QR powered digital menus to comply with both demand and safety recommendations (15, 16)
We also expect more businesses to embrace tech and AI to accommodate this upward trend of digitalization for customers (14). By more tech and AI we mean smart ordering via AI voice technology, self-order kiosks and tablets. AI-powered training, staff scheduling and smart inventory (via RFID tags) are also expected to grow and enhance all aspects of restaurant management.
If 2020 was about reacting to the pandemic and learning ways to deal with the new changes, 2021 is going to be about the responding, as well as applying the hard-learned lessons to our businesses. That said, maintaining safety is still going to be the most important trend that operators will have to maintain and evolve. It will take some time to earn back the consumer’s trust in this issue, but operators who can incorporate these safety measures into their business model will be the first to earn them.
The Benefits of Owning a Franchise Restaurant Business
We discussed in our earlier blogs why it is a great time to buy a food franchise in 2020 through 2021. Prospects continue to be bright for fast food and fast-casual franchises: Papa John’s Pizza just announced their plan to open 1,000 new stores over the next five years (1), and Whataburger hinted an offer of offering new franchising units for the first time in 20 years (2). The COVID-19 pandemic is helping boost franchise sales as unemployment grows in the restaurant industry and people are reassessing new career options. But you might be wondering, why buy a franchise business at all? What do you have to gain by buying a franchise versus running your own independent restaurant?
Here we share our thoughts on what makes franchise ownership so appealing.
When you start a restaurant from scratch, much time must go into doing market research, creating business models and developing a new menu. You also have to staff the right people and figure out who your target customers are even before you come up with your marketing plan. But that is a lot of work. It takes time to set up a decent restaurant, particularly if you plan to start amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the benefits of buying a franchise business is that you can skip many of these processes. With a franchise, you do not have to build the foundations from the ground up because there are a pre-established system and business plan. “With a franchise, you have the security of a proven concept,” says Don Daszkowski from the Forbes Business Council (3). “The franchisor already went through the pains of trial and error and the expense of branding, marketing and putting systems in place.” The less time you spend on starting, you can spend more on building your business. Buying a franchise allows you to take advantage of this speed.
Less Risk, More Support
According to Joel Libava, a franchise ownership adviser and author of Become a Franchise Owner!, revenue fluctuates much less in a food franchise setting (4). “As long as you have a steady stream of customers patronizing your restaurant or food store, revenue tends to be pretty high,” he wrote on sba.gov. Additionally, franchisors assist their franchisees with marketing, real estate, among other things. Popeyes, for example, offers support and expertise not only in the menu, operations and marketing, but also in development, and profitability (5).
There’s a less overall risk when there is more support. When you buy a franchise, this assistance package is included in the upfront and ongoing fees, including a Grand Opening (4). “Good franchisors know how to put on a strong Grand Opening,” said Libava, “and if yours goes well, you won’t have to wait long for customers to line up to try (and purchase) your food.”
Moreover, Franchisors will also connect you to a Real Estate person soon after your franchise agreement is signed. Franchisees can therefore leverage extra resources and connections to secure the best location possible for your new business. According to Libava, “that alone gives you a huge advantage over an independent businessperson (without Commercial Real Estate connections) who’s trying to secure a location for his restaurant” (4).
You know exactly what you are getting when you walk into a Chick-fil-A's or a Subway’s. That is because both have massive brand recognition. While it takes most restaurant owners years to market and establish their brand, being a franchise owner allows to you reap the benefits of the brand’s name and trademark, giving you a competitive edge and making it easier for your store to attract customers.
This is also why financing is easier when you buy a franchise. You are more likely to get a loan from banks or organizations if the business is already well established. Also, there are quite many top-ranked, affordable franchises under $25,000 you can buy if you do your research right (5).
Good Balance of Independence and Dependence
Being a franchise owner allows you to be your own boss. If you classify yourself as a hands-on worker, a natural leader and communicator, result-driven and proactive, buying a franchise offers you the benefits of being a business owner while having the needed assistance from a strong support network.
A Better Opportunity for Long-Term Growth
There is also a better growth trajectory when you choose franchising. Once you start your franchise and acclimate yourself to your role as a franchisee, you can expand your portfolio long-term, buying other franchises in different locations or different concepts. Amyn Ali, a successful entrepreneur and owner of three Wing Zones, 10 Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins and one Papa John's, shared his thoughts on Entrepreneur magazine (6). “I started in franchising eight years ago. I saw great potential in franchising and wanted to be my own boss, so I bought a Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin Donuts location, which turned out to be immensely successful. I wanted to diversify my franchise portfolio, so I signed a 14-unit deal with Wing Zone, which was also the first in the city of Chicago.”
Here’s his advice for future-franchisees: “So many people want to open up their own business but fail to look at all of the pros and cons of business ownership. The most important advice that I can give is to really do your due diligence and look into your competition, the longevity of the brand, how you’re going to manage it operationally” (6).
Owning a franchise business is still hard work that comes with its own disadvantages. Success is not guaranteed, and you’ll have to invest in it long-term, just as you would with any other business ventures. That said, there are many benefits to owning a franchise as it offers you speed, support and great profits. The decision is yours.
The AI and tech that will take over the industry
We previously discussed social distancing and contact-free technology that offered safety solutions during the pandemic. But there’s much more that tech has to offer, especially when it comes to AI being integrated into guest order systems, training, and restaurant operations.
Here are some standout tech innovations that forward-thinking business owners are investing in today:
Voice-based tech is fast growing and increasingly evolving the guest ordering experience. Prominent restaurants of the QSR space are integrating voice-ordering into their apps. For example, Denny’s customers can order through Amazon Echo (Alexa) (1); Dunkin’ and Domino’s Pizza have also deployed bot and voice-enabled ordering by Alexa, Siri or Google Home, and Chipotle Mexican Grill rolled out voice AI to power their mobile orders in 1,800 of their locations (2). Just last year, McDonald’s announced its plans to bring AI voice technology to its drive-thrus after they acquired the voice-recognition startup Apprente (3). These drive-thrus would allow customers to place their orders like any voice-assistant-enabled order taker, except that these systems would use machine-learning techniques to learn and continually improve based on actual orders and spoken language (4). According to Rob Carpenter, founder and CEO of Valyant AI, a Colorado-based artificial intelligence company focused on QSR customer service, “AI ultimately provides an intelligent, convenient and informed customer service experience by way of improved order speed and accuracy” (5). “Drive-thru chains are inaccurate more than 10 percent of the time, and the average speed-of-service times have slowed down significantly in the face of such high employee turnover.” Meanwhile, digital employees work to improve order accuracy and decrease wait times (5).
Self-order kiosks can now use a camera to recognize regular customers and make suggestions based on a customer’s previous order history. “Once you opt into facial recognition, you can reorder and pay for your favorite dish in less than 10 seconds,” said Christopher Sebes, President of Xenial, Inc., producer of such self-order kiosks (6). These facial recognition systems are gaining popularity, and already in use at places like modern Asian street food restaurant Wow Bao, as well as the fast-growing high-end burger chain, BurgerFi. “Self-serve kiosks and tablets are gaining favor as a way to speed up service without sacrificing the human touch,” said Sebes. It also “encourages higher check averages and results in healthier sales. Guests seem to appreciate the ability to spend time studying photos, ingredients, and nutritional information, as well as easily request more food or drinks as the meal progresses” (6).
Consistent Training and Optimal Scheduling
When it comes to running a successful business, operators understand how training plays a crucial role. But just as with people, training must evolve and continually be improved upon. According to Steven Yee, COO for EDUonGo, the creator of Kiwi LMS focus on restaurant employee training, an optimal training regimen requires quality data collection (7). “It is difficult to know what changes need to be made in the existing training,” said Yee. “With AI, however, restaurants are positioned to collect relevant data, thereby improving their customer service, creating a better training experience for employees, and fostering a safe workplace culture” (7). AI can now collect a wide variety of information ranging from the length of time an employee stays in the portal, how often they log on to review materials, the success rate of their quizzes, and the completion rate of certifications (7). One restaurant that has adopted AI-based employee training is Modern Market Eatery, a farm-to-table restaurant based in Denver (8). By embracing mobile training platforms, such as PlayerLync, and implementing training within the real-life workspace, the restaurant has access to a variety of integrated technology systems that notify staff of menu or recipe changes as they occur, contributing to employee success and efficiency.
Scheduling staff times is also made easier with AI. For example, AI can now predict labor demand, handle on-call shifts, and allow employees to swap shifts with minimal manager intervention (6). According to Sebes, it even “determines which of your staff tends to do the most up-selling, and give those team members priority for high-volume shifts.”
Up to Date Inventory
POS systems that manage inventory and purchasing capabilities are already well established by now, but we expect AI to optimize these capabilities with the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags which use electromagnetic fields to identify and store information about the object the tag is affixed to. According to Nely Broad, author and regular contributor of a tech news company BitRebels.com, RFID will allow operators to collect and trace vital pieces of information such as type, quantity, and origin of a product through its life-cycle (9). For example, when an RFID tag is placed in specified containers for a particular product, anyone would be able to scan an RFID reader and learn about the product’s history. The RFID tag would allow for easy inventory management, as scanning RFID tags would send a message to your inventory management software letting you know that the item is in stock (9).
RFID tags can also help ensure the safety and quality of your products. Food industry workers can monitor the temperature of foods—for instance, on milk containers that would contain an expiration date, the temperature, and other pertinent information (9, 10). When suppliers track the temperature of the milk through the information collected from the tags, the milk’s temperature can be tracked from the source, during shipment, and when it is delivered to the store.
The potential for AI to enhance all aspects of food ordering, restaurant operations and staff management is practically endless. We’ve seen how AI saves time and money, increases productivity and efficiency while reducing human error and labor costs. As more businesses embrace AI, begin to change the customer experience and their expectations of what foodservice can be, we’ll surely see these new restaurant techs take over the industry.
With how the restaurant industry looks right now, from shifting consumer behavior and volatile demand, strategically pricing a menu has never been so complicated, nor so important. It doesn’t help that the costs of running a restaurant are higher than ever. According to an analysis by Buyers Edge Platform, a restaurant supply-chain company in Waltham, MA, restaurants are now spending 38% more just on food costs alone (1). Operators have also been pressured to spend on safety products from masks, sanitizing supplies, Plexiglass dividers and various touchless systems to protect their staff and customers. And while many operators have resorted to raising their menu prices, either by charging a COVID-19 surcharge or charging more for food being delivered than they do for take-out or dining in (2, 3), there is speculation that these costs increases will hurt customer relationships and cause long-term implications (4).
"Generally, if the prices are significantly higher for 30 days or more, restaurants will have to start making decisions," said Buyers Edge CEO John Davie in an interview with Business Insider (1). Because of the economic impact of the pandemic, consumers will be seeking more value and buying up deals (1). Navigating the balance of loss and profit and figuring out win-win scenarios for both operators and customers is sure to be the key to a restaurant’s future success.
Here are some steps you should take when you price your menu items:
The food and operational costs vary by restaurant, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to pricing your menu. That’s because creating the perception of value in a customer’s eye goes beyond what goes behind the dollar sign. Value isn’t about being the cheapest. It’s a package of both experience and price.
As you begin to make changes and adjust your pricing strategy, try to remember that once the pandemic passes, your customers will return. Here’s what not to do according to McKinsey Research (7): taking advantage of customers, assuming that every demand problem can be solved with pricing, extensive cost-cutting and relying on old price-sensitivity research. Doing these things could help your business in the short-term, but the businesses that are most likely to succeed after the pandemic will be those that do what’s hard. By focusing on long-term value, optimizing their business, and sustaining customer relationships.
Back in December we did a blog piece on our most anticipated food trends, never knowing what 2020 would bring, what with COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic would have on the restaurant industry. Eight months later and we are looking forward again. Here are some food trends on the spotlight today.
Menu items that are focused on wellness, as well as foods that are thought to boost the immune system, will trend as consumers become more focused on staying healthy. Recent surveys have found that most consumers are expecting to eat more healthy and fresh foods after the pandemic (1). According to Mike Chapman, Chief Executive Horticulture in New Zealand, fruits, and vegetable consumption has exploded since the onset of COVID-19 (2). The Kerry Group, a public food company headquartered in Ireland, stated that “consumers who are concerned about immune health are shopping for products with a range of ingredients including probiotics and various herbs and spices” (3). This even applied to cocktails high in botanicals due to their perceived health benefits (3, 4).
So, what foods will consumers be looking for? The CDC discussed the importance of a balanced nutrition in their recent report, stating that the best way to obtain immune-boosting nutrients (e.g. vitamin C, D and zinc) is through foods, especially fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains (5). A blog article from the Harvard School of Public Health identified vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine) as critical for the growth and function of immune cells, as well as probiotic and prebiotic foods (6).
Here is a list of immune-boosting foods that will fit into this trend (4,6,7):
Foods high in Vitamin C: Citrus (oranges, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit), Bell peppers, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
High in Vitamin D: Salmon, Swordfish, Tuna fish, Sardines, Beef liver, Egg yolk
High in Zinc: Shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), Beef, Poultry, Pork, Legumes, Nuts, seeds, Whole grains
Probiotics: Kefir, Yogurt with live active cultures, Fermented vegetables, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Kombucha tea, Kimchi, and Miso.
Prebiotic foods: Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, Dandelion greens, Bananas, and Seaweed.
Botanicals: Echinacea, Green tea extract, Lemongrass, Ginger, Turmeric, Elderberry, Cinnamon
The uncertainty of the meat and dairy supply chain, as well as the linking of COVID-19 hotspots to meat processing plants, has accelerated the rise of plant-based foods, widening consumer appetite for alternative meats, vegan “eggs,” non-dairy milk and cheeses. According to Mark Driscoll, a sustainable food systems consultant, “sales for plant based and meat-alternative products have increased during lockdown with global sales of global plant-based meat alternatives showing growth of about 17% this year” (8). As a result, we are likely to see a trend in flexitarian diets, as “meat eaters will likely shift even more toward plant-based products,” said Driscoll.
Here is a list of trending plant-based foods:
Meat alternatives: not just Impossible or Beyond meats, but alternatives like Jackfruits and Soy/ Faux Chicken.
Vegan subs: vegan “eggs”/ aquafaba.
Non-dairy products: non-dairy milk (oat milk in particular), non-dairy chocolate, non-dairy cheese.
Sanitation is going to be on the back of most consumers’ minds from now on, and we can expect shareable menu items to take a backseat while individually portioned meals and items will increase in demand. In an interview with Mike O’Hanlon, head of catering partner business at ezCater, orders containing individually packaged menu items have more than doubled as the result of the Coronavirus pandemic (9). The Spillover Restaurant in Miami, for example, is now focusing more on salads, sandwiches, and entrees, while removing the shareable dishes, to emphasize guest safety (10).
Packaging will most likely evolve alongside individually portioned meals and the rise of take-out, and we think the trend of individual servings and lunchbox type meals to continue as more people prefer social distancing and small gatherings.
More on food packaging trends can be found in our previous blog article “What’s packing your food? Delivery Packaging Trends.”
While it may seem like the pandemic has shifted food trends drastically, that does not really seem to be the case when we consider how long these health-focused, plant-based trends have been around. If anything, COVID-19 may have accelerated an already-growing trend of wellness. In other words, these trends may be here to stay.
COVID-19 is redefining jobs (1). Social distancing has radically changed the way restaurants work, causing a spike in delivery and take-out orders, and employees are taking on different responsibilities to fit these new roles in the workplace (2). Another profound shift in the industry is the way staff is now expected to interact with their customers. Soft-skills, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people”(3), will be more important than ever, and managers with a long-term vision for their restaurant are using this time as an opportunity to build and strengthen their team. Here are some skillsets we think will help managers manage in today’s environment and how they can teach them.
Conflict Resolution (Guest Relations)
“Conflict Resolution” refers to the way one resolves an issue or problem between two or more people (4). According to the American Management Association, a non-profit educational membership organization and leader in professional development based in New York City, conflict resolution is a core skill for managers and supervisors, not only for handling disputes efficiently, but also for leveraging potential conflict situations as opportunities for critical conversations that enhance work relationships, increasing overall performance, and preventing conflicts from hindering employees’ professional growth (5).
This skillset will hold more significance now during the COVID-19 pandemic. People (guests and staff alike) are on edge, and more sensitive at this time of uncertainty. For example, a guest might refuse to wear a mask; a guest may file a complaint on a poorly handled order via third-party delivery. Conflicts, especially concerning the new regulations around safety and sanitation, are more likely to arise and staff should be aware and prepared so they can handle situations professionally.
You can visit a step by step guide to conflict resolution in the AMA article here (4, 5), but we recommend supervisors to first create opportunities for awareness and open dialogue with their staff. It is natural for people to react instinctively and not think through how they respond, but they can also prepare and practice handling these situations beforehand and practice stepping out of their comfort zone and putting conflicts into context (12). This is why we recommend role playing as part of the staff training—so that managers can first become comfortable with conflicts and practice resolving them in a controlled space. Practice will also help to build empathy for the guests and to handle difficult situations more quickly and readily.
Internal Conflict Resolution
Internal Conflict Resolution is focused more on building trust between staff (or between staff and managers) by addressing and resolving commonly encountered conflicts within the workplace. The same guidelines apply when teaching internal conflict resolution, except that supervisors should be prepared to play a mediator’s role. Open discussion, while it may be an opportunity for the team to open up, connect and clear up misunderstandings, may also stir up emotion and create tension. As with external conflict resolution, role playing and practicing situations will help build trust and credibility with team members, create team resiliency, and help team members gain confidence in holding difficult conversations calmly and assertively (5, 6).
Worksheets can come in handy. Choosing a particular conflict to discuss and dissect as a team can help staff reflect on ways emotions affect their perception of a particular problem. By considering both sides of an issue and feelings one may have experienced, they may be able to find ways to resolve conflicts logically, or else, find a good compromise that satisfies both parties.
We mentioned earlier how the pandemic has been redefining jobs. According to Arran Heal, the Managing Director of CMP Resolutions, the sudden shifts of workload and responsibility have been making it difficult to keep a grip on workplace relationships (7). There’s more potential for misunderstandings, silences, unconsidered messaging; existing interpersonal problems are coming under renewed pressure and new conflicts are being created between employees (7).
A flexible leadership style is crucial in this current environment. One model that we’ve been introducing to our GMs is “Situational Leadership,” a leadership theory that encourages leaders to take stock of their team members, weigh the many variables in their workplace and choose the leadership style that best fits their goals and circumstances (8).
The Blanchard and Hersey model of Situational Leadership is based on two dimensions: leadership style and development level of the employees (8). Directing leaders (S1) should use specific guidance and close supervision and best paired with employees who are of a low development level (D1: low competence and high commitment); Coaching leaders (S2) explain and persuade and best when working with employees of the D2 level (some competence, low commitment); Supporting leaders (S3) share and facilitate and should work with D3 employees (high competence, variable commitment); while a Delegating leadership style (S4) should be used with D4 employees (high competence and high commitment).
While situational leadership is not traditionally categorized as a soft-skill, this particular leadership model is an excellent tool for managers, helping them to modify their leadership styles based on their evaluation of a staff’s competency and commitment levels. No one size fits all, even in leadership, and managers who can understand and utilize different leadership styles will find it easier to effectively drive behavior change, accelerate employee development, as well as manage their employees in the COVID world, where roles are constantly shifting (9).
More information and teaching materials can be found here on the main site (9). We found that situational leadership is a valuable addition to managerial training, particularly if used in conjunction with exercises to help identify leadership styles, worksheets to help define development levels, and role playing.
Good communication is the foundation of good leadership, and the need for this soft skill has become more significant with the pandemic. According to Nicole Dehler, vice president of StayNTouch, a mobile hotel property management system (PMS) company based in Bethesda, Maryland, restaurant staff, especially those in front of house, literally compose the “front lines” when interacting with guests and implementing hygiene and social distancing measures (10). “If [staff] aren’t informed of your brand’s messaging on sanitation guidelines and response strategies, management will be more difficult and people could be put at risk,” she said. “It is absolutely vital that you communicate with your employees early and often, and are as upfront and transparent as possible, even if it means having difficult conversations or conveying bad news” (10).
Just as with conflict resolution and leadership skills, supervisors can teach effective communication by initiating hands-on practice, role-playing and introspection (11). To measure the effectiveness of communication, supervisors can collect qualitative information by studying employees and asking them for feedback. Long term measurements could also be taken by considering turnover rates, productivity and employee satisfaction (11).
Many of the soft skills overlap in that they aim to reduce friction between relationships through building emotional intelligence and flexibility. Conflict resolution (external and internal), situational leadership and effective communication will all be critical to harmonizing workplace relationships until the return to normality post-pandemic, and supervisors should consider training their team these crucial skills to improve team building and solidarity.
Despite your best efforts to adhere to CDC’s safety guidelines and to make your guests feel safe and comfortable dining in your restaurant, you may face an unavoidable situation where your employee tests positive for the novel coronavirus. According to Will Eadie, Global VP of alliances, WorkJam, foodservice workers are essentially on the front lines and at high risk of getting sick (1).
Workers may also be exposed to the virus elsewhere and may be in a situation where a family member contracts COVID-19. So, what can do you when your staff tests positive? Here are resources and advice on what to do when it happens.
First things first. The CDC is your best source for guidelines regarding COVID prevention, intervention and control, and you should consult the website for instructions on what to do when you are faced with a sick employee. Here is a brief overview of the CDC’s content (see website for more details https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/business-employers/bars-restaurants.html ).
1. Advise Sick Employees of Home Isolation Criteria
2. Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick
3. Clean and Disinfect
4. Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts
Once you have followed these steps you can proceed to damage control. While it is recommended that restaurants temporarily close so that the business has time to clean and disinfect the restaurant, as well as having the rest of their staff tested, the rules regarding closures vary from state and region. For example, the State of Massachusetts now lawfully requires restaurants to immediate shut down for 24 hours (3). Some restaurants opt for closures voluntarily, even though they are not bound by law to close. A running list of restaurants and bars that are temporarily closed in Atlanta, GA, are listed here (4).
Unfortunately, not all restaurants can afford to shut down operations. Most restaurants do not have any form of a safety net left and closing can be devastating. Many operators will close for a few hours to disinfect the restaurant. There are third party companies that will come in and spray the entire facility with bio-friendly solutions. If they do close, restaurateurs leverage programs like Unemployment Insurance to hold their staff over on wages.
Overall, being flexible and prepared to act quickly and take necessary steps to sanitize the workplace will help operators expedite this process.
Notifying the Public
Transparency may be a difficult decision to make as an operator, especially given the financial loss that comes from temporary closures and the possible negative profiling of restaurants that report cases of COVID-19. First consider your number of staff and where their exposure came from. For example, if you have a small number of employees you may be able to narrow down the path of contact, isolating the cases so that you can prevent further exposure; if you discover that one of your staff has had close contact with someone who contracted the virus recently while outside of the workplace, you may be able to manage and contain the situation by asking the employee to stay at home until they fully recover.
Many experts have expressed a more positive outlook for restaurants that have chosen transparency. According to a social media survey by Taylor Adams, “Would You Eat Where Someone Tested Positive?” some diners showed support for restaurants who were honest with their customers (6). One commented: "There are most definitely restaurants that have remained open despite employees testing positive. I am thankful for those that have been transparent and are clearly taking this issue seriously. I hope that we collectively support them” (6). Meanwhile, one prominent restaurant in Colorado faced scrutiny when they failed to report their first COVID positive case to their guests (7).
The topic of transparency can be a difficult issue, and what works for one restaurant is not always going to work for another. Communicating a commitment to sanitation and promoting any vendors that are hired to sanitize the building or additional programs the restaurant is undertaking such as ServSafe Covid-19 Training is key. A restaurant’s commitment to extra safety precautions is a cornerstone to showing guests you are providing as safe as possible dining experience.
Reinforcing Safety Protocols
A staff testing positive can be a much-needed wakeup call for businesses. Operators should use this opportunity to remind your staff about safety and re-training them so that they adhere to the sanitation policies in place, most importantly—masks, gloves, hand-washing and social distancing, such as one provided by the CDC (2). Some operators have added regular temperature checks and deep cleaning into their routines because of growing concern among their employees (8). The Centrolina Restaurant in DC, for example, are enforcing stricter safety policies such as handwashing every 30 minutes, hourly cleaning, and twice-daily temperature checks for staff, after reopening after a positive COVID-19 case (8). Managers should accept staff call-outs due to medical reasons, allowing them to be excused from work if they are not feeling well. who express concerns they may have been exposed should be taken at their word. Many states require wellness contracts that outline symptoms such as fever that require them to stay home until they have recovered.
Collaborating with your employees is the key to effectively communicating important COVID-19 information, according to the CDC (9). We recommend operators to communicate with their employees about planned changes and, most importantly, seek their input. It may be difficult at first to balance an appropriate level of communication, to decide whether you tell your staff if an employee was exposed or tested positive, even after getting the employee’s written consent to share their personal results. Communication transparency is important for good company culture. While restaurants are open during the pandemic there is already an unease among staff and, coupled with another negative industry history of undervaluing hourly employees, there is a certain amount of skepticism towards management.
If someone tests positive, remind them of the environment we are in and that vigilance is their best tool to protect themselves. Let them know all the additional safety measures the restaurant is taking and, most importantly, listen to them. Ask them what would make them feel safer and, when feasible, accommodate the staff. They are the ones on the front line, and you cannot run a successful business without well-trained staff. They need to feel safe and know that the restaurant is here to support them.
Returning to Work
Individuals who have tested positive can return to work when they have fully recovered. There are certain tests individuals can take to determine whether an employee can safely return to work, but go-to resource should be this CDC website where a “Return to Work Criteria” is listed for businesses (10).
Exposure to the COVID-19 virus is possibly unavoidable given the spread of the pandemic, and there is no one right strategy to prepare for its impact on businesses. Overall, operators who can act quickly to employees testing positive, as well as possible closures, will benefit by avoiding further confusion and panic (1). Our recommendation to operators is to keep your staff informed about updates, ensuring that the communication lines are open and streamlined so that staff can be up to date on new safety policies, scheduling, as well as hours and staffing.
GetResults@GoliathConsultingGroup.comEvery bar manager experiences recurring nightmares of that one delivery day. We all know the one. It is the middle of the lunch rush and trucks keep showing up at the loading dock during times the restaurant has deemed inappropriate for deliveries. The cases of product continue piling up and floor management responsibilities are preventing the bar manager from vigilantly checking in each order. When the dust clears and a proper inventory of each order is finally manageable, the frustration of backordered product sets in. How can the restaurant operate without a domestic light beer on tap? Does the bar just 86 top shelf tequila for the weekend? Reopening restaurants with current supply chain issues makes this once rare scenario seem to be a weekly occurrence.
With the increasingly frustrating variables in the current restaurant industry, beverage supply chain does not need to be the straw that breaks the camels back. With modified inventory procedures, increased communication and planning, and appropriate training, bar managers can rein in the uncertainty and provide their guests and staff with a consistent product.
Start with the basics of operating a bar. How often are you counting a detailed inventory? Most bar managers will cite a monthly inventory and order each week off either a product mix or visual count. The thought of increasing inventory to a weekly process is daunting and time consuming. The dilemma of limiting inventory counts is outweighed by necessity of knowing what the bar always has on hand and the inventory of comparable product in the event the restaurant runs out of a customer favorite. With the current supply snags, the concept of inventory can readjust to consider like products as a single count. For example, if you carry the same domestic light beer on tap as in a bottle, count them together and reconcile the number with your average weekly combined sales. Compartmentalize top shelf spirits into one count. The restaurant can use a strategy of guaranteeing an equivalent product is always in stock in the event a popular item is backordered. Consider adding platforms like BevSpot or Barkeep to decrease the amount of time spent counting. Most modern POS systems such as Toast and Revel have built in Inventory options for operators looking to consolidate their programs.
With an inventory consolidated, look for holes in product areas. What products does the restaurant lack a comparable alternative? Are you able to stock up on inventory or bring on an additional alternative to prevent a menu hole? Do your sales reps have any feedback on short-term availability of the product?
Sales representatives from distributors are one of the most under-utilized resources in times of supply shortages. Distributors possess the ability to maneuver delivery days and are more than willing to provide restaurants with weekly warehouse inventories of kegs, wines, and other products. They are also in tune with estimated inventory shortages at the beginning of the week and can advise customers on alternate products. Keep in mind if a distributor is out of a popular product, the restaurant may need to seek a product from a different distributor. My recommendation to our clients is to order product on Mondays and move delivery days to Tuesdays. This provides an additional three days to work with distributors on off-day deliveries for any products that are out of stock and keep the restaurant well-prepared for volume weekends.
Training is the component that brings the tumultuous supply chain together. Staff appreciate transparency and frequent updates that prevent them from feeling the fool when they are unaware of lack of inventory. Maintain an 86 board that is easily available to all staff. A dry erase board in a well-traveled area works great. While it is tempting to scribble the 86’d item on the board, take the time to write out an alternative item. Secure time during lineups to cover the out of stock items and educate on the alternate options. Keep management proactive in updating the restaurant’s point of sale to reflect current inventory levels. Management will find consistent staff training and communication appreciated and reflected in staff morale. Bartenders and servers thrive on consistency and minimizing variables.
Implementing a solid bar strategy can reduce one of the larger headaches of reopening a restaurant during a pandemic. While most of management’s effort and focus is on sanitizing and maintaining a safe environment, it is common to neglect operational concepts such as supply chains. Curious about the state of your inventory or looking for assistance adjusting menu content/pricing to maximize your brand during these fluid times? Goliath Consulting Group can assess your current food and beverage menus/inventories and make recommendations to set your restaurant up for success. Contact us at GetResults@GoliathConsultingGroup.com
The restaurant industry had to adapt to changes in consumer behavior during the COVID19 pandemic, testing out operational innovations and relying on technological solutions that allowed for social distancing and ensuring sanitation (1, 2). But even after the pandemic, sanitation and safety concerns are expected to remain, and the restaurant business model may have to evolve in a way that utilizes more tech-driven service systems. Here are some upcoming tech trends below:
Social Distancing Tech
With widespread concerns of a pandemic rebound, customers will now be more cautious of eating out in crowded places after the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Restolabs, a restaurant management
software that offers online ordering systems, continued social distancing measures are expected to bring about an upward trend of automation for customers (3). New delivery systems are likely to be
implemented so that food can be delivered in a faster, more convenient and more hygienic way, like drones and autonomous vehicles launched in some restaurants in California (4). Improved AI could
even bring about cashier-less drive thrus—much like Amazon’s cashier-less automated checkout systems (3). According to Technomic, even the automat has returned with renewed interest for restaurants
now turning to tech-driven service systems (1).
And clearly, online delivery will start to become an indispensable part of the dining culture as customers dine-in less. More restaurants may pivot to self-delivery instead of third party delivery to mitigate fees and have more control over the safety of their food (5).
Tech for Touchless, Contact-Free Dining
According to Toby Malbec, Managing Director of ConStrata Technology Consulting featured in Hospitality Tech Magazine, higher level of protection and assurance of safety measures are necessary to alleviate customers of their health concerns and persuade them back to dining in (6). Contactless-dining is expected to trend as a result. “Germs can exist on plastic surfaces for several days, and the newly educated customer base will be sensitive to the notion of being handed a menu that could easily be cycled a dozen or so times during this period,” says Malbec (6). “Restaurants should look to providing an option for a guest to pull up the menu on their own device as well as look to leverage digital menu board technology wherever possible.” Anti-Microbial POS Screens and other device surfaces may be another component of using digital menus (3).
Payment solutions will have to change as well. Conventional payment models of cash and plastic credit cards carry a high risk of person-to-person transfer of contagions, and the mitigation of this transfer, according to Malbec, can be greatly reduced when restaurants change to contactless solutions such as EMV, tap and pay, and mobile wallets (6).
A growing demand for hands-free, no-touch equipment will result from the COVID-19 pandemic (7). Automatic doors, motion-activated faucets, touchless soap dispensers, automatic paper towel dispensers have been around for a while in the restrooms, but these touchless options have only been “grudgingly” adopted elsewhere (6). More hands-free options are likely to become increasingly implemented in the kitchen area, from touchless trashcans, doors, glove dispensers, sauce, to beverage dispensers.
While hands-free equipment and systems may certainly alleviate consumer concerns about the safety of their food and dining environment, operators may find themselves more invested in the health of their employees. Hygiene and sanitizing apps may start to appear in the workplace, as sanitation becomes priority for most restaurant operators. For instance, artificially intelligent cameras will soon make it possible for operators to monitor safe practices and verify whether employees or customers are following critical safety measures, including all front of house, back of house and delivery processes (8). Similarly, timeclocks may have come with the ability to conduct a temperature check on employees, either through some biometric means as part of the clocking in process (6). And, though not yet proven to work against COVID-19, some restauranteurs, as those in Atlanta (9), may install high-tech air filtration and sanitation systems such as UV lights to purify and filter the air for the health of their customers and employees.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behavior as we know it and it has changed the status quo of what is expected out of restaurants—sanitation, automation or otherwise. “The only way for us in the industry to keep pace is to digitize, modernize and monetize the guest experience,” says Christopher Siefken, the head of technology for Xenial, a Global Payments company that serves over 135,000 restaurant and retail locations in the U.S.(2). By embracing the shift in consumer behavior and implementing technology that consumers demand, operators can reap the benefits of staying ahead of the game while keeping people safe.
(5) “Future of Food Delivery” https://www.goliathconsulting.com/blog/
by Bora Kang
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to us all just how interconnected our food system is in the US if not, the world. The supply chain failure and the domino effect of its impact have been a wake-up call for even the veterans of the food industry. Nationwide outbreaks have forced manufacturers to shut down their plants, leading to disruptions in operations downstream in the supply chain (1). Restaurateurs who were eager to reopen their doors after lock-down only a few weeks ago are having to confront temporary product shortages and price inflations, vulnerable to spontaneous out of stock notices or unexpected shipment delays. Perhaps more unsettling is the uncertainty of it all. It’s just impossible to predict consumer behavior, especially when the pandemic is new to all of us.
So the question is: how do you respond? Here are the top three actionable steps we think will help operators overcome the supply chain crisis.
Multiple Sourcing and Backup
If you haven’t considered multiple sourcing before, now is the time. According to John Davie, CEO of Dining Alliance, “Restaurateurs who are reopening and asking what they should do regarding supply chain should prepare to engage smaller suppliers who have multiple sources of product” (2). This is because “as restaurants open fully, most distributors will experience some shortages. Restaurants wanting to make sure they have everything they need should have a few different channels to rely on, especially when it comes to specialty products” (2).
And research seems to agree. According to Costantino and Pellegrino’s study of choosing between single and multiple sourcing based on supplier default risk, single sourcing has the advantage of a strong partnership between buyer and suppliers while lowering purchase price, but this dependency between the two creates vulnerability and increased risk of supply interruption (3). Meanwhile, multiple sourcing allows operators to “reduce probability of bottlenecks due to insufficient production capacity to meet peak demand.” It has the advantage of allowing the operator to have alternative sources of materials in case of delivery stoppage by the supplier, as well as the flexibility and agility to react to unexpected events that could disrupt the supplier’s capacity (3).
Mahesh Rajasekharan, CEO of Cleo, a software company that provides wide ranging big data integration solutions between businesses and applications, suggests that companies become more agile in their efforts to connect with multiple suppliers for the same product (3). “If Supplier A has 50 cases of [a product] for $800, and Supplier B has 25 cases for $750, the buyer can purchase all 50 from Supplier A, and then source the rest from Supplier B based on prior buyer trends,” he wrote in Supply and Demand Chain Executive (SDCExec) Magazine. The key is to adopt a “holistic view of the supplier ecosystem. A company can find the best price at any point in time and refactor supplier integrations accordingly” (4).
You must consider the worst-case scenario and have backup plans in case your food-supply is unexpectedly compromised, especially for your priority products. According to Yerkes, Vice President of Business Development in Supply Chain at Consolidated Concepts in Boston, MA, operators should consider a wide range of options and communicate with your supplier for when a product cannot be delivered—for example, “if you don’t have this product can you do with another substitute?” (5). Other sources recommend using ready-made pre-cut items to save on labor, as well as shifting to different cuts of meat—for example, moving to ham which is more readily available in foodservice (2). We think the best operational strategy is establishing a contingency plan for the items you know you can’t do without, especially in dairy, meat where we’ve seen shortages; upscale restaurants may be struggling most because they require specialty products and are more specific (5).
Menu Changes and Flexibility
Menu changes have become a widely-adopted solution to a variety of supply issues facing operators. Akash Kapoor, CEO of Bay Area-based franchise Curry Up Now, is simplifying his menu by combining. “We used to garnish with four different microgreens, but now we’ve gotten rid of that,” said Kapoor in an interview with Berkeleyside News (6). “We’re back to a simple mix of cilantro, mint and chives. And whatever we use, we also use in some other way on the menu. It can’t just exist as a garnish. It has to have a purpose on the menu.”
In some ways, the COVID-19 crisis has created opportunities for restaurants to rethink and evolve their menu. “One thing we can do is just go back to being chefs, which I think is kind of cool,” said Kapoor (6). “You can just go to the market and do with what you’ve got.”
Like Kapoor, restaurateurs may be starting to think about shrinking down their menu and working with items that are not (yet) subject to volatility. According to Tim Hand and Bruce Reinstein from Kinetic12 Consulting, this kind of simplification “allows fewer moving parts and gives the restaurants the ability to be significantly more productive by requiring less labor, fewer deliveries, lower waste, and improved execution” (7).
Unfortunately, Yerkes says some changes will be difficult because operators are “emotionally tied down to their menus” (5). Differentiation in foodservice is what gives a restaurant its unique identity, and often what gives restaurants its competitive edge. Sometimes, an operator may believe that losing their specialty products and items that differentiates them from the competitors may also lose their competitive edge. “While this is true if you are not careful, the brands we work with are making changes very thoughtfully,” said Yerkes. “Slimming things down a bit and having alternative solutions will help [brands] survive. The reality is everyone has to adjust in some capacity but everyone is very focused on the guest's experience still and that will get them far” (5).
Likewise, Hand and Reinstein support simplification over differentiation, saying that the former “eliminates some of the emotional decisions that create broad and complex menus that are too big for restaurants to execute profitability and consistently, and results in too many ingredients that only have one use” (7). In conclusion, differentiation “must now go hand in hand with simplification, efficiency, and profitability” (7).
All the working parts of the food industry, as we’ve experienced first-hand, are interconnected and interdependent. As such, communication and transparency is a necessary component of recovery.
The first step operators should take is communicating with their suppliers. According to Hand and Reinstein, operators should “reach out to their top suppliers for assistance on driving both front-of-house and back-of-house efficiencies. This can include streamlining the food preparation process through labor saving products, new equipment innovation, new order-taking technologies, supply chain simplification ideas and finding efficient no-touch solutions for self-serve condiment and beverage stations.” This streamlining process is necessary, as “[suppliers] must have a clear understanding of what each restaurant brand is focused on and support their operator partners with the types of products, insights and innovation that are necessary to help drive revenue while maintaining and improving efficiencies” (7).
Consulting an expert helps, too. According to Yerkes, this is because “partners have a line of sight into what else is going on….we can offer multiple solutions because it wouldn’t be the first time we’d encountered similar issues” (5).
Another important consideration for operators is communicating to the staff about their supply status. For example, if your supply shortage prevents you from including certain items in the employee meals do they understand why? What about issues concerning reducing food waste? Having a transparent, honest relationship with your staff, suppliers and customers will help your business tremendously in the long run.
The food industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and operators may find themselves restless as restaurants reopen and they readjust to the new normal. The good news is that you don’t have to brave this alone. This pandemic has opened up new communication channels for people. “We may have our own agendas, but people have been genuinely helpful, trying to support each other in these times,” said Yerkes (5). “Free resources are being available. New webinars are popping up everywhere like LinkedIn, available to everyone.” She also added that “[these times] have “won me a lot of friends….The silver lining of this is good relationships.”
If the pandemic taught us anything it is that we cannot take anything for granted. “Nothing will surprise me at this stage of the game,” said Yerkes. “The resurgence of the virus is expected, making all this unstable” (5). While we do predict a “semi-permanent” impact on the shortage of sanitary items, such as face masks and vinyl gloves through the rest of 2020, the supply situation can change at any given time, and no strategy is guaranteed to work or fail.
Preparing your business for product shortages and future outbreaks is necessary for the recovery process. It will take some time for us to win back the consumer confidence around safety, and until then, you should consider multiple supplier options, be creative and nimble in your menu changes, and communicate with vendors, staff and your customers about what’s to come.
And remember, no change should compromise quality. The fundamentals still are what they've always been and the most resilient of us will find ways to win small victories, even if there have been losses along the way.
(5) Yerkes, Meredith. (2020, June 11). Telephone interview
*Special thanks to Meredith Yerkes, Vice President of Business Development in Supply Chain at Consolidated Concepts in Boston, MA, for providing her expert insights
by Bora Kang
You’ve re-opened your restaurant, congratulations! But much has changed since you’ve last had dine-in guests; consumer spending behavior and eating habits have been reset. Other than your most loyal customers, there is no guarantee that your old guests will return to dine with you while social distancing and other public health recommendations remain in effect. So how will your restaurant appeal to your guests when they walk through your doors? We’ve come up with a short list of items that we think will be important to your guests based on available research.
A Safe Environment with a Touch of Convenience
First, we know that consumers will continue to regard safety and sanitation in high importance, possibly going towards 2021 (1). According to Philip Daus, partner with Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, consumers are expected to “remain vigilant about staying safe and limiting potential exposure to COVID-19… (This) value driver will stick around for a long time, at least until mass vaccination has been rolled out” (1). This sentiment is illustrated in a recent survey conducted by Technomic, a research and consulting firm servicing the food and foodservice headquartered in Chicago, IL: about half of survey takers felt that they would be comfortable dining at restaurants that had at least a 6-ft distance between tables (2). An additional 25% said they would be comfortable with table 9-15ft apart.
We think restaurants should implement transparency and visibility to alleviate these fears. “It will not be sufficient to have the proper sanitation procedures in place,” said Daus (1). “Restaurants need to openly communicate their safety standards to their customers and make sure they are being perceived as a safe establishment.” For example, Datassential, a market research firm for the food industry in Chicago, IL, recommends that restaurants have a staff member to frequently wipe down high touchpoints (i.e. door handles, soda fountains, and condiment bottles, kiosks, tables, public restrooms) in plain view of their customers (3). It would also be helpful to give customers as many touchless/self-service options as possible, such as automatic doors, self-checkout or touchless pay. The latter would not only eliminate the need for your staff to constantly sanitize, but offer a touch of convenience that may not have been available for your customers before the pandemic that your guests are sure to appreciate.
With social distancing behaviors expected to last long term, we may see an upward trend in food delivery. McKinsey’s analysis of the Chinese consumer response during the COVID19 crisis revealed that consumers were more likely to spend more on food delivery, prepared goods and groceries than they did pre-pandemic (3). According to Datassential, “high-risk,” environments such as arenas, movie theaters, buffets, bars, cafeterias, and anywhere else one could be exposed to large crowds were likely to be affected most (4). A recent survey they conducted also found that 54% would most likely decrease their visits to sit-down restaurants (4). Delivery (particularly, self-delivery*) and curbside could be what keeps operators afloat during these trying times.
*more on self-delivery discussed in our previous blog articles
A Sensible, “Value-Driven” Menu
Next, restaurant-goers may be more selective with their spending and spending decisions after the pandemic. The economic downturn would have affected job security, especially those in the lower socioeconomic groups, people of color, women and the young (5) and consumers will seek value to compensate the loss of income and save money.
Datassential, in their “Money Matters” article released in April, found that 38% of consumers planned to get restaurant food less often; 23% find and use more coupons; 22% choose less expensive restaurants; 19% choose less expensive menu items (6). Technomic, too, found that coupons and promotions were significant restaurant drivers, especially popular among consumers with children under the age of 18 (55%) and consumers in the age range of 25-34 (54%) (2). What this data shows us is the shifting perception of consumers regarding their eating habits. Brands, quality, flavors and convenience will still matter, but their decisions will also be influenced by the price and value of a menu item. This is not to consumers will be less willing to pay, just that they will be “more deliberate as to where and how they will spend their money” (1).
In accordance with these changes, some operators are remodeling their menu so that they “make sense.” Restaurants will have to rethink how they will get their vendors to supply ingredients and whether they are cost-effective to serve. For example, The Spillover Restaurant in Miami is changing its menu to an appetizer-entree-dessert format, focusing more on salads, sandwiches and entrees (7). They will be removing the shareable dishes—to emphasize guest safety—and implementing the $12 lunch specials during the weekdays. As the restaurant owner remarked, “a customer may not casually choose a $15 burger in the future” (7).
Trust, a Human Element
According to Danny Klein, Director of Digital Content at Food News Media and contributor to QSR and FSR Magazine, “Trust will mean everything to restaurant customers after COVID-19” (8). But you’ll have to earn it. The pandemic would have affected consumers more than just financially, and consumers who discover you through social media, as well as those who return to your establishment after lockdown will start to evaluate whether you truly care about their well-being. As we discussed earlier, transparency will be vital. Ask yourself these questions constantly: are you adhering to sanitation practices as posted? Are you producing quality food? Are the items offered in the menu in stock and fresh? Are the new contactless / touchless systems (self-checkout, touchless pay, for example) functional and convenient? Are your staff trained to use these new systems? Expect to be reliable and strive to be consistent. Customer loyalty will be valuable after the pandemic. Reliable consistency is how you will retain your guests.
While “trust,” as discussed above, comes from operators earning it through measurable results and transparency, it is also important to note how trust is also a human element built on emotions. Monica Ho, from Modern RestaurantManagement.com, recommends that businesses “lead with empathy,” focusing on connection and awareness (9). Many restaurants in the Atlanta area as well as other urban cities have actively participated in providing meals for food kitchens, for out of work restaurant employees and many frontline workers in the hospitals, while others have contributed to community issues by fighting hunger (10). Similarly, consumers have been very eager to support local restaurants and local food sources during lockdown, buying more take-out and ordering from local food suppliers to help small operators stay in business (8). It is this collaborative relationship that may have helped many small and local businesses navigate through the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Independents have been predicted to be most vulnerable to closures in this pandemic due to “minimal off-premise presence, limited digital capabilities, low emphasis on value-based menu items and because of their unfavorable economics (thin margins and poor access to capital) according to this McKinsey & Company research (11). Projected consumer spending for restaurants overall is also at a negative: people are expected to continue cooking at home and recovery is not expected to start early (11). Despite the odds, however, some restaurants have managed to thrive. Eric Rivera, owner of Addo Restaurant in Seattle, reported higher than last year’s sales and doubling of staff to 10 since the beginning of the month (12). His secret was systemic change: first, he shifted order to pick up and delivery only and sending his staff to make drop-offs rather than relying on third-party delivery. He also decided to continue to offer a new menu every day, ranging from simple $9 bowls to family style meals, such as a $45 pasta for two with a bottle of wine or a $105 Hawaiian feast for two. He’s also removed higher-end menu items and implemented a system where customers can “pay forward” the $9 bowls to a local homeless shelter (12). More details of this and his social media strategy can be read in the Wired article referenced here (12), but the key takeaway from Rivera’s success story is that a restaurant’s future outlook is not limited to what is defined by projections. The wonderful thing about trust is that it’s got a human element that cannot be predicted. Consumers are people, and these people will support and return to restaurants they trust and want to be associated with.
There is a big question mark over when the restaurant businesses will return to pre-COVID19 levels. The fact remains, there is a lot that remains unknown about future consumer behavior, as this pandemic is new to all of us. But studies have so far illustrated that nationwide spending has been gradually ticking upwards and that most businesses are expected to bounce back in 2021 (2). An article from Escoffier School of Culinary Arts even forecasted a positive outlook: that “extreme social distancing has created pent-up demand for social interaction. And once the economy opens up, customers will likely prioritize those businesses that have adapted the quickest to the new trends” (13).
It will be a difficult battle ahead, and every restaurant will be striving to regain what they’ve lost during the lockdown. It takes courage to transform and let go of your old business formula, and we’ll all have to proceed despite uncertainties. But like with all success stories, we think it’s the operators who are willing to learn and evolve with the time who will reap the benefits of tomorrow.
(5) Nicola, M., Alsafi, Z., Sohrabi, C., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., Iosifidis, C., Agha, M., & Agha, R. (2020). The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19): A review. International journal of surgery (London, England), 78, 185–193. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsu.2020.04.018
by Bora Kang
Catering has grown significantly over the last few years thanks to the widespread demand for this one word: convenience. Whether they be for office parties, conferences, birthdays or weddings, catering profits from the promise of efficiency, safety and most importantly—safe of mind.
But as consumer spending on catering grows, so does the competition. And while a little competition never hurts, continuing investments in your catering program will be paramount to your business’s success. Here are four strategies you can use in your existing catering business to gain a competitive edge in the crowded catering landscape.
EXPLORE NEW CATERING VERTICALS
Exploring new catering verticals is key to expanding your catering business. You may be used to catering for corporate meetings, office parties, weddings or cocktail parties, but what about outdoor festivals, picnics and movie sets? You may even get client requests you’re not used to, like having to add a food truck or using non-traditional type venues you would have never thought of using (1). But that’s what makes it a perfect opportunity. Take some time to explore what you can achieve as a business. Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy, but challenging yourself to take on new catering opportunities will set you apart from the competition and increase your business exposure. It will also provide a marketing platform where you can meet new people and gain new leads.
INVEST IN TECH
It can be stressful to manage a growing catering business without relying on technology. From venue information, menus, pack lists, hiring, timelines, etc., there will be logistical challenges in trying to keep track of every detail without a business management software. According to Daniel Smith, writer for QSR Magazine, “technology is playing a prominent and escalating role in catering. Those who can harness technological tools like online ordering and loyalty programs are better positioned to succeed ,,, minimizing friction for the end user” (2).
If organization is important to you, you may want to invest in a management/ catering software that can automate a large portion of your business. A good management software should be able to track your sales, managing your staff scheduling and most importantly, boost the overall efficiency of your business so that you can dedicate more time and energy into helping more clients, as explained in detail in this CaterEase article (3).
We also recommend that you start utilizing some of these catering/lunch service apps (if they are available in your area) to increase exposure and volume:
Fooda (4, 5)
• A workplace food program that brings in a different pop-up restaurant to serve as the office lunch vendor each day
• Works in dense urban areas and suburban surroundings
• Primarily geared toward employers that have more than 400 or 500 people in a location.
• Roughly 75 to 80 percent of the restaurants Fooda works with are local, independent restaurants and about 20 percent are chains.
• Serves in 15 cities, see reference:
• Connects employees in office buildings with local restaurants.
• Requires restaurants handle deliveries
• These employees can pre-order a meal from a restaurant in the Foodsby network, which Foodsby then aggregates and sends the collected orders to the restaurants. Your restaurant would deliver these pre-ordered meals in one single delivery. It’s basically delivering mass meals to one location.
• Advantage: restaurants can plan their labor and production days in advance.
• Because Foodsby acts as a marketplace, with the restaurants handling their own deliveries, the fee is much less than traditional third-party delivery services.
Foodee (7, 8)
• Works exclusively with corporate clients. Orders are typically a minimum of $200, restaurants are given 24-hour advance notice, and orders are prepared during non-peak hours.
• Orders are placed by clients either online or through staff. Foodee confirms and passes the order to the restaurant, and the restaurant prepares the food by the indicated pickup time, where Foodee drivers will take, package and present to the clients, including catering set up and quality assurance. They also offer all serving utensils with compostable options.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TRENDS
We expect the Coronavirus pandemic to have changed catering trends significantly. In an interview with Mike O’Hanlon, head of catering partner business at ezCater, with FSR Magazine, orders on ezCater containing individually packaged menu items have more than doubled as the result of the Coronavirus pandemic (9). Likewise, home delivery of family meals and to-go orders have been added to the catering software company CaterZen so that operators could diversify their services and meet this new demand (10). This trend of individual servings and lunchbox type meals is expected to continue for the remainder of 2020, and catering businesses will surely benefit from taking advantage of this trend as catering orders are expected to recover slowly, at least as social distancing and small gatherings remain in effect.
INVEST IN SOCIAL MEDIA
It’s never been more important to market yourself online. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, strategic social media marketing ideas for restaurants can drive sales and increase foot traffic (11). Especially now because of the pandemic, "Consumers are afraid to go out, so they are likely canvassing their social media much more than usual," said New York City-based Four Corners Communications President Drew Kerr in QSR Web (12). Izea, a social media content provider, even found that about 63% of consumers expected their usage of YouTube and Facebook to increase during the quarantine (12).
Managing your online presence will be key, so make sure you have the basics: a Google listing of your business, an updated website with an online menu and a Facebook page are musts. Get your business on Instagram and even Twitter and share with your audience regular updates on the catering business, testimonials, expert tips on event planning and more. (More ideas can be found in our earlier blog, “5 Steps To Do Social Media Right.”) Be sure to take advantage of trending hashtags, especially ones involving food-specific holidays such as these upcoming ones #nationalhamburgerday (May 28), #nationaldoughnutday (June 5), #nationalsushiday (June 18), etc.
Lastly, consider utilizing these media outlets to send out a compelling brand message. Now that the pandemic has upturned our daily routines, many are creating new habits and behaviors, even the kind of food they eat. A compelling message and awareness of your audiences’ needs and trends will help establish yourself and to draw in new customers for your business. Kate Finley, CEO of Belle Communication, a restaurant digital marketing company in Columbus, Ohio, recommends that you “humanize your brand” (12). Businesses should form local, community ties and build bonds; offer foods that give people a sense of comfort, safety and nostalgia (12). Your business can also address current concerns by posting updated sanitation policies online and communicating these messages to your audience to show that your business prioritizes guest safety above all else. As Finley stated, "Now, is the time for social listening and proactive engagement. Devote time to proactively connecting with consumers. Pay attention to what's important to your audience right now.”
Important points to consider before starting a catering program
Off-premise catering is undoubtedly a compelling business opportunity for restaurant owners. Aside from boosting revenue, catering can boost business during slow performing times, reduce excess food waste, allow for menu changes, and helps to increase employee retention as they gain new skills and varied tasks that challenges and keeps them busy (1). Catering also gives businesses brand exposure and valuable marketing opportunities.
Instead of waiting for customers to walk through their doors, businesses can bring its brand to the customers in a catering environment (2). As for profit, the percentage is largely variable dependent upon the business model, size, and marketing strategies, but high-end caterers have boasted impressive sales—a pretax profit of over 25% (3). But on average these numbers are much more modest.
For example, Catersource magazine reported 7 to 8 % as the average pretax profit in the full-service restaurant industry (3). Nevertheless, we think it is a good time for caterers as recent studies have made clear the growing demand and popularity for catering. Chicago-based foodservice research firm Datassential, for example, reported that consumer spending on catering was capturing growth that is on par, if not beyond, that of other restaurant categories (2). A more recent research from Technomic reported that business catering brought in $22 billion in 2018, with catering expecting to grow 5.6% annually through 2019 (4). As Gene Lee, the CEO of Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants said in an interview with RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, “(Catering) makes a lot more sense for us to market and pursue than running around delivering $10 entrees at this point in time” considering that the average order for a large-party delivery catering in Olive Garden is $300 (5).
With that said, there are several factors restaurants must consider before starting a catering program for their restaurant. While it may seem like a big opportunity, off-premise catering is also a lot of work—requiring your time and energy for adding necessary staff, purchasing delivery vehicles, acquiring needed equipment, and paying for miscellaneous expenses that come with the service (2). It is therefore imperative that when starting out, restauranteurs tread slowly and carefully. A successful catering service may take years of adapting and fine-tuning before it is perfected. The personnel, storage capacity and vehicles are dimensions that can be added to the business as volume increases (2).
Possibly the most overlooked element in operating g a successful catering program is good organization. An absence of organization, according to catering experts Maulik Suthar and Nishin Sura, creates a huge time strain and causes simple tasks to take up an unnecessary amount of your day (6). Imagine being too late or too early to the venue because you did not factor in delivery timing, underestimating the amount of food or bringing incorrect food due to miscommunication. Making your guests impatient and uncomfortable is the last thing you want to establish a good impression of your brand. We recommend that you set up a system in place that will allow you to keep track of venue information, menus, pack lists, hiring, timelines and more. Alternatively, you can invest in a catering software to do this for you.
First, find a catering software that can help you organize more catering orders. Basically, a catering software manages business functions for the catering, event planning and banquet management industries, and you start by compare product reviews and features here (7). We recommend that you find one where the invoicing is automated, such as Gather (8) or Total Party Planner (9). BEO (Banquet Event Order) binders, used by event professionals and venue managers to outline all the details on a particular event, such as food and beverage orders, A/V requirements, room info, decor, signed receipts, staffing and more, are also all managed digitally thanks to software like these (10). Other good features to have are integrated/shared team calendar, task management, communication tracking (for proposal or invoice re-reads or reviews), 3rd Party Integrations from excel spreadsheets, credit card payment processing and business insights.
Next, you should assemble your catering team. Having a point person who is dedicated to directing catering, to oversee operation of the catering business and handle with employee training, customer concerns and safety compliance, is a must because it helps catering operations to run more smoothly (5, 12). You’ll also need to cross-train some of your employees so that they can serve as backup staff for your catering service, as catering programs often require irregular staff scheduling and flexibility to handle catering orders that vary in size and complexity (13, 14). Having employees who can multi-task or who can work on a flexible schedule can help. You can also hire a catering salesperson, someone that who will manage business and customer relationships by sales calls, networking, advertising, and social media.
Other questions business owners should ask and answer before you start catering is whether your business has the right equipment, storage capacity and the delivery logistics in place. According to Aaron Hoffman, CEO and co-founder of DeliverThat, a third-party delivery service provider in restaurant catering delivery and setup, how restaurants implement their catering delivery strategies have changed much in these recent years due to growing popularity of third-party delivery (15). According to his article, restaurant owners who implement a hybrid approach to delivery—using both self-managed fleets and third-party delivery providers—have shown the highest customer and employee satisfaction rates. For example, a small fleet of delivery drivers and branded vehicles will cover a few daily runs while third-party providers will handle the most of restaurants’ catering deliveries or overflow on days with higher volume. “The hybrid approach also works well for brands that handle large catering volumes, see seasonal fluctuations, or have VIP clients that prefer one delivery channel over another” (15).
Whether it is simply dropping off the goods or offering more extensive services like buffets or a full dining service, catering is an excellent opportunity for your restaurant to draw in more vertical revenue streams. We hope that these considerations should give you a foundation you need to start your business, but the most important advice for a successful catering program is presenting a professional service that is organized, timely and executes on its promises.
How will restaurants deliver after COVID-19?
The coronavirus crisis has challenged restaurants to rethink the way they deal with food delivery for good. Larger franchises have offered free delivery (McDonalds, Applebee’s, IHOP, Panera Bread, Wingstop and Chipotle Mexican Grill, among many others) to accommodate decreasing on-premise sales (1). Meanwhile, smaller restaurants had to turn to third-party delivery services like Doordash, UberEats, Grubhub to deliver food to their customers. The topic of switching to self, or in-house delivery has been a widely-debated issue among independents these past couple of years, and it will most definitely be a hot topic as restaurants begin to open their doors again. So where is food delivery headed post-COVID-19?
In our previous blog article, we briefly touched on the various advantages of third party delivery services, like how outsourcing delivery to a third-party service has an advantage of allowing smaller, local restaurants to get started quickly (2). By partnering up with these big companies, restaurants have been allowed to take advantage of the software and support they offer and use these popular apps as a marketing tool—a way to attract new customers and gain brand recognition (3). Even larger brands, like that of the sub/sandwich franchise Jersey Mikes, relied on third-party delivery as a way of managing within its capacity (4).
However, the main issue with these third-party services have been their exorbitant fees, often ranging from 25 to 30 percent of sales (4). Other complaints have been unreliable delivery time and unsatisfactory food temperatures upon arrival (5). A report by the US Foods even found that 1 in 4 food delivery drivers admit to eating the food they were supposed to deliver (5). These issues collectively have made the shift to self-delivery so appealing.
The food delivery marketplace has exploded in the recent weeks due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Portillo, a Chicago-style comfort food restaurant in Illinois, for example, reported a 90% delivery sales increase through its third-party delivery since shutdown and 60% delivery increase through its website and mobile app (1). But for restaurant owners who had to rely solely on third-party delivery, this jump in food delivery has not entirely been welcome, driving them to look for alternative delivery measures despite some third-delivery services suspending some fees to accommodate for the crisis (6).
Having your own in-house delivery service allows you to have more control over your staff and drivers, reduce transit time and give you options to give better customer service (7). Having the same drivers deliver to your customers also come with perks of building long term driver-customer relationships.
Just as the third-party delivery model has its pros and cons, so does in-house delivery. While in-house delivery models are great in that you get more control and own the transaction from beginning to end, an in-house delivery route would require you to pay upfront costs to hire drivers to deliver your food (7). It also means you’d have to hire, train and pay new staff for this job including paying for insurance and vehicle expenses. For restaurants that have enough volume to keep their drivers busy the expenses will be worthwhile, but for up and coming restaurants that are in the process of building a customer base, self-marketing will be key whether it be by word of mouth, online listings or by keeping an active social media presence.
The good news is that in the long run, restaurants who have self-delivery services can expect higher returns (16, 17). As more restaurants fight back third-party delivery fees and lack of control, we could be seeing a lot more restaurants adopt self-delivery in the near future.
So, in summary:
Third Party Delivery
Self/ In-House Delivery
Interested in setting up self-delivery?
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
Guest post by Robert Marshall - Organizational Health Consultant @ CSR
A guide for establishing a critical connection to your teams and employees
I hope this finds you well considering the unprecedented disruption of our personal lives and the negative effect it has had on the economy of this country. That we have collectively endured these last few months is a credit to our resilience. The one thing we know, is that companies are going to come out of this better and stronger or worse and weaker. But certainly not the same. How we lead during this time will determine our fate and long-term impact of this short-term disruption to our business and our lives.
Working capital is tight. Companies will return to regular operations soon with a philosophy of cautious austerity. While some have already adjusted to working with fewer people, others have fought to stay intact and keep their people in place. Whether future measures include a thinning of the workforce or are simply new policies designed to run leaner in the aftermath, chances are good that employee morale will be the big loser.
But what if there was a way to energize your workplace? What if there is a way to show your employees that you truly value them in a time where most have been shaken to the core? What if you had the opportunity to not only weather this storm but also reset the company culture. You can dramatically differentiate your workplace from your competitors by developing a "Branded" people program now.
Your employees need to know that they are valued. When you as management, operate from a place of caring and COMPASSION, this will be recognized. Your company will reap the rewards with increased productivity, improved morale, and individual loyalty. Brand your program, “People First”. This is your competitive differentiator! The way your people see you and the company, interested in their welfare, will re-engage them, and cement the foundation of your plan. Investing in the future of your company this way, will bring added credibility and allow you to maintain and/or ramp up your expectations with a positive response. The only way 2020 can be salvaged into something positive is if your employees are properly taken care of now.
Invest in the individual and watch their value as an employee grow. Make it about them. The way they function better as individuals, with a heightened sense of self-awareness, will make them better team members as they strive to achieve the team goals. More than ever, we “need them” on the team. A targeted, personal people program will address individual needs for the greater good of your entire organization and long-term health of the organization. We can do this now or miss the opportunity and pick up what is sure to be the more expensive pieces later.
Guest post by Elena Stewart
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people and businesses alike all over the world. As a result, those that have been classified as “non-essential” are forced to pause their operations. For many small businesses, this can spell devastation. However, there are ways you can keep your business afloat during this difficult time. After all, modern technology has made available countless tools and resources to keep people working remotely, which, in turn, can give your business a fighting chance to survive. We’ve put together some links to help you with the task.
Improve Your Workspace
Creating a clutter-free and work-friendly space will do wonders for your productivity.
Leveraging the many resources and tools made available by technology will keep your business going without a hitch.
Get Adequate Help
Just because you’re operating remotely doesn’t mean you need to do it all on your own.
Suffice it to say, there’s no need for your lifeblood — that is, your small business — to languish and move closer to failure as the whole world tries to recover from this pandemic. Instead, embrace the paradigm shift into remote work and operations, and maybe also learn a new thing or two along the way. Ultimately, that’s how your business succeeds through COVID-19.
Photo via Pexels.com
Using CARES Act Stimulus Money to Support Medical Personnel, Front Line Workers and the Unemployed
#Givecare is being used to promote the donation of CARES Act stimulus money to charities that impact those people out of work and the people on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus.
Charities to support include food banks, organizations buying PPE/supplies/food for medical workers, funds supporting restaurants and restaurant workers and a host of other organizations that are focused on helping those in need.
Join us in getting the word out to #givecare and our message of paying it forward.
From the www.facebook.com/givecarenow
With stimulus checks coming to most Americans, we are proud to promote the #givecare initiative. For many, these stimulus checks will serve as a lifeline to make ends meet and put food on families’ tables during a time of need. For those with continued employment, who do not need the stimulus checks to keep their lights on and mortgages paid, we ask that you join us in donating to food banks and other charities that will support those out of work and also our first responders and medical personnel dedicated to taking care of our communities.
Americans have a tenured history of supporting one another. Multiple studies demonstrated during the recession of 2008, the ratio of Americans’ charitable donations to income remained consistent. In September 2001, tip jars across the service industry were willfully replaced with collections for the first responders and victims. Recent data shows that around 20% of people with means plan to donate their stimulus checks. This is our tradition, and these are the values that make us a great nation.
This is an opportunity to redirect several billion dollars in stimulus checks to those most in need. Please join us in promoting #givecare and help make a difference.
CARES Act Stimulus Payments
How large will the payments be? Most adults will get $1,200, although some would get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500.
How many payments will there be? Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.
How do I know if I will get the full amount? It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household would get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000. According to the Senate Finance Committee, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for any payments if its income surpassed $218,000.
Here's good information on who will be donating from FSR Magazine:
Filing for Georgia Unemployment Insurance (UI) can be a complicated process leading to multiple questions from both the employer and the employee. This frustration of filing claims is magnified during the coronavirus pandemic due to the mass influx of claims overloading the GA DOL’s capabilities. From long wait times via phone and the website servers continuously slowing down or crashing, I received multiple requests for filing assistance and answers to questions. Most of the issues with the process are individual business specific.
If you have any questions, need assistance deciphering the process, or inquiries after filing claims, reach out to Colin.Kopel@GoliathConsulting.com.
Do I need to file a claim for my employees, or do they file a claim for themselves?
This is contingent upon your plans during the current crisis. If you are temporarily laying your staff off and have the full intention of rehiring the staff, you will file on their behalf. This is called a Partial Claim. The employer is responsible to file each week the employee is out of work. It is not important which day of the week you choose to file for your employees, but it is important you file on the same day every week. Filing a day early can result in the system rejecting your claims and filing a day late can lead to a delay in your staff receiving their benefits.
If you are permanently laying your staff off, they will file on their own behalf. This is only recommended if you do not plan on reopening or you plan on reopening at a reduced capacity.
How do I file Partial Claims for my employees?
You will need access to the DOL UI Employer Portal. If you do not remember your established login credentials, follow the “Reset” links below the login screen. If you need to establish access for the first time, select “Establish Administrator Access.” If you do not have a pin number, check the corresponding box and answer the security questions. In the event your security answers are not working, call the DOL and speak with an operator. They will verify the correct information over the phone so you can login.
Once your administrator access is setup, click “File Employer Filed Claims (Partial Claims)” link and download the template. The DOL created a user-friendly YouTube tutorial you can find here. It is critical your inputted data on the template mirrors the acceptable formatting rules or the site will reject it. Once complete, upload your template. The automated system will determine if there are any errors in the template and guide you through any changes needed.
What happens after I file a Partial Claim?
After the DOL accepts the uploaded template, your claim is complete. Remember, you must refile every week on the same day for your staff to continue receiving benefits. The DOL will mail a letter to your listed business address listing each employee you filed for and their weekly benefit. Your employees will receive further instructions from the DOL on collecting their benefits. Remember: The DOL is currently using reported income from 2019 to calculate the weekly benefit amount.
What if my employee was turned down for UI or received below the maximum $365/week?
Once the DOL has a benefit determination for an employee, it is the employee’s responsibility to correspond with the DOL if a correction is needed. Most of the issues reported to me involve lack of income during the 2019-time frame. The DOL allows employees to dispute the reported wages via submitting earnings reports to the email listed on their determination letter for additional periods of time. As an employer, you should send the earnings reports to the employee, but the burden of submitting it and contesting the amount currently falls on the employee.
Do recently hired employees qualify for Partial UI?
Yes. Any employee on your payroll with hours effected by the coronavirus qualify for Partial Unemployment.
Most of the questions regarding Partial Unemployment are business specific. If you have any questions on filing for your employees or need assistance with the filing process, reach out to me at Colin.Kopel@GoliathConsulting.com
This is a guide for restauranteurs to help mitigate the impact of closing your restaurant and/or closing your dining room and converting to take out and delivery. Below this post is a printable document to help guide you with next steps.
Operators that can are keeping their staff paid or receiving partial pay is the best scenario. This is not possible in most cases. The next phase is keeping essential management on staff to run operations along with key hourly staff to cover what sales are projected over the next six to eight weeks. The last choice, when the restaurant is closed, is laying off all staff.
Depending on your staffing situation, laying people off and setting up unemployment through your state agency is the next step. If you employ your staff through a professional employer organization (PEO), check with your PEO on next steps.
There are a number of programs in addition to unemployment that your staff can engage to help with their expenses.
Georgia Employees visit this site: https://www.garestaurants.org/covid-19-resources-for-restaurant-workers and this site: https://thegivingkitchen.org/help
Federal Assistance is going to be updated next week.
Georgia Unemployment site, start here: https://dol.georgia.gov/blog/new-information-filing-unemployment-partial-claims-and-reemployment-services
Operators are advised to contact all vendors including your landlord, food and beverage suppliers, utilities, etc. to discuss plans for payment deferment, extensions and other considerations.
Operators are advised to create daily/weekly plans to manage each shift. Staffing, hours of operations, limited menus, and safety and security are key areas to address.
Spring cleaning is early this year. Now is a great time to deep clean your business and focus on improving the efficiency of your restaurant by reorganization stock and storage. Rearranging equipment and furniture may help optimize the work space.
Short-term (6-8 weeks):
Communicate with your customer base using social media. Explain your companies approach to ensuring safe food and clean environments. Explain any changes in pick-up or delivery procedures. Post adjusted hours of operations, limited menus and easy ways to order (online, apps, phone).
Begin creating “back to normal” plans to drive traffic back to your business. Use your marketing and business consultants to draft effective plans to promote special offers, use segmentation data to reach customers that have not returned and create a cadence of messaging to ensure your business breaks through the advertising clutter to reach your customers.
A restaurant’s packaging is not just a vehicle for carrying food—it’s a statement that informs customers about your business’s brand and values. According to Technomic, a food industry research firm, 64% of consumers consider high quality packaging an important factor in deciding where to order food (1). And as Alicia McCabe, senior director of Food Packaging Category at Georgia-Pacific Professional, stated, “It’s important for consumers to have a good dining experience, even outside of the restaurant. The packaging is important to meet this need” (2).
A research conducted by US Foods reported that the top complaints from ordering customers included, “food was not warm or fresh” and “food got shaken or messed up during delivery” (3). With more consumers using food delivery services, the demand for better food packaging is stronger than ever. Wrong packaging could mean unhappy customers, bad reviews, and fewer repeat orders. On the other hand, restaurants with innovative, sustainable packaging can increase traffic among consumers.
Here are the top 3 considerations we think you should make when choosing your food packaging:
By quality, we mean that the food packaging should keep foods fresh foods fresh and hot foods hot. It also means that the packaging should allow for easy transport while keeping foods sealed and protected from spills or physical damage. Remember, the goal of food packaging is not just to contain the food that is delivered to your customers, it is to deliver them in a way customers would have gotten had they dined in.
Some basic rules of food packaging are: keeping hot and cold foods separate, placing sauces on the side, and using containers with tight seals (4). Temperature is also a crucial part of ensuring high food quality. With styrofoam losing favor over more environmentally friendly materials, restaurants are turning to new and innovative products like reusable or compostable containers, then relying on insulated bags to keep meal deliveries hot or cold (5).
Even if the risk of contamination or tampering is minimal, packaging experts at Packaging Strategies, suggests that restaurants go the extra mile with packaging so that they can show consumers that your restaurant takes their safety seriously (6). “Attention to detail is vital to protecting your company and your image,” said Chris Bekermeier, the Vice President of Marketing at PacMoore (6). “Food packaging is one of the first things a consumer will notice.”
It goes without saying that the food inside the packaging should be clean and organized, as well as compartmentalized with dividers so that they do not mix during transport. Unfortunately, off-the-shelf packaging doesn’t always fill the bill. According to Sheri Miksa, president and CEO of Tulsa, Okla.-based Mazzio’s Italian Eatery, “Custom packaging may be needed to be sure the product stays as fabulous once delivered, as when served in the restaurant” (7).
Major brands have addressed this concern by undergoing a packaging redesign. IHOP, for example, unveiled their proprietary IHOP ‘N GO packaging which was designed in a way that appeals to aesthetics while allowing the company’s famous pancakes to fit perfectly into the container right above the bottom compartment of other hot items, strategically designed so that they would keep the pancakes warm (8). Wagamama, the US-based Asian fast-food chain, has also redesigned its takeaway boxes so that the packaging is segmented—perfect for their signature multi-component meals containing rice, proteins, sauces and multiple garnishes (9).
A Nielsen study reported that consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for sustainable brands (10). This probably explains the trend of previously-recycled and reusable packaging. Such packaging helps relay to your customers your restaurant’s values on being more environmentally responsible (11). It also resonates with younger customers, millennials and generation Z, who are more likely to help market your restaurant via social media (12).
In support of this movement, major Brands have already committed to sustainable packaging over these last few years. For instance, KFC pledged all plastic customer packaging recoverable or reusable by 2025 (13). Taco Bell, too, pledged compostable, recyclable packaging by 2025 (14).
Food packaging as the new differentiator, and it’s more than a simple shipping tool—but an important extension of your restaurant.
“Taste and test; taste and test,” stated Sheri Miksa, president and CEO of Tulsa, an Oklahoma based Italian restaurant. “Use your own product to be sure the delivered product is indeed excellent once received” (7).
4 Things to Consider Before Adding Delivery to Your Restaurant
Food delivery is projected to grow 12% per year over the next 3 years1. Aside from the sales opportunity, there are other clear benefits to incorporating food delivery at your restaurant, such as giving the restaurant increased visibility, exposure to new customers and gaining of valuable insights on purchasing trends2,3. That said, incorporating delivery to an existing restaurant isn’t something that happens overnight. Factoring in the new technology, menu development, staff training and additional costs that goes into the whole ordeal, it may be a good idea to first consider these four important aspects of food delivery first:
Do you have a delivery menu? There are foods that just don’t travel well, like cheesy nachos that are meant to be eaten right away or a raw seafood plate that is sensitive to temperature fluctuations. And while everything is technically deliverable, sometimes it’s not worth the trouble to have to invest in a packaging solution that would let you deliver them. So yes, you can deliver anything, but you shouldn’t try to deliver everything
A few tips here4 offer solutions to keeping delivery foods fresh, like separating the sauces and separating hot and cold in separate bags. Insider also gives a few examples of foods that don’t travel well, like avocado toast and salads that aren’t packaged properly5.
It also goes without saying that your food won’t be deliverable without proper packaging. A well packaged food is not only durable, but also leak-proof. A badly packaged food can leave you with negative reviews and hurt your restaurant’s reputation for food quality.
Investing in a POS system that includes delivery function is a must. There are a number of systems you can choose but you need to make sure that your POS system offer apps that will let your customers place orders on their tablets or smartphones6. It should also be able to handle things like delivery, online ordering, customer information and operation control7.
According to an Online Ordering Platform company, Orders2me, one advantage of updating your POS so that it covers online services is that it handles the problem of chain restaurants having issues with poorly integrated and non-uniform POS systems across restaurants. Meanwhile, “online ordering systems are situated above the POS, [so] they can easily integrate themselves into multiple POS providers at once”8.
Don’t want to enter the information from all those delivery tablets? There are solutions including Chowly that integrate those orders into your POS. This helps with labor, speed of service and accuracy and are typically worth the extra cost.
Space and Staff
Is there a dedicated staff member who will be in charge of the delivery? You should have an employee who can take care of receiving orders, prep, expediting and checking orders before they leave for delivery9. This is important because delivery orders can negatively influence a restaurant efficiency, especially if this task is added to your front-of-house staffs’ duties. According a Olo’s “Want to Scale Delivery?” report, “once your restaurant is processing 30 or more delivery orders per day you can justify dedicating an employee to this role”10.
Likewise, operators should have extra workspace for preparing and packaging delivery food and storing big bags and boxes11.
You can decide to deliver yourself or leave it to a third-party service like Doordash, UberEats, Grubhub, among many others. The advantage of outsourcing delivery is that smaller, local restaurants can get started quickly12. Restaurants can also take advantage of the software and support they offer and use these popular apps as a way to attract new customers and gain brand recognition13. Sometimes, it’s just the matter of capacity. As Jersey Mike’s president Hoyt Jones said, “It’s hard to manage an in-house business, a carry-out business, and then a delivery business”14.
Still, the problem with third-party delivery companies is the fees ranging from 25 to 30 percent of sales14. More restaurants are developing their own delivery service models instead of struggling with the tight margins15. An in-house delivery route would require you to pay upfront costs to hire drivers to deliver your food, but it may be worth the investment if it will bring higher returns in
the long run16, 17.
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
Great news! Snacking has become something we do 24/7. According to Skift Restaurant Megatrends of 2019, “customers are eating whatever they want, and whenever they want it” (1). Whether it is midday snacking or late night eating, “the definition of meals, where and when we have them, is becoming more fluid,” said David Portalatin, VP, food industry advisor at NPD Group (2). “People are going to restaurants saying a hamburger, something we would consider lunch or dinner, is just a snack.”
These snacking occasions create perfect opportunities for restaurants expand their menu and to increase traffic and sales. So how should you incorporate this new snack trend into your business? Here are three ideas:
Re-size your menu
QSRs have had great success transforming traditional meals like large appetizers or entrées to a sharable, snack sized portions (3). Dallas-based Chili, for example, repositioned their nachos and baby back ribs into smaller grab-and-go menu items (3). Meanwhile, Firehouse Subs began to offer half sized sandwiches, and Red Robin has offered drink and appetizer specials during their off-peak hours. Re-sizing your menu items to provide snack sized options for your customers allow them to sample multiple dishes and to share. It also appeals to those who want bite sized meals sold at value, as well to customers looking for a lighter fare. To start, try adding mini meals such as sliders and wraps, half sized sandwiches, snack appetizers, and non-alcoholic drinks into your new snack menu.
Offer a Variety
As Bradley Day, Chef of STK, a 13-unit steakhouse based in NYC said, “(snacks) are a little bit about variety and speed” (4). His restaurant lets their customers mix and match and add extra sliders for $5 each with a two-slider minimum. The appeal of a tasting menu, a mix-and-match is only growing (4). It also gives customers a chance to try something new—odd bits of meat like turkey necks, beef tongues or pig feet—while challenging chefs to dish out more inventive nibbles. According to Brian Landry, chef at Borgne at New Orleans, it can also be “a fun way for us to utilize the entire fish” (4).
Up the Health Factor
Datassential’s MenuTrends Keynote Report: Seafood showed that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers have snacked on seafood, such as popcorn shrimp, sushi or calamari in 2017, with popcorn shrimp being the most popular item (5). The rise of seafood snacks seems to linked to the overlapping popularity of snacking and health foods. Healthier and lighter fare such as tuna tartare, edamame and seafood taco trios particularly appeal to a younger customer base seeking health friendly, low calorie options. And according to Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel, millennials—that is, customers ages of 21 and 38—are significantly more likely than older consumers to snack frequently (6). Moreover, “they are also more likely than older generations to indicate snacks with added nutrition and flavor variety are important to them.” Adding calorie counts into your snack menu is also a good idea.
While the main appeal of snack foods comes from consumers wanting value, it seems to be a combination of variety, flexibility and portability that make snack foods so popular. But as Noveshen, co-founder of Pacific Catch restaurants in California said, “Trying to serve everyone is probably not the best idea.” Restaurants should aim to find the sweet spot on what and to whom to serve their snacks.
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
Using Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to grow your restaurant business
By Bora Kang
With more than 79% of the US population now using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter 1 and users projected to increase to 257 million by 2023, restaurants can no longer afford not to invest in their social media presence. Millions of users utilize social media to find and share their favorite restaurants; some browse it just to figure out where and what they want to eat. In fact, more than 63% of restaurants reported to have used social media to market their business in 2018 2. So how should you use social media to promote your restaurant?
Here are our top 5 steps:
Take Great Photos
You know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. According to Wansink (2006), the digital presentation of food is thought to influence more than 70% of the food eaten by American households 3. A study published in Brain and Cognition by Spence and his colleagues (2016) reported that our brain is wired to link food with visual cues, that is to say, “we eat with our eyes” 4. A well taken, beautifully staged photo of your restaurant or menu item will visually and emotional appeal to your potential customers, and make them want to come in taste your food. Having professional looking food photography doesn’t necessary mean that you have to break the bank, however. Nation’s Restaurant News offers some great tips on taking food photos on a budget here 5.
Share What’s New and Upcoming
According to CJ Jacobson, chef and partner at Ema, Chicago, social media allows us to “show our possible patrons what we're working on, new menu items and what we're excited about" 6. Using social media to tell your customers about limited time items or specials will help generate buzz around your restaurant and help increase foot traffic. Keep in mind, however, to make sure your social media pages include promotional timeframes and are up-to-date on new menu items.
You want social media to be a space where you can communicate and connect with your customers at a more personal level. This can mean posting what’s behind the scenes, spotlighting employees and sharing anecdotes and stories that might come from your vendors. Sharing your vision and goals can have great effect, as Joseph "JJ" Johnson, chef and cookbook author, New York City, said he uses “Instagram as a tool to share my story. Whether it’s food, my new cookbook or my family, Instagram serves as a platform to push forward all the things I’m passionate about and to have a social impact, as an African American chef, on the food industry” 6.
Be Responsive, Engage and Communicate
It helps to be responsive in social media. This can mean answering questions, responding to a review (especially bad ones) or just replying thank you to a comment. Not only do these actions give the impression that you care about your customers, being responsive also allows you to take notice of popular trends. For example, Todd Erickson, chef, Schwan’s Chef Collective, stated that “(social media) gives chefs the ability to see in real time what other chefs are doing anywhere in the world, which ingredients bloggers are going crazy over” 7. And we don’t have to look far for great examples. Take Burger King’s recent pilot of Impossible Burgers, for instance (or KFC’s Beyond Chicken) and their massive marketing success. They simply took notice of the increasing demand for plant-based meats and answered it 8.
Give out coupons, do giveaways, host social media contests and post often. The top restaurant brands that dominate the social media universe use all the above methods and more by creating creative and fresh content paired with incentives, products and of course, it never hurts to have a bit of humor.
(3) Wansink, B. (2006). Nutritional gatekeepers and the 72% solution. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106(2006), 1324-1327.
(4) Spence, C., Okajima, K., Cheok, A. D., Petit, O., & Michel, C. (2016). Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain and cognition, 110, 53-63.
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
There are quite a number of beverages that come to mind when we think of the holidays. There’s mulled wine and spiced sangria, hot buttered rum, eggnog, and hot chocolate. But if you’re looking to offer something extra special to your customers, here are three ways to craft a cocktail that is sure to spread the Christmas cheer.
Tweak the Classics
Holiday or not, people still order the classics. It’s familiar, it’s tried and true. Best of all they’re year round, and a seasonal twist on the favorites is sometimes all you need to showcase the flavors of the holidays. Take this Holiday Sidecar (1) recipe for example, where a cinnamon sugar rim and a star anise garnish accompany our well-loved classic. Aromatic bitters are also a great addition to any classic cocktail, like in this Winter White Lady (2), and in this Peppermint Bark Mimosa (3), a splash of peppermint schnapps puts a Christmas spin on the classic drink.
of flavored liquor is a must for this season. You can use schnapps or flavor infused simple syrups (4), like this Corduroy Daiquiri (5). Or use flavored spirits, like in this
Ginger Bloody Mary (6) and Butterscotch Martini (7). There are plenty of holiday flavors to get you started: try with cinnamon, clove, ginger, cranberry, orange, pumpkin, butterscotch, salted caramel, peppermint, chocolate and whip cream.
Make it Trendy
The beverage trends of 2019 can certainly be incorporated into your holiday cocktail recipes.
Go plant-based and substitute oat milk for dairy, like this Oat milk Honey Cocktail (8) or in this Last Minute Gift (9). Coconut milk is a terrific substitute in this Coconut White Russian (10) not only because it’s a vegan take on the classic, but because coconut milk imparts that creamy mouthfeel you’ll miss by substituting heavy cream. According to BeverageDaily (11), texture has been a big part of this year’s beverage trends. Carbonation and whipped drinks are still popular, which means that bubbly and creamy are textures that your customers will be eager to try. Use sparkling wine and champagne to top your cocktails like in this Northern Lights Cocktail (12) and Champagne Julep (13). Adding soda water is also a simple way to add bubbles to your drinks, like in this St-Germain Spritz (14). Likewise, the popularity of Coffee drinks has been on the rise these past few years and we expect it to continue. Drinks like espresso martini (15), Hummer (16) and Irish coffee (17) embody both the holiday theme and current trend. Add ice cream to great effect.
Our rule is that if it tastes like Christmas, then it must look like Christmas. It’s important for your customers to feel like they’ve ordered a seasonal—as in, limited time—item. For example, a sprig of thyme and skewered cranberries make this Under the Mistletoe Cocktail (18) extra special. A thick clove-studded strip of orange zest makes Autumn Sweater cocktail (19) a delight to look at. This Peppermintini (20) uses crushed peppermints, and this Sugar Cookie Cocktail (21) uses sugar cookie and vanilla frosting. The possibilities are endless.
From craft cocktail recipes to setting up and running a more profitable bar, Goliath Consulting Group can help you get the results you want. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for a full listing of services provided.
By Bora Kang
2019 has been fun. We saw the rise of veggie entrees, oat milk, boba tea and new allergy-free foods (1). We saw the growth of veganism, and the amount of sensation the Impossible Burger has generated around plant-based eating. But what comes afterwards? What new food trend would the new year bring? We’re pitching our predictions into the web-verse. Here they are.
It’s a health-conscious world and people now place just as much importance in healthy foods as they do in exercise and other healthy lifestyles2. Veggies are being incorporated into the menu in creative ways (think jackfruit pulled “pork”, veggie rice and pasta), vegan entrees and sandwiches will keep rolling and “gut-friendly” fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha are making its way into more restaurant menus3. The faux meat craze is just beginning, with chains such as KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos and McDonalds incorporating Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meats into their menus4. Additionally, we expect smaller servings and snack-size portions to become more widespread, as more people turn to read the nutrition labels to see not just the calories they are consuming, but also its carb, protein, saturated fat and sodium content5.
Colorful? Big? Over the top? Unique? Photogenic foods have done well and we expect it will continue to do so in 2020 - all thanks to Instagram6. The big and crazy are back, and you’ll be seeing more fried chickens in a Bloody Mary, gigantic shakes and volcano drinks return to restaurants. It’s no coincidence that some of the most trending hashtags on Instagram are #foodporn and #instafood. The popularity of digitally shareable foods is also helping to introduce diverse cuisines into the industry, and fueling the widespread interest of international concepts like Japanese, Lebanese and Mexican cuisines7.
More people are valuing how the food is produced, obtained and packaged. Transparency has also become an important factor, and behind customer awareness of what constitutes a sustainably produced food8. We expect that the demand for local, organic, ugly (imperfect) produce and sustainable seafood will continue to grow in 2020. A recent Nielsen study reported how sustainable products had an 20% increase in sales since 20149. Zero waste has become a buzzworthy term, with restaurants being encouraged to be the vanguard of recycling and to take part of an initiative that is sure to resonate with today’s customers10. Some QSRs are already experimenting, with Starbucks using strawless cups, Pizza hut with round boxes and Dig testing reusable takeout bowls.
There’s no doubt that people will pay for a one-of-a-kind experience11. When restaurants embrace the task of creating unique, fun and personal memories, their customers return—and often with more friends. One way QSRs have done this in 2019 is offering limited time offers. LTOs can be a new flavor or a simple addition—for example, think Starbuck’s seasonal frappe or KFC’s faux chicken nuggets that was sold out in just 5 hours4. Customization is also good, and we’ve seen a fair number of quick serves introducing customized dishes to give their guests more control over what they eat11. What will most definitely continue to drive sales and build customer base is marketing via social media. Creating visibly exciting content through Instagram, for example, helps to increase awareness about your restaurant and generate engagement. It’s a chance for the business to interact with your customers outside of your restaurant and perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine what’s currently trending.
Convenience is key. The Nielson study reported more people looking for new ways to get things done faster, easier and through a combination of on and offline channels9. Sam Fox, Founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts mentioned how, “Technology helps with speed of service, whether it’s using an app or mobile pay, or looking up calories posted. The more knowledge we can give to guests ahead of time, the more it can help with throughput.”8. Delivery will continue to grow as off-premise eating is becoming more favorable to onsite eating12.
Do we need to say more? People are now craving the hottest and spiciest. Nashville’s “spiciest hot chicken” was a viral sensation on social media13; Popeye’s will be returning their spicy chicken sandwich back on their menu. Also, look for unique and non-traditional flavors in 2020. We’re talking sumac, za’atar, Aleppo pepper, nduja, black sesame, chimichurri, guajillo, achiote, furikake and XO sauce 14.
It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. Technology is changing the way we eat and the momentum for new and innovative foods will challenge how restaurants make of these new opportunities to revamp their business. Nevertheless, consistency, value and quality still play a crucial role in building a successful business15. The fundamentals still are what they've always been and it’s the balancing of the new with the familiar that keep your customers coming back.
Now on with 2020.
We hope that helps carry you into 2020 with a wealth of knowledge. If you caught the hidden message, you win the “Thinker’s Award” for 2019 and are poised for success in 2020.
Menu development and understanding market trends are two areas that Goliath Consulting Group assists independent and chain operators. Contact us at email@example.com to learn more about our services and how we can get you the results you are looking to achieve.
Fall Menu Trends - what's coming on to menus this fall, what's on trend, pumpkin and pecan crop information - it was ugly last year on both. Pecans will be a problem for a few years with the tree destruction from last year's hurricane coming into South Georgia.
Fall themed menus seem to crop up earlier each year1, what with Dunkin’s launching their pumpkin and apple cider flavors on August 21, and Starbucks heralding the start of Fall with its pumpkin spice latte and other array of seasonal desserts on August 27th, weeks before the official start of the season.
There is no denying the consumer demand for these items—just look at how pumpkin spice has become a $600 million flavor.2 Switching to a seasonal menu generates interest and excitement around the new menu items, and taking advantage of a wider sales window for fall-themed foods can therefore mean increased sales and happy customers.
So, what inspires a fall menu? Experts say that it’s all about the comfort.3 Fall means going back to the roots, and being nostalgic for childhood traditions. This, in food language, means warm and aromatic spices; it means celebrating natural cooking techniques and creating comfort dishes that are rich, hearty and flavorful.
Here are a few fall menu ideas to include in your menu:
Savory Pumpkin dishes
Many have hinted at the coming of a pumpkin spice fatigue4, but we think that pumpkin is an ingredient that is here to stay. For a new take on America’s favorite gourd, try using it in savory recipes such as adding it to chili, soups, salads, pasta and dips. It can also be incorporated into popular breakfast items such as breakfast sausages, grits and oatmeal.
Nuts and toasted flavors
Nothing says fall like pecans, particularly here in the south. It makes great additions to pies and desserts, and the ingredient is versatile enough that it can be worked into a variety of meat, stew, salad and even cocktail recipes. *A note on the Georgia pecan supply, as farms took at massive hit when Hurricane Michael dealt a loss of about 17% in total acreage5. The crop is expected to be short this year and it will take years before growers reach the level of pre-storm production. While New Mexico is expected to be producing the majority of the crop this year, Georgia pecan growers are optimistic of a rebound; we may see Georgia back at the No. 1 spot sooner than you think.
As with toasted flavors, roasted vegetables are as comforting as Fall-menus can get. No longer are vegetables reserved for “sides.” More customers are likely to order dishes that feature vegetable as the main. In fact, National Restaurant Association’s research on this year’s top food trends found that 3 of the 15 trending items were plant based6. Why not try roasted cauliflower, root vegetables, squash varieties and mushrooms?
Turmeric might not seem like a traditional fall-themed ingredient, but its earthy color and orange-gingery aroma says otherwise. While pungent and bitter, turmeric has become more prevalent in recent years thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits. It’s perfect because it fits recent trends of health and well-being. Turmeric is easily incorporated to sauces, marinades and beverages like lattes and juices, but it can also be a great addition to pumpkin desserts as it boosts color and intensifies flavor.
The list would not be complete without maple, which has been advertised back in 2019 as the ingredient that would dethrone pumpkin spice in the flavor kingdom. It’s sweet, it’s rich, and it pairs splendidly with either dessert or savory recipes such as roasted vegetable, salad dressing, candied nuts and of course—bacon.
Menu development and maintaining a profitable cost of goods are two areas that Goliath Consulting Group assists independent and chain operators. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services and how we can get you the results you are looking to achieve.
By Bora Kang
Thanksgiving Day is synonymous to family and lots of good food, but that doesn’t mean that the food has to be made at home. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can seem like a daunting task for those seeking a relaxing time off from work and quality time with their families. And with people (particularly millennials) cooking less at home, more are turning to restaurants seeking a stress-free solution to their holiday conundrums.
Let’s take a look at the numbers: in 2011, National Restaurant Association’s survey of 1,022 adults showed that about 6% of consumers planned to dine out for a Thanksgiving meal. The same survey conducted in 2017 showed that about 9% planned to enjoy Thanksgiving at a restaurant. NRA also found that 25% of consumers planned to order a full takeout meal from a restaurant, with consumers with children more likely to order full restaurant takeout meals than those without kids. The 2018 census showed that approximately 34 million families have one or more children under 18 living in the household.
And Black Friday? NRA found that 43% planned to shop on those days, with 72% of them expressing that they would eat out while they were out shopping.
With demand ever increasing, more restaurants are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day to serve special holiday meals for their customers. Those that will open this year include not only the fast food chains such as Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts but also restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, Golden Corral, Capital Grille, Legal Sea Foods and Maggiano’s. Even a few Michelin-star establishments such as Eleven Madison Park in NYC and Acadia in Chicago will be open (full list in the reference).
There are, however, important figures to consider when deciding to open your restaurant during the holidays. For example, 31% of NRA’s survey participants said that on Thanksgiving Day they planned to dine at restaurant where they are regulars; 30% opted for restaurants that they considered for “special occasions” and 21% said they would dine at their favorite restaurant. Only 18% said that they would try a new restaurant on Thanksgiving. This means that restaurants have a better chance of higher sales reaching out to their established customer base.
Offering a variety of dining options seems to be another great strategy. Boston Market, for example, announced To-Go Thanksgiving meals back in 2016 and reported increased Thanksgiving sales. The restaurant has also come up with multiple meal package solutions, from Heat & Serve Thanksgiving Meals, Thanksgiving Catering Buffets and a La Carte, which all have been successful.
Deciding whether your restaurant should stay open for the holiday is not easy. And it isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have ample staff members working for you, the restaurant may not have enough employees who are willing to work on a holiday. A Thanksgiving menu might not fit in with the restaurant’s brand, and more planning might be needed in order to make changes and offer specials.
Despite the obstacles, staying open on Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for restaurants to generate more sales, showcase their iteration of favorite holiday dishes and give your customers who already know and love your restaurant something to remember you by.
After weeks of time-consuming meetings with local liquor distribution reps, local market research, and decision wavering, you finally feel confident that your bar is set up and ready to go. You put in your best effort to provide your customers with a great selection at a great value. You stop by your local corporate chain restaurant to celebrate a job well done and can’t help but to look at their liquor list to compare prices. Your mouth drops open. How can they possibly have the same brands you so carefully negotiated for a fraction of the price? How can they afford a $2 Tequila Tuesday and $3 Whiskey Wednesday? It seems simple to justify the pricing structure the corporate giants maintain as volume-based deals. The truth is far more complicated.
What do you do if you’re the local restaurant? You already exhausted your resources negotiating the best deals you could. Do you match the menu pricing with the national brand to avoid being undercut at the expense of your own margins? Fortunately, there is another option. Retain an experienced, knowledgeable bar consultant.
Before we dive into how bar consultants, let’s briefly break down the structure of the liquor industry in America. Suppliers (Anheuser-Busch, Diageo, Beam Sundatory, E & J Gallo, etc.) own multiple liquor brands across varying types of spirits and beverages. Diageo, for example, controls beers (Guinness, Smithwick), spirits (Ketel One, Smirnoff, Cîroc), Gin (Tanqueray, Gordon’s), Rum (Captain Morgan, Zacapa), Bulleit bourbon, and much more. Gallo’s products range from fine wines down to jug wines and well spirit selections. Each supplier contracts out to local distributors on a brand-by-brand basis causing more confusion. In order to carry an entire supplier’s product line, a restaurant may have to deal with up to 7 different distributors. These distributors ultimately control the pricing on the products. The local distributors deploy sales reps to meet with individual restaurant management to sway them into picking up their offerings. As these reps are, at their most basic role, salespeople, they are incentivized by their management team to push certain brands and lock in long-term commitments with their accounts. While distributor reps are a great resource for bar managers, they often have conflicting interests and responsibilities.
Seasoned bar consultants spend years cultivating relationships with distribution management as well as individual suppliers. These networks enable a consultant to negotiate directly with an agent of the supplier who can, in turn, communicate your proposed deal structure to the local distributor for approval. Suppliers are aware of a successful consultant’s cumulative portfolio and can unlock custom pricing tiers and promotions typically reserved for the national brands. They are incentivized by brand exposure across multiple concepts along with a higher representation of their portfolio on each restaurant. With Diageo, a consultant may promise a higher purchase volume of Bulleit in a bourbon bar concept while simultaneously agreeing to placing Smirnoff Vodka in the well at a sports bar. E&J Gallo may receive upper tier wine by the glass placements in a fine dining restaurant for Orin Swift while securing house wine pours with Barefoot in a neighborhood grill.
Bar programs, like food menus, thrive most when they are continually updated and maintained. A consultant will continually connect with suppliers and distributors to discuss upcoming sales opportunities as well as brands primed for national marketing pushes. Figure 2 illustrates the pricing fluctuations of three major brands in the Atlanta area. Each brand partnered with a major sports franchise (Whiskey with basketball, Tequila with soccer, and Vodka with football). It is easy to tell the pricing correlations, but there is more to the story. Each of these brands coordinated their price reductions with on-site product activations. These activations allow suppliers to bring promotions into the restaurant and sample their product to your guests. The best part: the suppliers pay you for the product they are sampling at your menu price! Suppliers are also investing local, regional, and national marketing dollars into these products, encouraging your guests to ask for them by name. Using deals negotiated by your bar consultant, you can offer these high-demand brands at lower prices than your competitors.
Goliath Consulting Group offers a bar consulting program with a history of success. Our portfolio includes sports bars, taverns, chef-driven upscale restaurants, neighborhood grills, and cafes. Whether you are looking to open your first restaurant or tweak your existing inventory, Goliath can assist your restaurant and optimize your bar program. Email Getresults@GoliathConsulting.com to schedule a consultation today.
Your brand is your bond!
It is easy to focus on and get caught up with your product or service because it is the deliverable; the tangible asset you deliver to your customer. But what about your intangible asset… your brand? The value of your brand is equally as important as the quality and care put into your product or service. And, forgetting to cultivate your brand or ignoring it all together can have a negative impact on your company’s reputation and bottom-line.
A brand is a promise to the customer about what type of experience they can expect from your product or service. An innovative, attention-grabbing, and genuine brand will be one of the distinguishing factors that set your restaurant apart from the competition. Defining your brand and establishing your business’ overall values and attributes will speak volumes to your customers and the surrounding community. After all, your brand is a true representation of your restaurant, the perception you give customers about your business and the all-encompassing experience you create.
What is your restaurant’s brand?
There are several components of your brand identity. A brand is more than pretty colors and a cool logo. Although, those are part of a brand. Your restaurant’s brand includes everything from the logo and menu design, the interior atmosphere and aesthetic, organizational values, the quality, to the language used in advertising and promotions. The primary components of a brand identity, which essentially make up your customer's overall experience, include: brand image, voice/personality, messaging, and your restaurant ambiance (including food and staff). Each brand element should align with one another and your organizational values.
● Your restaurant’s personality/voice embodies the emotion, value, and human characteristics of your brand. This helps establish your brand in a way that is relatable to your customer and provides them with an overwhelming sense of value. Your brand’s voice will dictate the demeanor you use to communicate with your customers. Simply put, this defines the relationship between your customers and your brand.
● Your restaurant’s brand image includes items such as a logo, graphics, food photography, menu design, etc. These visual assets give the customer a visual perspective of what they can expect from your restaurant. It is crucial that these “visual assets” mesh with your business’ personality/voice and ambiance.
● Your restaurant’s messaging refers to the outlets and platforms you utilize while promoting your restaurant (social media, email marketing, snail mail, billboards, etc.). The outlets and platforms you use to promote your restaurant may impact your restaurant’s brand image. Messaging must be consistent with your brand’s personality and voice.
● Your restaurant’s ambiance incorporates the overall atmosphere that customers encounter while dining with you. This can include the music being played, the employee attitudes, lighting, interior design fixtures, and of course the quality of food.
Understand that your brand is indefinite and amorphous. Structure your brand with the expectation of future growth, expansion, and shifts in consumer preferences. Your brand will continually develop over time and brand refreshes will be required. Establishing a shared internal understanding of what your brand stands for and what it means to your business allows for concrete organizational alignment as well as the future development of your restaurant.
Defining Your Brand First
As you begin the process of defining your brand, you should establish a few key aspects of your business. First, answer what it is you stand for. Knowing your values as a business will allow you to set standards and pave the direction for your brand. The eventual goal should be that customers can conclude exactly who you are and what your restaurant stands for from your brand. Second, know who your customers are. This should be an intimate knowledge of your customer’s wants, needs, and interests; not just a basic understanding of your general market. Finally, to reiterate, it is highly important to determine what it is that makes your restaurant stand out. Uncover your distinguishing competitive advantage and use your branding as the platform for displaying it.
Overall Brand Importance
Defining your brand gives you a much-needed edge in a highly saturated and competitive market. You are giving customers an immediate look into the value your restaurant offers and how it is different from every other restaurant. Defining your brand supplies more than just an image, it evokes emotion and perception. It builds a relationship. According to a two-year study done by Motista, a predictive intelligence company, customers who are emotionally connected to brands have a 306% higher customer lifetime value (CLV) on average. By defining your brand early and strategically you increase your chances of cultivating strong brand loyalty. A well-constructed brand definition will also provide guidance and motivation for your employees. Given that staff attitude and behavior play powerful roles in brand identity, it is important to your restaurant's success that employees know and reinforce the values and desired results of your brand.
Constructing a structurally sound brand definition lays the foundational success for any organization. By defining your brand, you can strengthen your ROI, align your leadership, increase workplace engagement, and establish your value in the eyes of your customer. Your brand should saturate your entire organization so much so that customers know what your restaurant stands for just by looking at your logo. Loyal and referring customers are the outcomes of a successfully defined brand. Good branding is good business.
Struggling to define your brand? Contact us today at Getresults@GoliathConsulting.com for expert advice.
With an estimated $100 billion in annual sales, alcohol is a staple of the hospitality industry. Almost every restaurant with liquor on the menu has their share of creatively named house cocktails and luring drink specials, but is your restaurant making the most of its beverage program? Are you utilizing every perk your distributors and suppliers can bring to the table? More importantly, would you know if you were leaving bonus incentives on the table?
Every bar/beverage manager can tell you about their distributors purchase incentives. “Buy two bottles, get one free.” “Order a case of this liquor and get six bottles of their newest flavor added on.” These are the specials that your sales rep will inform you of as the incentives arise and work mutually to the restaurant and distributor’s advantages. Your bar gets free product to try out different flavors or drop the price on name brand spirits, the distributor keeps their inventory fluid and product shipping. Did you know many brands/distributors will offer special pricing if their spirit is featured in a specialty cocktail? Some brands will even reduce their price for allowing their logos to be printed on cocktail and food menus!
Already have set spirits and menus printed? Try an onsite promotion. Most brands have on-premise advertising budgets to alert the public of their brand or new products set for release. To capitalize on these options, restaurants typically need to meet directly with the brand supplier. You have no doubt met some of these reps as they tail a distributor from account to account sampling their newest product or attempting to convince you of their IPA’s superiority to one currently gathering dust in your beer cooler. These brand ambassadors are a bar manager’s gateway to endless promotions that rouse excitement from guests and reduce the ordering cost and inventory of brands.
Suppliers generally have a large amount of discretion when it comes to their marketing budget and tend to favor cultivating long-term relationships. Once you have their ear, most will help you develop innovative marketing events. These range from the traditional promotional models handing out merchandise and samples to more personalized events. Goliath Consulting Group has leveraged suppliers to sponsor weekly trivia events, donate beer barrels and tents for outdoor events; even month-long basketball tournament promotions including DJ’s and raffle promotions. Only looking to try out a new spirit instead of building a large promotional event around it? Some suppliers can even run their credit card for a case of product at your cost to allow you to promote it in the way you see fit.
What would a frozen drink machine add to your bottom line during the summer? How can a wine preservation system expand your ‘by the glass’ offerings? Distributors can work with you to procure beverage equipment at little or no cost to the restaurant. When negotiating these items, be aware that they are not free and require a commitment from the restaurant to the distribution company. This could range from allowing one company to monopolize your well-liquor program or a high percentage of your wine offerings. Often the distributor will mandate that certain brands are consistently used alongside the equipment. Make sure you calculate the cost of the equipment, projected additional revenue from the equipment, and the cost of the product you are agreeing to incorporate into your inventory before finalizing the deal. In our experience, these arrangements are both mutually beneficial and prosperous.
Are you ready to view your bar as more than a combination of liquor, beer, and wine? Is it time you elevate your beverage program into a marketing cornerstone of your restaurant? Emailing GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com is your first step to learning liquor industry perks and promotions to take your restaurant to the next level. Not only will our consultants work with your distributors and suppliers to arrange their perks, we will train your management team to continuously cultivate these relationships and capitalize on events in the future.
Repairs can be a huge (and unnecessary) weight on restaurant operators’ shoulders, distracting them from what matters most - providing their guests with a great experience. Whether you're an owner, director of operations, or general manager, spending time on repairs and maintenance means you aren't focused on your restaurant’s highest priorities, like increasing covers, training staff, and providing a memorable front-of-house experience.
The reality is that repairs need to be closely managed to avoid wasted money and unnecessary downtime in the kitchen. Most restaurant groups can't justify the cost of having full-time technicians on staff to be the resident expert in each of the major repair categories:
• Hot-side equipment, like fryers, ovens, and grills
• Cold-side refrigeration equipment, like under-counter coolers and walk-ins
• HVAC, including hood systems
• Fire suppression systems
That’s where a company like 86 Repairs comes in. Through their monthly subscription service, restaurant groups can delegate the end-to-end management of repairs and maintenance to a team of experts.
"Restaurant operators count on us to handle repairs so they can focus their time, money, and energy on elevating the guest experience," says Daniel Estrada, CEO of 86 Repairs. "Our service includes 24/7 support, actionable data to improve back-of-house operations, and management of the entire service process from start to finish.“
To prepare your back-of-house for summer weather, including rising temperatures, power outages, and pest control issues, Goliath Consulting Group and the team at 86 Repairs recommended five preventative maintenance steps to avoid kitchen downtime and keep your equipment in tip-top shape.
Top 5 ways to prepare a commercial kitchen for summer:
1. Adjust thermostat programs up for warmer weather to avoid overloading A/C systems.
2. Verify all A/C units are running properly, and make sure filters are replaced and belts are tight (not loose or frayed).
3. Clean filters and defrost coolers, freezers, and walk-ins, which will work overtime in warmer weather.
4. Have your ice machines thoroughly cleaned.
5. Schedule exterminators to treat for pests that tend to show up when the weather warms up, like ants and flies.
Goliath Consulting Group provides on-site assessments to keep your equipment working for you. Email Getresults@GoliathConsulting.com to schedule your walk-through today.
For many of us, it’s hard to remember the last time we paid for a meal using cash. We are slowly but surely moving towards a cashless society. This is evident in the way we make routine dining purchases. Research by TSYS reveals that 40% of Americans pay with credit cards, 35% with debit cards, and 11% with cash. Interestingly, of the Americans between the ages of 25-34, only 5% pay with cash. TSYS also found that 99% of consumers with a disposable income of $100,000 or more will use a credit or debit card for purchases. The support of cashless payment options such as Venmo, ApplePay, GooglePay, Bitcoin, and Square will only continue to increase the number of Americans who opt out of paying in cash. Those in favor of cashless restaurants believe that it will increase efficiency, safety, accuracy, and aid in data collection. Even so, there are always both pros and cons...Let’s take a look at both.
Restaurants continually seek operational methods that will increase efficiency. Going cashless can afford restaurants the opportunity to process transactions quickly, which keeps lines moving during busy hours and shortens ticket times. According to an article from eater.com, cashless payments can save an average of seven seconds in deposit transaction time. Seven seconds may seem trivial, but that time adds up and can prove quite beneficial during rushes. If employees are spending less time counting coins, digging for loose change dropped under the counter, or running to the office to grab change - it means they are spending more time with the customer, ensuring an overall better customer experience. Additionally, cash-based transactions can lead to tedious and mistake-prone bookkeeping. Going cashless allows for automated transactions and real-time financial updates.
Safety & Fewer Errors
Cashless transactions reduce errors such as miscounting change or misplacing bills. In addition, it eliminates the possibility of register skimming, theft from within. And, let’s face it, most outside thieves are not interested in holding up a restaurant for a soda or burger. The most coveted product of theft is cash. Removing cash from the register and safe immediately curtails this type of theft.
The digital era has afforded businesses the opportunity to collect a wide range of customer data which in turn provides worthwhile insight into consumer habits. Going cashless aids restaurateurs in compiling helpful consumer information. They are then able to better serve customers by incorporating appropriate apps, online purchase opportunities, and loyalty reward programs.
Inconvenience & Discrimination
Although most transactions are cashless, there are customers who opt to pay in cash. In fact, many consumers can only pay in cash. This can be an inconvenience. Surprisingly, a small percentage of restaurant customers are “unbanked”. This refers to those who for personal reasons choose not to use banks or to those who are unable to establish bank accounts. For this population, cashless operations can seem discriminatory or exclusive. Restaurant owners who choose the cashless route essentially isolate themselves from this customer segment. Subsequently, a Shake Shack in New York recently reversed their decision to go cashless due to a large number of customer complaints and foregone cash sales.
Increased Prices, Employee Morale, & POS Failure
Unfortunately, going cashless usually means raising prices to cover the credit and debit card fees incurred. Customers who are willing to pay in cash if it means paying less, often become frustrated. Cashless restaurants may also dampen employee morale, specifically waiters who no longer receive cash tips. Low employee morale often leads to high employee turnover and poor customer service. Finally, technology is not fail-proof. If the power goes out, systems crash and reset randomly, and things simply break. Restaurants that are completely cashless don’t always have backup. In this case, if there is any POS failure, all business ceases.
Whether you choose cash or plastic, everyone has got to eat! Cash versus cashless will most likely be an ongoing conversation. In an increasingly competitive market, it’s important to consider the community you are serving.
What comes to mind when you hear there is an expected surge of over a million possible guests entering your city for a weekend event? Disbelief? Excitement? Anxiety? How about all three? Having weathered major city-wide events in the past (BCS bowl games, March Madness, even one weekend that merged two huge NCAA football teams, a NASCAR race, and a comic/anime convention) we learned to remain cautiously optimistic towards promises of large influxes of people into our city – you can’t always guess where they want to go when they are in town.
But this was Super Bowl LIII – one of the biggest events in the country each year. Not every city can have an event of this magnitude, but there are lessons to learn for other major events that your city is hosting from conventions to NCAA events…even parades and outdoor festivals.
Nothing is more important than organizing, planning and knowing when to be flexible. The decision to plan early and think outside norms paid off huge dividends for us, leading to impressive profit margins and well-maintained inventories amid many other restaurants running out of product and staffing.
Knowing that major sponsors initiated their partnership search at the beginning of the previous year, “haste” was the team buzzword. Acting quickly enabled us to pair up with two major brands synonymous with the Super Bowl. These partnerships brought a critical cash influx to the restaurant to support purchasing and planning expenses while capitalizing on joint marketing to promote our brand and increase customer awareness. With these agreements signed and secured, we compartmentalized the restaurant into: menus, beverage program, FF&E and staffing.
A quick assessment of the kitchen demonstrated the line would prove to small to handle the anticipated guests and the menu too broad to efficiently maintain the demand. Working with the chef and suppliers enabled us to streamline the menu and showcase more profitable options. This included a plan for outdoor sale of wings, hotdogs, and other stadium fare. This led to the kitchen running smoothly and maintaining the targeted quality and inventory of product.
We believed that a full bar with 75-plus types of spirits would force delayed drink times and lost revenue as customers abandon ordering more rounds. A simplified bar strategy called for a well and one top shelf option of each liquor reducing selection to less than 20 brands. Liquor distributors submitted case discounts on popular brands and assisted in securing additional bottle openers, shakers, strainers, and other essential bar tools. Using the POS, we eliminated the ability to start tabs, requiring our bar staff to use a pay as you go system. These combined strategies eliminated walk-out tabs, reduced service bar drink times, and minimized bar comps. Bartenders quickly adopted the new protocols and retained efficiency during the restaurant’s busiest moments.
With the plan and layout in place, attention turned to tackling labor. A list of all staffed stations and estimated schedules created an ideal quantity of each position. The team also established a minimum quantity of each position needed. To hire additional staffing, we marketed a job fair across multiple hospitality social media groups and targeted job boards. Candidates submitted detailed hourly availability surveys and we quickly posted a schedule with additional staffing to provide a buffer for unexpected circumstances. A mandatory staff meeting with both temporary and established team members covered expectations, walk-throughs, and allowed employees a forum for a “Q & A” session. Restaurant management took employee support roles to help all the new staff feel part of the team.
All the planning meetings, coordination, and, most importantly, team work helped us realize a seamless and successful Big Game weekend. Any hiccups during the weekend were easily tackled thanks to alert and ready team members and management created an environment of clear communication. We conquered the weekend and are ready for our next big challenge.
Each new year brings new trends. In the Food Service industry, 2019 is bringing in its own wave of fresh trends!
The desire for convenience and the popularity of fast-casual dining remains important to diners in this new year. Time is an asset that everyone values, making it a major factor in consumer dining. To protect this asset, diners choose restaurants that serve quality food in an efficient manner. In addition, several fast-casual restaurants are now using “luxury ingredients” in their simply fashioned foods in order to provide quality as well as convenience. According to researchers from Restaurant Business, natural food enhancements will continue to grow in popularity among restaurateurs in 2019. These ingredients typically include natural remedies that enhance nutrients and their absorption by the body helping with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These “natural remedies” are expected to improve the bottom line for those in the Food Service industry as well.
Use of local foods and flavors is also a Food Service trend that you can expect in 2019. Restaurants are continuing to embrace what many refer to as the “local food movement.” Consumers enjoy sitting down to menus that read “locally grown ingredients.” Local grown ingredients give diners confidence and peace of mind about their food. It also gives a sense of advocacy towards the local community. Some restaurants are going a step further with hyper-local foods. Restaurants that use hyper-local grown foods are growing specific ingredients such as produce in-house.
As social media platforms continue to flood the internet, restaurateurs are beginning to create innovative menus that adapt well to the funky images and elaborate styling seen on social media. Technologies inside and outside of the Food Service industry impact how restaurants operate and advertise. The same goes for the ever-changing preferences and behaviors of the customers. All of which affect how restaurants will operate not only in 2019, but every year following.
In addition to the typical Food Service trends this year, we will see some less obvious trends affect restaurant operations and the overall bottom line. For example, tariffs that the US and Canada face. These tariffs serve as an opportunity for some restaurant owners. Specifically, local restaurateurs could experience these tariffs as an advantage. As mentioned previously, the use of locally grown food and produce is on the rise. As larger chain restaurants suffer high import tariffs on produce and other products, they often begin raising prices to combat this incurred cost. Hometown restaurant owners who buy locally or produce in-house ingredients may well be able to maintain competitive prices.
A negative trend in the Food Service industry witnessed in 2018 is hitting harder in 2019--the record low unemployment rate. Unfortunately, for an industry with high employee turnover, the low unemployment rate can prove to be detrimental. Now that there are more jobs available in the restaurant industry, employees are often less inclined to remain loyally employed at a restaurant. As restaurants become desperate to keep employees, they may experience a rise in negotiations for higher wages from employees. Another continuing trend...competition for quality real estate and high insurance/real estate prices. These trends will continue to present concerns for growing chains in 2019.
Although trends in the food industry may vary from year to year, there is one thing that remains the same--the importance of customer preferences. No matter the year, consumer trends will continue to affect the Food Service industry, keeping it fresh and exciting!
Christmas provides a time of celebration through several different wonderful traditions. Traditions that surface from differing families, walks of life, and cultures. During the Christmas holiday season, food and drink are at the center of some of the most diverse forms of tradition and celebration. For some, the tradition may call for an eggnog recipe passed down from generation to generation. Or, perhaps a glass of mulled wine (a German Christmas tradition) is more your holiday style. Many families within the US sit down to a Christmas turkey or ham every year. Christmas food and drink traditions even vary state by state in the US.
Here are some of the most unique Christmas traditions involving food and drink from around the world.
A popular Italian tradition that many Americans have adopted is the “Feast of the Seven Fishes”. This tradition emerged back in the 1900s and remains prevalent to this day. Many perform the
tradition by serving seven different styles of seafood while others serve two or three different types of fish in seven different ways.
La Bûche de Noël is a French dessert that symbolizes the Yule Log – a wooden log which was traditionally carried into French homes, sprinkled with red wine and burned on Christmas Eve. The Yule Log tradition slowly disappeared during the mid-1900s at which time it was replaced by the Bûche de Noël dessert.
Christmas pudding is a dessert that originated in England and is served in several different homes across the world. Many refer to this dessert as figgy pudding or plum pudding which is most often credited to the famous Christmas carol, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. This Christmas tradition dates back to the 15th century when it was referred to as plum pottage. Plum pottage was made of meats and dried vegetables and served at the start of most meals. Over the years the tradition has developed into a delicious dessert pudding that consists of suet, egg, molasses, spices, and dried fruits and is now commonly served with a brandy sauce.
Eggnog is one of the most common Christmas beverages consumed throughout the world and is prepared in an assortment of ways. Most argue that eggnog originated during the 13th century from the medieval Britain “posset” – a milky ale served warm. Milk, eggs, and sherry were considered foods generally consumed by the wealthy. Therefore, eggnog was often served in toasts to prosperity and good fortune. In Chile, they prepare a drink that resembles eggnog called Cola de Moro which is translated to “monkey’s tail”. Cola de Moro is made of milk, coffee, vanilla bean, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and usually mixed with brandy or rum. Lithuania also has a Christmas beverage similar to eggnog called poppy seed milk (aguonu pienas) which is a mixture of poppy seeds, water and honey. In Puerto Rico, they serve Coquito – spiced rum, condensed milk, coconut milk or cream of coconut, vanilla, and spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Whether it is eggnog, a feast of fish, or some other special dessert, there is one thing that holds true across all these holiday traditions and celebrations. While the food and drinks may be part of the tradition, the one thing we all celebrate and enjoy most is the warmth and joy of being with those we love.
From all of us here at Goliath Consulting Group, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Management companies provide restaurants with a franchise like operating system without having a franchise agreement. Management firms, like Goliath Restaurant Management, help restaurant owners reassess their food costs and supply chains, rein in bar costs and consolidate their liquor inventory to better suit their demographic, create marketing calendars and promotional materials to keep sales growing, and serve as a human resource department for recruiting, hiring, training and retaining staff. The right firm helps restaurants improve their financials, staff the restaurant with skilled workers, cultivate better vendor relationships, and maintain consistency in day to day operations.
After a detailed business assessment, the team creates a work plan for each department. Britt Cloud, Goliath’s Consulting Chef, directs back of house operations and works with the current chef/kitchen manager to restructure inventory, food costing, menu, labor, and health policies. With over twenty-five years of industry experience, Britt is skilled in problem-solving and uniquely tailoring back of house solutions to each kitchen. His vendor connections and negotiating clout will help reduce ordering costs while maintaining the highest quality product.
Front of House operations is a steady balance of guest needs, employee personalities, efficient strategies, and health and safety enforcement. With fifteen years of front of house management experience, our operation consultant, Colin Kopel, lives for training front of house management, empowering staff with pride of their restaurant, and developing beverage programs that work for each concept. Colin works hand-in-hand with management, teaching scheduling techniques to keep the restaurant staffed and employees satisfied. He works with liquor distributors to cut waste and capitalize on deals/specials that work for your concept without inflating your liquor cost with excess inventory.
Once the restaurant’s training, inventory, financials, and human resources are aligned, Clay Darden, Goliath’s Marketing Manager works within the community to drive sales and volume. Clay utilizes twenty-two years of experience to customize each restaurant’s marketing calendar, identify underreached markets and demographics, and cement the restaurants reputation as a destination spot in the community. He will manage social media accounts to create a noticeable online presence and create tackable promotions to increase the marketing budget efficiency.
With our customized team approach and decades of industry experience, Goliath Consulting is ready to handle every concept from fast casual counter service to full service fine dining. To schedule your site assessment or receive more information email GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com.
As the days grow shorter and the holidays approach, safety risks increase.
Maintaining restaurant security and safety is a constant concern for owners and managers. Restauranteurs must continually strive for the security and safety of not only the products, but most importantly the employees and customers. Issues concerning restaurant safety and security typically arise due to lack of management guidelines or proper training and adherence to guidleines that are in place. Owners and managers must collaborate to increase employee awareness of these guidelines ensuring the overall protection of a restaurant and those within its walls. It is equally important to create awareness of the main security risks facing restaurant operations.
Among those risks are the following: theft and burglaries, criminal damage, and employee theft. There are specific anti-theft/burglary guidelines that a restaurant can implement to lessen the chance of becoming a target for a thief. Of the most common restaurant thefts, cash theft occurs most often. Below is list of guidelines restaurants can take to reduce cash thefts:
• Always shut and lock the door behind you
• Never open office doors if there is a safe open
• Keep all exterior doors locked from the inside at all times
• Never count cash in front of guests
• Make cash deposits after busy high traffic shifts
• Refrain from leaving large sums of cash in restaurant overnight
• Contract with a cash management and security company like Brinks
Restaurants should also take the proper precautions to keep products secure. There are a variety of measures to take that will help ensure product security from both employees and outside individuals. Below are steps to consider:
• Limit the number of keys given out for storage rooms and offices
• Refrain from distributing keys to staff members (unless management or authorized personnel)
• Keep storage and office areas locked at all times
• Make sure back entrances are locked and alarmed when they are not in use
Above all, restaurant owners and management teams must consider the security of customers and staff. This entails protecting customers and staff from erratic, harmful behavior of individuals such as thieves, disgruntled guests, or unwelcome intruders. The best way to sustain a safe environment is by educating staff members on the proper guidelines and precautions.
• Be aware of surroundings before exiting your car or the building
• Maintain a well-lit parking lot and adjust timers for the time of year
• Use a buddy system for opening and closing the restaurant
• Have a two-person policy to maintain security and safety for back door use
• Make safety and security training a part of new staff orientation
• Require ID and verification of all people going behind the counter or into staff only areas of the restaurant
Operational safety is equally as important. Simple habits like regular inspections of equipment, reviewing the proper procedures for chemical use compliance with staff members, and ensuring the proper placards are in place to remind staff of basic safety protocols such as properly cleaning prep areas and safely lifting larger objects. Here are few operational suggestions that help maintain general restaurant safety:
• Keep equipment updated and replace faulty machinery immediately
• Do not use glass to scoop ice
• Place non-skid mats in high-traffic water prone areas
• Require employees to wear proper safety equipment (gloves, non-slick shoes, etc.)
• Use proper lifting techniques when handling inventory and equipment
• Never block exits or aisles/never leave exit doors propped open
• Install a CO2 monitor
If you wish to learn more about the steps your restaurant can take to ensure better safety and security for both your customers and employees, reach out to us at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com.
CONSUMERS SEEK OUT “GREEN RESTAURANTS”
By: Guy Pittman
There is no questioning the positive impact recycling and waste reduction has on our environment. However, many are curious about the effect is has on their restaurant. Much debate has been circulating around whether the benefits of recycling and composting in restaurants outweighs the effort and expenses involved in the process. Nevertheless, in a growing environmentally conscience world, it is valuable to understand the benefits of both.
Believe it or not, the plastic straw debate is currently one of the trending topics in restaurant recycling. Although there is no concrete data on the exact number, multiple industry leaders suggest, Americans use up to 500 million plastic straws per day. The plastic straw debate has gained so much attention that places like Seattle and San Francisco are banning single-use plastic straws and other single use plastic products. Even Starbucks has started an initiative to completely eliminate the use of plastic straws by 2020. While Starbucks and a limited number of other restaurants are taking strides to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic straws, most restaurants have done nothing. For many, the concern with switching to an eco-friendlier straw is the price, durability, and overall impact on the quality of each drink. However, brands such as Melio Straws are proving that those fears may be just that, fears not fact. But do the costs outweigh the benefits?
What about reducing waste? It is nearly impossible for restaurants to avoid waste. However, there are steps that some are taking which reduce waste and improve restaurant operations. Tracking what areas of your restaurant produces the most waste is the first step managers should take. Lack of training in food preparation, dropping prepared dishes, inadequate cutting utensils, and poor inventory management are all contributors to restaurant waste. Taking initiatives like waste audits, allows restaurants to gain insights on waste generation and the most impactful steps that will begin reduction. Waste technologies have been developed which provide restaurants with the ability to track what recycling and waste management tactics are being followed and which ones need improvement. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. As landfills continue to grow and American waste management companies feel the heat from China’s Scrap Ban, restaurants will be expected to focus more attention on the first R, reduce. Reducing the amount of waste in restaurant dumpsters will increase operation efficiency and help avoid annoying fines from waste management companies. Composting is becoming more prevalent in restaurants. New research has shown that Americans are throwing away nearly as much food as they are eating and the EPA claims that 60-80% of trash that restaurants create is food waste. Checkout the Georgia Restaurant Association website for tips on composting.
Researchers have found that most Americans are serious about the importance of recycling. Data from the National Restaurant Association revealed that 60 percent of Americans prefer restaurants that recycle over those that do not. Research also revealed that 51 percent of consumers dining out would be willing to pay the extra costs to dine at restaurants that are eco-friendly. The proof is in the pudding and the customers have spoken. Recycling and waste management programs for restaurants can have expensive initial costs. Yet, the benefits of putting these programs in place can outweigh any initial expenses. Green initiatives provide multifaceted success results for your restaurant. At the very least you are improving the image and brand of your restaurant which will increase customer traffic. Consumers seek out “green restaurants” and will support them in their recycling efforts. Also, restaurants can cut costs in the long-run. Recycling programs will lead to cheaper trash expenses, reduced purchasing costs, and less fees from waste management companies.
To learn more about steps you can take to improve or implement a restaurant recycling program, contact us today at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com.
National Restaurant Assoication https://www.restaurant.org/Home
Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-recycling-companies-face-upheaval-from-china-scrap-ban-1533231057
Georgia Restaurant Assoication https://www.garestaurants.org/composting.html
Don’t Forget the Secret Ingredient: Hospitality
By Colin Kopel, Operations Consultant
When I was a teenager securing my first table waiting job, my future boss told me, “No experience, no problem. Waiting table is so easy I could train my cat to do it.” Mr. Feldstein was partially right. We can train almost anyone to follow a simple outline on service. “Just greet them within two minutes of the hostess seating them, get them some drinks, and take the order.” That was the extent of service training we received at that deli and it highlighted what the owner prioritized. Service was more important than hospitality.
Have you ever looked at your OpenTable, Google, or Yelp reviews and noticed a diner left a comment like this:
“Service started out promising, but soon dropped off. Our server was attentive but seemed distracted. It’s like he didn’t want to be working tonight.”
Your first impulse as a manager/restaurateur may be pull the employee aside and discuss what caused the table to go sour. And sometimes it is one employee having a rough day. It may also be time to update how your restaurant integrates hospitality into every aspect of a guest’s experience.
First, let’s define Service and Hospitality:
Service is what your employees provide to guests in a quantifiable form. The physical steps they take from a moment a guest enters the building to when they leave to go home. It includes the greet, the order, the food delivery, financial transaction, and farewell. Every restaurant uses a training method for these steps in some form, be it a training manual, printout on the steps of service, or in-person employee training.
Hospitality is the atmosphere and environment that your employees provide for your guests. It’s the smile and positive attitude that exudes from your staff. It shows itself when employees walk guests to the restrooms instead of pointing, deliver fresh napkins when a guest drops theirs on the floor without being asked. Hospitality is the general feeling that it is your staff’s pleasure to take care of all their guests’ needs…not their job.
Training hospitality is not about printouts and manuals, it’s about culture and leadership. Restauranteurs and managers must prioritize it in their every action at the restaurant and it will trickle down through servers and bartenders, bussers and food runners, and even back of house staff. Employees notice when management lays down their inventory clipboards to happily lead a guest to the restroom and they certainly pay attention when restaurant leadership interrupts a side conversation with them to open a door for a guest. These are simple, yet effective, methods in showing your staff that hospitality is the primary focus of any restaurant.
For the month of August, Goliath Consulting Group’s blog will focus on three main ways you can train your staff to make hospitality the centerpiece of all they do. We will hone in on the following topics:
If you would like to learn more about our innovative Hospitality and Service training programs, reach out to GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com. We offer customized solutions to help build teamwork, efficiency, check averages, and more.
Finding restaurant workers today is one of the biggest challenges for restaurateurs
By Colin Kopel, Operations Consultant, Goliath Consulting Group
How long have you been staring at the door to your restaurant for the perfect server, line-cook, manager or, even dishwasher, to strut in, place a golden resume in your hand and inform you of all the restaurants in the city, he/she would like to be your employee? How many times have you settled on a less than perfect candidate after sifting through resume and resume that was less than impressive?
Staffing is a different animal than it was a decade ago when there were fewer restaurants and a large pool of hospitality employees to draw from. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics pins the median age of Food and Beverage employees at between 29-34…also known as the Millennial Generation. When the employment pool is composed of a younger demographic, recruiting techniques must align with that demographic’s media intake. As Goliath Consulting’s recruiting manager, allow me to share a few tricks we’ve learned to target the right audience.
Facebook. You may have read in some business weekly or internet article that the social media giant is losing its relevance, and that’s true, among younger audiences. As it stands today, 88% of Americans aged 29-33 are active on the social network, checking for updates multiple times a day. In the past year, Facebook increased its presence on the job hunt scene by pushing their “Jobs” page and sending users daily openings and recommendations. Cities are organically developing their own Facebook communities for hospitality employees to connect with local openings. Here in Atlanta, the “GK Restaurant Workers/Metro Atlanta” Facebook group is nearing 10,000 members and sees multiple employment posts each day. These posts provide employers with free opportunities to reach out to the established hospitality community and receive a quick turnaround on resume submissions.
Online recruiting websites like Monster.com and Indeed popped up on employers’ radars over a decade ago. Hardly a Super Bowl went by where the public wasn’t introduced to the hottest new headhunting site. Eventually, employers and jobhunters were left scratching their heads wondering which site will net them the best applicants or the best positions. There are recruiting solutions that focus on the restaurant industry. Founded in 2012, Harri is one of those solutions for restaurant staffing. Harri integrates a social network feel with sleek restaurant profiles and phone apps to connect prospective employees to employers. Employers utilize “swim lanes” to organize and schedule applicants and can even email them onboarding paperwork to streamline and condense the orientation process.
This year at Goliath Consulting, we have seen an uptick of clients seeking our recruiting services to outsource this time-consuming process. The average job opening requires a minimum of 20 hours of dedicated labor to fill and hospitality managers are finding there is not enough time in their weeks to perform an effective talent search. Through our website, restaurantjobsatl.com and goliathconsulting.com/jobs, we’ve created an online portal to connect our clients with top talent. We utilize a series of metrics to rank potential candidates on standards ranging from qualifications to personality to potential career longevity.
Reach out to us at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com to find out how Goliath can optimize your recruiting and help you find your next all-star employee.
Apps are everywhere and it seems there is an announcement of a new restaurant app weekly for both national and regional brands.
See how the statistics on apps add up:
• There are over 2.2 million apps available on the IOS marketplace and over 3 million Android Apps on Google Play
• “Games” are the most popular app download category ranging from 21-25% of the market share
• The average user will only use 9 phone apps per day
• $60 – average hourly rate charged by professional app developers
• 131 – average amount of hours to develop a successful app
• Too Many – amount of individual restaurant apps
After years of customers attempting to recite coffee drinks with more modifications than ingredients, Starbucks decided a mobile app would help make ordering simpler. The customers who downloaded the app received perks such as quick ordering, gift card/loyalty card storage, and mobile payment options. While customer after customer downloaded their app, Starbucks received endless data on customer trends and engagement. Seems like a win-win scenario. This led many smaller restauranteurs to wonder: Does my concept need a stand-alone app?
The simple answer is "No". Consider the stats presented above. The average cost for a presentable v1.0 app (first version app) is $7,860. After the money is spent on app development and testing, restaurants then must compete for screen-time with the millions of other apps available to consumers. Often, customers will download a restaurant’s app while inside the restaurant and never reopen it again. The next time the customer’s memory is running low, restaurant apps are among the first to be purged from users’ phones, leaving the restaurant with a hole in its budget and very little return on the investment.
What is a viable solution to remain relevant on customers’ smart phones and increase traffic to a restaurant’s website? Mobile Optimized Websites.
Mobile Optimized Websites enable customers to view your website on their smartphone or tablet without the clutter of a desktop version. Yes, the beautiful flash graphics you scrutinized and edited look beautiful on a laptop or desktop, but mobile users want streamlined content that is easy to navigate. When a customer Googles “restaurants near me” and your site pops up, a long load time or difficulty located a menu will almost immediately end in the user tapping the “back” button and finding a different restaurant.
Mobile Optimized Websites should feature larger, clearly labeled buttons guiding potential customers to the most sought-after information: “About Us,” Reservations, Menus, Address and Hours, and Contact Information. By slimming a website down, a restaurant reduces the percentage of users who give up on the site and look for other dining options. This is also a much more cost-efficient method of bringing a concept to mobile devices than investing thousands in a mobile app that most users view only once and remove from their devices as soon as they need extra space for the newest version of Angry Birds.
To find more information on transforming your digital presence into a sales building tool, email us at GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com.
ACCOMMODATING GUESTS AND THE BIG 8 FOOD ALLERGENS IN RESTAURANTS
“Excuse me, do you have any gluten free options?” “Is this salad dressing vegan friendly?” There once was a time where servers and chefs would snicker in private kitchen corners when they heard questions like these. That was then. Now there are an estimated 7.3 million adults following some form of vegetarian diet and 3.1 million Americans adhering to a gluten-free diet. This is the time for restaurants to embrace specific and alternative diets to shine above the competition.
As more and more Americans are turning to gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, ketogenic, and low carb diets, restaurants are often asking themselves how to respond. Should a chef stick to his or her time tested classic menu and let guests worry about their own dietary restrictions, or should they use a little knowledge and creativity to stand above the competition and welcome these specific eaters with open arms. Successful restaurants around the country are realizing that these dieters are not one offs but are often part of larger communities and pass recommendations on to their like-minded eaters.
A chef’s ambassadors to his guests are the service team. Servers handle the influx of questions from guests, make recommendations, and communicate the orders to the kitchen with any dietary modifications needed. What servers may not know is: How many menu items already classify as vegan or gluten-free? What do low carb and keto diets look like? Most restaurants already have menu items that fit certain dietary restrictions and it is up to the service team to guide guests to those items. Sometimes the willingness to replace a side dish or a sauce will not only conform a dish to certain diet but make a lasting impression on a guest who has accepted dining out on their diet is a struggle. An educated, confident server will set a guest with a restrictive menu at ease and deliver an experience worth sharing.
Over the last decade lower calorie options found their way on menus across the country. They are usually indicated by an icon off to the side or located in an entirely separate section of the menu titled “lighter fare” or “on the healthier side.” It is time to take this same approach with gluten-free and vegetarian items. Make it easier for your guests to locate the items they can eat, and they will thank you for it with repeat business and positive feedback in their communities. Consider making your daily special gluten-free and you are sure to get an Instagram tag here and there. Diners with dietary restrictions are accustomed to struggling when making menu selections…take the work away from them and they will not forget the experience.
It is important to remember in hospitality we are here for our guests. Guests’ dietary restrictions, whether based on allergies or nutritional preferences, need to be embraced. This is a sector of guests who are used to choosing alternative restaurants or resigning themselves to cook at home to avoid mis-stepping their diet. View their needs as you would any other guest and the lasting impression will keep your tables full and the reservations coming.
Goliath Consulting Group is here to help you reformat your menu to highlight dishes that cater to alternative diets. Contact GetResults@Goliathconsulting.com today for expert advice on menu updates and service training.
Growing up, nothing made summer feel quite like summer until the annual family BBQ. Family was used loosely as friends, family, and neighbors would gather at the local park pavilion for a game of softball, playground shenanigans, and, of course, to feast on hot dogs, hamburgers, slaw, and potato salad. But how many picnic-goers know how to keep their outdoor meals safe from pathogens and foodborne illnesses? Goliath Consulting Group’s Serve Safe trainer and head chef (also an avid picnic aficionado) Britt Cloud wants to help you and yours keep their summer free of unwanted outdoor dining mishaps.
Let’s talk about TCS foods. Dangerous pathogens exist in foods that require Time and Temperature Controls for Safety (TCS). Picnic staples like potato salad, sliced melons, leafy greens, meats, fish, and shellfish are all susceptible to invasive bacteria that can ruin any outdoor meal. It is important to remember when foods stay in the temperature danger zone (41ᵒF-135ᵒF) for a prolonged amount of time, these pathogens are provided with the perfect environment to thrive. To prevent the growth of these dangerous pathogens, keep cold foods chilled to less than 41ᵒ until you are ready to serve and dispose of them within six hours. Hot foods must be maintained at above 135ᵒ and thrown out after just four hours.
Temperature storage is not the only time your food is at risk, the food prep process at your home kitchen is equally important. When cooling cooked foods, remember that foods must go from 135ᵒF to 70ᵒF in two hours and finish cooling from 70ᵒF to 41ᵒF within four hours. All fruits and vegetables need to be properly washed prior to cutting or slicing and all raw meats must remain in the cooler until you are ready to toss them on the old charcoal grill. When loading your coolers, try to keep raw meats separated from cooked food (and those fruits and vegetables meant to be consumed raw). Chef Britt also reminds us it is never safe to store raw meats on top of ready to eat food items.
A few more safety guidelines to remember:
• Always thoroughly wash your hands before handling ready to eat food items, especially after handling raw meats
• Separate cutting surfaces must be used when slicing raw and ready to eat items
• Do not allow food to sit in the sun for more than one hour (90ᵒF temperatures can bring your cuisine into the danger zone faster than most realize!)
Following Chef Britt’s safety advice will help you and your crew enjoy a smooth, successful summer picnic.
Summer is just around the corner. It’s time to break out the patio furniture and put the heaters away in storage. With the warmer temperatures approaching, every savvy restauranteur knows to retrieve their end of spring checklist to guarantee this season is as smooth as it can be.
Preventative maintenance is key to protecting your bottom line. From refrigeration to HVAC, there are multiple things you can do to ensure your restaurant operates free of preventable mechanical woes that stand in your way of a successful summer season.
When was the last time you had your coolers serviced? It is recommended that all refrigeration is professionally serviced twice a year and the cost of losing refrigeration, even for a few days, can be devastating to any restaurant. May is the perfect time to schedule a refrigeration inspection. As restauranteurs, we like to think we can handle every issue that arises in our buildings, but trained professionals know exactly which problem areas to inspect. Is the motor and compressor functioning properly? Are there any parts with wear that need to be replaced to prevent mechanical failure? Are the thermometers calibrated and the refrigeration levels adequate? These are a small list of services that should be completed on your unit prior to sustained warmer weather. It is also important to keep in mind that DIY repairs can risk your units’ warranties.
With your back of the house refrigeration maintenance scheduled, it is time to take a look at the front of the house preparation. Scheduling an HVAC service and inspection can save you more than you think in money and stress. An HVAC unit that is operating at subpar levels can cost up to 50% more than a serviced unit! Schedule a tune-up service with your specialist and they will help you reach the optimal operating levels. Also, make sure your filters, coils, and cooling towers are clean and ducts are free of dust and debris. Now is the time to make any repairs to create a hospitable and comfortable environment for your guests and employees.
Is your outdoor dining the most pristine it can be? It’s that time of the year to get down and dirty and deep clean all your outdoor furniture to prepare for the season. Outdoor dining is more than a fad; it’s become an important part of restaurant culture. Are your chairs free of unsightly wear and tear? Do your tables need to be adjusted to prevent uneven sides? Do you have umbrellas, awnings, or shade to keep the experience comfortable for your guests? A modern and polished patio is more than a mere seating area; it’s free sidewalk advertising for your business. Research by the Simons Advisory Group demonstrated that investing in well-designed al fresco dining can increase sales 30% or even more!
Schedule a consultation with us at email@example.com to make this summer your smoothest and most profitable yet.
In other parts of the world, food halls are quite common, particularly in Europe. London likes to take credit for being the first to introduce the food hall experience. Soon, they could be found all over Asia. Now, we see more food halls pop up in the U.S., and the trend appears to be growing as more Americans demand healthier food choices and extensive selections available in unique environments.
Put simply; food halls are a venue where artisan restaurants and food vendors serve food fresh and often cooked in front of you as you order. It comes as no surprise that the trend is finding massive success in big cities such as Los Angeles and New York. However, according to an article in the New York Times, the boom in food halls is anticipated to boom in the coming years, with a prediction of 200 food halls across the nation by 2019.
In fact, even Anthony Bourdain had big plans for the food hall market with his 155,000-sq.ft. facility in New York. Unfortunately, acquiring visas for all his employees and vendors led to many delays that he ultimately had to cancel the project. However, there’s much buzz on social media that The Bourdain Market may still happen sometime in 2019.
People have always loved food. But with the height of social media and the change in consumer behavior, dining experiences mean just as much. From food festivals to food trucks – people are always looking for next big thing. They are looking for variety and innovative eating experiences that are Instagrammable or worth tweeting and blogging.
At some point, the Oxford word of the year was “locavore.” Locavore means someone who prefers to eat food that is locally grown, raised, or produced. And that’s precisely what food halls have delivered to its patrons.
Food halls typically feature vendors who are from the community who source their ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. The fact that a word of the year is based on a preference for food only highlights how people in the past decade alone have become increasingly mindful of their food choices and experiences. They’re no longer settling for fast food chains when they know they can get food just as quickly and much healthier.
Food halls were once found exclusively in the trendiest cities. But with the demand for food halls on the rise, we can hope to see them everywhere. And with the boom, we can expect to see food halls evolve. We expect to see more than just trends in the menu but also food service and overall dining experience.
It will be interesting to see what food hall developers will do with space regarding design and ambiance. Will future food halls offer better facilities, seating, and charging stations? Are you looking forward to seeing how food halls will evolve or perhaps interested in knowing more about how to become a food hall vendor? We’d love to hear about it. Connect with us at Goliath Consulting Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be a successful bartender, you need more than just an in-depth knowledge of mixing drinks. While your level of skill and ability to memorize hundreds of drink recipes is important, you also need personality and attitude.
As a bartender, you will find yourself in the center of a crowd of people all simultaneously placing their drink orders. And on slow days, you could be looking after a few individuals around the bar who need your attention as much. A good bartender will care about the art of mixing drinks as well as the connections they make with the people they serve. Sometimes, a carefully crafted cocktail delivered with charisma can have the power to bring customers back who ultimately become loyal patrons.
Here are some seven tips and tricks for bartenders who want to make better drinks and a bigger impact:
Know Your Stuff
Study bar terms and techniques. Some bartenders at smaller establishments learn as they go; however, it doesn’t prepare you for moments when a customer asks for something specific or relies on your expertise to make a suggestion. Also, recognizing the difference between liquor vs. liqueur and shaken vs. stirred are things all bartenders should know if they want to become successful.
It doesn’t matter how your day is going, greet your customers with a smile and a positive attitude. People come to the bar for different reasons and how you welcome your customers could make the difference between them having a great time or wallowing in their sorrows over a drink.
Clean as You Go
Keeping a neat bar shows people how professional you are. Also, no one wants to sit and order at a dirty bar. It’s understandable that things can get hectic when there are a lot of orders coming in; however, it can be managed by cleaning residue, spills, and crumbs as you go.
A good bartender knows how to make suggestions. Patrons will come to you seeking your professional recommendations on the best drinks for certain occasions. When you notice that someone is taking a long time looking at the bar menu, offer a suggestion; they will appreciate that you anticipate their needs.
Don’t be afraid to look like an amateur just because you’re using spoons and jiggers to measure down to the last drop. Not only will drinks taste as they should when they are perfectly measured, but you ensure inventory is monitored. It’s good business sense, and you’re not wasteful.
Don’t Play Favorites
Every bar has its regulars. And while you’ve already established a good relationship with loyal clients, it doesn’t mean you should ignore new customers or give them any less attention. You also shouldn’t play favorites on a busy night when multiple people are clamoring for drinks. Be attentive and treat everyone with the same amount of care.
Don’t Stop Learning
Be ready to level up. To make better drinks, practice and add advanced mixing techniques to your bartending set of skills. Whether you’re just starting out or consider yourself the master of mixology, chances are there’s still something new to learn. Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone and learn new things; you never know when a customer will come in with a request that will demand your expertise or make you open your drink recipe cheat sheet.
For more information on bartending tips and tricks, contact Goliath Consulting Group at email@example.com.
You could have a winning menu and an innovative restaurant concept, but without the right people to help you execute either, your business is bound to fail. Your employees are your biggest asset. Unfortunately, finding first-rate staff isn’t always easy. However, because your team is the lifeblood of your business, it’s worth investing in a hiring strategy to attract and hire the best talent from the start rather than suffer losses due to high turnover and negative customer experiences.
Here are some ways to hire the best employees:
Specific and Descriptive Job Ads
Taking the time to craft a detailed job description saves you from interviewing people who aren’t exactly who you are looking for. By describing your company culture and your restaurant’s concept, you’ll attract people who feel they are the right match for your restaurant’s distinct character and service style.
Structure and standardize all your interviews to get the most out of each encounter. This means having a set list of questions to ask that will help you create a better picture of the candidate’s prior experience and potential. Lead with these questions and end the interview by allowing them to speak freely. While not all the staff you hire will ever have to face guests, it’s key that all the members of your crew communicate effectively.
Contact Previous Employers and Character References
Many restaurant managers make the mistake of not executing this step especially when they feel an interview has gone well. However, many people can charm their way through interviews, but it doesn’t really prove their work ethic. People are rarely honest about why they left their last job. Calling their former employer may reveal that the candidate had attendance issues, took too many breaks, or was fired for misconduct.
Different Interview Methods for Different Positions
Your back-of-house staff have very different responsibilities compared to front-of-house; interviewing them in the same manner makes no sense. Once formalities are out of the way, the best way to test positions that require training and skill like line cooks, sous chefs, and bartenders is by having them show you what they can do on the line. When it comes to back-of-house, you’re looking for experience and ability to execute as soon as they join the team. Some training will always be involved, but it should be more of learning your menu or unique plating style.
Because wait staff and hosts are people you can train to get up to speed on how you do things, a sit-down interview to gauge their personality and willingness to face the fast pace of service is necessary. Prior experience and training are nice to have but because restaurants come in all shapes, sizes, and service styles, hiring wait staff based on potential and the right attitude is better than hiring someone who has years of experience who will a have hard time letting go of how they did things at their last job. In fact, many restaurant managers find that a clean slate is better than hiring an experienced employee who has difficulty deprogramming prior training that doesn't apply to how you run your business.
When it comes to hiring first-rate staff, your gut feeling and instincts play a big part. The most successful restaurants are those that have teams that gel together well and work in tune. That’s why it’s crucial to establish company culture during the interview process to avoid miscommunications later on.
For more information on hiring the right staff for your restaurant, contact Goliath Consulting Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Work smarter, not harder.” A phrase that is becoming quite popular in kitchen management within restaurants. Technology in the kitchen is changing rapidly, improving kitchen safety, efficiency, and overall restaurant profitability. Restaurateurs are modernizing their kitchens creating more fluid and effective operations. From Bluetooth temperature sensors to robots flipping burgers (yes, it’s really possible), restaurants are embracing the technological revolution with incredible results.
What in the world is IoT?
The internet already transformed your day-to-day life and now it’s changing how kitchens operate. Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology recently introduced that allows restaurateurs to monitor equipment remotely. IoT syncs kitchen appliances to the cloud allowing machines to send mobile alerts when temperatures exceed or fall below the desired level (refrigerators, ovens, fryers, etc.). IoT also alerts staff when oil levels are low, filters need changing, parts need replacing, or when an excess of cooking oil is being used. Restaurant Technologies Inc.(1) has partnered with various clients to test IoT, resulting in a as much as a 40% reduction in oil usage, safer, improved labor efficiencies, and lower food costs.
Remember the days of “86’ing” items from your cooler that went overlooked while placing an order? New smart refrigerators are drastically improving food purchasing for restaurants reducing those days of human error to a thing of the past. These refrigerators are yet another appliance that IoT syncs with to provide staff vital information for optimal kitchen management. Refrigerators can now record how long certain products have been stored and determine when they will spoil. Alerts are sent from the refrigerators to kitchen staff immediately when ingredients are low or need to be replaced. IoT also allows for refrigerators to alert staff when fridge temperatures are dropping, which helps restaurants avoid premature spoiling of food. Smart refrigerators can even order products automatically when inventory is low! Even more impressive is this technology’s ability to alert chefs when food allergies have been entered by the front of house staff or through online orders. These alerts can also suggest ingredients for chefs to use or to avoid, improving restaurant safety.
Think smart refrigerators are futuristic? Smart pots and pans have been developed that allow chefs to know exactly when food is done. Forget the days of losing an entire prep batch due to overcooking, smart pots and pans allow chefs to consistently deliver on their recipes. Guests are happier. Employees are more efficient. Food cost can be greatly controlled through the reduction of waste.
In addition to these smart technologies, burger flipping technologies have also been developed that can replace what is known as one of the economies most un-specialized, yet frequently needed jobs in the restaurant market. Miso Robotics created the machine called “Flippy” and claims that it can flip 150-300 burgers per hour, depending on the kitchen staff.
Kitchen production is not the only area enhanced with technology. Restaurants are also upgrading their safety procedures. Employees can now rely on advanced LED Alert Systems to help navigate loud and frantic kitchens. LED lights are activated in the event of an emergency, catching the attention of employees to provide a visual warning for staff rather than an auditory one that often goes unheard.
Frequently new technology is overlooked because of tradition. Restaurants are long stereotyped by the mantra “the way we always have,” however, in competitive markets it is important to stay up to date (1) Empire Casino Case Study by Restaurant Technologies Inc. with new advancements to maintain success and create growth. Kitchen technology is creating safer, more efficient, cost saving operations. Restaurants all over the world are embracing these new kitchen technologies simply because they want to compete…to stay on the cutting edge.
Curious about which technologies can fit your concept and budget? The team at Goliath Consulting Group will help you navigate your options and upgrade your restaurant with efficient, profit-maximizing Next-Gen equipment and systems.
Contact us today at: GetResults@GoliathConsulting.com
A Smarter Kitchen: Restaurant Hospitality
Restaurant Technologies Inc.
As we wrap up the first quarter of the year, we wonder what restaurant trends that were gaining momentum last year continued to pick up speed into the new year and which ones fizzled out. Which design concepts are now considered outdated and which ones are we going to see more of?
Here are some restaurant trends that industry experts say will redefine the dining experience and will stick around awhile:
Tailor-made lighting to create ambiance is growing in popularity. Imagine LED strips, lighter color palettes, accent mirrors, and pinpoint lights that make a room brighter and more attractive.
“Technology will be the biggest influence in lighting in 2018, giving the user ultimate control. Through remote controls and apps, restaurants will be able to control singular bulbs in any part of the space from switching on or off, dimming, and changing color.” - Anita Summers, The Johnson Studio’s associate principal
Old School Feels New Again
"Perhaps as backlash for how unstable we feel things are politically and socially, we seek comfort in what has stood the test of time. Not only do we seek comfort, we praise it. It becomes cool. The steakhouse reemerges, classic French cooking comes back into fashion, and the 'dad' and 'grandpa' aesthetic are seen on runways worldwide. . . . Go to any Houston's in L.A. It's equally populated by older people as it is tattooed hipsters. Dan Tana's. Lawry's. To me, it's all the same story. It's about a new demographic's appreciation, acceptance and delight of things classic." - Jonah Freedman, owner, and designer of Freedman's Los Angeles
Do It for the ‘Gram
It’s all about a restaurant’s “Instagrammability” these days. Think along the lines of colorful walls, patterned floors, murals and interesting artwork, lighting and quirky furniture that it worth sharing on social media and captioned with a thoughtful hashtag.
“The trend keeps driving a fresh, light, bright design, focused around plant life and natural materials, mixed with unexpected, ‘personal,’ or vintage elements, perfect for creating an Instagram moment.” - Sawyer and Krause
Goodbye to Boring White Walls
"At least in New York, I'm seeing a massive break from the sharp and clean aesthetic that took over the restaurant scene for the past few years. A return to the bold color schemes of the 60s—millennial pink and bright red, turquoise and jet black, forest green and muted gold, to name a few—has arrived on the East Coast." - Sasha Bikoff, interior designer, tells the Tasting Table
Go Green or Go Home
“There is growing interest in research on the positive health effects of seeing and being around greenery. We will likely see more ornamental plants integrated into interior design as an antidote to the machine-made world. At the same time, as farm-to-table philosophies evolve to be even more local, we will probably see more restaurants growing herbs and even some produce on-site.” - Ray Chung of The Johnson Studio’s Director of Design tells Architectural Digest
Are you looking forward to see how restaurants will take these trends and make them their own? We’d love to hear about it. Connect with us at Goliath Consulting Group at email@example.com.
Most people don’t realize how much work goes into designing a menu. But have you ever noticed how a poorly executed menu could make you think twice about ordering while choosing from a visually stimulating or well-written menu can entice and excite you to try everything it has to offer?
There’s a certain psychology involved in menu design and one that is thoughtfully created can be an effective marketing tool for your restaurant. By blending the artistic elements of graphic design and the science of how the human mind perceives colors, text, and images, you can develop a beautiful menu that has the power to tap into all the right senses.
Here are the main components of a winning menu design:
Strategically Placed Signature Items
Menus may come in different shapes and sizes, but they all have a spot that would be considered as “prime location” if we were talking in terms of real estate. This is the section where eyes naturally go to first. And because most people read menus like a book, they would typically start at the left corner for a multi-page menu.
For a single page menu, however, many menu engineers believe this “sweet spot” to be the top right corner. These sections should be reserved for your signature items.
Menus should stay true to the restaurant’s brand personality. Your brand is so much more than just your logo and name; it’s much deeper than that. Your menu should exude that through your choice of colors, typography, copy, and overall design.
Menus that aren’t accurate representations of the restaurant can throw up the diner’s dining experience. If you’re eating at an elegant fine-dining restaurant, you’re certainly not expecting a menu with cheesy images, bright pops of color, or cheap-looking graphics.
Logical Section Divisions
Place a box or frame around sections to make scanning the menu more comfortable. Your guests should be able to navigate their way around your menu easily. Book style menus typically start in order of how a meal would be served beginning with appetizers, salads, and soups before proceeding to entrees and so on; desserts would be on the last page. Beverages may be separate if you have an extensive drink selection.
Omit Currency Signs
Guests know that the dishes they’re about to order will cost something. However, placing currency signs on items emphasizes the price, and you end up reminding guests of what they’re ultimately paying. By removing the $ sign, you’re downplaying the item’s actual cost while increasing the perceived value of the dish.
If you’re going to use photos of your dishes in your menu, choose the most photogenic ones and have a professional photographer take high-quality images. You may be tempted to involve a food stylist. However, don’t mislead your guests with expertly plated dishes if that’s not what you’re going to actually serve.
Your menu shouldn’t just be grammatically correct, but it should show off your brand personality. A professional copywriter who specializes in menu design may advise you on everything from typography to font size and color and write compelling menu descriptions for you. A professional writer will know how to describe dishes in a concise manner that will still make them sound irresistible.
For more information on what steps can be made to better design your menu, contact Goliath Consulting Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service mistakes can cause any restaurant to lose customers and miss opportunities. Some of the most common mistakes that restaurant employees commit may seem basic and trivial. However, these errors could result in negative reviews or unsatisfied customers who decide to never dine at your establishment again.
Here are 6 of the most common mistakes in restaurant service that you should ensure that you and your staff are not making:
1. Not Welcoming Guests with a Proper Greeting
Too often, we see employees immediately ask guests how many there are in their party or make them choose between the dining room or the bar, or worse, emphasize if a person is eating alone. Guests should be welcomed with a proper greeting before anything else. And while the hostess will be the first to encounter guests, all employees should be prepared to greet guests with a warm welcome.
2. Avoiding Eye Contact
Greet guests with a smile and direct eye contact. Not making eye contact with people can be considered rude, inattentive, or insincere. When you look guests in the eyes when you speak to them, they feel appreciated and valued. Take orders attentively and nod to assure them you’re accurately taking down their orders.
3. Not Being Able to Make Recommendations
Making recommendations means that you want to enhance the guest’s experience by suggesting your best dishes or proposed pairings. If a guest asks you for a recommendation and you cannot provide one, they will either think that you don’t know anything about your offerings or have never dined there and enjoyed the dishes yourself. Well-trained staff should not only know the menu in and out but have personal favorites.
4. Not Accommodating Simple Requests
Not all guests are going to want the salad that goes with the meal and prefer mashed potatoes instead. Or they may want to have the sauce on the side rather than drizzled on top. Unless a guest is asking for a dish that’s not on your menu at all, most requests can be accommodated. And by saying “my pleasure” instead of “we’ll see what we can do,” you’re enhancing their overall dining experience.
5. Interrupting the Dining Experience Too Many Times
It’s fine to ask the guests if they need anything else after the final plate has been delivered. However, returning to the table again and again to ask if everything is ok or refilling their glass when it is still fairly full too often can ruin the experience of diners who are deep in conversation or enjoying their meals.
6. Taking Too Long Bring Them Their Bill and Close Out the Check
Once guests are done, they’re ready to pay their bill and leave. Keeping them waiting too long to either bring their check or return with their change, card, and receipt can ruin what would have been an otherwise wonderful experience.
Even the most established restaurants can sometimes make these mistakes. This is why it’s essential to train and remind staff regularly on what to avoid when ensuring that guests have a wonderful dining experience. For more information on common restaurant mistakes and training for your staff, contact Goliath Consulting Group at email@example.com.
By Guy Pittman, Intern
Extensive employee training is a critical component to the success of any business. This is especially true in restaurant industry due to the fast-paced environment, being labor intensive and direct customer engagement. Unfortunately, managers are spending less time training employees properly and instead, leaving the new hire to figure it out themselves. The employee training is often limited by managers so they can meet labor budgets. In the long term, this has the opposite effect, driving up inefficiencies and leading to lower quality products and service impacting sales growth.
Statistics from the National Restaurant Association state annual employee turnover is 72.9 percent—making this the second consecutive year it has topped 70 percent. Lack of proper employee training is a major contributing factor to the restaurant industry’s staggeringly high turnover rates. I can attest to this personally. It was not long before I left my first college job at the local sandwich shop due to a lack of training. This sandwich shop decided that adequately training its employees was not worth the time or money. As a result, myself and the other employees were left uninformed regarding multiple restaurant policies, procedures, and standards. Within my first month of employment, four fellow employees resigned. This organization’s first and most significant mistake was their belief that proper employee training was not important enough to use company time and resources. Lack of training led to frustration, which in turn led to the preventable loss of four hardworking employees—not to mention the incredibly high replacement costs associated with losing four employees at once.
According to the Center for American Progress, hourly workers earning less than $50,000 annually—which covers three-quarters of all workers in the United States—show a typical cost of turnover of 20 percent of their salary. With proper training, these costs are partially absorbed by a proper training program and the rest fall to the bottom line. Proper training leads to higher employee satisfaction, fewer costly mistakes, lower turnover rates, and ultimately thousands of dollars saved. The results are more efficient and fluid restaurant operations and higher revenue. When employees are trained properly they become confident, competent, and content in their work environment.
2017 has been quite a ride so far for the restaurant industry.
New trends are constantly developing. As a restaurant owner, it’s a challenge stay up-to-date and well informed on issues affecting your business. Fierce grocery store competition and their deflating prices is an example of one of the negative trends impacting restaurant guest traffic. These trends, will in turn have effects on restaurant traffic. So... what is simply “the new trend”, and what can restaurant owners expect to see moving into 2018.
Time is a major factor in the decision to eat away from home. At home meal kits are growing in popularity. The at home meal kits movement is now a $2.2 billion industry and just beginning to take off. Amazon is hoping to accomplish something similar with their purchase of Whole Foods. The grocery industry is also moving towards better quality prepared foods, with Whole Foods as one of the leaders. These options allow the consumer to get restaurant quality meals on the go to take back to the office or home.
With competition between grocers increasing due to deflating produce prices, consumers are reaping the benefits. In response to the appealing low prices on groceries, the food-at-home index is up 0.4%. Considering the low prices and rising food-at-home index, the food-away-from-home index has still found a way to thrive, rising 2.4% in the last year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Food halls are becoming a bigger player in cities across the country. The number of food halls has grown upwards of 37% since 2016 with over 100 across the country. This number is expected to double by 2019 according to the Wall Street Journal. Food halls are beginning to make their way into the south as their popularity continues to grow. The impact of food halls to neighboring restaurants can have a negative impact of 12 to 24 months. It’s not just one restaurant – but eight or more – that open. The results can be significant.
Are there too many restaurants?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 620,000 eating and drinking locations in the United States—that is a 13% increase since 2010. New eating and drinking locations are growing at a rate almost twice as fast as the US population. Due to this, the biggest obstacle that many restaurants are facing is over-saturation. Customers are still spending money dining out; however, the money is spread across more restaurants, this is resulting in flat to negative sales and guest traffic counts in restaurants across the country. As 2018 approaches, the issue of restaurant over-saturation doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.
The constant shift in restaurant trends is an ever-changing game. 2017 has brought expansion of food halls, home meal kits, and other alternative food-away from home dining experiences that challenge restaurant owners. Alongside these trends, the deflating grocery prices and over-saturation of restaurants will be factors as restaurant owners plan for 2018.
Blog post contributed by Katie Alteri, Fora Financial for Goliath Consulting Group.
Katie Alteri is the content marketing coordinator at Fora Financial, a company that provides small business loans to businesses across the U.S. Fora Financial can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
BEST PRACTICES FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT KITCHENS
Kitchens use more energy per square foot than just about any type of commercial space. And energy costs have increased over 40 percent in the lasts five years. Atlanta has the highest water cost in the country! Now is the time to invest in energy efficient equipment and systems. Remember, every dollar you save, goes directly to your bottom line.
First, audit your current operations for opportunities to save energy. This includes equipment, the building shell, and operational uses of your equipment. Next, target changes that have the fastest return on investment. Typically, 6 months or less. For example, if you change out a dishroom pre-rinse spay nozzle, it should pay for itself within six months. Based on our review of many kitchens; there is a huge opportunity to reap immediate savings.
You will be amazed at how much money you save when you select energy efficient equipment. And higher-end energy efficient equipment typically lasts longer and has opportunities to add labor saving features; such as automatic basket lifts on a fryer. Another hidden fact is that energy efficient equipment typically has a greater throughput of foods, read: faster cook times!
New technological trends here to stay include heat recovery systems. Heat that is generated by cooking is captured and used to heat building hot water systems. Heat from hot water discharged from dishwashers is used the same way. And cooking exhaust systems that adjust based on the amount of cooking at any given times, allow for great reduction in building HVAC costs. These examples are all systems that have fast ROI’s and are here to stay.
Now is the time to create a comprehensive energy savings plan. Goliath Consulting Group partners with Kip Serfozo’s team at Camacho Consulting to audit and create best equipment practices. Kip Serfozo is a LEED Accredited Professional (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). He has worked on many LEED Gold and Platinum hospitality buildings around the country. He is an expert in kitchen design and operational analysis.
WHY TECHNOLOGY CONSULTANTS ARE ON THE RISE
res· tau· rant tech· nol· o· gy - (noun)
Any piece of software or computerized tool used in foodservice establishments or to aid in overall operations.
Examples included, but are not limited to, point of sale, inventory, reservations, etc.
If you look back 20 years, that term would be used to describe now archaic point of sale systems. The clunky old machines that, at the time, were cutting edge and would save your servers time and reduce the manual errors your staff would make using hand written receipts and knuckle busters. In those days, you had approximately 7 options to choose from. Flash forward to 2017 and at last count we are at 487. On top of the industry nearing 500 POS options, it’s advanced into inventory systems, reservation management
platforms, analytic tools, onboarding, HR, training, branded apps, online ordering, delivery, food safety, geofencing, marketing and social media platforms, diner demographics.... the list goes on. While these tools were all developed to make your lives easier, you now face a new set of problems.
Unfortunately, most account reps you meet with these various brands will tell you that their product is perfect for you. To be fair, their job is to sell you on all of the benefits of their offering and help you see why their system is the best. Enter Break Bread Consulting. Born from the ever-growing need for clarity in an otherwise jumbled field, our technology consultants work with your brand to understand your specific needs, research appropriate tools and products, ensure fully integrated solutions, and negotiate fair rates. Consider us interim IT Directors. We act as a member of your team to ensure you are set up for success and can implement technology and use it for the reason it was built...to make your life easier.
At Break Bread Consulting, we believe that there is no one size fits all and that each restaurant has very specific needs and goals that need to be considered when looking at new technology. Because of that, we work with our clients one on one with a fully customized and individually catered program to help them reach their unique goals. While the end goal of each individual or group may vary, we strive to create fully integrated systems and work off of a holistic view of your business.
As our industry changes, you must adapt. And we’re here to help.
For more information go to: www.breakbreadconsulting.com/contact
About Break Bread Consulting
Break Bread Consulting was founded in 2014 by industry lifer Brianne Lane. With the restaurant industry finally catching up with modern technology trends a new problem arose. So many new options flooding the restaurant market on a daily basis make it incredibly difficult for restaurant owners to sort through the various point of sale systems, analytic tools, etc and find the best option for their concept.
Break Bread acts as your dedicated IT Specialist. We research products, attend demos, obtain price quotes and even negotiate with software companies to ensure you're getting the best possible price.
CYBERSECURITY AND THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY
Cyberattacks are on the rise as the world economy has shifted to the digital age. For the restaurant industry, hackers aren’t just focused on payment card data, but now collect information on entire businesses and their operations. The customers, employees, reputation, and brand of a business are all at risk with today’s data breaches. Cyber criminals recognize the technological advancements made in the restaurant industry and are beginning to use these advancements as pathways to more profitable cyber-attacks. As these cyber-attacks evolve, so must the strategies for restaurant owners. Cybersecurity is no longer about playing defense; it is about planning offensively. It is crucial that restaurant owners take proper precautions to ensure cybersecurity.
The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Cybersecurity 101 Toolkit lays out the most common ways data
breaches cost restauranteurs and what they can do to better prepare.
Often following a major restaurant cyber-attack, the greatest concern is the loss of customer information. As harmful as this loss may be to a restaurant, it is not the only looming issue that the business faces. Along with customer, employee information is also vulnerable. Valuable personal data including Social Security numbers and sensitive financial information can be obtained by cyber criminals through data breaches.
A data breach is also damaging to a restaurant’s bottom line. For example, the smallest suspicion of a breach can lead to a forensic investigation which can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $100,000. After investigations, if a breach has been detected it is estimated that the average small business may pay $36,000 to $50,000. Lawsuits related to security breaches can be as damaging to brand reputations as they are to the bottom line of a business. Once a breach has been detected, a business has a legal obligation to inform the media. This can lead to costly litigation fees.
Litigation and investigation fees are often only the beginning of the costs to a restaurant’s bottom line. Once a breach has occurred, there are unavoidable damages to a restaurant’s reputation and brand. Research has shown that 15 percent of consumers would cease doing business with a restaurant if there was evidence of a data breach. Harm to a restaurants brand name and reputation can prove to be the most expensive cost incurred by businesses that have suffered a data breach.
Fortunately, there are safety measures that can help reduce the risks of cyber-attacks. However, restaurant owners must take a proactive approach towards cybersecurity if they wish to reduce the risk of a breach. Heartland Payment Systems provides six bullet points to help with cybersecurity:
• Follow the PCI DSS Standards. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security/maintaining_payment_security
• Use a PCI compliance vendor program to complete PCI compliance attestation such as Heartland’s Merchant Protection Program.
• Leverage secure products such as Heartland Secure P2PE devices to minimize data.
• Educate and empower employees to identify issues first.
• Understand your risk and perform risk assessments to find vulnerabilities and gaps.
• Prepare for a breach by implementing an incident response process.
Predictions reveal that losses from cyber-attacks will grow from $460 billion in 2016 to greater than $6 trillion in 2021. As technology continues to advance, cyber-attacks will become an even more pressing issue. Being proactive with cybersecurity is vitally important with the skills of today’s hackers.
For more information on what steps can be made to better secure your restaurant and training for your staff, contact Goliath Consulting Group at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heartland Payment Systems: https://www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com/blog/2017/04/14/data-breach-2017
National Restaurant Association: http://www.restaurant.org/Cybersecurity
BUILDING SALES BEYOND DINE-IN
The goal behind the creation of any restaurant is to earn the maximum returns by providing a superior experience to the customers. However, in this world of increased competition, the restaurant brands need to come up with exciting new ways to enhance their sales and be in the top runner spot.
With the increase in the number of restaurants and prepared food points including grocery stores and convenience stores, the customers now have plenty of options at their disposal; hence, the restaurant brands need to incorporate new strategies to be the top preference of the consumer. Restaurant brands need to reach consumers and give them different opportunities to get their food apart from the traditional dine-in option.
In today’s restaurant business environment, 20% or more of sales for restaurants without a drive-thru are due to delivery, catering and take-out options. Most of the people who are running out of time to visit the restaurant of their choice, and instead opt for delivery and take-out options. If you are not offering any such option; you may lose out on sales as your customers will move to better options.
Most of the restaurants have now started to use technological tools for growth of their business and to reach out to maximum customers. Brands have now partnered with various companies, like UberEATS, Food.ee, Amazon and other companies that offer delivery services. These companies are helping both the restaurants and the customers by acting as intermediaries. While many restaurants are offering delivery services, partnering with a delivery company enables them to reach out to those areas where they may not be able to provide delivery services otherwise.
Technology has brought various opportunities for restaurant brands to reach more consumers. One such option is to go with online ordering. Online ordering through a website portal developed for your restaurant will allow users to order directly from it. Furthermore, you can also get a dedicated mobile app for your restaurant to reach your customer on their mobile device.
The basic formula for success, without any doubt, depends on the quality of food and service. However, the consumer is looking for more options on how to purchase your food. To grow your sales, you must find ways to make your food more convenient to purchase in a way the consumer wants to interact with your brand.
In summary, the success of a restaurant depends on a blend of various factors. The restaurant industry is feeling pressure from grocery stores and other points of distribution. Combined with the saturation of restaurants in many markets, restaurant brands are feeling the pressure on their top and bottom lines. If you are a restaurant brand and want to enhance your sales beyond the regular dine-in options; you need to think out of the box for coming up with effective strategies to provide your customers an easy and hassle-free way to reach you.
When to Hire a Restaurant Consultant
When restaurants face nagging problems or about to enter a new stage of growth, it is time to consider a consultant. Operating costs, menu execution, customer service, marketing, supply chain or profitability have been troublesome or concerning without any sight of improvement it may be time to consider that assistance. In the long run, the ROI of a hiring a consultant can quite high by helping you resolve profitability issues and operational problem or avoid a costly mistake in the startup or expansion.
The consultant, being an objective outsider, can recognize issues more clearly. Then suggest and assist with implementing solutions more effectively than you, managers and your staff. When you’re close to a situation there is a tendency to being mired in the details and not be able to come up with a solid strategy and corresponding tactics to overcome the problems with the business. Consultants provide an objective point of view that is based on facts of the situation and the business.
A consultant brings to your business ideas and solutions that have been successful in other operations. Consultants have specialized knowledge, skills and experience to assist the operator with a combination of problem-solving, planning or implementation services depending on what the situation dictates.
Here are areas where a restaurant consultant will help you:
At Goliath Consulting Group, in most cases, we start with an operational assessment to provide you with insights on the underlying problems affecting performance as well as recommendations for solutions and the effect it is having on your business. Other engagements tackle a specific need: build a marketing plan, update the menu, develop a business plan for growth etc. We have the skills and experience to help you improve the situation you are facing.
THE ARRIVAL OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS
Technology has radically altered the way we do business and live our lives. A lot of tasks have been automated and others, which still require human input, have been greatly simplified making life easier for the entire human race. The process has just begun but it has already affected all areas of our lives so the restaurant business is no exception. From the onset, it appears that the restaurant business has a model which is heavily dependent on people, starting from the chef to the waiter who delivers the food so the question which naturally comes to mind is how is the restaurant industry getting benefits from the incorporation of technology in its business? Let us show you how.
Ordering on the go. Smartphones have radically altered the process of takeaway for many popular fast food chains. Customers can simply open up the app of their favorite fast food chain on their smartphones and order anything from the entire menu to their liking. The app will tell them the approximate time it’ll take their order to be prepared. Once it is prepared, they can simply collect it from the counter or drive-thru. This saves the time customers had to spend in long queues when they ordered after getting to the restaurant. Also, it reduces the pressure on the kitchen staff as by giving them some space as the orders are not constantly pouring in.
Tabletop check-outs. Nobody likes it when the waiter takes away our credit card for what seems like an eternity, it makes us deeply uncomfortable as we’ve all heard stories of credit card fraud and identity theft after paying in a restaurant through our credit card. Some entrepreneurs have developed solutions for self-checkouts right on your dinner table. The device is essentially a tablet running a proprietary software which displays your bill and gives options to order other things before you leave. It saves a lot of time for the restaurant, allowing them to service more diners in the same night and the customers don’t get uneasy as the credit card doesn’t get out of their sight while the online payment process is protected by encryption.
Create your own food. Technology has really changed the food industry to the point where it has started to define how food is prepared and how customers too can participate in the process. The choices have also been significantly increased. One ice cream machine by the vendor MooBella can deliver a mind-boggling total of 96 variants pf ice cream using a standard set of ingredients and any of these flavors can be had in less than a minute. It reduces the need for staff and saves time in the delivery of ice cream, many cafeterias, and fast food restaurants have shown an interest in this.
Restaurant Management Systems. An important aspect of running of any restaurant is the proper utilization of its resources and for this many software solutions have been developed which can be easily installed on your tab and can give detailed views of all information related to tables, inventory, orders etc. in real time.
The question for most restaurant owners is “Where do we begin?” That’s where the Goliath Consulting Group team can help by sifting through all the technology available, choose the solutions that best fit your organization and develop an implementation plan to get you up and running.
CURRENT STATE OF FOOD SAFETY IN THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY
As restaurant managers, operators or owners, we like to think that we can never fall victim to an outbreak of food-borne illness. As consumers, we like to assume that we cannot contract a food-borne disease while dining at a restaurant. While everyone likes to think that they are taking all the precautions to prevent food-borne diseases, the fact remains that these diseases occur way too often. A report published by CDC in 2015 cited that food-borne diseases are on the rise. As such, it’s now more important than ever before for food establishments to re-evaluate their food safety practices to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Ever wonder how these pathogens end up in restaurants? Unfortunately, there are several ways pathogens can find their way into restaurants including guests coming with them, the food supply etc. If a restaurant doesn’t adhere to safe food preparation protocols, these pathogens are likely to survive and with time, gain the ability to cause harm to guests. So how are restaurants doing when it comes to food safety? Believe it or not, CDC studies have found that restaurants are the most common sources of food-borne diseases. There’s a lot of room for improvement and a number of precautions that restaurants can take to reduce the risk of food borne diseases.
The food service industry and medical professionals are increasingly becoming concerned about the increased number of microbes that are now resistant to food preparation methods, antibiotics and storage methods. It’s even more unfortunate that few consumers hardly view their own food safety practices as potential hazards.
Other factors that contribute to increased incidents of food safety issues include change in consumer lifestyles and demographics, change in the food system where the lines between food service operators, retail grocers and food process are fading as well as advancements in science and technology have allowed for better methods of detecting disease causing pathogens.
Many restaurant owners and consumers begin to worry about effective food safety measures when an outbreak occurs. They somehow forget that prevention is better than the outcome of dealing with a food-borne illness outbreak that can have quite a negative impact on the public and the brand.
Types of food-borne diseases that impact the industry
There are more than 250 food-borne diseases caused by prions, metals, toxins, parasites, bacteria and viruses. The most common ones that affect the food service industry that also pose a dire threat to humans include norovirus, listeria, E. coli, hepatitis A and salmonella.
E. coli: Even when ingested in small amounts, these bacteria can cause damage to the intestines. Effects of the bacteria include violent vomiting, mild discomfort and in extreme
cases, death. It spreads by a fecal-to-oral route where contamination can occur at the farm and if not cleaned properly, the guests at a restaurant can easily ingest it.
Listeria: Unlike other bacteria that need high temperatures to thrive, listeria can survive on lower temperatures. It spreads through cross contamination in food and can be quite dangerous especially for individuals who aren’t immunized. For pregnant women, listeria can cause infant mortality.
Norovirus: Frequent outbreaks of norovirus have compounded a concern for food safety especially in the restaurant industry. The virus is highly contagious and often spreads through human-to-food-to-human contact especially as a result of poor hygiene practices in food service environments. And whether or not they show symptoms, humans can still transfer the virus.
Building the foundation of an effective food safety program
Having an effective food safety program in place is important for protecting the public and the employees in a restaurant. Considering that the CDC has attributed more than 1300 deaths, almost 56,000 hospitalizations and 9.4 million illnesses to food-related pathogens, the issue of food safety in restaurants is a matter of urgency. The success of a food safety program is highly dependent on several factors including ensuring that employees are trained and understand the importance of food safety.
A good food safety program should have a few essential characteristics some of which include:
• Identify the hazards and determine the risks involved
• Implement systems that can help combat the risks
• Prohibit your workers from coming to work while ill
• Follow the proper cooking instructions such as internal temperatures
• Provide an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for guests to use when they come into the restaurant
• Wash hands frequently, when preparing food or after visiting the washrooms
• Implement processes to prevent cross-contamination
Monitoring food preparation and service during every shift keenly is important if restaurant owners, managers and operators wish to minimize the risk of food-borne disease. Working with and not against local food safety departments is also a big step. All shift managers should also consider enrolling for ServSafe classes offered by Goliath Consulting Group or through your local restaurant association and the National Restaurant Association.
For more information on Food Safety in Restaurants, contact us at email@example.com
THE VALUE OF MONITORING A RESTAURANT BRAND’S ONLINE PRESENCE
It is vital for restaurants to manage and monitor their reputation online for very obvious reasons. If you have a great restaurant, people will rave about you offline because of your amazing food you serve to them and the wonderful experience that they enjoy at your place. If you have a poor online reputation management strategy, or you have no strategy at all, you miss out on the chance to enhance your brand’s image. Measuring your brand’s online presence is of great importance.
The Importance of Social Listening Applications
You need to know what is being said about your restaurant’s brand on the internet. A strong online presence is a vital element of your marketing and should be part of your action plan. This is regardless of how small or large your business is and regardless of which industry your business belongs to. Outbound marketing will reinforce your brand and a web presence will help you represent the reasons why your restaurant is so great. Thus identifying and evaluating conversations about your brand, your services and your competition become vital.
Social Media Platforms to Monitor
Numerous social media platforms have come up in the recent past and it is necessary to monitor conversation on such platforms. There is Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Pinterest for example. There is no doubt that it can be quite hectic to monitor all these social media platforms. There are tools available that can help you keep track of conversation that centers on your restaurant. Google Alerts is a great tool because you will get notifications through email anytime appear somewhere on the web. You also get links to reference sites and you are able to recognize what is being said.
Importance of Determining Your Traffic Sources
Google analytics will help you determine your traffic source and you can develop advanced segments for your website as well as for your social media platforms. Google Analytics helps you track website visitors and also helps you determine which social media platforms to use to drive traffic to your website. Generally, numerous online platforms promote interaction among users regarding a specific product or service. Evaluating the influence of your restaurant online will assist you in understanding the influence of your brand online. Finding out how your brand exhibits itself to its audience and how its online reputation is perceived will enable you to create a favorable brand impression.
How Restaurants Can Handle Social Media Effectively
While many restaurants might be using social media, not many are using it productively. Some restaurant businesses have not made plans to use social media effectively and as a result, they are not getting good reaction online. The benefits of social media might not be seen instantly but raising online brand awareness will have a long term benefit and will increase the bottom line. A good presence online can have dramatic effects and bring about great success for restaurants. One approach to having a great online presence would be to have online competitions and to have insightful topical issues on food and nutrition. This can have a dramatic increase in your restaurant’s online presence. With more people talking about your restaurant online, this active engagement can bring about more customers walking into your doors. If you position your restaurant business online as a brand with healthy food for example, people will want to be associated with your business.
The Importance of Online Reputation Intelligence
To manage your online presence, you must control what appears when people Google the name of your restaurant. But this is not enough. You should essentially analyze the negative sentiments that appear online about your restaurant and you ought to address them. A majority of customers will probably read online reviews before making a decision to walk into your restaurant. What they read might determine if they want to do business with you or not. The simplicity of reputation management is that businesses learn what customers are talking about with regards to their experience with the specific business. Reputation monitoring will locate comments and observations from new sites, blogs and social networks and help you get the full picture of what people talk about your restaurant. Positive word of mouth will propel foot traffic into your restaurant. Negative word of mouth will on the other hand destroy your restaurant business. Knowing what is negative about your business can help you make key changes.
Dealing with Social Media Correctly
When you monitor social media, you will get information that you must respond to. Such information can be negative at times. You must respond to negative social media in an appropriate manner. Never try to justify yourself because that might hurt your brand. Everyone else reads comments both negative and positive. Never blame the person who commented and try to be balanced and professional in your responses. Always be brief and do not go on for too long or you will reveal too much. When you keep it simple, the customer might be encouraged to approach you directly and this might resolve a matter amicably. Comments should be treated as consumer research and this will help your restaurant. It is always important to think like the customer and put yourself in their shoes before making any replies. Social media can help your restaurant business but can also destroy you.