All posts filed under “Digital Operations

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Should You Create an App for your Restaurant?

Smartphone with apps

Apps are cool.  Apps can drive loyalty.  Apps can let customers know when they are close to one of your locations, house your customer database, and provide quick reminders (via push notifications) to your customers of your specials, deals, etc.  They are also not terrible expensive to make – an app can cost anywhere from $1500 – $5000 to produce and maintenance is minimal and can typically be conducted by an employee once the app is developed.  However, there are still many considerations to be taken before investing in an app.

First off – do you need it?  Do you have multiple locations?  Do you have a loyalty program that customers can tap into?  An app that doesn’t have a purpose is not likely to be an app that your customers will download or use – and even if they do – what’s the point?  Make sure there is some functionality built into your app which will allow it to be a valuable tool for your customers.

Second – what is your competition doing?  Download the apps of all your competitors and study them.  Some may impress you and some may not, but chances are good you’ll learn valuable lessons from seeing what they are doing and what is in the market before you begin creating your own app.

Next – who is going to make this app for you?  There are multiple freelance vendors and agencies who can assist.  Get someone you can trust and beware ongoing monthly fees – if the actual cost is low but there is an ongoing maintenance cost, chances are you’ll pay much more long term for the same product and you may want to look at the competition.  Quarterly or annual app updates may be necessary, but a monthly service charge will significantly increase the cost of your app over time.

Once you’ve established what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, consider your marketing plan.  People will only download the app if you tell them about it.  Will you advertise it?  Put it on your social media?  Hand fliers to your customers in their check bills or at your register?  Not matter what your method, you’re going to want to make sure to get as many downloads as possible for your new app, and market it constantly moving forward as you attract new costumers.

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Big Data and its growing importance to the Restaurant Industry

restaurant energy use

Big Data used to be inaccessible to all but the largest companies, but the rise of computerized information means that restaurants large and small can now take advantage of it.

Although “big data” seems complicated, it’s just the process of collecting as much data as possible about customers in order to better serve them. Everyone realizes that understanding analytics is imperative to improving business operations, but few people actually know how to use it.

Previously, big data analytics was the domain of major corporations such as Amazon. Now, thanks to advances in software and hardware capability and access to cloud-based services, restaurants of all sizes can use big data software to mine information from their POS, marketing, accounting, inventory and scheduling systems.

Analyzing and understanding big data allows for restaurants to reduce waste and increase efficiency, particularly with food orders and labor costs.  In addition, it allows restaurants to better predict trends for year over year sales.

Analyzing this data will help readers better understand customer preferences, improve menus and service, and improve operations providing customers with a better experience. This will ultimately lead to significant improvements in the bottom line.

Since competition in the restaurant business is at an all-time high, having an effective big data system is critical.  Stay on top of your business and pay attention tot he analytics.  Investment in reporting can pay off big when it yields a massive increase to your bottom line!

reputation management
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Protecting your online reputation: what you need to know!

We live in a digital world.  Your customers will be posting their pictures and opinions of you on Instagram, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more!  While we hope that everyone is a fan, it’s easy to have issues (or unhappy customers) who can hurt your reputation and influence whether future customers frequent you – or your competition.

Even though it’s time consuming and sometimes no fun at all, it’s very important to protect your online reputation.  Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your game:

1/ DON’T offer free items to make the problem go away.  It’s easy to respond to a negative review with an offer for a free beverage, meal, heck, anything to make the customer happy.  But it’s a much better idea to find out WHAT the problem was and try to fix the issue and apologize (if warranted).  That way, you are improving the success of your business and guarding against future (false) negative reviews from folks looking for a freebie.

2/ DON’T ignore negative commentary.  Even though it’s no fun, it’s very important to respond to unhappy customers online.  There may be an easy fix to the problem, and even if someone really ‘dropped the ball’ on food or service, at least by responding you are showing your dedication to the customer and that it’s important for them to have a good visit.  Avoid long, drawn out public conversations and provide a phone number or email for follow up, and make sure to get to the bottom of their issues whenever possible.

3/ DO respond to positive commentary.  A 5 star review is a wonderful thing to have.  Make sure to take a moment to say thank you when someone goes out of their way to say something nice about your business!  I simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way and helps to reinforce the positive relationship.

4/ DO Know your rights and manage your online presence.  If someone is being unnecessarily vulgar, abusive, or even works for your competition and is writing false reviews, you have every right to flag and remove them .  Get to know the terms of service for Yelp, Google, and Open Table so that you can flag anything that doesn’t belong or is dishonest.  It’s also important to find out where your customers are talking about you – stay on top of social media trends and monitor your restaurant pages across as many sites as your customers do to ensure that you don’t miss the conversation.

5/ DO encourage people to talk about you!  Most of your customers are biggest fans – that’s why they are in your restaurant!  Engage these people by letting them know your Instagram handle and other social media presences, as well as asking them to review you.  By asking for reviews, you’ll ensure that the happy people take some time to write about you: unhappy people are more likely to take to the internet if they feel the need to report an issue.  And of course, encourage your front of the house staff to ask for feedback often so that any problems can be fixed (hopefully) before they make their way online.