Webinar Event: How To Use Beacons and Geofencing

On August 12th at 2PM EDT splick.it is hosting a live webinar on how to use beacons and geofencing to grow your restaurant business. Beacons can help a business reach out to guests walking by their restaurant at lunch or dinner time and can invite them to come inside. This can prove to be a very powerful tool with a heavy impact as it literally invites new customers to enter the space. The webinar will touch upon the possibilities that stem from beacons and geofencing beyond location-based marketing purposes such as the ability to support ordering and other ways to improve operational efficiency.
The webinar speakers include Pat Mc Devitt, SVP, Engineering at AOL. Mc Devitt works on location-enabling on web content as well as on mobile apps. His team at AOL are currently working and researching the interaction between fixed beacons and dynamic geofencing. Danny Newman, Co-Founder of Roximity, created an SMS marketing platform that is used by agencies to send millions of mobile messages to clients. James Bickers, Senior Editor of RetailCustomerExperience.com at Networld Media Group has been writing about technology for the past 2o years or so in a wide variety of both national and international publications.

This impressive panel of webinar speakers will be covering the following topics:

  • How beacons and geo-fencing work, and how you can put them to work for you
  • Ideas for effective location marketing messaging
  • How to turn data into actionable insights

To sign up for the live webinar event, click here



Demand For Fresh Ingredients Driving Growth

The restaurant trend to advertise locally sourced ingredients on the menu has now caused consumers to expect it. This demand is now beginning to be met in less expensive fast-casual restaurant chains. Guests are willing to pay extra for locally sourced fresh ingredients as is the case at Sweetgreen, Tortas Fronteras by Rick Bayless, Salata and Mad Greens. Marley Hodgson, cofounder of Colorado-based Mad Greens has states that, ” the plan is to have a dedicated portion of the menu that’s local specific.” As the chain begins to expand outside of Colorado, the availability of local produce and other ingredients will be an important determining factor for whether or not to install a new unit. For locations in markets that do not have long growing seasons the emphasis will be shifted to other ingredients that are produced in all seasons such as dairy.

Pricing structures in a fast casual business are not straightforward and the business models do not allow for much wiggle room, however, certain chains are coming up with ways around the structures in order to incorporate more locally sourced ingredients into the menu. Hodgson stresses that guests are willing to pay extra for local foods and believes that, “it’s a much more important trend than organic, but there’s a bifurcated customer base and you have to give them a choice. If you force them all to pay a higher price for local, that’s problematic, because there’s a portion that won’t pay. But there’s a large segment saying ‘yeah, I’m totally willing to pay more.’”

Salata, a franchise company operating in Texas, California and Chicago also sources local products and ingredients. Both Salata and Mad Greens are very transparent with their guests about where their food is coming from, which has proven to be much appreciated.

To read more about adding more locally produced foods to restaurant and fast casual chains’ menus and how it is helping to drive business growth, click here


DineEquity Inc. Developing Strategies to Drive Traffic

DineEquity Inc., AppleBee’s parent company, has been focusing on specific guest’s emotional connections to the brand in order to develop strategies that will drive traffic. The company’s second quarter results that were released this week showed a same-store sales increase of 3.2% systemwide for the quarter ended June 30; DineEquity Inc stated that this showed positive sales across all the dayparts. The results for this quarter proved to be the fifth consecutive quarter with same-store sales increases following the revamping of the chains’  menus that aimed to entice guests to order more appetizers and higher priced main dishes.

The company’s main objective is still to consistently drive traffic and have overall positive performances. Following an extensive research study on Applebee’s target audience, the company has been working towards developing strategies which include solutions for speed, growth, and building guest loyalty. The research differentiates consumers by their opinions on casual dining in general rather than by more socioeconomic indicators such as income levels or other demographics.

Julia Stewart. DineEquity Inc. chair and chief executive states that,“it’s less about age and generational. It’s more about an emotional attune to how they think about restaurants and casual dining and us, in particular, and what it will take to get them to come more often…they’re very clear about what they want us to do differently, and we have to find our sweet spot, especially in competing against fast casual.”

Based on the results of this research DineEquity Inc is developing a loyalist program for Applebee’s and sister company IHOP in order to satisfy the customers desire to have a more customizable experience. Another area that is being improved based on this consumer-specific research is the bar business which customers have expressed that a more ‘relevant’ and ‘contemporary’ business would be appreciated. To read more about the changes being made throughout DineEquity Inc. chains, click here

Darden Restaurants Inc. CEO Steps Down

This past Monday Darden Restaurants Inc. stated that Clarence Otis Jr, chief executive and chairman of the casual-dining operator, would be stepping down from these two roles. Otis will continue to serve as chief executive until a successor is declared, or until the end of the year depending on which comes first to facilitate a smooth transition. Otis has served as the company’s chief executive for the past ten years and originally joined in 1995. Beginning November 2005 Otis also became chairman for the company.

Before becoming a part of the Darden team, Otis spent 11 years working as managing director and manager or public finance in investment banking for Chemical Securities Inc,. (currently known as JP Morgan Securities Inc.). During Otis’ time at the company it grew from 1.381 restaurants with $5.2 billion in annual sales to over 2,200 restaurants with over $8.7 billion sales by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. Otis states, ” I am confident that they, under the leadership of our board and management team, will continue to make progress on the actions we are taking to reinvigorate restaurant performance and further enhance shareholder value.”

The company will begin its search for Otis’ successor as chief executive officer considering both internal and external candidates. Darden is proud of the years he spent at Darden Restaurants Inc and is confident the company will continue to profit and have many successes in its future. To read more about Clarence Otis Jr stepping down as chief executive or Darden restaurants Inc, click here

Kellogg’s Consumer Segmentation Study Shows Evolving Breakfast Trends

The breakfast daypart has become increasingly more popular amongst QSRs and coffee shops over the past few years. Breakfast continues to be a meal that the majority of people consume within their own homes, however millions of people do purchase their morning meal on the go. The choices for breakfast on the go are vast, and there are many variables that influence how the consumer will choose their first meal of the day including a very large variety of available foods at different types of locations (fast casual, convenience stores, coffee shops, etc.), clear demographic groups (urban/suburban, employed/retired,business travelers/stay-at-homes), and a general shift in the attitude towards what constitutes a breakfast meal; some will consider breakfast to be a long sit down meal whilst others will be completely satisfied with a cup of coffee and granola bar.

These changes in eating behaviors have had a significant effect on the food industry, which is why Kellogg’s decided to study the motivations behind those who eat breakfast away from home. The study, “Away From Home A.M. Segmentation Study,” examines when, where and what people are eating for breakfast and what factors are influencing these decisions. The study provides extensive demographic breakdowns as well as the attitudes towards food choices in each of these demographic categories. These eating habits and behaviors were broken down into five distinct segments to assist operators in evaluating their current breakfast menus and pointing out opportunities to increase traffic and sales by adjusting their offerings to fulfill the needs of these distinct segments.

To read more about the Kellogg’s segmentation study and how it can help operators increase sales in the breakfast daypart, click here

Tips to Promote Allergen Awareness

Many legislative measures have been taken at both state and municipal levels to improve allergen awareness in the food industry. Betsy Craig, a spokesperson for the labeling company MenuTrinfo, LLC, is committed to bringing more awareness to both customers and staff and is launching her new company, Kitchens with Confidence, LLC which is fueled by this desire. After having spent years teaching the importance of allergen awareness through the AllerTrain certification courses, Betsy has offered some helpful insights and steps for staff to protect the health and safety of restaurant diners:

  • Print recipes and make them readily available to the staff. Educate the staff on each of the ingredients in a particular recipe or dish and show what could be changed or substituted for customers with allergens.
  • Learn the alternate names of the big 8 allergens developed by Food Allergy Research & Education.
  • Create a policy that described how each staff member (both front and back of house) should handle and react to allergen related questions about the menu.
  • Make a disclaimer visible in the restaurant that explains to guests that they must alert the servers if they have a food allergy. Post the same disclaimer on the paper menus, online, and on menu boards. The disclaimer will reassure the guests that your restaurant has made strong efforts to accommodate special dietary needs.
  • Always use sanitized cloths to wipe down surfaces after a first wipe with soapy water.
  • Identify allergen-free dishes on the menu with either special icons, or different font/colors.
  • Label tools and plates in the kitchen used for allergen-free dishes. Purple is the most common color now used in the kitchen to identify allergy-friendly foods.

To read more about how to ensure the health and safety of diners and the protection of staff regarding safe serving, click here


Starbucks’ Food Sales Increase Average Check

Starbucks completed a very successful third quarter with a $513 million net income  (23% gain compared to the year prior), and a 6% growth in global same-store sales. The coffee shop credits its non-beverage sales for the increase in traffic and average check. The sales of the new breakfast sandwiches that were launched in March increased by 40% during the quarter. Same-store sales increased 7% during the quarter with the new food items being responsible for 2% of that growth. The new hand-crafted Fizzio sodas and Teavana Oprah Chai and shaken iced-teas were also big contributors to the sales increase in the quarter.

This news came in sharp contrast to its competitor, Dunkin Donuts, who released a more disappointing quarterly report. Dunkin’ Brands adjusted their expectation of a 3-4% increase in same-store sales to being in between 2-3%. Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Brands’ chief executive and chairman stated, “Our performance in the second quarter was disappointing, both domestically and internationally.” Dunkin’ Brands mentioned that the increased competition during the breakfast daypart (TacoBell now increasing breakfast offerings) combined with challenging macroeconomic factors (including a harsh Spring climate) all contributed to the disappointing 2Q. The brand now expects a revenue growth between 5-7% compared to the 6-8% projection set earlier in the year.

Food sales at Starbucks are allowing the chain to increase traffic during what would usually be considered the slower day parts for coffee establishments such as evenings and afternoons. Howard Schultz, Starbucks Chief Executive Officer and chair, has hinted that the company is working on making the lunch hour at Starbucks look different soon. Starbucks is also hinting at solutions for paying in advance and picking up using new mobile technologies. Schultz states, ” It’s clear to us in our research that express order and pay is a big, big idea.”

Overall Starbucks has plans for down the pipeline that include more food offerings and new mobile payment technologies which have already proven to increase average check and traffic. To read more about Starbucks’ success with improved food offerings, click here




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