Live Webinar: Branded Restaurant Apps – Integrating Mobile with Traditional Marketing

Branded mobile apps are fairly new to restaurants and are often an underutilized component of their marketing campaigns. Customers today are growing accustomed to mobile and online ordering, payment, loyalty programs and promotions as a part of a single brand experience. Splick.it, an enterprise level SaaS platform, is hosting a live webinar geared towards restaurant operators and marketing teams. Register here.

Live Webinar: Branded Restaurant Apps – Integrating Mobile with Traditional Marketing

Date: Thu, May 1, 2014

Time: 02:00 PM EDT

Duration: 1 hour

 What you’ll learn:

  • How to introduce your app and drive adoption
  • How to engage your customers via your mobile app and impact their behaviors
  • How to promote effectively via your mobile app
  • When to use traditional marketing tactics and when to use mobile promotions
  • How to integrate messages and offers so customers have a consistent experience across all brand channels
  • How to optimize mobile promotions by segmenting users (new, lapsed, best customers)
  • How to transfer contact information and behavioral data between your traditional marketing systems and your mobile/online platforms
  • How much control should your franchisees have for setting up mobile marketing?

 

Balancing Technology and Hospitality in the Modern Age— Is There a Happy Medium?

Restaurants are adapting to the ever-changing technology climate—is this a good thing? These days there is an app to facilitate almost any dining experience including making reservations, tracking wait times, placing orders, and processing payment. The adaptation to modern technology in the restaurant sphere has altered the dining experience for both guests and operators. Can human hospitality and technology cohabit in restaurants, or must one dominate the other?

From a guest standpoint, technology can provide a no-frills, however sterile, experience in which getting from point A to point Z requires few superfluous interactions in between. Are these interactions actually superfluous though? While it’s not far fetched to assume that one day all restaurants could be completely operated by iPads, do servers, hosts and managers possess an indispensable human quality that machines cannot replicate? Then the question becomes, “Is the hospitality experience created by the service team’s human interaction a requisite for guests, or are technological apps that can perform the same duties without the small talk sufficient?” From an operator perspective restaurant apps can ultimately lead to more profitability. Theoretically, guest traffic count would increase and fewer front of house staff would be required.

The app Cover allows guests to pay the bill without having to ask and wait for the check. Guests can select a tip percentage of their preference to be automatically calculated, and they can opt to divide the tab by the number of guests in their party. This is an example of an app that eliminates a tedious process that often leads to frustrating lag times; in this instance, hospitality is not of the utmost importance. However, when guests have control of their entire dining experience from appetizer to dessert at the tip of their fingers, literally, are the seemingly unnecessary steps of interacting with a server really that unnecessary? It may seem appealing to a single diner who is not in the mood for chit chat or to a group of friends who would rather focus on their conversation as opposed to the ordering process— but would the presence of a server actually provide an additional benefit instead of creating an unnecessary obstacle?

Servers are humans at their core, with life experience, people skills and opinions— all qualities that programs cannot acquire no matter how intelligent they are. Servers, hosts, managers and other front of house team members can guide guests in the right direction depending on guests’ moods, dietary preferences and any other concerns. Hypothetically, even if apps could somehow be designed to form humanlike judgments and opinions, will their efficiency and intelligence ever be a suitable replacement for the comfort of human interaction? Whether there’s a standard that restaurants should live up to in terms of balancing human hospitality with technology is ultimately up to the restaurateur; there may not be one right answer.

Coffee Green Bean Prices on the Rise

The biggest arabica coffee rally in two decades is beginning to force smaller-brand roasters to quietly raise wholesale prices, even as top names such as Starbucks Corp resist. The price of arabica coffee futures, the type used primarily in roast and ground brews, surged 80 percent in less than seven weeks on Wednesday, rising above $2 per lb in the biggest such rally since July 1994.
One private-label roaster in the New York area is set to raise its prices by 10 percent to 15 percent within the next few weeks. NY TIMES ARTICLE

A New Take on Blue Bottle Iced Coffee

Recently VC-funded Blue Bottle Coffee released its newest product this week at EXPO West, a natural-foods conference in Anaheim: a ready-to-drink, packaged version of its New Orleans Iced Coffee. Blue Bottle partnered with Clover Organic Farms to offer this all-organic product with the same ingredients you’d find at a Blue Bottle shop – coffee, roasted chicory, cane sugar, and Clover milk. Except now, it is packaged in a 10.66-ounce milk carton and scheduled to hit shelves at every Whole Foods in Northern California by mid-March. Future roll-out will include Blue Bottle’s shops (Bay Area, L.A., and NYC), west coast Whole Foods stores, followed by a launch in the NYC area in mid-to-late May.

NYC Hospitality Alliance Food Protection Course – March

NYC Hospitality Alliance is offering a NYC Food Protection Course including an exam for certification. Employers have the opportunity to get their staff certified at a member rate of $145 per person. NYC health code requires that at least one certified supervisor is on-site during all food prep and times of operation.

Cost: Member Rate = $145            Non-member Rate = $170

Day 1: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 – 8:00am to 4:00pm

The Stumble Inn | 1454 Second Avenue | Manhattan

Day 2: Thursday, March 20th, 2014 – 8:00am to 4:00p

The Stumble Inn | 1454 Second Avenue | Manhattan

Day 3: Friday, March 21st, 2014 – 9:00am [EXAM]

NYC Health Academy, 413 East 120th Street, 2nd Floor, Manhattan 

Register here for this course.

Financial Reflections for the New Year

The start of a new year is typically a time for reflection, new perspective and a sense of excitement about what lies ahead. For many of us, it is also the end of our fiscal year—  a time to close any outstanding items, prepare annual statements, and evaluate both our financial history and future strategic goals. For many operators, this becomes a daunting task that can be burdened further by unreliable and inconsistent financial information. For those who have dependable financial records available to them, it is often difficult to tie this information back to specific business operations. While financial statements are frequently prepared by third-party affiliates, there is rarely any context, interpretation or explanation accompanying them. Owners and management teams are in turn, left to fend for themselves.

Detailed statements and the right financial analysis can offer extremely valuable insight into key business drivers as well as areas for operational improvement and growth. It is essential to have the ability to compare and benchmark against historical periods as well as relevant industry standards. Beyond analyzing past information, operators often have no predictability and little foresight into future months or quarters.

At TaraPaige Group, we understand the powerful insight detailed financial records and analysis can provide. In our own work, we consistently rely on and implement the following building blocks to help our clients achieve financial success:

  1. A robust accounting management system that is customized and fitted to your business
  2. Accurate and timely recording of sales and vendor transactions
  3. Standardized reports and materials with relevant operating and financial metrics to be monitored on an ongoing basis
  4. Detailed operating budget that focuses on revenue drivers, expense breakdown and payroll
  5. Weekly and monthly performance tracking against operating budget to unlock opportunities for improvement and growth
  6. Long term financial that accurately reflects company’s growth strategy

Whether your business is in early stages of development or positioned for near-term growth, there’s no time like the present to evaluate your current financial operations. It’s the start of a new year, which calls for a fresh perspective and the right tools to tackle your strategic and financial goals. At TaraPaige, our goal is to create the optimal financial and operating foundation for our clients’ long-term profitability and success. For more information on how we partner with clients, please visit www.tarapaige.com.

Happy Reporting…TaraPaige Group.

Meet-Up: How Tech is Transforming Restaurants

Network with industry members over wine and snacks while learning more about the influence of technology in restaurants on Thursday, Jan. 30th from 7-10pm at Grind Broadway (1412 Broadway, 22nd Floor). Find out more about the dozens of tech startups that are passionate about optimizing customer experience and restaurant operations. Local food artisans will have the opportunity to exhibit their products; email nina(at)foodtechconnect(dot)com if interested.

Confirmed presenters include:

Mark Egerman or Andrew Cove - co-founders, Cover - An OATV and Lerer Ventures backed payment processing app that lets customers seamlessly pay for their meals and saves restaurants money on credit card fees. @coverpay / [masked]

Alice Cheng - founder & CEO, Culinary Agents - A RRE Ventures and Correlation Ventures backed professional network that offers job matching and networking for culinary professionals in the food, beverage and hospitality industry. @CulinaryAgents [masked]

Darren Wan - CEO & co-founder, Easy Pairings - An online marketplace for the hospitality industry that allows restaurants to lower recruitment costs and find great staff quickly and easily. @easypairings / [masked]

Eric Poley – VP of Sales, Objective Logistics - A Google Ventures and Atlas Venture backed retail/restaurant-focused software company that provides an artificially-intelligent, web-accessible labor performance management platform (MUSE). @OBJL / [masked] 

Matt Oley - VP of Sales, Swipely – An Index Ventures and Shasta Ventures backed service that processes credit card payments for local merchants, then uses payment data to help businesses market and develop customer loyalty programs. @Swipely [masked]

Swipely’s: Consumer Intelligence for Restaurant Operators

Swipely’s new release, “Winter ’14“, now includes menu and server performer intelligence to help restaurants “make smarter decisions about their key drivers— food, staff, and marketing,” according to CEO Angus Davis. The Swipely system is compatible with several major POS systems, and it stores data each time customers pay using credit or debit cards, which is roughly 75% of the time. Additionally, Swipely reduces the cost of accessing credit and debit card payments for restaurant operators. Operators can apply the information the insights about their servers to aid in training and decision making. Similarly, by evaluating which dishes are best-sellers, operators can more easily make sound marketing decisions.

Culintro Networking at Sons of Essex

Culintro recently posted their first networking event for January. The event will be at Sons of Essex on Monday 1/27 from 9-11pm and will feature a special food and beverage menu. All industry members are welcome, and registration is free. We hope to see you there!

Poultry and Pork Prices Expected to Fall in 2014

Poultry and pork prices are expected to fall 5-9% and 4-13% next year, respectively. The decrease in chicken breast meat prices could result in cheaper menus at fast casual and fast food retailers including McDonald’s, who recently abolished the Dollar Menu. The price of pork reached a record high this year, so the dramatic price cut will come as a relief. Bloomberg News attributes the price decrease of poultry to the 20% decrease in the price of corn, a dietary staple for chickens. On the contrary, beef costs will most likely not decrease until mid-2015 at the earliest, according to a report by purchasing co-op SpenDifference LLC.

Here are some tips for controlling costs:

  • Because of the predicted drop in wheat prices, look at breads and identify savings.
  • Both canola and soy oil are forecast to increase in 2014. If possible, take coverage at today’s levels to add price protection.
  • Take coverage in the front half of 2014 to protect from seasonal increases in the back half of the year for cheese.
  • Draft a food-cost purchasing forecast to identify areas of savings and potential cost increases.
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