Impact of Min Wage Increase / NYCHA Survey & Results

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See here NYCHA Survey and Results on Minimum Wage Increase

Survey: Walmart builds on largest share of grocery loyalty

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“Walmart is quickly extending its grocery dominance in brick-and-mortar into the online realm.

Consumer market researcher Packaged Facts said Thursday that 23% of online grocery consumers cited Walmart as the retailer they use most for groceries. That’s second only to Amazon, named by 38% of purchasers, according to Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Grocery Market Focus: The Walmart Shopper” report.

About 27% of in-store grocery purchasers said Walmart is the brick-and-mortar retailer they get groceries from most — over two times as many as Kroger, the next most cited retailer, the study revealed.

In a relatively short time, Walmart has transformed itself into an omnichannel retailer by accelerating investment in e-commerce to develop a seamless shopping experience between its massive store base and digital properties, Packaged Facts noted. What’s more, Walmart has turned its thousands of stores — an apparent cost disadvantage versus pure-play online retailers — into a competitive strength in distribution, the researcher said.”

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Simple Tactics for Building a Solid Business Reputation

“According to new studies, one of the top ways you can go the extra mile for your customers is by personalizing their shopping experiences.

One report predicted that by 2020, the customer experience will be more important than price and product when it comes to setting your brand apart. And according to another source, this data is already starting to take effect. Forty-four percent of consumers said a personalized shopping experience would likely result in brand loyalty.

Going the extra mile for your customers by making sure their shopping experience is memorable isn’t just a recent trend, though. Treating customers as individuals has always been essential for business reputations. Who wants to talk to someone who is ushering them out the door? Some other ways you can show customers you care is by listening to complaints, rectifying problems, and establishing a loyalty program for small business.”

See more here.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi: 5 powerful career habits that drove her success

“PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi steps down today after a 24-year career with the company. Born in India, the 62-year-old was one of a handful of people of color to run an S&P 500 company. During her 12-year tenure as chief executive, Nooyi transformed PepsiCo into one of the most successful food and beverage companies worldwide. Her push for healthier snack and beverage choices, along with an eye for product packaging, led to an 80 percent sales growth in the 12 years she was CEO.

As a child in India, Nooyi and her sister were asked to play an unusual game. Each night at dinner, their mother asked her daughters to imagine what they’d do if they were the prime minister, the president or some other world leader. By the end of the dinner, the girls presented a speech and their mother decided which speech won her vote.

Though her mother instilled many traditional values in her daughters, she also encouraged them to be whoever they wanted to be. “She gave us that confidence,” Nooyi said (…).”

View full article here.

Great News for Restaurants as IRS Reaffirms Deductions for Entertaining

“The Internal Revenue Service is giving businesses a tax break they thought they had lost in the tax overhaul last year — write-offs for wining and dining clients.

The agency said Wednesday companies can still deduct 50 percent of meals while entertaining clients and customers, clearing up confusion about whether tax law changes last year had completely eliminated that benefit.”

“Kathy Petronchak, the director of IRS practice and procedure at Alliant Group and the chair of the meals and entertainment task force at the CPA group, said that the guidance and examples “align with what we had hoped to see with the clear distinction between entertainment and allowable business expenses for meals.”

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Three Fast Casual Must-Haves

During the past decade there has been a significant increase in the number of fast casual enterprises because of the changing habits of the consumer; this new generation of consumer values convenience above everything. The modern food consumer seeks out a smart balance of convenience, quality product, appealing aesthetics and of course, affordability. The guest wants an experience that is as close to a full-service experience as possibly, without the same price and time commitment. In order to distinctly differentiate themselves from their competition, fast casual enterprises need to offer 1) fresh ingredients, 2) five star customer service and 3) an inviting environment.

1. Fresh ingredients: The new generation of consumer values quality food, with a special emphasis on the choice of ingredients and how fresh they are. Consumers are also more aware about the cooking techniques and menu variety.

2. First-Rate Customer Service: Counter service should be available so that the guest can place an order quickly, and enjoy the experience longer. The consumer looks for an experience that is as close to full-service as possible, so the staff needs to meet this demand in as friendly of a manner as possible.

3. Inviting Atmosphere: Aside from looking aesthetically pleasing and modern, the staff needs to be as high-energy and outgoing with the guest as possible while still maintaining accuracy and speed.

To read more about the evolving nature of fast casual enterprises and how to keep up with the new consumer demands as well as some predictions for the future of fast casual, click here

Creating a Culture of Hospitality

This past weekend as part of the 25th anniversary of the American Express Trade Program at the Aspen Food & Wine classic, industry experts discussed a very important topic: customer loyalty. Chef Tom Colicchio (Craft, Colicchio & Sons), Sean Brock (Husk, Charleston), Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Chicago) and Mitzi Gaskins (Marriott) led a seminar discussion on how chefs and operators can create a culture of hospitality and loyalty.

Colicchio stated that it all comes down to the servers; they have two main jobs: 1) make the customers happy, and 2) create regulars. The goal for the servers is to really become friends with the diners and get to know them so that it really becomes a personal experience. It is important to have the servers make those little extra steps that go beyond the eat-then-pay transaction. The chefs mentioned that they use computer programs (such as OpenTable) to track their guest information. Servers can make notes of the guests’ personal preferences (sparkling water vs regular, etc.) and input it into the computer at the end of service. They then analyze this collection of data to connect more with the customer. Recognition is absolutely key in fostering customer loyalty; as a diner it is the best feeling to enter an establishment and have the staff remember your name and dining preferences.

Gaskins also stressed upon the importance of attracting the right talent. The recruiting process should never be taken lightly. It is important that the staff you keep truly fits the profile created by your brand. It is then equally important have appropriate training systems and provide the staff with the tools necessary to make the guests happy. Colicchio makes an excellent point which is that in order to create brand loyalty among your customers, your staff has to be loyal to your brand; it all begins in-house. Both Colicchio and Gaskins spoke about how a little positive reinforcement can go a long way, and how stories of hospitality successes will spread amongst the staff.

Social media is also a relatively new and important way to connect with fans and customers. Operators should research what works for them and what doesn’t. It is important to keep the customer engaged and incentivize them to come back to your restaurant without flooding their twitter feed or email inboxes. For instance, Izard mentions that perhaps it is smart to run quarterly specials vs running specials every few days. Izard also spoke of the importance of building relationships with customers in the community. She recommends engaging with the community through charitable events and choosing organizations that you are proud to be a part of.

To watch the seminar on the evolution of customer loyalty click here