Learning by Watching Television

Importance of planning in restaurant business or any business.


Strategy

Well this post is not a Restaurant Promo Idea but an example on the importance of palnning in everything we do.
I feel everyone has heard this mantra at a point of their life. The mantra goes like this “If you want to succeed in life, you need to do something you are passionate about“. Mine is the Food and Beverage. So much so that my other half says that she is the second wife, my job is my first wife. Thats true. I can’t stop working. When I am eating out, I always observe what the wait staff do, how food is presented and so on. Even when we stay in hotels, I like to wake up early and walk around the hotel. My wife always say when we are on holiday why can’t I leave my work at home. Even the shows I like to watch are related to the Food and Beverage field. Nowadays after assuming a management position my playlist have increased. I like shows that are related to the management and also marketing field. One such show is the Apprentice reality show with Donald Trump. I not only like to see how they market or complete their projects. You can also get some management and leadership lesson from these type of shows especially from the boss Donald Trump.
Recently AXN started a new Apprentice Series based in Asia. Its on every wednesday and is called of course “Apprentice Asia”. The boss here will be Tony Fernandez. Tony Fernandez is really an inspirational guy. From being in the music industry he bought a failing airline for only RM1 (with a heavy debt attached to it and turn it into one of the best low cost airlines. You can read something about him here My Heroes- People who have inspired me.
Well lets go back with the opening episode of Apprentice Asia. The teams were divided by gender, each team was given the task of selling fish at a market. The team with the highest profit margin wins the challenge. Should be a simple task for a bunch of professionals but they failed misserable. The ladies team lost about RM100 and the men’s team lost RM600.
We will review why the men lost. The main word was STRATEGY.
They didn’t sit down and plan their strategy. When they arrive at the market they quickly set up stall. They didn’t do a market survey, therefore they didn’t know whether they were selling higher or lower. They let the buyers who is very savvy with fish prices dictate the price. They didn’t do a price list based on a profit margin, therefore they sold at a lower price. One of the participants started calling customers eventhough they were not ready. Even Sun Tzu has something to say about planning, its from the first chapter called “Laying Plans”.26. “Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”
From this show, you will see the importance of planning especially when doing a menu. Even the simplest task like selling fish needs to carefully planned. In a previous post I have elaborated the steps in creating your menu.

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How to Market your Menu

How to Market your New Menu




Menu-front-page-150x150So you have created your restaurant menu, now you have to market it. You have to let people out there know about your menu and your chef. You need to create a buzz and you need to keep advertising even though you have been long in the market. You might think that you are already well known but with all the new products flooding the market these days, customers might miss you out. That’s why big brands like KFC, McDonalds and other fast food chains spend millions on advertisements yearly. Eventhough people know them. Below are some ways that I use to promote my menu. Hope its of some help.

1. Advertise your menu

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The first and important thing you have to do is to advertise in the mainstream media that you have a new menu.You may need to fork out some money but this will help to create awareness to your restaurant. As mentioned earlier even big restaurants do it.These will include advertisements in newspapers, flyers, banners and brochures. You can also seek help from your staff to help you hand out the flyers around town. My staff was happy to do it for me. If you have a higher budget you can advertise on the radio or tv. Make sure you write something interesting or use an eye catching pictures. Try to go away from the norm, otherwise people will pass it by cause its just another advertisement.

2. Invite the local media to taste your new menu

You can advertise in the newspaper or magazines as mentioned above. You can also go a step further by inviting some reporters to sample your menu. It is always well worth considering inviting the media to your restaurant. To do this you must be really sure that you are ready. You wouldn’t want to make a fool of yourself to the people who is going to write about you. You need to put your best foot forward. I suggest you run your menu for one month to work out any hiccups that might occur before calling the press. When you are ready, then only call the press. If you are inviting only a few media people then call up some friends to dine at your place, so the place will look good not like a haunted restaurant.

3. Invite your local bloggers.
These days it’s not only the professional food critics that people listen to for advice. Consumers search the internet on information on your place. A recent survey that was done by the hotel I work of how people got to know about our hotel was 45% said that they knew about us from the internet, 40 % was from friends and 4% from the newspaper and magazines. These will show you the power of the internet. Bloggers have their own set of followers and these followers listen to them. Look around at websites of local bloggers. A good way to start is to search for blogs about your competitors, follow them and see what they write. Whether it suits your style. Also note how many folllowers they have. But a word of caution most bloggers write the truth because they have a reputation to uphold to their followers. If your item is not good, don’t feature it or you might get some nasty reviews. Once you get a positive review, you can share it with your customers, post it on your site and on your blog and Twitter and Facebook pages.

4. Pictures sell.
In my former hotel where I worked, we created menus with pictures in it. After printing the menus, I used the pictures and created posters of individual food items. Each food item had a catchy tag line like “Sinful Pleasures” for desserts, “What a Hunk of Beef “ for beef burgers and “Get Curried Away” for curry dishes. We noticed that customers is more likely to order a dish when he or she sees a picture. So when we needed to clear a slow moving item, we just put a poster of the item. But you need to take mouthwatering shots of your food. Search the net for ideas on mouthwatering images. Follow suit.

5. Upload on your Facebook, Twitter or othe social sites.
Nowadays most business are using the social media like Facebook or Twitter to promote their company or products. If you don’t have a Facebook sites its best to create one. Its really easy. You must put important information under the Info tab which includes your restaurant’s location, directions, hours of operation and Web address. You can even put your menu in your facebook site. You also need to let your customers know that you have a Facebook site that they can be friends with. This is done by giving out cards with your Facebook address out to everyone. Apart from that you need to also keep your site updated and attractive. Here is when you can get more creative, with the help of the pictures. You can upload the pictures on your site every two days. Do this after you have uploaded your menu. You can feature not just pictures of your dishes, but also the recipe or a video of the chef demostrating how to cook the dish. You can also feature interviews with your customers. Constantly add interesting things, not only trying to sell your product. If you have interesting article on your Facebook page, people will be interested to be friends with.

6.Email
Even though emailing out newsletters or product update is nothing new within the internet world, it is still a great way to build awareness of your new menu to existing and new customers. You won’t have to worry about spamming if your customers give you their email address. Normally when someone has given you their email, they are already interested in your place. This gives you a chance to entice them with special offers or highlight to them your new menu. I have wrote in my post “Restaurant Promo Ideas #6- Collect Mailing Address ” on ways to get email address from your customers.

7. Create Videos
The use of videos in marketing is still largely underestimated. There is a huge audience on sites like YouTube. Imagine nowadays an aspiring singer can land a huge contract by just a music video on You Tube. But video marketing can also be used as a restaurant marketing tool. You can post your Chef in action, a tutorial on how to set a table or prepare a cocktail. Don’t forget to add your link at the bottom. If you video is good and it might go viral and then alot of people will know about your restaurant.

These are some of the ways of promoting your menu. If you located at a busy intersection you can hand out sample of your food for people walking by. Do dropby for more Restaurant Promo Ideas.

 

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Create your Restaurant Menu

How to Create your Restaurant Menu



Another great marketing instrument that is generally overlooked will be your restaurant menu. As I’ve mentioned in my Previous Post “Creating Great Customer Service Culture, first impression is important. Preparing the menu takes a lot of work and a lot of planning. You need to do it step by step. And you can’t skip any of these steps. Below are the steps.

Restaurant Concept

Firstly, you have to identify what is your restaurant concept and what type of customers that you want to attract. Look around at your area, other restaurant premises and what others are offering. You have to know whether the community are young working adults, families or college students. This will determine the style, quality and portion sizes of the food that you will feature on your restaurant menus. It would be suicidal to open a fine dining restaurant in a community of families who normally dine together.

Market Analysis Market

Market analysis is an important part in planning your menu for your restaurant. You need to know what others are selling, what the locals want. The market analysis also can help you with your menu prices so as to be inline with the income of the community in your area. Its no point to create an expensive menu for a community that are in the middle income category. You will then have an empty restaurant and a fridge full of expensive items.

Consult your Chef

In one episode of Restaurant Makeover, the Makeover Chef tells the Restaurant Chef that “Chefs create menus not owners“. This is true, only the chef knows what he is good at. Its no point for the owner to come out with the menu that the chef is not able to cook it well. Firstly consult with your Chef and also review your current menu with him. Take into consideration of your top sellers and the poorest selling items. This is to identify what to remove and what to keep. Also take into consideration the local likes and what others is offering. The items in your menu may be limited to the size of your kitchen or by the equipment that you have. If you want to try something new you have to be prepared to buy the equipment that your chef needs for his menu. Also take into consideration the skill level of your staff both in the kitchen and at the front. Its no point to create a fine dining menu when the staffs are not skilled enough to prepare or sell it. Also the raw items should be readily available or you will have a menu with lots of sold out items.

Menu Pricing
Knowing the costs of your items that you plan to sell means success to your business. By carefully calculating the food cost you can determine the price that you will be selling. But saying that, you also need to be aware what your competitors are selling, so as not to overprice your items thus turning away business. That’s where your market analysis comes into play. There are numerous website giving out free templates that you can use for calculating your food. One such site is Menu Costing Templates

Designing Your Menu
wpid-Menu-front-page-150x150.jpegAs mentioned in my previous post Free Restaurant Menu Templates that a restaurant menu is an important key to promote what your chef has to offer. In the menu you will list what is available in your restaurant. Splendidly prepared menus will really entice the customer to dine within your place. I’ve learned that beside scrumptious sounding write ups, mouthwatering images will definitely appeal to customers to try something new. Sometimes I feel that the customers usually are not clear on what to order, so they normally will order the norm. Shying away from something unique or different that your chef have conjured up. Thus a picture will give the customer a visual taste of what’s coming. In that post I also suggested some free templates sites so you don’t have to take the trouble of designing the menu from scratch.

Proofread and print final design
Go through the entire menu with a fine tooth comb as error will make you look like a fool and also once printed its costly to reprint again. You could also hire a professional editor. You can do what I normaly do, is to pass around to a few friends who are quite ok in English and ask their opinion. After all the people that is going to read your menus are normal people not restauranteurs. So if they can’t understand what you are trying to drive at, how do you expect your customers.

After all this is done, sent out your menu for printing. In my next post I will give you ways on promoting your restaurant menu.

 

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