How to Upgrade Your Restaurant’s Service for Modern Consumers

Today’s restaurant industry has become more competitive than ever, and it’s important to understand why. Technology continues to advance, and with that advancement comes consumers who are used to a certain level of convenience. If a restaurant doesn’t have the right level of service, they’ll typically take their business elsewhere. It is essential now more than ever to do the research into current market trends and make some investments to remain competitive. Here are just four major trends that you should be aware of and consider implementing into your own restaurant.

Specialty Menu Items

In today’s consumer market, it seems like you can find as many diets as there are dieters. While some of it comes from trends and fads, it’s also important to realize that people are becoming more and more aware of allergies and intolerances that they have to various ingredients. Whether it’s for health reasons, ethical reasons, or even just to copy their favorite celebrity, however, it’s important that you are aware of the rising need for flexible menus. The very least a restaurant of today should be able to do is inform customers of potential allergens in their menus. Providing carb estimates for those with diabetes can also show your customers that you are concerned for their health and wellbeing. Where possible, try to find ways to customize menu items to fit the dietary restrictions that may come your way. 

To-Go/ Delivery

Another major change in the modern habits of consumers is that everyone is becoming incredibly busier and less social. Because of this, more and more restaurants are offering take-out options or even delivery. While delivery isn’t possible for everyone, it will increase your patronage if you can offer to-go plates that your customers can use to take their meal home. You can make this easier on your staff by identifying entrees and sides that are quick and easy to assemble, then offering the option of take-home plates for those.

Dessert Displays

Food is a lot more enticing when you can see it, and having displays of some of your more decorative dishes can be a great way to draw in newcomers. Deserts, in particular, are a common favorite to display. To combine two solutions in one, try offering deserts as to-go items and place them on display in a three-door commercial display cooler or other display refrigerator. A customer’s eyes are often bigger than their stomach, or so the saying goes, so chances are they may decide to take a take-home desert with them on the way out if they can see it sitting there waiting for them.

Order-Through/ Pay-Through App Options

Mobile apps have changed so many industries. The restaurant industry is no different. Nowadays, you can order a drink or food from your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant and pay for it before you’ve even left the house. Offering this kind of service, plus a convenient pick-up option, can help draw in customers who are in a rush or want to avoid long waits. This also helps to prevent long lines that may turn away customers during rush times. If you feel like your orders could become backed-up this way, consider implementing a tracker on your app that tells them how long it’s estimated for their food to choose a pick-up time based upon how many people are ahead in a queue. This will also allow people to order their food long in advance, giving you plenty of time to prepare it and eliminating the chance of them waiting in a line.

Restaurant managers who want to increase their sales need to know how to take advantage of modern technology. As the market becomes more competitive and startup restaurants rise and fall, it’s important to stay on top of the best industry trends. Even if you don’t have a major budget for new services, take a look at what you do have and find ways to cater to the new convenience and customization needs of the modern consumer.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

It’s All about Who You Know: 3 Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, knowing how to effectively network with prospective clients, investors, and partners is essential, regardless of the market and industry you represent. Knowing how to network with professionals within your industry is imperative to connect with those who have the power to help and support the growth and expansion of your business as you begin to generate sales and leads among your target consumers. Here are some tips to help small businesses with networking.

Create Branded Business Cards

Branding is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when building a business of your own from the ground up. Develop branded business cards and marketing material to travel with anytime you are actively representing your company or planning to attend a networking or business event.

Always carry your branded business cards and marketing material to ensure you are fully prepared for new encounters and potential connections you make with other professionals in your industry—they can happen anywhere. Be sure your cards and materials represent your business well and include all of your website, contact, and social media information.

Attend Local Business Networking Events and Gatherings

Research and attend local business networking events and gatherings to boost your brand’s awareness while making your presence as a new entrepreneur known. Attending relevant business networking events and gatherings provides ample opportunity to get to know other entrepreneurs and business owners in your local area.

Attend networking events as a traditional attendee or consider the opportunity to rent your very own booth or trade show space to showcase your products, services, and the purpose of your business and brand. Downtime will give you just enough time to check out and chat up other professionals at the show. These strategies can help you gain insight into good universal business practices, commercial vendors, equipment suppliers, and more. Talking about business with fellow professionals is a unique experience that should not be neglected.

Build Your Online Presence

With the advent of the internet, social media, and smartphone technology, networking online with the use of social media has become more prevalent than ever. Building your online presence is extremely important, whether you are selling generic unisex t-shirts or if you are currently selling niche handmade one-of-a-kind home decor items.

Use social media to streamline your brand’s online presence using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Create pages for your brand using the same username, logo, and color scheme to prevent confusion among users and new prospective followers. Connect with followers and create a sense of community among those who have a genuine interest in supporting your business and the products or services you provide.

Understanding the significance of networking among professionals and peers in your market is a must whether you are launching a startup for the first time or in the midst of expanding an existing business and brand. With the right networking abilities, set and achieve goals to expand your business in no time.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Marketing Funnel: 3 Ways to Narrow Your Target Audience and Yield Results

You follow all of the best practices, create killer content and have a clear call-to- action button. You know that you’re doing everything possible to improve your conversion rates, but people just aren’t buying your product.

Pinpointing your target audience throughout the marketing funnel is what makes the cash register ring. Sure, you want to market to the masses, but to be truly successful, you need to hone in on your target audience.

Buyer Personas

Throughout the marketing funnel, you have only once chance to capture attention and build brand awareness. But how can you do that when you’re marketing to the masses. Unfortunately, you can’t. Before anything else, you need to create your ideal customer with buyer personas. Where do they hang out? How old are they? Where do they do most of their shopping?

Creating buyer personas allows you to segment your audience, creating leads that are not only most likely to convert, but also become return customers. Simply put, high-quality leads are the gold standard for any type of business.

Consideration Stage

Targeting people who are most likely to buy is an awesome way to begin your marketing funnel strategy; however, you’ll probably never maximize conversions with this approach. Although high-intent leads are considerable the most valuable, the competition to win their affections is brutal.

User actions vary throughout the marketing funnel, so you need to know what your target audience wants. And how do you do that? Research their behavior!

Below is a few consumer-based action you need to analyze during the consideration phase:

  • Did they join your email list?
  • How long did they stay on your website?
  • Did they download anything from your site?
  • How many pages did they visit?

Create Brand Loyalty

Your sales funnel goes far beyond the first purchase. You want to convert first-time sales into repeat customers. You want them to become your brand’s advocate both online and offline. This is where loyalty goes into play.

Quality of your product or service is key. From stellar customer service to easy checkout, the entire customer experience needs to memorable. Positive interactions with your brand is what keeps consumers coming back for more.

Create loyalty programs that are the icing on the cake. Not only do they build a strong foundation for repeat business, they also create a buzz in your chosen niche.

The buyer’s journey starts long before the first sale. Getting to your ideal customer now will lead to long, fruitful business relationships that last a lifetime. If you’re unsure about how to target your ideal customers with your marketing, be sure to get in contact with a digital marketing service with plenty of experience reaching audiences for your industry.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Marketing for Indie Game Designers: How to Ensure Your Work Gets the Attention It Deserves

Even the most entertaining and challenging game is a bust if nobody plays it. The internet gives customers access to thousands of video games spanning dozens of genres and age ranges. To get noticed, indie developers have to ferociously market their game through conventional and creative tactics. While there is no perfect solution for marketing success, there are a few basic tips that every game designer should use.

Build Your Game’s Reputation Before Launch

Anticipation can be an amazing marketing force, especially if the game delivers as promised. Designers should start building awareness of their game months before their planned launch date. In some cases, getting a small group of dedicated players to serve as alpha and beta testers is a great way to accelerate mechanics development and bug fixing.

Connect with Media Influencers

The video gaming industry has grown to enormous proportions in recent decades, so it’s no surprise that there are many media outlets that cater specifically to this user base. Game developers should keep in touch with the community by reading blogs, forums and industry news so they can identify potential marketing outlets. Connecting with even a few high-profile bloggers can provide a huge public relations boost.

Consider Third-Party Distribution

Third-party distribution is not an easy decision for any developers, whether they are indie or established. There are a lot of options for distribution platforms, so designers have to do their research to figure out the best one for their game. Some gaming portals are designed specifically for indie or casual games, so it can be a great way to connect directly with the target consumer base.

Create an Engaging Website

Every game designer who is serious about marketing their game needs a website where people can learn more about the game and the development team. These sites don’t need to be incredibly complex or detailed, but they should be entertaining, engaging, and represent the spirit of the game. Game site builder tools can simplify the process of creating and maintaining the site while leaving plenty of creative options for users. 

It’s tempting to brush off marketing as a secondary priority or something that will resolve itself, but this can be a disastrous attitude for indie developers. Engaging in public relations outreach may be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and confusing, but taking the time to communicate and connect with users is a necessary step in getting the attention the game deserves.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Every Bit Counts: 5 Areas to Focus on to Improve Your Whole Business

Every business needs a little boost here and there with the success of a business often focused on the ability of a manager to see and reach their potential. A number of areas can be identified which are important for the future of a business, including the purchasing of new equipment and having faith in employees.

Trusting Your Employees

One of the most common areas of concern for a new manager or entrepreneur is entrusting the vision they have for their business to a group of employees. New managers and those responsible for establishing a business often feel they have to micromanage their employees to get the best results, but having faith in those you employ can result in new ideas and options for success in the future.

Take a Look at Your Current Situation

If you are looking to improve your entire business it is clear you believe new ideas are needed for the future of your career. The first step in understanding how to improve your business is to begin working to analyze every department of your business and begin understanding what is working and what is not. Analytics and the use of artificial intelligence in every industrial sector are changing the way business is being done around the world.

Use New Equipment to Improve Efficiency

A business can only work as well as the employees and equipment in place, which means outdated technology can cause major issues in any company. Small Business reports a Microsoft survey revealed millennials cite outdated equipment as the main problem with completing their work in a successful way. In many industries, the latest equipment is a requirement to reach business goals. For example, bakers need a lot of equipment. As technology advances they’ll need to update equipment. Therefore, they’ll need to find trustworthy companies to be their oven and industrial mixer suppliers.

Appearance Is an Important Part of Any Business

If you are involved in a business where clients regularly visit your office the first impression you make is always important. A clean, technologically up-to-date office space is vital to impressing existing and potential clients who will be important to the future success of your business. However, don’t fall into the trap of being something you’re not. For example, if your company boasts family-friendly services, a cozier atmosphere is probably the way to go.

Set out Clear Goals

The goals your business hopes to reach are an important part of your business and allows every member of your team to work together to achieve your stated aims. Making sure every member of your team understands the goals you have set out is important and should include a system for reviewing and addressing how successful your business has been.

Alongside making sure your business has the right equipment and tools to complete your stated aims, it is important to make sure you are clearly communicating your goals to your team. Addressing your goals and making sure they are being reached should form part of the culture of businesses of all sizes.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Kitting Out Your First Brick-and-Mortar Store

Making the move into a brick-and-mortar store is a fantastic achievement but it requires a lot of thought. You can’t just move into a space, put your name on the door and hope that’s enough to tempt people in. You need to think about how your brand can come across in a physical location.

Just as you should take care to organize and brand your website to suit your customers, you must do the same with your bricks-and-mortar store. The experience of shopping online and in store should mesh together neatly so that customers take as much joy from coming to visit you in-store as they would shopping from their sofa.

Floors and Walls

Though floors and walls might not seem like the most important part of your store, they form a critical foundation to build from. Once you have put up your shelves and filled up with your wares, you aren’t going to get another chance at doing these areas so you must do them first.

Think about all the shops you have been in recently and what the floor was like. Perhaps it was a simple vinyl or maybe varnished wooden boards. Epoxy floor coatings are a popular choice as they are easy to maintain and can be finished nicely. As you imagine the floors you have seen, which ones stand out and attach themselves to the brand? Was the floor a distraction or did it blend in with the rest of the interior design?

Your walls should be approached in a similar way. Bare bricks are having a moment right now but there is nothing wrong with painted plasterboard if you want a cleaner look. Consider adding your brand colors to feature walls and areas you want to highlight so your customers know immediately where they are.

Shelves and Displays

How you display your wares is a crucial factor in ensuring that your customers get the right impression of your store. Though gondola shelving is a really popular method in supermarkets, if you are feeling more creative and your shop is a little more niche, you must think outside the box.

Any business can learn a lot from the styling techniques used in boutique clothes shops. These shops are reliant on their customers picking things up, feeling the materials and immediately spotting a complimentary item nearby. Whether you are selling soaps or books, or comic book paraphernalia, this sense of flow is vital to keep people moving around your shop and exploring every nook.

Whether you are kitting out your home or your store, the lighting you use has a massive impact on the rest of your design. While you must ensure that your customers can see what they are doing and the products around them, you can make use of light and shade to draw their attention to different things. Be smart with your lighting and you will see better results.

Kitting out your first shop is about recognizing the ways that your online experience can translate into the real world. Giving your customers a seamless way to transition between shopping modes is a great way to draw them in and persuade them to come back again and again.