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.

How to Set up Retail Employees to be More Efficient

It’s important in the retail industry that work be done efficiently. Whether it’s working at the register, restocking merchandise, or answering customer questions, there’s not a lot of time to spare. When employees are not efficient, this often leads to a significant decrease in customer satisfaction, sales, and overall company productivity. Of course, this isn’t always the employees’ fault. With various tasks comes time wasted by nature, but with modern advances in retail technology, you can help them cut down on that waste and make the most out of their most productive hours. The following are a few ways you can tackle this problem to help to ensure that your retail employees have all the tools they need to prevent any time being wasted.

Time Management

Clocking in and out in of itself can be a major time-waster. While the punch card shows when they officially clocked in, that doesn’t account for the time that they waited in line with the others on their shift to punch in, or the time it takes for them to put their card away, get ready, and get to their station. The same problem comes with clocking out, but your employees are still required to work the same set hours, which means that they’re wasting clocked-in time just working around the time management system. By leveraging the power of cloud-based solutions for clocking employees in, employees can clock in without having to wait in line or fumble with old-fashioned punch card machines. Clocking in and out for lunches and shifts will be much more efficient when your employee can clock in from their phone, saving their frustration as well as the time you’re paying for.

Organization

Organization is a critical aspect towards encouraging your employees to engage in and maintain increased efficiency. Nothing wastes time more than when an employee is constantly stuck looking for the items they need to do their job, rather than actually doing their job. Setting aside lockers or designated shelves for employees to keep their belongings and equipment will reduce wasted time and even reduce the instances of lost or broken equipment. This saves your company in both time and costs, as well as shows your employees that you are aware of their needs and working to help them succeed.

Improved Communications

One area often overlooked for improving employee efficiency is in the area of general in-house communications. The use of Motorola 2 way radios in NYC retail businesses can lead to significant increases in response time and team work from your employees. Calling out on the intercom isn’t an efficient or effective way to get the right employee to the right place for customer assistance, or for any task for that matter. Being able to address employees directly and privately through two-way radios allows for employees to address one another as a group or get the attention of an individual employee as needed. By utilizing the services of unified communication installation experts to make this type of efficient employee-to-employee communication possible, customers will be thrilled with the increase in service efficiency.

The Company Newsletter

A great way to keep your employees informed on how to ramp up efficiency in the workplace is by providing tips and insights through a companywide employee newsletter. This can be especially helpful for new employees who may not yet be fully aware of all of your company’s policies and procedures. The tips being provided can help to inform employees, both new and old, on how to improve their own efficiency on the job. This also will help with quickly and effectively alerting all employees to changes in shift schedules, policy adjustments, and extra-hours opportunities in a way that they can reference later as needed.

By taking these steps to improve your company efficiency, it will be much easier to cut down on wasted time. Retail employees are generally paid by the hour, which means that time is money in this industry, money that no one can afford to waste. If these solutions don’t appeal to you, try holding an open meeting with your employees to see if they are aware of any issues that make their job harder and impede their productivity. Maintaining open communication with your employees can help reap great benefits and give you the feedback you need to ensure optimum efficiency in your business.

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.

Expanding Your Online Business: 4 Things to Consider Before Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Location

Many companies have expanded from brick-and-mortar operations to offering only online stores that can be used to purchase products and services. It’s a huge sector of the economy and has been growing rapidly since the introduction of the internet. 

However, what if you wanted to do the opposite? Instead, you could evolve from an online-only operation to also having brick-and-mortar locations. This too can lead to increased profit. Still, there are serious pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are four things to consider before making this transition.

How Niche Is Your Business?

The great thing about the internet is that it gives you access to millions of people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This includes consumers with extremely specialized interests. While you may be able to find enough of these individuals online to make a profit, achieving the same success in one geographic location may be much more difficult.

Will You Appeal to the Local Customer Base?

Similarly, you also need to ensure that you have the ability to actually appeal to the consumers in that locality as well. Your store may be a hit online with shoppers that live in Manhattan. However, if you start a brick-and-mortar location in Rapid City, South Dakota, the consumers there may find your New York-centered branding and marketing off-putting.

Can You Afford All the Costs Involved?

The most significant advantage online stores have over brick-and-mortar stores is the elimination of a lot of overhead expensive and startup costs. Obtaining a building that consumers will actually enter can be much more difficult than finding warehouse space. You will also have to be able to afford all the other expenses required to maintain that store like utilities, rent, and much more.

Do You Have the Management Skills?

Operating a brick-and-mortar store takes distinctly different management skills than managing an online store does. Customer service, for one, will often be face-to-face. You will also have to recruit and train employees that will work with customers directly. You need to ensure you are up to this task or your brick-and-mortar store will flounder as a result.

Just because you are successful with an online business does not necessarily mean you can translate that success to brick and mortar. However, there is still the possibility you could make a fortune by making this transition with your company. If you think brick and mortar can work for you, consider obtaining construction management services and other services that can help you plan for your new stores.

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

Keeping Your Business Organized: 3 Tips for Owners

Part of running a business like a well-oiled machine comes down to superb organization skills and policies. When things are properly organized, this will save you and your employees loads of time. Items will be more easily found, and your employee’s work spaces will not look trashy and cluttered. So, if you are ready to whip your business into shape, then here are three organization tips you must follow for best results. 

Back of the Store 

The back of your store, where no one but you and your employees tread, is where you keep all your inventory and other business-related supplies. To keep these items organized, you will need shelving for products, heavy duty storage cabinets and bins for other supplies. Putting in a system for quickly locating what you need will also be a great plan. This way, anyone new that you hire on will be able to quickly orient themselves to finding what they need without wasting a lot of time searching without end. 

Front Customer Area 

Any time customers can see an area of your store, you do not want these areas to look cluttered or messy. This is especially the case if it is an employee work station. Unorganized areas like that will give the hint that you and your employees do not spend time carefully making sure your store is both neat and clean. By assigning an employee to go around to do regular checks and remind employees to clean up the areas they are in charge over, you will help to always ensure your store is ready for your customers to see. 

Digital Organization 

As with your physical products and supplies, your computer system and digital files need to be in order too. One way to do this is to install a quality database to help you gain access to any digital form or information you need at the push of a button. Often it is necessary for companies to have a couple of IT guys on staff to ensure that your digital systems are not only organized, but you also want them to be operating within acceptable parameters. In addition, these employees can help you keep your social media postings organized to ensure that your company is being properly represented online too. 

Your business is the foundation on which you plan to build your success. By using superb organization policies, you will help this effort along in a big way. Plus, you will help to make sure that your employees have everything they need at their fingertips to make you happy with their performance. Consequently, organization is a critical aspect of any viable business model.

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.

Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

Ensuring your business can ever be one step ahead of the curve first requires it to be absolutely located within the present. Businesses might not be present in their aesthetic or theming, but in their practical running and development, they need to be. Even businesses that pride themselves on the age of their product ingredients such as decades-old whisky will never used decades-old solutions to business problems that are considered today. It’s put simply in the phrase: modern problems require modern solutions. This means that if you ever hope to push forward, you need a solid base from which to push.

As a business leader, it can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse. The trends of business life often seem to flow around us, and it can be hard to decide if we want to jump into this tide or to try to follow this while also dictating our own unique spin on things. With the following advice we should help any new business keep on top of the pressing trends current in 2019:

Changing Consumer/Business Relationships

The business relationship has started to shift between the customer and the business they hope to interact with. While the same time-honored laws of interpersonal trade still apply, that is consumers will likely offer you money to purchase your good or service, you have to provide a sense of immediate aftercare for this transaction. Complaints should be recorded efficiently and capably, and acted on if they have any merit. Bringing your support context to them through the use of social media IM features is one of the norms that more and more companies have started adopting, because it reduces the load on your call centres and can help the client feel as though they’ve been given a wise and fair speed of treatment.

Some businesses offer a money back guarantee if the customer isn’t happy with the good or service, and social media has given people of all kinds the power to denounce or appreciate that which your business does. If you look at any online review website, you’ll see the business trying to carefully respond to negative reviews, perhaps apologising for their experience and offering them a better time if they come in next. The power has absolutely shifted in favor of the consumer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that more departments need to operate with PR in mind, and any business decision must be made in the light of the consumer, as they have more power to affect your bottom line than ever before. It just takes one highly-followed person to positively or negatively tweet about you to affect your share price slightly. For this reason, pay attention to this changing relationship, and do what you can to preserve it.

Data Management

Data management is essential to consider in the modern day. Not only are vast amounts of data created in the daily functioning of your firm, but not all data is created equal. Some is simple and basic, some is highly sensitive. Some is generated by the activities your firm embarks upon, some data is freely given to you in order for a customer to interface with your firm accurately. Some data is relatively useless and simply a by-product of the IT functioning of your office, some can be analyzed in order to predict spending patterns and just who you should be advertising to.

Data is perhaps too vast a term to gain any immediate definition of. But handling all of this data well, adhering to the most present data collection policy and ensuring a privacy disclaimer on your website and sales contracts will ensure that you are both trusted and  held to the standard necessary to function with this at your side. Using a service such as the Gartner master data management report can help you learn sustainable methods of handling data, taking a quite intimidating proposition and turning it something you will thrive in.

Corporate Espionage

Corporate espionage seems like a silly thing, as if it was only localized in noir movies in the late 50’s.  We think of a long shadow against the wall in a smoky office, as a spy ruffles through the papers to find out just what his neighbouring business is up to. Unfortunately, this quite attractive image isn’t the reality in the modern day, but corporate espionage does still exist, and is much more refined than you might know. It all takes place in cyberspace.

While staff vetting is of course important, most system trespassing is now done online, and can be prevented by using VPNs, ensuring staff exercise a high level of personal security over their workflow modules, and that high-profile messages within the top levels of your firm are on a need-to-know and encrypted basis. Keeping tight control of the narrative at the top can ensure that your business is always in control of that it hopes to keep secretive.

Accelerated Innovation

Innovation seems to happen at rocket-speed in the modern day. This is great for consumers, but sometimes worrying for businesses. Businesses often worry that their competition will somehow develop a new method of crafting their product that will cut costs significantly, undercutting the price of the competition to a strong degree. Sometimes a company releases a product so successful that its actual presence becomes the moniker of what that product category is – such as how ‘iPhone’ became more than just its brand name in common parlance.

The only counter to this you have is to invest in your research and development, to constantly experiment and generate your take on the winning formula. But also, to become known for the brilliance surrounding your effort, such as your excellent customer support, or your willingness to be a positive player in your industry, or to care about ethical standards.While modern solutions are always important, sometimes it’s the timeless ones that have the most impact.

With these tips, you’re sure to keep on top of the shifting tides of business modernity.

Project Managing: The Changing Flow Of Customer Desires

When you begin a project in business, you quite clearly have an aim in mind. That aim might be to increase your customer base, reach out further on social media, create a new product that will flesh out your line or even just to gauge what consumers want these days. Whatever the case may be, you have to admit that you are at first going to be perplexed at the worldview you run into. It’s not unusual, to imagine how your project will go but it ends up being completely different due to the new information you collate. For this reason, leading a project itself is quite daunting. Not only do you have to try very hard to stick to initial plans but if and or when you do see the market shifting you have to accommodate that too. Customer trends always change, but the reason for why they change isn’t that difficult to understand if you are keeping your fingers on the pulse. When managing a project you will also need to make sure that you are absorbing any new information to then discuss and implement in the project itself.

Note the unexpected

One of the things that any new project will have to do is to contact the public and see what their opinion is on your initial approach or idea. Quite simply, this means sending out email survey campaigns to all your customers, to people who have shopped with you and of course to your business clients. Usually in these email surveys you will have some kind of questionnaire or a survey in which you could ask questions about how customers might feel toward the project. You’ll have to make it short and sweet as this way you will gain the most engagement. However you should also supply a further comment section which allows customers and recipients to give you their full and honest view.

When you see something out of the ordinary or perhaps a viewpoint that you did not expect, note this down. This could be the start of a similar viewpoint that is shared by many but you just didn’t know it. It could be the very beginnings of a changing flow in your customers’ desires. Of course treat this with a pinch of salt as some people sharing a similar view doesn’t mean the majority hold this view. It’s important to discuss any unexpected views that do seem to be gathering steam because it may warrant you changing a part of the project to accommodate it.

How we use technology

Customers are the ones who usually set trends in the marketing world, at least nowadays. Social media is a place for anyone to be creative which means businesses need to continually make sure they are aware of what’s going on. Sometimes a moment in culture might have a big impact on business. A certain name might be given to a piece of clothing, a software, a product etc. it’s this reason why Adwords are so important because as these new trends transpire, they will become available to bid for. You need to be at the forefront of this so you’re not the last one to the party and not able to take full advantage of the trend while it is at it’s peak. A business which wants to make sure they are serving the changing desires of their customers might need to consider using Automating Adwords optimization tasks. In a free-flowing marketing world, being able to harness the power of Adwords and automatically optimize your project to adhere to them will keep you from falling behind.

For example if a clothing item that is normally called a quilted jacket is worn by somebody famous and they make a social media post calling it a ‘country coat’, this term will obviously begin to be widely searched for by their fans. If you are such a business that makes quilted jackets, you want the Adwords for this so anytime anyone searches for a country coat, your website is further up the top of the results page.

Customers’ desires are changing more rapidly than ever before. Thankfully there are always new ways in which you can keep up and even bring them closer to your business. During a project, make sure you’re noting any signs of change from your own customers and clients from the information you get from your email survey campaign. Make sure that you’re in the loop regarding any kind of social media or cultural trend which might affect your project and adapt to it to secure new customers.