What do you serve your guests?

One of the toughest lessons to learn in the hospitality industry is that you don’t just offer your customers food items from your menu. Once you realize what your product offering is, the sooner you can start to understand the value you offer. And once you understand that, you can determine how much value to ask for it.

Let’s talk about what an ‘offering’ is in marketing terms. Simply put, your offering is the TOTAL amount of value you offer your customer. It’s beyond simply the product or service you give. It includes things like;

-quality of ingredients and materials

-convenience, hours of operation, take out menu, is delivery available

-reputation, experience, pedigree, etc

Your product offering should be specifically designed to satisfy the needs and wants of your target demographic. Essentially, you choose your customer, research what they need and want, then deliver it. Obviously, it’s possible to deliver more than 1 product or service and these form the basis of your product mix. In the case of a restaurant, your product mix is basically your menu.

A feature is a characteristic of an offering. For example, having delivery available is one thing but being accessible through UberEATS, Door Dash, Feast, Foodora, etc offers much more value to your customers.

When a feature satisfies a need or a want, then that’s called a benefit.

To really have a chance at succeeding in business, your goal, as a restaurateur and a business person, is to offer more value and more benefits to consumers than your competition. You want to establish yourself as THE place that understands your customer and gives them complete satisfaction.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, I’ll admit. But the trick in business is to choose the most attractive target demographic. Are they big enough to sustain your business? Are they close by and convenient to access? Can you research them easily and understand their needs/wants? These are the types of questions you should be thinking of before you even get into business because they’ll help you decide what offering has the best chance of success.

So take the time to understand and clearly define your product offering. Treat it like you do your daily special. You’ll find that it’s extremely valuable to you and your staff to know exactly what you serve your guests every time you greet them at the door.

~Rob

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

Is the customer always right? Finally! The answer revealed!

Boom! And that’s how you do clickbaiting, kids.

Seriously though, I see this question get asked and answered a lot and since I’ve been in the hospitality business for 20 years and I’ve dealt with the business side of restaurants, the impact of social media, word of mouth, negative Yelp reviews, etc, etc….I have a strong opinion on this.

Is the customer always right? The short answer, no.

The long answer is customers and restaurants aren’t adversaries fighting to get food-for-free vs. low-cost/quick-bucks, respectively. Buyers and sellers have a relationship where each side trusts the other to exchange value that are (roughly) equal. In the case of restaurants, it’s food and a quality dining experience for cold, hard cash.

In all my years of serving and bartending, I never thought that customers who were complaining were trying to get a free meal out of me. But let me show you this diagram and make a few points.Diagram service

The main point, is clearly that the customer leaves happy. Although, yes, it might be incredibly challenging to influence a customer’s mood such that they go from upset to happy, it is possible. Don’t underestimate the power of…

-recognizing and acknowledging a customer’s issue

-apologizing humbly and sincerely

-offering to make restitution and fix any concerns

-and lastly, thanking the customer for bringing their issue to your attention and telling the customer you hope you can do business again, and further deepen your relationship.

Notice in the diagram that a dining experience is a process. The ideal one for a server is one where there is limited engagement because it’s unnecessary or intrusive. The ideal experience for a customer is one where they have the server’s attention whenever they need it during dinner.

Hospitality is a business whereby both the buyer and seller have prior expectations of how the interaction should play out. Both sides have had plenty of both positive and negative experiences to form a good idea of what the ideal dinner is. The job of the restaurant is to ensure that you communicate, clearly, the value of the dining experience and then deliver what you promised.

When a customer enters your restaurant, all the hard work of marketing has been completed already. The customer has made their purchase decision and there’s no need to understand the customer’s “black box”, consumer behaviours, buyer’s characteristics, and it’s too late to try to change and rebuild your marketing mix.

To sum up, when a customer looks at your menu and chooses their meal, remember the phrase “It’s 10 times more expensive to find a customer than to keep an existing customer”. Building a positive relationship with your customer is the cheapest option in the long run and well worth the food cost of a free dessert.

~Rob

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

 

Do some research!

It’s extremely important to do your due diligence when beginning your business. That means asking questions. A lot of them. And naturally, asking the right questions is vital.

So what does that mean? Well, In broad terms, you’ll want information about the size of your current market. Will your business be viable in this location? Can the market support and sustain you? If you want to start a restaurant it would be helpful to know,

-Your neighbourhood demographics

-Local competitors

-Socio-economic information

-Any future plans that might affect the neighbourhood and your business

That’s why I recommend that all business owners take the time to perform a SWOT analysis.

Simply put, a SWOT analysis is a thorough study of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that will affect your business. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal and examples could include being an established brand with an excellent reputation or  having exceptional staff like a Michelin star chef. Conversely, having a young inexperienced staff might be considered a weakness.

Opportunities and threats are external to your business and examples could be your location having a university or hospital close by or perhaps there’s a huge condo building being constructed next door to your restaurant. A possible threat to your business might be things like street construction that would detour traffic away from you.

It’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into when you start your business to ensure you get the best possible chance of success.

~Rob

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

 

Introducing my new business venture, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting!

Hi everyone!

It’s with great pride that I’ve decided to start my own business, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting, specializing in marketing for restaurants, pubs, cafes and other hospitality businesses.

I started working in this industry more than 20 years ago when I became a busboy at Milwaukee’s Bar & Grill, a four-story, popular bar in downtown Toronto. It was a demanding job and running up and down four flights of stairs carrying 20 and 30 litre kegs for years took their toll. In time, my hard work paid off and I was promoted to service bar, then head bartender.

From there, I moved on to man the bar at some extremely busy pubs before moving into casual and fine dining. The reason, quite simply, was the hours. I was married at the time and for years I only saw my wife when I got home at 5am. In the end, I made the jump to casual dining where I could be home before midnight and actually get to spend time with my spouse. But I always loved the atmosphere of working in a busy bar with familiar regulars who would come in and see me after they finished their workday for a quick drink before home.

I decided to go back to school in 2010 and graduated at the top of my class with an honours diploma in Marketing Management from George Brown College in 2013. With my service background and my education, it became very clear just how poorly restaurants were marketing themselves.

Many places I’ve worked at seem to treat marketing as a passive, one-off thing you do occasionally when you want to promote something like a daily feature or special event. Post some pictures, make a flyer for the window…that sort of thing. The amount of missed opportunities and ill conceived and poorly planned events drove me crazy and I realized there was a need for marketing information specially designed and focused on restaurants and hospitality establishments. Many places are run by chefs who are passionate about cooking but lack a background in business and marketing. And it’s these businesses that I feel would benefit from having an experienced hand guide them on the right path to achieve their goals.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve launched my business, Rob Rosenblatt Consulting, and I hope you’ll take the time to read my blog as I’ll be updating it with tips and important information that will make it easier for you to get noticed and drive consumers to your front door.

~Rob

Branding vs Marketing

Full credit to David Deal for this exceptional article. I haven’t seen a better example online yet. Mr. Deal provides a textbook example of branding and a reminder of the perils of failing to deliver on your promises and the expectations of your guests.

To sum it all up, branding is all about the experience between a consumer and your brand. It’s short, sweet, and simple. But sadly, it’s often ignored.

Too many times in restaurants I see the same old mistakes being made; promises that were made weren’t delivered, expectations weren’t met, and customers became angry, disillusioned and took to social media to voice their displeasure. That’s the “problem” with hyping up your restaurant; it sets up an expectation that certain ideals will be met.

For example, imagine seeing an Instagram picture of stale lettuce, tomatoes and vegetables on a sandwich. Now imagine that sandwich is from Subway, whose slogan is “Eat fresh”. Can you see the potential problem creeping up here? Subway made a promise of providing fresh ingredients and customers expected that. While, obviously, customers certainly expect to receive fresh ingredients in their meals, wouldn’t you agree that there’s nothing more egregious as having your entire restaurant brand built upon the one thing you failed to deliver? The fallout from this could be damaging to your restaurants’ reputation.

Stop this cycle before it starts!

If a staff member notices a problem starting, give them permission to “make it right”, right there on the spot. Encourage them to deliver an experience that customers can’t wait to share with their friends. If you promise that you’re the “fastest” pizza delivery, take steps to ensure that you are. Streamline your processes, prepare in advance for busy times, modernize your equipment, and/or hire more drivers. If you promise to always deliver “piping hot” pizza, invest in technology that will keep your pizzas hot while being delivered. Maybe there’s a new type of mobile oven or newfangled insulated sleeve out there! The point is, if your brand is built on a promise, that’s your number one priority.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

~Rob

The Power of Politeness

Everyone knows the importance of a good first impression. And that means ensuring that your staff reflect your company values and present themselves professionally at all customer contact points.

And it’s important not to forget stressing the importance of manners. Many in the service industry forget that hospitality is a noun and related to the adjective hospitable which means to be cordial and receptive towards guests. Your staff should be encouraged to go above and beyond providing basic customer service, and to be polite, welcoming, attentive, humble and sympathetic to every guest at every opportunity.

Polite- The words your staff use convey the respect you have for your customer so make sure your staff use “may I, excuse me, please, and thank you” when appropriate.

Welcoming- The tone in which your staff engage guests is reflected in their behaviour. Your staff should be professional enough to “put their game faces on” and smile to guests, say hello when they arrive, introduce themselves, and make eye contact when speaking.

Attentive- Tell your staff to pay attention for clues about anniversaries or birthdays. The simple act of bringing out a dessert with a candle is huge for making a lasting memory and favourable impression. Make sure your staff pay attention to simple things they can do to make the dining experience better. Are your guests eating their meals or do they seem unhappy? If not, this could be a golden opportunity you might be missing.

Humble- Push your staff to be relatable and honest. While it’s important to acknowledge any shortcomings and be honest with guests, your staff should be gracious when accepting praise. There are no egos here. Providing an exceptional meal and a memorable experience is your job.

Sympathetic- Sympathy and understanding might seem generally out of place in the day-to-day workings of your business, but it’s a vital part of being relatable and ensuring your guests realize you’re invested in providing a positive experience.

Being polite is a critical part of building a positive brand image and can help to differentiate yourself from your competition. Wouldn’t you want your business to be known as the friendliest and nicest restaurant to go for dinner?

In short, work with your staff to help them provide personal, professional service. It’ll do wonders for your business and your server’s tips too.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

~Rob

 

Are you pushing or pulling your customers?

You may have heard of the terms push and pull marketing. If not, let me introduce you. Simply put, push marketing is sending your marketing efforts directly to the consumer. Another name for push marketing is outbound marketing and the idea is to send consumers your message and they respond if your offer meets their needs. As an example, think of a large billboard sign for Advil advertising it’s usefulness treating aches and pains. Unless you have pain, Advil probably won’t be that useful or necessary.

Other examples of push marketing include advertising such as online banners, television commercials and radio spots.

Pull marketing is also known as inbound marketing and uses a different strategy than push marketing. To create a “pull”, marketers use techniques that use brand awareness and work to generate leads. The idea here is to make it easier for consumers to find you when they need your services. A good example of pull marketing is search engine optimization and using hashtags and keywords to allow customers to easily find you when they’re searching for your type of product/service.

This simple diagram from digitize.com explains it clearly,

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 4.27.10 PM

Although both push and pull marketing strategies are effective when done properly, they each have their weaknesses.

Typically, push strategies require more money to build relationships with your product. And push strategies typically require more time and energy to do well. If you want customers to go looking for you, they need to know you exist (push marketing) and have to want the value of your product offering (pull marketing).

Why does this matter for restaurants? By using push strategies you’ll work to increase awareness about your business and attract attention. You’ll place yourself in your consumers mind and begin to build a relationship through association. You may remember my previous post and my search terms “best taco restaurant in Sacramento.” You can see how effective a billboard or signage that promotes your restaurant as the best taco in Sacramento would be.

A good pull strategy will work on that brand awareness to create engaging content that pulls in customers. If your website includes links to positive reviews of your tacos and enticing pictures, you’ll be able to position yourself as the best choice for tacos in the minds of consumers. Generally, pull strategies are more effective in creating long-lasting, beneficial relationships and brand loyalty because consumers are actively engaging with your brand. They’re drawn to you and put their own effort into engaging with you. This is incredibly valuable and can easily increase your RFM (recency, frequency, and monetary) scores with your patrons.

Thanks for reading this article and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

~Rob

What happens when you “Just Google it?” Part 2

The following post is part 2 of 2 introducing the basics of how Google operates. Understanding these fundamentals is extremely important to knowing how and why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is useful to businesses.

In part 1 I discussed more of the abstract theory and thought behind how search results are found for general questions. In part 2 I’ll discuss a little more about the mechanisms Google uses and how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can work wonders for your business. To be sure, the following is a very simplified explanation of Google’s search engine but I hope it’ll be useful to your business.

Googlebots aka Spiders

Google is constantly searching the web for new sites or updated pages to add to its index and it has developed a special program to aid in that; Googlebots (also known affectionately as spiders) are the tiny programs designed to crawl (basically a search) the internet. The information most likely to be gathered are things like keywords, tags and titles, so it’s important that you optimize your site to be found easier.

SEO Tip #1

By using meta-tags (an HTML tag containing keywords or phrases), keywords and proper formatting for your website, it becomes easier and more efficient for Google to filter your site into a list of possible search results. That means you need to make it easier to be found by using common words people often search for.

Penalties and Filters

After indexing information like keywords, tags and titles, Google then starts filtering out results. Penalties are things like known spam sites that have been reported and government requests to take down pirated work. Google removes those from your search results.

Next, filters are applied. These are things like your location, current trending topics, and your past search history results. Google places more importance on information that is popular (current news and search terms that have exploded in use), local to you (in your geographic area like country, state, city, neighbourhood, street) and you have a history with.

SEO Tip #2

Links to your website (Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, etc) not only increase the chances that you’ll be found by Googlebots quicker, but more links to your website increase the validity of your site. In other words, Google doesn’t think you’re a spam site because legitimate websites are linked to yours. That means your business needs to have a well-rounded and in-depth web presence.

Ad Time

Obviously Google is in it to make money, and they’re very successful at it. According to the website, The Motley Fool,

 In the first quarter of 2015 Google took in $17.3 billion in revenue, up 12%                                        year over year. Nearly all of it — $15.5 billion — came from advertising sales.

That means that the answer to your question comes with a healthy dose of ads. Now, to be fair, Google does use its search program to give ads that are directly related and correspond to your search terms. For example, our previous search in part 1 of this blog was “Where is the best taco restaurant in Sacramento”, and gave us this result. Notice what’s front and centre at the top of the search results.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 2.36.23 PM

Results that show up because of a paid ad are referred to as not being “organic” in that they were purchased and pushed to the front and weren’t actually as a result of being the “best” answer to the search query. It’s generally considered better to be found organically although having a paid ad on Google does work and is effective in driving traffic to websites.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you learned a little bit about how Google works. You can see just how important being optimized for search engines is.  According to a 2011 report from the Pew Research Centre, 55% of adults say they actively search out news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs and when they do 51% turn to the internet, including

  • search engines – 38% rely on them
  • specialty websites – 17% rely on them
  • social media – 3% rely on social networking sites

Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website to see what I can do for you.

~Rob