“….. the lunch described by George Musgrave seventy years earlier in a travel book about Normandy. He watched a couple (on their honeymoon, he thought) on board the river steamer at Rouen consuming a midday meal of soup, fried mackerel, beefsteak, French beans and fried potatoes, an omelette fines herbs, a fricandeau of veal with sorrel, a roast chicken garnished with mushrooms, a hock of ham served upon spinach. There followed an apricot tart, three custards, and an endive salad, which were precursors of a small roast leg of lamb, with chopped onion and nutmeg sprinkled upon it. Then came coffee and two glasses of absinthe, and eau dorée, a Mignon cheese, pears, plums, grapes and cakes. Two bottles of Burgundy and one of Chablis were emptied between eleven and one o’clock.”

From, “French Provincial Cooking” by Elizabeth David. The event would have been about 1870.

It is not only the quantity of the food, but the rhythm of the meal,  that is extraordinary to us today. Have you ever eaten, (or served) such a meal?

Loire steamer

Nowadays it’s tempting  for a restaurant just to stick up a Facebook page and think, “I won’t bother about a proper website”.

Yes, Facebook is a quick solution and you should have one (and you can take online bookings from there via simpleERB!)  but you shouldn’t go without a proper website for too long.

The reasons why you shouldn’t are stated succinctly in this CopyBlogger piece with the most salient point being:

“If the only place you can connect with customers is on your Facebook page, you essentially work for Facebook.

And they can (and do) change their terms of service whenever they want, without asking you, in a way that can create massive tumult for you. They can also delete your page just because they feel like it. They owe you nothing. And they’re too big to care about your problems. If the only place you get traffic is Google (either through organic search or pay-per-click), you work for Google. If 80% of your new customers find you on Pinterest or LinkedIn, you work for Pinterest or LinkedIn.You have a much better option. You can rely on yourself, and use Facebook and Google and Pinterest as outposts to support your business.”

You should not rely on Facebook or any other social media source to be ‘found’ on the internet. You need to have a website that you are in control of, that you can update and that will still get found even if Facebook ceases to exist. These sources are fantastic for promoting and marketing your business and pushing traffic to your website but they should not be seen as ‘your website’.

Email addresses

CopyBlogger is talking about general businesses when they reinforce this point saying:

“There are three assets you should be building today, and should continue to focus on for the lifetime of your business:

1) A well-designed website with your own hosting account.

2) An opt-in email list, ideally with a high-quality autoresponder

3) A reputation for providing impeccable value

These things are the equivalent of buying your building instead of renting it.”

As a restaurant point number 2 would read:

“Get the email addresses of all your customers when they dine and have a good Customer Relationship Management system”

simpleERB makes it easy for you to collect customer emails and to have them in a place where you can easily use them to construct email marketing campaigns, free of charge. This means you own the marketing and you’re in charge of how they’re communicated with.

Used properly, coupon companies can bring you useful additional business but it can also be a complete pain to manage the flood of bookings they  produce.

You are working on a very reduced margin with these customers and everything spent on additional admin comes straight off your profit.

We’ve created a handy guide that shows you how simpleERB and 5pm can make dealing with coupon companies a breeze.

Easy coupon handling

View coupon guide >

A minority of suppliers actively work with restaurants to promote their products, the rest, well, just supply!

Of course not all suppliers are interested in promoting to your customers. There isn’t much of a consumer market for commercial dishwashers…

But your food and drink suppliers often sell to consumers as well as
restaurants. Here is how to develop ‘win, win, win’ situations where you, the supplier and your customers benefit.

  • Drinks companies often have large marketing budgets, you can persuade them to move some of that budget to you, (if not you can always take your business somewhere else!)
  • Local food suppliers don’t have large budgets but on the other hand they are usually desperate for cost effective marketing techniques.

Drinks companies

Offer to set up a trial and tasting promotion for a whisky or liqueur. Put this promotion on at your low spend times so that you are not cannabalising sales.

Present the drink in branded glasses with a bit of ceremony. Get your supplier to train your staff so that they can act as brand ambassadors.

Make sure you collect the email addresses of the customers who have tried the product. Offer to email a follow up promotion, like a retail voucher, or a bit of market research for the drinks company. Done properly this can mean that the promotion “pays for itself” for the drinks company. (Which means that they can do lots more with you).

Do, learn and tweak. There is no reason why you can’t do one every month.

Local food companies

If you make a special effort to use local ingredients and suppliers then you can do great things with these companies.

Let’s say you use heritage tomatoes from a local grower.

Do a deal where they give you free stock to produce an extra “ameuse gueule” or extra course.

Arrange a deal whereby each diner gets a money off voucher to use at the supplier’s farm shop.

Talk about the product on your website or social media. Send a promotion to your user base when you do your next email blast.

Promotion mechanism

Setting up a promotion in simpleERB

Setting up a promotion in simpleERB

simpleERB has a Promotion mechanism built in that allows restaurateurs to set up and manage multiple supplier promotions like those mentioned above. Check out the Promotions tab in Advanced Settings or email us for help and advice.

The Guardian:

“For almost a decade, the mysterious theft of a reservation book from the top London restaurant where Gordon Ramsay made his name has baffled the culinary world.

An unidentified man pulled up outside the Aubergine restaurant on a scooter, dived in, snatched the book – in the days before computerised bookings, a serious act of sabotage – and bolted.

Ramsay, then head chef, pointed the finger at his mentor turned nemesis, Marco Pierre White, who, he believed, wanted to depose him and take over the Michelin starred Chelsea restaurant.

The person behind the 1998 robbery was never identified. Until now. “It was me,” Ramsay has admitted. “I nicked it. I blamed Marco. Because I knew that would f*** him and that it would call off the dogs … I still have the book in a safe at home.”

Note the important words “in the days before computerised bookings”, and this piece was written in 2007!

Most of us back up our important digital stuff; our photos, our home movies etc. but today most restaurants STILL run a paper reservation diary. ONE COPY of which sits in the restaurant; probably out front next to the EPOS system and the phone. How vulnerable is that?

simpleERB is an electronic reservations diary so has your data backed up in the cloud, accessible whenever and wherever you want.

Are you still using a paper restaurant diary…?

It has always been good practice to use a Day Book or Manager’s Log so that shifts can communicate with each other.

The restaurant advice site restaurantowner.com has “Using a Manager’s Log” as its priority number one when setting out routines for the day-to-day running of your restaurant.

Manager's Day Book

Manager’s Day Book

Straight from ‘Diary view’, simpleERB lets you add important notes to the Manager’s Day Book to enable better communication.

As it’s cloud based, the incoming manager can see what’s in the book before her shift and the outgoing manager can update it when he wakes up in the middle of the night and remembers that important note he didn’t make 🙂

Advice from restaurantowner.com

“Begin using a manager’s log. One of the greatest challenges to restaurant management success is the ability to communicate incidents, messages, and other happenings from one shift to the next. For the last thirty or so years the tool of choice has been a standard daily. The approximately 8″ x 13″ “red book”, as it has been commonly referred to, can be purchased at any office supply. This particular version has an entire day dedicated to each page and the larger size accommodates lots of entry space.

Alternatively, several companies have created restaurant industry specific versions that allow operators to record daily sales, weather, and notes to each other. Regardless of which version you use, make a commitment now to begin using a manager’s log to document daily events, especially employee or customer incidents. For serious incidents such as a food poisoning complaint or an employee getting hurt on the job, you should have forms specifically intended to record such occurrences (i.e. Foodborne Illness Complaint form, Accident Report form, etc.)”

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