For restaurateurs Christmastime is not so much the season to be jolly, more the season to give yourself a huge pat on the back if you make it through without having a nervous breakdown. It’s the busiest time of the year. But thanks to simpleERB, it can be easier to manage your restaurant at Christmas. Here’s how.

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We can ensure there are no accidental bookings on your closed days

Use the simpleERB closed days feature to make sure your diary is completely blocked off on any days you are not open. This not only removes your availability from the booking widget but also completely removes timeslots from your diary, meaning none of your staff can add in an accidental booking you won’t be able to take.

We can allow you to be flexible with your Christmas availability hours

The simpleERB partial opening function allows you to split your opening times on certain dates. Perfect around the festive period if your restaurant operates ‘sittings’ on busy nights. Also ideal for amending your hours on certain days, for example if you are finishing early on Christmas Eve.

We can help keep your staff updated with extra Christmas info

You can use your simpleERB message function to add staff notifications to specific dates, such as reminders to advise customers you are only serving your festive menu or that deposits are needed for large bookings for December dates. The messages appear at the top of your diary page as well as at the top of the customer details page when entering a booking.

We can prevent empty tables

Can’t afford an empty table in your busiest month of the year? Add some booking reminders so simpleERB automatically sends a message to a customer to remind them they’ve booked a table in advance. You can send these by email or by SMS. If you need to buy SMS credits, drop an email to help@simpleerb.com

For even more features to make your restaurant festive season easier, sign up to simpleERB (it’s free for small restaurants and easily affordable for bigger ones).



Good restaurant service is an art. In fact, it has even been compared to theatre. Just ask Lady Gaga who worked as a waitress in New York before she hit the big time. “I was really good at it,” she told Elle magazine. “I always got big tips. I told everybody stories, and for customers on dates, I kept it romantic. It’s kind of like performing.”

The art of restaurant service isn’t simply placing a plate of food in front of a diner and clearing it up when it’s finished. It involves creating ambience, judging the needs of the diner and adapting the approach respectively. As any restaurateur knows, waiting staff play a pivotal role in the success of a restaurant and require a different, but no less valued, skill set than the chefs.

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No waiting staff restaurant

So when Chef Phillip Frankland Lee of Top Chef fame announced he was removing waiting staff altogether from his LA restaurant Scratch Bar & Kitchen, it’s no surprise the industry sat up and noticed. Diners won’t be collected the food from the kitchen themselves. Instead the chefs will perform double duty, serving their dishes at counter directly in front of the seated guests in the style of a sushi bar.

There will also be tables for diners who don’t want to sit at the counter, where kitchen employees will take turns seating guests, running food and being bartender.

Such a bold policy was implemented as Lee wanted diners to have direct contact with the people who know the menu best.

“I hate it when I go to a restaurant and someone takes my order and they don’t know the menu,” he explained. “I wanted to have a situation where the only guy you’re talking to is someone in the kitchen cooking.”

He also wants chefs to gain experience in the running of the restaurant instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

No tips

The second big implementation in the new Scratch Bar & Kitchen? Following recent news in the restaurant industry this one isn’t such a surprise. No tips.

Instead, the restaurant will apply an 18-percent service charge that will be distributed to the kitchen staff and allow Lee to pay a decent salary, rather than minimum wage.

“This is a team sport and it’s not two teams. It’s not front of the house versus back of the house. It’s one cohesive unit,” Lee observes. “Those guys should all make money and they should all share whatever the guest wants to give them.”

Comments

What do you think? Do you think Lee’s decision signals the end of waiting staff? Would you consider having your chefs serve in your restaurant? Leave your thoughts below.

 



So you want to open a second restaurant? Good for you. Your current restaurant is a roaring success, customers are queuing to get in and you’re the critics’ darling. All you need to do now is duplicate what made you successful, sit back with your feet on a desk, and count the pennies.

Not so fast. As CEO of The Krystal Company restaurant group Fred Exum said: “I tell franchisees all the time, you have to understand that when you build a second restaurant it’s not just a doubling of your job. It’s about a 110 percent increase of your job.” Going from one restaurant to two is not a decision to be taken lightly and below we explain the three most important things to consider.

Can your first restaurant be run without you?

When New York restaurateur Galen Zamarra opened his first restaurant, no decision was made without his involvement. “I cooked, butchered, made sauces, hired staff, received goods, went to markets, ordered, and served as bookkeeper,” he said. Many restaurateurs/chefs/managers/bookkeepers reading this will be nodding in recognition. Owning your own restaurant is like having a child, and many restaurateurs are reluctant to leave their child in the care of someone else.

When opening a second restaurant, delegation becomes a necessity. Even if your second restaurant is very close to the first one and you can run from place to place, you can only spend 50% of your time in each unit. Opening a second restaurant forces you to become more dependent on others.

Ronnie Somerville, ceo of simpleERB suggests a trial run to see if your first restaurant can run without you. “Before you open your second restaurant, “pretend” you already have. Delegate, and see what happens. It doesn’t matter what you do. Go to the beach. Work on your tax returns, whatever. Just let go and see what happens.Do things fall apart? Or does the guy/gal you left in charge rise to the occasion?”

“A more professional way of doing this is to buy one of those , “How to franchise your own business books. You won’t be doing that but it will a) be a great checklist and b) be a great eyeopener.”

Tyler Florence, the Food Network chef who owns two restaurants in California said expanding means most chefs do “less cooking and more managing. Finding someone who can cook as good as you and then training staff,” adding that ultimately, opening a successful second business is about “commitment and having a leadership team in place.”

Since opening a second location is actually more like starting up an entirely new business, Mark Loos, consultant at Consulting Services Methodology in Laguna Hills, California believes it’s important that the owner is present during the early stages of the second location to help it launch.

“It’s more beneficial to be at the new location because you want to start to identify what the challenges are early on, and if you can spot those, then you can take action to correct those,” Loos says. “Having the new owner there really instills a sense that there’s some importance for the success of that second location, and I think the new employees there also feel that as well.”

Randy Moon, consultant and co-owner at RMoon Consulting, agrees. “Nobody’s going to care about that new business like you,” he said. “You’re not going to be making money [at the second location] for the first six or seven months, and to entrust anybody to have the desire and drive that you have to make it successful, I think, is much riskier.”

Do you have the capital?

There’s no two ways about it, opening a second restaurant requires money. How much money depends on the size and style of your restaurant, but you will need capital in place. Make sure all of your finances from your current restaurant are in order and that you have a good credit rating if you’re taking out a loan.

To fully outfit your restaurant, you are looking at purchasing or leasing the building, kitchen equipment, tables and chairs, office supplies, host stands, decorations, lighting, and much more so that you can get your restaurant ready for business. If you don’t feel like you have the time or know how to find this cash, you might consider hiring a financial or food service industry consultant to help you organise your budget and find the necessary money.

Fred Exum said capital is the “number one” thing to consider when opening a second restaurant. “I think: How stable are my payables; are my controllables predictable at this point; is my cash flow adequate; and, if the worst scenario happened, how long could I survive with my current cash flow? If I build a stinker, how am I going to fund this?”

Where should your second restaurant be?

The location of your second restaurant is an important factor to consider. If your restaurant tables are full every night, your first thought may be to open your second a few blocks away to handle the overflow. However, this may limit your customer pool and you might find there aren’t enough people to fill both locations every day.

If you’re considering an area elsewhere, research it properly. Spend time in it to garner an understanding of its inhabitants and activity. Find out how many households per restaurant are in the area. Are there restaurants similar to yours in the area? Are they doing well? If you want to open a second pizzeria but there are already three on the block, you’d maybe find more success choosing another location. On the other hand, if you are considering opening a pizzeria in a busy downtown area, and you observe that the other pizza restaurants are full to capacity during the lunch hour, it might be a good area for your restaurant.

The location of your second restaurant has a huge affect on the clientele, even if every other feature is the same as the first. Consider who your new customers are and what they want. Are they families? Couples? Professionals? What time are they dining? How long will they spend in your restaurant? How much money do they have to spend? Don’t make the mistake of duplicating your first restaurant in a different location and expecting the same result.

Conclusion

Opening a second restaurant is not a decision to be taken lightly. Just because your first businesses was a smooth success doesn’t mean your second one will be. As Freud Exum said “Many times, franchisees build that second one thinking, “This first one was easy; the second one is going to be just as easy.” They lose sight of all the really hard work that goes into it. They are doubling their profit potential, but they are also doubling their problem potential.”

simpleERB can help manage the difficulties of opening a second restaurant by providing you with a database of your current diners so you have a ready made audience to target with your marketing campaigns for your new project. And once you’re up and running, you can easily organise information from both your restaurants on one screen

If you can get through the challenges of expanding for the first time, the good news is, you’ve got past the biggest hurdle. According to Exum: “Opening a third restaurant is a whole lot easier than opening a second. By that time, you’ve already learned the lessons. Instead of doubling your problems, they’ve only gone up by a third. Nothing is new at this point.”



Restaurant tips have been big news in the previous months.

The revelation that big chains such as Bill’s, Cote and Giraffe keep the 10% service charge with none of it going to the waiting staff, sparked a chain of stories on the ethics and guidelines of tipping.

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It’s a subject we have covered on this blog, recently discussing Danny Meyer’s decision to ban tipping in all his NY restaurants and how to run an ethical tronc.

Now the UK government is getting involved, launching an investigation into how restaurant tips are collected as well as current tipping practices.

Restaurant tips inquiry

Restaurants and waiting staff have until 10th November to give their views.

Announcing the investigation, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “When a diner leaves a tip, they rightly expect it to go to staff, in full.

“I’m concerned about recent reports suggesting some restaurants pocket tips for themselves. That’s just not right.

“I’ve ordered an immediate investigation to look at the evidence and consider the views of employees, customers and the industry to see how we can deal with the abuse of tipping.

Voluntary code of practice

While there is a voluntary code of practice, which is overseen by industry body the British Hospitality Association, restaurants may choose to ignore its four principles of transparency and adopt various tipping practices.

The inquiry asks questions such as “Are you aware of the voluntary Code of Practice?”, “Do you / does your employer sign up to the Code of Practice?” and “In practice do you / does your employer adhere to the principles in the Code of Practice?”

To take part in the inquiry, click here. Closing date is 10th November.



Type “the best time to post on social media” into a Google image search and this is what you are faced with.

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The business world loves their Best Time To Post infographics. It’s understandable. The world of social media marketing is overwhelming; it’s not enough now to have Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is just as big a player and if you’re B2B you need to be using LinkedIn and probably SlideShare and are people really saying Snapchat is the next big social media platform?

When you’re trying to navigate the tricky world of social media marketing, all you want is someone to tell you what to you and when to do it. Which takes us to the number of “best time to post on social media” infographics. While its tempting to take the advice of these infographics and do your Facebook posts 12-3pm on a Thursday and LinkedIn 7-9am on a Wednesday, the unfortunate truth is this is not . As an article from Content Marketing by Shovi says:

“Here’s the sad truth about “best time to post” infographics: they look at the fan base of whatever data set they’re using, pick out the times that represented the highest engagement (comments, “likes”, etc.), and report it as gospel to everyone.

Context

When planning your own social media marketing strategy, there are external factors you need to take into account.

Are you asking your followers a question? Are you asking them to read an article? To buy your product? With each social media post you should not only consider the time most of your followers will be online but what they are doing when they are online.

For example, on the morning commute your followers may be up for reading a blog post but clicking though to your shopping cart to make a purchase is perhaps best later in the evening when there’s more time for consideration.

Also, the infographic which advises the best time to post on Twitter is between 1-4pm is only taking into the account the businesses who are marketing to one time zone. There’s four time zones in the USA alone never mind the rest of the world.

Create your own analytics

There are number of analytic tools that can help you figure your own best time to post on social media. Facebook and Twitter have their own insights, and tools such as Sprout Social and HootSuite also provide analytics and reports. Experiment with different posts at different times and study the results to see what works best for you.

And when you’ve learned what does, please don’t be tempted to turn it into an infographic.



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