Our simpleERB pre ordering feature was designed to save time for our restaurants and make their lives a little easier.

But one inventive restaurateur has concocted a way to use our pre ordering feature to launch a food delivery service.

The restaurateur in question realised he was paying a fortune to food delivery companies who delivered his restaurant’s food to offices.

Rip off fees

He realised if the offices used the simpleERB pre ordering service to pick their dishes he could organise the delivery via a local taxi company – saving a fortune on the rip off fees charges by the food delivery companies, who charged up to 25% of the bill.

Here’s how his ingenious scheme works:

Food delivery service

1 ) The person who is organising lunch uses simpleERB to make a booking for the number of people in the office who want to eat

2) Office organiser invites colleagues who are eating

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3) Colleagues see the menu on offer and select their dishes

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4) Organiser sends completed order to restaurateur with a request to deliver

5) Restaurateur prints order and gives it to his chefs who package it up

6) Restaurateur phones taxi company who deliver the food to the office.

Save time

Our simpleERB pre ordering service was launched to save time for office workers on their lunch break who need to eat and be back in the office.

Our service saves time and maximises efficiency for our restaurants, and makes life easier for kitchen and waiting staff by allowing customers to pick their dishes online so the food is ready for when they arrive.

Our simpleERb pre ordering service allows restaurateurs to to tailor their availability, menu and cut off time for when pre orders need to be made. (You can read a walkthrough of the process.)

Or, like our enterprising restaurateur friend, you can use it to tailor make your own food delivery service.

 

 



Two of our Iceland partners are using simpleERB to manage their restaurant while they take part in a popular food festival.

APÓTEK and Grillið are both participating in the Food is Fun festival, a one week celebration of Reykjavík’s best restaurants.

Food and Fun Festival Iceland

Food is Fun involves world renowned chefs teaming up with Reykjavík restaurants to create a three course meal using only Icelandic ingredients.

The hugely popular festival has become internationally known, attracting chefs and foodie visitors from all over the world.

During the festival week, Reykjavík restaurants are packed with customers and there is a vibrant and bustling atmosphere in the city.

Manage your food festival with simpleERB

While food festivals are a wonderful way to celebrate a city’s culinary scene, boost your restaurant’s profile and attract new customers, any restaurant that has taken part in one knows how incredibly hectic it is.

simpleERB is allowing APÓTEK and Grillið to manage their restaurant bookings during the busy festival week.

Our reservation system is allowing them to easily prevent overbookings, manage big parties, and waiting lists.

The onscreen table layout also allows them to easily tables and keep track of them, preventing twos on fours and wasted seats.

As our Icelandic partners are discovering, simpleERB takes away some of the stress involved for restaurants taking part in a food festival.

Allowing them instead to relax and celebrate with others who enjoy their life’s passion – food.

 



 

As a community of food lovers we appreciate a good chocolate when we taste one.

So when this gorgeous new infographic from our sister website 5pm.co.uk was launched, it piqued our interest.

The infographic features a selection of chocolates made in Scotland.

Superfood chocolate

It aims to celebrate Scotland’s burgeoning chocolate industry as well as highlight the skill and variety on offer.

There’s everything from completely natural “superfood chocolate” to chocolate infused with Scottish gin.

simpleERB and 5pm Founder Ronnie Somerville said Scottish chocolate is worth celebrating this Valentine’s Day.

Celebration of Scottish chocolate

He said: “Our new Scottish Chocolate Box infographic highlights the wealth and creativity of Scottish producers.”

“Scotland already has a tradition of artisan craft food producers who focus on high quality ingredients and Scottish chocolate creators are a reflection of that.”

“This Valentine’s Day instead of reaching for a mass produced chocolate from a supermarket shelf, why not treat your loved one to high quality chocolate created by Scottish chocolatiers who pour their heart and soul into each delicious bite.”

To read the full story visit the 5pm Food & Dining Blog.

 

’5pm.co.uk’s

 

 



Happy New Year! At almost two weeks into 2016, how are you coming along with your resolutions? Lost a stone yet? Gone to the gym every day? Saved a thousand pounds?

In all seriousness, January is the ideal time for a restaurateur to make changes. The madness of Christmas has died down and it’s probably the quietest time you’ll have all year. With the everyday chaos of running a restaurant leaving little time for reflection, it’s not a bad time to take stock of how you’d like to improve. Here’s the five restaurant resolutions we think every restaurateur should make for 2016 (and how simpleERB can help).

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Make your restaurant more efficient

The fast paced nature of running of a restaurant requires absolute efficiency and there is always room for improvement – any empty seat or time that could be spent more productively costs your restaurant covers and profits. simpleERB is packed with features that help run your restaurant more efficiently, such as:

  • Our simpleERB widget, which can be installed on your page, allows your customers to book online, cutting time spent answering bookings on the phone and adding them to your diary.
  • Our pre ordering service which allows your customers to pick their dishes online so the food is ready for when they arrive, saving time for your kitchen and waiting staff.
  • Our table management which means you can avoid twos on fours and make sure that your restaurant makes the best of its capacity at all times.
  • With simpleERB’s reporting features you can easily track your busy as well as quieter periods to predict future trends and adjust your staffing levels accordingly. This means you won’t have too many staff who don’t have much to do or too little staff struggling to get everything done.

Make your customer service the best ever

We know your customer service is already excellent. But simpleERB can help you go that extra mile to provide a personal service that will make each of your customers feel like an A List guest. simpleERB stores a complete database of all your customers and their preferences, ensuring that if Customer A is gluten intolerant and Customer B likes their steak well done, you’ll be aware of this before they arrive at your restaurant.

Customer C booked at 8pm in Friday night? A quick look at his simpleERB record shows he drinks sauvignon blanc and requests a table by the window. So why not pop a bottle of his favourite wine in the fridge and get his favourite table by the window ready? Details like this go a long way with customer satisfaction and only take a few minutes by checking simpleERB.

Take control of your restaurant reviews

It’s understandable why online restaurant reviews are a nightmare for restaurateurs; it’s chilling to have such little control over something that makes such a big impact on your business. However, simpleERB makes it easier for restaurateurs to manage their online profile and encourage more positive reviews.

simpleERB has a one stop option that allows restaurant owners to easily monitor negative reviews as well as encourage customers to share positive ones  on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook (you’ll need to be logged into simpleERB to see this feature).

You can add a link to the customer confirmation email which allows the customer to submit feedback to you after their meal.

When you get a good review you can tick a box on the email copy which sends them a request to share their review, along with links to your restaurant Facebook and Trip Advisor profiles.

Our system allows reviews and ratings from diners to go directly to the restaurant, allowing negative feedback to be dealt with in house instead of on public review sites.

Get smart about your restaurant’s marketing

The rise of digital marketing such as SEO, email marketing, and social media has changed restaurant marketing enormously in recent years. It can seem overwhelming but the good news is, digital marketing allows you to target your customers and potential customers more effectively.

When a customer books a meal using simpleERB they enter their email address which can be downloaded from simpleERB at any time (providing they give permission for you to send them email). These email addresses are gold dust for your marketing campaign: customers who have already chosen to spend money at your restaurant.

You can also see how many bookings the customer has made so the customers who have only visited once can be tempted back with a promo code or special offer and the customers who have made many bookings can be kept up to date with new dishes and menu changes.

With simpleERB you can see where your covers come from, i.e. whether they book online, on the phone, or walk in. This is very useful information for your marketing – for example, if most of your customers book online you know it is worth spending time on digital marketing such as Google Adwords.

Get over your fear of technology

It’s safe to say the digital world is not going anywhere. Email and social media remain the most popular methods of communication, websites such as Trip Advisor are hugely influential to the restaurant industry, and many people now find it more convenient to carry out their tasks, including booking restaurants, online. If you’re an old school restaurateur, make 2016 the year you learn to utilise the digital world to your restaurant’s best advantage.

Our user friendly interface means that you can use simpleERB’s technology without feeling intimidated. To ensure we stay at the top of our game we do not rest on our laurels and are constantly working to develop simpleERB to make it better, more up to date and more powerful.



Save time in your restaurant by signing up to our pre ordering service.

Allow your customers to pick their dishes online so the food is ready for when they arrive.

Pre Ordering

Save time

Free up time, maximise efficiency and make life easier for your kitchen and waiting staff with our simpleERb mechanism for pre ordering in your restaurant.

We’ll create a profile for your restaurant on our sister website 5pm.co.uk where customers can view your menu and pick the dishes they want.

The booking will go straight into your simpleERB diary along with the customer’s chosen dishes, allowing your chefs to prepare the food for their arrival.

Tailor your menu

You can tailor your availability, menu and cut off time for when pre orders need to be made.

Read a walkthrough of the process.

For more information email help@simpleERB.com

 



How much easier would managing your restaurant be if you had access to all your restaurant data? If you could see where exactly your covers come from? How many of your customers are new or returning? If you had all your customer’s likes, dislikes and feedback all in the one place?

simpleERB offers all this data and more. When a customer books using simpleERB, all their information is collated and added to your profile so you have all your restaurant’s data in the one place. Think of it as a sort of Google Analytics for your own restaurant.

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With the ability to compare your covers over specific time periods, see the source of your bookings, see when your bookings are made, and discover customer feedback, you can identify any shortfalls on your restaurant bookings and the best way to fix them.

Here’s your restaurant data simpleERB provides and how it can boost your business.

Compare covers booked

simpleERB allows you to compare your covers to last week/month/year. This gives you more accurate benchmarks to work with, enables you to predict your busy periods and adjust your staffing accordingly, and gives you a more accurate reflection as to how your restaurant is performing,

Source of your bookings

With simpleERB, you can see where your covers come from, i.e. whether they book online, on the phone, or walk in. This is very useful information for your marketing – for example, if most of your customers book online you know it is worth spending time on digital marketing such as Google Adwords.

Average covers per day

You can see your average covers per day on simpleERB. This allows you prepare for busy days and identify the quieter days which may need boosts, i.e. menu offers.

New or returning customers

simpleERB shows you which of your customers are new and which are returning. This is a useful way to see if your priority is to give customers an incentive to come back, or if you need to boost your presence to attract more new customers.

Top customers

With simpleERB you can see the customers who have booked the most. Useful if you would like to give them special treatment or prepare the food or drink in the particular way they like it to show they are appreciated for their loyalty.

Lead time on bookings

Do your bookings all get made on the same day as the customers dine or in advance? If it is in advance, when do customers book? simpleERB can provide you with this information.

No shows

Just how many of your bookings cancel or don’t show up? You can see this information on simpleERB allowing you adjust your expectations accordingly.

Customer reviews

A hugely useful simpleERB tools is the customer feedback form. Not only does this give you the customer’s direct opinion, allowing you see what it is about your restaurant customers like and dislike straight from the horses mouth, it enables you to manage negative feedback before it hits Trip Advisor. There is also a feature that allows customers to share their positive review on the review sites and social media.

Contact details

simpleERB stores your customers’ email addresses so you can target them in your marketing campaigns. As these are people who have dined at your restaurant and wish to receive your emails, it is very valuable info.

Sign up to simpleERB for free for all the above features and more.



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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