In the September 2015 issue…
High-Tech and High Touch — Using Tableside and Tabletop Technology to Boost Service and Sales
For many independent operators, the knee-jerk response to the idea of adopting table technology ordering and payment systems into their concept is “that’s fine for the quick-service and casual chains, but not in my place — we’re here to serve the guest.” These restaurant technology developers and consultants, however, believe that tableside and tabletop technology has a place in independent and full-service concepts, and gives wait staff more time to serve and drive sales — with caveats.
That’s because operating a restaurant and building a thriving business requires totally different skills and expertise. The key to sustainable growth and profit has always been operational competence coupled with great business skills.
Watch videos of what some of our community of thousands of independent restaurant operators say about RestaurantOwner.com, as they learn new skills, make better business decisions, apply new tools and improve their results, as members.
‘No Dumb Question’ of the Week…
(When starting or growing an independent restaurant business, there are really no dumb questions.)
We want to create a Facebook page for our new restaurant without spending money on hiring a social media consultant. My partner and I, of course, have personal Facebook accounts; however, we realize that promoting a business to guests via Facebook is much different than staying in touch with family and friends. Can you offer any basic advice to help us get started?
We have come to appreciate that social media marketing is an area of expertise, and encompasses far more than simply creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Each platform has specific strengths and weaknesses, and a good social media consultant can help you leverage them with a comprehensive plan, as well as provide advice and assistance for assessing results and engaging your followers.
Even if you limit your social media plan to Facebook, there are many strategies you can use to connect your restaurant with its “fans”. Our advice: If you want to get started on your own, in our opinion, the trick is to keep it simple.
As soon as you finish setting up your business page, Facebook shows you four quick steps to building your fan base:
Invite your friends. In this option you will be able to invite your friends from your personal account to join your page. Just click on INVITE FRIENDS, and choose who you want to invite. Check the box next to the person’s name, and then click on SUBMIT. Facebook will automatically invite them to like your page.
Tell your fans. That’s the most effective way to get fans, but you’ll need to have an email database or an email account to link to Facebook. To do it, click on IMPORT CONTACTS. You will find two options: upload a contact file or find your web email contacts. With the upload contact option, you will need to have a file with your contacts’ email addresses. Facebook supports pretty much any file format. If you don’t know how to turn your contacts into a file, click on HOW TO CREATE A CONTACT FILE and Facebook will give you specific instructions on how to do it. In case your contacts are on an email account, just provide your email address and password and click on FIND CONTACTS. Facebook will automatically try to find their profiles. In this step you can upload a maximum of 5,000 contacts. After you upload your contacts you’ll be able to choose the contacts to which you want to send the invitation. You can send it to all of them as well. After you choose, click on PREVIEW INVITATION to see what your invitation looks like, but you can’t edit it. After that, simple click on SEND.
Post status updates. Here is where you can share stories, photos, videos, and questions-pretty much anything you want-with your fans. Start with posts about your place (specials, events, etc.), and later on you can share other types of content to generate interaction and engagement. Posts don’t need to always be related to your business, but try to stay on subjects that will remind your fans of you.
Promote this page on your website. This topic is about the little “Like” box you can add on your website. To do that though, you are going to need a little knowledge on html, or you can just ask whoever built your page to add the box code on it. When you click on ADD LIKE BOX, Facebook will take you to its developer website and show you how to add the code to your website. Once you get 25 fans, Facebook will give you the chance of choosing a short link for your page. The link is usually formed by the website address and your business name (ex:www.facebook.com/YourBizNameHere). Use the short link on posters, flyers and anywhere you can, and ask your customers to “like you on Facebook.” As you gain more fans, the greater chance you have of increasing your business.
There are other ways to promote your page and connect with your fans (tabs, apps, shops, ads, etc.); but the most important thing is to keep it simple and show your fans that you care about them. Facebook is about bonding with your clients and establishing a personal relationship, and not all about sales. Don’t load your page with advertising. Give your fans something to talk about, some room for interaction and some useful content-if they like it, they will naturally do the word-of-mouth marketing for you.
— Chris Tripoli
Chris Tripoli, president of A la carte Consulting Group is lead author of Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine’s “No Dumb Questions”. If you have a question about anything related to starting and growing a restaurant that we may share with our members and readers, please feel free to contact him at email@example.com with the subject line heading “No Dumb Questions”.