How Microsoft’s New Search Engine Impact Your Restaurant

In case that you don’t know yet, Microsoft is releasing a new search engine called Bing next week. So why should you care?

Because it will have direct implications about how people look for information, or should I say, how they receive the information.

This applies specially to restaurant information. Bing is specially good at packaging and presenting information in a more meaningful way.

Take a look at this Bling’s screenshot below (Notice that it says Kumo instead of Bling because Kumo was the internal Microsoft beta name for Bling)

2EE2371B-4E5B-43DB-8788-C8171CC3D140.jpg

You can see that when a user looks for a restaurant, it receives all the information, including the kind of cuisine, average price, reviews and a scorecard.

This should be great news for your restaurant if your customers are happy with your food and service and they write great reviews. It won’t be so great if you are missing any of the essential ingredients (and I am not talking about food here) to make your restaurant stand out from your competitors.

So what can you do? Actually nothing related to influencing the search. The only think that you can do is to make sure that your restaurant is top notch in all its aspects: great food, impeccable service, nice and clean facilities and some great ambience won’t hurt either.

If you provide your customers a memorable dinning experience, they will rave about your place and write great things about your restaurant. If not, your place will be penalized and no matter how much you spend in advertising, trying to improve your image, people will read what other people write about your restaurant.

In these days where social networking and social opinions are more important than ever, focusing on the basics and exceeding your customers expectations are the best strategies that you can have.

You can check a preview of Bing here: http://www.bing.com/ComingSoon

Happy meals,
Jose L Riesco

©Riesco Consulting Inc.

www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

twitter.com/jlriesco

Ignoring the Obvious

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the one that we don’t see, even if it’s in front of us.

Last Friday I made a complete renovation of my website. I changed the look and I decided to move my blog to the main page. Yes my home page is now my blog page.

In the past, I had a subscription form in my home page, but I thought that it will give much more value to my readers if I had great free information in the main page, and just moved the subscription form to the right column.

So I did.

Now, just by entering your name and email (and hopefully some comments about your main challenge as owner/manager) you will receive 20 free videos with the top questions and answers about restaurant marketing, my 36 Restaurant Marketing Strategies E-Book summary and a subscription to my exclusive monthly newsletter, full of useful marketing information.

Pretty good deal uh?

Well it was, and that’s why I was getting very nice subscription numbers every day… until I moved the subscription form to the right side. Then… nothing happened. Not a single subscriber for a week.

First I thought, it may be the colors (I used a pale grey background in the form). Perhaps people don’t notice the form. So I changed the background color to a nice pale yellow. Still nothing.

This is weird, I though, so I went ahead and added a nice burgundy frame around. Now they will see it for sure!

Still nothing. No one single subscriber.

Sometimes the simplest explanations are the most obvious ones, but our minds are set in our own ways and we don’t see them. It took a comment from my wife (the smartest of the two) when she asked: “Have you tested again the form? Perhaps when you were formatting the subscription form, you messed up the code and people can’t subscribe”.

“I don’t think so.” I answered confident… However, it totally made sense what she was saying so this morning, before leaving the house, I did a test. I tried to subscribe myself, and sure enough the form wasn’t working. You could enter the information, but when you clicked the button “Submit”… nothing happened. 😦

Of course, I felt like an idiot. Rule number one when you are messing up with your site and HTML code is to TEST and make sure that everything is working, and yet, I didn’t do it!

So I went ahead and fixed it (a stupid missing end command was the responsible). Now it is working but I am wondering how many of you tried to subscribe and got frustrated with an irresponsive Submit button.

I sincerely apologize. I’ve you had tried and didn’t work for you, please try again. Now it’s working (Yes, I’ve tested it 🙂

I guess that the learning from this experience is, if you have a problem try first the most logical solution before wasting time trying to come up with something else.

Thanks for reading, I feel much better now,
Jose L Riesco

©Riesco Consulting Inc.

www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

http://twitter.com/jlriesco

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Delegating Your Restaurant Tasks

One of the restaurateurs I am consulting with, has a problem, a big problem that seems impossible to overcome: he doesn’t know how to delegate.

He is one of those people that likes to be in control. Actually I think that most restaurant owners fall in this category. Do you?

There are three main problems with trying to control every single of the hundreds of daily tasks that running a restaurant requires:

  1. You need to spend an incredible amount of hours working on the restaurant instead of having free time to dedicate to your family and friends.
  2. You may end up using most of your time focusing on tasks that are not that important for the overall bottom line of your business.
  3. You may feel tired, frustrated and stressed because there are not enough hours to do everything that you need to do.

So what can you do to avoid these problems and improve your productivity while having more free time?

The answer is: DELEGATE

Yes, it is possible. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, you still should do it.

As a restaurant owner or manager, there are some tasks that you should delegate and there are some others that you should definitively keep to yourself.

Of course, I am assuming here that you have somebody in your staff that you can trust, if not, you should reconsider who do you have working for you. Having people whom you can’t trust is not the best way to run a business since you’ll be always in a paranoid status trying to catch them doing something wrong.

I would recommend you to sit down for a while and evaluate your staff. Try to fit them in three different categories:

  1. Not trustable
  2. Somehow trustable
  3. Totally trustable

You should get rid of category 1 as soon as possible. Honesty should be your cornerstone to hire people. If you can’t trust them, don’t hire them, even if they are initially less expensive. You will be paying dearly for those small savings, trust me on this one.

If you already have them in your staff, start thinking about replacing them as soon as you can. You don’t want to work with dishonest people, period.

Category 2 is more complicated. You should keep a close watch in these people and if you see that they act with dishonesty in any specific time, then follow the rules of category 1.

Category 3 is what you want and what you need. Look at these people and think who can take on any task that you may want to delegate.

Look at their strengths and try to maximize them. For example, if an  employee is really good with computers, you may delegate all the tasks related to computers to them: website maintenance and update, online emailing and marketing, etc. are good examples.

So let’s assume that you have reliable people ready to take on new tasks and responsibilities. Now what?

Here you have some ideas about what to keep and what to delegate:

KEEP:
Managing your costs, changing your menu dishes and menu prices (together with your Chef if you are not the Chef), greeting your clients at the end of their meals, deciding the strategy and vision of your restaurant, managing your marketing strategies and goals, etc.

DELEGATE:
Opening and closing your restaurant, checking the inventory, entering your client’s information into the database, updating your website, creating a Twitter account and tweeting your offers and promotions, following up with your clients via email, Twitter, etc. cleaning and organizing the restaurant, supervising all the daily operations, etc.

Of course, these are just guidelines. You need to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and try to delegate anything that it’s a weakness. You probably hate doing that task anyway and by delegating in somebody else who is better than you at it, not only you free your valuable time, but you will feel happier taking care of what’s really important for your business.

Your friends and family will thank you.

Happy delegation

Jose L Riesco

Copyright 2009 Riesco Consulting Inc.

www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

http://twitter.com/jlriesco

Using Twitter for Marketing and PR

Hello,

I’ve just stumbled upon an interesting site called: How to Use Twitter for Marketing and PR. You can find it here: http://www.howtousetwitterformarketingandpr.com/

So did you go and got the nice message? Yes, I was also surprised when I saw it. I was actually looking for more content…

In any case, I can sympathize with the message. Many people abuse Twitter to just get followers without caring if they are relevant or even reading their follower’s tweets at all.

Did you get any of these emails:

  • How to Go Viral with Twitter,
  • Get Thousands of Twitter Followers in 10 days,
  • etc.?
  • I am getting them all the time. Some people are using these techniques to get followers like crazy without any concern for the quality of their followers. They just want quantity. Of course, these are not in my list of people whom I follow.

Accumulating thousands (or tens of thousands) of followers on Twitter might look impressive initially, but the real measure of success is to see how engaged your followers are.

If you are using Twitter to promote your restaurant, how many people come to your restaurant because of a promotion that you’ve tweeted? How many people RT (re-Tweet) your posts or offers to other people, and comment directly back to you with @ replies? This is how you measure the success of your tweets and followers.

Twitter could be a great marketing tool if used with common sense and moderation. Yes, you can successfully use it to promote your business, despite the message in how to use twitter for marketing and PR. Use Twitter to post interesting and relevant information and offers for your followers, and not only they will come to your restaurant, but also they will be following your posts.

On the other hand, if you use Twitter to promote your own agenda, or to just accumulate thousands of irrelevant followers who will follow about anybody in autopilot, your Tweets will get diluted in the noise of Tweet-land and nobody will care. It is better to have a few devoted followers than thousands of irrelevant and uninterested people. Just remember to offer your followers valuable information each time you tweet, and soon you will be rewarded with relevant and happy followers who will be reading and following your posts with interest.

Happy tweeting,

Jose L Riesco
©Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.myrestaurantmarketing.com
http://twitter.com/jlriesco

Do You Greet Your Customers?

I’ve read in Twitter today a post from somebody complaining that fewer and fewer restaurant managers come around to the tables greeting people after their meal is over.

Do you? Do you approach your customers and engage in some conversation with them after they are done with their meals?

If you dont, you should. You see? One advantage of owning a small restaurant is that you can become more personal with your clients. People like to be recognized and your role as a restaurant owner or manager is to give them what they like. Big restaurant chains can’t afford to be personal with their customers and this is a weakness that you can use to your advantage.

Spend a few minutes of your busy schedule every day and greet the people eating at your place. Introduce yourself to the new customers at the end of their meals and greet your regular clients. Ask them about their dinning experience, ask them about their families (if they are regulars), ask them for feedback about their meal, about your place…

People love attention, and by spending a few moments of your time giving them that attention, you will make them feel special.

They will pay you back that small attention time a hundredfold.

Good luck,

Jose L Riesco
©Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.myrestaurantmarketing.com
http://twitter.com/jlriesco

Your Worst Enemy

Dear restaurateur,

Do you know who your worst enemy is?

No, I am not talking about a person here. I hope that you don’t have any personal enemies.

No, it is not the economic crisis or the lack of customers either, or even the crazy busy schedule that you have every day to keep the business running…

Your worst enemy is…

INACTION

Yes, even in this bad economy, there are many things that you can do to improve your business. There are many marketing techniques that cost almost nothing and can help you bring happy clients over and over to your place, but the question is, are you doing anything about it?

Just by being my subscriber, you have access to a wealth of free marketing information: my blogs, the monthly newsletters, the 20 Q&A videos, and the Restaurant Marketing Strategies E-Book summary.

You can learn a lot about marketing techniques that cost nothing or very little, you can start implementing some of the ideas right away… but would you?

Inertia is a powerful force. It is very difficult for us to change our habits. Even when we know that we should do something, more often than not we don’t take any action, because it is just too much work.

You see? I am not immune to the inaction. I was thinking about redoing my website for a while now, but it just took too much effort. When you have a website with lots of files, links, documents, etc. each change can alter the whole and users can find dead pages so I was very hesitant to make any changes at all because of the fear to screw things up.

So yesterday and today decided to do a make over and I did it. I’ve tried to make things easier for you, make the free information more available so that you can benefit from it without expending any money. I moved the blog to the main page, moved the subscription form to the right side, and eliminated all the sales pitch. I want my site to be a great resource of restaurant marketing information for you.

Another action that I am trying to take is to post more blog entries more often. Since now I have my blog as my main site, if I don’t post more often, it will disappoint anybody who is coming to my site looking for new information and fresh ideas. Some times, the best way to conquer inaction is to commit to a deadline or to a project. In this way, you are then responsible and committed to do it.

This is why it works best also when you have to pay for information instead of getting it for free. If you invest, let say $97 in my book, or $37 in my Referral System in a box (you can check both products by clicking on the on the Products Link on the top burgundy bar), you will feel more obligated to follow through and do something to improve your marketing.

But, whatever you chose to do, please, please go to www.myrestaurantmarketing.com and read the blogs. I will blog at least three times a week so you can keep on coming to look for new content this often. If you prefer, you can subscribe to my blogs by clicking on the “Subscribe to my RSS Feed” link (located on the upper-right side).

So now go ahead, visit my website and start reading the free blogs. I also encourage you to leave comments so that other restaurateurs can benefit from your wisdom and experience. To leave a comment, just click on the “Comments” link, it will take you to the Blogger page where you can write your comments.

Thank you for reading and have a great day,

Jose L Riesco
www.myrestaurnantmarketing.com
http://twitter.com/jlriesco

How to Prioritize Your Restaurant Responsibilities

As a restaurant owner or manager you have a million tasks that you need to take care of, every day, every hour…

In fact, there are not enough hours in the day to take care of all of them: food and drinks inventory, staffing issues, maintenance, paperwork, marketing, and sales, promotions, taking care of your clients…

So what can you do, poor restaurateur, to make sure that you spend your time wisely and focus on what is really important to your business?

The first thing that you need to remember is the 80/20 rule. In most of the businesses, 20% of the efforts bring 80% of the results. As a restaurant owner, you need to prioritize your tasks and see which ones give you the most return for your time investment.

Let’s go quickly over what it is really important for your business to be successful:

  • Your clients.
    • Without them, anything else matters
  • Your food.
    • Great food is a must in a restaurant; after all, it is the core of the business.
  • Your service.
    • Your clients deserve the best service you can provide them with.
  • Your ambience.
    • Your clients deserve a clean and attractive place to enjoy your great food and service
  • Your operations.
    • Your processes need to be efficient. Your reservation process, food preparation, food ordering and delivery need to work like a clock. All the appliances, heater, air conditioning, ambience music, etc. need to be operational and working.


Of course, there are a thousand more things that you need to manage: employees get sick, things break down, your accounting needs to be kept in order and your books updated, etc. but the listed points are your main priority.Now, as an owner/manager, there are things more important for you to focus than others. As an owner, you should focus mainly in creating efficient processes and in training your people to follow them. Then you can delegate many tasks and focus on what’s really important, and nobody else can do for you: filling in your restaurant with happy clients who will come again and again to your place.

People like to be greeted by the restaurant owners or managers. Nobody else can do this job for you. Also, nobody else can supervise the smoothly running of a restaurant. Being there, shaking hands with your clients, making sure that everybody leaves your restaurant happy and setting up marketing programs that let people know how great your places is should be your main priorities.

Ah, and another thing; you should also learn how to delegate. Hire the best people you can find and train them the best you can, then let them take care of the tasks that you can’t do. This will assure you that you spend your time focusing on the 20% of the tasks that will bring you 80% of your business and profit.

Happy prioritizing,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Social Validation of Your Restaurant

Why do you think that Social Networking is so popular these days?

People love to hear from, and share information with other people. Several years ago, the marketing communication was always one to many. Companies created their own advertising and marketing, and they broadcasted it to the world. To the only information that you had about the company, was their own marketing materials, sometimes news in the media (usually bad), and perhaps some comments from friends or relatives if they had previous experience with that company.

This specially applied to restaurants. Often, the only criteria people used to go to a restaurant was convenience. If a restaurant happen to be in the area where the customer was hungry, the menus displayed in the restaurant doors looked appetizing (and the prospect could afford them), and the restaurant looked nice, then people will go in and give it a try.

Of course, when they had time to plan, then people more likely than not, will follow the recommendations of their friends and family members. Again, people love to hear from other people and they will trust them more than any other form of advertising. Referrals were always the most powerful marketing for any restaurant… and social proof.

Either we like it or not, it’s in human nature for people to follow other people. We tend to look at what others are doing and flock towards what’s popular. This is why restaurants, with long waiting lines, attracted more people than empty ones. If many people are lining up to wait, the restaurant must be great, right?

If we extrapolate this to the current times, the social networking phenomenon replaces the word of mouth and long lines of yesterday. People flock now to the social sites to read reviews about restaurants (and they can do this from anywhere and in real time, using the power of cell phones and Wifi connections). Online, they will find any information that they need: menus, prices, reviews, maps with directions to go there… no more browsing the restaurant doors or paying attention to the restaurants advertising.

People will value more the opinions of perfect strangers than any business ads since they assume (many times wrongly) that the opinions in public forums or restaurant review sites are unbiased and reflect the real experience of the consumer, a consumer much like themselves.

Monitoring the opinions that people write about your restaurant, and using the information (feedback) that you get in these forums are great ways to improve your business until the positive comments and glowing reviews become your best marketing and advertising investments.

Never underestimate the power of social media.

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Restaurant Marketing Inaction

Sometimes I get frustrated, really frustrated, and I’ll tell you why.

Restaurateurs contact me all the time, looking for restaurant marketing information and solutions. Most of them know that their restaurant marketing is not working. Many understand that good marketing can be the make it or breaking solution to their lack of customers, and they all really want to find a solution to their problems.

But then, when I offer them solutions that really work, even when I provide them with a specific plan and guidelines to improve their business, they do absolutely nothing about it.

Many restaurant owners and managers prefer to pay sales people to run the traditional advertising hat doesn’t work:

  • Ads in newspapers and magazines
  • Blanket mailing of coupons to the wrong target audience
  • Yellow Pages ads
  • Radio ads
  • Etc.

Instead of taking control of their own marketing and spending a few hours of their time implementing marketing strategies that work. This is what frustrates me.

I personally suffer this when I am consulting with many restaurant owners. I teach them the techniques, they acknowledge them and recognize that they make sense and should work, and then… nothing happens. They are so busy running their daily operations (even if the restaurant is half-empty), and complaining about the economy that they don’t have any time or energy left to take any action and improve their business.

There are so many free marketing tools available to restaurateurs such as:

  • Opening a free account in www.metaflavor.com to promote their restaurant.
  • Create an account in Twitter to send hourly promotions to fill in empty seats.
  • Create a formalized referral system. One of the cheapest and most efficient ways to bring back your quality clients. (More information here: www.myrestaurantmarketing.com/referral.html)
  • Use special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries to attract customers (and they will come with their friends and/or families)
  • Capture people’s name and email in their websites so that they can follow up and email them special offers, etc.
  • And many more…

You would think that these techniques: free or very inexpensive to implement, and extremely effective, would be the main focus of their restaurant marketing right?

Well, not really…

The sad reality is that restaurateurs still prefer to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in very ineffective marketing, and the only reason why they do this is because they don’t have to get involved. They just pay somebody to take responsibility for their marketing, and keep on running their operations hoping for the best. This also gives them a really good excuse to complain about the economy, the market conditions, etc.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen to all restaurateurs. Some of you really take charge and think strategically about restaurant marketing. And this is good.

Whether we like it or not, the reality is that without solid and strategic marketing, your restaurant (regardless of how good your food or service is) won’t attract the necessary clients. You should think of marketing as a key element In running your business. It is as important as your food, as important as your service. You can’t just ignore it and hope for the best.

There, I feel much better already.

Thank you for reading,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com