10 Ways to Celebrate Your Restaurant’s Birthday, for Maximum Publicity

People love to see a business succeed, and if they’re regular customers, they have watched your growth and development. An annual birthday celebration is a great way to share the love and build loyalty. Not sure when it is? No problem, make it up! Once you’ve set the date, here are some easy ways to spread the word, and remember, social media is your #1 friend for this!

Birthday Week, not just One Day: milk this for all you can – start promoting in the week before, so people take notice. You could even do a countdown sign – 7, 6, 5, 4… This is when you’ll be rolling out the publicity events listed about below.

Birthday Cake on the Day: square cakes are much easier to cut into small pieces, or prepare dozens of tiny cupcakes. Bright icing and a candle – everyone gets a piece.

Candles, Candles, Candles: on all desserts on the day, and maybe there are a couple of big candles on the counter. Label them for what they are, so people don’t think it’s a religious ceremony (!).

Gifts for the Customers: a voucher given out on the day, a free beverage or appetiser – something that will make an impact. Red Envelopes will also work a treat – bringing people back like a boomerang.

Show Old Photos: put an album together on a noticeboard, or better still on Facebook and Instagram.

Show it at the beginning: construction work, the old kitchen, the first espresso machine and some of the original staff. Plus milestones since then – look through your hard drive, there are tons of pictures! Create a slideshow video – they’re easy to make, just ask one of your young staff.

Where Are They Now? Tell people about staff who’ve moved on (the nice ones), and how many people you’ve employed over the years. It’s another reminder of the value of hospitality, and what you contribute to the area – a major employer.

Big Thank You Signs: in the window – get stick-on letters from a signage shop or a mega-sized poster. With all accounts given to customers, include your business card with a sticker on the back explaining that it’s your birthday and why you are proud. Or print a special slip with this information – make sure people know why it’s a big deal.

Boast About Some Numbers: ‘in the two years we’ve been open, we have served more than 50,000 happy customers, poured 22,000 beers and used 1500 kg of strawberries’. You get the idea – the numbers are light-hearted and also meant to impress. 50,000 customers over 2 years is still only 500 per week – maybe yours are much more!

Sing Happy Birthday: your staff do this for customers, now’s the time to do it on the hour throughout the special day. OK, not in the middle of peak hour, but you get the idea. We are hard-wired to respond to this music with a smile and a cheer, so play it up! There are other Happy Birthday songs (eg Stevie Wonder) – post the YouTube videos of these on Facebook throughout the week.

#Hashtag it: on Facebook & Instagram, set up a #hashtag just for the occasion and have an Instagram competition for the person who posts the best photo tagged #TroppoBirthday (for Cafe Troppo).

How to Support Staff to Give Productive Feedback & Suggestions

Your staff have plenty of bright ideas, but do they know the best way to present them?

If you want your staff to keep taking a positive interest in your business, you may need to teach them about ‘managing upwards’. Sometimes known as ‘managing the boss’, and it’s a lot more than knowing how she likes her coffee or what beer he drinks.

Many staff have bright ideas for new menus, equipment, service and efficiencies. Some will cost money and many of them won’t, but they usually need the agreement of senior management, owners or directors.

Staff are often told their suggestions are welcome: ‘my door is always open…’, but sometimes they don’t know how to use the key. Management, in turn, needs to hold back on the reflex reaction of ‘how much will that all cost?’ Suggestions soon dry up if the response is always negative.

Your staff may have noticed that you happily spend thousands on new furniture and ‘research holidays’ overseas, but then knock back their request for a faster coffee machine or function software to manage room bookings. But let’s leave those very human inconsistencies aside…

Here are some principles to share with staff so they offer their suggestions in a way that will be heard and taken seriously.

  • Choose your timing – don’t just drop by, it undervalues your time and the idea, and doesn’t respect the time of others. Make an appointment, even if it’s informal.
  • Get permission for the discussion. No-one likes to be ambushed, so make sure the boss knows what you want to talk about. This will also build curiosity and hopefully, a willingness to listen.
  • Be specific with examples, and offer comparisons with other businesses. Talk about ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations. Give the names of businesses where this equipment or method of operation can be seen in action. Gather testimonials, especially for intangibles like software. Show websites and social media posts to build your case.
  • Be frank with any possible negatives, or issues that might arise if changes are made. How will a menu change impact on other items? How will the kitchen cope, and what will be the reaction of customers? Where will new equipment fit? What will be the staff reaction if rostering is done in a different way?
  • Show financial benefits, and show the numbers. Will the suggestion save money, or will it increase sales and profits? How will that happen? Will this make the business look better or improve its reputation? Be ready to talk about the Return on Investment – how quickly the expense will pay for itself. A spreadsheet may help to make the costing more understandable.
  • Be ready with a short, written summary, so it’s not just words floating in the air. This may be a Word document, a spreadsheet or notes in the diary. Something that can be referred to later. A one-page Suggestion Sheet that sets out these details makes it easier for staff to put their bright ideas into a form that will make sense.

Innovation means taking risks, and the most successful businesses are continually testing new ideas and looking for better ways of working. Every single staff member knows of at least one way you could save money or unlock sales, even if it’s small. When you create positive channels, the positive ideas and enthusiasm of your staff will flow in all sorts of unexpected and wonderful ways. But you need to prepare the way…

How to Write Restaurant Job Advertisements That Get a Much Better Response

It’s not hard to write a good advertisement – most are so poorly written yours will stand out with just a little care!

The secret is to offer real BENEFITS – talk about what applicants want, not just what you want – this is basic Marketing 101, and most operators ignore it. You need to get into the mind of the jobseeker…

Incude these terms if you can genuinely offer them:

  • Business name – most applicants will Google it or check social media
  • Parking & transport options
  • Day shift, Monday to Friday (if that’s what you offer) or work hours presented in a positive manner
  • ‘Good pay’ or Award Wages
  • Flexible hours
  • Modern kitchen with efficient layout
  • Uniform & training provided
  • Plenty of work, immediate start
  • Weekly pay into your bank account
  • Annual leave or vacation time
  • Happy and productive team
  • Organised systems
  • Opportunities to learn & grow

Avoid terms like these:
sincere, hard-working, keen, energetic, team player, creative, honest, good personality, bubbly, enthusiastic, bright etc. There’s nothing wrong with these qualities, but they usually sound like a list of demands! If that’s all you say, your ad will look like all the others and sound desperate and unfriendly.

Here are two advertisement examples, rewritten for a better response by including benefits:

BEFORE: Cook for small cafe in Braybrook
3yrs+ experience, must be hard working & speak v good English.
7am – 5pm Sat & Sun. Ph. 345 6789

AFTER: Cook for Braybrook’s best cafe
Modern kitchen, happy & productive team, free parking and good train service. 3yrs+ cafe experience – start now.
Call Peter on Ph. 345 6789. Hours: 7am – 5pm Sat & Sun.

——————————-

BEFORE: Chef with great attitude needed
30 hrs pw – Essendon. Email CV to busyben@ABC
Only those chosen for interview will be contacted.

AFTER: Exp. Chef or Cook for Cafe ABC in Essendon.
Days only, close to train, great kitchen setup, flexible roster, strong and happy team. Fresh food with great reputation.
Email CV to busyben@ABC or phone 41456 – all applications will be answered.

How the H-Word Boosts Restaurant Sales and Cuts Costs

People expect a lot from us – fast, friendly, good value, available, and more. That’s why the H-Word can add power to your reputation, and even bring down costs with suppliers. Not magic, but it works – you do it, now all the staff need to get with the same program…hands180

The H-Word stands for Helpful, and it may sound a bit low-key. Like ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’ – not much power in it.

But think about when customers describe staff as UnHelpful – they won’t be flexible with a reservation, assist with a diet request, help with the needs of a child, or they make you sit in the uncomfortable corner… hmmm, let me dive onto Facebook and tell 150 of my best friends… 😮

Maybe we need to think about how we can be more helpful and take a close look at what this means to your staff. They sometimes find it easier to be unhelpful – just follow the rules and don’t make it inconvenient for me. It’s often about little things.

Helpful with Diets – it’s the price of being in business these days, gluten-free, vegetarian, low-sodium and so it goes on. Smile and work out ways to make this a drama-free part of the menu.

Helpful with Kids – oh yes, it sometimes feel parents check-out when they visit and let the little monsters run free. But your help, flexibility and understanding will keep happy families coming back for YEARS – now we’re talking real ‘long term value of a customer’. Some of your staff aren’t so good with kids, and some are wonderful – choose carefully.

Helpful with Parties – we know the right menus to fit your budget, and how to organise the timing so drinks won’t run out. We can supply a sound system, a photographer, a room for the bride and an excellent DJ. We’ve done this a hundred times before – making parties run smoothly is our second nature!

Helpful with Business Customers – quiet corner for a sales meeting, no problem. Free WiFi, for sure. Snappy service for a quick lunch – easy. Friendly but not familiar.

Helpful with First Dates – you’ve got the all-important ‘distraction factor’ available, with plenty of people watching and conversation starters. It’s not every place that has this – your staff usually know who rely on it 😉

Helpful with Gift Ideas – Gift Vouchers ready for ‘friends who have everything’, and surprise parties a specialty. Gift wrapping or shipping for the t-shirts and preserves – not a problem. And when it’s Christmas shopping season, take the initiative and solve gift-giving problems – the magic question after you’ve made the first sale is ‘who else is on your list?’. Kaching!!

Helpful with the Neighbourhood – offer the function room for the community meeting on park development, free coffee included. Help out with the school fundraiser, and work experience for culinary students. It doesn’t take long for helpful places to become ‘owned’ by their neighbours.

Helpful to Suppliers – paying bills on time, ordering according to the agreement system, flexible if there’s an unavoidable change to a product. They can be helpful too, with an urgent delivery or super deal on end-of-line products. So keep cranky-chef in his box – a friendly relationship with suppliers can pay big dividends.

Thanks to marketer Tim Reid for inspiration for this post…

Using Toyota’s 8 Waste Control Methods in Your Restaurant or Cafe

Toyota built its world-class success by watching and controlling every step of the manufacturing process, especially waste. It’s very useful to apply the discipline of manufacturing to hospitality – we make things too!

Use Toyota’s classification of 8 different types of waste, and discover new ways to cut costs and improve your bottom line.

  1. Over-Production: creating more of a product than is needed. The enthusiastic bar staff over-prepare fruit garnishes for the evening. Salad trays are filled beyond what’s needed and too much meat is carved. Forecasting accurate sales of different products reduces this – over-production is usually the default.
  2. Excessive Wait Time. When staff must wait to do their job, because of bottlenecks, shortages of equipment or lack of support. Insufficient glassware means drinks can’t be served while glasses are being washed. A deep-fryer that’s under-powered takes too long to cook chips, slowing up meals. Insufficient mise-en-place means delays for chefs.
  3. Transportation Waste – unnecessary movement of products and equipment. Carrying one box at a time from the store, instead of using a trolley to bring them all together. When the bar is not setup for efficient service, with high-demand bottles a long way from where they’re needed. What works: a barista who has everything at hand and can push product through quickly and efficiently – it’s so good to watch!
  4. Processing Waste – repeated action that adds no value to a product or service. Intentional over-processing might be a barman creating a complex cocktail, with far more garnish than the customer wants. Non-intentional over-processing is when an apprentice finely chops vegetables that will only be used for stock – no-one told him it’s not needed.
  5. Inventory Waste – over-ordering that results in spoilage or theft. Just because the salesman offers you a bonus box of wine if you order 10, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Where will you store it? High-value items in abundance lose their value in the eyes of staff and may start to disappear or be used carelessly – ‘no-one will notice’.
  6. Motion Waste – unnecessary movement that does not add value, eg when untrained staff take much longer to do a task than needed. Are there too many steps needed to do the roster or payroll? Can essential forms be found quickly on the computer? Do you need unnecessary approvals for standard ordering decisions?
  7. Defect Waste – when a product or service must be redone to meet a standard. It could be human or equipment error. Not following a recipe means the mousses don’t set – out they go! Failing to keep the oven in good condition means baked goods burn easily. Job interviewers don’t ask the right questions, so unqualified people are appointed, and later on must be let go.
  8. Unused Employee Talent and Creativity – the waste that’s far too common, from a failure to listen. Toyota is famous for its rigorous involvement of staff in improving processes and reducing errors – why don’t we do it too? Some managers don’t want to listen, or think they know everything. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. If an employee notices an inefficient or unnecessary process, will she be listened to when she mentions it to the manager?

Combine these 8 types of Waste and the cost reduction will be considerable. Some are more common than others, and some have never been considered as a real problem.

Many managers attempt to fix problems or reduce costs by just watching everything, when the problem is often with the lack of standards, systems and consultation.

40 Photo Ideas for Your Restaurant’s Christmas Social Media

Social media posts thrive on visual content, and there are dozens of opportunities to take all sorts of photos during the Christmas season – food, decorations, people and local scenes. They will look good on Facebook, Instagram and your website. Snap and share, and many can be used again next year.

  • Gather props – Christmas balls or decorations, Santa hats and strings of lights – they will all be useful.
  • Starting the Day – setting up the kitchen, turning on the coffee machine, hosing the courtyard, Christmas food deliveries, first customers etc
  • A Special Christmas Offer – your Christmas Hamper offer or photo of a special menu item
  • On the Christmas Menu – food or beverage item from the special menu – different items can be added every few days
  • Christmas Gift Card – held proudly by a typical customer, or with Christmas decoration around it
  • Something Funny – a Christmas joke – add it to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Quote – find some suitable quotes from this Quotes Website – add them to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Cracker jokes – put them on a background of a Christmas cracker and share the best or worst ones. A Christmas tradition – find a bunch of them here.
  • Something that Sparkles – add tinsel or shiny Christmas balls to any of the images you already use. Garnish a dessert with something sparkling.
  • The Weather Today – a photo of the beautiful day outside, whether it’s sunny or snowing
  • Seen on the Way to Work – a local landmark or something unusual or amusing – a local sign, quirky shop, landscape formation etc
  • Seen in the Neighbourhood – outrageous Christmas decorations, big Santa, house with the most Christmas lights
  • Someone we Remember – used to work here or a favourite customer or local character
  • Festive Fashion – staff or customers wearing Santa hats or reindeer ears, Santa suits etc
  • Santa’s Helpers – get some elf hats from a party shop and take a photo of staff hard at work, as if this is what they always wear!
  • Customers in the Christmas mood – have a basket of Christmas hats and props and share with your party customers. Take photos of them dressed up and having fun.
  • My Morning Drink – the coffee, herb tea, chai or juice you have to start the day
  • On My To-Do List – take a screenshot of a list in bold text, with some serious and some amusing
  • Our Christmas Tree – if this is something special, show it off and take close-ups of special decorations
  • Our Christmas decorations – if they’re big and wonderful, take a photo, especially with light shining on them
  • A Special Tradition – something that’s done every year in your area or household, or in the restaurant
  • On the Front Door – if you have a Christmas wreath, share a photo
  • Something We Made – the food the dessert, the Christmas scene etc
  • How We Relax When Not at Work – a photo of staff relaxing – at the beach in Australia, or in the park, Christmas shopping etc
  • Your Christmas Workspace – a photo of your busy desk or workbench, but style it so it looks productive, not just a mess
  • Outside the Window – busy people, a busy street, birds flying, a Christmas scene – something amusing or interesting
  • A Symbol of the Season – a star, crib, Christmas decorations – local shops or churches may have good subjects
  • Something Sweet – Christmas desserts, special drinks, a gingerbread house
  • Best Part of the Day – having a well-deserved break, or when customers arrive or closing up at night
  • Bright Lights – take a slightly blurred photo of Christmas lights, or of local buildings lit and decorated
  • Work Hard, Play Hard – staff playing sport on their day off – ask them to take some photos and send to you
  • My Christmas Family – ask staff to share some photos of people they will be having with them on Christmas day
  • The Spirit of Christmas – photos of local charities who will be helping people on Christmas
  • Your Inspiration – a saying, a photo, a holiday memory, a special person – explain why
  • A Happy Customer – photo taken of them enjoying food or a drink
  • A Happy Party – photos of party groups having a good time – best if you take groups of just 3 or 4 at a time so everyone is seen clearly
  • After the Party – busy and happy staff stacking chairs or cleaning up after a party. Use the Instagram app Hyperlapse to take a short, speeded-up video of the action
  • Chefs at Work – up-close video of them decorating desserts or garnishing canapés or preparing food – hands is enough. Use the Instagram app for a video of up to 30 seconds.
  • Selfie Time! Have a selfie stick available for customers to borrow and ask them to text or email you the best photo. Show them how to use the trigger by linking with their Bluetooth phone settings
  • Warm and Cosy – if it’s cold outside, a photo of a scene that’s warm and glowing. These can look good from outside looking in at night
  • Cool and Relaxed – if it’s summer at Christmas time, photos of cool drinks and your garden or outside seating with relaxed customers
  • Something Brand New – some new equipment, a new menu item, new decorations etc

Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Your Cafe or Restaurant

It’s an important annual event in October and might be forgotten with all the COVID issues on our mind. It’s had less publicity in the last few years but is no less valued – we all have mothers, sisters, daughters and friends who have been affected.

The purpose of the month is to raise money for breast cancer medical care and research. It also raises awareness of an issue that affects tens of thousands of women and even some men.

How to get started

  • Check out these websites to understand the issue and the programs that need support: NBCF, McGrath Foundation and BCT. Plus information on Wikipedia and Cancer Australia.
  • Brainstorm with your staff – as you engage them, their enthusiasm to communicate with customers will become natural, not something they need reminding about. It’s an issue for women and for men.
  • Make plans to share with customers in your venue, on social media and through your email communication. If you’re making deliveries, include a flyer. If you’re raising money, tell everyone how it will be used.

Promotional ideas…

  • Just like food and drinks go green on St Patricks Day, this is the month to put a pink blush on desserts, drinks and decorations – there are opportunities all day, every day of the week. Pink latte anyone?
  • Promote the month with posters and flyers – free online design service Canva has some great templates ready to use.
  • Work out the best way to raise money, and choose a non-profit group (see above) to support. In previous years, fund-raising lunches were held – this is more difficult in 2020 but there can still be raffles and donations. Even raising $100 can make an impact. It could involve donations from customers on a certain day, a special fund-raising meal, or selling pink ribbon merchandise.
  • Take lots of photos – they don’t have to be clever, just real. Remember the digital photo rule – take 20 pictures and only use the best ones.
  • Share personal experiences – if you have staff who are willing to talk about how they or family have been touched by this issue, social media can be a good place for a photo and some simple words.
  • Have a special ‘wear pink’ day, just like they do at the cricket! Pink t-shirts are easy to organise.
  • Organise some pink lighting for your venue. You can do it with strings of lights or lanterns, or just change a few globes.
  • Make pink food and drinks – here’s a bunch of pink recipes, pink cocktails, rosé is more popular than ever, and there are plenty of ‘pink’ songs on Spotify to add to the playlist.
  • Celebrate what you did at the end of the month – be proud, sharing photos and stories about events and fundraising. Save the best experiences to repeat next year!

How to Use Special Weeks for Restaurant & Cafe Promotions

The Aussie Artisan Week promoted by Pepe Saya Buttery got me thinking about how else the ‘Week of…’ idea could be used for interesting promotions. They can be short and punchy, and bring in outsiders or employees, or run with different food & beverage themes.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with so far. Run the week over 5 days or 7, and a big topic could even stretch to a month. Pile on the content, with a new post every day. Plan it in advance and most of it can be scheduled in advance – Facebook, Instagram and email promotions all ready to click over. Maybe do a special week every 3 months?

Week of Suppliers – each day featuring a different food or beverage vendor, with a link and some photos, ideally with real people ie the producers or delivery person.
Week in the Kitchen – each day highlighting the work of a different staff member, with photos of them working, and something about their background. Don’t forget the kitchenhand!
Week in the Bar – a version of Week in the Kitchen, this time with staff showing the variety of things they do and products they serve. Even some short videos taken with a phone (horizontal format works best).
Chocolate Week – each day featuring a different dessert or drink, plus some information about where chocolate comes from. There are interesting YouTube videos available that could be added to Facebook posts.
Week of Summer Fruits – featuring plums, peaches, apricots, cherries and all the wonderful products that appear over Christmas. I’m amazed at how many varieties of plums appear week by week in most fruit shops.
Week of Spices – featuring cumin, coriander, nutmeg, turmeric and many more. Especially good if they’re the foundation of your cooking eg Indian food. Show photos and YouTube videos if available, and highlight your menu and recipes. Repeat for a Week of Herbs.
Week of Favourite Recipes – chefs nominate their favourite recipes and food, including things they cooked when they started their training. Or highlights from previous menus.
Week of Favourite Cookbooks – another one for the kitchen, each day with a photo of a well-loved cookbook and why it was chosen.
Week of Knives – a chance for the kitchen crew to show off their kit. First knife, oldest knife in their collection, strangest knife, how they are used etc.
Week of Business Supporters – this one highlights all the people who keep you operating. The cleaners, electrician, fridge repair people, exhaust hood cleaner, linen suppliers and window washer. Hopefully, you can get a photo of them at work, or find one from their website. This helps people understand what complex businesses we run!
Week of Community Supporters – highlighting a range of local charities, non-profits and volunteer organisations. Some of them you may support directly, others are just well recognised. One each day with photos and links.
Week of Sport – maybe this is team members nominating their favourite team and players. Or the sport that some of them play – lots of photo opportunities. This would work well around the time of grand finals.

Have fun with this, and there’s an extra bonus for staff motivation if they are involved in choosing themes and examples.

Developing and Promoting Online Events – my podcast interview with facilitation legend Leanne Hughes

I’ve known Leanne Hughes for almost a year, and her great work as a workshop designer and presenter has been a constant source of inspiration – from her First Time Facilitator Podcast, her Facebook Group and several in-depth workshops.

It was an honour to have a conversation with her for the podcast, and talk about how I’ve built my workshop experience and developed digital presentations. It’s always interesting to be interviewed by someone in the same field, because they find connections and insights that we’re not aware of – this was a great experience…