How to use QR Codes for restaurant marketing and management – dozens of easy examples

Everyone understands QR codes, now that they’re compulsory for COVID check-ins. Point your smartphone camera at a QR code, and a website or app will pop up.

In fact QR codes have been around for many years, and widely used in Asian countries – now that they’re understood here, you can start to leverage them for restaurant & cafe marketing, recruitment and daily operations. How many of these ideas can you use?

It’s easy to create your own QR codes – for a web page, WiFi access, a feedback form or to check off a worklist. Use a web service like or BeaconStac or, or a QR generator phone app. The Chrome web browser now automatically generates a QR Code for every web page you visit – click on the right side of the URL address bar. Download the square code you create and add it to signs or stickers – easy.

📸 .. Check dozens of ways that QR codes are being used on this special Instagram Account – new examples added all the time.

Put your Front Window to Work: a couple of QR codes can lead to a welcome video from the owners, a downloadable copy of the menu, TripAdvisor reviews or more information about opening hours and bookings. Now you have a 24/7 billboard – place the codes on a poster or on a digital slide.

Boost your recruitment with a link to your main recruitment page, and liven this up with some one-minute video testimonials from staff, or an overview of daily work routines. From this page, people can click and fill out a job application form ready for you to respond.

Include a code in printed marketing material: flyers, postcards and posters can all have a QR code added for contact details, Facebook and Instagram accounts or special Coupons.

Take-Away Menus: print a QR Code on table tents, front door posters or where you’ll catch a customer’s eye. Scanning the code directs them to a digital version of your menu on the web, or as a PDF. Take it one step further and integrate this with an ordering app, so they can browse, click, choose and pay.

Share Recipes and Food Stories: put a small QR Code on your menu next to key dishes. Smartphone users can then scan the code and be taken to a recipe, or even a video of it being made. Too many codes could look unsightly, so have one that leads to a page where more links can be clicked.

Information about Wine and Cocktails: distributors and wineries often have detailed information on their websites – the QR code could lead straight to this, or to pages you’ve set up (so you don’t have to show the supplier’s pricing).

Feedback Surveys: place a QR Code on the receipt, and ask for instant feedback. This works even better when staff remind customers that it’s just 3 questions – put them on a Google Form or with a free app like Wufoo. Take it one step further and give the option to join your email list to receive promotions. Surprisingly, with compulsory check-ins now a part of every visit, most venues are not turning customer sign-ups into newsletter subscribers. Even a ‘thanks for visiting’ email can make a difference!

Nutritional Information: there’s a wide range of information available online – now you can link directly to it for the people who are interested. This avoids your menu becoming like Wikepedia – the facts are there just for those who want them.

Download a phone app: if you have your own app, or want people to use one for ordering, a QR code can be set up to go to the Apple or Android app store, according to the phone being used.

Ordering lists, instruction sheets, operating systems and food safety routines can all be accessed online with a QR code – generate it for the web page or relevant documents. Dymo Printers or A4 label sheets can be set up to print the labels with a description underneath, so there’s no confusion.

Opening and closing routines, COVID and food-safety checklists can be set up in Google Forms or specialist apps like iAuditor – a QR sticker on the wall will trigger them for each location or time of day. Even those hourly checklists behind the bathroom door can be a thing of the past!

Need equipment repairs? Have a QR code for repair information and manuals, all on one laminated sheet on the kitchen wall or in a folder.

When you need to generate bulk quantities of QR Codes on labels or as images, there are services to do that eg QR Batch, or it could be part of the software you are using eg Shopify.

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

QR code examples

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…

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

How Hospitality & Restaurant Trainers can Work Remotely: a Survival Guide…

Hospitality training has usually been done in person – we hospo people like to ‘stand up and do it’. With the restrictions and closing of many restaurants and cafes, there’s an urgent need to present training in new ways. We need very different tools and completely new methods – traditional workbooks with pen & paper don’t translate very well.

Here’s a bunch of tools, resources and ideas to use and experiment with…

Understand the world of online training and teaching…

Training sessions have to be rethought. Once people are online, separately or in a group, you have to get them to actually participate – a whole new set of skills for leaders, and it can be done! There are also important basics about setup and etiquette, especially if some participants are in a regular office, and others are remote.

Staying Connected and Productive with Virtual Events – some great resources from LinkedIn. They’re also offering 16 of their Video Courses for free, on the topic Remote Working: Setting Yourself and Your Teams Up for Success.

Learn how online teaching works: here are some examples from teachers who only work online – Paige Harden and Luke Stein. One you get into the online teaching and training world, you will find an enormous number of resources!

Consider joining the excellent Flipchart Facebook Group for trainers and facilitators – it’s full of experienced people, confronting the need to change how they deliver workshops and training.

Understand the world of your trainees…

“Among trainees we have both digital natives and digital immigrants. We need to be sensitive and aware of those who may need more support and understanding to remain involved as a trainee – there can be a lot of anxiety about showing ‘digital ignorance’, especially in the 30+ age group. There may be some with no PC at home and no smart phone, or very limited skills with them. For many, their phone is their only computer.

Most trainees will have a Google (Gmail) or Microsoft (Live, Hotmail, Outlook) account, if not a work-specific email address. So make resources accessible through OneDrive or Google Drive – they can login with these accounts and maintain calendar appointments.

Some trainees may have issues with Internet connections and data limitations. Employers may consider a small $$ allowances to increase data plans. Trainees may also need to invest in reasonable headphones & mic, so suggest an affordable model – you may be able to get a discount from a local supplier.

Consider LLN (language, literacy and numeracy) issues that may arise more with digital delivery than face to face, especially as a majority of your staff may not have English as their first language, and probably don’t like maths! Consider the trainees preferred learning style – is it V,A or K – Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic? The highly Kinesthetic (relying on touch) may struggle with screen sessions without some physical stimulating activities. The Visual like pictures and illustrations, and the Auditory are listening for clear explanations.” – big thanks to trainer Gordon Rhodes for adding this section on the world of the trainee.

Add to your toolbox…

Learn to use Zoom – this is my preferred tool for holding webinars and live events – they offer a wide range of training options, including short videos and hundreds of support articles. I highly recommend doing one of their live webinars on using Zoom Meetings or Zoom Webinars – available at a variety of times. There are so many opportunities here for training, team meetings and new ways of working.

Offer in-demand training like Food Safety & Hygiene – it could be through your existing coursework that’s repurposed for online delivery, or making use of the many good online courses. Do any have an affiliate program to give you a commission for recommendations?

Start a simple Blog, where you can share your profile and your ideas. is free, and can be developed in different ways if you get ambitious. For now, just get your fingers on the keyboard, share one paragraph of training tips, and create an About Us page. Add to this once a week, or more if you have time – your hard-drive is probably full of material you could use for blog posts!

Upgrade your blog to a paid Training Site – there are many options for Learning Management Systems, giving people access to free and paid content for one-off or monthly fees. It will take a bit of time, but hey, you have some of that at the minute! Now you have a home for the videos, quizzes and course-work you are creating, and a way to charge for it!

Write short Quizzes that can be used by business owners. Give some away, and keep others for paying customers eg a 20-question Coffee Quiz, Vegetable Quiz, Beef & Lamb Quiz etc. Keep questions and answers short.

Put your Quizzes Online, with a simple tool like Google Forms or Wufoo. Now staff can do them online and the results will be emailed back to you – lots of accountability. There are good YouTube videos that will show you how to do this – important to move away from paper.

Add bulk SMS texting to your communications kit – I like BurstSMS for setting up a list of mobile numbers and sending messages to a group. Costs about 8c per text – chicken feed! You could include a link to a quiz or new video – if it’s sent to a phone, there’s a 95% chance it will be read. You will of course get permission from the business owner to do this!

Learn to do Screencasting – record your PC screen as you show people how to do costings, or fill out application and leave forms etc. Here are some free and low-cost options – I recommend Loom as a good choice.

Create simple ‘how to’ videos with your phone. Buy a $10 tripod to hold the phone steady, and start to talk to the camera, or demonstrate skills. Make sure the light is on your face, and be conscious of good sound. A bit scary at first, but you’ll build confidence. They could be as simple as how to pronounce food names, and how to explain menu items. Get others involved as your ‘models’ or ‘talent’ – there are thousands of useful ‘how to video’ guides on YouTube.

Learn simple video editing to make the phone videos look sharp – edit out pauses, add extra photos and titles. Start with the free iMove on Mac, or Moviemaker on PC – they have everything you need.

Collect relevant YouTube videos – there’s a massive number on every topic, and most are pretty ordinary. When you find something good, add it to your collection for showing at the right time – your skill here is being the curator.

Use existing video training sites – like Ananas, Typsy and Innform . They have hundreds of hospitality training videos already made, and often need an experienced trainer to guide trainees through them, and ensure that courses are completed. Some of them allow you to upload your own videos as well.

Work within a restaurant’s private communication site: it could be a Facebook Group, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp or Facebook Workplace – here is where you add short videos, quizzes, how-to tips, reminders and acknowledgement. You might commit to adding something 3 times per work as part of a training contract. if they don’t have a comms system like this set up, your (very easy) job is to get one started!

Watch the SilverChef Training Webinars – an exciting new development, using a combination of Eventbrite for bookings, and Zoom for delivery. Numbers keep building as we focus on hot topics for business owners. It was sad to cancel recent live events, but we’re reaching a lot more people this way.

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome – please send them to me through Linkedin or Facebook.

This Post is a Work in Progress: I’ll add new training events and resources here and on Twitter. Lots of exciting ideas are being shared as we find ways to pivot from live to virtual.

Sharing ideas about how to make Webinars more interesting

It was great to share my thoughts with the Facilitation Queen Leanne Hughes, about how to make webinars more engaging and interesting. With looming restrictions on live gatherings, they have to be in the toolkit of every trainer and meeting facilitator. The SilverChef webinars I’ve started have had a great response, and this method of teaching and learning is becoming much more familiar and popular.

Here’s Leanne sharing her experience, and drawing on the ideas of me and others on her podcast First Time Facilitator...

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome – please send them to me through Linkedin or Facebook.

Understanding the Science of Timing – When to Take Action [Short Video]

Social psychologist Dan Pink has released a fascinating new book called When – the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

I love the way he does a massive amount of research, then presents his conclusions in an appealing way that can assist us all to be more effective. Here’s a short interview with Dan Pink about his research, and how to work out when is the optimal time to do our best work. Short videos like this are great discussion starters for staff development sessions…

Also check Dan Pink talking about his previous book Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

8 Enterprise Skills – the New Essentials for a Well-Paid Hospitality Career

The New Basics is a very interesting report on the Enterprise Skills young people need for the new work order. It’s been prepared by the Foundation for Young Australians, and they have a steady stream of good articles about work and wellbeing.

Enterprise Skills are transferable skills, and Technical Skills are those specific to a particular industry. It’s a good checklist for people who are thinking about moving into or out of hospitality, and finding a well-paid job.

I’ve had some recent conversations with chefs and managers about where they will take their careers after restaurant work – this is useful to see what they need to strengthen. I’m guessing #1 would be on most people’s improvement list…

I’ve taken the 8 Enterprise Skills they’ve listed (in the order of increased demand for these skills), and added some examples from hospitality – what else would you add under these headings?

  1. Digital Literacy – using business software, POS and cloud-based services, typing, Google searching, managing email, using photos and editing images, managing social media.
  2. Critical Thinking – comparing supplier quotes and proposals, weighing up options for menus and events, choosing between a number of job candidates, examining options for business changes.
  3. Creativity – recipe and menu development, music and entertainment, events, improving restaurant design and atmosphere, motivating staff in new ways.
  4. Problem Solving – handling conflict between staff, managing a sudden growth or decline in business, dealing with critical customers and staff not performing as expected.
  5. Financial Literacy – recipe and menu costing, working out wage costs, using a calculator and spreadsheet, reading POS reports, working out Return on Investment for equipment purchases, understanding a Profit & Loss statement.
  6. Presentation Skills – explaining changes to a team meeting, talking on your feet, presenting a new menu to senior management, justifying the cost and benefit of a proposal, using PowerPoint, talking to prospective employees eg school students.
  7. Communication – having a constructive conversation with staff, writing a report, expressing praise or dissatisfaction to a supplier or staff member, effective emails, having a good sales manner with prospective customers – phone and in person.
  8. Teamwork – organising and running a meeting, monitoring performance and results, supporting staff who are not performing, creating a team with a positive mix of skills and personalities.

The biggest increase in demand is for skills in 1, 2 and 3:  Digital Literacy, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

What Profits Are Used For: An Explanation for Restaurant Staff

Sales – costs = profit. It’s simple. If profits are good, there are more smiles and generosity – the fundamentals of hospitality. If money is tight, there’s not much for extras, and shortcuts will usually cut into service and quality.

It’s easy for staff to misunderstand the profitability of a business – they assume that you’re making money on the first coffee sold on Monday morning, and it’s $3.50 profit on the $4.00 price. The financial literacy of staff is another training topic, but in the meantime it’s good for them to learn more about business essentials…

So why are profits so important?

  • Profits mean more tax is paid – which pays for schools, roads and hospitals. If the tax rate on business profits is 30%, that’s $300 paid for every $1000 of profit. No profit = no taxes.
  • The business can afford better (and often expensive) kitchen and coffee equipment, which is usually easier to use.
  • They can afford better-quality ingredients instead of always hunting for the cheapest.
  • Profitable businesses can pay for good uniforms, not cheap ones. Or provide them for staff instead of insisting they use their own.
  • Profitable businesses can afford professional cleaning, so the place sparkles everywhere. They also buy flowers, quality furnishings and good tableware – small things that add up.
  • Pay for staff training and offering staff opportunities for staff development. Hard-up businesses never do this.
  • Profits allow for business expansion, which means more people employed and more opportunities for promotion, and work for your friends.
  • The boss is more likely to take staff to a trade show and dinner afterwards, or take all the staff to the restaurant awards dinner.
  • Managers don’t stress if someone has time off for urgent family reasons – they can afford to be generous.
  • A profitable business shows staff how to operate successfully – a great learning opportunity if they have dreams of their own restaurant in the future.
  • Profit gives the business a value, making it easier to sell. A business that’s easy to sell is usually fresh, lively and popular.

…and finally, a profitable businesses can give the boss a good holiday – making her more generous, smiling and easier to be around!

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us [Training Video]

You may have seen this short video, but have your staff? Motivation is one of those constant issues with employees, just like ‘productivity’ and ‘wage costs’. You want to motivate them, and get your managers and head chefs to help with the process. And hopefully you’ve employed people who are self-motivated?

But what is motivation?

This short animated video from Dan Pink is an excellent starting point for a discussion with managers, or with all your team. Stop it several times and ask for feedback, then seek comparisons with places that people have previously worked and the current workplace. In what areas is motivation lacking, and what are some quick changes that could be made to improve it? 10-minute videos like these can be a powerful part of a staff meeting or coaching session – they get everyone thinking outside the daily issues.


Two Restaurant Service Techniques That Add Style and Pizzazz…

People keep saying that ‘fine dining is dead’ – maybe. But there are lots of techniques from traditional fine dining that add flair, service speed and a point of difference. And with the first one shown here, silver-service, it’s also quicker and more efficient – one of the many ways you can exceed expectations.

If you have employees who have worked in a traditional restaurant, ask them to train the other service staff – it’s a nice thing for them to use when there are bread rolls or vegetables to share out.

How to do Silver Service…

Napkin folding also adds flare – worth checking the cost of cloth napkins compared to the heavy paper ones, as the real thing may not be much more expensive. If you want to upgrade your function service, stylishly presented napkins can make a big difference…

Here are more napkin videos and you’ll find lots of them online.