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 Scanova.io or BeaconStac or QRcode-monkey.com, 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.

QR code examples

How Restaurant & Cafe Owners Can Learn from Sport Teams and Violin Players

What can sporting clubs and a classical violinist teach us about staying in touch with our customers? And not just ‘don’t forget me’ messages, but spending this time of enforced separation to build their love, enthusiasm and loyalty?

Two widely contrasting social media posts landed in my feed recently – one from ‘sports fan engagement specialist’ Blair Hughes, and the other from young violinist rock star Ray Chen.

Blair is a lifelong sports nut, and watches the way smart clubs build their connection with fans, spectators and players – at the game and through the rest of the week, online and offline 24/7. He’s just shared 200 Fan Engagement Ideas to Educate, Entertain & Connect Sport Fans During Covid-19. A week later he shared one that’s even more relevant for cafes & restaurants: 150+ Fan Engagement Ideas for Craft Breweries to Entertain, Educate and Drive Revenue.

Ray Chen started as a child prodigy violin player in Brisbane, then moved to the US on a scholarship when he was 15. His career has skyrocketed since then and he travels the world giving concerts, until the start of 2020, when live events ground to a halt. He’s rapidly pivoted to a wide range of YouTube activities – live streams, practice sessions with fans, online meetings with other performers. He even has merchandise for sale. These are not just the usual ‘turn on the camera and start recording’ videos, but he gets them cleverly edited to add snap, crackle and fun. He knows his audience!

What do they have in common? Imagination, and a commitment to the pleasure, enthusiasm and loyalty of every single fan and follower. What lessons can we take from these two passionate experts to maintain and develop our own customer connections and fan base?

Here’s Ray in a recent online coaching session, and here he is jamming Waltzing Matilda

My interview on hospitality and the Coronavirus crisis – Sky News Australia, March 21, 2020

I had a short interview on Sky News today about the state of the hospitality industry. I was given four questions to consider, and prepared some bullet point reminders. In the event, only the first three were asked… and I was relaxed!

1. You’ve been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented – what should restaurant & cafes owners be doing?

  • Communicate like never before with your customers
  • Offer & sell food and drinks in new ways – delivery, take home packs, takeaway
  • Write to your local MP about the number of jobs that will be lost without direct financial support. There is a lot of cynicism about whether government support will actually help – tax concessions aren’t any good if you’re not making a profit.
  • Talk to your landlord, preferably with your lawyer’s help – urgent negotiation is needed.
  • Overcommunicate how you are operating responsibility – remove tables to stick to the 4 sq m. rule, and cleaning very visibly.

2. Business owners are going to have to have some really tough conversations with their staff – what’s the best way to go about it?

  • Be as fair and transparent as you can – there is so much pain for operators around this
  • Be open with your staff about the real cost of running a business, and what you can afford.
  • Help them apply for benefits.
  • Move quickly – and get support from colleagues or professionals

3. How can Australians support the hospitality industry right now, while we’re social distancing?

  • Keep ordering and keep buying!
  • Share words and acts of kindness with local businesses – message them, share positive reviews online, post on their Facebook and Instagram
  • Lobby for government support for business owners, workers and all the people who will lose jobs

4. What’s your advice to restaurant and café owners in communicating with their customers right now?

  • Do much more of it, use new channels and change the tone – warm and honest, trying to find positive angles if you can
  • Use more channels and put your face and your team into the story – delivering food, cleaning, cooking, making coffee, sharing with customers
  • Daily Facebook posts and try Facebook Live for a TV view of what’s happening – you’ll get better at it! Pump up the instagram, and if you’ve never done email, now’s the time – you’ll be surprised at how many customer contact details you can find. Even TikTok if that’s your demographic – you have staff who can help with all of these, just make sure to give them guidance on the message and the tone
  • Rediscover the neighbourhood – most operators don’t live where they work, and don’t have time to connect with neighbourhood activities – now’s the time. AND don’t stop once this is over!

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. WordPress.com 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.

Working Remotely – resources for cafe & restaurant owners

There are a lot of new habits and skills to develop – by nature we hospo people just ‘walk around and do it’. Working from home or away from a venue doesn’t come naturally or easily, and if we have to keep a ‘social distance’, we need very different tools and ways of working. We need to sit down more…

Here’s a bunch of resources to help make your remote work almost as good as being there.

Use cloud-based management systems, so you can work and monitor results anywhere. Accounting systems like Xero to track your numbers and profit situation, plus online rostering like Tanda or Deputy and plenty more. Ramp up online customer ordering with systems like OrderUp, TabSquare, MrYum and Bopple. And always keep a close eye on recipe costs. When functions resume, there are excellent cloud-based systems to manage and promote them.

Order with suppliers through systems like Foodbomb or Ordermentum – check with vendors for their own systems. Plan new menus and events with simple project management systems like Asana (free version) or Trello (also free). Watch your shop with video security, and keep track of sales via your POS system’s online reporting. So much can be done from home.

Upgrade communication with staff – email is easy for people to ignore, and texting can become a flood of random comments. Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams will be much more flexible, with the app on everyone’s phone – they also give you more control of the conversation. A staff-only private Facebook or WhatsApp Group can be very useful. Facebook’s separate Workplace is another option – experiment with a small group, before rolling your choice out to the whole team. And there are still many great ways to train staff, even if it’s done remotely – the group can be the training hub.

Boost your customer communication with more and better social media posts, including regular Facebook Live. Add email and SMS to the mix – you’d be surprised by how much customer contact data you already have – start using it!

Start to use video conferencing, using a tool like Zoom – they offer a wide range of training options, including short videos and support articles. I recommend doing one of their live webinars on using Zoom Meetings. There are many opportunities here for training, team meetings and new ways of working – how often could you avoid a trip to the restaurant?

Keep learning: the SilverChef Training Webinars are an exciting new development, and we focus on practical ‘survive and thrive’ topics. LinkedIn is offering 16 of their Video Courses for free, on the topic Remote Working: Setting Yourself and Your Teams Up for Success. If all this technology makes you nervous, keep breathing… and you’re not alone. There’s usually a YouTube video to explain just about every problem – this new focus is just reactivating some brain cells that have gone rusty!

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 resources and suggestions here and on Twitter. Lots of exciting ideas are being shared as we find ways to pivot from live to virtual.

Tips for Video Meetings – Setup and Etiquette

Video conferences and meetings are becoming a part of daily work life, allowing remote staff to share and interact more fully. There are many opportunities to use it in restaurant, cafe and event management – any opportunity to work from home is a good one!

Skype has been around for a long time, and Zoom is very popular. Other conference systems include GoToMeeting, Join.me, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts Meet.

Conference Etiquette:

  • Integrate meetings into work calendars, so everyone is aware and ready
  • Start and end on time – waiting online is annoying
  • Introduce all the participants, and excuse yourself if leaving
  • Ask off-site participants to speak or share first – it stops them being forgotten.
  • Stay in the line of sight – we can only see what’s in front of the camera
  • Mute yourself if you’re not speaking, and avoid outside noise like using a keyboard
  • Raise your hand to speak – normal banter doesn’t work with remote guests
  • Use a sign to let outsiders know you are online in a meeting – here’s a set to download. You can also use them to signal if they are muted or can’t be seen.
  • Stay engaged, even if you’re not speaking – people see your reaction, just like in a real meeting!
  • Share documents beforehand if they’re to be discussed, or drop them into the document sharing section on Zoom or Skype
  • More good tips here and here

Technical Setup:

  • Everyone needs the apps on their phone, iPad and PC, so they can connect anywhere
  • Make sure all software updates are done well before the meeting – they take time, and it’s tedious waiting for a Skype update!
  • Check the frame view so everyone is visible – use a wide-angle lens
  • Use an external microphone with a group around a table – the laptop mike will not be good enough
  • Get the lighting right – the light should be on your face, not behind

Become Fluent:

  • Learn how to schedule and add Zoom or Skype meeting links into your email – there are add-ons for Outlook, Apple Mail and Gmail
  • Learn how to use the keyboard and HDMI cable connections in meeting rooms
  • Learn how to add people to a meeting, share your screen and troubleshoot
  • Do one of the excellent Zoom training webinars – available at flexible times

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

Taking the Stress & Shame Out of Self Promotion

Where did we learn that self promotion is a bad thing, and why do we accept that as the truth? Marie Forleo feels you should feel ashamed if you don’t promote your skills and achievements.

This should resonate with people in hospitality – by definition most of us have to be ‘out there’ with the public and promoting the next event, tomorrow’s lunch or just an extra round of coffees. In many small operations, the owner is the business.

She sums up the issues in this snappy video:

  • Focus on what you can give, rather than what you can get – see self-promotion as service.
  • Stop caring! Not about other people, just what they think – who are you living your life for? If they don’t like you, being quiet probably won’t make much difference!
  • Don’t be a broken record – endlessly talking about how great you are! In Australia we have the expression FIGJAM – it stands for F* I’m Great, Just Ask Me. We’ve all met the FIGJAM people – and you’re not one of them!

A few more suggestions… from Ken Burgin 😉

  • Update your Linkedin profile (here’s how) – it does the promotion for you. When you describe yourself in the ‘Summary section’, use some numbers to show the scale of what you’ve done eg number of people in your team, or number of customers served each day.
  • Talk about ‘our team’ when appropriate – you may feel more comfortable including the people who work for you., when describing achievements.
  • There are many simple ways you can stand out as someone with interesting insights and ideas – a thought-leader. More suggestions here

Most people grow up being told not to brag or show off – let’s untangle that message from the importance of sharing your gifts with the world.

The Restaurant Management Blogs I’m Finding Most Useful…

Have to admit I’m an information glutton, and part of my job as Community Manager at Silver Chef is to keep employees updated on what’s happening in the wider hospitality community. Generally I prefer to follow blogs and twitter, instead of receiving email newsletters – here are the ones I find most useful at the minute. And I’m very open to suggestions…

Aaron Allen, Quantified Marketing Group – blogging on restaurant marketing internationally

Jim Sullivan of Sullivision – blogging on restaurant management

David Scott Peters, Restaurant Expert – blogging on restaurant management

Typsy, online staff training – blogging on restaurant management & marketing

Toast Tab – blogging on restaurant management & marketing

Restaurant Insider – blogging on restaurant management & marketing

Ask a Manager – blogging on general employment issues

Delaget – blogging on restaurant security

Retail Doctor’s Blog – always relevant to hospitality service

…and one where I write, apart from here 😉

Hospitality magazine – Australia’s leading restaurant magazine, and the articles are featured here, often as a video summary.

Dealing With Copycats…

Tell the truth – most restaurant and foodservice ideas are some version of what you’ve seen or eaten before. You could call it ‘creative swiping’ instead of copying or plagiarism, but it’s rare for any chef or restaurateur to create a full set of completely original ideas for a new menu or cocktail list. Remember that trip to Chicago, Bali or Barcelona – tasting, taking photos and dreaming up how you could do an Aussie version for your customers?

And sometimes true originality does happen – a magic combination of sauce, spice, protein and fire. An unusual chocolate cake, upside down ice-cream or lethal cocktail – the stuff that drives word-of-mouth, Instagram and crazy return customers.

What can be copied? A recipe, decoration and furniture ideas, a menu layout, fonts, website design or even a name – how many times have you seen an Aussie concept that copies a US original?

What can be stolen? Your chef, your manager, the best waiter and some of your customers…

READ the rest of my Copycat article on p.24 of this months Hospitality magazine

Bar and restaurant found in Madrid…

Simple Ways to be a ‘Hospitality Thought Leader’ and Build a Reputation

A recent comment on LinkedIn got me thinking:

“LinkedIn is an amazing B2B lead generating tool, but if you are not actively reaching out to prospects and showcasing your thought leadership through regular posting it’s unlikely that you will generate any quality leads…”

‘Thought Leader’ – can’t say I love the term, but I realised there are many ways to share ideas and observations, so people become interested in your experience and opinions. You will stand out because you put them out publicly.

Here are some suggestions to get started, and LinkedIn is a great platform for sharing most of your content. When people Google your name, the LinkedIn profile is usually the #1 entry, so it makes sense.

Share some photos of something interesting you’ve seen, with a comment about their relevance to the industry eg a new shopfront, a plate of new food, modern kitchen equipment, a bar design or some clever lighting. 1 photo + 1 sentence is all you need.

Take better photos with your phone. Concentrate on the lighting and composition, then crop and edit so it’s focused on the main subject. Find photos that tell a story eg the busy restaurant with staff flying past, or the untidy back-lane that gives a lesson about hygiene – this is a very visual industry.

Review places you like on TripAdvisor or Yelp – it gets you in the habit of writing and thinking about how businesses operate. 3 or 4 sentences is plenty, plus a photo if you have one.

Write in a positive tone, focusing on what is useful and interesting. If something is poor quality, talk about it being ‘disappointing’ or ‘not what you expected’. Explain why, and also find at least one positive. Don’t just describe things as ‘crap’ or ‘rubbish’ – only write what you’d say to someone’s face. If it’s really bad, write nothing and move on – negativity shows you up in a bad light.

Share interesting articles or videos you find online – this is much easier than writing everything yourself. It also shows that you’re watching industry trends – most people don’t have time to do this, and depend on people like you as ‘curators’. It’s an important role.

Focus on LinkedIn – here’s how to update your profileAlso consider having a separate Facebook business page and Instagram business profile. Keep your private Facebook profile firmly locked – don’t mix business and personal content. Here’s how I keep a  separate business Facebook Page.

 Use good Facebook Groups to share information and opinions on the industry. I find the Australian Chef Network and the Australian Cafe Owners Network are excellent for this.

Build your confidence writing short posts and opinions, then you’ll be ready to write something longer… like this blog! Or submit opinion or knowledge pieces to trade magazines – they’re always after good, factual content.

Join panels at industry events when you get the chance, and push your way forward if you see one that’s being planned. Especially if you’re not an ‘old white guy’, you will add important diversity to the line-up – organisers are acutely aware of how important this is. Check any trade fairs or conferences coming up.

Whether we like the term ‘thought leader’ or not, there’s a hunger by most people for industry information and thoughtful opinions. Put your fingers on the keyboard and start leading!