C.R.C. – 3 Words to Get Much Better Results

If your staff management, menu updates, and marketing is inconsistent, these 3 words will get you back on track. They create much-needed discipline in an industry that’s often ‘hit and miss’, and they also show staff and public that your business is professional and reliable.

Calendar + Reminders = Consistency. And consistency is what makes the difference between smart ideas, and the implementation of them that creates results. Consistency is what your competitors rarely achieve – on again, off again marketing, staff who don’t know what’s happening, unhappy suppliers – it weakens them.

What does Consistency look like, from the outside?

  • The email newsletter goes out on the first Monday of every month.
  • Members of the Birthday Club always get a text message on their big day.
  • The Summer Menu starts… on the first day of summer!
  • Post a photo on Instagram every. single. day. (so fans are more likely to see you)
  • Loyal suppliers are paid on time, just like you promise.
  • Food cost figures available for the chefs every Tuesday morning.
  • Maintenance is organised for less expensive times (e.g. fridge checks in winter), so fewer breakdowns and less cost.
  • New staff have a review scheduled 7 days after they start, without fail. And if they’re unsuitable, the issue is handled quickly.
  • Regular staff have an organised ‘how’s it going’ review every 6 months – it becomes a positive part of their job, not something unknown and scary.

A Calendar creates the system – when you put a date on an event, or a deadline for preparation, it’s much more likely to happen, specially when you set up Reminders. Set it up your calendar with an online system like Google Calendar that can sync across your PC, phone, iPad etc – wherever you are the calendar is the same. It’s easy to set up automatic repeats, and notifications for multiple people – if others know, there’s less chance of a miss.

Add Reminders so that the tasks are not forgotten – these could be an email, or a phone notification. Or a project management system (e.g. we use Teamwork.com) that sends reminders and can be accessed by others in your team. Or a person who is tasked to prepare some documents or newsletters so they’re ready on the agreed time and date – they don’t just remind you, they have the essentials ready for you to send.

Now you’re creating Consistency – people see you and the business as organised, reliable and true to your word – qualities we all admire in a business. Our example: the Hospo Reset newsletter goes out every Wednesday morning. It’s empowering to have deadlines – they add discipline and strength to the often chaotic world of hospitality.

What’s first for your new calendar?

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Restaurant’s Birthday, and Make a Real Impact

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 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…

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.

Quick Fixes to Guarantee a Happy Experience for Customers

Anxious customers keep their wallets closed. The world is feeling less safe and much less friendly – we can do a lot to overcome those feelings and turn stress into business.

There are many ways to ‘build in the welcome’ so it doesn’t depend on having a professional greeter.

Genuinely happy staff: Negative Nick or Sour Sarah can cause lots of damage if left unchecked – are they the reason Happy Harry left after a few weeks? We need people who smile and say ‘yes’ as their natural response – anyone you need to move along?

Really good music: a happy beat that lifts the spirit. There’s a billion-dollar music industry designed to create enjoyment. South American music comes to mind – who helps you put your music mix together? A skilled DJ can help with selections or staff at a music retailer. Spotify can give lots of inspiration – ask the staff to help.

No annoying draughts or rocky tables. It seems minor but it’s a constant annoyance if you’re at one of those tables – check and fix.

Change the TV channel. If you have one in your bar, does it really need to run the news? Endless drama and negativity – change it to nature, sport or music.

A friendly, hand-written ‘thank you’ on the account as it goes to the table: this was standard at my cafe and staff swore that it helped with tips.

A big bunch of flowers like the ones below at my local Bondi cafe The Cook & Baker. A tip – just have one variety, and don’t make it formal. Personal and natural – people will notice.

Share some humour on your website: most of them are so serious and self-important! There’s a big world of happy, funny YouTube videos to include on your newsletter or blog.

Calendar Events: you’ll find some great options in the Party & Events Calendar – some funny, some more serious, and all creating word-of-mouth.

Desserts make us happy: a sweet ending to the meal. Something creamy, rich with chocolate or juicy, fruity. Does your selection tempt people to ‘sin a little’?

Photos of happy customers and good coffee: let’s face it, they’re happening all the time when you serve hundreds of people. Instagram is great for this – take inspiration from the photos of people you follow, and share more of your own.

Recognition makes us happy: thanks for a job done well or in difficult circumstances. Congratulations on exam results or for handling a crazy customer. Usually it’s verbal, but a short ‘Thank You’ letter will be highly regarded (and kept).

Well-organised workspaces make staff happy: when they arrive for a shift, all the equipment is clean, working and ready to go. Fridges stocked and work lists waiting. PC runs smoothly and the till is easy to use. Anything to improve here?

How do you rate the big happy smile on job applicants? Paul, the smart owner of Green Zebra Cafe in Albury told me a while back that he immediately hired a girl who giggled all through the aptitude test in her job interview: where there’s a spark, make sure you grab it!

Help make other people happy: staff and business contributions to a World Vision sponsored child, Oxfam or a local community group – they lift everyone’s spirits.

And finally, money helps to make us all happy! Good pay, tips and bonuses make staff smile, and a full till at the end of the shift makes the hard work worthwhile. Your wise profit strategies will give you the resources to buy equipment, repaint the walls, pay more for a better manager and afford the holiday you deserve.

How to Share (and Receive) More Love in your Cafe or Restaurant

Customers want fresh, not stale; inspiration, not gloom.. One way to do this is to think about all the things that we love, our staff love and our customers love! We all need to find more ways to keep a smile on our faces and share our love of food, customers and business success.

It’s easy to share stories, photos and events – post them on Facebook, on a corner of the menu or add to your newsletter – they create great word-of-mouth and conversation starters. Suddenly there’s a personal connection between staff, managers and customers. Here’s a whole bunch of themes to get you into the groove for sharing some love!

The locals love to be acknowledged. Has a neighbourhood community or business completed a mammoth project, or students achieved excellent results? Offer a special treat for winners of the school sports carnival, debating competition or best achievers in exam results. Ask local bosses to nominate a winning worker for special commendation.

Staff love to be acknowledged. How do you recognise this? At Silver Chef we have our 10 minute ‘daily huddle’ and at the end, there’s an opportunity to acknowledge the work of others – how they’ve helped you or the business. Setting up systems for this will make it much more likely to happen, and leaders should model the process.

People love to be inspired. Share the story of one of your workers who’s overcome the odds to hold a job or achieve something special – customers give extra points to you for supporting them. Or how you support a local non-profit. Put a photo and a brief story on the noticeboard, and get staff to wear name tags so connections can be made. If there’s a local organisation you support that’s done something special, ask them to share a story.

People love the business owners. If you’re an independent or family-run business, when’s the last time you shared a photo of your family, or one of you (without grey hair) when you opened all those years ago? Pictures make stories easy to share, with milestones, awards and staff events. Add a news diary (blog) to your website and keep adding more. People love to hear ‘how we made it stories’ – they won’t make the TV news, but you do make thousands of people happy each year. Share your pride.

Many people love their town or local area. Regular support for sporting teams, the school and charity groups keeps customers loyal and connected. Get behind local causes like parking issues, over-development and conservation – now you’re one of us.

People love photos. Snap, snap, snap with your mobile phone or a camera kept at the shop to record food, parties, special customers and behind-the-scene activity. But don’t post them up without checking and editing – easy to do with on your phone or an app like Snapseed. Take several shots of each scene and choose the best, then brighten it and crop out the garbage bin on the side. Post them to your Facebook page – this will drive constant visitor traffic.

People love to laugh. Add a weekly quote about food on the noticeboard – like the one from baseball player Yogi Berra “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat eight” or “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap”. Google for restaurant or cafe quotes and jokes – there’s no shortage!

Many people love animals. No, don’t bring them into the shop, but whether customers are a ‘cat’ person or a ‘dog’ person, people love hearing about them, seeing them and even getting life lessons from them. Could Henry the dog be the one that offers a Tip of the Week on your noticeboard? Could the best pet photo earn a prize in a random competition for one month?

People love events. Beyond the usual ones on Valentine’s Day and Mothers Day, every month has possibilities. Here are a few ideas for October, so you can be prepared:

Oktoberfest – think German flavours and great beer.
World Teachers Day – every year on October 5. Make friends with your local schoolies.
Halloween is on 31st October – find new ways to be creative with pumpkin!

Staff fall in love with each other – it happens! Some businesses have strict ‘no fraternisation’ policies, which will always be hard to police. Better to recognise that a lot of great relationships have started through working together – just make sure your staff manual covers issues about conflict of interest and the different power that supervisors may have over others.

Real not Fake: How to Build a Positive Reputation for Yourself and your Restaurant

Customer BS radar is on high alert – they’re swamped with hype, and can learn a lot about your business before they even visit. Have you googled your name and business lately?

Make those buzz-words ‘transparency’ and ‘integrity’ your marketing advantage – share real, honest information about the management team, staff and daily activities. Consumers find ‘behind the scenes’ of hospitality endlessly fascinating, so give them facts to feast on.

Keep the Menu Honest: is ‘home made’ really made in someone’s home? How fresh is ‘fresh’ and can we trust the terms ‘organic’, ‘local’ and ‘made daily’? There are plenty of ways to write an enticing menu without overloading the adjectives. And reassure people that allergy-friendly items are the real deal.

Upgrade the About Us page: with real names of owners and managers, plus information about how the business has developed – timelines can be interesting. So many of these pages are full of fluff, and when no names are mentioned, we wonder if the place is run by robots!

Show Real Faces on the Website: we all relate to ‘people like me’, not glamour models or people with perfect CV’s. Take care if you’re promoting a celebrity chef – other staff are also doing great work. And be careful with stock photos – the photo libraries are handy (we use them too), but the images are everywhere. Taking decent digital photos is now a basic restaurant skill, like typing and Google searches – a project for one of your team, if you’re too busy.

Share Videos of Daily Life: not big-budget productions, but a quick look at daily activities eg meet the new staff, watch us make pasta, the barista at work, installing the pizza oven. Share them on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. A local media student can make these look sharp in no time.

Be Authentic on Social Media: an interesting Facebook Page is essential, and it needs to be updated at least daily with content that is informative, inspirational and sometimes entertaining. Include plenty of people shots, behind the scenes and produce stories – always of interest. Twitter is popular with chefs and restaurateurs, and Snapchat should also be on your list.

Share a few Mistakes: we all make them – the wine you chose that no-one would buy, a recent kitchen drama, the new stove that wouldn’t fit through the door. Now we can relate to you! Facebook, Twitter or a Blog can be a great way to share the daily bustle of hospitality life.

Actively Encourage Feedback: whether it’s on Facebook, feedback cards or a special website page, most comments are positive and you’ll be glad the negatives come directly to you. Most businesses make giving feedback too much of an effort – how is it at your place?

Respond to all Online Feedback: if it was good ‘thanks for the very nice comments…’. If it’s critical, it still needs a response – ‘thanks for letting us know – please call or email so we can follow up’. Unanswered online criticism looks bad, and makes it appear that you do not care.

Talk with Pride about your Area: places to visit, a popular park, places for children to play, recent events – share them on a web page with a map, and make sure staff know where customers can find an ATM, transport and parking. This can also be the basis for a good local-knowledge training quiz for staff – they all need to get 100%!

‘Local’ – More Ways to use this Magic Word for Cafe & Restaurant Marketing

Maybe you enjoy pizza from Italy, beer from Denmark and TV from Britain, but the L word, LOCAL, arouses emotions and loyalty in most of us.

Customers know the fish, the fruit and the wine come from far away, but every time you promote local suppliers and connections, they see you as better than the big chains selling the same thing everywhere. And it’s another way to sidestep price competition.

There are many low-cost and no-cost ways to talk local:

Mention local produce and suppliers. Featuring at least two items on your menu that are sourced locally or known for local connections. Eg: Our potatoes are the best from Kooweerup. Our icecream is churned by local producers Rocky & Co. Fish sourced daily from Sydney Fish Markets. There’s a growing political debate on ‘food miles’ and being a ‘locavore’ – some customers don’t care, but more and more are interested.

Talk about what local people love to eat or drink. Eg: This is the favourite beer with locals in Maryville. Local people love pumpkin served this way for a special dinner. Would you like to try one of our local wines? It’s on the menu and in the server’s recommendations.

Support local causes. Whether it’s fundraising for a new gym or protecting a heritage area, take part in mainstream local issues. In your newsletter, on the noticeboard, or on the ‘What’s New’ or blog section of your website.

Host local meetings. If there are times during the week when you’ve got empty space, this is when local meetings can take place on your premises. They may not buy more than a coffee or beer, but the appreciation will come back in many other ways. A screen and projector are inexpensive, and will make your space even more useful for gatherings.

List local events. On your website and Facebook page – not just your own events, but community activities as well. The monthly markets, street festival, sporting highlights and special gatherings.

Show off what the locals are doing. Keep your website’s photo gallery, Instagram and Facebook page up to date with pictures of happy customers of all ages. Encourage people to email, post or SMS photos when they go travelling.

Mention local employment. You hire local workers, and many staff live nearby. Realistically, some may also travel long distances, but it’s another way to show you’re embedded into the community.

List all the local areas on your website. It’s very important for improving website ranking. Talk about the surrounding suburbs and towns specifically by name so an online search will connect your bar/restaurant/hotel with that location. Use common abbreviations if they’re used eg Newcastle and Hunter Valley. When you’re deciding on the location keywords, think about how locals would search for it – what terms do they use? They would search for something like: ‘Italian restaurant in Pillsbury’ or ‘pub in Glebe’. Hint: Have your full street address at the bottom of each page and on the side navigation bar – make sure they are all exactly the same ie don’t have St on one and Street on another, or Google will get confused (!). Include a phone number with the local area code. This gives the search engines all the information they need to pinpoint your location.

Make sure you’re on local tourist directories, and a Google My Business listing is essential.