Positioning is why people don’t ‘get’ your special food concept

Feel like eating out?
Let’s go to a Thai place – red curry, stir fry, fish cakes… mmm
Or maybe Mexican – spicy beans, tacos, burritos… yum!

What about that new Filippino place? Or the Ethiopian one? Huh??
Most people are fairly conservative in their tastes, and 8/10 want the same as last time. They may range across Pizza, Mexican, Thai and Subway, but each of these concepts has a clearly defined position in our brains – we understand the flavours and experience when just one word is mentioned.

It can even happen with countries – if you’re thinking about a holiday in Italy, Spain or Thailand, each of them brings up clear images that have been built up over a long time. What about a few weeks in Belgium, Estonia or Bulgaria? You hesitate because their positioning is weak, and people who are unsure usually decide not to spend.

Positioning as a marketing concept was first popularised by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their classic book Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind – there’s a new 20th anniversary edition now available and it’s a great read. It’s one of the basic books I’d like everyone who does my Restaurant Startup workshop to study!

Understanding positioning is also important if you’re not the first, the best or the most famous cafe, gelato shop, Italian or Turkish restaurant – you need to create a new and understandable space not claimed by the leader.

And if you do want to showcase food from the Philippines, or Ethiopia, Sudan or Myanmar, you will have some special challenges to help people understand what your food is like and why they should plan to visit this week! Not unsurmountable, but just being proud of your cuisine isn’t nearly enough – there’s a big city you also need to educate.

4 Overlooked KPI’s for Restaurant Management Control

Apart from the weekly sales, F&B costs and wage totals, these 4 additional figures will give an accurate, honest snapshot of how things are working, and what’s possible for improvement…

1. Spending per Customer: it’s a simple figure and I find most operators don’t check it. Or they guess. Divide the total sales or sales in a category by the total number of customers – simple. It’s often less than you think, and a reason why guess work can be misleading. You will need an accurate customer count to do this – what needs to change to get this?do you have that?

Opportunity: look closer and divide separate dessert and beverage sales by the number of customers – there may be some surprises. I often find dessert sales are disappointing, in spite of a good offer. Fix it with better menu presentation, sales training and more popular offers. Lots of opportunity here with people who are already seated!

2. Staff Costs on the Quieter Shifts: sometimes it’s hard to predict customer counts, and you’re staffed up ‘just in case’. But there is a consistency over time that can be determined, and the roster needs to be trimmed.

Opportunity: when you have real-time rostering with costing built-in, the wage cost for a shift is obvious, and can be seen immediately to supervisors. If you’re still flying blind on this, you’ll find detailed control harder to manage. Set a cost % per shift that must not be exceeded, then help the roster supervisor to do their very best.

3. Carrying Cost of your Stock: add it all up, and if you’re a bit overwhelmed by the thought of a big stocktake, find the 20 food products you spend the most on, and just count them. It can be amazing how much overstocking can happen, especially if you have ample storage – it tends to fill up. For liquor, it really needs to be a careful weekly ritual or you will have pilfering – thieves know if the boss is watching.

Opportunity: if you’re in an urban area with 5 or 6 day deliveries, there’s no reason why stock holding can’t be brought down to 3-4 days. If you’re carrying a week’s supply, that’s a massive amount of cash that should be in the bank, not on the shelves.

4. Individual Sales (and Tips) of Staff: are you counting and measuring this? Most POS systems make this possible, but you may need to adjust how it’s used. It’s not about high-pressure (although some staff could do with some of  that), but seeing who performs best, and contributes the most to sales.

Opportunity: reward and praise these people, and get them coaching other staff on how to do a better job. We can all learn from their combination of charm and persuasion. People who consistently earn less than others, even with coaching, will need to move on…

photo at Billy Kart, Brisbane…

Getting it right with Sponsorship Applications…

Do you have an endless stream of community groups asking for sponsorship and donations, way more than you can afford? Or maybe you are after sponsorship from a liquor or food company for an event.

Most sponsorship applications are poorly thought out, offering few tangible benefits to the sponsor. They talk about how worthy they are, and offer ho-hum ‘opportunities’ of logo placement, banners, mentions and dinner invitations. But no mention of how the sponsorship will help drive the sponsor’s sales, or promote their business objectives. This is not denying the value and integrity of the organisation or event, but when you receive an endless stream of these applications, it’s only the ones that stand out and offer mutual benefits that will get a second look.

One of the best people to explain this, and the whole world of sponsorship, is Kim Skildum-Reid. Here she is with a short, sharp pep talk on how to create a successful sponsorship application. Highly recommended, and could also be useful for your sporting club or charity group if they’re seeking funds from an organisation…

How Amazon Will Eat Up Restaurants, Not Just Food Delivery

Amazon is much more developed in the US than in Australia, with it’s Prime delivery service and many more shopping options. But they land here any minute, and services will be easier to establish ahead of the vast warehouses they’d need to sell books (remember them?) and widgets. In this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron crunches the numbers to predict how Amazon will impact the restaurant industry in the US… and in due course here.

He sees it taking out many of the current food delivery services and heavily impacting restaurants – it’s not pretty, and we need to be ready – this short recording is well worth listening to…


The value of saying ‘Thank You’

Great to see this ‘thank you’ list on the back of the menu at Blackbird Artisan Bakery in Maitland (it’s actually in the old gaol). Great baking there – sourdough breads, wonderful cakes, pastries and meals, all produced under the guidance of a passionate owner.

It reminded me about all the people we forget to thank or acknowledge – we want to do it, but get busy and remember when it’s too late…

  • Thanks to the kitchen team who got hammered on a very busy weekend (group text or a message on the noticeboard)
  • Thanks to the supplier who organised a rush delivery when we forgot to order (send a quick text)
  • Thanks to the customer who gave us a 5-star rating and compliments on Facebook (add your comment below their message)
  • Thanks to the local office person who always organises staff lunches at your venue (a card or email)
  • Thanks to the barista for her patience and dedication with the school trainees (a card or text)

Too busy to do it right now? Set a reminder on your calendar, send yourself an email, or just tap out a quick text if that’s all you have at hand… thanks!

How to Use ‘Strike Rates’ to Improve Sales Performance

Maths is not a strong point for many of your staff – even the manager or head chef. So when you talk about percentages, markups and discounts, they’re probably hoping you don’t quiz them too deeply. A survey of adults some years ago found that 47/100 (almost half) could not calculate a percentage. Chances are, some of them work for you!

Explaining results as a ‘strike rate’ makes the point more strongly: 
Not so clear: ‘only 26% of customers are ordering dessert’
Clearer: ‘only 1 in 4 customers are ordering dessert’

Not so clear: ‘62% of customers have one drink at the bar then leave’
Clearer: ‘3 out of 5 customers have one drink etc etc…’

Here are examples of under-performing businesses I’ve seen:
* At a seafood restaurant, only 1 person in 12 ordered dessert.
* At a pizzeria, only 1 customer in 8 ordered a side salad.
* Only 1 customer in 4 orders herb or garlic bread with their meal.
* At a club, 300 people visited on one day and only 90 ate at the bistro.
* Only 1 wine drinker in 4 also ordered mineral water at a restaurant.
* Out of 120 function inquiries last month, only 20 became bookings.

And sometimes the results are good:
* 2 out of every 5 customers will order a second coffee if asked.
* Complaints have gone down from 1 customer in 100 to 1 in 350.
* 2 out of 5 take-away customers add a drink to the order if  suggested.

The information is in your POS and dockets, but it’s often in a mess of printouts and percentages. When you untangle it and present the numbers as a strike rate, the results are crystal clear, and the basis for comparison and action. And everyone ‘gets it’.

Photo taken at Grounds of Alexandria.

How to Promote your Green Credentials for a Marketing Bonus

Whatever you’re doing on the environmental front, it’s worth talking about and publicising. Consumers are very interested, and so are corporate and government clients – in some cases, they’ve been told to make this a priority in their choice of venues.

Put a short Environmental Action Statement on your website, and  keep adding to it as you make improvements. Here’s what to include:

Energy Efficiency: how you work to reduce energy use with lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances, office equipment, and transport.

Green Power: is your electricity supply contract from renewable resources that use wind, solar, geothermal or hydro-electric?

Carbon Offset Program: explain the program you use and the savings made. Comparing the numbers before and after can be very impressive.

Water Conservation: methods used for kitchen appliances, equipment and landscaping, and in a way that does not compromise hygiene and cleanliness.

Recycling: glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, paper, corks, waste oil, ink and toner cartridges are all a part of daily operations. Describe how you recycle them.

Source Reduction: Do suppliers take back the packaging supplied with deliveries or eliminate it altogether? Are polystyrene foam boxes and package still accepted with deliveries?

Sustainable Food: used where possible to support the long-term viability of agriculture, fishing and grazing. Sourcing food locally to reduce the use of fossil fuel in transport.

Tree-free Products: used wherever possible, ensuring that wooden furniture and any wooden items do not come from old-growth forests.

Non-toxic Cleaning Products: are used that are biodegradable, free of hazardous ingredients, and safe for people and the environment.

Employee Education: at the heart of an environmental commitment – how are staff educated and how is their commitment sustained? It would not be possible without their contribution.

Start with what you do now, and update as you add activities – it won’t take long for the page to be impressive! Need inspiration? Listen to this recent Podcast on Sustainability for Cafes & the Coffee Industry.