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

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.

How to Get Work Instructions & Recipes Written Up Quickly & Cheaply

Two finger typist? You’re not alone, but when it comes to typing up the recipes in your black book, or preparing an instruction manual, it can be yet another excuse to put it off… again.

Two low-cost online services can do the work for you in a few hours – I use them, and find them fast and accurate.

1. Typing Up Notes with Fiverr

Fiverr is a service that does a wide range of small tasks, usually for about $5 each – photo or video editing, logo design, menu translations, fixing spreadsheets, resume writing and lots more. I recently used Fiverr to have 40 hand-written forms typed – it cost $US 11 and was done overnight! A job that would have taken me hours, or more likely never be done – I scanned them as a pdf and uploaded to Fiverr.

Have all your recipes typed: I know of chefs who have scanned their hand-written recipes and sent the images to a Fiverr typist. Use a PDF Scanner app on your phone, and as you photograph each page it turns into a pdf, adding one page after another.

Tip: send the person you are considering for the work a message with a sample page, to see how they handle it – can they read your writing? If you want the recipes set out in a particular way, give a sample with your instructions. The $5 fee is for a short job – expect to pay more for longer jobs, but it’s still way less than the value of your time.

2. Typed Notes from a Voice Recording

An interview with a staff member may need to be written up, or it could be quicker to read aloud instructions for your new Kitchen Systems Manual, have them transcribed, then tidied up in a Word document. Get the words out of your head and onto paper!

For these transcriptions, I recommend Rev.com – a brilliant service that turns transcripts into recordings, usually within a few hours – all for $US 1.25 per minute! Use their recording app, or upload a recording you’ve done from the voice recorder on your phone. This is transcribed by a human, or use their AI ‘rough draft’ service for just .25c per minute. Another time I sent them the link to a fairly technical YouTube video, and shared the transcription with people who wanted to read it.

This is just the start of outsourcing the time-consuming jobs in your restaurant – start here and look around for lots more possibilities…

Simplifying Business – a Good Theme for 2018

Simpler is usually better. Processes can be done more quickly, there are fewer costs, fewer moving parts, less need for highly-skilled staff, and fewer mistakes – this is not about ‘dumbing down’. Make SIMPLIFY your theme for 2018, rather than a list of ‘resolutions’ that are soon forgotten.

To get started, make a list of things that seem to be complicated and difficult. Ask your staff – they’ll have plenty of suggestions! Here are a few more…

Simplify your Website, and be especially conscious of how it’s seen on a mobile device. The key information people want are phone number, hours of opening and address – are they easy to find? Have common inquiries on a Frequently Asked Questions page eg function information, menu variations, group sizes etc…

Simplify Customer Bookings – usually they don’t want to call, but just book online. Time to join one of the booking services or add a simple form to your website – the small cost of fees will be more than covered by increased customer numbers.

Simplify Recruitment – standard job ads, an automated application process with a web form (check Wufoo) and SMS responses, standardised interview questions and a set induction process. Maybe a little bit of work to setup, then it will flow smoothly.

Simplify Rostering – get rid of the paper roster and clunky spreadsheets. Online systems like Tanda make it easier to design and cost your staff schedule, and notify staff. Also cuts costs – you can tell hour by hour how much staff are costing you each week.

Simplify Recipes – how many moves or touch points are involved in each dish? Is that justified by the price and staff skills you have? This is not about removing style or flavour, but making it easier to serve quickly and economically.

Simplify the Menu – a useful report on your POS shows the best and worst selling items. Check it over month so there’s plenty of data. How many of those slow-sellers can be removed and no-one will notice? Can garnishes and ingredients be used across more dishes? How many individual food items do you keep in stock – it might be a surprise!

Simplify the Wine List – apply the same ‘best and worst seller’ process to your beverages. This can lead to big, big savings – cellars can easily balloon into massive investments if you’re not careful.

Simplify the Bar and Front Counter Setup – make it easier to serve, especially when it’s busy. Have equipment and supplies in their logical place – run what used to be called a ‘time and motion study’. Staff can do a lot of this for you…

Simplify Purchasing – start to deal with suppliers who allow you to order online and work off agreed lists. Simpler, and easier to do price comparisons. Some small operators are slow to embrace this – remind them that this is 2018, not 1998.

Simplify Payments – ready to be radical and eliminate cash payments?! It’s been done by a few businesses, and they’re loving easier POS systems, greater security and simpler end of shift reconciliation. It’s coming…

Simplify Bookkeeping and Accounts – online services like Xero put all your bookkeeping on a web page, accessible from anywhere. There are a raft of skilled people who can help set this up – the cost is more than covered by savings on business expenses, tax filing fees and the daily access you have to the real state of your business.

Simplify your Text Messaging Routine – I’ve seen so many owners and managers who are dominated by random and unnecessary messages from staff and suppliers. Set some new rules…

Simplify your Daily Routine – how is it now? One hint – don’t start the day by checking emails – it will dominate your morning.

What else can you do to simplify business? Watch for updates on this list…

7 restaurant decoration ideas – make a splash without much cash

When you deal with thousands of customers a week, everything is on a BIG scale – and the decorations should be the same. If you want to make an impact, here are 7 ways to get tongues wagging and photos being taken (and shared).

100 balloons. Don’t waste money on helium to have them floating to the ceiling. It looks great, but the next day they’ll be sinking to the floor – all that money for only 24 hours. Instead, tie them onto strings, or a long ribbon. Blowing them up is a fun exercise for 3 or 4 people – stick to one or two colours, and the metallic gold or silver ones look very deluxe. They will last for a week, then remove – balloons are cheap.

BIG vase of flowers, preferably not like they have in a hotel foyer, but something more rustic – as if you grabbed 3 fabulous bunches from the markets. Here’s my collection of flowers in cafes, and you can see more of them on Instagram under #cafeflowers.

BIG decorations. Not Christmas decorations from the department store, but you’ll find them at specialty retail display shops – a giant red bow, massive red baubles or big red hearts for Valentines Day. Where you could use K-Mart decorations is filling big glass vases with shiny red or gold baubles – masses of one colour look great.

Old-fashioned Bunting. The coloured flags that were strung up for the village fairs of times gone by. Not plastic – go for the wonderful cotton ones from the Cotton Bunting Company. Buy several lengths, then roll them up to use again in a few months. The nautical flags are fun.

Fresh produce. Don’t hide all those bright red tomatoes, fresh lemons and shiny eggplants in the cool room. Put them in a big bowl on the counter or side table. Showing fresh is more believable than saying it.

Party lights. Strings of coloured lights are always available from a hardware, or the tiny white bud lights that we see everywhere at Christmas. For coloured lights, the cheap ones will make an impact, and if you can find them, brighter and bigger bulbs make a much bolder statement, especially in a big space. Same for bud lights – the K-Mart lights are OK in a small room, but brighter (and dearer) commercial ones will get the comments in a big courtyard or garden.

Chinese Paper Lanterns – they look wonderful illuminated, and are way beyond just being used in Chinese restaurants. Check the huge range at the Lantern Shop, and also buy the bulbs or strings of lights to illuminate them – can be very inexpensive. Ideal for an occasional splash, then fold them up for another six months.