How to Drive More Foot Traffic to Your Restaurant
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Following the fast-paced festive period, many restaurants tend to go through a slump at the start of a new year as customers tighten their belts and make resolutions to eat out less. In 2023, this is even more of a concern due to outside economic factors, with one article by Bloomberg explaining how U.S. households were “cutting back on restaurant spending as inflation pressures their budgets.” Whether you’re looking for a cure to your restaurant’s winter blues or a more long-term plan to help combat natural dips in business, here’s some of our favorite strategies for driving more foot traffic to your restaurant. Work on your Windows. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes as they walk down a street that’s packed full of restaurants. Some are going to be casual hole-in-the-wall joints, some will be upscale and pristine, some half a bar, and some quiet and family friendly. The first impression people get of your restaurant’s character goes way past the specialties you put front-and-center on your menu. If you’ve been enjoying a steady flow of business for most of the year, and have been taken surprise by a sudden slump, it may be time to look at your restaurant’s curb appeal with fresh eyes and make a few changes. Relatively simple upgrades such as playing music that can be heard from the sidewalk, using clever sandwich boards, or making routine maintenance more regular, can all have a surprisingly big effect on foot traffic, convincing new customers who have walked past countless times to stop and give you a try.
Congress’ Close Eye on Restaurants Has Some Politicos Worried
The industry is under attack in the political arena. Every episode of the Working Lunch government-affairs podcast starts with a run-through of the political issues restaurateurs would be well-served to monitor because of the potential impact on the business. This week, that task proved particularly difficult for co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley. How can you isolate just a handful of developments when the industry is the focus of so much political activity right now? Just on the federal level, the business is under scrutiny by some of the Senate’s most prominent members, from Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders. They’ve demanded that the industry or some of its prominent members give an accounting of policies that have raised eyebrows, from ServSafe requirements to how chains are responding to union organizing. “That’s a huge amount of attention from Congress on our industry,” said Coley, a partner with Kefauver in the government-affairs consulting company Allied Public Strategies. “We’re going to get hit from a lot of different angles.”
Restaurant Operators Are Forced to Do More With Less
With costs and guest expectations rising. During the pandemic, Chris Smith blew up his business model, let it shatter and picked up the pieces. The result: He reconfigured Zunzi’s, a South African-inspired fast-casual sandwich shop that he co-founded, into two separate concepts. With catering and foot traffic both taking a nosedive during Covid, Zunzi’s switched its focus to takeout and delivery with smaller-footprint stores—implementing the best aspects of fast casual and QSR, said Smith—while Zunzibar is an experiential casual restaurant with 250 seats, a vibrant bar scene, limited menu and live music. “To increase sales and margins, you have to go hard in one space and hard in the other, but not marry them,” said Smith, CEO of the Savannah, Ga.-based dual concepts. “Zunzi’s does great takeout first and Zunzibar is a great bar first.” Both concepts make more extensive use of technology to increase productivity, better allocate labor, manage the supply chain and inventory and even elevate the experience. Like Smith, all restaurant operators have had to learn to be more efficient and flexible to meet sourcing, food cost increases and labor challenges, and tech is making it possible.
Understanding the Consumer Price Index
And current inflation levels. We may be hitting a ceiling on menu inflation. January’s Consumer Price Index report was released Tuesday morning, showing that menu prices were up 0.6% in January. Broken down by segment, full-service menu prices were up 0.5%, while limited-service prices were up 0.7%. This is against the backdrop of an 8.2% increase in menu prices year-over-year, including 8.1% in the full-service category and 6.7% in the limited-service category. On an annual basis, the CPI for all items cooled to 6.4% in January from its 41-year-peak in June of 9.1%, however it marked a 0.5% month-over-month increase, illustrating the stubborn nature of this inflationary cycle. In December, menu prices rose 0.4%, for instance – 0.1% at full-service restaurants and 0.5% at limited-service restaurants. Overall, food prices increased 0.5% in January, up from December’s 0.3% increase, meaning restaurant operators aren’t likely to adjust their menu prices anytime soon. Those menu price increases have been implemented across much of the industry to protect margins against lingering inflation, and consumers have so far shown they’re willing to keep pace. New data from Revenue Management Solutions finds that net sales remain positive at 7.8% year-over-year across the industry. However, consumers are starting to show some signs of inflation fatigue, as traffic across the quick-service segment was down 0.4% in January. Also, quantity-per-transaction declined by nearly 5% year-over-year, indicating the consumers are reducing the number of items they purchase. Bullish pricing began a little over a year ago, and traffic in Q4 was down by 4% industry wide, according to RMS.
Sales Tax Questions?
Get answers. Tax season is here and as a business owner or manager, you’ve got your hands full. Payroll requirements, income tax and sales tax deadlines all converge at once. To get a handle on this sales tax season, we’ve got answers to your top questions about sales tax. Where can I find my state’s sales tax due dates and tax rates? Every state has different due dates and requirements around sales tax filings as well as unique sales tax rates. Within one state, some items may be taxed differently than others. You should check with your state’s department of revenue to understand your situation. DAVO Sales Tax offers a handy State-By-State Sales Tax 101 guide that answers the basics for each state. What’s new for the 2023 sales tax filing season? Because of a recent Supreme Court ruling, many states have changed their laws or enacted new ones around e-commerce taxation. In reaction to these changes, 3rd party food delivery apps have changed their terms and operational procedures. The apps may not be responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax or vice versa. It’s important to check your terms and arrangement to make sure your systems are set-up correctly to account for sales tax collection and remittance.
An Ethos Worth Investing In
It’s possible to be profitable while sticking with your values. My business partner and I met when we were kids. In fourth grade, we became best friends, and we shared a common vision to one day start a business together. After graduating from the University of Washington and starting a career in headhunting in Los Angeles, we decided to act on our entrepreneurial spirit and start our own recruiting firm. We learned a number of lessons in this business, which we later exited from. In particular, the value of a happy and valued employee. While these two things may seem completely unrelated, they established a foundation for our business today – Conscious Hospitality Group. When we set out to found Conscious Hospitality Group and our flagship brand, Just Poké, we embraced the values most important to us – sustainability, and people being at the forefront – that we dreamed of implementing when developing our first business plan years ago. We wanted to build a business that we and our families would be proud of, and that also prioritized being a good employer. This is now actualized in our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and actionable steps. I believe many restaurateurs would love to operate in a more altruistic manner. However, in an industry with narrow margins, I understand the fear and concern of taking chances and doing it differently.
When Did Hospitality Get So Hostile?
In a new era of rage, dining out has become downright volatile. HOSTILITY AND HOSPITALITY: how faint the line between them. The Latin hostis once meant “guest,” then became, through some shadowy slippage of language, the word for “enemy” — an etymological twist that might make some smile grimly, particularly those of us who have worked in restaurants as part of the so-called hospitality industry. For how else are we to think of the guests who flex their power from the moment they stalk into the dining room; who frown at the table they’re led to, aggrieved at the imagined underestimation of their status, and insist on moving to another, often identical table; who try to meddle with the kitchen, demanding that the chef subtract and substitute ingredients, to the point of creating entirely new dishes; who wrinkle their noses at a perfectly fine bottle of wine and declare it corked, just to pull rank on the sommelier; who snap their fingers at servers, leer, sneer or scream, “You can’t do your job,” a line attributed to the actor and late-night host James Corden last fall over a flubbed order at the downtown Manhattan brasserie Balthazar; who tip stingily or not at all, ignoring the fact that, in the United States, the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13 an hour; or who book a table and then don’t bother to show up, as happens with as many as 28 percent of all reservations, according to a 2021 survey by YouGov and OpenTable, and which can cost a small restaurant hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, if not an entire night’s profit?
Local Restaurants Say No to Bill
Proposing bigger delivery fees. New York restaurateurs are protesting a new bill that would allow platforms like GrubHub and DoorDash to potentially charge independent eateries more — a financial hit many proprietors say leaves an especially bad taste as they try to recover from pandemic challenges. Bill Int 0813, sponsored by City Council Member Robert Holden of Queens and signed by 26 other city council members, would “exempt a third-party food delivery service from the cap on fees it charges to a food service establishment” if the delivery service offers the restaurant charges “consistent” with previous fee caps, giving platforms flexibility in how they bill restaurants to use their service. District 3 City Council Member Erik Bottcher is not listed as one of the bill’s co-sponsors and told W42ST: “Capping these fees kept countless beloved local eateries open and saved thousands of jobs during the pandemic. I can’t see a way to support legislation that will allow third-party delivery apps to charge our local restaurants more in fees.” The move to increase fees for restaurants already struggling with record inflation, labor shortages and pandemic revenue deficits would be disastrous, argued NYC Hospitality Alliance Chair Andrew Rigie in a letter opposing the legislation from the alliance and 900 New York eateries.
Did You Know?
Your restaurant website checklist: 12 things to include. Your restaurant website must be welcoming to potential diners. Discover 12 things your website must include to boost reservations and revenue. People rely on other people to get recommendations for where to eat. Although word-of-mouth still works to fill up those tables, recent diner trends indicate a move toward digital presence. Most diners now discover new dining places online. Some 41 percent look up restaurants on social media before deciding to make a reservation or visit. About 80 percent often or always look at a restaurant’s website before choosing it. So, do you need a restaurant website? Yes, you do.
Amid influx of new employees, restaurants must build and reinforce brand excellence. The recent workforce shortage brought the restaurant industry to its knees. Fewer employees have carried the burden of prepping, cooking, and serving food while working to keep guests safe. Now, massive layoffs in other sectors (including tech, real estate, etc.) will create more job seekers in the restaurant/hospitality industry. This influx of new employees means that restaurant brands will need to build (and reinforce) cultures of excellence. Tech is essential to this effort. Restaurants must adopt tech solutions to boost safety, quality, accuracy, transparency, consistency, and compliance – all factors that contribute to brand excellence. To accomplish this.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Alert
WELL DONE IS BETTER THAN WELL SAID!
Since 1978, the principals of Bielat Santore & Company, Barry Bielat and Richard Santore, have sold more restaurants and similar type properties in New Jersey than any other real estate company. Furthermore, the firm has secured in excess of $500,000,000 in financing to facilitate these transactions.
As a Chef and Restaurateur with more than 35 restaurant ownership and operations in my career, I have met many real estate brokers. However, Richard Santore is much more than just another broker. Having worked in many states and countries around the world, I can speak from experience that working with Richard Santore has been the absolute smoothest; he upholds the highest professionalism. Richard listens and hears what his clients need. He is a connector and knows how to put deals together. All who come to the table come out winners. I have enjoyed working with Richard and his office on three separate deals to date and they have all been successful. As a native New Jerseyan and a Monmouth County resident with three operational restaurants, I highly recommend Bielat Santore & Company for all your commercial hospitality real estate needs.” Chef David Burke – David Burke Restaurants
YES, WE WILL SELL YOUR RESTAURANT TOO!
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