If Flyght was a movie, we would call it Flyght 2: The Pandemic and the tagline on the 1980s style movie poster would read, “how food continued to bring culture, love, and joy to the world while the evil empire of Covid reigned down terror…”
Ok, maybe not. We’re not movie writers, but we do know technology, food service and retail; and we’re really good at keeping up to date on what’s happening with government response to the pandemic in the United States, as well as what state and local governments are doing; what is happening around the world; and what future models are suggesting for a landscape next week, next month and next year.
We’ve compiled a wealth of resources over the past few months, and we’ll continue to compile and keep this page up-to-date so that you can run your business with the freshest and most accurate information possible.
Texting may seem like a disingenuous way to contact your customers, but the response rate of SMS marketing is 39% higher than that of email marketing. And 89% of consumers would rather receive a text than a phone call. The fact is, it isn’t just an effective way to communicate with your customers; it’s the preferred way. So, here’s what you need to know to get text messaging working for you.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SMS MARKETING
HOW TO GROW YOUR SMS AUDIENCE
OTHER WAYS TO USE SMS MESSAGING IN YOUR BUSINESS
Think this sounds great, but aren’t sure where to start setting it up? Schedule some time with me this week. I’m more than happy to walk you through it.
All my best,
Join me live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series.
I’ve heard from many of you lately that your social media posts, websites, and ads aren’t getting the same reach and engagement they used to. There could be any number of reasons for that, but I want to give you a different approach today. Rather than hyperfocus on one area of marketing, I’m going to provide you with five quick and easy ways to get butts in seats.
MAKE SURE SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TWO-WAY STREET
I know I said I wasn’t going to harp on social media, but the fact is that it’s an integral part of any marketing strategy; and there’s a key component to increasing engagement that I see a lot of people miss: Engaging with potential customers.
Creating great content and posting daily is important, but you can’t just expect people to find you; you should be seeking them out. Search local hashtags, locations, other restaurants, local foodie pages, Facebook groups, etc., and like and comment on relatable posts. And don’t forget the most critical part of engagement: be sincere. If potential customers feel like they’re talking to a brick wall, they’re going to assume that’s how all of your communication is.
USE TEXT MESSAGES FOR MORE THAN TABLE NOTIFICATIONS
The most direct way to reach anyone is via text. Use an SMS service (FlyghtVoice has one if you’re in the market) to promote daily specials, events, and special text-only discounts. Keep your message short and sweet, and most people won’t even have to open their phones to read it. It doesn’t get much easier or more direct!
REACH OUT TO YOUR NEIGHBORS
Chances are, your restaurant is in a commercial area. What do all of the employees of those businesses have to do every day? Eat! In fact, they have to do it several times a day! Distribute menus, provide a special discount, mail flyers inviting them in, collect business cards to raffle off a free meal every month — the options are endless, but make sure they know you’re there and would love to have them visit your restaurant.
ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER-CREATED CONTENT
Influencer marketing has taken over digital marketing for a good reason: We’re more inclined to buy something recommended by someone we trust, and when it comes to food, everyone we know influences us.
When your customers love your restaurant enough to post pictures on social media, you’re reaching their friends and family en masse; something word of mouth simply doesn’t accomplish as efficiently. The more photographable your space and food are, the more likely people will snap their own photos and share them. Remind your customers to tag you and use your branded hashtag in their photos. And don’t forget to reshare their content!
USE A SOCIAL WIFI SYSTEM
Offering free WiFi to your customers isn’t just for their convenience; it’s also an excellent way for you to connect with the people visiting your restaurant. By requiring an email address, a Facebook login, or something similar, you’re gathering data and have the opportunity to market and communicate with your customers in the future. (FlyghtWiFi can do this too if you’re in the market.)
Technology has made connecting and communicating with your customers easier than ever, but the most effective marketing strategies all have one thing in common: They help you connect with people. And that’s what food is about, too, right? If you don’t feel like you’re currently doing that as well as you could be, schedule some time with me this week, and let’s figure out what you could be doing differently.
I don’t have any new information about the RRF, but I do have some good financial news for you! The Small Business Administration raised EIDL limits from $500,000 to $2,000,000. So that means you may be eligible for more money.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
HOW TO APPLY
The question of whether taking out a larger loan is right for your business is entirely situational. You should feel confident in your ability to pay it back. As always, I’m happy to help you weigh your options; schedule some time to chat with me this week.
21% of consumers are increasingly replacing carryout orders with delivery orders. By 2024, online food delivery revenue is forecast to more than double what it was in 2017. That means three years from now, not offering delivery could mean the difference between success and failure.
There are two options for delivery: third-party delivery services or creating your own delivery service. What you choose very much depends on your individual business, so I’m breaking down both. And bonus: I’ve got an idea that lets you take advantage of one while you’re building out the other.
THIRD-PARTY DELIVERY SERVICES
A third-party vendor may be a great option for a restaurant that’s just starting or isn’t financially in a position to build out its delivery service — yet.
Things to Consider
The most used multi-restaurant delivery website/app is Grubhub (37.8%), followed by UberEATS (36%), then DoorDash (19.9%), but that doesn’t mean you should automatically go with Grubhub.
BUILD YOUR OWN DELIVERY SERVICE
There are some solid arguments for building out your own service instead. Restaurant Business found that 78% of delivery orders are placed through the restaurant itself, while only 22% of orders are placed through third-party delivery companies.
HOW TO DO BOTH AND COME OUT AHEAD
It’s no secret that I’m a huge advocate for you having control of the entire guest experience. And while the idea of forking over 30% of every delivery order sounds gross, it’s important not to overlook the potential of third-party delivery services to attract new customers.
I propose that you establish a solid workflow for your third-party service option(s). Then, use something like FlyghtPOS (or whoever your current online ordering system is) to start creating your own delivery service.
OK — But how?!
There are many options available to you, my friends, and plenty of ways you can leverage the services that are currently out there to work for you while you build the perfect delivery system for your restaurant. Let’s chat this week about how to do that.
Join melive on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST forThe Future of Foodservice webinar series.
Happy Monday! In case you missed it, this is what I looked like on last week’s call.
Be sure to tune in this week to see what animal shape I’m recreating next!
HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON HOLIDAY PARTIES
That leads me to this week’s topic — Are you ready for the holiday season to commence? You better be, because, for the restaurant world, the time for igloo dining and holiday parties is here.
Hosting private holiday parties is a great way to connect with your guests on a more personal level and it helps increase awareness for your business. So without further ado, here are my top tips for making the most of holiday parties for both you and your guests:
How to attract interest
How to set yourself up for success
How to make sure things go off without a hitch
Still not convinced you can throw a kick-ass holiday party in your space? Let’s chat this week. I bet you can just tweak a few things and be ready to roll.
Monday Funday, folks!
In case you missed it, late last month, a strategically crafted cyberattack led to a 3-day-long phone outage denying thousands of people access to their phone services, thereby obstructing their businesses. How in the heck did this happen, and why does it matter to you? I’ll get into that in just a minute, but first, I have some funday updates.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS: LABOR SHORTAGE AND RRF UPDATES
Almost 60% of people in the hospitality industry, 58% to be exact, intend to quit their jobs before January 1st. Reasons for this include lack of benefits and flexibility but the number one culprit here: LOW PAY. To prevent this trend from hitting your establishment, make sure you are stepping up your pay as much as you possibly can. Walmart is starting to pay $22-25 an hour if that tells you something! Bottom line: If you’re low-balling your peeps, prepare for it to blow up in your face. These days, investing in your staff is too crucial to risk being tight-fisted, but you already know this, especially if you’re feeling the effects of the labor shortage.
We have yet to see any movement on Nancy Pelosi’s promise of a targeted relief package but a number of people in Congress have expressed dedication to making it happen so, hey, here’s hoping!
WHY THIS OUTAGE MATTERS TO YOU
On September 25, 2021, Bandwidth.com became the victim of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS). The attack took three days to resolve and resulted in the disruption of internet phone services across the globe. VoIP providers are frequently targeted for this type of attack, and although Bandwidth is one of the largest providers, they were kind of a perfect target.
A DDoS attack is kind of like an unexpected traffic jam. When you have multiple roads in and out of a specific location, a traffic jam on one of those roads would be inconvenient, but traffic can be re-directed. In this example, Bandwidth is the location, and they only have one road in and out, so the traffic jam caused by the DDoS attack completely stopped all traffic. Calls were dropped, and communication services were disrupted across the board; it even affected 911 services.
This is one of those things you probably don’t think about when choosing a service provider — but you should. (Luckily for our clients, we do. We actually don’t use Bandwidth because we recognized that this is a vulnerability. We have three nodes across the country that each have five unique routes, so there’s never a single point of failure. #humblebrag)
Q1 of 2021 saw a 31% increase in DDoS attacks over the previous year. Even Amazon was the target of a DDoS attack. Modern phone systems provide a ton of benefits, but they aren’t without vulnerabilities. Imagine your restaurant phone system going down in the middle of a Saturday dinner rush and not coming back online until Monday? For many businesses, that was the case.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
It’s crucial to the health of your business that the technology you have in place and the service providers you build relationships with prioritize security, but there are also a few things you can do as a business owner:
Confused about DDoS attacks? Need some clarification or have a question? Schedule a half-hour with me, and we can go over it.
Happiest of Mondays to you!
Are those holiday songs I’m hearing already? They will be before you know it — which is why time is of the essence, especially when it comes to preparing for the profit-packed potential that’s anticipated this holiday season.
Your holiday preparations need to start well before consumers are thinking about what they’re going to buy so that you’re ready when they start purchasing. Sales and profits are in overcorrection mode from the 2020 slump, making this THE comeback holiday season. For restaurants, that means now is prime time to promote gift cards!
Before I go into why gift cards are so hot right now, allow me to shine a glimmer of hope on our RRF situation: Nancy Pelosi has promised a targeted relief package as either part of the reconciliation package or coinciding with it! Could it be?! The answer I’m comfortable giving is maybe. You and I know better than to be anything other than cautiously optimistic.
WHY GIFT CARDS MATTER MORE THIS YEAR
60% of consumers begin their holiday shopping before November. Yeah, you read that right. This year, I’ve talked to many folks who are planning on being DONE with holiday shopping before Thanksgiving due to a fear of the continuing global supply chain issues. Aside from merchandise, gift cards are one of the only things that restaurants can actually pre-sell to customers. (By the way, you should also be considering merchandise.)
Gift cards are becoming the preferred gift purchase. 58% of consumers want to give gift cards, up 40% from last year. For fine-dining brands, the load factor has increased 22.3%! Couple this with the fact that 26% of consumers plan to spend more this year than last year and “Holiday Gift Card Promo” should be rising to the top of your To-Do List.
WHAT GIFT CARDS DO FOR YOUR BUSINESS
GIFT CARD HARD OR GO HOME
Questions on how to find a designer? What your sleeves should look like? Schedule a half-hour with me this week and I’ll get you some answers!
I hope you’re having an amazing week! With the labor shortage stubbornly sticking around, it’s time to think out of the box. Today, I want to introduce you to some alternative management models that may help you attract and keep staff, reduce turnover, and even become more profitable; complete with a success story that will blow your mind.
BREAKING THE CONVENTIONAL RESTAURANT MOLD
Open-book management is just what it sounds like — restaurant management shares the business’ financial information with its employees. Having a better understanding of how their work directly contributes to the bottom line of the company encourages staff to play a more active role.
The general consensus is that it takes about 18 months to transition to an open-book model and requires deep dedication from leadership to be successful. You really need to know why you’re doing it and believe in it in order for it to work.
In a profit-sharing, or revenue-sharing, management model, staff receives additional payment based on the restaurant’s profitability. This is in addition to regular compensation and bonuses and can be determined by project-based goals or ongoing.
There are many different ways to execute a profit-sharing model: quarterly payments, manager-level only, project-based, and more. At Mei-Mei, management asked the staff to think of ways to cut down on the Cost of Goods Sold for four weeks — and all the money that was saved as a result of any ideas and changes the team implemented was given back to the staff.
Profit-sharing and open-book management models work well together, but not all restaurants that use one also use the other.
HOW BARTACO BECAME MORE PROFITABLE AND INCREASED EMPLOYEE PAY
Sometimes your current model just needs some tweaks to make it more employee-centered and mutually beneficial. Bartaco is a great example of this.
Prior to COVID, bartaco operated with food and drink runners, bussers, and a few servers who managed larger than normal sections because guests placed their orders by filling out small cards, similar to many sushi restaurants.
When COVID hit, bartaco adopted a virtual host system that easily coalesced with their current ordering system. Customers join a waitlist via the app or call in, receive a text when their table is ready, and order and pay at the table by scanning a QR code. Since their customer base was already adapted to writing out their order, this was an easy transition.
WHAT ABOUT LABOR?
Naturally, this brings up questions about how to manage labor. Bartaco pools tips, including BOH, and all staff are paid a minimum wage, instead of a taxed tip wage. Get ready for this — the average income of their employees is now $23-25/hour, including dishwashers! We’re all aware of the push for a $15 federal minimum wage; bartaco is already prepared.
Although servers’ earning potential is now capped a bit, it stabilized their income, reduced the pay gap between FOH and BOH, and improved turnover and the quality of kitchen staff. In addition, it shaved 5-6 percentage points off labor (pre-pandemic!), and they ran 30% store-level EBITDA, despite being down 20–25% in sales, year-over-year!
Bartaco also built a robust off-premise business (now 30% of sales) by offering taco kits and packs instead of packing their tacos up and sending guests home with what will inevitably be a soggy mess. They even created a Spotify playlist for customers to listen to as they create their own bartaco experience at home. This move improved the guest experience but also alleviated a lot of pressure in the kitchen.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TIPPING
If you’re not sure a complete management overhaul is right for you, consider going gratuity-free. From a financial perspective, eliminating tipping may be easier said than done, but it’s a worthy endeavor.
Often, to go gratuity-free, restaurants raise menu prices to fill the gap. In the US, we typically underpay for food as a side effect of tipped wages. As a result, customers don’t want to pay more for food. So even though studies have shown that the total spent at gratuity-free restaurants is less than the total spent with tipping at a comparable restaurant, the higher price on the menu is still a turnoff.
There are some serious moral implications associated with tipping, though. In states where restaurants are permitted to pay waitstaff and bartenders the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 per hour, 18% of these workers are in poverty, more than twice the rate of non-tipped workers in those states (7%). No matter how you slice it, tipping exposes workers to sexual harassment and unfairly impacts BIPOC workers.
If that isn’t enough, the origins of tipping are directly tied to slavery, as the practice started as a way to avoid paying former slaves who became restaurant workers and railroad porters after slavery was abolished.
A complete management overhaul may sound daunting, but it may be just what you need to get back on track. Schedule time with me this week if you think it may work for you but aren’t sure where to start. I’m here for you!
Hello, Monday! Nice to see you again!
There’s a lot of buzz circulating right now regarding vaccine mandates: Should you require them for your staff? What about customers? Is it legal? … Whether you’re for vaccine mandates or against them, many of you have the same questions. So, let’s get you some answers.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE ABOUT VACCINE MANDATES
Am I liable if an unvaccinated employee contracts COVID and spreads it to a guest?
Well — it depends. In general, no, you’re not liable. However, if you are guilty or capable of being proven guilty of gross negligence (for example, taking a stance of zero compliance with CDC guidelines), then possibly, yes. Acts of willful misconduct (think, intentionally coughing on someone) or failure to make a reasonable attempt to apply public health recommendations could get you tied up in litigation.
Not sure where your state stands on liability? The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Law Center now keeps tabs on liability legislation from state to state.
Are vaccine mandates for employees legal?
Yes. Earlier in the year, there was some gray area because the vaccines had emergency authorization, but the FDA has given full approval since then.
Two things to keep in mind:
Should unvaccinated employees be required to sign a waiver?
The short answer is no, according to legal experts. There are many reasons for this, but basically, the risks outweigh the benefits.
Should employees continue to be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status?
Yes. All of the research points to a strong yes.
Is it considered discrimination if I don’t hire (or decide to fire) someone because they won’t get vaccinated?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), any vaccination authorized by the FDA is not a “medical examination” (for purposes of the Americans With Disabilities Act). This means that it is not discrimination to not hire (or to fire) someone who does not want to get vaccinated, provided the employer grants reasonable accommodations to employees who are unable to receive the vaccine because of a disability or religious reasons.
SHOULD YOU REQUIRE YOUR STAFF TO GET VACCINATED?
Considering how little you know about the exposure each of your customers has had, it might make sense to require vaccination of your staff in an effort to safeguard their health, but surveys show that almost a quarter of employees (23% to be exact) would consider leaving their job if their employers require vaccines. That’s a scary stat in light of the labor shortage we’re facing.
However, there’s a general perception that restaurants are among the bigger spreaders when it comes to COVID. So having a vaccine policy may help your customers feel safer and more comfortable visiting your establishment.
The fact is there are many factors to consider, but the main thing is to keep what’s best for your business in mind. Talk to your staff about what they’re comfortable with. Weigh the pros and cons of your particular circumstance. Don’t base your decision on your own personal or political beliefs or societal pressure.
If you decide to require your employees to be vaccinated, be sure to provide a clear explanation of the policy and answer any questions your staff may have. Incentivizing vaccinations may help get team members who are up in the air onboard. Large companies, like Darden Restaurants and Trader Joe’s, are offering employees two hours of pay for each dose of the vaccine they get.
If you’ve gone through all of this and you’re still unsure what to do, schedule some time with me this week. I’m happy to help you determine which way the scale is leaning.
Monday, let’s get to it! I missed you guys last week, but it’s good to be back after a refreshing trip to the desert!
Unfortunately, COVID is still high in most of the country. My prediction is that by November/December it will start to get back to where we were in May/June of this year. AKA: Better, but not over.
Speaking of predictions, the one about the labor shortage subsiding by mid-September is not panning out as hoped. Personally speaking, just about every restaurant I’ve visited since I’ve been back is noticeably short-staffed; continue reading to learn why. We may be in this situation for a while, so today, let’s talk about how to keep things running smoothly with the staff you have.
WHERE ARE ALL THE RESTAURANT WORKERS?
Finally, some good data on where all the restaurant workers have gone. A significant stat: 15% of hourly restaurant workers have changed industries in the last year, and over a third are looking to follow suit. This aptly prefaces the numbers showing that a third of former restaurant employees were lost to office positions while 20% have gone into teaching/education.
Despite pay increases, turnover rates in June were higher than pre-pandemic. When you consider that ⅔ of workers reported emotional abuse/disrespect from customers and half reported emotional abuse from managers, it’s no wonder we have a shortage.
If you’re struggling to find employees, chances are your back of the house is what’s in dire need – namely, cooks. BOH has traditionally been a struggle to staff, but the data shows that the number of applications coming in is grossly disproportionate to the number of job openings.
So, if no one’s coming back and ⅓ of the people left want to leave too, you might as well close up shop, right?? Wrong. A shift in the job market doesn’t mean the restaurant industry is dead; it just means you may have to alter the way you’re doing things until the market stabilizes.
HOW TO ADAPT YOUR BUSINESS FOR THE STAFF YOU HAVE
WHAT NOT TO DO
There’s one thing you absolutely should not do: RANT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Huge no-no. This should go without saying, but here I am saying it because I can’t tell you the number of restaurant job postings I’ve seen on social media that complain about how no one wants to work.
It doesn’t matter what your intentions are; even if you think you’re being funny (you aren’t), this automatically reads like you don’t care about taking care of people, including your current staff. I’ll leave you with this gem that I recently came across:
“The people who never treated people well are the ones who are in trouble right now.”
If you want to dive into this topic some more, you know the drill: pencil some time with me this week. I’d love to hear about what’s working (or not working) for you!
You may think that you have a good-enough security network in place but just as home security networks are not fail-proof, neither is cybersecurity. Today I get into how to ensure you have a solid cybersecurity system in place and how being proactive versus reactive can save you hundreds of thousands in damage control costs.
You guessed it! Not a damn thing to report here but it’s another call to get on those congresspeople! Don’t forget, there are other ways to push for this. For example you can email your reps or simply share this graphic to your social platforms to help spread awareness and get others moving.
WHY TOP-NOTCH CYBERSECURITY IS IMPORTANT NOW MORE THAN EVER
There has been an over 600% increase in attempts to access and hack networks in small businesses thanks to the rise of COVID-19 and the increased reliance on technology. Crafty hackers capitalize on the fact that small businesses are looked at as easier targets since they tend to focus on maintaining the business and overlooking technical details, like cybersecurity. You never want to be THAT business that has to work up the humility of disclosing to your customers that their trust in you has been compromised because of a data breach, not to mention the costly aftermath that includes investigations, lawsuits — the list goes on.
Looming threats such as irreparable harm to your reputation and over-the-moon costs in damage control should be enough for you to invest in Fort Knox-level cybersecurity. Not to mention, some businesses have been the victim of more extreme cases, such as ransomware: When the hacker gains enough access to lock the users out, positioning said hacker to demand a “ransom” in order to give up this control. (Is this giving you Ransom the movie vibes like it is me?) Unfortunately, there’s no Mel Gibson to save the day and I doubt your problems will be gone in two hours. Another reason to get with the (right) program: if you’re using third-party sources like Ubereats and Doordash, you’re inherently putting your business at risk for these intrusions.
HOW CAN I BEEF UP MY CYBERSECURITY?
So glad you asked! Now that you understand what’s at stake when you skimp on security, there are important things you can do to keep your network secure and prevent any vulnerabilities:
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, FIREWALL IT THE RIGHT WAY
What is a firewall? Similar to a router except instead of a consumer-grade product you’re getting a business-grade product.A firewall allows you to segment your network, meaning divide it into smaller, more manageable parts. Segmentation is important because should someone gain access to one device, it blocks access to the others — your phones, computers, cameras, wireless access points, jukebox, ATM, etc. Devices that are installed by third-parties are particularly susceptible.
Your firewall is the key feature that will keep your entire network safe.In addition to scalable segmentation, an enterprise/business-grade firewall allows you to detect app-specific attacks. You will know if and when something is happening in real-time.
A business-grade firewall should:
Investing in the right business-grade firewall is one of the smartest investments you can make for your business because it protects everything you’ve built from being swept out from underneath you in a matter of minutes. I’m not shamelessly plugging here (yes I am), but the numbers speak for themselves — our customers who use FlyghtProtect report 80% fewer system outages than those who don’t.
Choosing the right business-grade firewall is a sure-fire way (I’m having too much pun with these) to protect your business from the costly threat of hackers, viruses, and breaches.
Full disclosure: I love to nerd out on this specific topic so cash in on the hype andbook some time with me this week. What questions do you have about cybersecurity, firewalls, passwords…? Please give me an excuse to talk about this even more and educate yourself about the tech that’s protecting your restaurant in the process!
We all know the struggle of calling your favorite restaurant over and over again only to be continually met with a busy signal — before finally giving up. But did you know that 34% of callers who hang up never call back?? Not only that, a more modern phone system can actually make you money, instead of costing you customers. Before I explain how, let’s jump into some news.
NEWS UPDATES: GOTTA LOVE ‘EM
Here’s the RRF update you’ve come to expect: *crickets chirping*. Just another reason for me to nudge you once again to put pressure on those congresspeople. There’s hope in bringing this back to life, but there’s strength in numbers. So, let’s all do our part.
Catching up with our modern-day Godzilla: COVID-19. A CNN Business analysis reports a 25% decrease in foot traffic during the first week of August, compared to the same week in 2019. This is a long way from the 35% increase we saw during the week of July 4th. We knew a decline was coming, but this is more than expected.
On the COVID tech adaptation front: OpenTable will soon allow restaurants to tag diners as “verified for entry” upon meeting certain requirements, such as – you guessed it- showing proof of vaccination. They’re cleared for entry once tagged and don’t have to show proof again but OpenTable won’t store vaccine card data.
OSHA is recommending you get your staffs’ masks back on, whether vaccinated or not. Many places have not yet reinstated mask mandates, despite the urgent call to do so. Can’t you tell how eager we all are to get back to early COVID times?Last week’s call covered data-informed predictions, but in case you missed it: the peak is predicted to take place in early October and retreat to lower numbers by December/January. Despite the likely continued decline in business, know that as schools go back into session, hiring is expected to actually increase. Take advantage of this while you can.
The analysis coming from Wall Street is that the Delta wave will peak quickly, as it has in other nations, which would help make way for a quick restaurant recovery. There is even talk of a full economic recovery in as quickly as 2 months. Ambitious or realistic? Let me know what you think.
WHY THE TELEPHONE SYSTEM YOU CHOOSE CAN LEAD TO INCREASED SALES
The days of a telephone being a one-trick pony are over. Telephone systems have come a long way and the newer options are designed to optimize your business. There are three main types you’re likely to come across:
POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service): A regular, old landline. You know the type. The only upside? It’s super cheap. The number of lines and devices you have directly correlates to the number of calls you can answer. Choose this only if you are absolutely strapped for cash and can make peace with knowing you lose money every time a customer gets a busy signal.
PBX (Private Branch Exchange): This is an actual phone system in which you can transfer, move, and put calls on hold. These systems are flexible and offer key features like an auto-attendant that can direct people to the answer they’re looking for without having to speak to an employee who is probably also juggling 35 other tasks. A PBX system is a significant investment and the hardware lives inside your business.Startup can cost thousands of dollars, and there will be regular maintenance costs.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): A VoIP system works over an internet connection, instead of a traditional phone service. Since everything can be accessed remotely, installation and maintenance are a lot easier. Similar to PBX, initial costs are steep and you have to pay someone to administer it.
SO, WHICH PHONE SYSTEM IS THE BEST FOR RESTAURANTS?
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of VoIP providers, but the best option for restaurants (in my opinion) takes VoIP a step further: Cloud-Hosted VoIP. A Hosted VoIP requires less on-site hardware and zero maintenance and can save you 50%-70% on your phone bill. It will run you right around what a POTS would, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. I might be a little biased, but FlyghtVoice just happens to be my favorite one out there.
Hosted VoIPs have useful features that help you standardize your customers’ experience and can even increase revenue:
A lot of people overlook the important role that phones play in a restaurant, especially nowadays. If you think your phone system could be doing more to ease the burden you and your staff are feeling, let’s chat. Book some time with me this week.
Happy Friday the 13th!
Quick (bleak but cautiously optimistic) update on the RRF: A $48 billion emergency replenishment effort was blocked. The only way for it to pass was with a unanimous decision, which it did not receive. Hitting you with the anthem once again: bug your congresspeople. They’re in session right now so there’s no time like the present! This doesn’t mean the efforts are completely kaput, but it’s going to take some serious work to get it done.
MY NEXT GUEST NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION: THE DELTA VARIANT
In case you missed it — COVID is making quite the vengeful resurgence, courtesy of the Delta variant. My guest this week happens to be 60% more transmissible and accounts for 95% of today’s infections. To put things into perspective: June 20th to August 4th witnessed a growth of cases from around 30,000 to eight times that much. Hospitalizations are up by 40% and, here in Austin, less than 10 ICU beds are available. The numbers are pretty grim, but getting acquainted with the stats will help you understand what you’re up against.
As cases surge, sales and spending are trending downwards after having been on the rise when life was starting to look back to (new) normal. We aren’t seeing a crazy regression, but profits are flattening enough to warrant attention, especially as more of the country experiences a pandemic-era slump.
Two judges in Texas ruled that local officials can temporarily require masks, and it’s no surprise why: hospitals are at full capacity and cases are double the number they were only two weeks ago. Oregon, Louisiana, and Hawaii are also back to indoor mask mandates. Expect your location to most likely mandate masks in the near future.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The data indicates that the Delta variant will peak around October, with case numbers about three times worse than what we see now. It looks like things won’t start to really go back to “normal” until around December to January. These predictions are all contingent upon different factors of course, not the least of which is the rate at which people are getting vaccinated. It isn’t all doom and gloom though.
9 out of 10 restaurant managers are worried that capacity restrictions will make a comeback, but I believe we’re past that for now. However, chances are mask mandates will be reinstated in your area soon, if they haven’t already.
WHAT CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW
Finally, on a personal note, the mom of my best friend, who wasn’t just like or almost my mom, but was for all intents and purposes my actual second mother, passed away earlier this year after a long illness. Her memorial service was postponed due to COVID and will be held this Wednesday, and for many internal reasons, I’m compelled to tell you that she was the absolute best human and that I and our little baby-Flyght company are better for knowing her. The ability to unconditionally love is a true gift, and she taught that lesson well.
Here’s to you and yours experiencing wonderful, unconditional, joyful love this weekend and every day in the future. All my love to you — and if I’ve ever shown you some love, know that it was most likely Martie’s fault. 🙂
Can you believe it’s Friday again already??
I’m greeting you this week from the beautiful state of Wyoming. I’m on vacation and taking a much-needed break from responsibility with one exception — you guys! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that so many of you take the time to read (or listen) to what I have to say every week. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that I’ve helped you in some way.
With that said, let’s dive in! Everyone’s favorite topic is up first.
Beginning September 13, New York City will require anyone dining indoors to be fully vaccinated. The long game here is motivating more people to get vaccinated. As NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio put it, “It is time for people to see vaccinations as literally necessary to living a good, full, and healthy life. If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things.”
Many restaurants in Los Angeles, Central Ohio, Chicago, Seattle, and DC are following suit and requiring proof of vaccination, a COVID test, and/or masks. For individual restaurants, the motivation may be less about encouraging vaccinations and more about protecting their staff and customers.
Truthfully, I don’t know what the answer is here. I think we’re in new territory. I still believe we won’t see full shutdowns like we did at the onset of the pandemic, but I think the vaccines are allowing businesses to take some of the control back. I’m curious how you’re feeling about it. What do you think is the best way to move forward as COVID cases surge again? Book some time with me or shoot me an email to share your thoughts.
WHY YOU NEED AN SOP FOR EVERYTHING
Last week I imparted to you the importance of Standard Operating Procedures and how to create SOPs that can be replicated consistently. But I really want to drive home that although creating an SOP for just about everything may feel like overkill — it isn’t. The more standardized each process is in your restaurant, the smoother your restaurant will run. Even in seasons of high turnover (like, you know, right now).
To give an idea of how detailed you should be, consider this list from MaintainX a starting point:
Facility and equipment SOPs establish how to properly handle the restaurant’s physical assets. They cover:
This category of SOPs ensures that employees maintain good personal hygiene practices and protect food safety. Staff and personal hygiene SOPs include:
Food-flow SOPs contain detailed, written instructions to ensure the safe and consistent handling of foods. Examples include:
Menu-production SOPs ensure managers create menus that align with the restaurant’s concept, customer expectations, and business goals. They also deal with the following:
Finally, communication SOPS help ensure dialogue between restaurant management, staff, and customers is geared toward successful outcomes. Communication SOPs usually cover:
Any of these bullet points can be broken down into more detail or tailored to your business more specifically. I know it may look overwhelming. Trust me, taking the time to create and implement good SOPs now will make your life easier down the road. SOPs take the guesswork out of daily, repeated tasks. Once implemented, you’ll be able to stop chasing down loose ends and worrying about what’s done and what isn’t — and spend more time making sure your guests and staff are happy.
No idea where to start? Let’s chat! My goal in life is to make your life easier. Hell, I based my entire company on that philosophy. So, let me help you!
P.S. GO TO WYOMING! GO NOW! Seriously, it’s gorgeous here and I can’t recommend it enough.
Ready to nose-dive into how to ensure you’re getting nothing but next-level reviews? I know you are. Today’s talk is centered around Operational Standards and how they influence both online reviews and repeat visits. But first, I want to catch you up on some news.
COVID cases are on the rise again in 90% of the country and that means potential changes are underway. For one thing, mask mandates are making a comeback now that the original strain is mutating out and the Delta variant makes up about 83.2% of cases. Nothing as alarming as capacity restrictions to report just yet but, as always, I’ll keep you posted.
Also, something to keep an eye on: the ENTRÉE Act. This time there’s no period of prioritization for women, veterans, and minority-owned businesses. The bill would add a whole $60 billion to the RRF pool — enough to cover everyone who applied, but got locked out of, the first round. The ENTRÉE Act has yet to be voted on, but it has finally been introduced into Congress. Fingers crossed!
Now, onto the meat and potatoes. (And yes, I get it’s 100 degrees outside, but I still have a taste for some stew. Sue me.)
WHY DO THE DETAILS OF YOUR OPERATIONAL STANDARDS MATTER?
Your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are procedures you do on a regular basis and the guidelines in place to streamline them. While brand standards set the expectation for your customer’s experience, your operational standards are how you carry out the practices that make your business. Operational Standards determine whether or not you live up to the expectation set by your Brand Standards.
SOPs standardize your core operations. Enforcing your SOPs consistently (there’s that word again – consistently) optimizes your procedures, so you can spend less time thinking about whether things are being done correctly. In plain English, it’s the difference between frantically rushing through an emergency checklist the night before a health department inspection and having procedures in place that ensure compliance on a regular basis.
SOPs make your life easier by:
The best thing about staying on top of your SOPs? You create a customer for life! Their experience is enhanced, their trust in your business is reinforced, and you maintain positive predictability. When you’ve been to a particular restaurant several times and the experience is exactly what you expected every time, you’re more likely to return because you know what to expect. FACT: Slacking on SOPs will show up in your business in an ugly and unattractive way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
HOW TO ENFORCE OPERATIONAL STANDARDS CONSISTENTLY
Focusing on some operating standards while ignoring others defeats the entire purpose. Give 100% to your SOPs every single day and you will have a beautifully well-oiled machine for a business.
As always, feel free to get in on a half-hour slot with me to go over anything I can help with.
Let’s start with some excellent news! I didn’t cover this in last week’s webinar because it’s hot off the press! Congress introduced the ENTRÉE Act to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with $60 billion. Funding would come from unspent EIDL and state and local funds from the American Rescue Plan.
Could this surge in action have something to do with how often I bug you to call your congresspeople? Oops, here it is again. Getting this bill pushed through requires us to keep it up. The Independent Restaurant Coalition is an excellent resource for the most effective ways you can help.
What’s that you say? You’re feeling ready and eager to take in some super useful info? Let’s talk about how you control what people think of your restaurant before they even walk in the door.
WHAT ARE BRAND STANDARDS?
Branding is more than color schemes and logos. Your restaurant’s reputation is a reflection of your mission, values, food presentation, customer loyalty, and so much more. Before a potential customer has even stepped foot in your restaurant, your brand standards help them form an idea of what to expect.
Want to have absolute control over how people perceive your business? Establish the baseline for your brand standards at the onset of your business and be consistent as you grow. This ensures people always get exactly what they expect when they come to your restaurant, which in turn encourages repeat visits. If you haven’t established brand standards, now’s the time to start.
HOW TO CREATE BRAND STANDARDS
SOME INSPO TO GET YOU STARTED
It’s safe to say, branding is kind of a big deal. These are great tips but they become next-level when practiced consistently. Aim for the customer’s trust and reliance on your brand. Good branding gets their attention. Consistently good branding keeps it.
As always, you are welcome to cash in on a half-hour slot with me to explore ways you can evaluate and amplify your brand standards.
It’s Friday, July 16 already – whew!
Quick RRF update: nothing is happening. Additional funds have yet to be allocated. Bug your Congresspeople.
Now for the good news! If you’re having trouble hiring — and let’s be honest, just about everyone is — tap into a demographic that is actively looking for work right now (not to mention a whole slew of other perks): GEN Z! If you cringed a little, bear with me. I promise, there’s good stuff here!
SIGNS THINGS ARE RETURNING TO NORMAL
In June, inflation went up to 5.4%. The Federal Reserve likes it to be around 2%, so it’s very high right now. This increase means even higher costs for you, but there’s hope! Used car market pricing is finally falling, and this could indicate that inflation is tapering off. It’s a small indication, but it could mean that this inflation is corrective and will likely plateau in Q3 of this year.
This means that you should, say it with me now: RAISE. YOUR. DAMN. PRICES! (I’m not shouting, you are.) In addition, table bookings revenue is still up. These are all good signs for you! But I want to hear how things are from your perspective. If you’re killing it (or not), tell me all about it. Hit me up, and let’s talk.
SO, WHY THE PUSH FOR GEN Z?
WHAT DOES GEN Z BRING TO THE TABLE?
Younger employees are typically persuasive, influential (perfect for generating revenue), and more cost-efficient as their wages are typically lower and benefits are less of a concern. They make great temporary hires and potentially great managers given proper training, as their youth brings fresh perspectives and open minds.
Need someone who can start working right now? Hire a student for the rest of the summer. That will give you 2-3 months to find a more well-suited candidate and some breathing room while staffing returns to more normal numbers.
I can keep going. Gen Z is self-sufficient, resourceful, self-aware, and they value their independence. In addition to diversifying your team, Gen Z (your own offspring included) could qualify you for tax credits.
Mind your expectations, though.The time and training may exceed the status quo, and always be sure to stay informed when it comes to standards such as the federalFair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which are stricter in some states than others.
TO ATTRACT GEN Z, YOU MUST SPEAK GEN Z
#TikTokResume, COME AGAIN?!
You read right: TikTok is teaming up with brands to extend their reach, and you’re going to want to get in on it. These brands and their openings will be available July 7-31.
You’re hip; you want more business, and you know you’d rather watch a video resume than read a paper one! So why not email email@example.com and ensure your participation for next time? This is a precious resource that you want to utilize now before it is exhausted and saturated like conventional job posting options.
I’M NEW TO THIS, YOU SAY? I’M HERE TO HELP YOU OUT
Check out these super helpful video recruitment strategies:
Video may be a new world that can be a bit daunting, but you know the drill. I’m here for you if you need help or tips on ANY of this. Just pencil in some time with me this week.
Enjoy your weekend!
I know researching isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, so I went ahead and compiled a bunch of useful stuff for you to chew on (because researching actually IS one of my favorite things to do). So let’s dive in, shall we? State-sponsored grants and how digital ordering can help you make more money are our topics today.
OHIO IS MAKIN’ IT RAIN!
NEW JERSEY IS FOLLOWING SUIT…
NEW YORK SAID COUNT ME IN
RAISE YOUR PRICES. I MEAN IT.
One more time for the cheap seats in the back:
If you are struggling to hire staff and can’t afford to pay your staff more — raise your prices! We’ve talked to folks, and it works. I said previously that Memorial Day was probably your last chance to do it without backlash, but better to go for it now than not at all.
Raise. Your. Prices.
HOW DIGITAL ORDERING CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
It took a pandemic for our industry to rethink how we interact with customers and how we use technology. Even with raising your prices, you may be wondering if there are other ways to offset the extra cost of paying your staff more. Insert digital ordering technology.
One last note about delivery and carryout orders: it will continue to be extremely important that you are creating a worthwhile experience for your customers. Make sure the food stays hot until it gets to people’s homes. Make sure the presentation is on point, and the food won’t slide all over the box or get mushy. Basically, make sure it’s a reflection of the in-person experience you’ve created for your guests. Listen to feedback from your customer reviews here, including reviews on third-party apps.
If you need help navigating the grant process or figuring out how to better implement digital ordering, pencil insome time with me this week. Let’s discuss what’s on your mind!
Join melive on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST forThe Future of Foodservice webinar series.
This week has been pretty meh for me, but I know it wasn’t for you because you’re effing awesome! I’m pushing through anyway though because that’s what I do! I’ve got some exciting news for Ohio folks today and some helpful tips on an area of business that’s easy to forget about but can have a big impact on foot traffic.
THE STATE OF OHIO IS OFFERING YOU A GRANT!
The Food and Beverage Establishment Grant will provide grants of $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000 to eligible food and drinking businesses. The amount of each grant will be determined by the loss of revenue in 2020.
RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION UPDATE
Just kidding, there isn’t an update. Despite the fact that a dozen senators and 150 house members have co-sponsored a bill to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) by adding $60 billion, we have yet to see any action. Whether you applied for it or not, this is important for our industry. Call your damn congresspeople!
WHY ONLINE REVIEWS MATTER
IS IT POSSIBLE TO RAISE YOUR ONLINE RATING?
I’m so glad you asked — it is!
Although the task of getting control of your online reviews may seem daunting, it’s actually a lot more doable than you may think. Give these tips a whirl and keep them in mind while putting them to practice regularly. You will see results in no time!
These guidelines should help take your 3-star to a 4-star rating before you know it. There’s always something you can do, but if you’re really stumped, pencil in some time with me this week and let me help you figure it out.
To end on a positive note: sales in restaurants are up 4%, so things are looking good!
The two main topics plaguing everyone right now are food cost and labor. Today, we’ve got some really interesting data on both. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s dive in and figure out how to make the most of it.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED RAISING YOUR PRICES?
I can tell you now this will not be the last time I say this — raise your prices! If you need more anecdotal evidence that both wages and menu prices are increasing everywhere, here you go:
HOW MUCH OF A PRICE INCREASE CAN YOU REALLY GET AWAY WITH?
DON’T JUST RAISE PRICES
HOW THE INDUSTRY’S DOING AS A WHOLE
RESTAURANT WORKFORCE UPDATE
HOW TO KEEP YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYEES
You may think you can’t afford to pay your employees more, or raise your prices, or offer bonuses or better benefits. I promise, there’s always something you can do. Book some time with me this week and let me help you figure it out.
The Federal Reserve had a press conference on Wednesday to discuss future action to curb inflation as the economy relights. If you were about to exit right out of this email after shouting a Homer Simpson-Esque, “Boring!” bear with me. I promise this is important info that directly impacts your business.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CURRENT INFLATION AND INTEREST RATES
In late March, the Fed projected inflation would be at 2.4%, but currently, it’s 3.4%, with some pundits projecting closer to 5% by year’s end. Generally, the Fed tries to maintain a ~2% inflation rate per year. At a 2% rate, the country is essentially balancing unemployment and economic growth and it signals a healthy economy. Pre-pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, currently, it’s 5.6%. Unemployment continues to fall but, as we all know, the job market is still difficult. As people come back to work, it’s important to keep inflation in check to ensure people can afford to feed, clothe, and house themselves.
The federal interest rate is currently at 0.1%, which is damn near as low as it can go. A rate this low is considered an emergency mode for federal monetary policy. Effectively, the government is attempting to stimulate business investment and hiring. The Fed’s original plan (in April) was to leave the interest rate at or near zero through 2024. On Wednesday, they announced they will be increasing twice in 2023 to raise the rate to 0.6%.
SO, WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
This expected interest rate increase is significant and it tells us that The Fed believes hiring is going to continue to come back and the job market will stabilize, and do so much sooner than initially thought. To be specific, The Fed believes that full employment will likely be reached sometime next year (or sooner) and that interest rates will need to increase to curb unchecked growth. Think Chernobyl, just less radioactive. In short, all of this together points to signs that the financial outlook is good and the Federal Reserve strongly believes full employment and a solid economy will emerge in the next 12-18 months.
The Annual Federal Reserve Symposium is in August and we can expect to hear more accurate projections then, based on the current climate, but this is what we’re expecting to see based on the information they’ve given us so far. My guess? The Federal Reserve’s outlook changed significantly from April to June. I expect we’ll reference this note in late August, recognizing how much further the outlook has changed then than it has now.
HAVE YOU RAISED YOUR PRICES YET??
I’ve said it 27 times now but it bears repeating. The increase in the price of food and supplies that you’re currently experiencing is reactionary and is expected to level off in the short term, but supply chains are fickle, and even after those challenges are solved, it will be no surprise to anyone that the prices aren’t going to come down. Those prices are going to be locked in, and preparing yourself today with higher menu prices is the only effective solution.
The saved wealth in America is higher than it’s ever been. People are getting more comfortable venturing out and they’re in a position to spend more on discretionary leisure aka travel and restaurants. BUT — Restaurant patrons aren’t feeling as generous as they were when we were in the thick of the pandemic. Please raise your prices before you run out of time.
Have questions about the correlation between inflation, interest rates, and hiring? Book some time with me this week and let’s chat.
This week I talked to ten forward-thinking restaurant owners and managers to learn more about what their biggest struggles and pain points are, and what things they’re doing that are landing BIG. I thought I knew what their answer would be, but they surprised me and I think we can all learn a thing or two from their responses.
RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND UPDATE
HOW TEN DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS ARE HANDLING THE LABOR SHORTAGE
Technology is what we do. We live and breathe it because we love it. Please let me help you figure out how you can take some of the burden off your staff and make your life easier. Book some time with me this week and let’s chat.
We’re sitting in a bit of limbo as we wait to find out if the RRF will be refilled, if people will return to indoor dining, if we should still require masks, or if we’ll have enough staff to fully open. If, if, if. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though, let’s dive in.
HOW TO HANDLE MASK REQUIREMENTS
SALES PREDICTIONS FOR THE SUMMER
ARE YOU TIRED OF TALKING ABOUT HIRING YET?
Yes, there are a lot of “if”s right now, but we’ve turned a corner in the grand scheme of things. I’ll keep updating you with exactly what you need to know and you keep focusing on running an amazing restaurant. As always, I’m here to help you figure out any kinks in your business, answer any questions, or just talk through an idea you have. Book some time with me this week and let’s chat.
Join me live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series.
I’m just gonna say it — the federal unemployment benefit is not why you’re short-staffed and you’re going to have to make some changes to lure people back to the industry. But there’s good news! You can offset the cost without anyone being the wiser (for the most part). Let’s take a look at what’s really fueling the hiring crisis and what you need to do to combat it.
WHY THE HIRING CRISIS ISN’T GOING AWAY ANYTIME SOON
YES, YOU CAN AFFORD TO MAKE WAGE AND PRICING CHANGES: HERE’S HOW
On January 1, 2021, Patrick Terry, Founder of P. Terry’s Burger Stand in Austin, Texas, raised the minimum wage in his restaurants to $15/hour from $12/hour. To offset half of this increase, Terry raised prices by 2%. The business ate the cost of the other half.
The price increase amounted to a dime on a burger, a nickel on fries, and a dime on a shake. No one noticed. (He could have increased by the full 4% and I doubt anyone would have noticed.)
What really made a difference though, was that most of Terry’s employees were now making $5,000 more per year — which was life-changing. This also led to better quality new employees and thus an increase in sales.
Often, the argument against raising wages is that the business will have to grossly increase the cost of products and services in order to cover the additional costs. Examples like this (and there are many others) show that is simply not true.
If you are struggling to find staff, I am pleading with you to take note of the reasons people have given for not returning to restaurants. Make changes accordingly and raise your prices to cover it. It may be scary, but the evidence shows people are willing to hold out or move on, and as a result, the entire industry will need to shift. I do not want to see you close your doors because of fear.
Still hesitant? Book some time with me this week and let’s figure out a plan that works best for you, your employees, and your customers.
In news that’s shocking to no one, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund received a very large amount of applications requesting a very large amount of money in the first two weeks of being open. In more localized news, many states are lifting their mask mandates, capacity limits, and curfews — but everyone’s on a different page. Here’s what you need to know about both and what to do about it.
VACCINES, MASK MANDATES, INDOOR DINING — OH MY!
Anyone else getting awkward 6th-grade dance vibes from this mandate?
How do you feel about the way your state has handled re-opening? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Book some time with me this week and let’s discuss!
The federal unemployment benefit has taken a lot of heat the last few weeks, but economists aren’t convinced it’s the reason for the staffing shortage. Instead of speculating, I went straight to the source: restaurant employees who didn’t return. Let’s look at the data and hear what they have to say, shall we?
STATES THAT ARE ENDING THE $300 FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT
The following states will end the additional federal unemployment benefit by either June or July:
Ohio is reinstating the work search requirement, but not eliminating the federal benefit. Personally, I think Montana’s $1,200 return-to-work bonus was a really smart move.
WILL IT BRING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK?
Maybe some, but much of the data points to other factors playing a role. These include erratic school schedules, lack of childcare, and the pandemic that still hasn’t ended even though we all want it to be over, to name a few.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (an Economist) agreed that there are other factors at play during a recent press conference. She said inflation will continue for the next few months, but that’s a correction from the deflation that occurred to pricing early on during the pandemic and that inflation is expected to stop prior to escalating beyond the baseline. She also believes that full employment will be seen in 2022.
According to Investopedia, “An economist is an expert who studies the relationship between a society’s resources and its production or output.” Economists study trends over time to make predictions about the future. Well, as we all know by now, these are unprecedented times. My point is — take note of what the experts have to say, but it’s up to us to make decisions about the future of our businesses and the future of our industry.
WHAT FORMER RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES HAVE TO SAY
Tired of speculation, I took an informal poll of (about 7 or 8) people who used to be in the restaurant industry (in the BOH world) and have decided not to return. Their reasoning was pretty consistent:
When pressed about where they would like pay to be, the average was $24-25/hour. Several of our customers are already paying kitchen staff $20/hour, but it seems that number needs to go up a bit. Wages in BOH are expected to rise by roughly 20% this year. These numbers may come as a shock since they’re not what we’re used to seeing, but the proof is in the research — people want more money to put their health on the line preparing food and also be able to afford to have their offspring looked after while they’re doing so.
HOW THE HECK TO AFFORD TO PAY HIGHER WAGES
I can’t stress this enough. The window of opportunity is closing. Raise your prices now so you can afford to pay people more money, which will allow you to operate at regular hours, or full capacity, or serve a full menu…or whatever you’re doing to mitigate the staff shortage you’re experiencing.
IN LOCAL (TO OHIO) NEWS
Two bills were passed in Ohio last week (SB 108 and SB 109). Between the two, about $125 million was put forth for bars and restaurants and about $500 million for general business, childcare providers, food assistance and other assistance programs. I expect the governor will sign both of these bills, but will keep you updated.
What are your thoughts on increasing wages to encourage people to come back to the industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Book some time with me this week and let’s discuss!
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is OPEN! Be sure to register and apply as soon as you are able. The first three weeks are reserved for minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses, but you can still get the process started. You can find all of the important links you’ll need at the bottom of this email. To those of you who have taken advantage of my time to help you work through this process, thank you – it’s been a joy to work with you and watch this process happen. Get that money, my friends!
Many of you are having the issue of experiencing high sales but low staff numbers, so let’s talk about what you can do about that!
WHY YOU’RE BREAKING SALES RECORDS BUT CAN’T STAY FULLY STAFFED
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE FUTURE
Supply vs. Demand
How to Combat Hiring Issues
Rethink the Kitchen and Your Menu
Despite your best efforts to combat hiring issues, your best tactic may be to revamp how your restaurant runs to take some of the pressure off your BOH staff and increase their efficiency, not to mention, your profitability.
RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND LINKS
If you’ve already applied, I’d love to hear about your experience with the application process and hopefully glean some tips we can share with the rest of the community. Book some time with me this coming week.
What are you excited for now that summer is upon us? Tell me what’s giving you some glee this month.
Pandemic burnout is a real thing. We’re more than a year into this, and that’s much longer than most of us expected to be. Luckily for us, the most recent data offers some hope for things to come. And if that isn’t enough, we finally have an application date for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund: Monday, May 3, 2021! You can start registering on the site tomorrow!
All of the important links you need for the RRF grant will be at the bottom of this email, so let’s dive into the breakdown of that current consumer sentiment data.
WHAT THE DATA SAYS
There is a supply and demand inversion right now. Many of you are packed on Saturday nights based solely on reservations. We’ll talk more over the next few weeks about how to start drawing people in during the week, but the data supports a continued increase for dining out.
New signs point to the beginning of spending recovery. Around half of consumers are pandemic-fatigued and intend to splurge-spend soon, particularly on discretionary categories such as apparel, beauty, and electronics. The other half is waiting for the pandemic to fully resolve, and plan to splurge mainly in experiential categories such as restaurants and travel.
OpenTable has been publicly sharing seating statistics since March 2020 and it’s a great resource to get a feel for the state of the industry.
On a final note, I want to challenge you to significantly raise your prices. We know that labor is going to cost more this year, there are additional costs for PPE, and over the course of the pandemic, you may have already increased your menu prices to cover pandemic-related costs. But – you weren’t thinking about labor costs then. I speak to a lot of restaurant owners on a regular basis and even though their top-line revenue shrunk significantly, their profitability stayed fairly consistent because of the reduction in labor. We’re at a crossroads where it’s going to cost more to produce the experience we have and it’s going to be more difficult to do with fewer people. If you wait too long to raise your prices, once consumer confidence comes back, you’ll experience the kind of backlash that we’ve seen in the past. I strongly encourage you to make price changes in the next two weeks, certainly before Memorial Day, because once summer hits it may be too late.
If you are a minority, female, or veteran-owned restaurant, I’d love to hear about your experience with the application process and hopefully glean some tips we can share with the rest of the community. Please book some time with me.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Probably because there isn’t a ton of info out there right now. So, let’s get you some answers, shall we?
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO APPLY
WHAT YOU CAN USE THE FUNDS FOR
WHAT IF THE FUNDS RUN OUT
Congressional leaders have expressed that if funds start to run out, they’re all for replenishing the grant so that everyone has an opportunity to benefit. That said, we are talking about the government and there are a lot of people who need help. Make sure your ducks are in a row and you’re ready come application time.
OTHER HELPFUL INFO
If you have multiple restaurants (or any other questions), book time with me. Things get a little more complicated when you get into multiple location situations.
I sincerely hope this information helps you!
Let’s talk a little shop before we jump into how you can turn negative reviews into an exchange that encourages potential customers to give you a shot. And trust me, you can!
RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND
The SBA has released further guidelines about how to apply for the RRF grant. The application date has not yet been set but, as we expected, this is the general formula for determining what you may be eligible for:
The National Restaurant Association created a new Q&A email for operators to submit questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Certain types of businesses, such as inns, brewpubs, and bakeries will need to prove that at least 33% of food and beverage sales took place onsite. I expect the final guidelines to be released in the next week or so. It looks like we’ll be able to get things rolling sometime next month.
HOW TO RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS
In January, I was on a podcast with Ovation, a reputation management company. (If you’re into that sort of thing, click here to listen to me talk about owning 3rd party guests.) There’s a reason there’s a whole industry devoted to handling reviews. Bad reviews are going to happen, no matter how stellar your food and service are. You can’t please everyone, but you can mitigate the damage done by negative reviews and, in many cases, entice potential customers to give you a chance in spite of the review.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore bad reviews. If you don’t respond at all, that review now becomes the truth about your restaurant to anyone searching for your business. If you respond negatively, the bad review is now the truth and you are also now a jerk. Please respond to your reviews. In fact, respond to all of them. It goes a long way!
Do us all a favor and don’t go download a review response template. A fill-in-the-blank response written by someone else is going to sound insincere and sterile. Instead, write it yourself and use these tips as guidelines to craft an authentic and heartfelt response.
The most important thing is this — don’t argue! Take your time when you’re responding to reviews and do your best to put yourself in each guest’s position.
The following information is directly from the SBA and we thought it was important to share it with you. You can find more information here.
The SBA is launching a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advances – called Targeted EIDL Advance – which provides eligible businesses with $10,000 in total grant assistance. If you received the EIDL Advance last year in an amount less than $10,000, you may be eligible to receive the difference up to the full $10,000. The combined amount of the Targeted EIDL Advance and any previously received Advance will not exceed $10,000.
Businesses eligible for the Targeted EIDL Advance must meet ALL the following eligibility criteria:
Before You Apply: To help applicants determine if they are located in a low-income community, as defined in section 45D(e) of the Internal Revenue Code, the SBA is making available a mapping tool at https://sbaeidl.policymap.com/app. Note that the business address must be located in a low-income community to qualify for the Targeted EIDL Advance.
As always, book some time with me if you are having trouble responding to a review, have questions about the RRF grants, or just have something wonderful you want to share. I love hearing from you!
Unfortunately, we still don’t have official dates for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. I think we’ll get something soon and hopefully by around mid-May we’ll see funds in peoples’ bank accounts.
If you’re a music venue or other performing arts institution, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was supposed to open last week, except it didn’t. Just know that if you take this grant, you cannot take another PPP loan after that. If you have already taken the PPP loan, you can still get the grant, you just have to reduce the Shuttered Venues Grant amount by the amount you took in the PPP loan. Technical difficulties aside, this program should hopefully finally open for applications later this month.
I want to talk a bit about the dining experience today. I know I say it a lot, but dining out is about more than good food. The meals that stay with us are the ones that transport us somewhere new. The food, the decor, the ambiance, the staff, the conversation — so many things have to come together to create a truly memorable experience. Today I want to talk to you about the different ways you can create unforgettable experiences for your guests.
WHY TURNING DINING INTO AN EXPERIENCE MATTERS
I go to a restaurant to experience the culture, to experience uniqueness, to impact myself and learn about myself, and learn new things from other people – through food. That’s what I believe dining is all about and I know that might be overly philosophical, but that’s why I go out to eat and that’s where I find the most joy in restaurants.
I’ve been in Albuquerque this week and a few nights ago, I had arguably one of the best culinary experiences of my entire life. And of course, it wasn’t just the meal that made it so incredible. Sticky Fingers is run by Michael and Alexandria. Michael is from Berlin and Alex is from Chicago, by way of Berlin. Hospitality runs in Alex’s family and these two (and their two children) have found their way to Albuquerque for many reasons. They have a house across the street that they rent out and an Airstream named Ernest (for Ernest Hemingway) that I stayed in.
The front space of their home has been transformed into a 500 square foot gallery and features work from 15 different artists. In front of the gallery, there’s a lovely little patio with a table and a koi pond. And the amazing thing, they also have a one-table restaurant. That’s it – one table per night.
When I arrived, I used a stone path to step across the koi pond and join two colleagues at an outside table surrounded by soft green light and eight-foot-tall bamboo. We had some jovial pre-dinner conversation and then stepped into the gallery to sit down at the single table in the center of the gallery where we were served a delectable seven-course meal (for a very reasonable price, I might add). Mushrooms with Belgian Chocolate? Check. Vegan key lime pie? Yup. Pineapple sorbet with some cassis on top for good measure? Why not?
Without a doubt, this was some of the best food I’ve ever had. Everything was made from scratch with organic, sustainably farmed produce and meat. Call me bougie if you want, but I love knowing that you can eat really well and really healthy and in a way that’s better for the environment.
At the end of the night, I chatted with Michael and Alex for about an hour about their experience, their philosophy for running a business, and how that philosophy transcends from the top to the bottom of everything they do. What made this whole experience so spectacular wasn’t just the food. I left feeling relaxed, recharged, and ready to do some amazing things.
HOW TO SHIFT FROM SURVIVAL MODE TO A CULTIVATED EXPERIENCE
Let’s face it, we’ve all been in survival mode for the last 13 months. Some of us still are. But there’s a light (and a very bright one at that) at the end of this tunnel. Experience has taken a bit of a backseat for many of us, but it’s time to transition our mindset from “Getting by” to “What can we do to really elevate things this year?”
Here are some things to consider as you curate your dining experience:
Have some experiential ideas you’re unsure of? Book some time with me! I’m happy to help you brainstorm and work out any kinks.
As always, all my best.
Although it’s been a slow news week, I’ve finally got some info on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund start date, including some misinformation I shared last week – of course, last week it was right, and this week it’s not – the woes of a fast-moving governmental program, right?
With all else staying quiet, this feels like a good time to share some really cool innovations that are happening under the radar in the restaurant industry. These are the kind of innovations that trickle their way slowly into the mainstream but may eventually be transformative for the entire industry.
Patrick Kelly, the Associate Administrator for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Capital Access, said during a small business committee Senate hearing earlier this week that the window of application should be open in mid-to-late April. The delayed start is due to the fact that the SBA is servicing this directly and they need to build an entirely new technology platform to make this happen.
Contrary to what I told you last week (I didn’t know!), you will not need a DUNS number or a SAM.gov login. You’ll apply for the RRF the same way (almost, we think…) you applied for the EIDL and it will go directly through the SBA.
The SBA will be releasing guidance on the qualifications and how to apply for the RRF in the next 7-10 days. As a reminder – women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses will have a three-week window to apply first. For everyone else, it will likely open in the first couple of weeks of May.
I expect the SBA to start reaching out this week to folks that took an EIDL loan and are able to get a higher loan amount. Remember, the limit on EIDL loans has been increased from $150,000 to $500,000. The original EIDL is a 3.75% APR loan with a 30-year maturity. It’s cheap money and a great way to do good things for your restaurant. If you get an upgraded loan amount, please reach out and let me know!
IN OTHER REALLY COOL NEWS
My apologies again to the many of you who took advantage of our resource list last week and started applying for your DUNS number and SAMS.gov login. I received a lot of questions about it last week and I’m happy to continue to help you get set up and up-to-speed as I get updates about the RRF application process. As always, book some time with me to go over any questions you may have.
Across the board, one of the most prevalent issues I’m hearing from owners and managers is that they’re having trouble finding and keeping good staff. We’ve expanded on common hiring practices in the past, but this week we’re really stepping out-of-the-box because, frankly, the other stuff just ain’t cuttin’ it these days.
Queue awkward segue. But first, the news!
The Senate voted yesterday to extend the PPP application window to May 31, and the deadline to fully fund those loans to June 30, 2021. The president is expected to sign the bill soon.
We didn’t talk about this on the show Wednesday, but the SBA has updated guidance on the EIDL loan program. If you remember, last year, the EIDL was limited to a $150,000 loan. That limit will be increased to $500,000 beginning April 6, 2021. If you’ve already received an EIDL loan, good news – the SBA will be reaching out to you in the next two weeks to let you know if you qualify for a larger loan. These loans are at 3.75% and have a 30-year maturity period (which is a heck of a deal!)
This is important stuff, so please read it!
Although the launch date has not been announced, there are a few things you should be doing as a restaurant owner to prepare for when it starts. This fund will be depleted quickly, so I highly encourage you to get what you can in order now.
First, register with the government on the System of Award Management (SAM) using these steps:
Second, work with your accountant to pull the numbers you need to clearly show your gross revenue loss in 2020 compared to 2019. You’ll upload these numbers to the SAM system to determine how much of the grant you’ll receive.
If you’re stressing about how to keep track of all of the financial relief options available, the SBA has a website that has pulled all of that info into one place. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to start, you can always book time with me. I’m happy to help in any way that I can.
If you’re not having any trouble hiring — please reply to this email and tell me what you’re doing! If you’re like everyone else, here are some bonus moves you can try.
I’m still setting time aside to go over Restaurant Revitalization Fund questions. If this is you, please book my time. I’m here to help you make the most of it.
Please keep sending me your patio photos! I love seeing them!
Let’s start off with some fun stats:
This means that things are trending in the right direction and consumer confidence is up consistently week-over-week. The timing of which couldn’t be better because I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s starting to get warmer outside. So, yes, my friends, we’re talking about patios again.
CAN HAVING A PATIO REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
According to the National Restaurant Association, 84% of consumers want streeteries (outdoor dining that’s been expanded onto a sidewalk, parking lot, or street) to continue in perpetuity. Now here’s the really interesting thing: less than half of those people have actually done it in the last 12 months. This creates a wonderful opportunity.
But it gets better:
If that isn’t a compelling argument — I don’t know what is.
WHAT GOES INTO A GREAT PATIO
We talked last week about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and how one of the things you can spend the grant on is building a kick-ass patio. So let’s talk about how to do that.
Here’s a quick recap of what you need to know:
PPP LAST CHANCE
The House passed a measure yesterday which is expected to pass in the Senate tomorrow to extend the PPP window from March 31 to May 31. If you’re lazy, it looks like you’ll have a reprieve to get those applications in.
TAX DAY CHANGES
Are you a sole proprietor of your business? If so, the federal tax day has been moved from April 15 to May 17. Unfortunately, if you’re not subject to the self-employment tax, you’re still required to pay by April 15. Most states have not extended beyond April 15, so most likely your state taxes will still be due per usual.
Happy Friday! I’m soaking up my last hours in Costa Rica. In case you missed it, I broadcasted Wednesday’s webinar from a hammock. Yeah, life’s pretty great.
Yesterday, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and that means big things for restaurants. So, let’s jump right into it.
OTHER THINGS OF NOTE THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
I’m setting time aside next week specifically to go over Restaurant Revitalization Fund questions. If this is you, please book some time with me!
Happy Thursday from Costa Rica! Yes, I’m still here. I might not leave.
In case you were wondering, and I’m sure you were, locusts in Costa Rica are massive! They’re, like, 6 inches long!
I often think that one of the most overlooked places of innovation in a restaurant is technology. And that isn’t just cause it’s what I do for a living. Advances in technology have made our lives easier in so many ways, yet many restaurants pride themselves on using the same technology that they opened their doors with 15 years ago. The right tech can streamline how your restaurant operates and do it at a lower cost. So today we’re talking about what’s up-and-coming in restaurant tech this year.
But before we get into that…
FEDERAL AID UPDATES
Texas and Mississippi
DON’T FORGET THAT THE WINDOW FOR THE PPP CLOSES ON MARCH 31, 2021
RESTAURANT TECH TRENDS FOR 2021
91% of restaurants plan to invest in kitchen automation this year. Have you heard of Flippy, the kitchen assistant robot that flips burgers? What about the robot dog that serves beer in Spain? If robotics aren’t your thing though, there’s a lot of other, less future-y, tech advances out there.
Don’t know where to start with finding the right reservation software or how to set up your own online ordering system? Have questions about how you can make social and search engine advertising work in your favor? Schedule some time with me this week! I’ve got info to share on all of this – and more!
Join us live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series. This email you receive every week is based on those webinars. So, hey, come hang out!
Happy Thursday from Costa Rica! Have you been? It’s incredible! Wish you were here!
How often do you stop and think about the customer experience in your restaurant? What about the experience of your online customers? More and more people are seeking out dining experiences that are unique and memorable, and that includes online. There is a multitude of ways you can amp up the dining experience for your customers from beginning to end.
CHANGES TO PPP
HOW TO GIVE YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE A BOOST
Schedule some time with me this week to talk through how you can take your customer experience to the next level. I have lots of great info and ideas to share with you based on personal experience and what’s working for other restaurants.
Join us live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series. This email that you receive every week is based on those webinars. So, hey, come hang out!
If you missed yesterday’s Facebook Live, I’d really love it if you could weigh in on an important topic in our office….do I currently look like a basset hound? It’s what I get for not getting my hair cut since last January.
I beg of you – please take a look at yesterday’s episode and let me know in the comments.
As you know, we’ve been watching carefully as this year’s foodservice trends start to unfold. Today we’re diving into menu trends. Last year was all about survival, but this year we’re starting to see innovation make a comeback. And that means exciting things for you!
EMERGING TRENDS IN FOOD
EMERGING TRENDS IN DRINKS
Not sure you can implement these trends into your existing menu? Reach out to me! You don’t have to go all-in on a trend to make it fit the vibe of your restaurant. Let’s talk through how you can partake without changing too much.
Fellow Austinites! Please, please be safe! I’ve rounded up some resources. If you don’t live in Austin, but know someone who does, please forward this list to them.
Good Work Austin’s Community Kitchen: https://www.givepulse.com/event/212809-Good-Work-Austins-Community-Kitchen?Payment_page=3
With everything going on the last couple of months, you may have missed a few things — like new tipping regulations! I know I did. Here’s a quick run-down of what we missed and what you need to know about it.
THE CURRENT STATUS OF RESTAURANTS IN THE US
RESTAURANTS ACT UPDATE
IS TIPPING GOING AWAY?
Many states have been pushing to remove the tip credit. The tip credit is what allows you to pay an employee who receives tips less than the standard minimum wage. The National Restaurant Association is advocating for keeping the tipping structure in place. Personally, as a patron, I’d like to see tipping done away with but I’m definitely in the minority there and understand its importance as the industry stands today.
So will the tip credit become a thing of the past? Certain states have already done away with it, but many others have had ballot initiatives or state-congressional votes stall. At this point, it’s difficult to tell.
What’s important to know is that restrictions on the way tips are allocated have been eased recently. Here’s what you may have missed on Dec 22, 2020:
Of course, many states supersede the federal mandate from December, so make sure to consult your local tax accountant, but I hope this information might inspire you to begin to shift your FOH and BOH financial strategy in a positive direction.
Need help understanding how these new regulations impact your restaurant? Reach out to me! I’m here to help!
February is underway and summer will be here before you know it. If you like to plan ahead, and I hope you do, you’re probably thinking of letting your customers know how awesome an outdoor dining experience you have planned for the coming months.
One great way to do this, and one that I’ve noticed is underutilized by many of our customers, is email marketing. What I don’t get is why it’s underutilized. It’s estimated that businesses earn $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing. Email is a direct line of communication to your customers. So let’s talk about how to make the most of it.
WHY YOUR RESTAURANT NEEDS AN EMAIL LIST
HOW TO COLLECT EMAILS
If you’re just starting out, you should be able to collect 200-500 emails per month. Even if your customer base is on the smaller side, there are a lot of ways to collect emails. Utilize as many as possible.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR LIST
WHAT TO TALK ABOUT
WHAT TO DO ONCE EVERYTHING IS UP AND RUNNING
There are four things you should be looking at:
Let me know at the beginning of next month — how many email addresses did you collect this month?? I love hearing when this stuff I yammer on about helps you!
As always, reach out to me with any questions you have! I’m happy to help you put some things together so that you can start getting subscribers and sharing all of the reasons they should come in and see you.
Join us live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series. (This email that you receive every week is based on those webinars. So, hey, come hang out!)
On Wednesday, I went back on my word. I swore I wasn’t going to talk about Coronavirus ever again, but guess what, friends — we gotta. COVID-19 is going to be with us forever. Like, literally forever.
More on that in a minute, but I just want to remind you that round two of PPP and the Employee Retention Credit are available now. Go get ‘em! If you aren’t sure if PPP or EIDL is right for you, book some time with me this week and I’ll help you figure it out. Seriously. Book my time. When you don’t, I’m sad. Having these chats is the best part of my week!
WHY ISN’T COVID-19 GOING ANYWHERE?
Up to now, we’ve had pretty clear distinctions about what we can and cannot do as business owners: wear a mask, 50% capacity, no alcohol sales, stay 6 feet apart, etc. Moving forward, things won’t be so black and white. Truly, they never were, but everyone was really good in over-simplifying to a point where that grey area I’m about to discuss was pushed aside.
It’s important to understand what “immunity” means in this context. Mass vaccinations won’t mean COVID is completely gone, like an off switch. It’s more like a dimmer switch. Building up some immunity after contracting COVID-19 won’t be an all-or-nothing win for a person either. Instead, what will happen is that over time (I believe the next 18 months) we’ll achieve a predictable (and manageable) case-level of COVID-19 through reaching a critical mass of vaccinations and through the build-up of antibodies in people who have contracted the virus. When we’re able to move from our current unpredictable, increasing caseload to a predictable (flat) infection rate, we’ll no longer consider COVID-19 a pandemic — we’ll call it an endemic virus instead.
In the months ahead, you’ll begin to hear the word endemic more and more, while hearing the word pandemic less and less. This is a fantastic litmus test, as the more endemic the virus becomes, the fewer restrictions we’ll see in society.
Good examples of endemic viruses are the common cold and the flu. Interestingly enough, the majority of the common colds are Coronaviruses, which began their lives, many generations ago as pandemics. As more and more people built up antibodies (and later in our society’s existence, vaccines became more widespread) these serious afflictions became endemic. Now we can predict pretty accurately where, when, and how many people will become infected with these avoidable problems.
WHAT THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE WITH COVID-19
Chances are, people are going to start pushing back against restrictions before that happens. Let’s be honest, we’re already seeing it. Sweden may serve as an interesting example here as they only recently started implementing regulations that most of the rest of the world has had in place since March. There’s data that suggests both positive and negative results, depending on your point of view, but per 100 million people, the death rate in Sweden is higher than in the US. Just some food for thought. What’s right? I have no idea, but let’s keep our heads looking forward, and know that as this situation continues to soften, restrictions will continue to lift.
WHAT’S THE TIMELINE FOR THE FUTURE? (AKA THE CRYSTAL BALL)
Summer 2022: Restrictions will be behind us and Coronavirus won’t be so much of a daily news topic. Things won’t be exactly as they were, but we’ll find a way to live with and learn from the Coronavirus. You’ll find carryout is still an important part of your business; you’ll have figured out how to use those evil third-party ordering companies as a new-customer acquisition tool rather than a blood-sucking expense. You’ll have increased your pricing (and margins); built your menu around more fresh and sustainable ingredients; crafted unique experiences that make your guests feel ALL THE LOVE; and, I bet you’ll find more joy in your business than ever before.
It’s important to note that this timeline applies to developed parts of the world only. In underdeveloped countries, this timeline will be much longer – probably 12-18 months longer.
As always, reach out to me if you’ve got questions, concerns, want to share a great recipe, or just have some really interesting info you want to share. I always look forward to hearing from you! Specifically, I’d love to hear what new dishes you’re experimenting with for spring.
Please say hello. All my love this week!
I’d like to share with you a personal anecdote about how I ate outdoors in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this past weekend, without a heater nearby, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself (and my meal). I hate being cold, so I’m the perfect testimonial for outdoor dining in winter. If you have space for outdoor dining and still haven’t made use of it because you think no one will use it — I’m your sign.
Need some fresh ideas? A town in Michigan transformed its downtown area into an outdoor dining village. More than 2,000 restaurants have closed in the state of Michigan since March, but not one downtown business or restaurant has closed in Grayling!
Yesterday was pretty jam-packed with the presidential inauguration and all, so this week’s Future of Foodservice webinar was brief, but we still talked through what the future of restaurants might look like under a Biden administration, and shared two stories of success to inspire you for the new year.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A DEMOCRAT-CONTROLLED GOVERNMENT
SOMETHING TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
One of my favorite things about talking to clients every week is learning how creativity and adaptability have allowed them to be even more successful.
I spoke to someone this past week who is doing about 30% less revenue but is making more profit (not by percentage, but by dollar value). Some of the changes they made include changing the menu, making things more profitable in terms of food costing, reduced overhead from labor, and working with their landlord to reduce fixed expenses.
Another customer I spoke with set a sales record in September 2020 (exceeding revenue and profitability numbers from September 2019) by blocking off the street in front of their establishment every weekend that month, having a killer patio setup, and a strong carryout plan.
It’s been wonderful to see people’s ingenuity and sheer determination pay off during such a trying year. If you’re looking for new ways to boost your profitability, let’s chat this week and see what we can come up with together.
Well, it’s Thursday.
Quick USA update in case you’ve not turned on a screen or talked to another human being in the last 24 hours: what the heck happened in D.C. yesterday?!
Here goes that awkward news shimmy from somber news to better thoughts. I still despise the segue, but here goes anyway. I’d like to direct your attention to matters that directly affect your business at the moment. Like how to prepare for the coming year. We’ve combed through articles, had conversations with our own clients, and looked back at some of our own experiences to put together a list of the top things you should be doing now to prepare for the year ahead:
ELEVATE THE QUALITY OF YOUR PRODUCT
RAISE YOUR PRICES
ELEVATE THE TAKEAWAY EXPERIENCE
DECREASE YOUR INDOOR DINING FOOTPRINT
EMBRACE DIGITAL ADS
The NY Times put together a pretty comprehensive trend list that I encourage you to take a look at to get some more great ideas for the future. As always, my time is available to you, if you need it. Let me know what I can help you with this week.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to leave you today with this, “Ahead By A Century” by The Tragically Hip. This song has perked me up since I was a kid, and I think a recording like this one, while the lead vocalist, Gord, was just a few weeks away from the end of a terminal brain cancer battle, is inspiring beyond all get out.
“We loved you tonight, and we loved you thirty years ago when you were six people.”
That’s the lesson.
Join us live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series.
I want to start by reiterating how grateful I am for each and every one of you. This year has torn us down in ways that none of us could have imagined, but it’s also created opportunities for growth that we may never have found otherwise.
One of the goals we set for ourselves as a company for this year was to give back 15% of our revenue to our customers. In spite of, and maybe even in part thanks to, everything that’s happened this year, we ended at 13.8%. I’m pretty darn proud of that.
I’m honored that you take the time to listen to and/or read what I have to say every week. You all inspire me. Here’s to another year of learning, growing, and innovating together!
WHAT ELSE IS IN THAT STIMULUS PACKAGE??
Last week we focused specifically on what would affect your business immediately. There are two other programs that could benefit you though.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Here’s a quick recap of what we covered last week.
See you next year!
Happy belated Festivus! Or, Christmas Eve, if you’re into that sort of thing. Or whatever you celebrate. I hope you’re merry!
I have a feeling you don’t plan to sit down and read all 5,593 pages of the government funding bill, so here are some quick ‘Cliff’s Notes’ about the most important parts. Chiefly – PPP, round 2.
PPP v 2.0
I hope this holiday season finds you in good spirits and serves as a reminder to be thankful for the positive things in your life, even in a year that has felt like hot garbage more often than not. I wish you all the best as you close out your year and look to the year ahead.
This week feels like stimulus talks, take 2. And I guess it is. The good news is that there actually appears to be a light at the end of this tunnel, so I’m breaking down the points that will impact you the most.
As a closing note, I want to give a nod to Bernie Sanders. He isn’t my favorite punk rock band, but the man knows what he stands for and has stood for it for 50 years (which is pretty damn punk rock). And I commend that.
Bernie Sanders and Republican Josh Hawley recognized that they have a shared goal of getting a second round of stimulus checks passed this week. Together, they dug in their heels with their respective parties and although it didn’t seem to be up for discussion yesterday morning, it was by yesterday afternoon.
As always, my time is available to you, if you need it. Let me know what I can help you with this week.
Also, if you’re watching too much Netflix like I am these days, can I recommend you check out the episode celebrating “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor) on Song Exploder? It’s effing fantastic.
I know your world is probably pretty hectic with the holiday season being in full swing. I know mine is. With that in mind, this week’s update is pretty brief. I want to honor your time, so I’m just going to give you a quick rundown of what you need to know right now.
Before you go – I put together a super quick (literally 1 min or less) survey to help me get a better understanding of how I can help you right now. I’d love it if you could take 60 seconds to fill it out for me: http://www.polljunkie.com/poll/nawona/what-help-do-you-most-need-in-covid. Thanks a bunch!
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about third-party apps like UberEats, DoorDash, etc lately and I want to take a few minutes today to help you maximize your ability to convert online orders by making one simple change: high-quality pictures.
Online ordering sales increase by 6.5% when items for sale have photographs. Further, conversion rates (the percentage of people who open the online ordering platform and then actually place an order) increase by 25%! So, yeah, pictures are kind of important.
WHY YOU NEED HIGH-QUALITY FOOD PHOTOS
I don’t need to remind you that carryout and delivery are going to remain an important part of your business for a while. Your restaurant’s online ordering experience, whether through your own website or a third-party app, needs to mimic your in-store experience as closely as possible.
No matter how good your copywriter is, a picture will always be more compelling. (On a side note here, if your online menu doesn’t have descriptions for every menu item — WHY NOT?!) Most of us have smartphones in our pockets that take amazing photos, so let’s put them to good use!
HOW TO TAKE HIGH-QUALITY PHOTOS
This is step #1. Good lighting sets the stage for a good photo.
Just like a preference for swimming au naturel, taking photographs of food in natural light is preferred to artificial light sources. Set a table up near your windows, and shoot at a time of day when the light is bright, but not shining directly in. You can also diffuse the light with a curtain.
Direct sunlight will “blow out” the light colors in your photo. I.e. If your food is on a white plate, the plate will appear blindingly white, almost like it’s glowing, and distort the image.
You know that photo your “best friend” took of you, standing in the sun, and the photograph only displays half your face, because your nose shadowed out that cute dimple under your left cheekbone? I know I have one of those. Don’t do to your dishes what my friend did to my cute dimple. I looked terrible and so will your soup photo.
A tip to remove shadows is to have multiple angles of light. Place your table near two windows, or use a light board. If you’re forced to use artificial lighting, keep those tones warm and soft to keep the colors of your food shining bright, but don’t let the image get too yellow or it will look dirty.
Keep it boring. Neutrals are good. Don’t let your background distract the viewer from the dish you’re featuring. Need some ideas? White tablecloth, black chalkboard, a wood table or cutting board, tiling, carpet or rugs, baking sheets, parchment paper, etc.
Contrast and Color
We initially warm up to food based on sight alone (this is why pictures are so enticing), and the last time I checked, Smell-o-vision still wasn’t an internet thing. Focus on bringing out the colors in your food, and work the contrast of that color with your background to enable the dish to stand out, not blend in.
When taking photos of strangers, you put the camera high and make sure you get their feet in the photo, right? Right. Food is pretty similar – shoot from above. It doesn’t have to be 90-degrees straight-on, play around with the angles between 60 – 85 degrees to find the sweet spot that brings out the shapes of the food, dish, utensils, and any other foreground items.
There are exceptions to this. Bread, sandwiches, and cake slices are great items to shoot from a lower side angle – making them seem larger than life and emphasizing the layers and textures.
Pick a Theme
Photographing coffee? Get a book in that photo. Are you an organic restaurant? Drop a postcard for your farm in there. You know why people are coming into your business and ordering specific dishes. Cater to those desires and show the viewer what they will feel when they bite into your amazing quiche.
Here’s another one – my wife has always wanted to be a hand model. I know, I’ve never known anyone to desire that either, but it’s a thing. Did you know that hands and arms inside food photography can be a great way to give the viewer a better understanding of the size of your dish? In addition, we’re more compelled by images with people in them because it helps us envision ourselves partaking in that activity.
Make it Sexy
You’re familiar with the Golden Ratio, right? Our eyes are naturally drawn to symmetrical objects. The same rule applies here. Your dish needs to be visually appealing both in the quality of the food and the way it’s plated. Just like flowers, a unique arrangement is key.
Finally, make sure you clean up or wipe any imperfections from the plate before photographing it, otherwise, it’ll be like that one time I forgot to shave one swatch of my face.
Don’t Shy Away from Editing
Filters afford easy color enhancement and simple editing to really make the colors and textures in your photos come to life. If you’re on the Apple Bandwagon, try VSCO, or on Android try Fotor.
Want to take it a step further, download the free version of Adobe Lightroom and take a course or webinar to learn how to tweak the individual characteristics of your photos so that you get exactly what you want. Sarah Crawford offers a great Restaurant Foodtography School through her Foodtography courses, but she also offers free webinars where you can learn quite a bit about editing in just an hour.
Need help taking the perfect photos? Book time with me this week, and let’s figure it out.
Unfortunately, the second wave of Coronavirus is forcing us into tighter restrictions than we predicted a couple of months ago. Please stay safe, keep your staff and guests safe, and continue to be flexible as we navigate this next phase. Know that those who are adapting quickly are remaining successful, and I’m happy to help you navigate these waters personally. Say hello anytime.
Watch the replay of this week’s webinar.
HOW TO INCREASE HIRING
“In the next 10 years, we’re going to create 1.6 million additional restaurant jobs in this industry. And yet, the population we are dependent upon to fill those jobs historically will decline by 1.3 million. So if you think it’s bad now – if you think the fight to talent is difficult now – it is going to get a lot worse.”
– Rob Gifford, Executive Vice President of The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation
I talked about this a bit last week, but I really want to drive home the importance of hiring and keeping good staff. As that quote from Rob Gifford states, hiring is only going to become more difficult with time. Here are some tips for hiring smarter and retaining good employees.
Have questions about predictive scheduling? What to expect as COVID cases and restrictions increase? Need help streamlining your hiring process? Book time with me this week, and let’s figure it out.
Re-hiring has been particularly difficult for restaurants. So much so that many people have the sales to expand, but not the staff. We reached out to current and former restaurant employees to figure out what motivated some to return, why some didn’t, and what you can do as an owner or manager to bring people in. Here are the results.
What does this all mean? As we said before, we expect 2 – 4 week localized restrictions in areas with significant increases in the infection rate. Ohio’s positivity rate was almost 12% today – until these numbers start to decrease, things will remain difficult for service businesses.
WHY RE-STAFFING HAS BEEN SO DIFFICULT
WHY SOME PEOPLE DID RETURN
WHERE WE ARE NOW
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
Let us help you design signage, draft a canned greeting, find a reliable cleaning service. Whatever you’re struggling with right now, book time with me this week, and let’s figure it out.
Happy Thursday afternoon!
Departure that whole, “Christmas music before Thanksgiving is unacceptable” argument you always have with your Uncle Skip, if you aren’t thinking about the holiday approach for your business today, you’re in trouble, my friend. Thanksgiving is only 3 weeks away, Hanukkah is two weeks after that, and Christmas and Kwanzaa are just two weeks after that! I know that many of you rely on the holiday season for a revenue boost and might be scared that this year won’t give you the boost you need.
Have no fear! I’ve come up with (or just blatantly stolen) a list of 13 ways you can boost your holiday season sales. But, first…
HOW TO BOOST HOLIDAY SALES
Do you know that most retailers (Costco, Kroger, etc) are pretty likely to be open to selling your gift cards?
Need merch ideas? Help with menu planning? Not sure how to set up shipping? Book my time. It’s my gift to you. If there’s any way I can help you succeed, I’m there.
A second stimulus package isn’t happening any time soon, so we’re just going to move right along. The most important thing to focus on right now is how to turn a profit with winter temps settling in. I’ve got some data to share and some creative ideas (courtesy of the City of Chicago) for how to keep outdoor dining going in the winter. Let’s get to it!
Ipsos has been conducting a survey of about 1,000 people for the last 28 weeks and it’s showing some interesting trends.
WINTER DINING CHALLENGE WINNERS
You may recall that the City of Chicago put on a contest to see who could come up with the best idea for how to continue outdoor dining as temperatures drop. The contest received 643 submissions! You can read the top 60 here, but I want to highlight the top 3.
OHIO SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF
What’s happening in your restaurant? Are you seeing any changes in the number of guests you’re serving? How many are dining inside as opposed to outside? Let’s pool our information so that we can learn from each other. Shoot me an email with your data: email@example.com.
If I can be of service to your planning or execution strategy, please do not hesitate to book my time. It’s my gift to you. If there’s any way I can help you succeed, I’m there.
Don’t forget to join us live on Facebook every Wednesday at 3 pm EST for The Future of Foodservice webinar series.
Happy Thursday afternoon to you! I’m sorry if you missed my long hair on video this week. I promise I’ll be back next week with more sarcasm than ever, or at least a couple of good one-liners. I’ve been working on a “tight ten” for whenever an open-mic night is safe to visit again, so if you book my Calendly link this week, feel free to ask for what most likely will be a few minutes of laughter at my expense. Here’s the short and sweet on what I’ve picked up on this week.
1. What the heck is wrong with our national legislature? Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi are actually moving close to a deal on an additional stimulus package, and now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly telling his caucuses to vote against whatever spending bill is put forth to a vote.As an aside, the Democrats blocked a half-billion-dollar package this week that would have included an extension to the unemployment benefit and additional PPP funds.It’s a bunch of political posturing at the expense of citizens. Vote, and call your congressional leaders. I’ll update you next week or before if any significant movement happens.
2. Have you reached the IDGAF stage of your own pandemic experience? Crass acronyms are my thing, in case you’re wondering. Covid cases are rising significantly, misinformation is flowing strong, and apathy is certainly setting in.
No matter your personal views, consumers continue to shy away from in-person dining, and unfortunately, cases are again on the rise, and as the months become colder, there is a serious cause for concern. In the last week, Belgium, as a country, has imposed a nation-wide curfew from midnight-5 am and banned alcohol and restaurant sales after 8 pm through late November (a full month-long restriction). We’re starting to hear of small-scale restrictions (although not as severe as in Belgium) in certain US locations as well. We still predict that restrictions in the US will be very localized and limited to two-weeks in duration, but it is important to continue to prepare for:
3. As we start to turn a serious corner into late fall,
(Here’s the forecast for Amarillo, TX, which is expected to receive significant snowfall next week) it’s more important than ever to plan for the next four or five months of business. How will you sustain outdoor dining? What unique experience will you create for your customers this winter? How will you offer something new and exciting to your guests who are yearning for something to fawn over? We’ve talked about igloos, winter wonderland type experiences, building an experience in the takeaway products you offer, providing heated and ventilated tenting, and even seen customers doing some very crafty construction inside their restaurants to preserve space and safety. If plans are not laid now, I’m afraid the next few months could become very difficult. But with a good plan and the right execution, I think there’s a very great opportunity ahead for those who effectively promote their business, allowing for a 2021 spring and summer of epic proportions. If I can be of service to your planning or execution strategy, please do not hesitate to book my time. It’s my gift to you, and I enjoy each and every half-hour I spend. All my best, Chris
Third-party delivery services can be great for accessing customers that aren’t interested in dining in or even picking food up at a restaurant. This week I’m talking about how to convert customers from third-party apps to direct customers.
Just in case you’re living under a giant kitchen hood (See what I did there? Restaurant pun!) and are thinking, “Chris, why should I convert customers from 3rd party ordering?”, the short answer is, who wants to pay 30% of their gross revenue to another company, and since when do you want to let another company dictate the experience you give to YOUR customers? There’s a more in-depth answer to this in the video.
HOW TO CONVERT THIRD-PARTY CUSTOMERS
Third-party delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash have played a big role in keeping many restaurants in operation during the pandemic, but we all know that they take a big chunk of profits. So the question now is, how can you convert the customers who rely on these services to get your food into direct customers? Here’s how:
Have questions about how to collect customer data and/or remarketing? Schedule time with me this coming week. Let me help you figure out how to make your data work for you.
I don’t know about you, but it’s been a crazy week over here. I’m on my first business trip since March, which has created a wealth of meaning and excitement these last few days. As my email piles up due to the travel, (if you have one in there, I’m sorry – replies are coming as soon as I can!) I’ve noticed another uptick in requests and questions around cloud-based telephone systems this week.
I think it’s safe to say that the most important piece of equipment in a restaurant this year is probably the telephone. On average, our customers’ inbound call volume has increased by about 300%. We get a lot of questions about what makes a virtual phone system different and how we’re able to keep the cost around the same as a traditional phone system with so many added features. So this week, we’re breaking that down for you.
WHY CLOUD-BASED PHONE SYSTEMS ARE JUST PLAIN BETTER
Have questions about phones? I can help! They’re kind of my thing. Schedule time with me this coming week. Let me help you figure out your best option, even if it isn’t us.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t make some genuinely lame reference about September ending. I was hoping someone could wake me up today and I would find something unexpectedly changed for the better, but alas, we’re still in this mess, so I’ll just watch Billy Joe Armstrong for a few minutes, and then tell you about some things I believe are happening that will positively benefit businesses across the country. Fair? Let’s get to it.
As PPP money is likely starting to run out and a second stimulus package is looking further and further away, I can’t help but wonder, “What’s going to happen to the restaurants that have not been able to recoup their business yet?” If you’ve found yourself wondering the same thing, or find yourself in a situation where you aren’t able to pay your rent, this one is for you. It’s not Cronkite, but that new ring light I bought makes me look damn good.
THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING THINGS! MAYBE.
WHAT ABOUT “FORCE MAJEURE”?
WHAT ABOUT MORATORIUMS ON EVICTIONS?
If you are struggling to pay rent, are having issues with your landlord, or just need some advice, schedule time with me this week. Let me help you figure out your best option or put you in touch with someone who can. We will continue to do everything we can to help you stay in business.
Yes, I know, we’ve been talking about cold-weather outdoor dining for weeks now. But that’s only because I really want you to understand how important it is to be thinking about this now. Summer’s over and many of those dining igloos are already on back-order or sold out. And frankly, igloos won’t work for everyone.
So, this week we’re talking about other ways you can create an outdoor dining experience in cold weather. There are some really interesting out-of-the-box ideas being tossed around. Hopefully one or two of them will work for your current situation.
CHICAGO’S OUTDOOR DINING DESIGN COMPETITION
HOW ARE CONSUMERS FEELING?
IGLOOS — AGAIN
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE
Looking for updates on the next stimulus package? Contact your Representative: http://ow.ly/6tNc50BzoWv. Ask for movement. Because right now, nothing is happening.
If you have questions about how to maintain outdoor seating in your current space, what changes you can make to help you turn a profit quickly, how to generate more business — anything at all, really! — please schedule time with me this week. We’re still covering the cost of 30-minute consultations because we know that those 30 minutes can equate to major changes in your business. Please let us help.
With the threat of a second COVID wave on the horizon, it’s easy to go into panic mode. But our advice is to go into planning mode instead.
WHAT RISING COVID CASES IN EUROPE TELL US
IS NOW THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT EXPANDING?
I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH – PLEASE LOOK INTO IGLOOS NOW!
Last week we wrote about how to continue outdoor dining as temperatures begin to drop. But we don’t feel we put enough emphasis on how important it is to prepare now, so on yesterday’s call, we really broke it down.
BUT FIRST, COVID
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE CLEAN BILL (IF BY SOME CHANCE IT GAINS TRACTION)
HOW TO STAY OUTDOORS AS TEMPERATURES DROP (v. 2.0)
It’s pretty fair to say that we can expect the current dining situation to be in place for the next 3-9 months. Maybe even longer. So, in the interest of not getting caught unawares for what feels like the millionth time this year; let’s talk preparation.
Outdoor dining is still king. It allows you to safely meet face-to-face with your guests and create a memorable experience for them. But that experience is going to be more and more difficult if they’re growing icicles from their eyelids. We’ve talked to restaurant owners in ski towns and researched major cities to come up with a list of some of the most tried and true ways to create an outdoor dining experience in cold weather.
We’ve been preaching all summer that you need to get outdoors, and it’s still true, but with summer winding down now is the time to ask, ‘How do we stay outdoors??’ We explored some interesting options on yesterday’s call.
VIRTUAL RESTAURANT QUESTIONS
CURRENT STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
HOW TO STAY OUTDOORS AS TEMPERATURES DROP
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Based on everything that we’ve seen, most restaurants should be able to be profitable at this point. If you aren’t, please schedule time with me this week so that I can help you figure out how you can be. Everyone is facing the same issues right now, so chances are we know someone who has overcome whatever you’re struggling with.
Today we’re talking all things virtual and ghost kitchens, but first, a quick COVID update:
Although the total number of new cases is still very high in the US, the average number of new cases over the past week has decreased 22 percent from the average two weeks earlier. This indicates that mandated mask-wearing, social distancing, and increased restrictions are having their desired effect.
And that’s all we’ve got. Because it’s campaign season.
So let’s talk about how you can make more money, instead! Click here to watch the replay of yesterday’s call on this topic.
WHAT IS A GHOST/VIRTUAL KITCHEN?
HOW CAN IT BENEFIT YOU?
US FOODS CUSTOMERS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE
Could you benefit from opening a virtual kitchen? Schedule time with me this week; let’s talk through your options.
The news about COVID and how it has impacted small businesses seems to be dying down. But let’s be honest, the impact hasn’t stopped. Some incredible innovation has come out of this mess, and some restaurants are doing better than ever. But at the end of the day, things are still changing rapidly, forcing all of us to adapt and move quickly.
As always, I’m here to talk through any area of your business you may be struggling with. Schedule time with me this week if I can help you.
Quick summary of this week’s COVID update:
And that’s it, folks, enjoy the rest of your week!
Just kidding! Kind of. Congress went back on recess without striking a deal, so there aren’t any updates on the next stimulus package. President Trump did enact an executive order on housing and three memorandums to reappropriate some of the funds from the original CARES Act, but he’s likely to face legal challenges over these actions. But that’s about it.
This lack of progress opens the door for us to talk about some tech-related concerns though! We’ve spoken to many people who have questions about contactless tech and what they should be investing in, so let’s break it down.
To watch the video explanation of this information, click here.
NOT JUST A COVID FAD
HOW WE’RE HELPING
DIGITAL SECURITY (yeah, I threw this in randomly, but it’s important)
We strive to bring you the most up to date foodservice industry news every week. If you have a specific question or concern, reply to this email, and we’ll be sure to address it next week.
Have questions about legislation that affects the foodservice industry?
Confused about social media?
Not sure what multi-factor authentication is or if you have it?
Schedule time with me this week. We’re covering the cost of consultations, so let us know how we can help you!
The big topic this week is legislation — yes, still. And there’s movement! But, like, not a lot of movement. All of our fingers are crossed that we’re going to have some real answers by next week, but for now, we’re starting to see things trickle in.
You can catch the replay of yesterday’s call here. Here’s your weekly breakdown:
STIMULUS ROUND TWO
We strive to bring you the most up to date foodservice industry news every week. If you have a specific question or concern, just reply to this email and we’ll be sure to address it next week.
Have a question we haven’t addressed yet? Need a break from reality? Schedule time with me this week! We’re still covering the costs associated with social media consultations and general technology questions, but I’m happy to chat with you if you just need a quick escape too.
P.S. If you are in a position to, please consider donating to help the folks in Beirut.
The big topic this week is legislation…and the lack of movement. We won’t likely know what the new stimulus package is going to look like until next week, but we’ve done some postulating based on what we’re seeing. A few of our customers have had an employee contract COVID-19 over the last couple of weeks, so we’ve put together some guidelines regarding how to handle these types of situations.
EMPLOYEES AND COVID-19
Care to deep dive on any of these topics, or work through a restaurant technology thought with one of our experts? Please schedule time with us this week, as we’re still covering the costs associated with social media consultations and general technology questions.
Holy crap it’s almost August?! Make the best of your last few weeks of summer friends, and please reach out and say hello. Talking with you all about life, the universe, and everything continues to be the highlight of my weeks.
All my best.
There has been a lot of legislative talk and movement this week, so let’s get caught up!
Do you know of a business that could benefit from a free phone system? We are covering the cost of phone system installations as well as the first 90 days of service for any minority-owned business or organization that supports minority-owned businesses. Please have them schedule time with us this week.
Is it just me or are the weekly calls starting to sound a bit redundant?
We’ve officially reached the part of the pandemic where it’s starting to feel familiar, but not in the way that many of us want it to. On yesterday’s call, we addressed the importance of all of these repeating themes and in last week’s blog, we talked about how you can use these things to increase your restaurant’s revenue.
That’s all well and good, and we’ve got some exciting news coming next week regarding contactless payment, but this morning I really want to talk to you about that last one and why it’s crucial to your business: wear a mask.
My goal with these weekly webinars and newsletters is to help you make informed decisions about your business. Not to toot our own horns but we’ve been pretty accurate in our predictions of where the industry and the economy have been going thus far.
It’s important to us that we research thoroughly before we come to you with recommendations. We don’t just look at published research from the US, we also pour over research from other countries and factor in societal differences to draw our conclusions. We’re nerds, we like this stuff.
Have you ever heard of the term “click-bait?” If you haven’t, it’s when a link on the internet baits you into clicking because of the title, and then the contents of the next page are completely irrelevant to what you clicked on. This email, it’s clickbait.
Here’s why: simply put, more than 50% of people believe that masks help slow the spread of COVID-19. Are you making the connection yet?
Masks have become a political position of the highest magnitude as of late. I’m here to tell you that there are zero reasons restaurant employees should not wear masks, and it has NOTHING to do with politics.
4 out of 5 people are too scared to dine inside the four walls of a restaurant. Many are still too timid to order food to go. Between consumer apprehension and interior dining restrictions, your market has already shrunk considerably. The #1 thing needed to ensure that what’s left of your customer base is comfortable dining with you is to make them feel safe, and the majority of those people believe that masks work. Ergo, require masks.
People will never forget how you made them feel. The majority of customers will perceive that if you’re willing to put your staff and customers’ lives at risk over a face-covering — what else might you be willing to forego?
If around half (or more, depending on what recent research you reference) of your potential customers base their safety on mask-wearing, not requiring this one small thing could be the one small thing that’s driving a large chunk of your customers to your competitors. And chances are, they’re not going to come back. This is what makes the mask argument for restaurants irrelevant – we provide a service based on customer needs. If we fail to deliver on their expectations, they will go elsewhere and fast.
All of this is to say when I tell you you need to wear a mask and require that your staff and guests wear masks (regardless of local ordinances); I really mean it. I’m sure we can both agree that you want to stay in business, preferably turning a profit. The easiest thing that you can do to make that happen is to require masks.
Ok. The business logic is complete. Are you ready for the soapbox?
Nevermind that the biggest issue with the argument against masks is that it works against itself. You can’t say that you want the economy to reopen and in the same breath say that you refuse to wear a mask, because if we had all just agreed to wear masks as the economy reopened, as many other countries have, we’d probably be trending differently.
I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but according to several Ohio people who are, requiring masks is constitutional so long as there is a valid health concern. Of course, belief in the seriousness of a pandemic is an entire conversation in itself, isn’t it?
Wearing masks is our first, and simplest, defense against spreading Coronavirus. Requiring masks in your restaurant is the simplest way to convey to your community that you value their safety. If you think by not requiring masks you’re just making a statement about masks, think again. By not requiring masks, you’re making a statement to more than half of your community that you don’t care about their well-being.
I want you to have the largest possible chance of being successful. At this point in history, the fate of your restaurant could come down to something that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your food or service.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic; all of us. All that any of us wants is to feel safe. You can help people feel safe by making it a point to educate and inform yourself and your staff, by taking extra precautions and letting your customers know that you’re taking extra precautions on a regular basis. And as an added bonus — you might just keep people alive.
Please wear a mask.
Live URL: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=891607854653696
Guess what! It’s been a slow news week! Well, except for the Coronavirus rates continuing to rise at alarming rates. (Please wear masks.)
Believe it or not, there is a lot of good coming out of all this chaos. We took a few minutes yesterday to celebrate ways that the foodservice industry has come together to support their communities and vice-versa.
Llet’s start with Corona:
NOW THE GOOD STUFF
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate the positives in our life right now. There’s a lot of negativity going around but our communities are working hard to thrive together. Keep on fighting the good fight.
We are covering the cost of phone system installations as well as the first 90 days of service for any minority-owned business or organization that supports minority-owned businesses. If this service can help your business, please schedule time to chat with us this week.
It is important to us to continue sharing the racial equality resource list. We hope it helps you learn more about the evolution of systemic racism and what we can all do to help eliminate it.
As part of our commitment to being better allies, we are covering the cost of phone system installations as well as the first 90 days of service for any minority-owned business or organization that supports minority-owned businesses. We know that a phone system can make or break a restaurant’s ability to fulfill carryout orders, especially right now. We want to do what we can to make sure you are not missing any opportunities.
This week’s webinar is full of interesting info, so let’s dive in!
We are continuing to offer free consultation time through the end of June. If you need help with social media, have questions about work-sharing or reopening — if there is anything we can help with, we hope you’ll schedule time with us before this offer runs out!
Last week we mentioned that we’ve been putting together a resource document regarding racial equality. We published it as a blog this morning, but we want to get it directly into your hands.
We hope you learn as much from these resources as we have and that we all continue learning and growing.
Here’s your weekly summary of this week’s call.
As part of our commitment to being better allies, we are offering free phone system installations and covering the first 90 days of service for any minority-owned business or an organization that supports minority-owned businesses. We know that a professional phone system is crucial to restaurant success, especially right now. We want to do what we can to make sure you aren’t missing any opportunities.
We are also continuing to offer free consultations through the end of June. If you need help with social media, have questions about PPP or reopening — if there’s anything we can help with at all, please schedule time with us!
Happy Thursday morning!
It’s important to us that you know that we support the protests and the Black community. We know that knowledge is power and we don’t intend to stop learning and growing after the protests die down. Eliminating racism will be an ongoing effort.
In an effort to make information easy to find, we’re putting together a document full of the resources we’ve been using. We’ll be sending that out in the next few days. In the meantime, we’re working on our own action plan to make our organization more diverse and ensure that we’re creating opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
We are continuing to offer free consultations throughout the month of June. If you need help with social media, have questions about PPP or reopening — if there’s anything we can help with at all, please schedule time with us!
First, we hope that you are all healthy and safe. If your business has been affected by the riots, please reach out to let us know what you need help with. We’re here to help in any way that we can.
Regarding the current state of our country – we want to make sure we are doing our part to be an ally to the Black community and a resource. Over the next week, we will be sharing information via our social media channels about how we can all actively help end racism. Educating ourselves is imperative right now, so if you have any resources that you have found helpful, please send them our way!
Regarding reopening, it was a fairly quiet week…until last night!
To do our part to help you get back to business we are still covering the costs of business and social media consultations, phone system installation, text message setup, and print signage design through the end of the month. Schedule a time with us to take advantage of any of these.
Want to get answers to your foodservice industry questions in real-time? Join us every Wednesday at 3 pm EDT on Facebook Live or via Zoom, online: https://zoom.us/j/939317337 or by phone: 646-876-9923 Meeting ID: 939 317 337.
We’re keeping it short and sweet this week because, fortunately, there hasn’t been much going on in the news regarding reopening data. As far as we’re concerned, no news is good news.
First thing: Make sure you grab our Restaurant Cleaning Checklist!
Reopening entails a lot of changes and we want to do what we can to make it a little easier. We reviewed FDA, National Restaurant Association, and several state guidelines to put together a comprehensive list of areas that you should be paying attention to while cleaning your restaurant. We put it into an easy to print checklist that you can laminate and share with your staff.
Here’s what we talked about on yesterday’s call:
We started this week’s call with a controversial topic: “Should large chain restaurants be allowed to take PPP money?”
Why would we do that? Because we think there’s a section of the restaurant industry that is getting overlooked in the conversations about who should and shouldn’t be allowed to access PPP funds. Cheesecake Factory didn’t pay rent at any of their locations in the month of April and recently closed 27 locations. That’s a big deal. We love our local businesses but every restaurant closure impacts the people who were working there. What are your thoughts? We’d love for you to share them with us.
Important updates from the call:
To help you reopen and get back to serving your guests, we’re absorbing the cost of products and services we’re offering to our customers this month. Please book time with us to accept our gift and take advantage of these complementary tools:
P.S. Don’t forget that you can be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card by answering this 1-minute survey for us. We’d really appreciate it!
Good morning! Guess what!? We’ve got reopening data!
Before we get to that, we have a quick favor to ask. We’re looking for some insight and we need your help. If you’d do us a kind favor and take this 1-minute survey we’ll repay that kindness by giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one of the respondents.
Now on to the good stuff!
We’ve been waiting and watching to see what the reopening would bring not only here in the states, but overseas as well. Over the weekend, information finally started to roll in. Yesterday’s call breaks down the specifics, but here are the broad strokes:
The data we’re seeing is confirming our main point from last week: You need to maintain your customers’ trust by showing them that you’re doing everything you can to keep them safe.
We’re still offering a ton of FREE services through the end of May because we want to help you get through this. If any of these can help you, please let us know:
Want to get answers to your foodservice industry questions in real-time? Join us every Wednesday at 3 pm EDT on Facebook Live or via Zoom online: https://zoom.us/j/939317337 or by phone: 646-876-9923 Meeting ID: 939 317 337.
Are you in a state that’s gearing up to reopen restaurants? We compiled as much data as we could over the past week so that we could share it with you on yesterday’s webinar. We know there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding reopening and we want you to be prepared for what to expect. If you’re in Texas or Florida, you may have already begun the reopening process this past week. If that’s you, we’d love to hear what you’re experiencing!
Here’s a quick overview of what we discussed on yesterday’s Future of Foodservice call:
To get the full details, check out the webinar replay here.
The biggest takeaway is that your customers MUST trust you. They want to know when you’re open, what kind of precautions you’re taking with your staff, and how you’re going to keep them safe. Think outside the box in order to adapt to this new normal and talk to your local government regarding using roadways, tenting, and zoning variances.
We’re all in this together and to do our part we’re offering the following FREE services through the end of May:
Just schedule a time with one of our experts to get started.
If you missed our call and Facebook Live yesterday, we recapped the end of the PPP, updated on the EIDL program, talked through some tax implications from the CARES Act, and postulated on what things might look like in the weeks and months ahead. If you’re not sick of my voice yet, click play below and listen in, or you can always jump over and watch on Facebook to join in the conversation in the comments. Further below, I’ll summarize the call and provide a few more updates that have occurred over the last 24 hours.
SBA Program Updates:
CARES Act Tax Changes:
Net Operating Loss (NOL) Provisions
Excess Business Loss Limitations
Changes to Interest Expense Limitations
Employee Retention Credit
Note: Not available if the taxpayer also receives a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Employer Payroll Tax Payment Deferral
Note: Not available if the taxpayer receives a Paycheck Protection Program loan and that loan is later forgiven.
Additional Employee Grants:
Restaurant Strong Fund:
Mental Health Thoughts:
A Guess On “The Re-light”:
We postulated a bit on our call yesterday on when to expect states to begin easing existing restrictions. Due to the need for more ubiquitous testing in order to obtain better data to drive better decisions, our best guess is July 6. We believe most restaurants will be carry-out only sometime into June, with most states beginning to start moving to an opening of public spaces sometime between June and Early July.
CNN has a state-by-state update of existing restrictions, their existing end-dates, and some guesses on a more targeted level in an article posted this morning, also.
Finally, please join us Wednesday afternoons at 3 pm EDT as we continue to deep dive through best practices to prepare for the restaurant restart – it’s many weeks away now, but summer will be upon us in no-time. Those who prepare for the restart now are those who will be successful throughout the rest of 2020!
By Phone:646-876-9923 Meeting ID: 939 317 337
All My Best,
After living with a pandemic for three weeks, I’m noticing that time is finally starting to slow to a normal rate of change. While the situation we’re in is challenging and certainly new, I hope you’re finding your “new normal” and that it is treating you as well as it can.
We’ve had so many conversations this week about marketing, the stimulus, online ordering, layoffs, product ordering, menu management, and curbside processes that I think most of the folks working at Flyght could aptly complete a ‘How to Run A Restaurant During a Pandemic For Dummies’ book. We’re doing it all to better serve you and I hope that the information we’re finding and sharing continues to be valuable.
This week, I’d like to share three things with you.
First, the stimulus. We’ve found that over two-thirds of our customer base doesn’t understand the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Impact Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). On Friday, we held a call to talk about these programs, and the cliffs notes are below:
Second, we’ve received many questions this week regarding PPP and EIDL. We’ve spent many hours educating ourselves on these programs. We’ve spoken with representatives from our government and the SBA. This week, we’re offering free consultation time to get the help you need to take advantage of these programs. Please accept our gift and book time here: https://calendly.com/flyght/30minintro
Third, we’re hearing from many customers that with the transition to take-out, phone ordering has become extremely difficult. For the first ten customers who contact us, we’re offering free FlyghtVoice systems to replace your existing telephones. Move more phone calls through your restaurant with ease, and use our technology to throttle your kitchen during peak times. The monthly cost is generally less than your existing AT&T bill, and with no setup fee, we can help improve your phone process while actually reducing your monthly expenses. To get started, simply be one of the first ten people to reply to this message.
I hope you have a great week. If you have questions about anything going on in your business this week, please book some time with me, and don’t forget to take advantage of the other free services that we’re offering to help you get through this time:
Finally, please join us Wednesday afternoon at 3 pm EDT as we continue to deep dive through the PPP and EIDL, and start to prepare for the restaurant restart – it’s many weeks away now, but summer will be upon us in no-time. Those who prepare for the restart now are those who will be successful throughout the rest of 2020!
Over the last week, we talked to each and every one of our customers by phone. In almost every case, restaurants and their staffs are hurting, yes, but some less than others. Quite simply, we were able to quickly put customers into buckets, depending on how they were reacting to the circumstances, which we refer to as The Do Nothings, The Do Somethings, and The Do Awesomes. These buckets are about the same size, with around one-third of the folks we spoke to doing nothing, or shuttering their business completely; another one-third doing somethings, but without a true plan or strategy; and another one-time, moving as quickly as they could, embracing new technology and processes, and changing the entirety of their business in real-time in order to survive. This last group, The Do Awesomes, are all taking key actions are showing tangible sales that provide the best opportunity for long-term survivability. In fact, these successful businesses all share three things:
It might seem obvious, but the ratio of restaurants who are lamenting slow carry out business and restaurants who have terrible/poor/ugly/hard-to-read or non-existent signage is just about one-to-one. The way in which society is deciding on food choices today is a paradigm shift from yesterday – a change that has been coming slowly, but with the global shutdown afoot, has been expedited. The shift to hyper-local choices means that the more visibility you have at the roadside, the more business you’ll have curbside.
I’m sad to admit this, but when I was a kid, I liked to sell Kool-aid on the road in front of my house. In those days, I didn’t understand the phrase, “Location, Location, Location,” which is to say, I lived on a cul-de-sac, and traffic was a minimum. I thought of myself as a smart, enterprising young man, so I rode my bike, training wheels and all, around the neighborhood and posting some signage. The problem? I used a 4″ x 6″ postcard piece of paper and attached it to lampposts. As you could imagine, business never picked up at the Kool-aid-de-Chris stand because no drivers could actually read the signage I spent all afternoon hanging up.
Do Awesomes know that when planning signage, the first equation to tackle is the sizing of the letters, and wouldn’t you know it, the internet wins again, with the letter sizing calculator here:
Use the “By Traveling Size” calculator to determine how large your text needs to be, and then have your design created from there.
Speaking of design, we’re offering free graphic design for physical signage through April 15th, 2020. Just 30 minutes with our experts at https://calendly.com/flyght/30minintro and we’ll get you something sexy within 48 hours.
Signage isn’t the only marketing tool that’s important. Keeping up with social media, Yelp, your website, and local search are all critical tools for marketing a restaurant both in normal times and during a global epidemic. Brandify, a digital marketing agency, reported in November 2019 just how important these four avenues are for success – that almost 80% of consumers use Google Maps for local searches of restaurants, and that around 50% use Yelp, the restaurant website, or Facebook as well. Further, while the majority of those searches occur while the patron is at home, almost 35% of their survey respondents reported to search via Google Maps while driving to find their next food fix.
There are patrons searching right now for your restaurant, but going to a competitor, or going to the grocery store instead. As a general rule, social media should be tended to daily, preferably with video content. All avenues should be updated with true business hours, and special information regarding your response to the pandemic. Potential customers need to be reassured that your business is open, and their safe at your side.
Many of these avenues may be uncomfortable for an operator, but it’s more important now than ever, and once this crisis is behind us, your customers aren’t going to just go back to the way it was – the shift to local search will continue, and that’s why through April 15th, 2020, we’re offering free time with our kick-butt social media and search people. Please accept our gift by scheduling 30 minutes with our experts at https://calendly.com/flyght/30minintro to get your digital presence in-line with the reality of today.
Good marketing doesn’t mean a damn if the experience doesn’t exceed the expectation set from the marketing process. This is true at anytime, but even more critical during a time of crisis simply because the processes your business must implement are new for both the business and the customer. Curbside carry out is one thing for 10 orders per evening, but it’s something else entirely when it’s 200 orders.
The process you create depends on a number of things – the size of your parking lot, your square footage in the building, and if you’re delivering or not, among others. There’s no good silver bullet, but there are a number of great examples to get your inspiration moving:
One customer is doing more business than they’ve ever done in the history of the restaurant this week with one carry-out. They’ve implemented online ordering (and offered a discount for ordering online versus by phone), have positioned one staff-member in the parking lot to direct incoming vehicles to specifically numbered parking spaces, which are then relayed inside for quick delivery to the curbside. While the customers wait in their cars, there is a band playing in the parking lot corner to entertain guests and staff as the food is transacted.
Another coffee shop we visited this week had numbered parking spots, and would accept orders from your car window at a safe distance. Then another staff member would run the purchased goods to the vehicle, always knowing where to go based on the cone in front of the parking space which matched the kitchen ticket.
We saw another restaurant that built a make-shift drive-thru, and if the pick-up food was ready as your vehicle hit the front of the line, it was immediately handed over, otherwise the vehicle was directed to a numbered waiting space.
Another restaurant without a parking lot had spaces drawn on the sidewalk leading to the door and carry out window, to help people waiting for pickup continue to social distance themselves. In each box were hand drawn words of encouragement, and a guitarist was playing to the line from a safe distance.
Creating an experience inside a smooth process will keep your customers coming back during this difficult time. Signage, search, and process are the things, crafted together, The Do Awesomes are perfecting. If you’re looking for some guidance on your own process, all you have to do is schedule free time with our experts:https://calendly.com/flyght/30minintro
Please don’t forget our video calls where we’ll continue to share best practices and facilitate a discussion between great operators just like you. Please join us tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT.
Via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/214115536330220/
Via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/939317337
Via Phone:646-876-9923 Meeting ID: 939 317 337
Together, we’ll see the summer sun rise to toast our success. Please honor us by accepting our gifts.
Those that know me well know that in a former life, I used to be a much cooler version of myself, making enough cash to live promoting bands around the Midwest. Being St. Paddy’s day, and knowing that my punk rock roots were calling me to the live streamed Dropkick Murphys concert Tuesday night, I did what any 30-something with too little time would do – I took a run and listened to the live stream. I take a picture at the exact same spot each time I finish a run, and tonight was no different. The world we wake up to tomorrow will be considerably different than today, and most likely more sobering, but this spot continues to remind me of the power we humans have to exist with overwhelming joy. I have confidence despite the trials ahead, the outlook will be bright soon enough.
These past days have been tough. I’ve spoken with friends who have asked 90% of their employees to head to the unemployment line. I’ve listened to people cry. I’ve talked to one business owner whose father is 1500 miles away and can’t, for good reason, fly home. Yes, this situation is dire, but the day and the world are not lost. We had one customer tonight in Louisville, KY have a 60-minute expected time for orders because they were so busy. Many others shared similar results, and in a fair amount of cases, business today was roughly 60% of normal. As this new (and temporary) reality sets in, those numbers will rise as consumers become more accustomed to the takeout/delivery model (and get sick of cooking at home.) Today, my message is as real as it gets, but it’s still incredibly important to know that there are opportunities afoot that if executed properly will allow our businesses to survive this difficult time.
First, the truth. This is bad.
I know I just said the “A” word – August. These models show the infection rate to peak sometime in late June, then fall sharply into July. Restrictions on travel and otherwise will generally be relaxed once cases fall below 25% of the peak, which is effectively late July. That tells me that we should prepare to live in a new world for the next 15 weeks, unless we can curtail spring breakers and get our nation to take this seriously.
So let’s end the doom-and-gloom part of today’s writing, and let’s get pragmatic, instead. We can assume that our nation will quickly restrict human contact in the entirety of our country (i.e. restaurants go carry out and delivery only and most humans significantly reduce non-family human contact.) However, over 50% of the money spent on food in the United States is served from restaurants, and there is no possible way the grocery industry can virtually double its capacity overnight. You’ve seen the bread aisle this week. The entire country is going to rely on U.S. restaurants to get good quality food into its hungry mouth, which is why food service businesses will continue to be excluded from severe restrictions in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which we’re already seeing in and around San Francisco, where a “shelter in place” order has been enacted since Tuesday.
I started a list earlier, so, second, what should food service businesses be doing?
We covered this in detail on Monday, and I encourage a good pre-read there because this is a time to market more, not less, and being creative, bold, and continuous is the way we’ll reach a customer base that may not be accustomed to carry out or delivery from a particular business. If you’ve started this new model within the last several days, remember that everything takes time, just like a good marinade. Continue pushing, and you’ll continue to see a steady rise in your new business. Aside from marketing tools though, the first two steps are clear: 1) setup online ordering that flows into your point of sale system, and do it yesterday; and 2) put some of your people back to work and get to delivering. If you haven’t gotten through both 1 and 2, light the fire and get moving.
Third, we keep harping on this, but we’re doing three things today to help effected food service businesses:
Fourth, what are steps businesses can take now for immediate financial relief?
Fifth, what action has government already taken?
Sixth, what action should we take going forward?
These steps will begin to afford most food service operators the tools they need to continue operations past this pandemic. We hope this is helpful, and thank you for reading. We’ll be back next week with more.
Over the course of the last 24 hours, we’ve spoke directly with about one-third of our customer base. Depending on the business type, size, and geographic location, businesses are working through this tumult by closing completely, migrating to a carry out or delivery business, or by not changing their business at all. Many owners that we spoke to today were most concerned for their hourly workers who are essentially now unemployed. The near-term future (the next six to ten weeks) has become clearer over the last 48 hours, and I expect it will become even more clear over the next 48 hours. Those businesses currently in locations where action has not been required will quickly find themselves with restrictions. More cities and states will restrict travel, business, and restaurant activities in the days ahead.
A number of states, including Ohio, Michigan, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have ordered food service businesses to function in a carry out only capacity, and prohibited a number of other business types from opening entirely. The most restrictive order yet, begun at midnight pacific time this morning, prevents all humans in five counties in and around San Francisco from leaving their place of residence, except for “essential services, essential business, or essential government activities.” The restriction does allow restaurants in San Francisco to continue to operate carry out services, but certainly will continue to hamper business in the days ahead.
Despite the situation continuing to degrade, the steps taken in San Francisco gives some hope that restaurant operations can continue across the nation, hopefully at a pace that allows for long-term business survival. We spoke of several steps business can and are taking to continue onward yesterday in our Zoom call, which I will recap below. Further, we’re continuing our conversation on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 at 3:00pm EDT with another Zoom call. Please consider joining us again Wednesday for updates, ideas, and sharing of good activities that could very well make a significant change in the outlook of your business during the next 60 days.
Soapbox complete. I did promise five important pieces of information today:
First, the overwhelming majority of conversations yesterday reinforced that this is a necessary time to reassure customers that restaurants are responsible and running safe establishments. If you do decide to stay open during this time (and we encourage you to!), it’s an opportunity to rethink your business model and relevance to your customers. Specifically:
Second, help take care of displaced and under-resourced employees. There is no sugar-coating – the next several months will be painful for a great number of employees in many business verticals. Most states are making it easy to receive immediate unemployment benefits (Ohio, Washington, California, etc.), and many others are expected to follow this week (Michigan, Indiana, etc.). There are a number of billed currently stalled at the federal level which will attempt to assist as well, with updates expected this Friday or Monday next week. We will continue to update this list in the days ahead.
Third, it’s time to cut expenses, defer payments, and prepare for additional financing options. Our main office is located in Ohio, which is also a state moving quickly on emergency assistance. The Ohio Small Business Development Center is preparing for emergency low-interest loans, and a number of additional state agencies are coming online with relief of their own. We’re optimistic to see these programs, and anticipate being able to share many of them, from Ohio and other states, with you on our Wednesday call. Further…
Fourth, it’s important for staff to continue to remain healthy. Staff members should be checking their temperature twice per day (and once before their shift) to ensure that a fever of 100.4 or higher does not exist. Customers should be spaced six feet or more apart at all times. This was mentioned earlier, but seriously consider a curbside pickup program.
Fifth, please utilize our expertise, time and assistance. We are currently offering the following to help create some ease during this experience:
Scheduling time is as easy as one-click at https://calendly.com/flyght/30minintro
Join Us Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 at 3:00pm EDT to continue the conversation.
Show us your face on Zoom:https://zoom.us/j/450835953
Need to make the meeting by phone only? Call +16468769923,,450835953# or call 1-646-876-9923 and enter meeting ID 450 835 953#
Please reach out. We’re eager to assist.
I spoke with a restaurant/bar owner friend and client last night around 8pm EDT in Ohio who said, “you know, I’ve always wondered what the last night before prohibition would have been like, and I feel as if now I almost know.” His comment struck me because I felt similarly as I sat at my favorite restaurant (there were four people in total dining) for my last dining-out meal in Ohio for a few weeks.
We are in unprecedented times, and the rapid speed in which the landscape is changing is challenging. We’re adapting our operations in real-time, and caring for our customers and employees continues to be our top priority.
As a company, we’ve conquered many challenges over the years that have made us better prepared for a challenge like this. Flyght is here for you, and today, we’d like to offer the following:
* Facilitating online and 3rd party ordering
For customers not currently using an online ordering platform, we are deferring invoices for setup fees for 90 days, which means restaurants can be up and running tomorrow with Flyght Online Ordering without a single dollar of upfront investment. Call us at 419-724-3115 to get started on this today.
* Join the conversations today at 2:00pm and 3:00pm EDT.
At 2:00pm EDT today, we’re hosting a 45-minute conversation on the state of the industry. We’ll be facilitating a discussion on what options businesses have to continue operating, and we’ll share each other’s best practices for success.
Meeting ID: 486 328 835
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At 3:00pm EDT today, our friends at Balance Pan-Asian Grille have created an opportunity to hear from Ohio government officials and Ohio Restaurant Association officials in a fluid conversation. Join fellow business owners and representatives from the Ohio Restaurant Association and State of Ohio for a conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on food service businesses. Dial in at 712-832-8330 or 717-275-8940 and enter Access code 3190422.
* Consulting fees for existing customers are now complimentary.
Normally, our rates to consult high-level business practices are several hundred dollars per hour. Now, through at least March 27th, this service is free. We have a wealth of resources, and have aggregated best practices from our customer base. Ask us anything, and we’ll help with everything, from setting up your delivery and carryout processes, to facilitating employee wellness protocol.
Scheduling time is as easy as one click at https://flyght.acemlna.com/lt.php?notrack=1&s=bad97c655476f96a390a72c05a742011&i=13A901A2A804
* Educate any employees adversely effected by the current economic state.
Most states are making it easy to receive immediate unemployment benefits (Ohio, Washington, California, etc.), and many others are expected to follow this week (Michigan, Indiana, etc.)
Please engage us. We’re here to assist you as we all navigate this extraordinary time.
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