Tag Archives: increasing restaurant sales

What’s Usain Bolt’s relay baton got to do with customer loyalty?

Jamaican hero Usain Bolt was eventually given back the baton that he and his team-mates ran with to win the Olympic 4x100m men’s relay on Saturday night. It was quite understandable that he’d want to keep a trophy as a reminder of the record breaking race. 

Do any of your customers feel the same about their experiences with you? Are they freely given or unintentionally denied the opportunity to take away anything as a memento of their visit?

What will your customers remember most about their visit to you? What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others, and help build customer loyalty?

Could you offer any of the following either as a gift or as additional sales? Convert your renowned menu or signature dishes into a recipe book, package your hand-made petit fours into a gift box; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; homemade bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys; sell luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries. A win-win, the guest has something special to take home and you get an opportunity to ensure they remember you long after they’ve left, and prompt potential repeat business.

Getting personal

Identify the little finishing touches that you can give customers at the end of their visit that will leave them with that wow factor. This might be picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had with the customer that enables you to give them a personalised memento of their stay.

For example, they raved about a particular dessert so your chef has written out the recipe for them and where they can find the unusual ingredients (or even given them a sample to take home if that’s practical). They’ve been away on business and missed their wife’s birthday, so you assemble and gift wrap a selection of your luxurious toiletries for them to take home. They lost something on a day trip and you manage to source a replacement for them before they leave. They’ve been coveting a plant in your garden so you pot up a cutting for them and wrap it up for a safe journey home. The kids took a shine to a particular toy, game or book, so you pop it into bag for them to take home (or a least source where they can buy it from when they get home).

Be flexible

If they’d like to take their desert home in a goody bag because they are too full to enjoy it, then let them. They ask you about your luxurious robes; why not let them buy one at cost, and gift wrap into the bargain? They didn’t manage to finish that book they borrowed from your ‘library’.

Lasting memories

Give them something as a memento that’s good enough quality that they’ll want to keep it as well as relevant to your offer. It might not be something they’ve experienced this time around, but whet’s their appetite for their next visit.  Cheap and cheerful might hack it the budget market, but is this really how you want to be remembered?

Pass it on

Are your guests away from loved ones, and want to take a gift back home? What do you do, have or use that is unique or unusual and reflects your brand or identity? Homemade preserves, gifts made by a local artist or craftsman that reflect your location, branded toiletries…

Mementos and small gifts provide the perfect way to get your name out there to others. It’s far more subtle than asking someone for a referral, but in effect this is what a well targeted gift can do. This might be in the form of a tangible item, or could be a voucher or exclusive offer.

Even having information about what you do and what you offer to pass on to friends, family and colleagues with some sought after snippets of information or tips is better than nothing to pass on to others.

Show your appreciation

Mementos might provide a great opportunity for increasing sales, but don’t be so hell bent on this that you’re never prepared to give anything away. A small items as a gift is the perfect way to say thank you for their custom, and provides that element of surprise, and builds loyalty. Obviously this needs to be in line with your margins, but even something as small as a print out of the ingredients of their favourite cocktail or the recipe of a dish they asked about, printing out directions for their onward journey, or a kids’ car goodie bag or entertainment pack for the journey home.

And if nothing else, a simple – hand written if it’s practical – thank you note after their visit will keep you in mind for their next visit or when recommending to friends and family.  Remember to leave the door open for repeat business.

 


Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Yesterday I went to wave on the Olympic Torch as it passed us by in our nearby town. After parking a good 20 minutes walk away and standing in the rain for 20 minutes I was certainly ready for a cup of coffee, as I’m sure were many others.

I knew I’d be passing a pub restaurant on the way back to the car, along with another 200 or so people who’d parked in the same street. So that meant 200 or so cold, thirsty and wet customers.

And guess what?

The pub was closed. What a waste!

Here they had a captive audience, and completely gone to waste. And the next thing is they’ll be moaning about lack of business. Surely for that number of people it was worth opening 30 minutes earlier and making a song and dance about it. After all we all had to walk past on our way to the procession. Juat a little bit of restaurant marketing could have gone a long way.

Even with passing trade there was a great opportunity to drum up business.

What could they have done?

Here are 7 ideas to get some sales:

  1. Took account of the weather and how people would be feeling on the day
  2. Put up a welcome board or sign to attract attention
  3. Organised take away coffee for people en route to the procession
  4. Put together a bundled offer – e.g. coffee and Danish or hot food to give value for money and upsell opportunity (win-win)
  5. Joined the other businesses who got press coverage of what they were doing to celebrate (and get on the radar of visitors for potential further business; another win-win)
  6. Contacted their regulars and existing customers to let them know what they had on offer (easy if you have a mailing list)
  7. Bothered to open the doors!

I know it’s not rocket science……

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

 


Time for Tea?

I’m on a mission at the moment. To be able to get a decent cuppa when I go out!

After a lovely afternoon tea with friends at the Savoy last week it brought home to me just how much of an opportunity we are missing in hotels, restaurants and cafes. The top hotels have truly embraced this; look at what they are delivering at the Berkeley for example with their royal hats themed cakes, and local to me at Pennyhill Park in Surrey.

But if tea really is such a British institution couldn’t we be making more if it?

Nowadays we can get every possible permutation for coffee. But as a tea drinker few offer anything like the same selection of teas or put in anything like the same amount of effort.

According to the Tea Council tea outsells coffee by 2:1, but of this 86% is drunk at home. Is this because tea drinkers don’t trust hotels, restaurants and cafes to make a decent cuppa?

Do the numbers add up?

There’s certainly a commercial argument for getting tea right. The potential margins on a cup of tea are higher than coffee, and if you make an occasion of it this gives the opportunity for upselling a full afternoon tea package.

And unlike coffee you don’t need fancy and expensive equipment to make your perfect cup or pot of tea.

If 7/10 people drink at least one cup of tea a day (opposed to only 4/10 who drink coffee) there has to be an opportunity for any hostelry to be tapping into this market, surely?

Health

According to Bill Gorman of the Tea Council in his presentation at Caffe Culture last week, contrary to popular belief tea does not contain more caffeine than coffee, it actually contains about half the amount compared to instant coffee and a third of filter coffee. Tea is also widely known to be rich in a particular group of antioxidants called flavonoids; there is about eight times the amount of ‘anti-oxidant power’ in three cups of tea than there is in one apple.

More information can be found on the Tea Advisory Panel site. http://www.teaadvisorypanel.com/

And above all else tea is refreshing. So when we do get a summer, it’s a great way to rehydrate. Tea makes up 1/3 of what we drink. Whilst the black tea market has plateaued speciality tea is growing by 7%. The biggest competition comes from water and juices.

Snobbery

There’s a lot of snobbery around loose tea. Loose leaf can still be poor quality. Your customers will trust the big brands, which use a plucking standard (2 leaves and a bud) which produce approximately 4-5% fibre, whereas a cheaper economy tea might use 6-7 leaves and get 40-50% fibre, which makes for a pretty poor drink.

There a huge range of quality teas, both loose leaf and tea bags. I just love those sexy little pyramid bags such as Novus http://www.novustea.co.uk/ . Exploit the branding and if you use a quality product you are going to be more confident in charging a decent price. If you are just starting to expand you tea range do it gradually; judge your customers tastes, avoid wastage and build up your team’s knowledge gradually.

Presentation

Why do we hide our tea offer? You look at the menu and see all the coffees listed out and then hidden somewhere in the middle you’ll spot ‘Tea’. Give it prominence on your menu, and give some detail to educate your customers. At the Savoy the team menu (all 4 pages of it!) each tea had a description. Not only this, the waiters were able to describe each tea, and asked what sort of tea we liked so they could recommend. (At the time I thought this a bit ironic to have a Canadian and a German knowing way, way more about team than the 4 of us Brits put together!)

If you are in a setting where your tea is on view, make sure it is presented in a way that shows you give your tea some care. Leaving it sitting in a tatty cardboard box on top of a water boiler, getting dried out does little to enhance its appeal. You wouldn’t expect a customer to buy a can of Coke sat at an ambient temperature on the counter. Talk to your tea suppliers about display tins or stands.

Serving

Tea needs freshly drawn water (so there’s oxygen and nitrogen in the water apparently, but please don’t ask me about the science behind this!) For black tea the water needs to be boiling. This means that water from your coffee machine won’t be hot enough for a decent tea. On the other hand green tea will become bitter if made with boiling water, so let the temperature drop to 85°C.

Everyone likes their tea differently. So train your staff to ask how people like their tea. In our house my Earl Grey gets half the brewing time of hubby’s English Breakfast.

Give a perception of value by serving a pot of tea rather than just a cup or mug. Not only does it mean 2 cups (at no extra cost to you) it gives the customer the flexibility to brew their tea to their preferred strength.

If you serve tea in a cup or mug, provide somewhere to put the spent teabags – that’s accessible with one had (i.e. not a swing top bin – one hand holding the cup, one hand holding the bag, result – tea dribbles all over the bin top as you nudge the bin open with the tea bag!) Just a little thought not only makes it easier for your customer, but leaves less mess and probably saves a fortune on napkins into the bargain. Even with teapots provide somewhere for teabags in case your customer wants to stop the tea brewing any further.

Milk is the bane of my tea drinking experience. Following the principle that the water needs to be boiling to brew the tea, if you serve tea in the cup never put the milk in before the bag comes out. In Norway I was even presented with a cup of tea where the milk went in before the water and my tea bag was left on the side – with the best will in the world this will never make a decent cup of tea, however good your raw ingredients.

Use semi skimmed milk and preferably allow the customer to pour their own milk; however much or little you put in, it will never be right!

Educate

Educate your team on your tea offer and train them in the art of tea making. Use your suppliers for advice and to help with training. If they can’t or won’t do this find a supplier who will. It’s a great way to impress your customers and build trust. Not only will be a lot easier to upsell to other products, but goes a long way to establishing your reputation as a place to trust for a decent brew.

Make a feature of tea

Once you’ve mastered the art of making a decent cuppa, use this as a basis for tea themed offers and promotions. Introduce a tea of the month, ask your supplier to work with you on a tea tasting, look at your sandwich and cake offering to combine with your tea for the quintessential English afternoon tea, and promote this to improve footfall for otherwise quiet times of the day.

So in summary my 10 top tips for a perfect brew:

  1. Use quality tea and a recognisable brand
  2. Build up your range of teas gradually
  3. Review your other offers to make a special feature of afternoon tea
  4. Give your tea menu prominence and add descriptions
  5. Present your tea attractively
  6. Invest in some teapots (and hot water pots)
  7. Check the temperature of your hot water and ensure it is boiling for brewing black tea
  8. Give customers somewhere to put their teabags
  9. Use your tea supplier to educate your team on the properties and flavours for each of your teas, and
  10. Train your staff in how to make a decent cuppa

All this talk of tea has made me thirsty. Time to put the kettle on…

Save


Educate and build credibility through your mailing list

Depending on the nature of your target market you could use your mailing list to engage with your customers by sharing your knowledge. For example:
Ask your head chef to provide a recipe of the month, tips on baking the perfect meringue or crusty bread, a buyers’ guide to choosing fresh fish recipe ideas based on what is in season right now, or anything related to your current menu.

  • If you are a park or garden, ask your gardening team to share seasonal tips.
  • If you have a golf course you might share tips on the latest equipment or techniques to hone their swing.
  • If you have a spa, ask your spa team to share information on relaxation techniques, aromatherapy remedies, tips for the perfect pedicure, skin car regimes, etc.
  • If you are an historical site share some of your story on how you preserve special features.
  • Ask housekeeping for tips on stain removal, cleaning household items such as glass, leather, silk etc. or ‘the day in the life of’.
  • If you are a wedding venue ask any of your joint venture partners or preferred suppliers such as florist, photographer, limousines, suit hire for their top tips.

What’s happening

Last but not least keeping in touch with your customers is an ideal opportunity to keep them up to date with what’s going on. Yes, this will include forthcoming events and promotions that they may be interested in, but it’s not just about this. No one wants to be bombarded with sell, sell, sell emails. You’ll soon get unsubscribes from your list if you do this. Create a sense of intrigue and curiosity; tell them about your plans, changes you’re making (e.g. progress reports on refurbishments), what’s new (e.g. your new menu, new toiletries, treatments or service, refurbishments, celebrity involvement). You then have a reason to invite them back or make an offer.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what they’ve missed; what are your success stories.

If you are an education centre share some of the projects you’ve been working on with schools. If your target market are families with young children, tell them about activities children in enjoy (with plenty of pictures too, to show them having a good time with their favourite TV or Book character!)  Historical site may cover recent discoveries. These also provide a great opportunity to share photos and testimonials, which all helps build credibility.

Maybe they missed it this time, but now they can see for themselves what they’ve missed out on it will be a lot easier to get their attention next time.

So don’t leave a return visit or referral to chance. Ensure you’re keeping yourself in your customers’ minds; keep in touch.

You can find more on building customer relationships in the Hotel Success Handbook


Who are your salesmen (and women)? Part 4

Today is about rounding up all that has been discussed this week on finding your salesmen and women.

Give guidance, incentives and recognition

Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. Observe how your staff handle the sales or upselling conversation and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help.

Link your upselling activity to some goals.  This might simply be a target to sell x number of a certain product or service, or may be linked to specific financial profit targets.  Whatever goals you set ensure these are clearly measurable and achievable, that any incentive is equitable so everyone is motivated to contribute, and that you give regular updates on progress.

Recognise and reward those that do it well, to encourage them to continue to do so. And ensure everyone knows they all have a role to play in sales


Facebook – Fad, fan or fear

To what extent have you embraced social media to help market your hotel or restaurant? Are you already a fan of Facebook or do you still think it’s just as fad, or do you fear it.

I have to confess that I’ve been in the last category; I’m fine with LinkedIn and Twitter but up till now just couldn’t get my head round Facebook. Maybe I was a bit sceptical about the value of Facebook as a way to market a hotel or hospitality business.

After attending a webinar earlier this week with Barry Chandler, The Bar Blogger, looking at Facebook specifically for hospitality businesses I’ve been convinced!

Here are just 10 of the tips I picked up on how to use Facebook to help market your hotel or restaurant

  1. You need a Facebook page (opposed to a profile or group) as you can:
    – Ask people to like your page
    – Customise your page
    – Add contact forms
    – Not be limited to the number of fans (with a Facebook profile your limit is 5000)
  2. Choose your name carefully once set up you can’t ever rename your page
  3. Customise your URL to match your business name to make it easier for people to find you
  4. On the welcome tab encourage people to click your like button by giving them some incentive in the same way you would be getting people to sign up for your newsletter
  5. Use the page to capture contact details
  6. Add menu tabs to give more details on specific themes of interest such as your menu
  7. Offer exclusive deals or behind-the-scenes content for your Facebook fans to encourage them to interact
  8. Encourage people to take pictures and add your tag, so all their friends find their way back to your Facebook page
  9. Interact with your fans to get feedback and build the relationship e.g. asking them to vote their preferences
  10. Remember to track how people find you so you know whether or not your Facebook (or any other marketing) activity is working for you

How to Reward Referrals for your Hotel or Restaurant

As an absolute minimum, ensure that you thank anyone who makes referrals for your hotel or restaurant to encourage them to continue to do so in future. Don’t wait to see if this actually leads to business, as what you are looking to reward is the referral process. The more referrals you have the greater the likelihood of gaining new guests.

Consider what other tangible incentives you might give that are of high value to the person making the referral, but don’t cost you the earth. Naturally you’ll want to ensure that the cost of the incentive does not outweigh the life time value of the referral.  But bear in mind what you give as a thank you may also be a way of adding to the life time value of the person making the referral too.

The nature of this incentive will obviously depend on where the referral came from.

For hotel guests or restaurant customers they might include such things as a gift, discount off their next meal, a room upgrade, an invitation to an exclusive event. Perhaps team up with one of your joint venture partners; this could be services or maybe branded products. A win–win–win for you, your joint venture partner and the customer.

For corporate users make the incentive something your guest can benefit from personally. It’s little incentive for them if it is something they’d normally put though business expenses. So can you offer something as a thank you which will encourage them to come back on a personal visit and maybe bring their family and friends too?

For suppliers, joint venture partners or other local businesses you may want to look at alternate ways to say thank you. This might be an opportunity to get in front of some of your other customers or guests through promotional activities or hosting joint special events. Talk to them directly to see how you can return the favour. Just by asking the question will in itself show you appreciate the referral.

Encourage your staff too to make referrals. Let them show they are proud of where they work. The reward obviously needs to reflect the value of the business; recommending your restaurant to a friend doesn’t warrant the same level of recognition as inviting a friend or relative for a wedding show round and subsequent wedding booking.

What might appeal to them may be dependent on the profile of your team. A cash bonus might work for some, but is soon forgotten whereas a couple of tickets for a show or concert, or a night in a sister hotel or meal with a JV partner will be far more memorable – and visible to other team members too to encourage the same from them.

Once you have a referral system in place, keep track of where and how you’re getting successful referrals. This will enable you to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you can continue to refine the process.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Make the referral process easy for your hotel or restaurant customers

For hotel guests or restaurant diners the sooner you ask for referrals after they have stayed or visited, the better. This is the time they are likely to be most positive about what you delivered.

The way you ask for referrals is key. If you ask: “Do you know anyone who might be interested in receiving details of our promotions?” you are likely to get  “No” or at best “I’ll think about it.”

But if you ask a specific question, for example:

Who else do you know who is celebrating [their birthday, wedding anniversary, retirement …] in the next few months and may be interested in our [all-inclusive weekend breaks, wine promotion…]?

Creating a simple referral form that you include with the bill can encourage existing guests to make referrals. Make this prominent, and offer incentives for them to give you names.

Maintain relationships with your customers, even if the likelihood of more business with them is limited. They are more likely to refer you to friends, colleagues or others if they have had recent communication from you. Even if a guest only stays with you once they have a network of friends and colleagues who may also be your ideal guests. The lifetime value of one guest can be their connections to other guests, too.

On Monday we’ll go on to look at what you can do the reward those who give you referrals to encourage them to do it again, and again.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


How to encourage referrals

Yesterday I was asked what type of incentives hotels or restaurants can provide for loyal customers to encourage them to become ambassadors and drum up business for you. But before we cover that, let’s consider why and how you’d encourage this type of loyalty.

We all know of the importance of online reviews, but I’m not talking here about general comments open to anyone. And offering any incentive for positive reviews will soon get you into hot water with most of the online review sites.

I’m referring here to your regulars, those who are already loyal to you, and if given a little encouragement are happy to refer you to friends, family and colleagues.

Referrals are a great way to build your customer base – if a person comes to you as a result of a referral, you don’t need to go out and find them. This is a much easier way to market a hotel! The person who made the referral has already experienced what you offer and will do the selling for you.

Referrals build loyalty with the people who recommend you – they will want to be seen to stand by their referral by continuing to come to you themselves.

Give people a reason to talk about you

So how do you get people talking about you, and how do you get referrals? As I’ve stated before, they won’t say good things about you unless you meet and exceed their expectations. So first, do something exceptional.  Identify things that are of high value to your guests but low cost to you so you can give added value. Give people that reason to talk about you.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

But referrals won’t always happen unless you ask for them.

If you don’t ask you often don’t get. So don’t be afraid to ask people directly who else they know who may be interested in specific packages or services you offer.

The obvious people to ask for referrals are your existing guests. Focus on those guests or customers who are your ‘perfect guests’ as the people they refer will be a better match to your preferred type of guest.

Think about other people who know you well enough to recommend you. This might include colleagues, suppliers, local businesses, joint venture partners, your own team and others in your network.

This will be easier the better they know you and when they fully understand the extent of everything you offer. So let them experience this first hand. A prime example is your local tourist office – they won’t want to recommend you unless they’ve experience your hospitality first hand. The same goes for local businesses of joint venture partners, who may have customers needing a place to say. So invite them to a showcase event or to a more personalised invitation for dinner, overnight or event.

The same goes for your staff too, they need to experience what your guest experiences. When was the last time any of your team ate in your restaurant, slept in one of your beds, or was pampered in your spa?

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to make the referral process easy.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


How to market a restaurant or hotel through partnerships and joint ventures

Do you know other businesses who already work with your ideal guests? If so, why not set up a joint venture to help market your restaurant or hotel? A joint venture is when you team up or collaborate with another business or an individual to either share resources or help each other out with a promotion or service you can’t offer yourself. Joint ventures provide an ideal opportunity for some low-cost marketing.

To identify prospective joint ventures, think about other businesses that will have lists of people you would like to attract as customers. These don’t have to be competitors (although many businesses do form joint ventures with their competitors quite successfully). They might be suppliers, clubs or organisations who deal with your ideal guests or customers; other businesses who sell complementary services such as local entertainment or attractions; or just fit the profile of your guests by age or location.

Joint ventures may take on many forms. The easiest joint venture is sharing your respective customer and prospect lists. You write to your entire list promoting the joint venture business, and they do the same to their list promoting you.

BUT don’t just give your list to your joint venture partner. There are two reasons for this. You must be the one writing to your list, to respect the privacy of those on it. And your prospects and guests’ trust is in you, not your partner, so when they see something coming from you the message has more credibility and impact. And vice versa for your partner’s list. So for both privacy and effectiveness, only ever write to your own list.

Joint ventures might also be a partnership in a project. A popular option might be hosting a particular event jointly with one of your suppliers, e.g. a wine lovers’ dinner, where your wine supplier provides promotional material and maybe even some of the wine in return for a speaking spot on the night. A win–win all round.

Other joint ventures may be more long-term. For example, if you are close to a particular attraction, you may be able to advertise in their promotional material and on their website (and vice versa) and for each of you to offer or give away vouchers for a discount on entry to the venue, while they give out promotional offers for your hotel. This is a way of third-party endorsement and your joint venture partner will feel a lot happier about doing this if they have had first-hand experience of what you offer, so don’t be afraid to give them a taster.

Don’t limit yourself to entertainment or leisure businesses, though. Think about what businesses you trade with. What businesses do your guests or prospects use? (either locally, in person or virtually, online.)

This type of arrangement may even have further spin-offs, such as you providing catering, accommodation or support for big events. For example, your local tennis club runs a national tournament and recommends your hotel for accommodation (at a preferential rate), and holds its prize giving dinner at the hotel. On the other hand, if the attraction in question is something to be sought after, this may be a good selling feature for your hotel or restaurant if you’re in a position to secure (maybe VIP) entry or tickets in advance.

Becoming an ‘expert’ opens up other opportunities for joint ventures – where do other people interested in your subject go? Think about the golf club, hobby magazine subscribers, spa product suppliers, and so on.

 

If you missed last week’s tele seminar on  The 7 fatal mistakes hoteliers make in getting more business you can still download the recording here