Best Reservation Systems for Restaurants

With so many online reservation systems available on the market, it can be hard to select the platform that makes the most sense for your business. Restaurant reservation apps make it easy for customers to book tables, and they help staff keep track of reservations. 

We’ve created this list to compare and contrast OpenTable competitors and to help restaurants find what works best for their business. Learn more about the most popular restaurant reservation systems below! 

Best Restaurant Reservation Systems 

      1. OpenTable
      2. Yelp
      3. EatApp
      4. Tablein
      5. Resy
      6. Tock

 

OpenTable

 

OpenTable is probably the most popular reservation system currently on the market, and for good reason. This platform is intuitively designed and easy to use for customers and restaurants. It sends automatic confirmation texts and emails.

OpenTable comes with training for employees to better learn the platform, and support is available 24/7 in case of technical difficulties. This reservation app also includes table and waitlist management.

 

Pros:

  • 24/7 technical support 
  • Free GuestCenter certification training 
  • Table management and waitlist management

 

Cons:

  • Since this service is so heavily populated with businesses, if potential customers are browsing the site they are less likely to find your restaurant

 

Price:

    • $249 per month
    • $1.00/seated diner booked on OpenTable or $0.25/seated diner booked on your restaurant’s website

 

 

Yelp Reservation Systems

 

Yelp is one of the most recognizable names in reservation and reviews systems. Since 2016, Yelp has reserved 92 million seats for customers across the country. When you sign up with Yelp, they send a free iPad to help get started with helpful technology.

They also offer a waitlist management tool, automatic reminders for guests, and other tools. Because Yelp doubles as a review platform, however, keep in mind that reviews will affect your bookings. 

Pros:

  • Brand recognition, large volume of users
  • Free iPad
  • Flat rate for all services
  • NoWait waitlist management app
  • Automatic SMS and email reminders
  • Two-way diner messaging, table management, table assignment, and server management

 

Cons:

  • Because the reviews are easily accessible in the reservation system, if you do not have a strong base of good reviews, customers may be dissuaded from booking.

 

Price: 

  • $299 per month is a flat rate for all services. 

 

EatApp

 

EatApp allows customers to make online reservations 24/7, but phone calls only work during regular business hours. This app also directly integrates with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, so customers can book directly through those sites or through advertisements on their social channels.

EatApp also offers features like POS integration, table management, and waitlist management. It is a Google and TripAdvisor partner, so EatApp is a reputable source for reservations.

Pros:

  • 24/7 online reservations
  • Social media integration
  • POS integration
  • Table management and waitlist management
  • EatApp is an official Google and TripAdvisor partner

 

Cons:

  • One main drawback is that SMS and email confirmations are only free for the first 250 messages. If you usually have a higher volume of reservations and are interested in confirmations, it may be worth looking into a plan where they are included in the monthly cost unlimited.

 

Price:

  • $119 per month when billed yearly
  • $159 per month when billed monthly

 

Tablein

 

Tablein is easy to use and very user-friendly for both restaurants and customers. It offers 24/7 booking and offers year-round customer support if you face and technical issues. Tablein sends automatic SMS or email messaging for confirmations and reminders.

With Tablein, restaurants can choose to allow customers to choose their seating placement as well. It also includes table management. Tabelin is a better option for smaller restaurants.

 

Pros:

  • User-friendly platform
  • 24/7 booking
  • Year-round customer support
  • Automatic SMS or email messaging 
  • Table management, table selection for patrons
  • Inexpensive compared to other options

 

Cons:

  • Since Tablein is a newer platform, they have only seated over 10 million patrons, much less than Yelp’s 92 million or Resy’s 200 million.
  • Their standard package only allows for up to 150 bookings monthly. The premium package gives you unlimited bookings. 
  • Tablein does not offer waitlist management or POS integration, which many other platforms include with standard packages.

 

Price:

  • $49 per month for a standard package
  • $95 per month for a premium package

 

Resy

 

Resy has seated over 200 million users, making it the most-used reservation platform on this list. This system offers online reservation booking, waitlist management, and table management.

Resy sends automatic SMS confirmation for guest bookings and asks to confirm, lowering the amount of no-shows. Depending on which package you choose, Resy offers POS integration and custom reporting.

 

Pros:

  • Well known reservation system
  • Automatic SMS confirmation
  • Waitlist management and table management

 

Cons:

  • Only the highest tier package includes POS integration and custom reporting, but POS integration can be added for an additional $100 per month to Platform or Platform 360 packages.

 

Price:

  • $249 per month for Platform level
  • $399 per month for Platform 360 level
  • $899 per month for Full Stack level

 

Tock

 

Tock is another top-rated restaurant reservation system. Along with reservation bookings, Tock offers social media integrations to share and increase bookings on social channels. A unique feature of Tock is that it allows users to create guest profiles.

Here, customers can create a profile and save information like food allergies, special requests, and other preferences. This can help create a personalized experience for your customers and increase return clients. Tock also sends post-visit questionnaires to generate feedback to improve your restaurant performance. 

 

Pros:

  • Social media integration
  • Guest profiles and preferences
  • Post-visit questionnaires 

 

Cons:

  • The higher priced package might not be worthwhile if you don’t have a high percentage of prepaid reservations.

 

Price:

  • $199 per month for Plus with a 2% fee on prepaid reservations
  • $699 per month for Pro with no fee for prepaid reservations

 

What is a Restaurant Reservation System?

 

A reservation system is a platform that allows customers to book reservations with ease, both online and offline. Simpler booking means more reservations, which means more profit for your restaurant. Not only does this software lead to happy customers, it can also help you manage employee schedules, save time and optimize efficiency.

Modern reservation software often includes intelligent features like waitlist tools, table management for hosts, and confirmation messaging. Different platforms offer different features, so learn more about each system and how it works before buying it for your restaurant.

 

How To Choose a Reservation System for Your Restaurant

 

There are a few key components to keep in mind when making your decision. Price can vary a lot between platforms. Free sites are more cost-effective, but may lack certain valuable features. Each system has a unique set of tools and functions, so it is important to keep in mind which will be the most useful for your needs. Ease of use is also good to keep in mind.

Features

 

How does the reservation software work? The main feature that you should consider is reservation booking, of course, but many systems bring more to the table. Other features often include table management, waitlist management, SMS or email confirmations, automatic reminders, and more.

Advanced restaurant reservation systems can often integrate with your POS system or with social media, making it easy to share information about your restaurant and promote reservations. To help you learn more about your restaurant business and reservations, many tools also share reporting on reservation trends and statistics.

Another feature that comes in handy is customer support. If you aren’t a tech expert or you choose a platform that requires some assistance, it can be extremely useful to have a dedicated customer service line in case of any issues.

 

Price

 

Price is always a factor when making decisions about your business. While reservation systems can help increase profits by making it easy for customers to make reservations, the system itself shouldn’t break the bank.

Consider your budget as set forth in your business plan and set a limit on how much you can afford to spend, then explore options within your price range. Some reservation systems offer packages at different price points, some offer a flat rate, and some charge per reservation made.

 

Ease of Use

 

Online reservation systems are meant to make your life easier, not harder. Make sure you choose a system that you and your employees can easily manage without too much added stress. The system should help streamline reservation booking, not complicate it.

Ease of use is also important for customers. If they want to make a reservation but find the process too complicated, they may be turned off and dine elsewhere. Again, your restaurant reservation system should make it easier to book a table, not more difficult. Try making a reservation on your chosen system from the customer’s point of view to see how it works.

 

Restaurant Reservation App

 

Does your reservation system have a corresponding mobile app? Most people access the internet via smartphone nowadays, so the best restaurant reservation systems should have an app that makes mobile booking simple. Check the app for ease of use as well, as a glitchy app will turn people away just as easily as a difficult website.

 

Final Thoughts

No matter which online reservation platform you choose, we hope you find one that works well for your business. Weigh the pros and cons and costs of each before making a commitment. 

Need help getting more reservations? Restaurant Clicks specializes in restaurant marketing, so we can help fill seats with various techniques. Check out unique promotion ideas, learn more about restaurant branding, or contact us for help developing a restaurant marketing plan!

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Restaurant Branding: How To Build Your Restaurant Brand

In an industry as passionate as the restaurant business it can be hard to stand out amongst competitors. Follow our guide on How To Build Your Restaurant Brand and learn how to present the best version of your restaurant to your customers!

 

What is Restaurant Branding?

 

Your restaurant’s brand is the sum of the public’s experience with your restaurant. This includes but is not limited to your brand’s

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Food
  • Merchandise
  • Social Media Presence
  • Visual Branding

 

…and much more.

 

These are all elements that will make or break the success of your brand. Being in the restaurant industry means that your brand is constantly being judged by potential consumers. It’s more important now than ever to ensure that your brand is being presented in a clear, professional way in order to establish your credibility.

Why Branding is Important For Your Restaurant

 

There’s much more that goes into the restaurant experience than good food or cheap prices. Everything from napkins to bathrooms are a part of how the consumer interacts with your business.

That being said, a clean looking logo or a cozy dining area will help draw people into your restaurant before they even know if your food is good. Competitors are taking any advantage possible when it comes to their success, so it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve.

Understanding Your Target Audience

 

The key to building a successful brand is to understand who your restaurant appeals to. Ask yourself as many questions as possible. How much do they make? What are their values? Why would they choose your establishment over a competitor’s? It may seem silly at first, but it’s important to know how your customer thinks so that you can best suit their needs.

Once you know your demographic, conduct research to see what your restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses are. An easy way to do this is to offer coupons to customers who are willing to fill out surveys. It can also help to see what people are saying about your business online. Lastly, Point of Sale technology (POS) helps restaurant owners digitally keep track of sales and collect customer data.

It’s important to analyze why people come back to your restaurant. What unique service do you provide? What aren’t you offering? Does the competition offer it? Asking these questions will help you understand your core customers, and what keeps them coming back for more.

 

Brand Values

 

Now that you know who your restaurant appeals to, establish a set of values for your brand to follow. Fast food joints that sell cheap burgers may not care as much about product quality or diet inclusive menus. On the other hand, other businesses may take pride in themselves for offering healthy choices and vegan options. These are all things that are important to consider when trying to appeal to your core customer demographic.

Other things to consider are environmental consciousness and advocacy for public issues. In the digital age of advertising where everyone is trying to sell you something, people notice genuine gestures. If you want to support a cause with an event at your establishment, or raise awareness for a public issue, don’t be afraid to. People will take notice, and will help your core audience develop a sense of community that stems from your business.

 

Visual Branding and Your Restaurant

 

One of the most important elements of your restaurant’s brand is how things tie together visually. A uniform theme with consistent font choice and colors are essential to establishing your restaurant’s visual brand. It doesn’t matter how good your food is, if your logo is unprofessional or your presentation doesn’t meet standards, people are less likely to consider your place of business.

 

Your Logo

 

Your logo may seem like a small part of your business in the grand scheme of things, but logos are your centerpiece for branded content. A logo will determine things like color scheme and font choice, and should reflect the personality of your brand.

If your restaurant has a mascot or figurehead, you may want to incorporate them. Again, it’s always important to think about your target audience and what might appeal to them.

 

Font Choice

 

Something that many restaurant owners overlook is the importance of font choice. The fonts you use on your menu, logo, and throughout your restaurant should reflect your overall theme.

A traditional barbecue might try for a bold western font, whereas a brunch spot might try something more elegant. Make sure your font matches the energy you want to give off from your establishment.

It’s important to keep in mind that these fonts should be easily legible – after all, you’re trying to sell food and communicate with consumers. It’s also important to not use too many different fonts, so that people have a good understanding of what lettering to associate with your brand.

Color

 

It may seem trivial, but even the color of your branded content should reflect the tone of your restaurant. Bold colors like red and yellow will grab consumer’s attention, while colors like blue and purple are associated with calmness. There’s a reason why many fast food chains use these attention grabbing colors. Choose colors that best represent your brand, and if done successfully your branding ideas will start reeling in customers.

 

Theme

 

All of these visual elements play into the theme of your restaurant. In order to communicate your branding ideas with others and establish yourself, it can help to create a style guide.

A style guide is a document that contains all of the elements that go into what makes up your brand. This includes fonts, colors, logos, merchandise, and any other visual elements you want to remain consistent throughout your restaurant brand. Interior design in your restaurant and decor may play into this as well.

Mood boarding can also help organize and communicate the aesthetic of your brand. A mood board is a collection of pictures that suit your brand’s theme. Different from a style guide where you communicate what makes up your brand, a mood board is a collage of elements that are styled similarly to your brand, and are used to draw inspiration for how you want to run your business.

 

Customer Engagement

 

It’s estimated that the average person sees thousands of advertisements daily. That being said, if your ads don’t stick out, it will get lost in a sea of advertising we all see on a daily basis. As mentioned before, your brand’s value system will help your core customers create a sense of community. This can be done in other ways as well.

Interacting with customers on social media can go a long way to accomplish this. When someone posts something about your restaurant online, whether positive or negative, do your best to engage with them.

Most people would think your business is too busy or rich to reply to their tweet or blog post. This way interacting with them can have a lasting impression on not only the user, but to anyone who views their post. Even if they post something negative, trying to resolve issues on a public forum will have lasting impressions on everyone involved.

Examples of Successful Restaurant Branding

 

It can help to draw restaurant branding inspiration from the many popular brands that have successfully established themselves in the market. These are some examples of businesses that have used the elements of strong branding in order to expand their audiences.

 

Honeygrow

 

Honeygrow is a chain restaurant with a focus on health food. They play to their strengths with options that are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. They pride themselves on a healthy options that don’t break the bank.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Let lunch cover ALL your food pyramid bases: carbs, (healthy!) fats, greens, fruits, dairy + sweets. ✅🌱🍜🍐😋

A post shared by honeygrow (@honeygrow) on

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Their visual theme is kept consistent and trendy, and it appeals to their target audience of health conscious young people.

 

Sonic

 

Sonic is a fast food brand that does it a little different. What makes them unique isn’t the food they serve, but the presentation of their restaurant. You can either go through the drive through like any other fast food chain, or choose to dine in the parking lot. When you choose the latter, you’re met at your car window by their roller skating staff members who serve you your food.

While Sonic thrives off of selling simple fast food, the novelty of their service is something you can’t receive elsewhere.

 

Wendy’s

 

More well known brands such as Wendy’s use their social media presence to entertain their followers. By taking a different approach than other brands with a less serious tone, they’ve amassed a lot of attention and followers on Twitter.

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This can be risky with a smaller business, but might be worth trying depending on the tone of your brand.

 

Final Thoughts

Your restaurant brand defines your business. Stay consistent in branding to develop a following of loyal customers and share your values through branding! For help with a restaurant marketing plan, from branding to leads and more, contact Restaurant Clicks!

The post Restaurant Branding: How To Build Your Restaurant Brand appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How To Write a Restaurant Business Plan

A restaurant business plan is absolutely vital for your new restaurant business. It’s important for you to write out a thorough business plan detailing its structure, financials, target demographics, and more to keep your new business on track from the beginning.

A business plan is necessary for any new business, and restaurants especially can stand to gain from thorough planning. Restaurants can be notoriously hard to run and keep profitable, so it’s important to do your homework ahead of time.

A business plan is needed to help set your restaurant up for success, as well as attract investors and provide information for licensing applications. 

What is a Business Plan? 

 

A business plan is a written description of a business’ goals and how they plan to achieve them. It’s essentially a road map for your business. Business plans can be used to set benchmarks for your restaurant, and they can help when applying for funding from investors or applying for the various licenses that restaurants need to legally operate. 

 

What To Include in a Restaurant Business Plan

 

Business plans can include different elements. A standard business plan typically includes the following: 

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Market Analysis and Competitive Analysis
  • Business Operations
  • Management and Ownership
  • Financial Analysis

 

Every business plan looks slightly different, however, so there is more or less that you can choose to include. When writing a restaurant business plan, often things like a sample menu, restaurant design, location, and more are included. What sections you add will depend on your restaurant, goals, and more. 

Business plans often include a marketing section as well. This could be brief or long and detailed, but regardless of what you put in your main business plan, you should have a restaurant marketing plan as well. 

Business plans are typically between 10 and 20 pages long. What you include may influence the length. Be thorough, but succinct and to the point so that it doesn’t drag on for too long. 

How To Create a Restaurant Business Plan 

 

If you’re still figuring out how to open a restaurant, starting a business plan is an early step in the process. You may not have every detail figured out yet, but it can help you see where you need to flesh out those details. 

Let’s look at the main components of a business plan and what information you should include as you start crafting your restaurant’s business plan.

 

Executive Summary

 

All business plans begin with an executive summary. This section is both an introduction and a high-level summary that looks at the big picture of your business plan. 

An executive summary should include your restaurant mission statement as well as the overall concept of your restaurant business. Consider branding and what makes your restaurant stand out, as well as the type of food, type of service, and general aesthetic you’re aiming for. 

Since a business plan is also used for investors, this section should sell the reader on why your restaurant is a good investment, a unique business that will succeed, and expected ROI. 

Typically, an executive summary is about one page long. 

 

Company Description

 

The company description is where you can go more in depth about key information for your restaurant. Include its official name, contact information, and location. You should also provide the owner’s name and some history on the business or the owner’s relevant experience in the industry. 

The description should also briefly cover the restaurant’s goals, short and long term. Briefly discuss the target customer demographic as well. You may also mention things like business structure and your restaurant’s current legal standing in terms of licenses acquired. 

Keep this section brief and high-level – you’ll get further into the details in later sections. 

 

Market Analysis and Competitive Analysis

 

The market and competitive analysis can be broken into two sections or written together. They cover similar topics, so it’s up to you whether you combine or separate them.

A market analysis looks at your restaurant’s target market and who your customer base will be. Consider who your target demographic is and why they’ll choose your restaurant over others. You should discuss the restaurant industry and market in your area, and how you think your restaurant fits into that market. Use statistics or data to make projections or comment on things like average income of your target customers. 

A competitor analysis should look at other restaurants in the area and how your restaurant will compete. Are there other restaurants similar to your concept, or will yours be totally unique in the local area? What prices are the other restaurants charging? What market do they cater to? You should aim to prove how your restaurant will stand out and out-perform the competition. 

The market analysis section can also include a marketing plan. This is a good place to explain how you’ll reach and appeal to your target market. Discuss restaurant promotion plans to bring in customers, marketing campaign strategies, and more. You may also choose to have a detailed marketing plan later in your business plan. 

 

Business Operations or Services

 

This section is also sometimes labeled “Products and Services”. Here, you should state what services your restaurant provides. Some elements you may want to mention include: 

  • Hours of operation
  • Number of employees
  • Type of service offered (sit down, fast food, quick serve, upscale, etc.)
  • Legal needs (licenses acquired or needed)
  • Vendors or suppliers

 

The business operations section may cover some logistics as well as how your business will benefit customers or the area. Make it clear what need your business meets in the community. 

 

Management and Ownership

 

Here, you can dive further into the business structure. If you’re writing the business plan, you’re very likely the restaurant owner. Explain what you, as the owner, will be responsible for. 

From here, you can explain the rest of the management team and who will be responsible for what duties. If you have partners or other managers hired, explain their roles and experience that will make them successful. If you haven’t hired your management team yet, simply explain the different positions and what they’ll be responsible for. 

It’s important to have a clear structure that shows who is responsible for what and who reports to who. This sets up your business for successful communication and shows investors that your business will run as a well-oiled machine. What structure you choose will depend on your unique business – what’s important is that you have a plan for it that investors can clearly understand. 

If you have other professionals hired, you may want to mention that here as well. If you have an accomplished head chef on board, investors will be interested in that information. Even contracted or consulting professionals on hand will be helpful to mention – for example, lawyers, accountants, contractors or interior designers, or even a PR or marketing firm. 

 

Financial Analysis

 

This is probably the most important section, since investors will be looking primarily at the numbers. We recommend hiring an accountant to help pull this information together – ideally one with experience in restaurant finances. This will help both investors and yourself better understand the reality of the financial side of your restaurant business. 

To put together financial projections, you’ll need to know the average bill at your restaurant, the number of people you can serve in a day, and how many seats you expect to fill per day. Factor in operational costs, labor costs, and food costs, as well as the profit margins for your menu items. 

This section should cover start up costs, a profits and loss statement, a break even analysis, and projections for the first 3 to 5 years of your restaurant’s operations. 

 

Menu

 

While a menu is not a part of a standard business plan, it should be included in a restaurant business plan. Your menu does not have to be set in stone – this information is more about the type of food you’ll serve and the standard cost per dish. 

Providing a menu helps solidify financial information, and makes it clear that you’re well on your way towards starting a restaurant. Use a food cost calculator to ensure that menu items are properly priced. You can also provide the menu in the style that you plan to use at the restaurant for branding purposes. Include your restaurant’s logo if it has been created. 

A sample menu can be its own section in your business plan, or you could add it to the business operations or services section of your plan. 

 

Location

 

General location information should be covered in the market analysis. You may want to add further location information in this section, or add more thorough information in a separate location section. 

At this stage in the process of opening a restaurant, you probably don’t have a site chosen and rented yet. You should provide research about the neighborhood or neighborhoods you’re looking at, however, and show that your restaurant would succeed there. Look at the demographics about who lives, works, and dines there to show that your target market is present. 

You can also mention what you’re looking for in a location in terms of square footage, design and layout ideas for the restaurant, local foot traffic, parking, accessibility from different areas, and more. 

 

Restaurant Business Plan Examples

 

While every restaurant business plan will look unique, it can be helpful to check out examples. Guidance is always helpful, especially if it’s your first time writing a business plan. 

Check out Bplans’ restaurant business plan samples. They provide examples for various types of restaurants, so you can find a business similar to your own to compare to. These examples are free, so use this resource to help as you begin writing your own! 

 

Why Your Restaurant Needs a Business Plan 

 

If you’ve made it this far, it should be clear why your restaurant needs a business plan. Even if you’re funding the restaurant all on your own or you already have funding, a business plan is essential to detail the important factors that go into owning and operating a restaurant business. 

Aside from investors, business plans can be shared with licensing committees when applying for business licenses, food service licenses, zoning licenses, liquor licenses, and more. You may also need a business plan to attract a partner or another important member of your restaurant staff, like the chef. 

Even if your restaurant business plan is for no one but yourself, you should create one. This plan is a road map for your business, especially early in the startup process. The financial projections are absolutely necessary to understand the costs of running your business as well, so that part of the plan is the most essential for owners. 

 

Final Thoughts 

 

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. Starting a restaurant business is challenging and can be risky without proper planning. Start working on your restaurant business plan today to bring your dream of owning a restaurant to reality. 

Do you have a business plan, but need help coming up with marketing? Contact Restaurant Clicks for more information about our restaurant marketing services. 

The post How To Write a Restaurant Business Plan appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

15 Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Attract More Customers 

Whether you’ve just opened a new restaurant or your existing restaurant needs a boost in customers, restaurant promotion is a must. Luckily, there are plenty of specials that will get customers in the door and filling seats. 

Some restaurant owners worry that offering specials and promotions will hurt their bottom line, but when done correctly, a promotional deal can be extremely lucrative, bring new customers in, and build loyalty with those customers so that they come back. 

We’ve come up with a list of the best restaurant promotions and specials to try out. These specials are not one-size-fits-all, but you’re sure to find a new idea to try at your restaurant. 

Best Promotions and Specials for Your Restaurant

      1. Restaurant Opening Promotion
      2. Loyalty Programs
      3. Happy Hour Specials
      4. Weekday Specials
      5. Lunch Specials
      6. Weekend Brunch
      7. Holiday Promotions
      8. Charity Promotions
      9. Local Event Specials
      10. Menu Item Promotions
      11. Food Blogger or Influencer Event
      12. Business Card Raffle
      13. Industry Night
      14. Coupon for Next Visit
      15. Online Order Promotions

 

Restaurant Opening Promotion

 

If your restaurant hasn’t opened yet, the opening of a restaurant is a great opportunity to introduce your new business and build a customer base! There are plenty of great grand opening ideas or soft opening ideas, but you can also offer a promotional deal to get them in the door.

Promotions could include discounts, free items, or other specials. One example is Wawa, the quick serve deli chain. When opening a new location, they offer free coffee for everyone that comes. This brings a huge amount of customers in, and most are likely to buy something else while they’re there. 

 

Loyalty Programs

 

Loyalty programs are a great way to keep customers coming back after an initial visit. If it fits the style of your restaurant, a loyalty program can encourage repeat customers and build customer relationships. 

The key to a successful loyalty offering is to find a balance between an enticing deal for customers and a good profit margin for your business. You shouldn’t offer a discount that is too generous and loses money in the long run. 

Common loyalty programs include buy 9 items, get the 10th free – this is good for small items like coffee or ice cream, but probably not for full meals. Bars can offer loyalty specials for attending a certain amount of happy hours. A bar or brewery offering craft beers could even offer a special after a customer tries each beer on the menu (hopefully not in one sitting). 

 

Happy Hour Specials

 

Happy hour is one of the most popular specials around! A happy hour special could include beverage discounts, food specials, or both. Typically only bars or restaurants that serve alcohol offer happy hour, but non-alcoholic happy hours could work as well. 

Your happy hour special can include a blanket discount, or discounts on specific drinks and food items. You can also do different happy hour specials for each day of the week, or just have the same happy hour deals each day. Many restaurants only offer happy hour on weekdays, since weekends are usually busy on their own. 

 

Weekday Specials

 

Just as we mentioned above, you can offer different specials for each day of the week. This can coincide with happy hour, or it can be a special of its own. 

Often, weekday specials are for a different type of food or drink each day of the week. Many restaurants use alliteration, for example: Margarita Monday, Taco Tuesday, and so on. This is not required, of course, it just makes it catchy and easy to remember. 

If a certain day of the week is particularly quiet, you could offer a special exclusively on that day. Crowded days and times don’t need promotions, since your restaurant is already busy during that time. Use a special to promote a day/time where your crowd is lacking. 

 

Lunch Specials

 

Many restaurants are successful at dinner, but struggle to fill seats for lunch. This isn’t necessarily a problem – if you can afford to keep less staff on the clock during lunch and it’s still profitable, that might be just fine.

If you are looking to populate lunch, this is a great time to offer a special promotion. Popular lunch specials include soup, sandwich, and salad combo deals or other such light fare. Whatever the offer is, a lunch promotion can help fill your restaurant during quiet hours. 

 

Weekend Brunch

 

Is your restaurant open for Saturday and Sunday brunch? Brunch is very popular right now, so hopping on this trend can be a great move for your restaurant. 

One of the most common and popular brunch promotions is bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. Offer these drink specials at lunch and require that customers also buy food, and your brunch will very likely draw a crowd. 

Before offering “bottomless” drinks, check your state and local laws to ensure that this is a legal offer. Some liquor laws prohibit this kind of special. In lieu of this, you could simply offer discounted brunch drinks, or allow BYOB at lunch and charge for juice to mix with or a corkage fee. 

 

Holiday Promotions 

 

Holiday specials can be extremely effective, as many customers are looking for holiday dining plans already. There are plenty of holidays that you can use for a special, but some of the most popular holidays for restaurants include:

  • Superbowl
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day 
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve or Day

 

Some holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, may work better as seasonal deals as opposed to promotions on the day of, since many people spend those days with family (and your restaurant may be closed!). 

Consider the type of holiday and what you may want to promote. Valentine’s Day is a great day for a couple’s dinner promotion, while Saint Patrick’s Day is better for bars promoting beer or whiskey specials. 

 

Charity Promotions

 

Working with a local organization or nonprofit group can bring new customers in and give your business a good, charitable reputation. There are various ways to work with charities, and often many will reach out to you. If there is a specific issue in your neighborhood, raising money in support can unite your business with the community and attract new customers, all while making money.

Many charity promotions give a certain percentage of proceeds for the night to the organization in need. You can also use a guest bartender to earn money for a local organization – a member or several members can bartend, which also cuts down on staffing costs for the event. 

Charity or community events are great because they usually draw a crowd with little effort on your part. Typically, the organization or guest bartenders will promote the event for you and share with their friends, so you can sit back while the crowd pours in. Just be sure to price the discount or donation so that you don’t lose money on the event. 

 

Local Event Specials

 

Use big events in your area to draw in crowds. Sporting events are a big draw, especially for a sports bar or restaurant that typically plays games on their televisions. Offer deals during the game and you’re sure to draw a crowd – just make sure they don’t get too rowdy.

Sports aren’t the only option, however. Other big events in your area can be opportunities to attract customers with specials. If you’re near a concert venue, offering pre or post concert deals is an option. Partner with any big event in your area and try to use their marketing and audience to draw people to your bar or restaurant. 

 

Menu Item Promotions 

 

Similar to weekday promotions where you offer certain deals, you can also promote specific menu items. This deal could be on a specific day, or run for a full month. 

One way to promote menu items is to offer exciting, rotating menu items. Come up with an innovative dish to draw in customers! If it’s offered for a limited time, people may be more inclined to visit soon. You can offer a deal on this item, or keep it full price and hope that the appeal is enough on its own. 

One idea for a burger restaurant, for example, is a “Burger of the Month” that is only available for that month. With a unique and unusual menu item, you can bring in crowds simply by sharing it on your website and social media. 

You could also promote some menu item deals, like a free side of french fries with any entree order. Small items like fries are cheap and easy to make, but the deal will attract bargain seekers. 

 

Food Blogger or Influencer Event 

 

Invite local food bloggers or foodie influencers to your restaurant. Offer them free or discounted food in exchange for free press on their websites or social media channels! While offering free products may seem counter-productive, getting exposure online to a food-based audience can be great for business, especially if you’re just starting out. 

 

Business Card Raffle

 

A somewhat old-school but still viable promotion is a business card raffle. Customers can put their business card in a fishbowl or some other receptacle, and once a month you pick a card and offer a reward to the winner. The winner could receive a free meal, or simply a discount. You can draw cards weekly, monthly, or less often if you’re offering a bigger reward. 

Nowadays, not everyone carries business cards. A solution to this issue is to have small cards available for customers to fill out their information. Ask for name, phone number, and email. 

A raffle will bring customers back to your restaurant and build loyalty. It can also be useful for collecting information. Once you have the email addresses for customers, you can add them to your email marketing campaign and send them other promotions or offers to come back. 

 

Industry Night 

 

Industry night generally means offering a discount to other professionals in your industry, including other restaurant employees, restaurant owners, or others in the hospitality field like local hotel staff. If you’re in an area with lots of local businesses, you can choose to include business owners in your community as well. 

Hosting an industry night builds camaraderie among local businesses and hospitality workers. It also brings customers in, and even with a decent discount it can be profitable. This tactic can build good standing with your business neighbors and lead to repeat customers. Industry night can be a regularly scheduled event or a less common but special deal. 

 

Coupon for Next Visit 

 

To get customers to return, offer them a discount off of their next visit at the end of their meal. This is like a one-time loyalty program. The coupon will get them to come back a second time, and may turn them into regular customers. It doesn’t have to be a huge discount – even $10 or 10% off their next meal can be enough incentive to come back.

 

Online Order or Delivery Promotions 

 

If your restaurant delivers or works with an online ordering platform, offer promotions on delivery to keep the orders coming in. You can offer free delivery, $5 off, or other discounts. When people order out, they’re often looking for deals – especially when delivery fees are skyrocketing. Offering small savings can seriously increase your take-out revenue. 

 

Restaurant Promotion 101

 

Now that you have plenty of new ideas to try, how do you know which will work best for your business? You may have to learn through trial and error in some cases, but first consider what makes sense for your business. 

 

Which Promotion is Best for My Restaurant? 

 

Consider the following factors when choosing a promotion for your restaurant: 

Target Demographic

Who are your customers? What type of customers would be drawn to or enjoy your restaurant? Consider who you’re trying to bring in with each promotion. Your branding, restaurant aesthetic, and what you serve will come into play here.

An upscale restaurant probably won’t want to promote the Superbowl or St. Patrick’s Day – those promotions work best for bars. 

Your Restaurant’s Pain Points

What are you trying to solve with this promotion? Is it a quiet time of day where you aren’t making money? Or a certain area of your menu that never gets ordered? 

Use your promotion to solve the areas where your restaurant is struggling. If Tuesdays are dead, start a Tuesday special. If no one orders your appetizers, try running an appetizer special. Figure out where your restaurant could use a jumpstart and create specials to improve those areas. 

Your Restaurant’s Goals

What is the goal of your special? In some cases, it may be simple: revenue. In others, however, you may be looking to build customer loyalty and increase repeat customers. Or, maybe you want to get more first-time customers through the door. Perhaps all you’re looking for is good press, in which case the food blogger event may work. 

Think about what you’re trying to achieve. It may be all of these things and more, but know what the goal of each promotion is so that you can track the results. 

How To Keep Specials Profitable 

 

You may be thinking, “How can I offer all of these specials and stay profitable?” First of all – don’t offer too many specials at once. If you used every idea on this list at once, it might hurt your business. 

Know your profit margins on anything you offer a deal on. Offering specials obviously means you’ll be making less on those items, but ensure that you’re still profiting off of the sales. If you aren’t profiting, it may not be worthwhile – unless it’s worth the good press and customer loyalty. 

Use a food cost calculator to check that your discounted costs are still profitable. 

How do you promote special offers? 

 

Each promotion may need a different strategy to get the word out. Generally speaking, promote your specials on your website, social media, and with signage at your restaurant. 

Need help with restaurant or event promotion? Restaurant Clicks offers marketing services specifically tailored for restaurants. Contact us today to learn more! 

The post 15 Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Attract More Customers  appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How To Get a Liquor License 

If you’re working towards opening a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, figuring out how to get a liquor license is an important step along the way. 

Liquor license laws vary by state, and depending on your location they can be simple or difficult to obtain. If serving alcohol is an important factor for your new restaurant business, it’s best to start applying for a liquor license early. 

Liquor Licenses

 

A liquor license is a permit given by the government that allows businesses to legally sell and serve alcoholic beverages. Without a liquor license, it is illegal to sell alcohol to patrons. Depending on your state, selling alcohol without a liquor license can result in various charges, ranging from fines to misdemeanors with jail time. 

Alcohol laws differ from state to state, so the process and costs for getting a liquor license varies, as well as the specific regulations around serving alcohol. Each state in the US has its own Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC board) that regulates liquor licensing and alcohol sales. 

While getting a liquor license for your bar or restaurant can be a somewhat difficult process, it’s typically worthwhile for your business. Small Business Chronicle reports that alcoholic beverages have some of the highest profit margins, falling between 60-80% depending on the type of beverage. 

 

What Do Liquor License Laws Regulate?

 

So, what do liquor license laws actually govern? As we mentioned, it varies across state lines, but common regulations include:  

  • Liquor license costs and quotas
  • Type of alcohol sold
  • To whom alcohol can be sold
  • Where and when alcohol can be sold
  • Whether alcohol can be served or sold to go 
  • What amount of alcohol can be served and containers it can be sold in
  • Alcohol manufacturing and distribution laws
  • How much alcohol costs
  • Who wholesale vendors can sell to

 

Types of Liquor Licenses

 

There isn’t one blanket liquor license that any establishment selling alcohol can obtain. Within each state, there are different types of liquor licenses that apply to different types of businesses. 

One broad category that most states differentiate is the difference between an on-license and an off-license. This essentially covers licenses to sell alcohol to be consumed on the business’ premises vs. off the businesses premises. 

Restaurants and bars typically need an on-license, since patrons drink their beverages at the establishment. Off-licenses are for liquor stores or beer or wine distributors. 

Aside from on and off licenses, there are other distinctions between different types of liquor licenses. Each state has different classes, but the most common types of licenses are the tavern license, a beer and wine license, or a restaurant license.  

There are also different licenses for breweries and distilleries that make and serve alcohol, clubs, retail establishments, and more. Check your state’s liquor laws to figure out what license you need. 

Tavern License

 

A tavern license is the standard permit for bars, pubs, or taverns. This license is for establishments where selling alcohol is the main source of business and earnings. 

Beer and Wine License

 

A beer and wine license is for businesses that want to serve alcohol with food, but limited to beer and wine (no hard liquor or mixed drinks). 

Restaurant License

 

A restaurant license is the standard permit for restaurants, and allows any type of alcohol to be sold. Most states set limits, however, on what percentage of earnings can come from alcohol sales. If you’re starting a restaurant, this is probably the license for you. 

How Much is a Liquor License?

 

The cost of a liquor license varies by state, and by the specific class of license you apply for. Prices can range from $300 all the way into the $10,000 range. In some states, you’ll have to pay different fees for federal, state, and local licensing. 

Typically, liquor licenses are more expensive in states with quotas on how many licenses they give out. In these states, the number of liquor licenses is determined by the population size in given municipalities. This makes it more difficult and more expensive to get a new license in these states. 

In some of these quota states, there is a secondary market for resale of liquor licenses. Some reports say that restaurateurs have paid hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for a secondary market license. 

Which States Have Liquor License Quotas? 

 

The following states have quotas on how many liquor licenses they’ll award based on population: 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida 
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan 
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah 
  • Washington
  • Some areas of Washington D.C. 

 

How To Apply for a Liquor License in Your State

 

To apply for a liquor license, you’ll need to contact your state’s ABC board. We’ve listed the website for each state’s ABC licensing board below, so you can easily find your state’s resources. 

The step by step process of getting a liquor license looks like this: 

      1. Contact your state’s ABC or liquor licensing agency for information on what type of license you’ll need and its availability and cost. 
      2. Submit your application for a liquor license, as well as any supporting documents needed.
      3. Wait for approval. ABC boards may take up to 6 months to review your application.
      4. Pay for your liquor license, if approved. 
      5. Obey all regulations around your license to avoid losing it. Liquor licenses must be renewed every 1 to 3 years. 

 

Liquor License Requirements

 

Each state has different requirements that must be met in order to get a liquor license. You’ll likely have to provide documentation to prove the legitimacy of your bar or restaurant in order to get a license. Every state is different, but common documents needed include: 

  • Tax ID number from the IRS
  • Business license 
  • Sales tax permit
  • Alcohol tax permit 
  • Health permit 
  • Zoning permit
  • Food handler’s permit (if your business sells food) 
  • Building permit
  • Signage permit

 

There may be other legal documents needed to apply for your liquor license. Most of them are the necessary licenses and permits you need to open a restaurant, but you may need to supply some personal information as well. When you first contact your state’s ABC board, you can ask what documents you should prepare. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Liquor License? 

 

The standard waiting time for a response from your state’s ABC board is up to 6 months. You may hear back sooner, but expect to wait awhile. We recommend applying in advance if possible so that your liquor license is in place by the time you open your restaurant or bar. 

If you live in a state with quotas, it can take even longer. If there aren’t any liquor licenses available, you’ll have to wait for another establishment to forfeit theirs, or try to buy one on the secondary market. 

FAQ

Can you renew a liquor license?

 

Yes, liquor licenses can be renewed. Liquor licenses are valid for 1-3 years, depending on state and local laws, before they need to be renewed. The renewal process is typically much easier than the initial application, but it varies by state. There is usually a renewal fee, but it is much less than the original cost.  

Once you receive your liquor license, you can ask your state agency about the renewal process. 

Do BYOBs need a liquor license? 

 

Generally speaking, BYOB restaurants do not need a liquor license. There are some states, however, where the state requires some kind of license, especially for liquor. Check with your state ABC board to see if you need a license to allow customers to bring their own alcohol, or if there are limitations to the type of alcohol they can bring. 

If you do choose the BYO route for your restaurant, it may be wise to invest in liquor liability insurance so that you are protected from any potential liabilities. 

How old do you have to be to get a liquor license?

 

You must be 21 years old to apply for a liquor license for your business.

How old do you have to be to serve alcohol?

 

You must be 18 years old to serve alcohol in most states. In some states, you must be 21. 

Can I apply for a liquor license online? 

 

Some states offer online applications for liquor licenses, but there is often an added fee. Call or check your state’s ABC website to learn more about online applications in your area. 

Can my business lose its liquor license? How?

 

Yes, a business can lose its liquor license. Typically, bars and restaurants lose their licenses because they fail to follow liquor license laws. The most common reasons for losing a liquor license include serving alcohol to minors or over-serving patrons, especially if it results in injury or lawsuit. 

How To Get a Liquor License in Your State

Learn more about the liquor license laws in your state and how to apply by checking your state’s ABC website: 

The post How To Get a Liquor License  appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

NYC Restaurant Earns 120K in Private Dining and Event Leads

About the Client

Platform: WordPress

Goals: Increase organic search traffic, increase private event leads

Strategy: On-page optimization, landing page optimization, and link building

 

About the Campaign

The client, Copinette, wanted to improve their search result rankings and increase private dining leads through their website. They are based in Midtown, Manhattan, which is an area of heavy competition for restaurants. Standing out against all the restaurants offering private dining in NYC is a challenge, especially in competitive Google search results.

 

Our Strategy

After auditing the client’s website, we put together an SEO strategy, focusing on private dining events. We did a competitive analysis and keyword research to put together a comprehensive plan to optimize their website for organic traffic and leads.

We updated their current landing pages, optimizing for the targeted keywords on each page. Our goal was to help them rank for restaurant and private dining keywords by location, for both NYC and Midtown East specifically. As always, we considered search intent when targeting keywords. We targeted keywords like “Midtown East private dining”, “private dining NYC”, and more specific searches for private events like corporate parties, holiday parties, baby showers, and so on.

Aside from on-page optimization, we also launched a link building campaign. Links from relevant websites to your website essentially count as “votes” in the eyes of Google, so the more links to a website, the more authority and rankings. By linking to the client’s website on targeted keywords like “private dining Midtown NYC”, we were able to help improve their rankings for those search terms.

 

Results

Our SEO strategy was implemented starting in June 2019 with great success. The campaign brought in over 200 private dining leads, 112 of which were closed for successful private events. Our metrics estimate over $120,000 in revenue from these leads, as seen below.

 

The increase in private dining leads was a direct result of improved Google rankings. The client’s website moved up almost 900 spots in assorted Google search rankings.

Those rankings include frequently searched, highly competitive keywords such as “private dining NYC” which is searched thousands of times per month. The client’s site is on page 1 of Google search results for various keywords related to their location and private dining and other private events. These rankings brought in those 200+ leads seen above.

 

What We Learned

This campaign taught us that a focused SEO strategy can yield results, even in a highly competitive niche like NYC restaurants and private dining. Through keyword research, link building, and landing page optimization, we were able to significantly improve rankings and bring in over 200 private dining leads over less than six months.

Need help with your restaurant marketing plan? Contact us today!

The post NYC Restaurant Earns 120K in Private Dining and Event Leads appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How To Open a Restaurant: 12 Steps to Starting a Restaurant

Opening your own restaurant is an exciting business venture. Wanting to start a restaurant business and knowing how to open a restaurant are two different things, however.

If you have a passion for food, food service, or bringing people together over a meal, the restaurant business might just be for you. 

Starting your own restaurant can be challenging, especially considering all the competition in the restaurant industry. Statistics show that the number of Americans dining out continues to increase, however, so there are plenty of potential customers to go around. Take the right steps to open up a restaurant to work towards building a successful restaurant business. 

How To Start a Restaurant 

      1. Pick a Food Concept or Type of Restaurant
      2. Name Your Restaurant and Lock in Branding
      3. Write a Business Plan
      4. Plan Your Menu
      5. Set a Budget and Obtain Funding
      6. Pick a Location and Lease Commercial Space
      7. Apply for Permits, Licensing, and Insurance
      8. Plan Your Restaurant’s Layout
      9. Purchase Equipment and Find a Food Supplier
      10. Hire Restaurant Staff
      11. Create a Marketing Plan
      12. Host Your Restaurant Opening! 

 

Pick a Food Concept or Type of Restaurant

 

First, you have to decide what kind of restaurant you want to open. If you don’t already have a clear idea in mind, brainstorm and decide what type of restaurant you plan to open. Having a clear concept is vital to guide your decisions every step of the way. 

Your restaurant concept includes a few factors, all of which will inform restaurant branding, name, location, menu, budget, equipment – basically every other decision you will make. Consider the following: 

    • What type of service do you want to offer?
      • Quick serve or full service?
      • Fast food, mid-scale, or upscale?
      • Casual or formal dining?

       

    • What type of food will you offer?

 

    • Who is your target demographic?

 

    • What is your brand? 

 

All of these questions are important to answer from the start, as they will influence the rest of your planning. 

The type of food you plan to offer can affect your hours, staff, and more. If you plan to open a bakery and coffee shop, you’ll likely open early in the morning and close earlier in the evening. If you want to open a bar and restaurant, you’ll open later in the day and close late at night. You can also choose types of food by ethnicity, like Italian, Thai, Mediterranean, or other cuisines. 

Target demographics can also help define your restaurant’s brand. A family style neighborhood restaurant will bring in a different crowd than a trendy bar and restaurant. Considering your target customer personas can help with making choices like menu, pricing, layout, marketing, and other aesthetic choices. 

 

Name Your Restaurant and Lock in Branding

 

Once you have a concept for your restaurant, you get to pick a name! This is one of the fun parts of starting your own restaurant. 

There are plenty of directions you can take when naming your restaurant. You might already have an idea in mind, or you might have to spend time brainstorming until you find the perfect name. Many restaurant names include the following:

    • Your name or family name
    • Restaurant location
    • Food concept
    • Play on words
    • Restaurant theme

 

Consider what defines your restaurant and try to choose a name that represents what you’re going for. The most important thing is that your restaurant’s name is unique and memorable

Once you’ve chosen a name, lock down branding for that name. Buy a website domain that matches your chosen name, as well as social profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. Try to develop a splash page for your restaurant’s website before it opens. That way, when news of your upcoming restaurant is released, the press and interested customers can find your website. This is also useful for restaurant SEO purposes. 

 

Write a Business Plan

 

When opening any new business, it is absolutely vital that you write out a detailed business plan. If you don’t make a plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are numerous factors to consider when opening a restaurant, so you should have a thorough plan to make it clear what you want to achieve with this new business. 

A standard business plan should include the following: 

    • Executive summary
    • Company description
    • Market analysis and competitive analysis
    • Management and organization
    • Financial projections

 

You’ll also need a restaurant marketing plan – this can be included in your business plan, but it should be thorough. Many new restaurants fail to put enough effort into marketing, which can seriously limit their success. 

 

Plan Your Menu

 

If you’re passionate about food, planning the menu might be the most exciting part of the process. Your menu will inform the equipment you’ll need to buy, food suppliers, and even staff, especially the chefs. Some restaurant owners find their executive chef at this stage in the process as well, since a main chef may want influence over the menu as well. 

Early on, you don’t necessarily need every detail of every recipe figured out. Have a good idea of what style of food you plan to serve, what ingredients you’ll need, and how much you’ll spend on food inventory. 

Later on, you can solidify and design your menus and confirm all recipes and processes for your kitchen. You can also tweak the menu as your restaurant evolves to maximize profitability and keep customers interested. 

 

Set a Budget and Obtain Funding

 

The cost of opening a new restaurant is often expensive, so it’s important to start budgeting early. Factor in rental costs, equipment, food inventory, staff salaries, permit costs, marketing, and necessary start up capital, and the expenses can pile up. Figure out what you’ll need to get started, as well as daily upkeep costs until you can become profitable. If you aren’t good with budgeting, you may need the help of an accountant. 

Once you know how much money you need, it’s time to obtain proper funding. Start with your own resources, but don’t bankrupt yourself. You can also enlist the help of investors, look for a partner, crowdfund, or apply for a loan for your new business. 

 

Pick a Location and Lease Commercial Space

 

Location, location, location. The location of your restaurant could make or break its success. If you’re in a bad neighborhood or an area with little foot traffic, it may be difficult for patrons to find you, or they may not want to travel out of their way. 

Pick a location that makes it easy to get customers in the door! Your restaurant should be easy to see, so an area with lots of foot or car traffic can get it more attention. Parking and accessibility should also be a consideration. 

A popular shopping and dining area is a great choice, but you should also consider your competition. It may not be wise to open a steakhouse two doors down from another popular steakhouse. Weigh the pros and cons of an area with lots of other restaurants and commercial shops. 

Location will also affect your finances, so don’t forget to take that into account. You have to be able to afford your rent, and certain areas like cities will also bring higher taxes and higher wages for employees. The cost of living in that area will affect both costs and profits, however, as an affluent area can expect higher prices for meals. 

Also consider your target demographic when choosing your location. It wouldn’t make much sense to open a pricey, upscale restaurant in a low income neighborhood, as your neighbors would be less likely to become customers. Make sure the area’s demographics match your target demographic. 

Once you’ve found a location, carefully read over the lease and be sure that you understand all of its parameters. Ensure that the space is large enough, and that it is compatible with the equipment you’ll need to install, especially in the kitchen. 

 

Apply for Permits, Licensing, and Insurance

 

The food service industry faces a lot of regulations, both federal, state, and local. It’s important that you have a thorough understanding of these regulations and follow the law when it comes to health codes, permits, and licensing.

You’ll also need insurance for your new business. There are various policies you may need for yourself, your employees, and to protect against issues like liquor liability, food contamination issues, and more. 

There are a lot of hoops to jump through with food service businesses, and more permits and licenses than you may have considered. It may be helpful to consult a lawyer during this part of the process. A lawyer can help ensure that you follow all compliances, maintain all health codes, register file taxes for your business correctly, advise on safety regulations, and more. 

 

Design Your Restaurant’s Layout

 

Once you’ve rented a commercial space for your restaurant, you can begin to design your layout. We recommend you do this before purchasing equipment and furniture to fill the space. 

You never have as much space as you think you do, and the space will fill up quickly.  Take thorough measurements and draw up a blueprint of how you plan to design your restaurant’s layout. This way, you know how much space you have for kitchen equipment, and you can get an idea of your restaurant’s capacity in terms of seating. 

 

Purchase Equipment and Find a Food Supplier

 

Now that you know how much space you have, you can begin purchasing equipment, furniture, and more. Shop around to find the best prices, especially for expensive kitchen equipment. You may be able to find less expensive used equipment that is still in good shape. 

Furnishing your restaurant can be exciting, as your dream starts to come into reality. Again, shop around for the best prices. Match your furniture and decor to the aesthetic you imagined for your restaurant and to create an experience for your guests. Branding is important, so be sure that the look of your restaurant is in line with your brand. 

You should also find reliable food suppliers. These will vary depending on what food you plan to serve, so you may need one or multiple. Research and test out different suppliers to find the best quality for the best price you can afford. Food quality is not a place to cut corners. Low quality food will hurt your reputation, prevent customers from coming back, and worst case scenario could make people sick or close your restaurant for health code violations. 

 

Hire Restaurant Staff

 

You can’t run the whole restaurant on your own! When the time comes to hire staff, sit down and consider each role that you need to fill, both front and back of house. 

Hire right the first time so that you don’t have frequent staff turnover. This means vetting your applicants and knowing which questions to ask in an interview to weed out any issues. Find employees with experience and the right personality for their roles. While a server should be friendly with great social skills, your chef does not have to be as outgoing. 

Every restaurant is different, so the staff you will need will vary. Consider filling these roles when hiring staff: 

    • Executive chef or chefs
    • Kitchen staff (line cooks, sous chefs, prep cooks) 
    • General manager
    • Servers
    • Bartenders 
    • Food runners or bussers
    • Hosts
    • Dishwashers

 

You may also hire other managers or assistant managers to take over certain responsibilities, like a food and beverage manager to deal with inventory. 

Write clear job descriptions that detail responsibilities and expectations for each position. You should also determine pay before hiring anyone – figure out a fair wage based on cost of living in your area, skills needed, and more. Once hired, be sure to thoroughly train all employees on processes, rules, and other expectations. 

 

Create a Marketing Plan

 

With all of your restaurants operations in order, it’s time to draw in a crowd for your opening. Marketing is essential to a restaurant’s success. There are plenty of other restaurants, but good marketing will help drive customers to your restaurant over others. While a good marketing plan will get customers in the door, the quality of service, food, and experience is what will earn you repeat customers. 

You should have already obtained a website and social profiles for your restaurant. There are various methods to advertise your restaurant’s opening, both on and offline. 

Contact local press and local restaurant review sites to let them know that there is a new restaurant opening. Use social media to share details as the opening approaches – everyone loves food photos. Invite food bloggers or influencers for a sneak peak or a special discount in exchange for promoting your restaurant. 

Check out our free restaurant marketing plan for more ideas on how to bring in new customers! In an industry with such heavy competition, there is serious value in a good marketing plan. A study from Cornell University suggests that about 26% of new restaurants fail within the first year – beat the odds by constantly filling seats! 

 

Host Your Restaurant Opening! 

 

With all the moving parts set in place, it’s time to open your restaurant! You can choose a grand opening or go for a soft opening with a smaller crowd. The choice depends on your budgets, promotional plans, brand style, and other factor. Weigh the pros and cons of a grand vs. soft opening and choose what works best for your business.

After the excitement of your restaurant’s opening, it’s important to stay on top of day to day needs, budgets, and procedures. Keep promoting your restaurant and work to improve and you’re sure to find success.

 

Need help with marketing for your new restaurant? Does your current restaurant need to generate more leads, reservations, or customers? Contact Restaurant Clicks for help making your restaurant more successful, or check out our blog for more helpful information!

The post How To Open a Restaurant: 12 Steps to Starting a Restaurant appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How To Start a Food Blog

Want to learn how to start a food blog? If you have a passion for food – whether it’s making recipes, cooking, baking, or just eating food – creating your own food blog can be fun and easy. 

Food blogs have grown in popularity – these days, many people find most of their recipes online as opposed to in a traditional, physical cookbook. Since there are so many food blogs out there already, it can be difficult to make yours stand out.

Luckily, there are endless potential food blog ideas and types, from recipe blogs to review blogs to everything in between. The more unique your food blog is, the easier it will be to set it apart and attract an audience. 

While you may enjoy food blogging because you love food, blogging can also be a lucrative hobby and even career! To begin, you’ll just need some basic website knowledge.

We’ll break down the steps to help you create your own website for a food blog, and from there it’s up to you to post great content! Take these 8 simple steps to start a food blog. 

How To Create Your Own Food Blog

 

    1. Pick a Niche or Type of Food Blog
    2. Come Up With a Catchy Name 
    3. Buy Your Domain Name and Hosting Plan
    4. Install WordPress
    5. Choose a WordPress Theme
    6. Add WordPress Plugins
    7. Set Up Tracking for Your Blog
    8. Start Sharing Content

 

Pick a Niche or Type of Food Blog

 

Before you can create a food blog, you need to decide what kind of content you’re going to post! If you have little to no experience in the kitchen, fear not. There are plenty of food blogs that share restaurant reviews, food product reviews, or even try cooking recipes from an inexperienced perspective!

Figure out what you’re most interested in about food and what kind of content you want to share. You can share original recipes, reviews, recount your experience trying recipes – the list goes on. Many food blogs focus on a very specific niche of food and dive deep on that topic. This could be all baked goods, all foods from a certain culture, or even all one type of food, like an all pizza based food blog! 

You could also run a local food blog, where you try all the best food in your city and target local followers and readers. Another option is a travel blog, where you try food in your travels around the world! There are endless opportunities for topics – you just have to find the right one for your blog.

Ideally, your food blog topic should be somewhat unique. If there’s nothing to set your food blog apart, it can be harder to compete with food bloggers that already have a huge audience or thousands of posts. Try to make your food blog unique so that it stands out!

Come Up With a Catchy Name

 

Picking a name for your food blog is more important, and often more difficult than you may think. The name of your food blog should also be unique, in part because you need a unique domain name, and in part to make it easy to remember. Try to come up with a food blog name that is:

  • Unique
  • Memorable
  • Short
  • Easy to spell

 

Since the name of your food blog will likely be your domain name, it should be relatively short and easy to spell. That way, it makes it easy for readers to remember and to navigate back to your website.

Your blog’s name should include one or more of the following things:

  • Your name
  • Your location
  • Your niche
  • Food terms, sayings, or puns 

 

Combine these elements to create a name that is specific to your blog and the content you’ll be sharing.

Coming up with a catchy name can be hard, but there are a few tricks you can use. One is alliteration, using the same first letter multiple times. For example, if your name is Leah and you live in Los Angeles, it could be something like LeahLovesLAFood. You could also incorporate food puns, sayings, or other quippy jokes that are short and easy to remember. 

Buy Your Domain Name and Hosting Plan

 

Once you’ve come up with a name, you need to check to see if the domain is available! If a website already exists with that name, you’ll have to change the domain or come up with a new name idea altogether. 

This free tool from BlueHost makes it easy to check if your domain name is available: 



If the name you came up with is available, you can now purchase it or get it for free with a BlueHost hosting plan.

You can choose to buy your domain name and then shop around for a web host, but we recommend using BlueHost since it’s reliable, inexpensive, and you can get your domain name for free all in one step. It’s also very easy to use, so it’s a great choice for beginners. 

A web host is the server for your website, so you have to take this step for your blog to appear on the internet. 

How To Set Up BlueHost

Setting up BlueHost is simple; once you’ve checked that your domain name is available, click next to get it for free and set up your account.

There are a few different hosting plans offered by BlueHost to choose from. Most blogs, especially for beginners, work well with a basic plan, shown below. This one is also the least expensive!

bluehost hosting plans 

Fill out basic account information, and then choose the 36-month plan – if you’re serious about starting a blog, this is a pretty short time frame, and it also offers the cheapest price. 

bluehost package information

There are other options offered by BlueHost, called “Package Extras”. The only one we recommend is the Domain Privacy Protection, and we strongly recommend it. This prevents your personal information, like your name, address, and phone number from being visible to the public on the internet.

For your own privacy and safety, it’s well worth the 99 cents per month for this protection. The other extras are unnecessary, however. We recommend that you uncheck the other add-ons and save your money. 

bluehost package extras

Complete your purchase and you’re onto the next step in building your website!

Install WordPress

 

WordPress is probably the most popular blogging software and website creation tool today – most bloggers use WordPress. It’s incredibly intuitive and easy to use, and it’s free with BlueHost, so you’re already well on your way. 

Follow these steps to install WordPress: 

    1. Log into BlueHost.
    2. Under “Web Builders”, click WordPress.
    3. Click “Install”.
    4. Enter your domain name and click “Check Domain”.
    5. Agree to the Terms and Conditions and click “Install Now”. 

 

After the installation is complete, click “View Credentials” to receive your login information.

Choose a WordPress Theme

 

Now that you officially have a website, it’s time to make it look good! WordPress themes help you figure out what the website will actually look like, and there are a lot of themes to choose from. Some themes come for free, but for a better looking website, we recommend investing in a premium theme. 

Choosing a good theme has many benefits. First, you want your website to look good and reflect your style and the tone of your content. But more than that, a theme can affect how your website performs outside of its visual appeal. 

Premium themes ensure that the website is functional and responsive, which is vital to people being able to navigate your blog. A responsive theme will also transition well to smaller screens, like smartphones. Having a high quality theme is also important for SEO purposes. Low quality themes often have coding issues, user issues, or errors that will prevent Google from showing your site in search results. 

Since you want people to see your blog, we recommend getting a premium theme. There are a few well-designed, user-friendly themes that we recommend especially for food bloggers.

Recommended WordPress Themes for Food Blogs

    1. Elegant Themes
    2. Foodie Pro Theme from StudioPress
    3. Brunch Pro Theme

 

Explore these themes or other premium themes and purchase your favorite – be sure to read reviews to learn how it performs. Once you have a theme, install it by following these instructions: 

    1. In WordPress, click “Appearance” on the left side panel.
    2. Click “Add New”.
    3. Click “Upload Theme” and choose the theme you purchased.
    4. Click “Install”.
    5. Click “Activate” to make the theme live on your site. 

 

Now that your theme is installed, you can start adding content to your website!

Add WordPress Plugins

If you want your website to perform its best, it’s worth installing some plugins as well. Plugins are tools that add extra features to your site. Some are free, and others are paid. 

There are endless plugins that you can look into, but we’ll recommend a few for food bloggers: 

  • Yoast SEO: SEO is complex, so to learn more you should do research, but a good start is installing the Yoast SEO plugin. This will ensure that your content is optimized for search results.
  • Social Sharing Plugins: There are plenty of these to choose from, but all food blogs should have a social sharing tool. This makes it possible for readers to easily share your blog posts on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on. 
  • Tasty Recipes: If you’re starting a recipe blog, this plugin is for you. This makes it easier to format recipes, and makes it easy for others to share them. 
  • Tasty Pins: Pinterest is a common place for food bloggers or people searching for recipes. This plugin helps share your posts and pictures to Pinterest with links back to your website. 

 

Set Up Tracking for Your Blog

 

Once your website is up and running with all your great content, you’ll want to know how that content performs! There are a variety of analytics and tracking tools you can use to see where your posts rank on search engines, how much traffic they receive, and much more. 

Some analytics tools are expensive, but there are also free options that work great. Google offers free tools, like Google Analytics, that every website should use. All you have to do is set up a free account and then add a tracking code to your website. 

Another free tool from Google is Google Search Console – this offers more performance metrics, and ensures that your website is running well and the pages are recognized by Google. 

There are other paid tools like SEMRush that offer more comprehensive metrics, so if you’re serious about your food blog it may be worthwhile to look into other tools!

Start Sharing Content

 

You now have a fully running website, complete with a theme, plugins, and analytics – so get posting! As always, share quality content and you are sure to find an audience. Promote your food blog on social media, with hashtags, or through other free channels. Learning how to write for SEO can help your blog posts rank even better, but focus on quality and have fun with your new food blog! 

The post How To Start a Food Blog appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

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Restaurant Marketing Plan Released as Free Downloadable Template

Philadelphia, PA — (ReleaseWire) — 01/15/2018 — Restaurant Clicks, a digital marketing agency for restaurants and bars has released a free restaurant marketing plan template. The template is publicly available for download on their website.

In today's business climate, restaurants need an edge to compete within their local markets. The Restaurant Clicks marketing plan delivers a much needed template for 2018 marketing initiatives specifically tailored to restaurant businesses.

"We have been in the restaurant business for close to 20 years, as marketers and owning restaurants ourselves. The ability for us to give back to our industry from what we have learned, is important to our growth." says Brian Nagele, owner of the Restaurant Clicks agency.

The marketing plan is the first product in an upcoming training series for restaurants to learn how to do their own online marketing. Restaurant Clicks plans to launch a do it yourself video training series for topics like SEO, Google Maps, Social Media and more. Restaurants can subscribe to receive unlimited training and marketing secrets designed for the hospitality industry. The agency plans to launch the training in February 2018.

About Restaurant Clicks
Restaurant Clicks was founded by former restaurant owners and marketing geeks who want to help restaurants succeed with quality online marketing. This marketing agency is founded on over 18 years of successes and failures in the restaurant industry. Everyone on the team has owned, operated or worked in a restaurant over their career.

Restaurant Clicks provides do it yourself marketing training for restaurants. They also offer done for you services as an agency including website design and digital marketing.

Restaurant Clicks
211 N 13th St Suite 800 Philadelphia, PA 19107
800-683-9569
https://restaurantclicks.com

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/restaurant-marketing-plan-released-as-free-downloadable-template-915894.htm

Media Relations Contact

Brian Nagele
Telephone: 800-683-9569
Email: Click to Email Brian Nagele
Web: https://restaurantclicks.com

from ReleaseWire http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/restaurant-marketing-plan-released-as-free-downloadable-template-915894.htm