Monthly Archives: September 2013

Unique Restaurant Promotions: Give 10% For Turning In Your Phone

unique-restaurant-promotions
One consistent problem that consumers have run into in modern time is that of the cell phone. For many restaurants, customers on the phone end up disrupting dinners, not socializing with their fellow eaters, or otherwise allow themselves to be distracted during the entire meal, instead of enjoying and savoring the food they’ve come to eat and the company they’ve chosen to dine with. Some would argue that they eat by themselves, and that using a phone in a diner or restaurant is akin to reading a book or newspaper casually in years past. It is true that technology has advnaced to the point where a person using the phone may not actually make a noise; they could be playing a video game, posting a picture of food on Instagram, updating their Twitter status, liking a Facebook post, and more things that the latest smartphones can handle.

Bedivere Eatery & Tavern in Beirut has had enough of these dinner distractions, and came up with an interesting way to both increase sales, gain attention, and have their eaters focused on the food.

Their website declares

Tired from going out to places where people are just sitting with a drink and socializing with their mobile phone? If YES is your answer,
Bedivere is your place!

Bedivere is a place that can take you back in time to the age of Bedivere -the Knight of the Round Table- with a Good MOOD, Good MUSIC and Good FOOD.
Bedivere Eatery and Tavern – A Knight To Remember!!

How do they make this happen? Obviously, they’re not frisking people at the door for their phones. They are offering consumers to “check in” their phone in exchange for a 10% discount off their meal, a substantial discount at a substantial cost: you have to socialize with your peers. If anything, you can at least sit in silence and enjoy your meal for what it is. Eater points out that they’re not the first restaurant to have a deal like this in the interest of increasing consumer satisfaction.

Can you think of a similar promotion that you could run in your restaurant? If anything, giving this a trial run could be an interesting experiment, and with the 10% discount, you might find that consumers are more engaged with their table-mates, ordering more food and staying longer.

One suggest for friends to challenge themselves to actually talk to one another has been that all members of a party place their smartphone down in a stack on the center of the table. The first person to pick up their cell phone, whether to check their email, answer a phone call, see what time it is, or otherwise use the device must end up paying for the whole tab for the table. It’s a fun drinking game, if anything, outside of the person who just can’t break their cell phone addiction.

Is Yelp Hurting Your Business? Don’t Pay For Good Reviews

is-yelp-hurting-your-restaurant?
Yelp can be the best friend or the worst enemy to a restaurant. A few good reviews can set you off right, a great one can make your location a destination to eat at, and if a noted reviewer likes your location and decides to put a review up on Yelp, all the better. On the other hand, a few bad reviews may steer people away, a horrific one can scare people from visiting (and spread a negative word), and even a disastrous review from a noted critic can spell doom and gloom for your diner. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, though, you never want to pay for a positive review. While it may increase your rating on Yelp, the scandal, fines, and possible lawsuits to come from it aren’t worth the chance.

New York State just fined 15 fake review companies $350K, according to Eater. While these companies weren’t limited to Yelp, they are the most clear and present company to view reviews from. The companies faked reviews by either coming up with new accounts by faking IP addresses, or just outright paying established reviewers to leave the reviews and scores they desired. These fake reviews are considered false advertising, which can lead to legal action.

Senior Legal Council for Yelp, Aaron Schur, says

We take many steps to do this, including the use of automated filtering software, leveraging our vast user community for tips about suspicious content, undercover sting operations, legal action, and cooperation with law enforcement. We applaud NY Attorney General Schneiderman for his willingness to tackle the issue of illegal fake reviews head on, and for his success in shutting down these operators. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s office and any other interested law enforcement office or regulator to protect consumers and business owners from efforts to mislead.

Writing these fake reviews comes with a science all of its own. According to The Huffington Post, reviews seemed more realistic when they used less superlatives, better grammar, slang, and seemed about more of a personal story. Their article also points out the importance of Yelp reviews to restaurant sales, as boosting a restaurant’s score by one star could possibly increase sales by 9%. The fake review companies are also fighting an uphill battle against technology, as the web sites that host reviews are ever-increasing their false-review checking practices.

This doesn’t mean that online review sites are completely worthless. For the every day restaurant, you can still find benefits in real reviews. Actual reviews published by true consumers will let you know your high points and low points; if reviews consistently mention a certain dish as their favorite, you’ll find out that it’s a big hit for you and can possibly advertise it even more. On the other hand, if you’ve found out that one dish is constantly disliked, or even an employee is constantly causing enough trouble that it’s being mentioned in reviews, you can start to see problems and understand how to take care of them.

Online reviews can be your friend, but only when they come from real consumers.

Restaurant Owners: Check Your Expiration Dates!

expired food date
The golden rule of any establishment that sells products where freshness is “FIFO”. This acronym, which stands for “First In First Out”, should be paramount when it comes to cooking. You’ll want to use the products first in the fridge, cabinet, or the like before you any other products; it’s common sense. You don’t purchase and use a new bottle of ketchup if you already have one in the fridge, do you? Only once that ketchup bottle says “best by”, “use by”, or “sell by” should you definitely throw it out.

Right?

A new report from Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council states that Americans are tossing food that may be okay to eat, CNN and Time report. Particularly, their study finds that the various “expiration” dates may mean different things, but consumer perceive them the same, and some food may be perfectly fine days, weeks, or even months after this date, even if it doesn’t look that great. Their studies show that even something as temperamental and cautious as eggs may be good for three to five weeks after a “sell by” date on the packaging.

The United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have regulatory power over the misbranding of products, but don’t regulate the use of dates. Across the country, food dating rules vary at a state level.

Theoretically, “Best By” and “Use By” are to indicate peak freshness, while “Sell By” is really intended for manufacturers and retailers to ensure proper turnover of the products.

Professor of Food Science and Engineering Ted Labuza at the University of Minnesota says, according to The Huffington Post, that 80% of dates on packaging are estimates, and that dates are a misnomer on the freshness and safeness of food. Not all food consumed before a date is good to eat, and not all food after a date is bad to eat; we should be paying more attention to how food is stored than dates seems to be the general consensus.

The study suggests that “Sell By” dates should not be seen by consumers, packages should include more thorough guidelines on how to keep food safe, and that a pair of expiration dates, one for quality and one for safety, would clear things up.

When it comes to the kitchen, keeping products appropriately dated is key. One tip that can help is to make sure you’re using date stickers of some form. When you receive product, label and date it with appropriate information: the day it was received, the day the packaging says it expires (or is “best by”, “use by”, etc.). Having a master list of inventoried items with dates they’re good for once opened or prepared (such as “Fresh Baked Cookies- Good For 2 Days”) is good in case packaging is lost or destroyed. For restaurant purposes, you may want to take a hard line with those dates (especially if the Department of Health interprets them the way many consumers do), but a it’s up to you how you handle them in the home.

There’s another golden rule to pair with “First In First Out”.

“When in doubt, throw it out.”