Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee Mug Ads

Coffee Mug ads were a staple of diners in a long ago era. I had not seem one in some time. We visited a new diner for breakfast this morning and there it was. A splash of advertising on the coffee mug. The was an ad for a beauty salon, a car repair, a dentist and of course an attorney. Each time I looked at my coffee mug there were the ads staring back at me.

The ads of course helps the restaurant defray the cost of the mugs and in a long ago era also created community. Ads are intruding into every aspect of our life so I would like to enjoy my coffee in peace without the additional stimulus.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Compelling technology that connects

Dina Berta's article highlights the way to be where your customers are. Your customers live on their iPhone's. Are you there?

“The breakthrough iPhone and iPod touch have really given us the ability to deliver a compelling experience to customers, which includes simplicity, personality and attention to detail,” said Steve Els, founder, chairman and co-chief executive of Chipotle.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chicago restaurants supporting the 2016 bid!

Way to go Tim!

Brandau's article highlights the bid efforts

Visitor marketing company Concierge Preferred has taken the lead in mobilizing the restaurant community on behalf of Chicago by hosting several events to drum up support, said president Tim O’Malley. By coordinating a dine-around event for the IOC and international press this past spring and a hospitality industry rally set for Sept. 4, Concierge Preferred has tried to strengthen Chicago’s case as a modern, world-class dining destination capable of entertaining the world.

“We’re on the radar already, because the world is talking about us,” O’Malley said. “If we’re chosen, the spotlight is going to be shining brightly on Chicago for the next seven years, and five to 10 years after that.”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Miserable middle

"Everything looks like a failure in the middle. Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work." Kanter's Law

Rosabeth Moss Kanter's piece offers a framework to reach the happy ending.

>>>Tune into the environment. What has changed since you began the initiative? Do the original assumptions hold? Is the need still there?
>>>Check the vision. Does the idea still feel inspiring? Is it big enough to make extra efforts worthwhile?
>>>Test support. Are supporters still enthusiastic about the mission? Will new partners join the initiative?
>>>Examine progress. Have promises been kept and milestones passed? Are there early indicators, tangible demonstrations, that this could succeed? Can the next wave of results sustain supporters and silence critics?
>>>Search for synergies. Can the project work well with other activities? Can it be enhanced by alliances?

Too many No's, and it might be time to cut losses and move on. But if the answers are mostly Yes, it is not over yet. You are still in the middle and still in the game. Renew the dream, regroup to remove roadblocks, surround yourself with supporters who cheer you on, and stick with it. Recognize the struggle of middles, give it some time, and a successful end could be in sight.

Those who master change persist and persevere. They have stamina. They are flexible. They expect obstacles on the road to success and celebrate each milestone. They keep arguing for what matters. And who knows what might happen? Persistence could keep innovations alive, convince companies to avoid draconian cuts, influence hiring managers to take a second look, or even persuade local politicians to save the city zoo.

Seth Godin explores this middle discussion brilliantly in his book "the dip"

Reading coffee fortunes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Harbingers of the end 666

Wine in plastic bottles, OMG. Jerry Hirsch's article outlines

How about a bottle of the '02 Chateau Plastique?

The ubiquitous 750-milliliter glass wine bottle is starting to get competition from a plastic upstart.

The bottles carry a "use by" date -- plastic doesn't provide quite the same seal as glass -- and as such aren't likely to find their way into the cellars of serious wine enthusiasts.

For those who aren't as picky, however, the wine is likely to cost less. And oenophiles say that for wine that hasn't, er, expired, the taste will be the same.

"The wine doesn't know what package it is in," said W.R. Tish, a wine educator who writes a blog called Wine Skewer. "It tastes the same whether it is in a plastic bottle, a plastic bladder inside a box, or a glass."

Wi-Fi freeloaders

The Chicago Tribune has taken on an issue that has vexed coffee houses since the dawn of the town square. As a business you want your location to have energy and that requires people, however when those people become an expense and even worse a deterrent, what should you do?

Every morning, by the time you squeeze into the long line at the coffee shop, the laptop brigade already has staked out some of the best seats. The early arrivals are still there at lunch. And after lunch. And into the mid-afternoon, nursing a cup of coffee or a bagel and . . . tap-tap-tapping away on their laptops. Taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Oblivious to the commotion around them.

Oblivious to . . . you and the notion that you might briefly need a place to sit.

We've wondered, how do restaurants make money on these cyber squatters? Now there's an answer, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal: Many don't. At least, not enough money.

Some restaurateurs in the Big Apple are crabby about this. They say the customers plant themselves in the primo seats of their establishments to freeload off the wireless service. Some patrons appear with a tea bag for a free hot water refill, the paper reports, or "quietly unwrap homemade sandwiches."

Before wi-fi it was books and magazines. Before that it was parchment and scrolls. How long should you allow a person who buys a small coffee to linger at a primo window seat that you are paying $50 a square foot for?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The multi talented Watermelon

Erica Marcus' introduces the varied uses of watermelon

Your color and sweetness remind a lot of folks of tomatoes and, in fact, you marry well with tomatoes - as the market salad here demonstrates. I tried my hand at substituting you for tomatoes in various recipes and produced a Caprese salad and an orecchiette with watermelon that, while attractive, were not terribly good. On the other hand, my recipe for a BLW (bacon-lettuce-watermelon) sandwich is a winner.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ambiguos pricing:

Today is summer festival critique day, earlier I discussed the how brand clarity must be projected across all channels of customer interaction. This post addresses the whole notion of ambiguous pricing.

If more than one customer requires an explanation on the pricing on your sign, be it at a summer festival or in the restaurant, change it. The lasting memory of a customer transaction will not be happy if a customer thinks they are paying $4.00 for a large blended iced coffee when the price is actually $5.75. Case in point, a vendor had sign in large letters Iced Coffee sm - $3.00, large -$4.00, jumbo $5.75 on the right side of the board. The left side of the board read Smoothies and Blended Iced Coffee and listed the flavors. At the bottom in small print sm- $4.00, large $5.75, jumbo $8.00. Looking at the board I thought, a large blended iced coffee was $4.00 and was all set to order one. The customer in front of me had the same reaction. She ordered a large blended iced coffee thinking it was $4.00. When the clerk ask for $5.75 she pointed to the sign and said "it says $4.00", the clerk explained "that the iced coffee is $4.00, the blended iced coffee is $5.75 and I can put that in a small cup for you." Guess what, the clerk made that customer fell like "Cow Chips". Making customers feel bad about purchasing from you is not a sustainable business model. Yes you got the extra $1.75 in sales, however the future value of that customer is now ZERO, Zilch, Zip, Nada.

The sign was creating confusion which creates bad feelings. No business exists to create bad feelings. Fix your sign. This vendor is also another example of brand minefield issues because of the ambiguos pricing.

The brand minefield of the Summer Festival

Ah summer, the most glorious time of the year. There are summer festivals in nearly every corner of this country. Wow, what a great opportunity to introduce your restaurant to a brand new audience, bond with old friends and just have old fashion summer fun.

Hold on there Bunky, you might be great at running a restaurant however that does not mean you will be great at participating in summer festivals. Your participation in any summer festival or let us expand that, your participation in any channel needs to be coordinated with your brand. I have been attending quite a few of these summer festivals and have witnessed some horrible presentations from really good restaurants. The image you present at these festivals needs some thought. Too often restaurnats just slap up the tent and get at it. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This callous behavior creates a minefield for your brand to disintegrate completely. Not only will your introduction to new audience not be fruitful, but your old friends will start to rethink their high regard for your hospitality skills.

Dayparts in everything

Fascinating chart in the NY Times about how people spend their day.