Friday, November 27, 2009

Cooking class as a profit center

Ruth Fuller's post explores restaurant offering cooking class

"People in this economy are not going out to eat as much, and they are done with fast food," Maish said. "After coming to a class, they can get in their kitchen, sip a glass of wine, attack one of my recipes -- and in a half-hour they can have the same quality meal as if they came into the bistro."

Across the Chicago area, home-cooked meals are becoming more of a necessity as families like Todd's struggle to pay the bills. But the home cooks and professional chefs alike say that necessity can come with a touch of class.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving wishes

The secret to happiness is to "welcome all that comes along with Thanksgiving and want for nothing more." Thanksgiving is a day like all days were we should begin with gratitude for the opportunity to begin again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

51 million jobs were created

Tom re-frames the discussion brilliantly,

We added—yes, I said ADDED—51 million jobs.
And we lost 57 million jobs.

That is, bizarre as it may seem, in the space of a year there was a churn of over ONE HUNDRED MILLION jobs. (Micro-tizing the math, we didn't "lose a job"—on average, we created 8 jobs and lost 9 jobs for a net of minus 1—and repeated that musical chairs drill enough times to end up 6 million in the hole.)

And this is how it always goes, though typically, thank God, the pluses exceed the minuses.

While the above offers not a smidgeon of relief to jobless Jane or Joe next door, there is long-term good news imbedded in these stats. We are not in fact dependent on a jobs recovery at GM or Chrysler to get us back on our feet. We are dependent, over the long haul, on an out-of-work employee starting a Web-based business and through valiant effort creating three new jobs in the next 18 months.

Long live the caffe

The WSJ's post bemoans the outcast state of the true caffe.

And yet it seems that we're losing the coffeehouse—less to the usual suspects like the Internet and Dunkin' Donuts than to our own politeness. We've brought the noise level down to a whisper and are in the process of losing even the whisper: Enter the modern cafĂ© and the loudest sound you'll hear will be someone typing, in ALL CAPS, an angry blog comment. We've become a nation of coffee sophisticates—to the point where McDonald's feels compelled to roll out some semblance of an espresso program—but we're still rubes when it comes to the real purpose of the place: It's not the coffee. It's what your brain does on it

Urban dwellers are becoming the majority

Wendy Waters' post details the trek from farm living to urban dwelling.

Five trends she has noticed,

  • The widespread daily $5 Latte habit
  • Dozens of people sitting in a cafe, all texting on their cel phones but not talking to each other
  • Ordinary people having personal trainers
  • How busy a restaurant patio is on a warm day, with both men and women (in the 1950s these people would all have 4 kids at home)

Pumpkin Pie shortage, Oh My

Depressions, rainy days and now a shortage of pumpkin pie filling. Enough already, let me off this ride. There has to be another train going in the right direction somewhere. Let's find it and get on it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lifetime Value of a Customer

Too often when a customer walks into the restaurant for the first time there is no emphasis placed on the lifetime value of that customer to the business. The consideration is skewed heavily toward this one transaction. Where management may occasionally remember the lifetime value equation, the staff tends to be especially weak in this area. The concern for extracting the largest tip or increasing the check amount during this one transaction takes precedence with the staff. When was the last time a server ended a transaction by saying "come again soon and ask for me"?

Seth's post offer some kindle to this discussion;

Instead of comparing what you invest to the benefit you receive from the first bill, the first visit, the first transaction, it's important to not only recognize but embrace the true lifetime value of one more customer.

Write it down. Post it on the wall. What would happen if you spent 100% of that amount on each of your next ten new customers? That's more money than you have to spend right now, I know that, but what would happen? Imagine how fast you would grow, how quickly the word would spread.

Imagine if your staff embraced customers as lifetime partners in the business. Actively tried to build a book of business by their service and in doing so grew the restaurant. Imagine that every customer is not a single transaction, but a continual stream of transactions. How do you treat that customer? Why are you not doing that to every customer that walks in the door? This is a cultural discussion, your establishment either treats all their customers as a relationship or it does not.

It is pretty obvious which establishments value the lifetime customer!

Back to the value equation

Darren explains business models that work

“The limited-service sandwich chains that continue to perform well have conveyed a strong value equation to their customers—from craveable flavor profiles to reasonable pricing to convenience of ordering,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic, a foodservice industry consultant. “Given the challenging economic environment, leaders should understand the shifting expectations of their customers and be prepared to make the necessary changes to remain relevant, while keeping a watchful eye on margin erosion concerns.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There are finance options

Seth had a great post about how to secure funding,

Need to raise money for a restaurant? It's hard for an investor to figure out how to win by owning equity (because it's so easy for the owner of the restaurant to manipulate profit). But if the investor gets 4% of every check paid, that's money back starting on the first day.

This type of financing will become the preferential method for investor to undertake risk.

Now, Warren and Goldman want to help too.

Goldman Sachs apologised for its role in the financial crisis on Tuesday and pledged $500m over five years – or about 2.3 per cent of its estimated bonus and salary pool for 2009 – to help 10,000 US small businesses recover from the ­recession.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why are they not listening?

Are you communicating to the right Ear? ChangingMinds Blog explains

where loud music makes listening tricky, and tried a series of experiments. When they tried asking for a cigarette in the left ear or the right ear of their subjects, they found that almost twice as many requests to the right ear were successful.

This confirms a tip I've heard before that when doing a presentation you will be more successful if you stand to the left (as you face the audience). Of course then more of what you say will reach the right ear than the left ear.

The explanation is that sound in the right ear goes to the left brain hemisphere, which is used more for verbal communication. The left hemisphere also has been associated with approach behaviour as opposed to the right hemisphere avoidance tendency.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nudging the low calorie options

How do you get customers to eat healthy selections and still turn a profit. The Nudgeblog has this post;

Incentivizing convenience of ordering low calorie food, by clustering these options together at the top of the menu, seems to have a significant impact.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wine wheel

Chart porn points us to a wine wheel,

Dipstick to measure toxins

Better check those vendors before you sell it to your guests TR's post explains,

Now a team of chemists at McMaster University in Ontario have published a paper in Analytical Chemistry that describes a new biomonitoring technique using treated paper on a stick that can quickly identify trace amounts of pesticides in your chicken soup, or your first early morning cup of joe.

As reported in R&D:

The scientists describe the development of a new paper-based test strip that changes color shades depending on the amount of pesticide present. In laboratory studies using food and beverage samples intentionally contaminated with common pesticides, the test strips accurately identified minute amounts of pesticides. The test strips, which produced results in less than 5 minutes, could be particularly useful in developing countries or remote areas that may lack access to expensive testing equipment and electricity, they note.

Translate a menu.

Dave Johnson's post introduces us to a new app.

PicTranslator is an iPhone app that translates certain sorts of text from any one of 16 different languages. Just take a picture of the text, crop the frame to the text you want translated, and then, after a short wait, you get the English equivalent. A small number of the languages (including French, German, and Spanish) will even pronounce the text for you in the original language, so you can sound like a tourist who is making some small attempt to respect the local culture.

Act the way I want to feel.

Gretchen Rubin's post offers insight on feelings.

Although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. More than a century ago, philosopher and psychologist William James described this phenomenon: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.” By acting as if you feel a certain way, you induce that emotion in yourself.

I use this strategy on myself. If I feel shy, I act friendly. If I feel irritated, I act lovingly. This is much harder to do than it sounds, but it’s uncannily effective.

Here how to implement this in your business. If your employees want to feel like they are loved and appreciated by your customers, have them act as they already are.

The sum of the past

Seth is very strong in his post this morning about the definition of work. If you are defined by your work then you need to do that work no matter how hard.

The definition of "can get" is essential. Maybe it seems like this gig or that gig is the best you can get because that's all you're exposing yourself to. Almost always, the best gig I could get is shorthand for the easiest gig I could get.

Surviving is succeeding, no doubt about it. Doing the work is better than not doing the work. Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. But, and it's a huge but, you define yourself by the work you do, and perhaps you need to redefine what you're willing to take and where you're looking for it.

SBUX recovers

Starbucks came out with their earnings this week and it seems the recession is over. The customers are back and spending.

Happy days are here again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Focus on aspects that raise revenue.

Angel investors want you to focus on aspects of the business that generate revenue. Kermit Pattison's article addresses the metrics investors use.

There has been a sea change in risk sensitivity; the more self-sufficiency a company demonstrates, the less risky it appears. “Bootstrap it as long as you possibly can to validate your business model and to get some traction,” Mr. Cerullo said. “The more traction you have, the more leverage you are going to have in a valuation negotiation with an angel or private equity investor.”

Entrepreneurs should find ways to finance their own growth: working without salary, moonlighting, seeking grants, running lean operations and focusing on an aspect of the business that can generate revenue.


Are you kidding me?

Things are getting out of hand now.Technomic reports a decrease of on-premise liquor consumption.

Total alcohol sales in all away-from-home venues are expected to decline 2.5 percent in 2010. The biggest declines will be seen in casual full-service restaurants and high-end white tablecloth restaurants.

Be consistent throughout

Bruce Buschel's post offers a list of tips for servers;

Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.