Three Strategies to Keep Your Restaurant From Failing in 2020

Economic experts have warned of a coming recession for some time—and the restaurant industry is likely to be one of the hardest hit. The industry has been experiencing record growth since 2007. However, a number of factors will likely contribute to the conclusion of that growth:

  • An oversaturated market. U.S. consumers enjoy nearly endless choices when it comes to popular concepts like pizza and burgers. Fast casual has also experienced a massive surge, jumping from 100 brands in 2007 to 850 emerging brands in 2019.

  • Rising labor costs. Labor cost is likely to increase, with predictions for the federal minimum wage to rise to $15.

  • Rising food costs. Products, suppliers, and vendors are likely to cost more, especially with recent pushes toward sustainability and accountability.

  • Weak sales. Based on average unit volume and growth, only a fraction of operators and brands are currently making a profit.

Consumer tastes and preferences are also changing. Mall traffic has largely declined, and more and more customers are gravitating toward on-demand delivery. Kevin Alexander, food journalist and winner of a James Beard award, has written at length about the topic in his 2019 Burn the Ice: An American Culinary Revolution at its End—you can check out his interview with Paul Barron here.

In this episode of Breakthrough, Barron explores how operators can go on the defense and put their brand on the fast-track to success—despite these challenges—through what he has coined the three-step “Market Share Kung Fu.”

1. Cross competitive analysis.

Barron advises operators to use your competitors as a guide. Identify who their customers are and find the best way to access them.

“Go after social lists in conquest,” says Barron. He suggests building a digital CRM platform to help in building these lists. Email acquisition is also useful, but should not be your primary resource.

Bounce back cards are also ideal. Drop a bounce back card into the delivery bag to encourage your customer to visit your webpage and enter their information—that way, you can gather data on where they are eating when they are not at your restaurant.

2. Geo-targeting.

This step is all about targeting: target by lookalike, by influence, by location, and by competitors.

“Serve ads based on behavior,” says Barron. “You want to know about their lifestyle… don’t just think about food.” Identify the places your customers—and where your competitors’ customers—visit. That way, you can determine what intrinsic qualities in an establishment attract and interest them.

3. Win the game of story.

More than anything else, your brand needs to have a story—and it needs to be better than your competitors.

“Your story has got to be something that connects to the local community—something that people can gravitate to,” says Barron. “Anything that can get you in behind a movement that connects you to a story.”

And you need to have a highly trained staff that can share and support that story every day. Ideal employees are able to quickly recognize and rectify a problem in an engaging, helpful way that keeps customers coming back to your restaurant.

Check out the episode above to learn more about data acquisition, geo-targeting, and training a SEAL team!

Upselling Master Class: How to Cultivate Lifetime Customers

Restaurant and business owners tend to make the same fatal mistake: they fail to recognize the potential value of each individual customer. In need of revenue, owners chase new acquisitions rather than developing their relationships with the customers they already have.

In the latest episode of Breakthrough, host Paul Barron explains how implementing a comprehensive upselling strategy can transform your business and increase your revenue. He also chats with Dana Krug, the vice president and general manager of food and beverage for Phononic—check out a deep dive of that interview here.

“You won’t be able to say ‘here’s a new product’ without having earned that right,” says Barron. “It’s all about getting inside the customer’s head and creating perceived value.” He recommends reading Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by market research expert Paco Underhill. First published in 1999, the book’s exploration of neuroscience and consumer behavior remains relevant for business owners today.

To succeed, upselling has to be built into your brand and designed to meet the needs of your existing customers. The new, higher-priced products also need to be relevant and thoughtfully implemented with insight and expertise.

Winery, restaurant, and lifestyle brand Cooper’s Hawk is one such upselling success story. Recently acquired by Ares Management for an extraordinary $700 million, Cooper’s Hawk built upselling into their business model with a wine club that now boasts over 400,000 members. As Barron notes, Cooper’s Hawk has “created a way to upsell to their guests 24/7.”

“Their wine program changed the game on how they were communicating to their guests,” adds Barron. “They’ve created a relevancy to [their customers’] daily lives.”

Visual cues, rather than a person pushing a new product, are also key. You want your customer to feel as though they are making the choice for themselves rather than having the decision forced upon them. Upselling takes time, and potentially multiple visits from a customer—repetitive business creates trust.

“If you’re not relevant at the right time and place, you lose the opportunity for the upsell,” adds Barron. “You’ll have to start rebuilding the chess game to get back to the point of being relevant to your customer.”

Check out the video above to learn more about the secret to the success of Cooper’s Hawk and the importance of guided products, placement, and messaging!

Why Data Ownership Should Be Key When It Comes to Tech in Foodservice

According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry 2019 report, “more than 8 in 10 restaurant operators agree that the use of technology in a restaurant provides a competitive advantage, and many are planning to ramp up their investments in technology in 2019.

This is great news for consumers but with so many choices in the technology sector, operators can be left feeling overwhelmed.

What’s important to remember is whichever tech advancement— whether it's their POS, online ordering, smartphone app, mobile payment, or loyalty program— operators decide to prioritize, it must make sense for their type of business and unique customer needs.

Watch the video above to learn how BurgerFi accurately figured out what tech advancements make sense for their business to get a proper ROI and how data ownership must be a priority in this day and age!

Produced and Researched by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writter & Producer


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Tyson Foods Launches New Content Network in Partnership with Foodable Network

In today's rapidly moving digital climate, restaurant brands are trying to stay ahead of the game to catch the attention of the ever so restless consumer. 

Devices are now inundated with ads from brands. While these touchpoints will likely remain part of marketing strategies, a smart marketer realizes that quality trumps quantity. 

With that in mind, content marketing is king. 

Creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to a restaurant consumer makes much more of an ever-lasting connection. It's not about pushing a brand logo or inserting ads, instead, it's about sharing compelling stories and information that connects with your customers, while also entertaining and educating them on topics of interest. 

According to a recent "Content Marketing Institute" report, 91 percent of B2B marketers reach customers by utilizing this type of strategy. 

But this should be done carefully. As "Thrive Global" says it's okay to break the rules. Rule #1 for example, "create content that is aligned with your product or service." It's okay to branch out and cover other unique topics too. Would your audience find this interesting? This doesn't mean you should be covering a recap of the latest Game of Thrones episode. But if you can spin the topic to be more relevant to your business it’s the type content that will attract clicks. 

Since customers are so tired of ads, it's time to get creative with your content marketing. 

"A report by "PageFair" and "Adobe" shows that more than 198 million people around the world use ad blockers. You need to use educational messages along with promotional ones and approach your consumers tactfully," writes "Thrive Global." "You can strategically place your propositions in your content. For example, if you don’t include a CTA (Call to Action), some consumers will never make a move."

So which brands are ahead of the curve when it comes to this marketing strategy? 

Tyson Foods is taking content marketing to the next level. In partnership with Foodable Network, the brand is launching The Modern Chef Network. 

The Modern Chef Network will offer tools operators need to compete. The platform will be dedicated to delivering ideas, innovations, research, and insights designed specifically for the foodservice operator across a multitude of business sectors.

"B2B content marketing is the most effective way to deliver a message in today's crowded digital space, it used to be a simple social media post, but today operators are seeking more video, podcast, and research and expect their partners to deliver more than just a product. A handful of companies are moving fast to create new direct to operator communication and education platforms like The Modern Chef Network from Tyson Foods. The Modern Chef is an advanced "on-demand" platform that features video, podcasts, research, product demos as well as original stories," said Paul Barron, editor-in-chief and executive producer of Foodable Network. "We are betting on a whole new breed of food suppliers and operators alike to move to more efficient ways to reach and influence those that matter to their business. I expect B2B Content marketing to consume more than 50% of marketing budgets by 2020."

Check out The Modern Chef Network.

Why Restaurant Operators Should Pay Attention to Instagram's New "Order" Sticker

As noted by Mashable, Instagram is experimenting with features that will upgrade its advertising efforts. In doing so, the company has added a new "order" sticker in addition to other sales-focused features that influencer Matt Navarra shared with users on Twitter.

Navarra recently shared a screenshot of the "order" icon which appears in the Instagram Stories along with the other interactive features such as location and GIFs. The "order" icon includes a green dollar sign suggesting it will somehow play a role in sales. In the past, Navarra has shared snapshots of unreleased features, including the "product" sticker in as seen in Instagram Stories.

While Instagram has yet to release more details on the purpose of the order sticker, a spokesperson clarified that the company is not testing this feature and it should not be considered as a method of in-app purchasing. Although Instagram regularly experiments with different features, not all of them end up launching.

However, the company has made it clear that it is a priority to monetize Instagram Stories to boost its advertising efforts. Mark Zuckerberg stated that advertising will be a primary source of revenue for Instagram and that commerce and shopping look promising. Thus expanding the social app's features will be pivotal to Instagram's success.

Instagram recently introduced an additional feature playing a part in sales. The "checkout" option allows users to make a purchase from the Instagram app, instantaneously. Previously, users were redirected to the retailer's site upon completing a purchase, where users are more likely to abandon their shopping carts.

These additions demonstrate Instagram's growth and commitment to providing new applications that will optimize sale efforts. How the new order sticker will play out for restaurant owners is uncertain, but given Instagram's considerable influence over consumer decisions, restaurant operators should take notice of these additions.