Fitness for everybody

Two weeks ago, my “new customer promo rate” with my home cable & internet service with AT&T U-verse was coming to an end and my bill was set to increase by $60 per month.

Yup – same service for a higher price. Obviously I wasn’t having that.

In their defense, AT&T did offer me a new lesser discounted rate going forward, but after a year of lackluster service, I decided a change would be for the best. So I reached out to my only other option, Comcast XFINITY, for a summary of their services and pricing.

Not only would I be saving $20 per month over what I was originally paying, but I would be receiving a more “feature rich” offering.

Weary of change & being somewhat comfortable with the “devil that I know”, finding out that Comcast offered a 30-day money back guarantee made my decision easy.

Sign me up!

If I followed through on my end (that is, if I kept the equipment in good working order), I would be refunded all setup and first month service fees upon return of the equipment.

Health clubs have the same opportunity here.

According to information reported by IHRSA, prospective new members (and former members) do not have a good perception of the sales experience when joining a health club.

In fact, fear of “high pressure sales tactics” is one of the five fears of joining a gym, identified through an IHRSA-commissioned research study. So offering a “money-back guarantee” of sorts can help to alleviate that fear.

Some gym owners already get this.

Brick Bodies in Maryland, for example, provides new members with a “14 Day Comfort Guarantee”.

Another includes AussieFIT in Columbus, OH. AussieFIT offers a 30-day “Feel Good Guarantee” to new members.

“The Comfort Guarantee – or Feel Good Guarantee as we call it – removes the need to make a joining decision on the first visit to the gym. This allows the prospective member to experience the club at least two times per week for four weeks. And if they are not completely happy at that point, they can request a full refund,” according to Geoff Dyer, AussieFIT Owner. “On average, we see less than 1% of new joiners canceling each month under the Feel Good Guarantee.”

And the concept is alive and well in other parts of the world, too! For example, Fitness First in Australia provides new members with their version of a “14 Day Comfort Guarantee” promising “If you’re unhappy and change your mind within your first 14 days of joining, you can have your money back on your weekly dues.”

But how does this contribute to member retention? I thought you’d never ask!

Well remember my Comcast story? The stipulation in place for the money-back guarantee was that I return all equipment in good working order. In the case of the “feel good guarantee” new members must typically commit to some regular usage of the club during the guarantee period in order to quality.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. It ensures that members are using the club EARLY & OFTEN after they sign up and keeps them motivated during the initial onboarding period.
  2. It sets them off on the right path to meeting their fitness goals so that they ultimately get results.

And, as I covered in The Secret Member Retention Tool that the Big Gym Chains Don’t Want You to Know, three of the top reasons people stay at a gym – a) getting in shape, b) improving overall health and c) making progress towards fitness – are directly impacted by the above!

Does your gym have a money back guarantee in place? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

  • Discover your Restaurant's Target Audience

Do you know who dines at your restaurant? I don’t mean take a look around and see whose butts are currently in your seats. I mean, are the people that you wanted to target when you first thought about opening your restaurant the ones actually dining there? More importantly, do you even know WHO your target market is?

Before I go any further, it’s important to define what I mean by target market:

A target market is not who YOU WANT to sell your food to. Instead, it’s the type of people that are EXPECTED to buy what you’re selling.

You can’t open a vegetarian restaurant, hoping to target steak eaters. Similarly, you can’t open a steak house and expect your customers to be women who are passionate about eating healthy. Make sense? So how do you decide who to target?

Start with the facts.

What is your unique selling point? What makes your restaurant different than anyone around you? Or anyone in your same industry? Your unique selling point will drive the type of people who will frequent your restaurant. Take into consideration the following:

  • Age
  • Income Level
  • Education or job status
  • Marital status
  • Size of household
  • Housing/Rental prices
  • Local Businesses

Begin to create a fictitious profile of your average customer based on the above criteria.

What defines your target market?

What are the values, opinions, culture, lifestyle and topics of interest that makes up this demographic? If you can’t hire a marketing research firm to find out the information for you, consider doing the research yourself. Get to know the people in your area. Frequent shops, other restaurants, local events, etc. where your proposed target market shops, eats or hangs out to observe their character and buying habits. Check the social media profiles of these shops, as well as competitors, to see what customers love about these companies. See if there are any voids that need to be filled, which could lead to opportunities for your restaurant. Add these findings to the profile you began to create in step 1.

Does your target market live or work close enough to your concept to help support it?

Once you’ve defined the demographics and characteristics of your target market, are they anywhere near you? The U.S. Census Bureau is a great resource to use to find out. Type in your locations zip code, and the U.S. Census Bureau will spit out frequently requested data about your community (population, income, housing, etc… all the criteria you used to complete step #1!) Why is this helpful? If your marketing to college kids, but the nearest college is 30 miles away, your restaurant might have a problem. The closer your target audience is to your concept, the more likely they will come.

But it doesn’t stop there…

What is the generational profile of your target audience? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X’ers? Each group has different needs and values, which will effect your marketing messages and the platform you use for your target audience. For instance, Boomers are more likely to visit dining-in restaurants, while Millennials opt for delivery. Millennials rarely look to Facebook to keep up with brands, while it’s the predominant social network for Gen X’ers. Speak the language that best resonates with your target audience, give them offers that align with their values, and seek to connect with them on the platform where they can be found.

Whether your restaurant is established, or your concept hasn’t been built, learning about your target audience is a critical step to developing the right promotional strategy… and it’s never too late to get started. Give us a shout if you would like some assistance defining your audience. TweetFacebook us, or comment below!

  • Time for your restaurant to refresh?

Recently, I was talking to one of our client’s about updating their logo. Their company has been around for close to 20 years, and from the day the doors opened, the look and feel of their company identity remained the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However, their business was undergoing some changes. The original owners, a husband and wife team, were gearing up to retire in a few years, and their daughter, a recent graduate from college, was being groomed to take over the business.

Their biggest competitor was a nationwide and popular brand whose identity is modern and refined. Our client’s identity? Not so much. While their existing branding served its purpose well, it was apparent that a refresh could take our client from looking like a small mom and pop business, to a much larger one that could give this national brand some competition.

Even though our clients were on board with redesigning the identity, there was still some concern.

How would our existing clients feel about changing the identity that they’ve grown to know the past twenty years?

It’s a valid concern, and something that should not be taken lightly. Most people aren’t fond of change, so it’s important to handle a rebranding, or an identity update, with care to make sure your current customers stay with you throughout the entire process.

First, we must make it clear that a brand isn’t considered a logo, stationery, or a package design. A logo is simple in definition: a mark or symbol that companies use to promote their business to help with visual recognition for existing or potential customers. A brand is different, because it is the total package; the promise that you make to your customers and the feeling they get when they hear your brand’s name. For example, when someone thinks of Subway, they tend to think of a quick, healthy option to fast food that publically displays fresh toppings and meat available for sandwiches or salads, hence the tagline “Eat Fresh.” The brand wouldn’t have the same feeling if you walked in and noticed the veggies were soggy, the cheese was sticky or had mold on it, or if they served your food in a brown paper bag. Instead of white wrapping in clear plastic bags.

Now, back to our client’s story. Yes, it’s always a gamble to change a company’s identity, and there’s a good possibility that customers might leave once the switch has been made (remember that fear of change thing?). However, as long as the original brand promise is still in tact, and being met, it’s a much easier process.

Here are a few ideas to consider when changing your identity:
  • Bring your clients and employees in on the process. Survey them before you change anything to see what they thought about your old identity. What was it they liked? Was there anything they didn’t like? Look for similarities between answers to see what can be improved upon or what features or feelings need to stay. Then, after the new identity is created, show them the final result to get any feedback. There will always be something that someone doesn’t like (i.e. “I hate orange”, “That font isn’t exactly what I would have chosen”, etc), however, getting feedback can also point out things that might not have been noticed before. If you’re interested, Google “Sun Rise Sushi” and you’ll see how customer/staff feedback probably would have been a good idea!)
  • Get personal. Personal connections keep customers happy. Take the time to reach out to customers and personally talk to them about the identity change. Assure them that although the look of your company might be changing, they can still rely on the same level of customer service, personalization, fair pricing, etc. Ensure the brand promise they’ve grown to love will remain the same no matter what the new identity looks like.
  • Repetition. Most people need to see things more than once before they commit it to memory. Make sure all follow up correspondence, social media graphics, envelopes, packaging, etc. contain your new identity. Check analytics to make sure your messages are being read, or follow up with customers to make sure they’re receiving, and reading, your correspondence. Until the new design is committed to memory, you don’t want them missing out on an important email, letter, or package.

Remember, there’s a difference between refreshing an identity and refreshing a whole brand. Rebranding is a longer, more complicated process. As far as our client’s story goes, we haven’t finished our client’s new identity just yet, but we’re well upon our way and things are already looking promising for them! Keep tuned to this blog to see their final product, or, if you need help with your own identity refresh or rebranding, give us a shout! TweetFacebook us, or comment below!

If you missed the last post I published on LinkedIn Create a One-Click Guest Pass Using Twitter Lead Generation Cards, be sure to check it out! In it, I cover how you can use this FREE Twitter resource to garner leads directly from Twitter, requiring just 1 user click!

Easy. Frictionless. Fun.

If you’re not familiar with Twitter Lead Generation Cards, check out: What are Lead Generation Cards.

And you can find step-by-step instructions on creating your first Twitter Lead Generation Card in Twitter’s Help Center.

My suggestion is to follow the instructions in the above link to upload your image, enter a brief description (“Try out Club XYZ with a complimentary pass!”), your call to action (“Get Guest Pass”), your privacy policy URL (get it from the footer of your website) and your Card details (Fallback) URL (the link to your online guest pass request form).

BUT HOW DO I CONNECT IT TO INTOUCH!?

I thought you’d never ask! When you get to the optional “Data settings” section, that’s where the magic happens! Follow these 5 simple steps and you’ll be in business!

1. Paste this link into the Submit URL:

app.intouchfollowup.com/intouch-webapp/api/weblead/form/

2. Change HTTP Method to POST

3. Change the Custom Key Name of the three primary fields passed from Twitter to the variables expected by InTouch:

Name = firstName
Email = email
Screen name = lastName

4. Add three custom hidden data values (see below):

UUID = Your Club’s UUID
leadSourceType = Web Referral
leadSourceDetails = Twitter Card

*Not sure what your UUID is? Log into InTouch, click Admin, Club and it’s the second line down … a long string of letters and numbers.

Your screen should look like this (click to enlarge):

Twitter Card Data Settings

5. Click Save! That’s it!

Twitter will automatically send out a test. If all is in order, you should see a new lead with your Twitter Handle created in your Incoming Leads in InTouch!

InTouch Lead

Your brand new Twitter Lead Generation Card is now connected to InTouch Follow-Up so that any leads you capture via your new card will automatically be captured in InTouch and will be nurtured according to your automated follow-up process!

Give it a shot and tweet me @JoeTampa with a link to your new Twitter Card! Here’s one that we created for AussieFIT, one of our health club clients in Columbus, OH.

Twitter Card Example

In a future post, I’ll cover ways that you can actually promote your new Twitter Card.

A few final thoughts:

1. If you have multiple clubs and multiple UUIDs, you’ll need to create unique Twitter Cards for each location. A minor inconvenience, but not a show-stopper.

2. The above assumes that your Web Referral Email in InTouch Follow-Up is active and configured with your free pass so when a lead is added via the Twitter Card, the user gets an autoresponder with your guest pass. (Give me a call if you need some help getting this set up!).

3. When the prospect actually visits your club, your membership sales folks will need to update their first and last name in their lead record. Since Twitter passes the entire name as a single string, that will end up in the “first name” field in InTouch. And their Twitter Handle will end up in the “last name” field.

Join my Fitness Marketing Newsletter for weekly tips on generating leads, increasing sign-ups & improving member retention

  • Exakt Fitness Marketing | Picture of Gym Staff

Remember Jared? The twenty-something membership sales rep I talked about in my last post The A.B.C.’s of Asking for Member Referrals?

You know. The one who didn’t really listen. Who was more concerned with getting me signed up than SETTING ME UP FOR SUCCESS. Who was more interested in making sure I signed in all the right places than he was about MY FITNESS GOALS.

And then he asked for the names and numbers of three of my friends. Yeah, right.

THAT Jared.

In this post, I’m going to point out things that Jared could have done to achieve trust, build relationship capital and create incentive before asking me for referrals.

Follow these 5 tips and I promise you’ll have far better luck getting member referrals than Jared does!

1. Pay attention to the basics. Greet me by name. [Truly] Listen when I speak. Find common ground (do our children go to the same school? do we both like sushi?). Most importantly: show genuine interest IN ME! (P.S. You can’t fake genuine interest. It comes off as insincere and condescending at best).

2. Explain what is going to take place during my visit so that I know what to expect. I fear the unknown! Tell me that you’d like to get to know me, what I’m trying to accomplish, show me the club and get me started off on the right path so that I ACHIEVE MY FITNESS GOALS!

3. Give me SOMETHING VALUABLE in every interaction. When we meet at the door, ask if I’d like some coffee or some water. During the tour, introduce me to a few other members. Volunteer to meet me before my first group fit class so you can introduce me to the instructor.

4. SHOW ME how you’re going to treat my friends and family. Be kind, passionate, caring, engaging and fun! Through our discussion, calm my fears, reduce my anxiety and get me pumped up about joining your health club!

5. Talk more about me and my goals than about the facility and the process. SO WHAT that your club is 25,000 square feet?! SO WHAT that you have 300 classes per week?! SO WHAT that you have a pool and a basketball court?! WIIFM (what’s in it FOR ME)? That’s what you need to focus on.

Do you have any other tips to on building rapport with potential gym members? Please leave them in the comments below!

  • GoogleAlert

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to certain things I like to cut corners. I’m always looking for grocery store BOGO’s, sometimes even pairing them with coupon’s (watch out!). I’ll run multiple errands at one time to save gas. I’ll even pick up things around the house in pairs so I can drop them off at once to save time.

As a restaurant owner, keeping up with your company’s online reputation, what your competitors are doing, trends in the marketplace, etc. can be a daunting task. (Remember that “be present” thing I talked about in my last blog post?) But, how in the world are you supposed to fit maintaining and establishing an online presence when you have staff to manage, financials to monitor, maybe even food to cook?? Not to mention the thousands of other things on your to-do list??

Well don’t fret my pet, I have a corner cutting secret that will cut your Internet researching time down tremendously… sign up for Google and/or Talkwalker alerts!

These powerful (and free!) tools make it easy to conduct online “intelligence” on your company, your customers, your prospects, or even just for fun. Both of these services monitor the web for words and phrases you’re interested in, and sends you an email every time it finds a new result. Don’t worry, you can set up email preferences so you’ll receive updates as often as you’d like, whether it’s daily, weekly or to update an existing RSS feed.

Want an example of how I’ve used alerts? After college, I moved to Atlanta, GA to start a career, and it didn’t take me long to discover Mellow Mushroom, a local pizza gem. Since 1974, Mellow Mushroom has been baking the most delicious, craveable pizzas on the planet (as noted on their website – and I completely agree!)

When I decided to move to Florida in 2000, there wasn’t a Mellow Mushroom within 200 miles. Once I discovered Google Alerts, I quickly added their name to my alert list to stalk…err–follow… one of my favorite brands. In 2006, a dream of mine came true when I received an alert announcing a new Mellow Mushroom store location… five minutes from my house!

Now, I use Google/Talkwalker alerts to keep up with Mellow Mushroom current news and events, such as “Way Back Wednesday.” In honor of their 40th anniversary, Mellow Mushroom “turned back the clock” and offered items on their menu the same price as they were back in 1974: Cokes were 30 cents, selected beers 75 cents, and a small cheese pizza was priced at a whopping $2.50! How else would I have known about this special event? I guess I could visit my local store everyday… but that might not be the best idea for my waist line.

Intrigued? You should be. A free, time-saving, business booster and information gathering tool… what more could you ask for? Maybe some direction on how to get started, and ideas on what to do with the data you collect? I thought you’d never ask! I’ve put together a handy resource guide that details out how to get sign up for one, or both of these services, along with ideas on how to use the information.

To download, simply enter your details below and the guide will be delivered to your inbox. Or, if you’re already using Google or Talkwalker alerts, let us know how they’re workin’ for ya. Love them? Or, not so much? Tell me about it! Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!

Furious brunette looking at camera on white backgroundI remember the last time I joined a gym (about a year ago). Jared, a twenty-something college student and part-time membership sales rep was nice enough. He showed me the facility, had me sign the contract & release and smile for my mug shot.

I had already decided that I was going to sign up before walking through the door, so I was a pretty easy win for him. Our interaction was polite, but very process-oriented (vs. “me-oriented”; remember, it’s ALL ABOUT THE MEMBER!).

There was no rapport established. No trust. It was simply a transaction.

As Jared worked through his checklist for signing me up, he got to that dreaded last step and popped the question: “Would you like to suggest the names of three friends or family members that might be interested in joining the gym? You know, research shows that people who work out with a buddy are more likely to get results. So this would really help YOU.”

“IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DO NOT RECEIVE”.

Ah yes … the “member referrals mantra” touted as gospel by so many fitness marketing professionals.

And it’s true. But that is NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH!

Trust me … in my case, Jared asked but he DID NOT receive!

Just asking is not enough. The “asking” has to happen at the right time.

The dialogue during the entire sales process needs be focused on:

ACHIEVING trust
BUILDING relationship capital
CREATING incentive

Otherwise, you risk a reaction like the one I had in both cases:

“I don’t know you. And I certainly don’t know you like that. So No. No YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE NAMES AND NUMBERS OF THREE OF MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS.”

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll share some tips on developing the rapport I mentioned above – specific steps you can take to implement the A.B.C.’s of member referrals.

  • waiter serving young people in restaurant

Once upon a time there was a small, locally well-known, restaurant that approached Exakt Marketing with a laundry list of concerns they were looking to fix. Among them were concerns that their sales were flat, and while they attracted a decent lunch crowd, they wanted to get to a point where there was a steady stream of traffic throughout the day.

At a time where restaurants open and close at the blink of an eye, they also felt they had an amazing story to tell: they’ve been in business for over 100 years, have a positive reputation around town, and a loyal and friendly staff, some whom have been with the company over 40 years!

After not seeing the results they had hoped for dabbling in offline print and commercial advertising, they thought it was time to establish a greater social presence, to keep existing customers engaged (sharing photos of food, and in-store activities), informed (being able to broadcast weekly specials quicker), and also as a way to attract new ones (by telling an engaging story). They felt confident this was the missing link to help their business reach the next level, and couldn’t wait to see their business take a turn for the better.

And they all lived happily ever after… the end.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. As we started to do some initial research, it became apparent the root of their problem wasn’t the company’s absence from the social sphere. Instead it was much deeper… it was a lack of understanding about their customer’s expectations. Were they doing everything they could to satisfy their needs in order to create the best overall experience? Or was the restaurant being run (and marketed) by what the management team THOUGHT their customers wanted to see and hear?

Be present.

Within five minutes, and a quick Google search later, we discovered complaints about inconsistent food preparation and quality. Many were about items that the restaurant was locally “famous” for.

According to Qualtrics.com, “The single greatest predictors of customer satisfaction are the customer experiences that result in attributions of quality, which is often measured by: overall quality, perceived reliability, and the extent of customer’s needs fulfilled.” If the restaurant had taken some time each month to scan through online reviews (i.e. via Yelp or TripAdvisor), they would have noticed a disparity in the quality of food their customers were expecting, versus what they were actually being served.

But but but… “being present” is going to take too much time!

Being present and aware of what’s going on inside your restaurant doesn’t mean you have to sit at a table every day and observe your surroundings. It also doesn’t mean you can sit on a beach somewhere, surf the internet, and get reliable feedback. Instead, a good balance of hands on and hands off monitoring should be on all restaurant owners’ agenda. After all, happy customers = happy to return (hummm…didn’t I say that in my last blog post?)

So here are five suggestions on how you can monitor what’s really going on inside your four walls:

  1. Talk to customers directly
    Reward your customers! Randomly pick someone and offer to buy them dinner in exchange for 15 minutes of their time. Maybe it’s after they finish their meal… or maybe you set up another time for them to come in. Make sure they understand you value their time, and won’t keep them long, but their feedback is important to keep your restaurant on top of its game. Hint: While it might be easier to survey a “regular customer,” the goal is objective opinions. Would a “regular” be completely honest? Or, survey both and compare the results.
  2. Conduct surveys
    Setting up a brief customer service survey can have powerful effects. Not only can you identify underlying problems, but it also can show your employees the importance of fulfilling and exceeding your customers expectations. If your restaurant collects customer’s email addresses, there are free online survey software programs, such as SurveyMonkey, that distribute survey’s via email. Or you could set up a dedicated landing page on your restaurant’s website for customers to visit and fill out an online form. Provide the link (and remember to offer a reward!) at the bottom of each customer’s receipt.
  3. Hire mystery diners
    Mystery diners, or shoppers, will dine and survey your restaurant to make sure customers have the most pleasant experience they can. They take all touchpoints into consideration from ease of parking, to employee relations, and food quality. The best part is they’re disguised as regular customers, so no one knows when they are coming, or who they are. Then they provide detailed reports on their findings. Sounds a little scary, but then again, if you’re doing everything right there’s nothing to worry about right!? The reality is you’re hiring them to tell you what you can improve upon.
  4. Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts
    Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts are free services will allow you to set up email alerts when anything associated with your restaurant’s name, industry, food style, etc. is mentioned on the World Wide Web. Email alerts can be sent daily, or weekly, depending on your preferences. It’s a great way to know who’s talking about you, if you can’t consistently monitor everything yourself. Hint: Make sure to put any words in quotes that you want the service to recognize together. For example, if your name is Ruby Tuesday, you should type in your alert as “Ruby Tuesday.” Otherwise, you will see results for items mentioning “rubies” or events or stories containing the word “Tuesday.” However, if you’re looking to monitor all information pertaining to food trucks, simply typing in food truck (with no quotes) could be sufficient. Adjust your alerts to find the right combination that works for you. (Also, check out my latest blog article for more on this topic)
  5. Monitor Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon reviews, as well as social media
    These powerful online services can give insight on whether or not your customers’ needs are being met. Pay close attention to any negative reviews and decide if you’re able to make some adjustments based on their feedback. When you have customers who’s experience was less than par, make it easy for them to tell you about it (not someone else), and make a point to acknowledge their feedback. Let your customers know what’s being done to fix the issue, so there won’t be a repeat upon their return. Hint: Find a way to keep in contact with your customers so you can let them know when changes and improvements occur. This might be through social media outlets, email blasts, or within an announcement section on your website’s homepage.

Whether you implement one of the suggestions above, or all of them… you monitor everything yourself, or hire someone to do it for you… it’s imperative to not assume you know what your customers want and need. The only way to find out, is to listen.

What are you doing to be present when it comes to your restaurant? Anything different than the suggestions above? Tell me about it! Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!

No Excuses

Do you remember when cordless phones were cool?  If you wanted to order takeout, you could call the restaurant from the staircase instead of standing in the kitchen where the phone was hanging on the wall.

Fast forward to now and you can call from your cousin’s staircase in the next county over thanks to those trusty sidekicks we call mobile phones.

In other words, there are no longer any legit phone excuses because the technology has improved so dramatically that virtually nothing is impossible.

The same thing is true for restaurants and readable versions of their menus that can be accessed via their website.  There are NO EXCUSES for not doing something about having a readable menu accessible from your website!

There are 2 basic ways to add your menu to your website:

  1. Dedicated pages on your website
  2. A downloadable PDF version of your menu accessed by a link (button or text link)

The first option is only feasible for operators with an internal web person or team, or that have an external team like ours in place, or if they personally have experience in web.  Otherwise, it’s a whole new expertise that they’ll need to learn.

The second option however, can be done by anyone that has an internet connection and knows how to access a browser.

DIY Restaurant Menu PDFs

How to create an easy PDF menu for download

Before I go any further, I want to give the disclaimer that this is a no-frills menu PDF.  It will not necessarily look like an agency did it for you (but then again, if you’re good, it might).  And I am not endorsing Google Docs in any way.  But since they offer a free tool that gives businesses options while saving money, I felt this was a good option.

We’re developing a guide for designing much more intricate menus, so be on the lookout for that in the near future.

  1. Using Google Docs, choose “Create” + “Document”
  2. Name your document (e.g. “Summer Menu”)
  3. I would suggest a two-column format.  Unfortunately, with Google Docs, there is no way to just click a button to go into two-column mode like in Word.  So, the easiest way that I’ve found to workaround this inconvenience is to use a table.  Click the “Table” option, hover over “Insert Table” and highlight two columns by as many rows as you think you might need
  4. Use the first row to name the respective columns (e.g. Salads | Burgers)
  5. Use your “tab” button to navigate between cells
  6. Type the name of the menu item, then press “Enter” on your keyboard to add the description and pricing (optional)
  7. Continue doing this until you’ve added all of your menu items
  8. If you need additional rows, click “Table”, “Insert Row Below”
  9. If you want to add some color to specific items (cells), highlight the cells that you’d like to change the color for, and click “Table”, then “Table Properties”.  Click the drop-down arrow underneath “Cell background color” and choose the color you’d like to change the highlighted items to
  10. Highlight specific sections of text that you’ve typed to change the size or color to make menu item titles pop
  11. Add a Header and Footer to add some extras like your logo and other nutrition information that doesn’t quite fit into the menu item format
  12. Add additional pages as necessary by clicking “Insert”, “Page Break”
  13. When you’ve finished adding and formatting all of your information, you have a couple of options.  But we’re only going to talk about how to get your menu PDF now.  Click “File”, “Download As”, “PDF Document (.pdf)”
  14. When the ‘save as’ dialogue box comes up, just choose where you’d like to save your new menu PDF.

Then all you need to do is store the menu PDF in your media library on your website so that people can access it by using the link for where it’s stored.

If you like learning these restaurant marketing hacks, please sign up below for my weekly emails.  They’re short and sweet and meant to help you handle your marketing like us pros without overwhelming you.  I’d be honored if you joined me.

 

  • waiter serving young people in restaurant

In my previous article, I talked about how slow service can impact a restaurant’s bottom line (more than you think!). 51% of people surveyed by Consumer Reports (published August 2014) said slow service was their top gripe when it comes to eating out. So what can restaurants do to prevent annoyed customers, and increase the likelihood of them returning?

Make sure your staff is properly trained, and happy.

Restaurant diners want to be treated well, and restaurateurs want to keep guests returning. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how amazing your food is, or how beautiful your restaurant décor might be, if the overall customer experience doesn’t meet or exceed their expectations, there’s a good chance they won’t return. Customer experience touch points can cover different parts of a restaurant’s day-to-day operations, however, hiring and training the right staff is a big piece of the pie. Here are four tips for how your restaurant can stay on top of service:

    1. Be present Let’s face it, everyone has an off day every once in a while. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how stellar an employee is, or how well they’re trained…things happen. However, no restaurant owner, or restaurant GM, should assume they’re perfect. Yes, we’re all extremely busy EVERY DAY. But the difference between creating a positive customer experience, versus a negative one, can be as simple as being present and aware with what’s actually going on inside your four walls. Take a few minutes each week to listen to what people are saying, both inside the restaurant and online, about the service your restaurant provides. Get to know your customers. Find out what their needs are, and if you’re meeting them. If not, what can you do to improve? Briefly talk to them while they’re enjoying their meals, conduct surveys (you frequently see this advertised on the bottom of receipts), ask someone to be a secret diner, and pay attention to social media. Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews are helpful. Even better, set up your restaurant name as a Google Alert for more frequent chatter updates.
    2. Hire and train people smarter than you Take the time to hire the right people for the job initially, and adequately train your current employees. Consider letting go restaurant staff members that are holding you back. One Negative Nancy, or Corner Cutting Chris (I just made that up), can drag down your whole team. Create your “Dream Team.”
    3. Culture is King Great people attract great people. When developing your “Dream Team,” it’s critical to create an environment where everyone works together. Michael Jordan, as great as he was (Go Heels!), didn’t win the 1984 and 1992 Olympic games alone. Even though staff members work individually for tips, why can’t they also work together to help each other succeed? Taking a drink order, or filling the water glasses of a table nearby takes seconds and won’t diminish the level of service for their own tables. After all, there’s no “I” in team, remember?Ever heard the phrase “Monkey see, monkey do?” Employees follow the lead of their management team, so make sure you’re setting an example to follow. Listening is key. Give employees your full attention, keep them informed of restaurant goals and how you’re meeting them, and make all employees feel important by encouraging participation and paying attention to feedback and suggestions. Creating an atmosphere of support, cooperation, and positivity will benefit not only your employees, but your customers as well.
    4. Don’t hit the snooze button As a restaurant owner or manager, you’ve decided to listen to your customers, train your staff and develop a spirit of teamwork. Awesome! You can now go on a year-long vacation right? Wrong. When you plant seeds in your backyard you can’t expect them to grow on their own. You must water, fertilize, and pluck the weeds. Otherwise they may not develop the beautiful blooms or delicious vegetables you crave. Get my point? Be there, be aware and never be complacent.  Even if you have the greatest GM, or staff, in the world, don’t take things for granted. This is your creation and ultimately, your responsibility. If you want to go sit on the beach somewhere, pray you have enough in your 401k plan, develop your exit strategy and get the hell out of dodge. A non-existent owner or boss does nothing for employees but confuse them.

Just because we might have had that one bad experience at a restaurant, doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t return – but we would hope our next experience would be different. Remember happy customers become loyal customers. Loyal customers not only come back, but also want to shout to the world how great your restaurant is, which ultimately means a typical $50 check might turn into a $100 check if you play your cards right. How does your restaurant stay on top of service? What are you finding successful? Was there anything that you thought would work but took a dramatic turn? Let’s discuss! Tweet, FB, or comment below!

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