Becoming Balanced: Foodservice Management Systems is now Balanced Read More

Boone Times

Branding Strategies for Restaurants: Finding & Scaling Your Brand

In the restaurant industry, there is constantly a new guy joining the party. The entrepreneurial spirit within this industry is more than captivating – big ideas turn into big bucks. That is, for the ones that make it. One in four new restaurants don’t make it six months. Why? Settle in, we’re talking restaurant branding.

You always hear the glory stories, the husband and wife that quit their corporate jobs to start a Tex-Mex concept and made billions. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns though. Sometimes the restaurant industry can be brutal. Sometimes, you put every ounce of your being into a restaurant and it fails, not because of the food but because no one knew the restaurant was there. Branding starts long before the doors open, or the menu is developed. Branding starts the moment you decide to open a restaurant – the moment you decide to give that idea you’ve been playing with legs.

In today’s restaurant industry, it’s about the event and occasion. It’s not as simple as having good food for a good price. Now, there’s a social factor that takes branding to a whole new level of identity and persona. What’s the restaurant doing for the community and our environment? What philanthropies does it support? Does it have that “no-filter-needed” lighting? What about the music? The answer to these questions and others is where restaurant branding begins. We like to start with “the who” – let’s dive in.

Who – Who are you?

Our marketing team likes to start with a celebrity match – what celebrity best represents the restaurant/brand? From there you build a think-map or word association map – all the words that come to mind when you think of that celebrity. These words are then used to build a mission statement; a description of “who” and “what” the restaurant is. These words are used to create the restaurant’s voice and public identity – these words will bring the restaurant to life.

Yeah, it’s a restaurant not a person but the most successful restaurants have personality. Who is the restaurant? Is it a fun, easy going hamburger joint that always has the game on and your favorite beer on tap – kind of like your best bud Murray? Is the restaurant that fancy, dressed to the nines, impeccable-wine-list-having steak house – a three-piece-suit William? The “who” is what people will read about – the heart of the restaurant. The who is what will guide the mission of the restaurant. The who should be the foundation of every decision, menu item and paint color.

Who – Who are you talking to?

So, you have a fresh-faced baby restaurant that stands for and believes in “stuff”. That “stuff” is communicated through the menu, the paint colors, the tables/chairs and music. Fresh-faced is ready to open and make billions, right? Almost. It’s time to use that voice you created and start talking.

“Who are you talking to?” is the single most important question you ask yourself when it comes to branding a restaurant.

Step one is establishing a target consumer – meaning who is most likely to listen to what you are saying and act on it? Once a target consumer is established, you talk to them often and via multiple channels.

Let’s say your target consumer is a college educated millennial without kids. That’s going to be the 25-40ish age range. No kids can translate to greater disposable income, usually. So how do you talk to this group? Social media is a good starting point but keep it to Twitter and Instagram. This group only Facebooks to monitor what mom and dad tag them in. Geotargeting/digital ads are another good option. This group relies heavily on phones, tablets and laptops to get information – the exact places that digital ads show. Direct mail is making a comeback and is smarter. The demographic information available to target specific household incomes, kids/no kids in household, etc. is changing the direct mail game and this group still likes mail.

Bottom line, branding isn’t just social media or digital ads. Branding is a multi-channel and constant process. Experts tend to believe it takes a minimum of three “touch points” to make an impact. That means that consumers must have contact with the brand at least three times before it resonates, and they take action. That could be a consumer “liking” an Instagram post, getting a coupon for $5 off a $20 purchase and seeing a digital ad while reading the New York Times. But what if they “liked” the Instagram post but got distracted by a competitor’s coupon and saw a digital ad for Zumba while reading the New York Times? That is real life, why branding is constant and why you need to get Balanced.


About Balanced

Put simply, we are your partner. We help find balance in the crazy and exciting world of restaurant. Our clients are some of Austin’s favorite eateries. We help hospitality/restaurant clients with bookkeeping & financial services, human resources, marketing, operations and all the fun in between.

Ready to get started? Us too. Contact us today

How to Lower Food Costs: A Guide for Restaurant Owners

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – controlling food cost is one of the toughest tasks for restaurant owners and operators. It’s not rocket science but it’s tricky because there’s no universal target food cost. Food cost varies based on the menu, season and restaurant concept. The fun part? Food cost will never be the same. It should be within a range but never the same because sales and product costs change by the day, week and month. Cool, right! *SARCASM* It’s not cool but the Balanced restaurant operations team has some insights that can help make food cost more manageable.

Introducing the Balanced Four Ps of Food Cost. If you come to us with food cost woes, we’ll start with the following:

Pricing

Menu price is very important when it comes to food cost. High food cost can be a direct result of low menu pricing. It’s important to consider the cost of each ingredient on a dish as well as the materials that are being used to serve or deliver the dish (more on this on #4). Do you discount? Discounting will also directly impact food cost. If you usually charge $15 for a large specialty pizza but send coupons out for a $10 large specialty pizza, the food cost for a large specialty pizza will go up. We’re not saying not to coupon/discount (that’s a different post); couponing needs to be accounted for when calculating food cost. In short, know how much it costs to make each product on your menu and the percentage that cost is to the menu price or coupon price.

Portion Control

No matter who makes the dish or on what day, it should always be the same. Same ingredients and same portions. Make charts and plate builds are key to ensuring consistency. These handy guides will have the name of the dish, a breakdown of each ingredient, cooking instructions, plating/garnish instructions and step by step photos. Make charts are beefed-up recipe manuals. These how to guides are the lifeline of successful kitchens. Inconsistent portions are a fast track to high food costs.

Projections

Finding the perfect mix of prep, waste and sales is key to manageable food cost. You’re going to have waste, but it can and should be minimized. This is where projections and prep charts come in – how much are you targeting to do in sales and how much prep do you need to do to support those sales? Tracking/monitoring waste is very important. When it comes to a new restaurant, projections can be daunting – are we going to have as many guests as we did yesterday or last week? Did we prep enough or too much? Honestly, all restaurants ask these questions but we’re in this for the thrills, right?

Packaging

Believe it or not, packaging is a piece of food cost. Pizza boxes, to-go cups, the plastic utensils – all of it goes into food cost. All those fancy biodegradable bowls and plates and compostable pizza boxes influence food cost. Eco Friendly is not pocket friendly for restaurants. Most of the eco friendly packaging will run two if not three times more than the dreaded Styrofoam. For this reason, packaging plays a very important role in food cost, especially for restaurants looking to increase delivery or takeout business. Make those prices with third party vendors (delivery providers) count, they should not be the same price as dine in.

The Four Ps of Food Cost is where we start and usually lead to at least one issue to address. Sometimes it’s one P, like projections – we’re missing our sales projections by 10% so we’re taking on more waste. Sometimes it’s a Code Blue and all the Ps are impacted. Whatever the case the Balanced team is standing by to help!


About Balanced

Put simply, we are your partner. We help find balance in the crazy and exciting world of restaurant. Our clients are some of Austin’s favorite eateries. We help with bookkeeping & financial services, human resources, marketing, operations and all the fun in between.

Ready to get started? Us too. Contact us today–

Becoming Balanced

Becoming Balanced: Foodservice Management Systems is now Balanced

For Bill Boone, there was never a doubt of the success Foodservice Management Systems (FMS) would experience – it was simply a matter of when. Bill established FMS to meet a need – he was opening restaurants across the country and needed a support center, a home base of sorts.  You see, Bill founded Foodservice Management Systems to allow his General Managers to focus on providing an excellent service and dining experience for guests. While the restaurants were busy focusing on service, the support center was processing payroll, invoices, marketing support, operational reporting and more. Although this need was specific to Bill’s restaurants, he had a gut feeling that other restaurateurs would benefit from his company as well, again it was just a matter of when.

As Bill’s restaurant count continued to grow, he worked to build a support team that was hungry for growth and that knew the restaurant business. Bill recruited Nick Moore to lead Operations and restaurant expansion. Nick was a restauranteur himself and had extensive experience with new openings. Nick soon became an integral part of FMS and a true partner to Bill.

Bill remembers the first call from a perspective client – it was a friend in the pizza business “Hey Bill, seems like you’ve got a pretty good setup – think you can help us out? We opened two new stores and we just don’t have the time to do everything.” With that one call, FMS was off to the races.

Over the next twenty years, Bill continued to get phone calls from friends in the industry looking for support. During this time, he recruited another partner to oversee the consulting business, his daughter Jenny. The pair decided to purchase a couple of accounting firms to add another layer of service to FMS. Bill found his niche and was ready to make it the forefront of his business.

With Jenny’s leadership, the FMS consulting business grew to 50% of the company’s revenue and all signs were pointing to continued growth. With a hungry team in place and a mission in mind, Bill and Jenny found it necessary to update the company name – a name that would speak to the all-encompassing service capabilities. In launching Balanced, Bill said “Our leadership team is young but has moxie – they are the future of this company and will take it to the next level. They needed a modern name, something that didn’t take five minutes to say.”

The Balanced team has recently doubled its client count and is on pace to double in size again by 2020. Speaking to the future of Balanced, Bill said “The restaurant industry is tough, the big names have big budgets to spend on talent. The smaller guys can’t compete with salary, but they need the experience. That’s where Balanced comes in. Our team has the experience and as consultants are affordable for the smaller single or multi-unit owners. Everything is being outsourced now and it makes sense. Find what you’re good at and do it. That’s Balanced.”