… And How That Expertise Can Help Your Restaurant!
Article contributed by David “Rev” Ciancio
I recently came back from Dallas, TX where I was attending FSTEC, the premier restaurant technology conference. If I heard correctly, it’s been around for 20 years. This was my first.
FSTEC was held in the Gaylord Texan this year, which is a crazy resort owned by Marriott that even has its own water park (Yes, I took a dip!). And I ate some awesome meals (see photos below!), but we have more important matters to discuss…
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE TALKING ABOUT
and what you can learn from it…
I thought you might appreciate some of the top insights I learned while listening to and meeting with some of the top execs at the most successful restaurant brands in
Now before you go thinking, “my business is nothing like Applebee’s, Buca di Deppo, Smoky Bones BBQ or even &pizza,” there is something to be gained by understanding their priorities.
If you know what they are prioritizing, you know what’s coming down the road for you and the better prepared you will be to do what’s needed for your business AHEAD of your competition.
The first thing that is incredibly apparent…
TECH IS HERE AND ITS TIME TO EMBRACE ALL OF IT.
The restaurant business is behind the times when it comes to a technology upgrade. So many other businesses have gone through it, making them stronger and more resilient. Technology helps you to work smarter, go faster and achieve results easier.
Instead of approaching a conversation about tech you are considering with a negative attitude or putting your guard up, get curious. Start to wonder about how it can help you, what you could achieve and what your business might be like if the tech does what it’s supposed to do.
If you like the vision that comes to mind, it’s time to seriously evaluate that tech.
Secondly, and more importantly…
Marketing is what drives sales. Yes, you need to have great food and great service, but everyone has that… you need to match it with great marketing. And what does great marketing look like in 2021 and beyond?
In other words, how can you segment your customer database and then market to each guest in a way that matches their journey.
Here is everyone’s favorite example: if you know a particular guest only orders gluten free, you shouldn’t be wasting their eyeballs sending them an email about items that are not gluten-free.
Start to think about ways you can market to a guest based on their preferences and habits.
- Do they get entered into an automated email welcome flow (a set of emails that gradually introduces them to your brand in their first 30 days of being your guest)?
- Do you follow up after delivery order via SMS and ask for feedback?
- Do you send them an email once it’s been 60 days since they’ve purchased saying “we miss you?”
This is personalized communication and while the big brands have teams of people and much larger stacks of cash to really dial this in, there is tech out there now that can give you the same thing for a couple hundred of bucks (Ask me about Bikky and Ovation.)
Lastly, and the most important insight to gain from what the experts are talking about…
Your guests, your customers, all the people who have not yet dined with you… all of them, all the time are on their phones. They are using Amazon. They use Uber. They interact on apps from Target, Warby Parker, CVS, ZocDoc, DoorDash, Costco, Zulily, Siri, Alexa … and hundreds of others where the experience is smooth, its easy and their experience is personalized.
They have apps on their phone from Dunkin, Starbucks, GrubHub, Taco Bell, Domino’s, McDonald’s and so many other brands. I just looked and I have 30 food brand apps on my phone! You are competing with ALL of them!
CREATE A SEAMLESS DIGITAL EXPERIENCE
Consumer expectation is set by experience and most of their day is spent in these giant apps where there is a team of engineers working around the clock to optimize the customer journey to get the sale.
So the next time you think that you’re really basic online order platform with no pictures of the food is good enough or that you don’t need to send regular emails to your guests about the things they like the most about you … everyone else in the world is that this is what consumers expect. This needs to be your priority.
If you want to thrive, you got to get as close to these experiences as you can on your budget. Make sure the customer journey to make a purchase or a return trip is not only seamless but in your control.
- Get curious and embrace technology
- Personalize your marketing
- Create a seamless digital experience
Thanks for reading to the bottom. You are my favorite and that’s why I take the time to write and share this kind of info… I’m here to help you. Connect with me on Instagram or LinkedIn if you have any questions!
David “Rev” Ciancio is a former New York City bar owner and knows exactly how hard it is to operate and brand a hospitality business.
He is now a hospitality marketing consultant, customer and technology evangelist with more than 20 years experience in B2B digital marketing and business development, specializing in hospitality marketing, content, local SEO, reputation management and influencer marketing. He helps technology companies, brands and restaurants to acquire and retain customers. Rev is known as an “expert burger taster,” pens hospitality and marketing tips on his Instagram @revciancio, as well as his LinkedIn Profile. He believes that Pizza is a religion. Learn more at https://bit.ly/followersorders