MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Social Media’

3 Tips for Delicious Do-It-Yourself Food Photography

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Taking delicious food photography is fairly easy if you set time aside and follow these three steps. Start with some simple dishes and work your way to the more complex. Promote them on social media, on your website or takeout ordering.

USE A SINGLE LIGHT SOURCE

Using a single light source will help you control where the highlights and shadows fall. Natural light from a window is best. You want to avoid direct sunlight, as that will cast very hard shadows and blow out the highlight areas or, what is referred to in the industry, hot spots. An overcast day provides optimum light, as it is filtered by the clouds. So don’t be afraid of shooting when the sun is hidden.

Place your surface within a couple of feet of the light source. Start putting your props (plate, napkin, etc.) onto the surface to begin to create the composition of your shot. This is your “set.” Do not put any food on the plate yet. You are going to make sure you have everything the way you intend before adding the food. There are two reasons for this: first, you do not want the food to look spoiled, wilted or dried out. Second, you will not be able to see how the light is being affected.

Use a 20" x 30" foam core fill card to bounce light into the shadow areas.

Use a 20″ x 30″ foam core fill card to bounce light into the shadow areas.

USE A FILL CARD

Though you are using a single light source, you will want to fill in the shadows. The best way to accomplish this is not with another light but with a fill card to “bounce” light from your single light source onto your subject matter. This will provide an overall balance. Your fill card should be about the length of your surface. Start with featuring one dish at a time before tackling a buffet. A good size fill card to begin with should measure 20” x 30.” The best material is foam core. It is lightweight and can be purchased at a local craft or stationery store (Staples or Office Depot).

Depending upon the time of day and the angle of the light coming in from the window, you may need to adjust the angle of your fill card from (for example) 90 degrees to 45 degrees. Put something heavy enough to lean the fill card against so it remains in place. You may need a second pair of hands to hold the card a bit higher or at a precarious angle, while you shoot the photo.

Start with stand-ins before switching out with your “hero” dish.

Start with stand-ins before switching out with your “hero” dish.

USE A STAND-IN, NOT THE “HERO”

Be sure you have two matching plates or at least two of similar color. You will be putting your “stand-in” food on one plate to set your lighting. Put a sampling of the various types of food that will be on the plate so you will be able to adjust accordingly. (For example, cauliflower is a very light color compared to kale, which is very dark.) Have an idea of just how much food will be on the plate. Too little can make your portions look small for the price, too much can make it unappealing. That is why a stand-in is a good idea.

Once you have everything in place: distance from the light source, fill card angle and height, and how close up or far away you want to be from your subject, go ahead and prepare your hero plate. Do not prepare your hero plate on the set. Don’t be afraid to rearrange the food once you bring it back to the set. Any sauces or garnish should be added on the set seconds before you take your final shot so they will look fresh. Focus directly on the subject for crisp images. Take a few versions so you can choose the best. Try rotating the plate in case it offers a better perspective. And voila! 

Stand-in without a fill card.

Stand-in without a fill card.

Final hero shot.

Final hero shot.

4 Simple Tips to Increase Customer Retention

marketing BLOG image_5.25.16Retaining a customer is a lot easier and less expensive than attracting a new one. Once diners are in your seat, give them the opportunity to talk up your restaurant to their social network of friends before they even pay their bill. The potential reach can be priceless when raving fans spread the word for you.

Here are four enticing tips to engage with your customers:

1. Get Creative with Collateral

Give your customers something to hold their attention between putting down their menu and picking up a fork, such as an eye-catching table tent promoting an upcoming event or a menu insert containing interesting highlights or factoids about your restaurant’s humble beginnings. And before they head out the door, make sure they have souvenirs they can take with them—a check presenter insert with a special offer to encourage a repeat visit, a nicely designed loyalty program card or prominently-displayed takeout menus with your social media handles.  

2. Solicit Social Sharing

Invite your diners to snap a pic of their meal to share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Invent a theme and create a #hashtag to engage a stream of comments. Or, get specific by tailoring a social media campaign.  Located in a college town neighborhood? Dive into Snapchat. Distribute custom coasters to promote your restaurant’s snapcode. Invite diners to follow your stories and ask them to snap back drool-worthy photos of their favorite menu items for a chance to win rewards, coupons and VIP invites to special events.

3. Openly Ask for Opinions

Since everyone has one (an opinion, that is), casually ask if the new charcuterie plate won them over or if the suggested pinot grigio complemented the clams, while their experience is still fresh.  Even if they enjoyed the atmosphere and the food, solicit ideas to help make their next dinner outing even more memorable.

4. Promptly Respond to Feedback

When customers leave feedback on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon and other social outlets, be sure to respond in a timely manner. Let them know you value their comments, whether positive or negative. The attention will keep your customers around for the long run, and could even turn a negative comment into a glowing review.

Repeat customers are a restaurant’s bread and butter, typically providing the majority of revenue for businesses and the bases for building loyalty. Loyal customers come back more frequently, bring their friends, spend more per visit, and voluntarily promote your restaurant, becoming the best brand ambassadors you could hope for.

7 Ways to Guarantee A Great Restaurant Brand Experience

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These are the seven variables by which your restaurant brand is accessed. It’s important to keep in mind that your brand is not what you think it is but what your customers think it is—from the moment they walk in the door, the welcoming they receive, the choices on the menu and the food they ingest to the surrounding ambiance. The ultimate goal is to earn loyal customers who can trust that their experience is a repeatable one.

Revel in your unique identity. 
Before you decide to base the theme of your restaurant on food alone, ask yourself, “What story are we trying to tell?” People love to get behind passion about one’s heritage or fulfilling a lifelong dream. Do you want to share your mother’s Italian cooking? Are you a celebrity (even if just in your small community)? Or maybe you want to be the best little Sandwich Cafe in town. Whatever you decided, leverage it every way you can—the name of your restaurant, the interior decor, and the theme of your menu design. Engage customers by telling your story on social media and providing a link to your online menu. Check out some additional helpful tips on boosting your brand on Menu Shoppe’s blog. 

Greet customers quickly and courteously.
Immediate acknowledgement is important. If your host/hostess is on the phone taking a reservation, preventing them from making a proper introduction and greeting, they can still make eye contact and smile or cover the phone to say a quick,
“I’ll be right with you.” As soon as they can, they should thank the customer for coming to your establishment, Thank you for coming to Sendar’s Restaurant, I’m Rebecca. Will you be joining us for dinner? Customers appreciate being greeted, especially when it is sincere. Besides, both you and the customer are aware they could’ve selected that other restaurant.  

Train staff on image.
93% of how we are perceived—and how we perceive others—is based on body language. This involuntary, nonverbal assessment occurs every time we enter a new situation. Because the spoken word accounts for only 7% towards influencing their perception, you’ll want the first person your customer comes in contact with to pass the initial non-verbal scrutiny filter: appearance and body language.

Train your staff to be aware of not only their own body language, but also how to interpret non-verbal cues from customers; are they pausing too long when the host/hostess informs them there are no window tables available? Do they look away or purse their lips? Being quick to suggest enjoying a glass of wine at the bar, if they’re not in a hurry, will often quell their disappointment. Be willing to make it a complimentary glass of wine if it will help make the rest of their evening a positive experience.

Be consistent from the door to the dining table.
The customer will notice the details you attend to as equally as those you missed. What ambiance are you creating? If it’s quiet and intimate then you want to be sure that when your server pulls out a chair, the legs won’t scrape on the floor, disrupting the very atmosphere you aim to provide. Is the music in line with the setting you are trying to create? Is it too loud? Err on the side of too soft. Are your menus inviting to pick up and peruse? Are they inside a genuine leather menu cover or a café style menu cover? Whether your customers are coming to engage in social interaction at a pub or looking for an intimate dining experience, you want to deliver better than they expected.

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Menu Shoppe’s genuine leather menu covers.

Accommodate your customers.
Let’s face it, we all have our likes and dislikes. Add to the mix food allergies, dietary restrictions, vegan diets, and the latest food trends, it can seem like a lot to address. Providing easy replacements for sides and sauces will let your customers know you are flexible and willing. Be open to their suggestions for future substitutions and tell them you will gladly pass them on to the chef. You might even consider highlighting a “special substitutions” section on your menu. Most people committed to their health and dietary regime don’t mind paying a premium for quality choices. They may also feel embarrassed calling attention to their food issues by asking a litany of questions.

Provide intuitive service.
Naturally, your servers’ mannerisms might be more familiar with regulars than with new customers. And the degree of server interaction will vary between serving a couple having a romantic dinner as opposed to a table of conference colleagues. From the pacing of the meal, how frequently your server checks in, down to filling the water glasses before the customer asks, timing is key. It’ll make the difference between an exceptional experience and a satisfactory one.

Show your gratitude.
Gratuity goes both ways. Encourage your servers to ask questions before putting the check on the table. When the customer looks at the total it represents the dollar value of their dining experience. And that is the best time to show your gratitude by thanking them for choosing your restaurant and that you hope to see them again. Include a comment card that won’t require too much time to fill out. Make sure other staff acknowledge customers with a smile or a “thank you” on their way out. Gratitude is golden. 

Take the first step towards creating a brand identity that you can revel in, your menu. Our Design Services can help customize one you’ll absolutely love!

Use Facebook to Drive Online Orders and Customer Loyalty

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Inspire your customers to have a “night-in” dinner or brunch with a few of their favorite dishes from your restaurant’s website. Spread the word by utilizing low cost, targeted advertising with Facebook. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for increasing awareness and has great potential for driving mobile orders on your website. Studies show that 69% of consumers are already using mobile devices to order food online and 95% of them return to order again. This means you can increase customer loyalty with minimal effort and little cost.

Here’s how you can use Facebook advertising to drive those online orders to your restaurant.

Page Post Link:  A page post link is the most common type of Facebook ad and is ideal for both driving traffic to your restaurant’s website and inspiring likes for your restaurant’s Facebook page. The ad layout allows for a title, large image, text and a link description. The page post link displays not only in the right column and the news feed, but also on mobile, making it suitable for inspiring potential customers to order their meal from your online ordering menu directly from their mobile device.

Target Your Audience:  Facebook lets you choose the audiences of your ad by location, age, interests and more. Here are some specific approaches to hone in on your audience:

Geo-Targeting:  Reach your target audience by country, region, state, city, and even zip code. Start with potential customers who are within walking or short driving radius of your restaurant, as they may be more likely to swing by after work or on the weekend to pick up their online order. With Facebook’s local awareness ads all you need to do is set a budget and the area you want to reach. It offers customers the option to send you a direct message, call to place an order and/or get directions.

Demographic Information:  Millennials, ages 18-34, are currently the largest users of mobile/online ordering. Target this age range to get in touch with customers who already prefer ordering food from their smartphones and tablets.

Interest & Behaviors:  Identify your ideal customers based on their affinities and the Pages they already like. If you are a vineyard restaurant, for example, you could target Facebook users interested in Napa Valley, wine tasting, or wine parings. You could even target fans of certain pages, such as “Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.” To help you along, Facebook gives you keyword recommendations in the interests section of the ads create tool. It will even show you the potential reach of each keyword.

Research indicates that mobile ticket order totals are 30% higher than the industry average ticket. Making a small investment in Facebook advertising could give your mobile orders, revenue, and customer loyalty a real boost. 

Start promoting your restaurant’s online ordering using social media. Don’t have an online ordering menu yet? Click here to start earning extra income, risk-free. 

 

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