Whether you run a food truck, manage a coffee shop, operate a large-scale restaurant or supervise a dining hall, the days can get pretty hectic. You start early, stay late and scramble during the hours in between. It may seem like there’s not time to plan, but maybe planning is just what it takes to feel a little more in control.
As you prepare to make a fresh start in 2017, the best time to start planning is now. By looking ahead at your calendar, it’s possible to focus on daily, weekly, monthly or even seasonal opportunities to try new ideas or improve upon successes from the previous year. As always, Gordon Food Service is ready with recipes, tips and solutions to help you drive success on your menu and in your business.
Get your year off to a great start
The new year brings a clean slate. The holiday rush is over, and it’s the perfect time to evaluate your business. Do you have the technology tools in place to drive your decision-making? Take a look at the data your POS system provides. Set up properly, it can tell you everything about customer traffic, ordering patterns, ingredient usage and your profit picture.
This is also an ideal time to re-evaluate your menu, map out a strategy for the year and build sales. Introduce limited-time offers (LTOs) to customers cashing in their gift cards. Our Lemon Chicken entrée is ready to please the senses—a boneless chicken breast simmered in fennel, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, olives, and red peppers, then served on a bed of basmati rice. You can really kick-start your year by testing new ideas like this. Don’t forget to promote them. One tool that can help—Menu Studio Plus, which you can use to design table tents and signage to highlight your LTOs.
You should also pay special attention to social media, where you can engage directly with customers, build relationships and generate a following that will fill tables. Make the most of events and occasions that matter to your customers—Valentine’s Day specials, basketball weekends and Lent meals.
Spring into success mode
As the days get longer and warmer, awaken the senses with the fresh flavor of the Acai All-In-One Bowl. This delicious superfruit pudding recipe combines the South American acai berry with banana, assorted berries and mango, all topped with crunchy granola, hemp seeds and coconut. It’s a way to tease diners looking forward to the great seasonal flavors to come.
If you haven’t considered veg-centric dishes, this is a great place to begin. As seasonal produce arrives, make it a center-of-the-plate star. Let its flavor shine by using aggressive cooking techniques—searing, grilling, broiling—and adding protein elements for depth and menu appeal.
Before you jump into spring, make sure to train your staff. Have them sample your dishes so they can suggestively sell options. Teach them which menu items are most profitable, and explain how they can direct customers to those items.
Chart a course for summer
The month of May brings Mother’s Day, always a big day for those who serve food. There’s no better time to break out the best of the season with a Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad. Garnish it with orange supremes, toasted walnuts and fresh goat cheese, then drizzle on a light lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
Within moments of Mother’s Day, it seems, summer vacation season arrives. If you’ll be bringing on summer help as school ends, you’ll want to pay attention to staffing changes, making sure fresh staffers are trained to deliver your brand. The Idea Center is full of tips on staff management, including ways to guide employees of different generations.
You’ll not only want to have your team ready to make a great impression, but your menu as well. The season is ripe with opportunity. Our Char-Grilled Watermelon recipe features ripe, seasonal melon slices that are flash-grilled to add a touch of smoky flavor. It’s served with a fresh lime vinaigrette, basil leaves and crumbles of aged feta cheese for a refreshing summer entrée. Another people-pleasing consideration is your summer drink menu. Craft soft drinks or adding exciting flavors to old standbys—jalapeno in a margarita or lavender in lemonade—can be a fun twist.
Add some autumn warmth
As Mother Earth changes her clothes from greens to reds and yellows and browns and the clouds in sky start to resemble woolen blankets, welcome guests indoors with something warm. Our Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts recipe takes comfort to a new level. The oven-roasted veggies have a mellow char that combines pleasantly with candied pecans and cranberries. The whole dish is bathed in a sweet and savory maple-thyme butter to bring out the best of the harvest season.
Speaking of the season, it’s prime time to engage fall sports fans with post-game food and drink specials. Set the mood for celebrating as you gear up for the holiday crowds ahead. Whether you’re planning for family gatherings or office parties, let guests know about your sharable plates, comfort-food dishes and even your catering capabilities.
Are you ready to sparkle for the holidays?
’Tis the season when customers are ready to splurge a little, and there’s no need to sacrifice on flavor. The Shrimp and Red Pepper Noodle Bowl is a delicious way to bring casual elegance to the table. This ramen bowl is garnished with shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and cucumbers in a coconut lobster broth. For a finishing touch, add a sprinkle of cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts. It’s a gift diners will love to give themselves.
Because it’s the season of giving, make sure your gift card program is front and center. Many diners are also busy holiday shoppers, and you can satisfy both their appetite and help them wrap up their gift shopping in a way that sets you up for healthier business after the holidays. Use staff, signage and social media to promote the cards and upsell their value.
The holidays are also an important time to engage with customers. Call on Text Ripple to create a text messaging campaign or connect with customers via social media. Take to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even monitor reviews on Yelp to connect with customers. You can invite them in for your specials, tell them about events and community involvement, and even deliver messages that will bring them back after the holidays. Any of these platforms, and even techniques such as loyalty programs or bounce-back promotions, can turn new holiday customers into regulars.