How Social Media Can Bring More Students into Your Cafeteria

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As students head back to school this fall, are you and your food service program prepared for the excitement and business of the first few weeks back from vacation? Are all of your data rollovers complete? Have you tested all of your tech to make sure it won’t cause slowdowns in the first days of school? Are you using social media to push your involvement in your school lunch plan?

You may not think of social media as a way to drive participating in school lunches, but some schools are using it to great effect. Take the example of Colorado State University, where the school dramatically improved participation in the meal plan by advertising a certain number of gourmet meals that would be available at a particular time and place.

How can social media benefit your food service program? Let’s take a look.

Promote Certain Items to Increase Student Interest

Let’s say that you have a glut of a particular ingredient in the pantry, and are trying to increase purchasing of a certain dish, so that the supply doesn’t go bad. In the past, you might have made some sort of sign or flyer offering a discount or promoting the item. Try putting it out on social media instead. Tell them how great it is, offer a discount for those who preorder their school lunch, or just increase participation by reminding them of the convenience of the school’s food service program.

If you’re working with a younger student population, you could offer stickers to those who try a new food, like this Farm to School program did in Mississippi.

Increase Online School Lunch Preorders

Encouraging students to preorder their lunches online can save your district a ton of paper, frustration, and planning time. For younger students, the target can be their parents, and for older students, they may be able to complete a school lunch preorder on their own. But however you get the preorders completed, you’ll be able to better plan for the food you have in the freezer, the pantry, and needing to be used. You’ll experience less waste and keep costs down, which can help your food service department run more smoothly for everyone, students and employees alike.

Consider Which Social Media Platforms Are Best for Your District

If you’re tempted to start exploring your options for bringing your food service program’s marketing online through social media, make sure you’re well aware of which social media platforms the kids in your district, or their parents, use. Hardly anyone uses Facebook anymore with any seriousness, especially kids. Colorado State University found the best connections with their target kids through YikYak and Snapchat. They also found useful connections on the subreddits specific to their school.

Talk to the kids in your district, and find out what messages would reach them, then target those services. This way, the message will get where it’s needed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

For a lot of social media advertising, the only thing it’s going to cost you is time, and the benefits to improving the number of school lunches preordered, as well as the overall participation in the school’s food service program, are huge. By reaching out to students and building connections with both them and their parents, you increase the perception of the program as being interested and involved in the health of the kids you serve. Be willing to try new strategies and new ways of connecting so that new students can find their way into your food service program and enjoy the benefits of healthy meals.

Catering Success with Catering Software

The world of business is modernizing, and the catering industry is no exception. In order to stay ahead of the game in a rapidly changing market, you need to enlist some help.

Food management software is designed to give catering businesses the tools they need to really succeed. Read on to find out more.

Boost Your Efficiency

No business can afford to be wasting large amounts of stock, but unfortunately, in the world of catering, this happens all too frequently. Even if you keep a close eye on your operations, and devise thorough plans for each client, you still run the risk of wastage and a dip in profits as a result.

Food management software goes a long way to eliminating this risk altogether. The powerful tools of our software enable business owners and managers to plan precisely what products and ingredients they will need to fulfill a certain contract, making sure that no food gets thrown away.

But out in the field is not the only place that wastage and shrinkage can occur. A powerful piece of inventory management software can help to identify at which points in your supply chain things are going missing, helping you to shine a light on the problem and eliminate it, and boosting your efficiency in the process.

Know Your Business Inside Out

To truly excel in the catering market place, you need to know your business inside and out. This is easy to achieve when your business is still just a fledgling, but what about later on?

How do you keep on top of everything when your business starts to grow?

This is where good quality food management software really comes into its own. By using a food management platform, you will be able to access in depth reports across a variety of metrics, all tailored to your specific query.

This means that, whatever you need to know about your business’ performance or future projections,it is there, readily available, and accessible with only a few clicks of a mouse.

In depth knowledge like this translates to business success; it helps you predict changes in the market before they happen, and adapt your company to accommodate them successfully; it helps you make informed forecasts you can use to measure your future growth targets; and it gives you a convenient vantage point from which to oversee your business as it grows.

Keep Your Customers Smiling… and Returning

A happy customer is a repeat customer, so you don’t need us to tell you that customer satisfaction is key to catering success.

Making sure that your services match and surpass the expectations of your clients is simple as long as you have a good piece of food management software on your side. A great piece of food management software will enable you to effectively oversee your inventory replenishment processes, ensuring that you are always able to provide your clients with what they need, without fail.

It will enable you to assess the performance of your suppliers, reducing costs were necessary and streamlining your stock renewal operation. In turn this will give you the power to price your services competitively within the market.

A great piece of software will also enable you to plan ahead, devising strategies and game plans for your business as it grows, devising new recipes and menus and creating products and service packages that will keep your clients coming back for more.

This benefit doesn’t extend only to your existing client roster, but also becomes a driving force for growth. As word spreads and your clients refer your services to others, you will see an upturn in the number of your regular customers as a direct result of the software.

With such wide-ranging benefits to your business, can you afford not to pursue catering success with catering software?

Big Data is revolutionizing food service

All businesses depend on interactions with their customers for long term success. From Facebook making decisions about what status updates users want to see to grocery stores understanding what to put on their end caps, Big Data drives their decisions. Instead of the typical data collection methods, where everything is plugged into a spreadsheet that limits how the information can be reviewed, Big Data offers a variety of ways to interrogate information and identify patterns.

Here are just three ways that the food service industry is using Big Data to revolutionize how business is run.

Test & Learn

Word of mouth is no way to run a business. Looking at receipts and asking managers which dishes were most popular is good anecdotal evidence, but to really be sure of whether or not a dish is cost effective, popular, and worth continuing to serve, many food service companies are turning to Big Data. QSR Magazine, in an article about Big Data, talks about how Subway has used one of its locations to test out new menu items and determine their potential success before developing and pushing them out to all restaurants.

Menu Analytics

Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business for any length of time knows that a menu is more than just a list of items that restaurant guests can purchase. Graphic design tricks as simple as putting a box around an item name, or adding the word “succulent” to a description of “fresh fish” can increase orders and change purchasing patterns. But to know if your menu changes have worked, you need to have a clear picture of how many items have been ordered with old and new menu designs.

Big Data can help you discover this information.

Customer Patterns

Training servers and operators to offer add-ons is standard business practice, but some customers express frustration at being asked. Is it possible to anticipate which customers will be interested in suggestions, and which will be put off, by the time of day that they’re eating, or the brand of credit card they carry? Big Data says yes. Big Data can help restaurant and food service managers determine what items will be most successful with certain types of customers at certain times of day.

For businesses within the food service industry, having access to Big Data can help them make their business more cost effective, more successful, and help it to produce less waste.

Tell us how your business already makes use of Big Data!

Four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to Manage your Restaurant

There was a time that the humble spreadsheet was the go-to tool for handling the large amounts of data associated with running a restaurant. However, as technology changes, new and more efficient methods of handling that data have emerged, including integrated systems that can deal with this data in a more secure and effective manner.

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But using a spreadsheet is not simply outdated, it can even be dangerous for your business! Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to manage your restaurant.

They are useless for tracking changeable quantities

Before we get too negative, it is worth pointing out that spreadsheets are actually pretty good at doing what they are designed to do, which is tracking fixed and discrete parcels of data over time.

What they are not good at, however, is tracking changeable quantities, and this is where their service falls apart. If you run a restaurant business, you’re going to have plenty of changeable quantities, such as wholesaler ingredient prices and stock volumes. It takes a lot of manual work to keep track of these quantities and to keep your spreadsheet up to date, and you should count yourself lucky if no errors slip through the net!

An integrated system that tracks your suppliers’ prices and updates your records accordingly will eliminate this risk.

They are prone to data corruption

Data corruption in a spreadsheet is like the Alien in the movie with Sigourney Weaver; it is difficult to track, difficult to identify (until it’s too late) and can cause untold damage. Data corruption occurs when the wrong information is logged into the system. This information is then fed through calculation after calculation until it has spread like a virus and corrupted all of your data.

Corrupted data leads to a reduction in profit, which can do tremendous harm to your business if left unchecked. The key to avoiding such a catastrophe is not to use a spreadsheet at all, instead opting for a system which is less vulnerable and can analyze discrepancies quickly and effectively, rooting out the cause of the corruption automatically.

It can take ages to correct an error

Restaurant businesses need to handle vast amounts of data. Inputting and then maintaining this data in a spreadsheet is a cumbersome and unwieldy process and can make identifying mistakes or discrepancies in the data difficult. It might be hours or even days before you realize something is up with your spreadsheet, by which time a great deal of costly damage has already been done.

Unless you plan to employ a team of people to scour your spreadsheet on a daily basis, checking and re-checking for errors, it is very difficult to root out potentially harmful discrepancies. If the wrong quantity is added or the data is corrupted, this error becomes buried in the spreadsheet when the next set of data is added, and then concealed again by the next set and so on. It is still there, messing up your calculations, but it is difficult to find and put right.

Integrated data handling systems make it far easier to find errors in inputted data, and can correct these errors in no time.

They are inefficient

Maintaining a spreadsheet is labor-intensive and requires direct human input to record data. This in itself is an inefficient process, and ties up a member, or members, of your staff that could be working on other, more useful tasks.

The amount of labor increases when you’re trying to find and rectify a problem with your data. Your team will need to waste valuable working hours scouring the data and trying to salvage as much as possible, and the whole process will become an exercise in damage limitation.

In order to boost efficiency and maximize profits, restaurant businesses need to move away from traditional spreadsheets. Integrated systems analyze and handle data more effectively, updating automatically and freeing up extra working hours that can be spent on other areas of your business.

Additional information: Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FOOD service software |food-costing software by FoodCo

We help you find Lost Profit | save Money |MAXIMIZe PROFITS

 www.foodcosoftware.com | @FoodcoSoftware

Six Ways to Keep your Restaurant from Eating All Your Profits

Waste can take a big bite out of any restaurant’s profit. That’s why food and beverage cost control is vital, no matter how well the business is doing in terms of clientele and volume.

Keeping track of everything takes time, especially if you’ve been relying on the old fashioned spreadsheet or a clipboard — and when you’re running a restaurant, time is in short supply. These days, good restaurant management software that can aid in a variety of tracking, including food and beverage cost control formulas, is a necessity.

Restaurant software that delivers food and beverage cost control can help in a variety of ways that a spreadsheet cannot.

Full  Integration

Worried that new software might not be compatible with what you’re using now? A good program will be compatible with many systems.

Programs designed specifically for restaurants can integrate some of those processes and update information across a range of tasks without multiple entries. You’ll be able to spot and fix problem areas more easily, too.

Planning

Food service experts will tell you that planning and documenting plating instructions, ordering and receiving procedures, prep work necessities, and serving standards can help cut your food cost dramatically. Menu planning software helps make it easy to scale recipes, control your inventory, automatically calculate ingredient requirements, and create cost and volume projections.

You’ll find that the reduction in duplicated tasks for menu planning frees you from being bogged down in paperwork.

 Inventory

Food software applications designed specifically for restaurants, catering and hospitality businesses, food service management and institutional feeding businesses can cut costs exponentially. Features such as creating an audit trail for your accounting team, keeping inventory updated, tracking deliveries, are all right at your fingertips.

You’ll also be able to set benchmarks to show progress toward your goals, and best of all, you will be able to reduce costs through better tracking, waste reduction and more efficient ordering.

Costing

Sticking with a prime vendor might help you with food cost control, but not all restaurant owners have that luxury. With the right integrated food service management software, you can compare prices from various vendors to get the best deals while you plan meals or track your inventory. That makes cost and volume projections a snap, especially if you need to scale up a recipe on short notice for a special event.

Just think — no more worrying about whether you’re charging the right amount. With the right software to do the calculations for you quickly and easily, you can order that extra sauce with confidence.

Reports

If your restaurant seems to be attracting the right volume of customers, but swallowing profits whole, food and beverage cost control reports can lead you straight to the source of the loss.

Progress Monitoring

Once you’ve identified a problem area and instituted changes, food costing software keeps track of how well the changes are working. Features like cost-to-profit ratios and customized worksheets that break down your procedures step by step, remove the guesswork.

The right food and beverage cost control formulas will help you minimize unnecessary losses, and it can reduce the time you spend searching for the cause of lost profits.  Look for food and beverage cost control software that offers integration with your existing data & accounting systems, your stockroom devices, and your POS software, and you’ll find your profits — and quite possibly your free time — will move in the right direction.

FOOD service software |food-costing software by FoodCo

We help you find Lost Profit | save Money |MAXIMIZe PROFITS

www.foodcosoftware.com | @FoodcoSoftware