If you are in any business you should be listening, but if you are in the restaurant business listening is just the beginning. Enjoy!
Entries in restaurants (6)
When Nokia’s CEO said our “platform is burning”, he meant that they are in trouble and may have to take a leap into some uncertain waters. You might wonder how a leader like Nokia could even worry of such things, right? Maybe we should ask that to the publishing business, the travel industry, the mighty Microsoft and even the weary and giant Google. Business is on a new path of velocity and understanding the changes is what will make us successful, not a “wait and see” attitude.
So when I say “The Restaurant Industry is Burning”, I mean we are faced with a whole new set of challenges as we come out of this recession. For those of you that have not secured talent, locations and digital strategies while all of that was cheap and easily accessible, you’re ship is on fire and there are just a few ways to put it out! The restaurant industry saw a minor jump in overall sales at just 1.1% after three years of declining sales. The future is still focused on building and maintaining sales volume since that is the answer to growth right now. But as I see it, we are still faced with some major issues in our resurrection of a 3-5% sales growth annually.
Choice is still one of our biggest nemesis, consumers have it now like never before. With more than 3,000 multi-unit concepts in the U.S. and close to a million total restaurants, consumers get to pick from an array of segment competitors and sometimes many in the same menu category. Do we just have too many restaurants? In some places the answer is yes, but there are still tons of highly underserved markets that can add great value to our business. The challenge is finding them before the onslaught of competition hits em’ too! The beauty of this is we have an all-new way of identifying such hot spots with social and location-based digital CRM.
The Talent Zoo is back and they are restless! As an industry, we face one of what I believe to be our biggest challenges ever, keeping and attracting the best minds we can find. The teams inside our corporate offices need to be better. We face tremendous technology leaps in the coming years and a whole new way to reach out to customers will be our biggest concern.
The decade of the door hanger has officially ended, the yellow pages are extinct and the printing of promotion materials is dropping so fast the rain forest may yet get a reprieve after all. The simple truth is that smart phones, social media and the connected consumer is the real answer for our future and how to spread the word. An all-new consumer science is emerging in the restaurant industry. It’s one that needs to have real science applied to it to enable us grow our business.
The most influential fast casual restaurants
Recently we tracked the most influential restaurants in America and broke it down by segment - Casual, Fast Casual and QSR. The results were somewhat expected at the top where millions are being spent to drive the digital brand. But the next layer was a whole new set of players. These are players that get it and are making the most of this new found way to reach out to consumers and make them raving fans.
The natural was Starbucks as the most influential brand. We studied a variety of layers of the social web; how they engaged, how their consumers engaged with them and how influential their consumers are. It is how the Social Ripple effect works in social media. I believe the difference is that if you place the engagement in the right position, strategically; the impact can be amazing for your business.
Jimmy John’s was number two with Genghis Grill and Coffee Bean trailing very tightly at number three and four. The amazing part here was a small chain the size of Naked Pizza took the number five spot in our Fast Casual segment leaders.
This is our future. The great part is that we at least know it. The recent NRA 2011 Forecast suggested that social media and digital brand development would play a big part in our business growth over the next few years. So the big question is what can we do to get there?
Here are just a few steps to take in your new digital direction.
1) Get a real digital strategy in place with talent that can help make a difference. This is not an intern handling your twitter account. It requires strategy and tactics with a full understanding, not only of the technology we are using, but the business impact it can have as well.
2) Get positioned in mobile quickly. This is the reality of how consumers will engage with you for location, referral, menu, ordering, loyalty and best of all, repeat customers WORD OF MOUTH.
3) Social CRM is the next phase – work fast on targeted audience acquisition. That's what we here at DigitalCoCo do best. Just like building your email list is a priority, social CRM is one that you must have as well.
4) Start a year-round digital campaign development that can be integrated into all of your marketing.
5) Bring in your franchise or management teams and educate them so they understand the impact and can help with idea generation. The marketing message has shifted and you will have to teach your team how to talk the new social language. The game truly has changed.
6) Get digital quick; every major platform should have your brand represented.
7) Build your digital content plan. You have to become a publisher instead of a marketer. In the past, you published marketing material like mad right? Now you will need to shift to real content that makes sense to your customers. The noise is so great that they are no longer listening to your marketing messages.
8) Analyze your digital competition. With open access you can see your entire competitor’s plans being executed right in front of you. The successes and failures are transparent as well, but the value is that with the right strategy and tools you can start to evaluate trends. These trends will help you big time!
9) Work on many fronts at once. This will require some heavy lifting and shifting of marketing, operations and even HR budgets but you must shift your plan into all aspects of your business. Get your suppliers involved. If they don’t have a digital and social strategy it’s time to change suppliers.
10) Listen. It is a simple tip but in reality it’s the hardest to do. We still think we know our business best and we do but we must listen to our guests and our staff. Social media and digital branding is not just an outward persona. It is a revitalization of your entire organization. Analyze your customer’s tweets, posts and videos. Empower your employees because if you don’t someone else will.
(Full Disclosure - Genghis Grill and Camille's Sidewalk Cafe, which are both in the top list, are partners with our digital branding group, DigitalCoCo.)
With Mashable releasing a new way to interact with so much news and information on the topic of social media it made me think. Is that not what the restaurant business is facing? We have so many sites that rate, review and list us but what’s more important is that we have hundreds of millions of consumers that visit us each year. That is a major opportunity! There really is no one place in which all this great info about us is curated though no place where we could see all the tweets, facebook posts, yelp reviews, YouTube videos in one place that is targeted by geo-location.
It requires us to look at 8-10 platforms for every project we delve into, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, YouTube, Vimeo, Foodspotting, Quara, Instagram, Zagat, Open Table and many more. All drive consumer interaction but with so much going on in the restaurant business every day and so much being shared there has to be a place where we could consolidate all that amazing information to actionable things we can do to improve our business and spread the word at the same time?
Hmm, thinking more about this, there is not one place. As big as social media is I find myself gravitating toward Mashable but they are right there is so much out there the maze of info really clouds my day. Though I do think large content outweighs vertical content the need to narrow that content is equally important.
Maybe the time has come where there is enough info from the consumer crowd where we could get centralized information on our brands, our competitors or even our competitive sectors like @wholefoods whom competes with all upscale restaurants and Fast Casuals for consumer dollars.
So I am off on testing a variety of methods to help curate just a small amount of our research information. First is a list that curates the best of the fast casual restaurant brands. This list curates content from these great brands and concepts to help the restaurant industry get a better look at what is happening in fast casual faster and right from the mouth of the brand. Better yet you might like to subscribe to this Paper.li on the same amazing info. I could see a similar plan to curate great content from consumers as well for brands to learn more not only about what’s happening in their business but their competitive business as well.
I will share more on how we are curating consumer data that can drive big-time changes in brand development for the restaurant industry. I would like to know from you though – what do you see as most important to your business if you could find out specific data in your area of business? Competitive data, interest graphs, demographics?
Great insights from and eleven year old on how our food system is working or should I say not working. More and more I see this becoming top of mind especially with the recent release of top trends from the NRA.
Fact is that awareness is rising and I could see a time where social media will really begin to impact this area of the restaurant business. Love to get your feedback on how you think that could happen.
Here is to passion and inspiration from an unusual place, an eleven year old!
We all ask the killer question of how do we scale ourselves? The reality, regardless of what we think, is that we can’t. Unless of course that you can take your brand, business or restaurant and transcend it beyond the “person or unique entity” that it has become.
For me transcending my personal brand means many things. I am often known and referred to as the father of Fast Casual, the restaurant segment that is now changing the landscape of operations, and consumer choice. My quest though has always been about how can I become a bigger brand? But really my question should be how can my Vision, Ideas, Values and Inspiration (VIVI) become a bigger brand. After all Paul Barron is just a guy, but my VIVI is something that can do and be so much more.
Your business has a VIVI, and the real question is how do you transcend the amazing VIVI you have right now into something that is bigger and could live forever?
Martha Stewart has been able to do this. Now her expanding array of goods graces the shelves at Macy's and The Home Depot, not to mention PetSmart, Michaels and possibly someday a cosmetics counter near you. (See this post on brand transcending) Chris Brogan has been able to transcend his brand from an early podcaster and marketing geek, as he has now joined the ranks of the new media elite, a global speaker, a sought after consultant and master of business at New Media Marketing Labs. I’m sure the plans of Chris are well past the days of the Boston Podcamp where I first met him. Gary Vaynerchuk transcended his brand into multiple websites in WinelibraryTV, Cinderella Wine, a major book deal, TV appearances across the globe and an inspiration to millions. All from a small wine shop in NYC.
You see VIVI-- is what drives people to help you, to join you in your quest but best of all it lives on forever long after you are gone. VIVI can continue to inspire others in building your vision of your brand, and that is what you have to focus on to transcend your brand beyond you. You will always be remembered for getting it going, but ask yourself is that your legacy for your brand, or do you have something bigger in mind?
This week I will make some big announcements about how I will be transcending my brand beyond Fastcasual.com and into an era where my (VIVI) Vision, Ideas, Vales & Inspiration can start to affect the restaurant industry in ways I have only imagined. Today I turn that imagination into reality.
So ask yourself what’s your VIVI?
Some great comments are shared at the People Report Summer Camp Conference. I caught a few people on cam to talk about leading the restaurant business out of the old and into the new. It's time we take inventory on how we really do business and ask the hard questions. What can we do to change the consumers point of view and our own teams point of view.
We have a great opportunity as we forge into a new era in the restaurant business but it will take some guts, some risks and some luck. You know the stuff your built your business with in the first place . . Remember?
The team at Taco Bell talk on keeping the young guns!
Amanda Hite of Talent Revolution talks on a new shift