It’s holiday season, the prime time to sell gift cards to your restaurant. Are yours set out in a highly visible display?
Just-released research from the National Restaurant Association reports:
Our research also found that 40% of consumers save their gift cards for special occasions while another 40% make use of them within a few weeks; only 20% use them right away.
Gift cards can bring out the big spender in your guests, too. According to our data, more than a third of diners will order more expensive food and beverages when a gift card is in the mix. In some ways, your restaurant gift card pulls revenue twice, once when it’s sold and again when it’s redeemed and they end up spending more!
“More than 90% of American adults say they enjoy going out to restaurants,” says Hudson Riehle, our Association’s senior vice president of research. “One in two American adults say they frequent restaurants daily. There are ample opportunities for diners to use their gift cards at the more than 1 million restaurant locations around the country.”
Want to see that stash of gift cards dwindle? Here are 5 tips:
'Tis the season to start preparing for family, friends, holiday shopping and holiday gatherings.
This is also the time to be sure your restaurant is front and center in customers’ minds during all things “holiday” this season. Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales:
Here are some holiday-inspired ideas in these four areas to increase restaurant sales:
Increase the number of new customers
How can you attract customers that don’t know you yet? Be where they are.
This is the season for holiday shopping – passing out menus or flyers in front of nearby stores could be a great way to attract hungry shoppers to your restaurant to refuel. You can work with local retail shops to offer a special for their customers. Customers can just bring in the flyer to receive a special offer.
It is also the season of holiday get-togethers, but don’t limited your thinking to family and friends. Most area businesses will have a holiday party or team lunches for their employees, whether it’s catered in or in-person. Send samples and catering menus to nearby offices or places of business, inviting them to try your restaurant for their holiday parties, lunches and dinners.
You can also have a “by invitation only” reception for local businesses to try your catering and check out your restaurant. This is a great way to attract new customers and book their parties.
The time may be right to try out targeted ads on social media. You can target based on interests and activities, as well as geographies, to find those employees in nearby offices or those planning to shop ‘til they drop on certain days.
And remember, Cyber Monday is a big day, you can still be where the shoppers are with online ordering and delivery.
Increase frequency with existing customers
Give them a reason to come back again soon.
Seasonal menus are a big draw. Offer something new and exciting for a limited time that customers can’t normally get at your restaurant, and be sure your staff is well-versed on the items.
Introduce a recurring, yet changing, theme for the holiday season (think along the lines of “12 Weeks of Christmas”). Each week leading up to the holiday can feature a different special, or a different reason to come back in, to try something new or to collect something new.
Be giving. Customers who bring in a new “Toys for Tots” or food drive donation can get an incentive that is good for the following week only.
Be sure that your restaurant is top of mind with customers and that members of the your dining loyalty program are reminded of what they can get when they dine with you.
Increase spend per ticket
Increase the visibility of your seasonal offerings to increase customer interest and spend.
This is the time to advertise gift cards – they make a great gift, they pull in new customers for you, and they increase spend at the time of purchase. Offer up a small gift card for free with the purchase of others as a gift to the purchaser, as well. It will get them to come back soon, too.
Seasonal drinks, from pumpkin spiced lattes to spiked hot chocolates, are a perfect add-on to any order. They are on trend, they look good and they smell even better. Be sure your servers know to mention they are only around for a limited time and there is visible signage in the restaurant repeating that.
Pass out free samples of a seasonal or warming appetizer while customers wait to be seated or wait to order. When they are the most hungry, it can tempt an extra order.
Be sure your dining loyalty program rewards bigger tickets: the more customers spend, the more they can earn.
Always remember to upsell: holidays are the perfect time to get the desserts flowing. This is also a good time to run a contest with your employees to push those items, they would certainly welcome the chance to win a gift card for their holiday shopping, as well.
Increase rate of table turn/flow through
Don’t risk a good customer experience, but be mindful of easily avoidable pitfalls.
Properly staffed and trained seasonal employees are a key to this success in the holiday season. Be sure they are in place and trained before the holiday rush for optimal service and efficiency during the season.
Utilize catering/party space properly for table availability during busiest time, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner time on Black Friday.
Does a seasonal express lane for carry-out make sense? Do you have enough registers or POS systems in place? Now is the time to evaluate, so you are prepared during the busy season.
Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales, but there are numerous tactics to utilize within each! Get creative this holiday season and get a plan in place before the season is upon us.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is pleased to announce the application period for its annual scholarship program is now open. The scholarships are awarded to individuals interested in pursuing a career in the culinary and/or hospitality industry.
Since the fund’s inception in 2009, the LRAEF has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to 233 Louisiana individuals to further their post-secondary education. While these individuals have experience in a variety of roles, in different parts of the state, they all share an enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the restaurant industry.
“Each year we recognize a remarkable group with incredible potential,” Julie Talbot, LRAEF Executive Director Julie Talbot. “As the demand for highly skilled applicants continues to be a challenge for independent restaurant operators, our LRAEF scholars will be well-positioned for a successful career in the industry.”
“I am so grateful to the LRA for their support,” said 2019 scholar Dustin Rockwell. “It’s a relief to have these scholarship dollars so I can focus on my education and not how I’m going to pay my bills from month to month. I’m looking forward to completing my education and getting back out into the workforce to serve my community to the best of my abilities.”
Another 2019 scholar, Brock Nichols, was even chosen to prepare and serve food at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
The 2020 scholarships include the Jim Funk Scholarship, LRAEF ProStart Scholarship, LRA Board Fund Scholarship, LRA CENLA Chapter Scholarship and the Louisiana Seafood Scholarship. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m., January 31, 2020, and scholars will be announced in early spring. Applicants only need to submit one application for consideration. For eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.
For more information, contact the LRAEF office at 504-454-2277 or LRAEF@lra.org.
The LRA office will be closed Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are grateful that we are able to serve you-- out members and Louisiana's restaurant industry. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
In 1983, Ema Haq traveled 8712 miles alone in pursuit of an American education. He landed on the opposite side of the globe in the most unlikely place: the heart of Cajun Country—Lafayette, Louisiana. Accordians and alligators were a different reality from his mostly Muslim Bangladesh, a nation the size of Louisiana located between two sections of north India. Bangladesh teeters on the Tropic of Cancer with 150 million people—half the entire population of the U.S., with 2700 people per square mile, and always at the mercy of cyclones and floods. Most Bangladeshis must survive on less than two dollars a day. Haq fortunately came from a family led by a respected entrepreneurial father whose work spanned a military career and public sector achievement.
Remarkably, the family’s good fortune never blinded them to the crushing poverty outside their door—quite the opposite. They still utilize their abundance to bring nourishment and encouragement to everyone they know.
“If you talked to my father for more than five minutes, the conversation turned to helping others,” says Haq. “If you give him five dollars or a million dollars, he’d take what he needed and give the rest away to charity.”
“My mother was like that too,” he continues. “She died at age 63 doing charity work until the end. We never ate a meal without sharing it with someone who didn’t have enough.”
Teaching people to fish, not only helping them eat, was his father’s goal. “He constantly encouraged everyone, not just his children, to strive for higher education. His top priority was helping underprivileged people to rise from poverty.”
They sent their child to an American high school in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where they raised the family. When it came time for college, someone told Haq that Louisiana and Bangladesh had similarly sweltering climates. This intrigued him. Although he had never traveled before, he followed his impulse toward the U.S., landing almost exactly 180 degrees around the globe (Dhakar sits at 90 degrees east and Lafayette at 92 degrees west).
“My older sister and brother had both gone to Brussels to study and remain in Europe. Because I was the youngest child, my parents wanted me to stay in Bangladesh. I wanted to come to the U.S. for my education, and they ended up respecting this,” recalls Haq.
With that choice—and hard work—Haq struck gold. Attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette helped him dance with two careers: mechanical engineering and foodservice.
“I couldn’t even cook rice when I came from Bangladesh,” laughs Haq. “To pay for school, my first job was washing dishes at the University cafeteria. Then I worked at a bus boy, a cook and a waiter. Later I managed the restaurant Shangri La. After graduation, I worked in the oil fields as a full-time mechanical engineer at Mallard Drilling, which is now Parking Drilling. I opened my restaurant Bailey’s in 1993.”
The most widely known story about Haq is that when he found himself alone on his first Thanksgiving facing a foodless weekend (the cafeteria where he worked was closed), his friend’s mother insisted that he join their family at their home. She even insisted that they pick him up at his apartment.
“I didn’t know what the holiday really was, and I was really just a college student happy to have a few days off, when my friend Jeff Jardell called with the invitation from his mother Barbara Jardell,” remembers Haq. “Jeff picked me up, and I still remember walking in to that house everyone seated around the table, smiling at me, waiting for me. So I ate! It was wonderful.”
This generosity – complete with transportation – serves as the model for Haq’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts for anyone without access to a traditional holiday meal. Typically he and his volunteer staff serve about 300 people.
He also provides transportation for folks to partake of these free, full-service dinners. Another 400 additional meals are delivered to elderly in their homes.
Barbara Jardell has been a constant inspiration since that first Thanksgiving and remains Haq’s adopted “mom.” She also volunteers for every dinner he offers.
“We’ve been doing this for 27 years,” says Haq. “All our friends help that day and some of the staff. Acadiana Ambulance Service helps with the transportation, friends drive and we also use my vehicle. We usually need about 15-15 drivers.”
Haq also teaches table manners to children at seven Lafayette public schools. He has a standing offer with principals to invite to lunch children who deserve special rewards.
“They can be the best reader, the most improved,” states Haq. “I invite the school superintendent. We have lunch with these students to encourage them—any way to impact these children’s lives. When you grow up in a poor country, to impact people’s lives, you know that it takes more than just a little bit. In our own community we need so many things. If we do nothing, these ‘at-risk’ kids are going to be bigger risks in 10 years. Most of the kids I talk to have never had the means to eat in a restaurant like mine.”
But Haq’s generosity doesn’t even stop there. At Christmastime these school principals discreetly let him know which families are the poorest so Haq and his wife, Zakia, can help.
“We give meals, groceries, clothes, shoes, household needs and sometimes bikes for about 20 families. We keep our eyes open for the best deals on things and gather everything up to give away each Christmas.”
Haq believes he has an obligation to his young employees too.
“I tell them, ‘There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to buy me out in 10 years. I started out where you are—you can do anything if you try in this country.’ I tell them they can be engineers, teachers, and doctors if they work hard.”
He must be doing something right; his kitchen staff has a five-year turnover average.
Haq says that Bailey’s Seafood and Grill, created while he was still a full-time mechanical engineer, will always be his baby. But he also owns three additional businesses: Ema’s Restaurant, which serves down-home Southern food like chicken-fried steak; Bailey’s Support Services, a foodservice vendor operating cafes and cafeterias within large corporations; and Bailey’s Offshore Catering, serving hot meals on about 35 offshore and inland oil platforms, drilling rigs, boats, ships and barges in the both the U.S. and internationally (operations reach as far as Malaysia).
Still, nestled within all of his success stories is his original home. “The name Bailey’s comes from the white flower that is the national symbol for Bangladesh,” explains Haq. “We use that flower in our logo too.”
The foyer and banquet room of Bailey’s Seafood and Grill are lined with medals and plaques. Just how many? Around 31, he says, with 15 gold—including Best of Show for the New Orleans Culinary Classic in 1998. Newspaper articles are mounted and displayed, always highlighting Haq’s charity and community service.
In 2007, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him its Restaurateur of the Year. That same year, he received the Nobel Prize for public and community service, the Jefferson Award. “I was so honored,” he says. “My wife and kids all came with me to Washington, D.C. to accept the award. I love this country and I love Lafayette. Everyone has been so good to me. I want to do everything I can to make this world a better place.”
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Southwest Chapter held its fifth Annual Southwest Legacy Dinner on Monday, Nov. 11 at The Pioneer Club in Lake Charles. Last year’s honorees, Doug Gehrig and Gerald Mack presented this year’s award before a packed house to Ricky and Nancy Perioux, longtime husband-and-wife owners of Pat’s of Henderson.
Their family legacy was born in 1948, when Agnes and Pat Huval opened their first steak and seafood restaurant in the small town of Henderson, Louisiana. In 1982, the Huvals’ daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Ricky, became the caretakers of the legacy when they built their own Cajun restaurant in Lake Charles.
The restaurant will remain family-owned and operated. The Periouxs were kind enough to let us leverage their legacy to seed the future of our industry, and relinquished the reins to their son, Nic Perioux. As a third generation restaurateur, Nic has spent many years prepping for this day and can recall when he first started with the restaurant back in middle school.
My parents truly deserve this recognition, because they’re the perfect example that good things don’t come easy,” said Nic. “They worked hard while doing a great job raising their kids, and I’m fortunate to carry on the tradition.”
To commemorate such an occasion, the LRA hosted a unique dining experience featuring a 5-course meal designed by five area chefs to showcase their skills and the fall season’s flavors. The culinary experience included Pujo St. Café, Clean Juice, Coushatta Casino Resort, Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel and Casino and The Pioneer Club.
The event included a live and silent auction with attractive prizes such as an overnight package at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles including golf for two and $100 dining credit, a 2-night stay at the Seven Clans Hotel in the Coushatta Casino Resort including golf for two and dinner at Big Sky Steakhouse and a Chef Tasting event for eight, at a location of your choice, with Chef Kevin Thompson of Coushatta Casino Resort and Chef Lyle Broussard of L’auberge Lake Charles.
The dinner generated nearly $15,000, of which a portion will benefit the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF). The LRAEF, in turn, will use monies raised to further promote the restaurant industry as a career choice through its restaurant management and culinary arts program, ProStart, offered at fifty seven schools statewide. In the Lake Charles area, Sulphur High School and College Street Vocational Center are program participants. It will also enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, including culinary and hospitality scholarships.
For more information, please contact Britney Ford at email@example.com or 225-240-7189.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation (LRA SIF) Board of Trustees recently declared a dividend of $1.1 million to eligible plan participants. The LRA SIF specializes in workers’ compensation for Louisiana’s hospitality industry and related businesses.
Celebrating its 38th year in 2020, and inclusive of this dividend, the LRA SIF has returned nearly $116 million to eligible members. This marks the 32nd consecutive year the LRA SIF has declared a surplus in unused premium and interest income that will be returned to members. This surplus will include eligible participants from the fund years 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014 and will be payable in April 2020.
“The LRA SIF continues to be one of the most valuable benefits to our members, many of whom have been with us since the Fund’s inception,” said Stan Harris, LRA SIF President and CEO. “While we work diligently to reduce claims loss costs, our members’ commitment to improving safety in the workplace reduces injuries.”
The LRA SIF was created in 1982 and has grown to become one of the largest providers of hospitality and retail-focused worker’s compensation in the state. To be eligible for a dividend, members must be in good standing with the LRA and the LRA SIF, and have a loss ration that is equal to or less than 70 percent as of March 2, 2020.
To obtain a comparison quote or to learn more about how the LRA SIF can help to reduce your workers’ compensation costs, contact your independent insurance agent or the LRA SIF directly at 504-454-2277 or www.LRASIF.org.
WEBINAR: Learn What Steps you Need to Take to Come Into Compliance with the New Federal Overtime Rule
After four years of proposed regulations and final rules -- followed by a court injunction and an appeals court ruling that put everything on hold several years ago -- a final federal overtime rule now appears to be on track to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Among other things, the new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor will increase the compensation standards for the Fair Labor Standards Act's "executive, administrative and professional" exemptions. The so-called EAP exemptions determine which employees are exempt from overtime-pay requirements under federal law when they work more than 40 hours in a week.
In this webinar, Paul DeCamp, the national co-chair of Epstein Becker & Green's wage and hour practice -- and a former Wage and Hour Administrator at the Department of Labor -- will explain the new requirements and what restaurants need to do to ensure compliance by the start of 2020.
As restaurants shift away from the traditional, operators must be nimble. The world is changing fast, and business leaders will have to adapt with speed and agility. Constant innovation and speed-to-market will help restaurants thrive as they serve guests where and when they want to be served.
1. The definition of “restaurant” will change. The digital world and evolving consumer preferences are resulting in an array of restaurant models aimed at giving customers what they want, when and where they want it. Some restaurants will morph into a hybrid model, offering counter service, full service, takeout and delivery, and meal kits. The delivery-only restaurant is on the rise through virtual restaurants and “ghost kitchens.” New food halls feature retail and restaurant pairings to make it easy for people both to eat and to shop for food they can take home.
2. Off-premises opportunities will drive industry growth. The increasing demand for off-premises meals is transforming the restaurant industry and operators will need to find ways to tap into this new revenue channel. Delivery orders are booming, and business models are shifting fast to find ways to serve that customer base. The shift affects everything from restaurant design to marketing, tech investment, operations, and site selection.
3. Margin pressures will continue. Labor costs, real-estate costs, and increasing investments in delivery and technology will continue to put pressure on the restaurant P&L. There will be a strong motivation to automate routine back-of-house tasks in restaurant kitchens and bars, as well as escalate the use of kiosks and digital ordering.
4. Data is king. Restaurants will see new opportunities to apply data analytics to predict and capitalize on consumer demand and optimize supply economics.
5. Restaurants will serve — and employ — a different demographic. The U.S. population and labor force will be the most diverse it’s ever been, and the workforce will include more older Americans. Restaurant operators will need to accommodate both the dining preferences and work styles of an increasingly diverse American public.
6. Recruitment, retention and training will remain top priorities. The skills and talent restaurants seek in their workforce will evolve to support a new technology ecosystem. Restaurants will compete with other industries for tech talent. Benefits will be critical to recruiting and retaining employees. Technology-based training, certifications, and internal career paths will be increasingly important tools to retain valuable employees.
7. Technology will drive tremendous advances in food safety, food sourcing, and sustainability. As the supply chain grows increasingly complex, operators will leverage block chain and other new traceability technologies, ingredient and sourcing data, automated food safety management systems, and advances in utility and waste management to become more efficient, transparent organizations.
8. Government will be a greater factor in everything operators do. In addition to the federal government, state and local governments may continue to add to the legislation, taxation and regulation affecting restaurant operators.
9. Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It’s an important way to drive costs down as well as showcase the industry’s efforts to attract and serve the growing number of guests who are interested in everything about sustainability — from restaurant packaging to food sourcing.
10. Restaurants will continue to bring people together. Hospitality, excellence in service, and engagement in local communities will remain the hallmark of the restaurant industry. That strong commitment to guests and consumers of every type will be core to the industry’s identity in 2030 as operators innovate and thrive in an age of increasing technology.
Download the Full Report
Today the National Restaurant Association, in partnership with American Express and Nestlé Professional, released its 10-year outlook report on the projected state of the restaurant industry in 2030. The report, “Restaurant Industry 2030: Actionable Insights for the Future,” examines the key indicators shaping the future of the industry, identifies the most and least likely developments over the upcoming decade, and considers possible disrupters outside the industry that could transform it. The findings are based on input from a variety of restaurant sector experts, futurists, and government statistics.
Key economic projections for 2030 include:
“The restaurant industry is at a crossroads as it finds ways to respond to consumer demand for meal and snack solutions away from home,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Restaurant owners are swiftly adapting across their businesses to meet the wants and needs of guests. The radical transformation of the last decade will change the way the industry operates going forward. It’s exciting to ponder how the industry will grow and transform over the next 10 years, and consider how the Association can best support the industry in capitalizing on these opportunities.”
The definition of “restaurant” will change as off-premises continues to drive industry growth.
Over the next decade, technology and data will become a greater focus for restaurants as they adapt to growing consumer expectations in the on-demand world. Guests will expect a seamless digital experience and want their preferences known at each interaction with a restaurant. As off-premises traffic and sales continue to accelerate, consumers will place a heightened importance on experiential dining for on-premises occasions. Areas to watch include:
Nutrition and sustainability will drive menus.
Sustainable sourcing and transparency will continue to grow in focus for consumers over the next decade. In order to remain competitive, restaurants will need to adapt to evolving dietary restrictions and consumer preferences. Food trends and menus will naturally evolve to reflect the increasingly health-conscious, ecological mindset of the consumer. Areas to watch include:
The restaurant workforce is changing.
Population growth at an expected annual rate of 0.7% between 2018 and 2030, accompanied by changing demographics in the next decade, are expected to lead to an average labor growth rate of 0.5% annually between 2018 and 2028. With slower labor-force growth, restaurants will continue to compete against other industries for talent, making recruitment and retention vital to success in the coming decade. Restaurant employers will adopt career-focused mentalities as operators enhance retention by offering benefits and long-term career paths to success. Key statistics and areas to watch include:
“Deconstructing possible trends and innovations of the next decade will help both large and small-business owners in the restaurant industry anticipate their greatest challenges,” said Riehle. “With these actionable insights for the future, restaurants will remain an integral part of the economy and a cornerstone of every community across this nation.”
Download the full Restaurant Industry 2030 report at Restaurant.org/Restaurants2030.