Chicago and The National Restaurant Association sure know how to throw a party. Between food demonstrations, samples at every turn, and educational seminars, we’re learning a lot and having fun doing it. Monday was no different, and we’ve got plenty for our small business owners to nibble on.
We started off with an APPetizer…ok, that was really bad. Hank and Harry’s: How to Win Your Customers with a Mobile Loyalty and Ordering Solution taught us how apps are vital to the restaurant industry. Did you know that millennials eat in restaurants 30% more than other generations? Not only that, but 54% eat out at least three times per week. Even further, 56% of millennials are attracted to mobile loyalty programs. In other words, if your establishment isn’t taking advantage of mobile technology, you’re losing out of a large portion of the population and their dollars. Now you’re asking, how do I get an app for my place? Buzzy Sklar, Founder & CEO of Hank and Harry’s emphasized working with a technology partner that specializes in restaurant mobile solutions to execute your goals. In many cases, mobile apps can integrate with your point-of-sale system, which can turn an occasional guest into a regular one. The key takeaway: build a robust app with rich content to establish emotional affinity between your customers and your restaurant.
Next up: Getting What You Paid for: How to Sustainably Source Your Restaurant Food Supply. 80% of customers want to know more about where their food is sourced from. Additionally, 66% of customers are willing to spend more on sustainable products, which has increased 55% since 2014. With increasing demands for sustainable food, small restaurant owners have the ideal setting for giving customers what they want. The panel session, moderated by Jeff Clark of The National Restaurant Association – had several tips for restaurant owners trying to sustainably source their products. Their top suggestion was to head to your local farmers’ market to find the right match. With many restaurants competing for local products, farmers can pick and choose who they want to work with. Do your values align with theirs, can they keep up with your demand, will you feature them appropriately? Are all questions that will come up. Not surprisingly, the top place your customers want to hear about the source of their food is your menu. The average ticket increases by 12% when sustainable food is on the menu, so give the people what they want!
Our small business spotlight comes to us from Japan today. Shibata Brewery, a 200-year-old family run sake business in Aichi Prefecture, Japan chatted with us about how their trying to grow their brewery. With 30 kinds of sake generating 100,000 liters annually, 15 employees, and a local soft market hampering growth, they gave us a glimpse into the challenges of expansion. We asked Yuki, Vice President of Sales and Export, about his biggest challenges. “Since we’re very selective about where our sake goes, our biggest challenge is breaking into the U.S. market. Finding an importer and exporter has been really difficult.” Shibata Brewery said the National Restaurant Association Show has helped get interest for his brand, and he hopes to be developing his product line in the future.
That’s it for today. We’ll see you again tomorrow with more coverage from Chicago!