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Monday, August 13, 2012

Roast chicken, anyone?

THE EVOLUTION OF THE lechon manok (roasted chicken)
It started decades ago with hooded mobile grills that use charcoal and whose rotisserie grills are being manually turned to evenly roast the chicken. Now, the technology has caught up with it and we have these fabulous George Foreman grills and upscale barbecue rotisseries of all shapes and sizes.

What am I referring to? Well, it's the roasted chicken phenomenon.

Chicken, being a very affrodable and allegedly nutritious, more healthier protein option, has paved the way for food fads that have ranged from fried to barbecued to even processed foods. It most deserves, in my opinion, it's being a superstar in fastfood chain menu offerings. It's easy to cook, tasty and agreeable to most religion-related dietary constrictions.

I remember when I was younger how the then Lechon Manok was much like the donut of the current generation. It was what moms or dads or grandparents brought home from work for their kids. Weekends meant having them for dinner. They were also present in most special occasions from birthdays to office parties. When it's a potluck party, everyone wanted to bring it to the party because it was the most convenient. They'd not need to cook or even order. Lechon Manok stands were practically scattered in major streets and in most neighborhoods.

Then came out the restaurant brands that featured barbecued chicken. Mostly charcoal-grilled and mostly letting diners choose between the quarter of the chicken which has the leg or the wing. The recipes were simple and the taste loved by many. It was a comfort food of sorts. The dining areas al fresco and unintimidating. People flock to them for quick, affordable dinners. Diners thought they were eating healthy too because it was grilled.

Recently, the poultry industry diversified some of their efforts by making their own grilled or barbecued chicken recipes, putting up small barbecue kisoks and franchised them out. They scattered these kiosks and small stalls in every corner and busy neighborhood commercial areas possible, you practically don't need to look for them.

The business model is a genius idea. Chicken was cheap. The equipment is very accessible, marinading and precooking were a breeze too. The space needed for the stores were as small as 6 or 9 square meters. Business hours only over lunch and over dinner.

The chicken barbecues have become a busy mom's go-to dinner choice or the emergency dinner potluck dish. It became a craving for pregnant women and even for women who weren't. Men bought them especially for those who don't cook, who don't have wives or cooks. It became a student's whole day or two-day viand.

Moreover, it has brought employment for people who simply have to watch the rotisserie and sell out the chickens. It has brought meaning to empty small stalls that were not enough space for internet cafes and boutiques. On the other hand, it made moms a little lazier than usual. But then, they can do that once in a while.

In my opinion, for all the reasons that have been said, the grilled chicken phenomenon has not seen its best years yet. It is thriving now but there's more to come for it. After all, it tastes like chicken.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tools for Mobile Managing

Business owners tend to be discouraged in taking a vacation or going somewhere far from their businesses. This is for fear of not being able to monitor the business physically or to oversee their employees.Either somebody takes over or the operation is closed.

Nowadays, that is no longer such a big fear for some businesses. What with technology enabling business owners or managers to oversee their businesses even while on vacation, from another location or somewhere distant, local or overseas.

Some of the these technologies that have greatly helped business people are the affordability and substantial variety of choices of CCTV cameras which can be recorded and viewed on the web, internet, online sales and operations reports and online employee monitoring software.

Of these tools, the employee monitoring software allows an owner to monitor employee attendance, performance and even view them while at work with the use of closed circuit television cameras which are now much more affordable.

The employee monitoring software helps owners and managers to make decisions even while away by being able to view reports instantly.

While it is still definitely better for owners and managers to be on site, it is now easier to seek out other business concerns like suppliers, new locations, new opportunities, enhance sales and to plan with the tools that technology has brought about.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

4 Ways to Better Employee Management

In any restaurant, aside from the all-too-important FOOD, the service is one that is scrutinized a lot.

We may not be far from automating our restaurants but at this time, we still need actual human beings to serve the food and cook and buss and clean up. Therefore, our employees still play a major role. Motivating and managing your employees need to be approached in a proactive manner.

Here are Five Things to remember when dealing with employees.

Employees are very wary of salaries, benefits, reprimands and recognition. First, giving employees the proper salary according to legal minimum requirements. Giving employees the minimum wage at least will be less of a headache for employers. Being fair will also mean giving the same benefits and applying the same policies to all.

One company principle that should be applied to all the sections and functions in a restaurant is CONSISTENCY. Consistent, standard taste, portion and timing of food, consistent service. Consistency also applies to employee discipline and recognition. This can be addressed with an employee handbook which should set the rules as to how employees will be dealt with when they do something right and wrong. They should be recognized for great service efforts and reprimanded accordingly for misbehavior or incorrect delivery of service.

Again, this goes back to having an employee handbook which should contain everything about employee standards of conduct, uniform, disciplinary action matrix and the like.

Employees need to see that owners and managers "walk their talk". When they see their leaders being foul or disrespectful to guests, it will be like giving them "permission" to do the same. Owners and managers need to be great examples to their staff.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Group discount websites: How to treat them

Recently, group discount websites and even printed discount coupons are emerging as the latest in sales and marketing tools.

When you receive your proposal, you would think, "Is this a ridiculous idea or what?" You might think why should you sell your meals at 50% the price?

When you decide on your deal for any one of them, make sure to remember the following:

Think promotion not revenue. If you sell at anything around half off your price (which is what these websites are asking from restaurants), think of taking back your loss some other way. Even if it converts to volume sales for you instantly, it's still at a less ideal price for you. Treat these deals as promotional tools.

Think about your brand. These applies for any marketing activity. Think about your brand and decide evaluate the deals against it. Ensure that the deals will still be in support of the brand you are taking care of or building.

Read your contracts to the dot and make sure your company maximizes its exposure. Record your sales or other benefits out of these deals so that you have a basis the next time you are approached by another group discount websites.

Ideally, these group discount sites are great for new establishments. For the seasoned ones, they can use the deals to focus on a specific service, dish or improvement.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Handle Sponsorships

Sponsorship, especially on exchange deal is one marketing tool that is, in my opinion, the most cost-effective.

Sponsorship asked from restaurants have better retention in people's minds rather than advertisements. Sponsorships usually have the following:

  • Sponsorship requests come from company's with a targeted audience, which if matched with yours, will be a good activity.
  • Sponsorships allow you to do other things on-premise or during the event like flyering, streamer display, inclusion in tri-media, printed materials and online promotions.
  • Exchange deals for restaurants gives the customers try the food. The cost will also be lesser for restaurants because of the added profit margin on food.
If you get a letter for sponsorship, review it based on the following:
  • Are the people in this event or activity same as my target market?
  • Is it still in my budget?
  • Will my name be seen among all the other sponsors?
  • What other activities am I entitled to?
  • Will signing up for the sponsorship bring good mileage for my restaurant?
  • Is the event aligned with the company's values and principles?
Admittedly, there will be sponsorships that will be beyond your need. Example, there might be a great artist coming to Manila and you are located in another city. You may be able to afford it but being based in another city, the event might not be a good activity for you.

There will also be activities that might be congruent with your thrust or company principles. Example, you are a family restaurant and the event is for a bikini open contest. Great event but not in tandem with your values.

If you decide and if the requesting party or organizer agrees, an exchange deal is the best arrangement for restaurants. Exchange deals can be partial or full barter deals. Partial meaning you pay part in cash and part in services or product. Remember to compute the full or partial barter based on your selling or published price not on your food cost. This way, you save by actually jsut spending for food cost. There might be arrangements for discounts or gift certificates. Compute all these based on your selling price.

Other things to check:
LOGO. Make sure your logo is placed properly.
COMPANY NAME. Your company name should be spelled correctly. Sometimes, it is better to use your company name together with your logo to build your brand and at the same time, identify your company properly.
POSTERS OR STREAMERS. Ask to be able to place your streamers in the venue or to distribute flyers.

Sponsorships are great! Do not instantly shun just about any letter that comes your way. It is a great way to spread the word about your place.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Creating a Service Culture

They say restaurants have to be a great combination of great food, suitable setting and great service. I totally agree.

In this article, I would like to focus on the topic of great service.

It all starts with creating a culture of service. An owner or manager or the management team sets this. This is the kind of message they send to their employees in terms of how they want their employees to treat or attend to their customers. I am saying it should be from management because most of the time employees do emulate from their leaders.

So how exactly do you create a culture of service?

First, managers and owners should clearly define policies regarding service. It is more than knowing or setting tables right or having the trendiest menu. It is setting the "mood" you want in the restaurant. It is defining behavior you want your servers to have, the proper answers to probable questions. It is also setting the manner as to how complaints and adversities are going to be handled.

Second, managers and owners should be great service examples. When employees see managers not minding diners who have requests or treating them in a foul way, they would not have any inspiration to do otherwise. Our bosses are doing it, why will we do otherwise?

Third, encourage great service. This is done by measuring what is great service and rewarding employees when they are consistently giving it.

Fourth, listen to customers. When customers feel that what they say and think is important, it puts your restaurant in a special place in their choice of dining.

Creating a setting that encourages great service in your restaurants is absolutely important.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Does your restaurant need a website?

Well, seems like a simple question, right? Not entirely. But yes.

So does your restaurant need a website? If you're a local restaurant with home-cooked-style meals or if you cater mostly to locals?

Being online seems to be a must these days. A website is good but while you are still contemplating on getting one, you may get a facebook or twitter page for your company for the time being.

Here are a few criteria before you go sign a web development contract.

If you have a plan to expand the business to a level that it would need promotions beyond your locale, then get a website.

If your restaurant is a major restaurant in your area, especially if your area is a popular or upcoming destination, then get a website. Tourists going to a certain destination search ahead of their travel for places to go to, restaurants and hotels online.

The world is always on the lookout for a unique eat.

If you are building your brand for expansion or franchise, a website is always a good tool.