Health inspections in greater Boston can be a frustrating and stressful experience, but it’s important to remember that health inspectors don’t come knocking to shut down your operation. Health inspections are held to make sure food products are handled and prepared according to state and local regulations to protect the public. Once you understand the food codes and have a plan in order for cleaning your restaurant, health inspections become a routine experience.
What to Know Before a Health InspectionHealth inspections are usually conducted between 1 and 4 times a year, so it is important that your operation is always ready. Before your health inspection, it is important to know about the various regulatory agencies that create and enforce the food safety standards. Once you understand the regulations, there are some steps you can take to ensure your establishment is up to snuff for your inspection.
What Roles Do Regulatory Agencies Have in Health Inspections?In the U.S. there are several regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and state and local health departments that create and enforce food codes that foodservice establishments must follow.
The FDA Sets Food CodesThe FDA monitors domestic companies and firms who produce, package, transport, and handle food in the U.S. The FDA has limited direct involvement with restaurants, bars, or grocery stores, and instead sets codes and regulations that are enforced by state and local health departments. One of the most important documents created by the FDA is their food code. The food code sets model regulations that state and local health departments use as a reference, or in many cases, adopt as legal requirements.
Who Inspects Restaurants and Enforces Food Codes?Restaurants are inspected by either local or state health departments depending on the location. Each state has its own health department that oversees its restaurants and other foodservice establishments.
Depending on the state, it can have anywhere from 1,500 to 50,000+ restaurants. As a result, many states create municipal or local health departments to regulate densely populated areas. These local health departments are responsible for creating and enforcing their own food codes as well as state health department regulations.
ServSafe Offers Training for Food Safety
ServSafe is a training program administered by the National Restaurant Association that offers certifications in food safety management, food handling, and alcohol service. A ServSafe food safety management certification is required in 30 states. Additionally, in 9 states employees must be able to demonstrate food safety knowledge, and the requirements differ between counties in the remaining 11 states. Check the ServSafe website to find your ServSafe test scores, check the requirements for your area, or sign up for classes.
How to Prepare for a Health InspectionOne tool to prepare for a health inspection is a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan. The HACCP system identifies the points in the cooking process where the risk of contamination is the greatest. Once the hazards have been identified, you can take action to prevent possible contamination. In addition to HACCP plans, here are some steps you can take to perform your own inspections:
During the Inspection, Do...
During the Inspection, Don't...
What to Do After a Health InspectionAfter the restaurant health inspection is completed, your operation will be given a score. If you were following the inspector during your inspection, your score should not come as a surprise. In order to understand your score and its effect on your business, you should learn about the restaurant scoring systems. Once you understand your score, you can begin to fix any possible violations.
What Are the Health Inspection Scoring Systems?There are two main restaurant grading systems: points-based systems and letter grade systems. Which system is used depends on the local or state health department that is conducting the inspection. Health violations in restaurants are categorized as critical and non-critical or as high-risk and low-risk depending on the department.
Points-Based SystemsPoints-based systems are usually scored on a 100 point scale. Health inspectors determine the score by the number and severity of the violations.
General Points-Based Scoring
90 or higher Good One or two low-risk violations - May have one high-risk violation
80-89 Adequate Several low-risk violations May have one high-risk violation
70-79Needs ImprovementMultiple low and high-risk violations
69 or lowerPoorMany low and high-risk violations
Letter Grade SystemsLetter grade systems are usually scored as A, B, or C to represent the restaurant’s food regulation compliance. In most cases, inspectors tally up points depending on the number and the severity of the health code violations in restaurants and then convert the number to a letter grade. The letter grade system is intended to simplify the scores, so they are easily understood by consumers.
General Letter Grade Scoring
A - Good: Few or zero low-risk violations / May have one high-risk violation
B - Adequate: Multiple low and high-risk violations
C - Needs Improvement: PoorMany low and high-risk violations
Fixing Your Health ViolationsPoor health inspection results can be damaging to your business, especially because it is now easier for customers to find and understand health inspection violations. If your establishment has several low-risk or any high-risk violations, here are some steps you can take to fix your violations:
Some operators approach health inspections with anxiety or frustration, but health inspections are potential learning opportunities that are meant to reduce the spread of food-borne illnesses and ensure the safety of your customers. There are many steps you can take to prepare your establishment for your restaurant health inspection, such as knowing your local food codes, becoming ServSafe certified, and conducting self-inspections. In addition, it is important to be knowledgeable of the restaurant grading systems and how points are calculated. Your job, however, is not done after the inspector walks out your door. There are several steps you can take to correct any possible violations and improve your health inspection score.
Article by Webstaurant
Posted by Boston Restaurant Brokers
If you need to sell your restaurant we're the premier and number #1 company with the most restaurant sales in Metro Boston and all the way to 495, please do not hesitate to call.
by Marlene Affeld
A well-designed commercial kitchen is integral to efficient, safe and profitable food preparation. A commercial kitchen designed to consider ergonomics will be appreciated by the owner, chef and kitchen workers. The fewer steps required to complete a task, the better. Careful, considered planning in the design of the kitchen will save money and time during the construction phase and increase profitability over the life of the kitchen. Commercial kitchen design plans are dictated by space requirements, equipment and budget.
1. Prepare a detailed list or menu of all foods you plan to prepare in the commercial kitchen. Describe in detail the method of food storage and preparation. This is one of the most important steps in planning a commercial kitchen and should be done prior to choosing space or equipment. You do not know what kind of equipment you will need until you have decided on the foods you will prepare. Include all menu items you may wish to add in the future. (A small commercial kitchen approved as a bakery or sandwich shop may not meet health code requirements if you later wish to add soups, salads, deep-fried items or pizza.) Careful planning will avoid costly changes in equipment or construction.
2. Make a complete list (including detailed measurements) of all equipment you will require for food preparation, refrigeration, display and storage. Every single item of equipment must meet commercial health code requirements. Determine if you will require a walk-in refrigeration unit or free-standing cold storage equipment. The size and amount of equipment, plus food preparation counter surface, will dictate the amount of space needed in your commercial kitchen.
3. Select a site location for your small commercial kitchen. Determine if you will construct a new building or remodel an existing commercial space. Contact your local zoning commission to determine if your new business venture complies with zoning restrictions.
4. Take exact measurements of the size of the space if you are remodeling an existing building.. Make note of existing windows, doorways, electrical outlets, plumbing lines and floor drains. Make a sketch of the existing space, making note of the present flooring material, wall and ceiling surface and all heating, exhaust or air-conditioning vents. For a new building, draw out a rough sketch of the dimensions and special features of proposed construction.
5. Plan how you will use the space in your commercial kitchen. Ergonomics is the number one consideration in the design of kitchen space. Commercial kitchens should be designed for maximum labor efficiency, safety and functionality. Make sure that there is plenty of room to move about freely when carrying hot pots and bulky supplies. If employees do not have to waste time and extra movement completing a task, efficiency is increased and fatigue and workplace injuries are reduced.
6. Contact your local city or state building inspector and make an appointment to review your preliminary plans. Health and fire codes must be met. The space may need to be remodeled to satisfy requirements. Regulations govern how far a food preparation area must be away from any sinks or waste and disposal drains, the installation of vents and grease traps, the size and temperature capacity of hot water tanks and the design and location of food storage areas. Make sure you receive a printed copy of all rules and regulations prior to designing the commercial kitchen space. Regulations vary from state to state, dependent on location, the size of the kitchen and the amount of patrons you are allowed to seat in the premises. City or county ordinances may apply.
7. Employ the services of a professional architect or building contractor to design the commercial kitchen, incorporating all building and health department rules that apply. Prior to purchasing equipment or commencing construction or remodeling, the detailed drawings or blueprints must be reviewed and officially approved by both the health department and fire inspector. Blueprints must include electrical wiring schematics, fire suppression equipment installation drawings, emergency and handicap access routes, plumbing and electrical installation plans and a complete list of all building materials.
Shared by: Boston Restaurant Brokers 128 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA. 02129 -www.bostonrestaurantbrokers.com - (note: if you have a restaurant with liquor license for sale in greater Boston, please contact us, we have 2 cash buyers ready to buy a business in Boston and surrounding areas.
The National Restaurant Association reports that 46 percent of restaurant employees want to own restaurants at some point. Include non-restaurant employees interested in the restaurant business, and you can see the financial benefits of selling your restaurant. It doesn't matter if you're selling because you're losing money, you can't operate the restaurant any longer or you're bored with the industry. What matters is taking the proper steps to make your restaurant appealing to potential buyers.
Article by Michelle Strait
Maintenance ConcernsYou can increase your chances of making a quick sell and getting your asking price by making the restaurant appealing to potential buyers. Concern yourself with two things: the inside and the outside of the property. On the outside, make sure the grounds are neat and safe. For instance, if the stairs leading into the restaurant are broken, fix them before putting the restaurant on the market. Simple things like cutting the grass, removing weeds or removing dead flowers will make the property look better. On the inside, you should make sure the restaurant is clean and presentable. You also might want to make any necessary repairs. For instance, if there's a hole in the wall from a leaky pipe, it will help to get the pipe and the hole repaired. If you can't afford to do maintenance on the outside or the inside, it's still possible to sell the restaurant. However, potential buyers will not pay top price for a restaurant that requires a great deal of work before it's operational.
Legal ConcernsYou must make sure that all parts of the sale are legal. For instance, if you're planning to include the kitchen equipment, make sure it's legally yours to sell. If you're leasing the equipment, the company will probably want it returned instead of including it in the deal. There's a chance that your lease for the equipment isn't transferable. You also might not have a legal right to sell the restaurant if there are additional owners. If someone else owns 50 percent of the restaurant, you cannot legally sell their share unless they agree to it.
Financial ConcernsTo sell your restaurant, you will need to set an asking price and prepare a financial profile for potential buyers. Before setting your asking price, you might want a real estate agent to appraise the restaurant. Some realtors also give letters of opinion regarding the value of your property. This helps you decide on an asking price that's fair to you and potential buyers. You also can present potential buyers with a financial profile that shows the value of the business, and potential revenue and growth.
Listing ConcernsYour restaurant will never sell unless potential buyers know it's available. There are several ways to advertise the sale of your restaurant: online, by word-of-mouth, with local advertisements or through a real estate agent. You can use as few or as many listing methods as you want. According to Restaurant Hospitality, restaurants are the type of business frequently bought and sold online. Listing your restaurant online also gives you widespread exposure.
Shared by Boston Restaurant Brokers 128 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA. 02129 _We Sell Restaurants in Mass.
If you have a Pizza shop for sale in Boston, we have a financially qualified buyer ready to buy a restaurant in Boston or Cambridge, please give us a call or send a text now 617-285-7875 www.bostonrestaurantbrokers.com
A popular topic lately in a couple different restaurant discussion forums I participate in is the question of who owns the recipes your restaurant uses?
Let’s look at a couple possible scenarios that could affect your restaurant.
No matter the answers to any of these questions, it is very important for the continued success of your restaurant that you are able to consistently produce the same quality of product, tasting the same as before, if you want to keep the loyal customers you have. If the food was horrible, maybe you want to change all the recipes, but you’ll still want to pay attention to the rest of this article to avoid potential pitfalls with the next chef.
All this begs the question, “Can your restaurant survive the departure of your head chef or kitchen manager?”
In addition to helping you evaluate your current situation and the risk you already have if your head chef leaves, I’m also going to help you take the steps to lower your risk and remove the impending doom of losing your top chef.
What are the risks if my chef leaves?
If you are unfortunate enough to lose your executive chef, whether it be a termination, the chef quitting, or the chef moving on to a better opportunity, there are several potential problems they could leave you with and several considerations you may have never made.
Now that you know it’s very important to protect yourself from these potential problems, and I’ve told you that an employment contract can help, you’re lead to your next question, “What should be included in a good chef employment contract?”
Here are what I consider to be “must haves” in any chef employment contract. Many of these you will want to include in an employment contract for all your cooks, your General Manager and any other key management staff that have access to your proprietary secrets.
There are several other statements you should include to create a good contract. Make sure to use a qualified lawyer experienced with labor law and restaurants when creating any contract of any sort. I am not a lawyer and you shouldn’t consider this article legal advice. What this is however, is a good place to start when trying to protect proprietary information like recipes.
Until you have an employment contract in place, and a job description letting a chef know they are creating recipes for you that you will own, you are at the mercy of their ethics. A great chef knows that they are only as good as they left their last kitchen. They should have the moral drive to set any kitchen they run up for success long after they are gone. They shouldn’t try to steal employees or hide recipes. After all, a great chef can recreate a recipe anytime they wish, and there’s a never ending supply of recipes inside a great chef’s brain. You can’t depend on every chef you hire being a great chef however. You need to protect yourself and create an atmosphere that benefits not only your chef, but every employee in the kitchen.
Use employment contracts. Use job descriptions. Create and maintain up-to-date recipes on all your menu items, including the specials. Make sure you have copies too. Don’t be held hostage by any one employee. Create an atmosphere where chefs will be beating down your door to work in your organized, well run operation, just for the opportunity to express their own creativity. For the opportunity to work for a successful brand, and to have the freedom of creating to their hearts content because you’re not holding them back from insecurity that they may some day move on to bigger and better things. After all, if you hired a great chef, they will eventually move on to bigger and better things.
For help writing an employment contract for your chef or cooks, visit our webstore and look for our Employment Contract for Chefs and Cooks. This same contract can be amended to use for any employee.
Brandon O’Dell is an independent restaurant consultant who assists small to medium sized independent restaurants and small chains create the operational systems their chain competitors use everyday. Visit www.bodellconsulting.com for more information, or visit their blog at blog.bodellconsulting.com.
Article Shared by: Boston Restaurant Brokers, 128 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02129 if you have a pizza shop shop for sale in boston, we have buyers looking to buy and make a quick transaction right after due diligence.
Please call Boston Restaurant Brokers at 617-285-7875 also if you have a restaurant for sale in massachusetts we have 3 highly qualified buyers ready to sit down and talk with you. -
Pizza customers are a promiscuous bunch. Let's look at the top 10 pizza marketing strategies you're not using – but should be – to make sure your customers continue coming back.
Pizza marketing is a unique animal. There's no other business that accepts customer orders in-store, via phone, and online. Options for pizza have exploded, from crusts to styles, ingredients, and oven temperatures. Passionate customers carry enormous weight – just think of the sheer amount of "Where should we get pizza from?" conversations taking place every day – but getting customers to this level of loyalty takes time, energy, and flawless execution.
To succeed, pizza marketers need a strategy that's outside the box. Here are the top 10 pizza marketing strategies you're not using that lead to increased revenue and drastically improved customer satisfaction.
1) Tailor Your Marketing Strategy To Millennials
According to PMQ, last year Millennials made more than 14 billion visits to restaurants and spent $95 billion (for comparison, total 2014 pizza sales were $38.5 Billion). Millennials have gone from fiery upstarts to the focal point of our economy – they make up the largest population cohort the U.S. has ever seen, they hold $200 billion in spending power, and Barrons estimates that millennials could soon generate GDP growth of 3% or more – at least a percentage point higher than the current levels.
As a result, pizza marketers need to tailor their strategy to this demographic. That's the only way to find success. Fortunately, there are two straight-forward ways to appeal to millennials:
A) Make mobile the focal point of customer communication; email (and whatever else) should be complementary
According to eMarketer, 90% of U.S. millennial smartphone users have their phones within arm's reach 24/7. So, hopefully clear: mobile = priority #1 to communicate with the economy's most important (i.e. lucrative) demographic.
What's also interesting – what's happening to email marketing: Epsilon found that email engagement rates dropped to 4% in 2014 (down 20% from a few years ago), while MailChimp shows restaurant clickthrough rates to be just 1.7%.
1.7%. Every time an email marketing campaign needs to attract 100 visitors, a pizza marketing team needs 10,000 customers on an email list. Contrast that with the 80% engagement rates created by mobile marketing – pizza marketers only need 125 customers to see 100 visits. What's more achievable – finding 10,000 customers or 125?
Millennials choose (and prefer) mobile as their primary means of communication. Those pizza brands that rely solely on email marketing will not be able to keep up (to be clear, email still has value – it just has to be the George to mobile as Seinfeld).
B) Get Rid Of Plastic / Punch Cards
A recent case study from a San Francisco-based restaurant that targets millennials revealed that, after spending $10K+ on printing plastic loyalty cards, 74% remained unregistered, 44% unused, and only 18% of customers still used their card three months after receipt. After switching to a mobile-based program, 83% of customers remained active three months after signing up.
That jump represents a 461% improvement in marketing to millennial customers.
Just like mobile vs. email, there shouldn't really be a need for a detailed explanation, plastic / punch cards don't work for the millennial audience. Focus on mobile and see better results.
2) Increase Sales Per Unit Using NPS and Retention Marketing
From the aforementioned PMQ article, most populated areas have as many pizza restaurants as they can support. Nationally, 1.2K pizza units shut their doors in 2014 while 2013 saw the closure of 2K stores. Pizza restaurants need ways to increase sales-per-unit – in addition to opening new stores – to continue growing revenue.
As such, here are two proven strategies to increase same-store sales not in use by the majority of pizza brands:
A) Track Customer Satisfaction To Identify Revenue-Generating Best Practices
A recent study of multi-location restaurants found that the average transaction at a business's best-performing location is 93% higher than its worst. By bringing low-performers up to the level of high-performers, pizza brands can eliminate this discrepancy and immediately increase sales-per-unit.
To do so, use Net Promoter Score (or other customer satisfaction metric) to track overall customer satisfaction. Implement high-performing locations' best practices at locations that aren't doing as well. This will steadily increase sales to a level where all locations generate a comparable revenue per customer and total revenue.
Then, use NPS to track new customer service initiatives designed to increase sales and promote the best initiatives across the entire brand. As a starting point, consider employee training about how to articulate the pizza brand's value proposition. Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.
B) Increase Average Spend Per Customer Using Easy-To-Redeem Customer Rewards
When confronted with the challenge of increasing revenue, every business in the world thinks the same thing: we need more customers. However, here at the Top 10 Pizza Marketing Strategies You're Not Using, we're trying to uncover something you don't already know.
So, focus on your existing customers as a source of new revenue. A rewards program – smartly designed – increases revenue in and of itself. From there, set up a referral program to get new customers by way of your existing ones. Incentivize existing customers to come at different times during the week. Remember, revenue is revenue, no matter the source. Spend resources on the initiatives that will add the most revenue, not the most customers.
3) Create Transparent Customer Communication
According to data from a recently-released restaurant study about consumer participation in restaurant marketing initiatives, 48% of consumers never sign up simply because they lack information. When consumers are informed, 87% chose to enroll.
So, when pizza restaurants communicate clearly about a program that benefits their customers, they can generate an 80% improvement in the number of customers that choose to participate (interestingly, this best practice applies to other industries: Michael Marino, VP of Customer Loyalty at Caesars mentioned that conversion rate for loyalty cards jumped from 24% to 80% once the marketing team "made a conscious effort to be very clear with our intentions").
To create transparency, A/B test existing communication to verify that it's effective. From there, tie communication to customer activity rather than random events (e.g. trigger a mobile notifications right after a transaction rather than the next day).
4) Do NOT Launch A Daily Deals Promotion Unless You Have A Retention Marketing Strategy In Place
A recent survey posted to Pizza Marketplace found that nearly 80% of survey respondents think online deal sites, such as LivingSocial, are successful in driving sales; 18 percent stated that online deal sites are more beneficial than other marketing channels (yes, LivingSocial sponsored the survey).
To be very clear, it's a terrible idea to launch an online/daily deal promotion without a strategy to make sure customers come back. Please read this blog post for the Microsoft Excel analysis, but it's impossible (yes, impossible) to earn a positive ROI on an online/daily deal unless the majority of customers come back – and that's before we even get to the Yelp effect.
To make sure customers return, remember best practice #1 – having an email address doesn't count. Seek out a mobile solution to see long-term results.
5) Make Transaction Data Part Of The Pizza Marketing Arsenal – Now
The same Pizza Marketplace survey found that 49% of respondents rate "difficulty tracking the ROI of marketing investments" as their most significant marketing challenge. Moreover, 86% of participants said "they make marketing decisions without any supporting data."
One of my most intelligent friends told me once, "don't ever borrow money unless you know it's going to make you more money." No brainer, but let's put it bluntly for the pizza world: "don't spend money on marketing unless you know it's going to make your more money."
To actually "know", you need transaction data. It's as simple as that. There's no other way to track the success of marketing intiatives. A coupon without transaction data does nothing for a pizza business. It's equivalent to standing on a soapbox, wearing a blindfold and earplugs, and yelling at people – imploring them to drop some money in a hat.
To establish transaction data as an asset at your pizza restaurant, ask every single marketing service provider / employee at your business: "How will this initiative affect customer recency, frequency, and lifetime value, and how will we measure this effect (h/t Dunnhumby)?" The only way to answer these questions is via transaction data.
6) Do NOT Invest In Shiny Objects – Implement Technology To Create Useful Customer Experiences
In a recent PMQ report, one pizza operator suggests a tipping point for launching a mobile app: "If you have three or more locations—then, yes, jump on it [a mobile app] right away. You might not get a tremendous amount of use out of it right away, but having one early will reap rewards down the pike.”
With all due respect, this is – straight up – bad advice.
Here's why: app vendors want pizza operators to believe that having an app on someone's home screen generates awareness – flawed when you consider that only 25% of apps are used regularly, building an app costs thousands of dollars just to get started, and overall app usage is up – but branded app usage is not. Yes, the average smartphone owner downloads 26 apps, but the average smartphone owner also only uses six of them daily (all 6 of which have to do with messaging, social media, or transportation).
Worse, an app that's never downloaded and sits in the app store with poor customer ratings does severe damage to your brand. Essentially, you're hanging a sign that says "People don't like my brand," for any smartphone owner to stumble across. Plain and simple, waiting for an app to pay off, rather than making sure an app pays off, will not work – ever.
What we have is a classic example of "shiny object syndrome" – one of the most dangerous pitfalls of running a pizza business. The correct tipping point for spending money on an app is: "When the amount of money you spend on an app will produce more revenue than any other marketing investment."
Here's another classic example of shiny object syndrome: "People ages 55 to 64 send and receive an average of 80 texts per month, and senior citizens (65-plus) average 32 texts per month. Text messaging is the most effective way to reach everyone, regardless of age, race or income level.”
Well, sure, senior citizens text their grandchildren and friends. But, how many senior citizens text with businesses (much less pizza places)? A miniscule amount. Those that do – without question – sign up because they see enormous value in the texting programs – not because they like texting with pizza places.
Here's the best way to evaluate investment in an app, SMS, and technology in general, straight from reknowned pizza operator Chef Bruno: "Good customer service is the best marketing strategy. Treat people right, make them feel at home. Give them a glass of wine while they’re waiting. Don’t curse at them. Tell them how great they look, how beautiful they are. Make them your friend. Don’t forget their names. This is the best marketing."
I.E. – Don't build an app just because you have three locations. Build an app when you know it's going to produce massive improvements in your customers' experience. Don't build an SMS platform because that's a way to reach customers. Build an SMS platform because that's a way to reach YOUR customers. New age technologies are ideal for rewarding customers for visiting more often, delivering VIPs a custom experience, or providing a platform for customers to share their feedback. If your app can deliver on these initiatives (and the vendor building the app has demonstrated success), awesome. Invest.
If you're unsure, remember this rule: focus on customers first when considering new investments in technology. Be on the lookout for – and avoid – shiny objects. That's the path to success.
7) Reward Your Best Customers – Not Your Worst
According to a January 2015 study from the CMO council, "44% of consumers would like brands to deliver deals and coupons to their mobile devices."
OK, so mobile coupons make sense, right?
Well, maybe. First things first: who are these "44% of consumers?" Are "they" loyal customers who will visit your pizza place often? Or are "they" deal hunters who will cut into margins and never come back?
As pizza marketers, we have to know. Too many times, pizza brands launch coupon campaigns excited to see more customers – but then wonder what happened after an initial bump in sales. Do not fall into this trap.
Instead of incentivizing/rewarding customers blindly, implement a VIP program targeted at the top 5%25% of customers. In case you missed it, the top 25% of customers represent 2/3rds of a multi-location restaurant's revenue and the top 50% of customers represent more than 80% of total revenue. Given their enormous revenue potential, rewards, incentives, and benefits should go to the best customers to ensure that they solidify their commitment to your brand.
Said differently (and maybe more clearly), develop marketing programs that reward good behavior. Eliminate programs that reward bad behavior (like blanketing the market with coupons) – bad behavior will never be able to deliver long-term benefits for your pizza restaurant.
8) Use Existing Customers To Smooth Out Variability
According to a LivingSocial survey, restaurants identified the months of January, February, July and August as slow months for business. Another Time Magazine-sponsored survey saw the post-Thanksiving holiday period as the toughest for multi-location restaurants.
Look, every business has slow periods. Of course. What's curious: most businesses think that they can find brand new customers to fill in those slow-period gaps. I get the logic in a vacuum – "Hey, we don't have customers filling our pizza joint in December. Let's just find new people to come during this time" – but it's equivalent to looking at a campfire that's not burning and just buying more logs to put on top. We've all found out that the only way to get the campfire really going is to rearrange the existing embers so that adding more logs is actually productive.
Plus, a pizza restaurant is not a campfire. It's a restaurant! And new customers don't look at an empty restaurant and think, "Oh nice! I'm going to try this empty place out" – instead, they do the exact opposite.
You know who does go into a restaurant that's empty? Existing customers who love the food, atmosphere, and want more chances to experience what they love (especially if it means waiting less time to receive their favorite pizza).
So, use your existing customers to fill up your pizza restaurant during slow periods. You'll find that this strategy yields massive increases in overall revenue. Plus, as a previously slow periods become busy, those brand new customers will see the increased activity and want to check out what's going on. That's how the pizza business works.
9) Collect Customer Feedback That's Tied To Actual Customers
If you want get a rise out of a crowd at a pizza industry event, just mention "Yelp" and see what happens.
Yelp tends to be frustrating because people can submit reviews that potential customers can read, but nobody (neither customers nor pizza place owners) has any idea who these reviewers actually are or how much stock to put into their opinions. Yelp reviewers might be your best customers: people who have spent thousands of dollars in the last month. More likely – they're people who have only visited once and based their review off of a single interaction.
Here's what Yelp's executives say in response to such critiques: "Consumers have the right to talk about what they like (and don’t like) about a meal they ate, a plumber they hired or a car wash they visited. We don’t remove business listings, so a business’ best bet is to engage with its fans and critics alike through the free tools Yelp provides."
Translation: the customers creating Yelp reviews are Yelp customers. Because Yelp has a large consumer audience, you need to interact with Yelp customers via Yelp's tools.
Here's Yelp's official policy: "We use automated software developed by our engineers to recommend reviews from the Yelp community. The software looks at dozens of different signals, including various measures of quality, reliability, and activity on Yelp. Most of all, however, it’s looking for people who are intrinsically motivated to share the wide range of rich and detailed experiences they have every day with local businesses."
Translation: Yelp reviews come from the most promiscous customers; innately Yelp's reviews come from customers more likely to go to more places.
Whoa. That's a tough bind to be in as a pizza operator: use Yelp tools to respond to Yelp customers. Have the future of your business be decided by promiscuous, non-expert consumers who visit as many businesses as possible. Moreover, in markets where Yelp does have significant traction, Yelp has a point. Pizza shops should respond to Yelpers' reviews.
OK, but is there anything else a pizza operator can do to get more value out of customer feedback? Fortunately, yes!
Tie reviews to specific customers and respond to feedback before those customers write anything on Yelp. Here's how it works – right after customers complete a transaction, send a mobile survey at random asking customers to rate their experience. If customers do give feedback, respond! Because you know exactly which customers (spending an exact amount of money over an exact period of time) reviewed your business, responding becomes much more productive.
When you do respond, urge customers who had a good experience to come back soon - or, if you want, post their feedback to Yelp. For negative reviews, address the issue at hand in a respectful manner. Doing so will prevent negative reviews from hitting Yelp – and oftentimes transform bad experiences into positive reviews. That's how feedback should work– a two-way, transparent street.
10) Automate campaign analysis wherever possible, otherwise you'll drown in too much data
Here's a phenomenal quote about running a pizza business from Sean Brauser, the founder and CEO of Romeo’s Pizza: "To expand your company, you must have a system in place that allows your employees to run the system while the system runs the business."
I'd like to add one more sentence: "To expand your company, you must have a data analysis system in place that allows your data to run the system while the system runs the business."
Here's why – for multi-location pizza operators, "packed schedule" is the world's biggest understatement. Having to carve out time to run comprehensive data analyses isn't possible.
You know what is possible? Doing data analysis once, and then letting that analysis do the work from there on out. For example, a Winback campaign:
Analyze your customer data to identify when customers seem to be at risk of leaving your business (if you need a starting point, try "any previously active customer who hasn't returned in 4 months").
Determine the appropriate incentive to deliver to these customers to encourage them to come back
Trigger a notification that customers receive when they reach the "Winback" criteria
Track redemptions to determine ROI
Approaching marketing in this automated way results in an ROI of 125% after 1 month, 500% after 2 months, and 800% after 3 months. Why? You've created a system that can run itself, rather than having to carve out non-existent time to crunch more numbers every day. When possible, delegate to computers, just as you delegate to employees. That's how you can add more locations and continue seeing succcess.
To close out our top 10, let's look at one more quote from Mr. Brauser:
"Your job as a multi-unit owner is to grow your brand, identify new sales opportunities, and constantly improve the systems you have created. This is truly the path to multiunit success."
The Top 10 Pizza Marketing Strategies try embody this philosophy: they provide new sales opportunities and additional pathways to improve the systems you have created. Any questions, let us know, and for more info check out pizzaloyaltyprogram.com.
Article by: Kane Russell — Marketing at Thanx by Kane Russell — Marketing at Thanx
Shared by: Boston Restaurant Brokers 128 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA. 02129
www.bostonrestaurantbrokers.com Boston Business Brokers
Note: If you have a pizza shop for sale in massachusetts, we have buyers looking to buy immediately. call us 617-285-7875
The CDC estimates that every year around one in six Americans is afflicted with a foodborne illness. That’s around 48 million people, and about 50 percent of those cases stem from restaurants or delis.
This is a public safety concern, but it can also turn into a public relations nightmare for restaurants if foodborne illness strikes a customer. Those two reasons are why preventing it is one of the most important tasks that restaurant district managers are faced with on a daily basis.
Of course, since the spectrum of foodborne illnesses is constantly evolving, this is easier said than done. But with the proper amount of preparation, safety precautions and training, it’s possible to drastically minimize your risk of transmitting foodborne illness to patrons.
Here are seven tips to help you minimize the risk of transmitting foodborne illness at your restaurant(s):
1. Establish Clear Policies
The first place to start is to implement clear policies and ensure that they are communicated to your entire staff. This can be a challenge in our industry. A CDC study found that 58 percent of food service workers speak Spanish primarily, yet only 41 percent of managers speak Spanish. To mitigate the possibility of misunderstanding when it comes to food safety policies, be sure that you write them out in addition to communicating them verbally, and that they are communicated in any and all primary languages spoken by your staff. For example, the same study found that 95 percent of restaurants have a floor cleaning policy, yet only 37 percent of those policies are written out. Correcting this and clearly communicating food safety policies can make a big difference in controlling the spread of foodborne illness.
2. Educate and Train Staff Thoroughly
In addition to setting out clear policies, restaurant district managers need to take the time to educate and train staff members in a thorough and clear manner. When foodborne illness occurs, it’s generally because someone is not complying with procedures. Training can help mitigate this risk. For example, you should make sure that employees understand exactly what constitutes a “food contact surface.” This can include any place where food might splash or drip, as well as the interior of microwaves and many more areas that may not be intuitive. Another common misunderstanding is around hand-washing procedures or cutting board cross-contamination. Sharing policies in person and getting it all in writing is a good place to start. To build on that, a written test and regular spot-checks that enforce accountability are the key to long-term adherence.
3. Schedule Cleaning Procedures
In addition to establishing defined policies and communicating them through education and training, you should implement a schedule that makes cleaning procedures a simple matter of timing.
A simple-to-follow schedule that lists out the steps to proper sanitization and cleaning can be a huge help. The most common way for foodborne illness to spread is through cross-contamination, and the best way to avoid this is to ensure that food contact surfaces are cleaned thoroughly and regularly according to a schedule. You can use a digital reporting system like Squadle to create such checklists and share them with managers. Additionally, restaurant cleaning schedules can be found online, but be sure to tailor yours to your specific situation and to attach timing to each item on the list.
4. Measure Success With Reporting
There’s no way to be sure that your employees are following policies and procedures continuously without systematically measuring behavior. Restaurant compliance reporting software like Squadle HQ can dramatically simplify the process of implementing, maintaining and verifying the success of your cleanliness and illness prevention program. Taking the time each day to check that procedures have been followed can seem like a headache in the moment, but technology can ease the burden, and ultimately this is the best way to ensure that the hard work that goes into developing your policies and educating your staff about them pay off. See our full list of ways that digital reporting can help prevent food safety disasters here.
5. Offer Paid Sick Leave
The most common contributing factor to the spread of foodborne illness is the handling of food by someone infected with a disease. This accounts for 65 percent of outbreaks.
Of course, it’s not as simple as telling sick workers to stay at home. A recent survey discovered that 20 percent of restaurant workers have worked while sick. While it might be tempting, then, to blame the outbreaks on employees, the reason they come into work while sick is often because they are concerned about short-staffing the restaurant or, worse, about losing their own jobs. If you want to make sure that workers don’t come in while sick, you need to offer paid sick leave. You also need to offer a safe space for people to report others’ suspected illnesses anonymously and without consequence.
6. Use Hands-Free Sinks Whenever Possible
The vast majority of restaurants offer handwashing stations in restroom and kitchen areas for their staff, making it easy for them to keep their hands clean while working. However, very few restaurants have implemented hands-free sinks (around 3-4 percent.) They can make a big difference in preventing the spread of foodborne illness by reducing the amount of surfaces that come in contact with dirty hands. While the upfront investment may seem steep, especially in the case of multi-outlet franchises, it can be well worth the time and effort to install them. At the very least, ensure that sinks are readily available and regularly sanitized along with all other food contact surfaces.
7. Employ the Right Tools and Techniques
In addition to ensuring the availability and cleanliness of sinks, make sure that the cleaning materials and tools you are using are up to par. Chlorine- and ammonia-based products are among the best ways to ensure that foodborne illness does not spread. Cleaning product dispensing systems are another great way to ensure that your employees are not only using the correct products but also the appropriate concentration for cleaning and food safety purposes. You should also include in your education for employees appropriate contact times to kill bacteria and other organisms, as well as ideal temperatures for eliminating these foreign bodies.
Technology can also be your friend here: a high-tech thermometer can help ensure that your food stays the right temperature while in the refrigerator or freezer. Using the right tools and techniques -- including proper cleaning agents, restaurant compliance reporting software and clear guidelines -- can make a big difference in preventing foodborne illness before it spreads.
These seven key steps can help you as a restaurant district manager prevent the spread of foodborne illness, for the sake of the general public as well as your brand’s image. Having a plan in place, rather than flying by the seat of your pants, is the best way to make sure that proper procedures are followed and cleanliness standards are met. Once your action plan has been implemented, you’ll be able to spend less time worrying about foodborne illness and more time taking care of your customers.
Boston restaurant Brokers, 128 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA. 02129
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Article by SQUADLE; What does your restaurant do to prevent the spread of foodborne illness? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet us at @GetSquadle and tell us what you think.
Books, books books! - Anyone who has ever owned a business is accustom to the term, muti-tasker. When you own a restaurant, you're a multi-tasking genius. It's about putting out fires, not literally (hopefully!). Unless you have a P.O.S. system and a book keeper, the last thing you care about are the books.
Most owners I meet care there are enough funds for the payables in the account but that's about as far as it goes when it comes to knowing what the cost are and where the income is coming from. Now if you do have a P.O.S. system then it's very easy to know when the peak hours are, peak days, beer sales verses wine etc. If you don't have one then you will have to sit down and really become familiar with what's going on in your restaurant from a numbers and income perspective.
I've sold hundreds of restaurants and I've never meet a buyer who didn't want to know about the books. I won't tell you that every restaurant I ever sold had great books and records/financials but I will tell you that the restaurant owners who knew and were very familiar with their operations costs and trends were most likely to get the maximum for their restaurants and they sold quicker. It might surprise you to know that 80% of the restaurants I sell are to people with no prior restaurant experience. They are not only buying your restaurant they are buying your experience so the more organized you are, the more perceived value in the purchase.
Perfection is not necessary - If you are under the impression that your business has to be perfect before you sell it, you are incorrect. Buyers want to buy a recipe for success, however they often think that they can do it better than you. Who knows maybe they can and maybe that can't, the possibility is what allows them to dream of becoming the most successful restaurant owner in the county. It is important that you've created a solid foundation for them to build on but it's perfectly fine if the business has room to grow.
If you think about from a buyer's perspective then you realize that they just want to bring their talents to the table. For instance, a buyer might not have a strong restaurant background but they have a great marketing background. So they will need to learn about the restaurant business from you but they can really shine when they go to market the restaurant for sale. The point is, don't be intimidated to admit your imperfections. They will actually help foster the dream of the buyer that he/she can do it better than you and they need to believe that in order to buy your restaurant.
Licenses & More - When I meet with my sellers I give them a check list of documents that I need. Do yourself a favor and make a file of all the things that a business broker or buyer would ask you for. You will need to provide a copy of your liquor license and all the conditions that go with the license. Copy health permits, inspections, business license, unsecured property tax bill, any leased equipment (dishwasher & CC machine), quarterly sales tax, copy of fictitious name statement and a copy of the lease. If you have a corporation, find the articles of incorporation and the statement of officers.
The more prepared you are for a buyer and a broker, the more interested they are to work with you.
Check yourself out - These days the internet plays a huge factor in the restaurant and bar business. There seems to be a new review website every week. The buyer is buying "goodwill", I have many sellers that are surprised to hear some not so positive reviews about their restaurants. I highly suggest Googling your place and seeing what comes up. Often owners are unaware of what is being said about their place.
This might give you a chance to make some corrections in service, staff or even the food. Occasional criticism is normal in every restaurant. You can never control all of the people, all of the time. Some people are just having a bad day but if there are too many bad reviews then you have to do something about it. Sometimes you can respond by inviting them back with an apology.
The ratio is what's important. Some review websites won't help you remove the reviews unless you sign up as an advertiser. It isn't fair but the only other thing you can do is encourage patrons who really like your place to take the time and write a review. These days, the first thing a business buyer will do is check you out on the web.
Find a Broker Who Specializes in the Hospitality Industry - Most business brokers are jack of trades. I also sold many different types of businesses but after a while I realized that my interest was in the restaurant and bar industry.
I completed over 200 transactions in just restaurant and bars, and they do take a special understanding to sell successfully. When you sell one type of business, you create a huge network of buyers, sellers and support for the sale that understands the restaurant industry. When you interview brokers and agents make sure they have a solid marketing program to sell your business. There's marketing and then there's marketing.
My advice is simple, you've undoubtedly worked very hard in your business. Pick a broker that works as least as hard as you do, but at selling restaurants. You deserve the best price the market can fetch for your business. Experienced restaurant brokers know what your business should sell for beyond the books and records. Working with the right business broker will get you the right deal.
Shared by: Boston Restaurant Brokers 128 Cambridge Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129
We have buyers looking to buy, if you happen to be interested in selling your restaurant in Arlington, Massachusetts, we can close the deal rather fast, call us today to sit down and talk 617-285-7875
Article by: Christina Lazuric, CBI is a Principle and Broker at My Restaurant Brokers.
For many entrepreneurs signing a lease seems like renting an apartment – a Tennant/Lessee agrees to pay a certain fee to Lessor/Agent per month. Right? Nothing could be further from the truth.
The first lease many entrepreneurs sign is usually short-term because who knows if the business is even going to work. But say it does and now it’s starting to grow -- you need a new spot either for better location, better facility or larger space. The second lease you sign is often pivotal in the survival of your business. The terms of your lease can act like a slow leak in your tires or can leave the door open to incur huge expenses when the unexpected happens. Leases are legal contracts and should be examined closely and, more importantly, understood completely before you even consider signing one.
There are different types of commercial leases and a number of abbreviations that differ in meaning and usage depending on who’s using them. When it comes to commercial leases, there are several basic structures that equate to what the tenant is responsible for paying besides rent each month:
There are many different commercial leases and terms, but you’ll find that the devil’s in the details. Entrepreneurs probably sign more Modified Gross Leases than any other. Here are some examples to watch out for to help you avoid becoming another one of the countless businesses lost to unforeseen issues related to commercial real estate. There is probably no better place to look for these real estate lease examples tripping up entrepreneurs than New York City. CPA and award-winning author Mike Bivona has owned numerous commercial rental properties throughout New York City and Long Island over decades. He told me about a particular building he owned in which one of the tenants had a bathroom in their office. Not totally uncommon, but after the owner had left for the day , someone flushed a clogged toilet causing water damage down two floor levels. Guess who got stuck with the cleanup and repair bills? The tenant whose toilet overflowed.
Bivona gave me another example. A doctor’s office tenant had a patient come in for his checkup, parking his oil truck in the parking lot. The oil tank leaked oil into the drains, which led to the Suffolk County sewage system in New York. The whole building had to be shut down by the county, while they cleaned the parking lot, drains, and the entire drainage system. Businesses lost revenue and the whole cost of cleanup hit the medical office tenant. Bivona says, “As soon as there is any dispute, claim or cost involved, the first thing the landlord or management company is going to do is pull out the lease agreement. If you don’t know who’s responsible for the damages in a lease, chances are it’s you.”
I know you’re probably thinking these things won’t happen to you; they’re extreme examples. But not so fast. Real estate leases are a vital piece of any business’ costs, and there are many risks. Leases are generally quoted in a price per square foot. Often lease agreements can be recycled by landlords and may not be up to date with the actual space due to remodeling, repairs or simple measurement errors. Incorrect measurements by landlords due to error or intent are common enough that there’s a term for it—“rubber rulers." The most common mistake entrepreneurs make is not verifying the space they are renting. You could be vastly overpaying. The actual space you’re planning to use for your business is referred to as the useable area, yet the rent in an agreement is based on the rentable areas, which includes the useable area plus a percentage of common areas like lobby, hallways, elevators, and loading docks. These other areas are generally expressed in the calculation of your rent as a “multiplying factor” in addition to your useable space. Bivona advises, “Don’t just automatically agree to a multiplying factor in a lease. If your business is a one- to two-person operation with little traffic you may be able to get a lower multiplying factor saving money to your bottom line. Depending on the terms and length of the lease, this could add up to real money for an entrepreneur.”
Michael Siteman with M-Theory Group in Los Angeles told me that another common mistake made when signing a lease involves operating expenses. No, not your company’s operating expenses, but the operating expenses contained within the lease under a separate provision. These are often made up of variables such as taxes, utilities, maintenance, landscaping, and repairs. While this may seem common sense to you, you should not breeze over it. Siteman advises to review this section thoroughly and he should know – he has spent more than 28 consecutive years in commercial real estate in the southwestern quadrant of the U.S. working for companies such as The Staubach Company and Jones Lang LaSalle. Besides making sure to find out exactly what is included in these operating expenses and negotiating out items that are not pertinent to your space, he warns that “landlords use the term ‘base year’ for the operating expenses, and many times the operating expenses or ‘base year’ is factored off of the year before you occupy the space, so you shouldn’t pay operating expenses until the second year.”
Another nasty issue in commercial leases is the “escalation clause.” This is what increases the base rent and unless your lease is short-term, it probably includes one. Escallation clauses are both valid and very common and are used by landlords to pay for increases in the costs of the building. But while they may be valid and common they are also one of the biggest possible money traps for a tenant. When an aggressive landlord is paired with a naive tenant, an escalation clause can increase rent exponentially over years. The Internet is full of stories of this. As they say, a fool and his money are quickly parted. Michael Bivona also warns, “Tenants have to be very careful with escalation clauses as they can be a very costly add on. You know how crazy escalation clauses can be? What about increases in inflation indices? There is no end to what landlords will do to increase their profits. Tenants should be sure to negotiate a cap on this.”
Lease agreements can be as varied as rental spaces. In fact, there is really no standard format for commercial leases other than retail and industrial, according to Siteman. You can get copies of standard retail and industrial leases from The Association of Industrial Realtors or AIR Commercial Real Estate Association.
These points are really just the tip of the iceberg when analyzing threats from and within real estate leases. It may seem overwhelming even at this point, but remember, a commercial lease is a legal contract between you and a landlordwho is interested in getting as much risk off of themselves and onto to the renter - you. So do not simply rush through a lease agreement like you did with your first apartment lease; it is a binding legal agreement. I recommend involving a real estate attorney that specializes in property leases to help you with this. Depending on how well you construct the terms of the lease, when something goes wrong, such as an unforeseen accident or unexpected cost inflation, your commercial lease can ultimately be a friend or an enemy to your business.
Local public health departments regularly inspect businesses serving food to ensure restaurants and other food retail outlets are following safe food handling procedures. Local laws regulate how frequently these inspections take place, and what specific items the inspectors look for, but, in general, environmental health inspectors check that safeguards are in place to protect food from contamination by food handlers, cross-contamination, and contamination from other sources in the restaurant.
Some examples include ensuring employees regularly wash their hands in a sink equipped with soap, hot water and paper towels; utensils and surfaces that contact raw meat are not used to prepare ready-to-eat foods; and that rodents and other pests are not present.
The reports generated by these inspections can be ordered from your local health department, or many local health departments are now making the reports of these inspectors available online so consumers can make educated choices on where to eat.
We have compiled a list of available online restaurant and food establishment inspection records. To find inspection records from the city of Boston, view the links below and please use common sense and follow all local rules and regulations, If you like us to do a pre-inspection prior to you calling the health inspector in your area, Boston Restaurant Brokers can give you our point of view as to what may go wrong or what is missing or need attention.