Want customers to try the newest items on your restaurant menu? Here are five ways to promote new menu items without cutting profits.

Is it time to add new menu items or introduce a whole new line up?

No matter how delicious, getting people to try new restaurant menu items can be challenging. Many restaurant patrons would like to try something new but fear straying from the familiar. Here are five restaurant marketing ideas that will help you create demand for new restaurant menu items without discounting.

Restaurant marketing poses many inherent challenges, from turning occasional diners into loyal customers to attracting more members of their target audience to creating demand for items newly added to a restaurant’s menu.

There are many reasons why a restaurant may need to add or drop items from its menu, even items regularly ordered by diners. For instance, your restaurant menu may need to have items added (or dropped) when:

  • Demand simply doesn’t match minimum levels of demand needed for profitability
  • Ingredients become more costly or scarce
  • Some type of nutritional regulation or another type of ordinance renders it necessary
  • Your restaurant is evolving into a more targeted model or re-branding itself

But let’s face it: some people don’t like change, and that may include members of your staff as well as some of your restaurant customers. One of the reasons that some restaurant patrons will routinely order only one or two things from your menu is that they found one or two things they like, and they don’t want to risk trying other menu items they may not like as well.

If it’s time to change your restaurant menu and add new items, here are five ways to create demand for your new restaurant options without discounting.

Promoting New Menu Items – 5 Ways to Create Demand without Destroying Profits

•   Hold a free tasting for your wait staff, and pay them for attending.

Who has more ability to do some suggestive selling to undecided restaurant patrons than their server? Since your staff will be routinely asked “what’s good,” or what they would choose, why wouldn’t you ensure they have firsthand knowledge about new (if not all) your restaurant’s menu items?

By the way, this is also a good way test new menu items, get feedback, and make any changes or improvements needed prior to launch in your restaurant!

•   Provide a free mini version or sample to restaurant patrons.

This could be a great value-add to happy hours or a way to thank restaurant patrons in an unexpected way. Create miniature or tasting-size versions of new menu items and provide an offer or incentive for restaurant customers that order full-size versions at a future visit, provided that it occurs within a set period of time.

By the way, these types of offers can also be an inducement that brings customers in more frequently – base your offer expiration dates on the average time between customer visits.

•   Incentivize suggestive selling.

Provide incentives for staff who up-sell customers on trying the new menu items during your launch period.

•   Publicize the launch and popularity of new menu items using reviews.

All of the people who try your new restaurant menu items during their introductory period (including your employees) should be asked to complete a short satisfaction survey about the new item that includes how many stars they would award the item (up to 5) and an open-ended question that lets them describe the new item. Use your ratings and reviews to publicize during the launch period on your website and in your email, social media, SMS text message and other marketing.

•   Hold an exclusive open house or tasting event for influencers or your best customers.

People like to feel important and special. Close the doors of your restaurant or close a room off from the general public and invite community influencers (such as the people in your business networking groups, civic or city organizations, etc.) or a collection of your most loyal customers to a V.I.P. tasting event featuring your new restaurant menu items.

Get their feedback including restaurant menu reviews and comments and use them to market the new items on your restaurant’s menu on your website, email newsletter, social media updates and text message marketing. Create tent cards for your tables or inserts for your menu which include early feedback, 5-star reviews and comments from those who loved the new menu item.

You might also like: 3 Ways to Get Restaurant Word of Mouth Marketing


Revamping your restaurant point of sale with a custom restaurant credit card processing solution could be another way to improve the customer experience and your restaurant’s efficiency. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free assessment of your current restaurant card processor – we’ll be happy to make recommendations and let you know whether you could be saving money with lower credit card processing rates or better equipment.

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Getting good restaurant word of mouth remains an essential part of any restaurant marketing plan regardless of marketing channel. Here are three restaurant marketing strategies that can get people talking about your business.

Capitalizing on Restaurant Trends Could Be the Key to Word of Mouth

Thanks to the current economy, the outlook for the restaurant industry is better now than it has been for several years. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry revenues were $825 billion last year. For restaurant owners looking for growth, conditions are very promising; the trick is getting those customers through the door. Whether it happens online or off, generating restaurant word of mouth through personal recommendations and rave reviews remains one of the most powerful referral tactics for restaurant marketing.

Restaurants with positive word of mouth often grow more quickly and become more profitable; perhaps more so than nearly any other type of business. Since eating out is often a social event, and many people like to try new restaurants as well as visit their favorites on a regular basis, an effective word of mouth restaurant marketing strategy could be the key to growing or expanding your business.

3 Ideas to Fuel a Restaurant Word of Mouth Marketing Plan

Give them Something to Talk About

Thanks to popular food shows like Man vs. Food that feature famous local restaurants with eating contests from most fiery to max quantities, today’s foodies are often on the prowl for local independent eateries to visit in their home towns or on road trips. Once they have conquered your restaurant’s food challenge, they are more than happy to share their experience with their closest friends and loved ones as well as the thousands of complete strangers their posts reach on review sites and social networks. Jump on this trend by creating a one-of-a-kind restaurant menu specialty item, giving patrons a food challenge, or sponsoring an eating contest of some kind.

Give Love to the Locals

Sourcing local ingredients has been among the top restaurant industry trends for the past few years, making it a trend that is not likely to fade away soon. In fact, as more and more consumers express curiosity and concern for what goes into the food they consume, this restaurant trend will only increase in importance. To take advantage of this trend, make sure that you are actually telling your customers about local ingredients you source and the local vendors, markets and suppliers you do business with.

Sourcing local ingredients is only one component of “local” that your customers may care about. For instance, local customers may be happy to find out how their support of your restaurant translates into economic benefits for the local economy including job creation and livable wages. They may be gratified to business with you when they know about the give-back programs and projects that your restaurant supports in the local community. You can even solicit their ideas and feedback relative to local causes they would want to help support or vendors and suppliers that might be of interest to your restaurant. The more engaged patrons feel with your brand and its values, the more likely they are to identify with your brand online and in person through word of mouth marketing and referrals.

Give the Nod to a Niche Market

Today’s consumers are in the habit of expressing themselves online and identifying with causes and businesses that reflect their lifestyles, values and worldviews. The more that people in your community that fall within your ideal customer types or general target markets see their own interests and preferences reflected in your restaurant’s menu, approach to service and brand values, the more likely they are to visit and refer like-minded friends, co-workers or loved ones your way.

This concept also extends to your restaurant’s décor. In particular, if you are considering renovating a restaurant or building out a new restaurant location, the ambiance that you create can – in and of itself – provide fodder for word of mouth marketing. Analyze the news feed on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and other popular social networks and you will quickly find that the selfie generation is more than willing to tag themselves on your restaurant’s WiFi and take photos of your restaurant’s interior and entrees to share with everyone they know online.

You might also like: 4 Ways to Improve Restaurant Cash Flow – even busy restaurants can have cash flow challenges. Here are four ways to improve restaurant cash flow – without raising restaurant menu prices – so that you can become more profitable or grow your business faster.

Though franchise businesses often benefit from marketing done by parent organizations, local franchise marketing strategies can enhance customer acquisition, engagement, relationships and loyalty even more.

A franchise parent company’s national marketing efforts may create significant brand awareness; however, the traits that local consumers look for in a business aren’t conveyed in national marketing, they can only be communicated at the local level. These local franchise marketing strategies can help you connect with local consumers on top of the marketing done at the national level by your franchise business’ parent company.

4 Local Franchise Marketing Strategies Enhance Parent Company Support

1. Local Word of Mouth Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Reviews are the new word of mouth; 9 out of ten consumers trust them as much as personal recommendations. Ensuring that your franchise location is getting reviews from local consumers on Yelp, Facebook, Google and similar review sites tells local residents that your location follows through on the promises made in the franchise’s national marketing campaigns.

Your franchise word of mouth marketing strategy can also be enhanced through your involvement in the community through give-back programs and by participating in local business networking, Chamber of Commerce and similar groups. If you have space to host a business or networking group, your franchise location could benefit even more by bringing likely customers and likely word of mouth referrers into your business on a regular basis.

2. Local Social Media Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Your franchise’s parent company may have national social media profile pages; however, that does little to help your franchise location connect with members of your local target market. If your parent company offers the opportunity to create branch pages, make sure that you are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Local residents may be aware of your franchise’s national brand, but that doesn’t mean they are aware of your location. Use the best practices that any small business would use on social networks for your franchise business location’s social media page, including hyper-local targeting of sponsored posts and ads.

3. Personal, Personalized Email Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Assuming your franchise organization doesn’t prohibit email marketing at the local level, your franchise business can use email marketing to put a personal spin on your franchise location, even for the most well-known of franchise brands. Using your email marketing to highlight team members, talk about community activities and tell local customer’s stories bring your location’s marketing down to the local level. Personalizing emails with offers and information specifically relevant to people who live in geographic area is another great way to put a personal touch on a national brand.

You may be able to use your point of sale credit card processing solution to collect customer emails at each transaction by offering to send a receipt via email (rather than print) or subscribing the customer up for future sales, discounts and loyalty programs.

4. Loyalty and Retention Marketing for Franchise Businesses

Loyalty and retention is another area that national brand marketing activities have little ability to influence, since it begins and ends with the customer experience. Likewise, your parent company may have a loyalty or rewards program, but if your franchise location is not actively promoting its use with local residents, its ability to influence your customers to come back or make personal referrals may render these programs completely ineffective.

Here, again, is where your payment transaction credit card processing equipment and software can help you grow. When customers receive loyalty rewards or points automatically every time they make a purchase, they perceive increased value in choosing to do business with you over other local competitors.

Strengthen Parent Company Marketing Activities with 4 Local Franchise Marketing Strategies

The International Franchise Association (IFA) Franchise Business Economic Outlook  projects another good year of economic growth for the franchise industry. The sectors growing the most among franchise businesses include:

  • personal services
  • lodging and accommodations
  • business services
  • quick-service restaurants
  • retail products and services
  • commercial and residential services

With an outlook for growth and the marketing support provided as an inherent benefit enjoyed by most franchise business owners, your franchise stands to benefit even more if you add local franchise marketing strategies to the mix, because local marketing gives members of your target audience what they say they want most in relationships with local businesses:

  • 86% – customer service, customer-focused
  • 84% – personal, intimate, human, face-to-face
  • 84% – knows the customer and their needs
  • 84% – easy to do business with
  • 83% – local, close by and convenient
  • 82% – reliable, consistent, there when you need them
  • 81% – owner-operated, committed, accountable

(Source: Web.com and Toluna, “Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey”)


Size matters, at least when it comes to a restaurant email and SMS text marketing contact list. Find out how to build your lists and how to use them for customer acquisition.

It’s time to make restaurant email and SMS text marketing the superstars in your restaurant marketing plan.

If you are looking for the most effective ways to attract customers and bring diners back more often in the months ahead, perfecting your restaurant email and SMS marketing tactics could be an ideal place to start. To reach more of your target market, make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to grow your text and email contact lists

5 ways to grow restaurant email and SMS contact lists:

Based on the tactics that marketing professionals identified as most effective in growing contacts lists for a business, here are five ways to grow your restaurant’s email contact list:

1. Capture it on an in-bound call or text.

Make capturing a mobile phone number or email address part of the standard script for staff who answer the phones to take reservations or field questions about your restaurant’s hours, menu or facility.

2. Make it a requirement.

Capture an email address or mobile phone number when someone makes a reservation, books an event, fills out any type of form on your website or joins your loyalty or rewards programs.

3. Use it for follow up.

Suggestion and survey forms can — and should — be used to obtain email addresses and mobile phone numbers so that you have a way to follow up when needed.

4. In exchange for instant gratification.

Create online registration forms and ask customers to register while dining or at the point of sale and provide you with email address and/or mobile phone number in exchange for a special offer, discount or free add-on.

5. Include opt-in forms on your website and mobile site landing pages.

Ask site visitors to opt-in with an email address or mobile phone number when accessing certain parts of your website, in order to use your mobile app or to download recipes, party tips or other special content from your web or mobile site.

5 ways to use restaurant email and SMS marketing in real time:

Real time marketing is marketing either done on the fly in response to breaking opportunities or scheduled in such a way that it coincides with actions that consumers are taking in real time, such as looking for a local restaurant at a given time of day.

Restaurants that master real time marketing tactics have a huge advantage over competitors, because nearly 90% of those searching local restaurants on a mobile device take action within 24 hours.  Source: marketingland.com.  

Five real time marketing tactics that can help you grow your restaurant include:

  1. Email and text message marketing sent just prior to peak dining hours (for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, cocktails – wherever the specialty of your restaurant lies)
  2. WiFi on-premises to automatically check in mobile devices set to do so
  3. Special offers sent to email or smartphones triggered by a visit to your web or mobile site
  4. Providing mobile and web online ordering capabilities, online reservation apps, or making data available on your web or mobile site that tells whether you have tables available or how long the wait is
  5. Send special offers or freebies sent to customers based on anniversaries, birthdays, job anniversaries and other special occasions

When bills for monthly expenses and payroll are tallied up, even busy restaurants may lack the working capital needed to grow. Here are four ways you can improve restaurant cash flow and access the money you need to grow your business faster.

How to Calculate Restaurant Cash Flow and Finance Restaurant Growth

Your restaurant might be incredibly busy, but that does not necessarily mean that you have the cash flow you need to not only meet expenses but finance restaurant expansion. Find out how to calculate restaurant cash flow, figure out what you need to grow, and discover some ways that you can free up more working capital to make those dreams come true.

Closing out 2018, the restaurant industry just had it’s best year in 3 years, posting its highest sales since 2015. Spurred by increased demand, this might be the perfect time for you to consider ways that your restaurant can generate more revenue, be expanded or be replicated by adding new locations.

Do You Know How to Calculate Restaurant Cash Flow?

At its most basic level, restaurant cash flow equals cash inflows minus cash outflows. When calculating restaurant cash flow, include inflows such as:

  • money (cash, credit or debit card payments) received from customers
  • money received from selling assets
  • money obtained from financing sources (such as a restaurant line of credit or restaurant cash advance)

And outflows, such as:

  • outgoing payments for supplies, payroll, services and other costs of doing business
  • money used to buy assets, make repairs, replace equipment or furnishings, etc.
  • costs of food and beverage ingredients
  • rent, lease or mortgage payments
  • insurance
  • utilities – and so on

As you begin to add up all of the ways that money goes out, it’s easy to understand why even a busy and successful restaurant could have a problem coming up with ‘extra’ working capital needed to fund growth after expenses have been met each month. In a perfect world, a restaurant would have more money coming in from customer sales than needs to go out each month to meet expenses and obligations. These net profits could be invested in capital expenditures, set aside for a rainy day, or placed into a savings or investment fund for use in the future, when growth opportunities arise.

But the world isn’t always perfect! So here are four ways a restaurant can improve cash flow in order to identify working capital needed for growth initiatives – or even just to make ends meet.

4 Ways to Improve Restaurant Cash Flow and Grow More Quickly

Consolidate Buying for Negotiated Discounts

Many suppliers and vendors offer discounts based on volume. If you are able to consolidate purchases so that you can buy in bulk, or buy a variety of items from one or a couple of suppliers, you may have the opportunity to take advantage of discounts, or negotiate with them for a special discount just for your restaurant.

Source Multiple Vendors

Whether it’s the cleaning service that comes when your restaurant is closed or the supplier that brings food and beverage ingredients to your restaurant, it’s wise to source multiple vendors and plan to review contracts on a periodic basis. Low pricing is important, but you should also consider the added value of suppliers that exceed expectations or provide great service, because sometimes these considerations outweigh discounts offered by other companies.

Establish a Restaurant Line of Credit

Thanks to our partnership with Sharp Capital, we do offer restaurant cash advances. The working capital you unlock can provide you with additional purchasing power, the ability to cover unexpected expenses, or give you the ability to take advantage of emerging growth opportunities without having to wait while you are trying to line up financing.

Increase Efficiencies

Many restaurant chains use time-limited offers and loyalty rewards as part of their marketing strategy. These types of marketing tactics can make it easier for you to influence (and predict) customer demand. In turn, you can also improve accuracy for predictions for staffing, inventory, food and drink ingredients, supplies, etc., that will be needed to meet demand at certain times.


Thinking about a Restaurant Cash Advance or Equipment Financing?

We offer restaurant financing programs that can give you access to working capital that you can use to grow your restaurant or resolve short term restaurant cash flow challenges. There is no cost to apply, no obligation to accept, and we would be happy to work with you to help you determine which financing option would be best for your restaurant.

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With hundreds – if not thousands – of restaurants to choose from in any given urban area it might be tempting to believe that innovative restaurant ideas are hard to come by. Here are ten innovative restaurant indeas that offer proof that the best – and most innovative – restaurant ideas may be yet to come.

10 Innovative Restaurant Ideas Provide Inspiration for the Hospitality Industry

Pizza in a bowl. Spaghetti that can be eaten on the go. Sub sandwiches turned into salads – nearly any popular food or drink can be reimagined into a new form and served up in a new, buzz-worthy way.

Inspiration: NYC’s Spaghetti Incident, which serves up spaghetti in containers that are ready to go on the road.

2. Different strokes for different folks.

Innovative restaurant ideas aren’t just about menu items. Extend exclusive hours or offers to loyalty club members, seniors, singles or those defined by other differentiators. Draw up separate menus customized to specialty diner preferences; i.e., whole menus just for vegetarians, people with gluten allergies, dieters, etc., so they don’t have to look longingly at things they cannot have.

Inspiration: Nando’s Peri-Peri s in Chicago, whose owner treats the people who live and work nearby as their top priority, giving them a chance to experience each of their restaurants in the days before each location’s grand opening.

3. Digital Kiosks and Table POS Displays

Walk into a small town American diner and you’re likely to see an old-fashioned dessert case where pastries and pies sit on display, waiting to be bought or ordered. Technology makes it possible for any restaurant to create a virtual display case on kiosks or tabletop POS where patrons could see everything and anything on the menu including photos, chef’s notes and real diner reviews.

Inspiration: Rhode Island-based Chelo’s Hometown Bar and Grille has a virtual pie case that gives diners a mouth-watering peek at the desserts that are fresh right now.

4. Indulgence Themed Restaurants

Providing truly unique experiences may be the ultimate in innovative restaurant ideas. Arby’s off-the-menu “Meat Mountain” made the news when viral buzz let carnivorous diners know they could order a sandwich that included every meat sold in the chain’s sandwiches all on one incredible sandwich. Restaurants that devote themselves to simple ideas and single concepts could win over meat lovers, veggie lovers, fruit lovers, dessert lovers, and others who only have one thing on their minds.

Inspiration: Another innovative Chicago restaurant, RPM Steak repurposes butchering trimmings to make meaty rubs to brush onto steaks in lieu of butter.

5. Mood Menus

Keeping with the idea of themed-restaurants in this list of innovative ideas, establishments could devote themselves to menus that offer pick-me-ups for people feeling the blues, passion-inspiring foods for love birds, foods that pacify for people who are angry or calming choices for people who feel anxious or overly enthused.

Inspiration: Bespoke Oysters in Washington DC, which classifies itself as “passion food hospitality.”

6. Wait-less Restaurants

Diners might want service to slow down – not speed up – in restaurants that offer food for the brain as well as the body. There are countless ways that you could add activities and games to the menu. Supply paper and crayons by way of butcher-paper-covered tables like they do at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Print out word searches or crossword puzzles. Provide patrons with short stories or poems to read while they wait. Hold digital trivia contests where diners can compete with the computer, staff, others at their table or against other tables in the restaurant.

Inspiration: The walls of the Plum Bar in Oakland, CA  are lined with pages taken from real poetry books, chosen by the owner and staff. The Ampersand at Kinmont in Chicago, a 600-foot private event space whose walls are – literally – a ready canvas for guests as they are completely covered in chalkboard.

7. Two of a Kind Menus

Go the extra mile in making recommendations so that if a patron is ordering a cheese burger, they will know it’s perfect pairings for drinks, sides, appetizers and desserts. Think of it as an upscale way to mimic the ‘combo’ upsell done every day, all day long in the fast food industry.

Inspiration: Scrumptious drink and dessert pairings offered up at Gamlin Whiskey House in St. Louis, MO.

8. Designated Dining

Choose a new charity to benefit each month of the year, or choose a handful and let diners decide where  a portion of their evenings’ spend will go. Highlight local causes which are likely to be near and dear to your target market’s hearts. This will be great fodder for PR, social media and email marketing, giving diners one more reason to choose your restaurant. Keep a tally on website and digital display so patrons feel good every time they walk through the door.

Inspiration: Seattle’s Saltys Waterfront Seafood and Grill donates thousands of dollars every year to more than 300 local charities with their gift cards for auctions and fund raisers. The idea of dining out for charity is such a natural fit that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has even listed a set of tips for restaurants that want to choose the right local charities for their give-back programs.

9. Key Takeaways

Left-overs don’t have to be the only momento a diner takes away from your restaurant and innovative restaurant ideas aren’t just about what happens at your place of business. This about what you could give diners in the form of a small gift, gift card or some other takeaway that keeps your restaurant top of mind long after the visit is over.

Inspiration: Jax Café in Minneapolis, which prints personalized matchbooks on-site for guests.

10. Crowdsourced LTO

Give your patrons the ability to vote up drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts they want to see on the menu next month. Require email or mobile phone number for voting so that you can notify them when their voted-on items get added to the menu and extend a special offer for them to return to thank them for voting.

Inspiration: Dallas’s Kitchen LTO, a permanent pop-up restaurant which features a new menu, chef and décor every 6 months.


Get a free, no obligation quote for new or replacement restaurant point-of-sale equipment, restaurant merchant services, payment processing rates or restaurant loyalty and gift card programs.

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Customer chargebacks send a signal that something didn’t go quite right. What you learn from failed transactions could help you turn today’s chargebacks into tomorrow’s sales, depending on how you respond.

Customer Chargebacks Shouldn’t Be the End of the Story

No retail or wholesale distributor looks forward to customer refund requests; however, momentary customer dissatisfaction doesn’t need to be the end of the story. You have an opportunity to do better next time, make things right, go the extra mile and otherwise turn frowns upside down, when you take the time to discover the root of your chargebacks and respond the right way.

Inspired by a Chargebacks911 whitepaper titled Understanding the Sources of Chargebacks, here are four strategies that can help you improve your refund policies and implement post-chargeback marketing tactics. The marketing work you do after a failed customer transaction can help you avoid a bad review and renew customer goodwill toward your brand.

4 Ways to Respond to Customer Chargebacks

1. You Made a Mistake – Now What?

20-40 percent of customer chargebacks are attributed to merchant error. Whether the cause is internal process or human error, chargebacks will happen when what the customer receives isn’t what they ordered or wanted. Here’s what to do (and not to do):

Don’t inflate customer dissatisfaction by making them feel like they are on trial. If you made a mistake, own up to it and apologize. The less combative your return process is, the more likely the customer is to accept an exchange for the item they originally wanted.

If you’ve already owned up to your mistake, apologized and tried to make things right but the customer still demands a refund, give it, but don’t give up. Allow for a cooling off period then reach out to the customer later on with a special offer. If they take you up on it, make sure you get it right!

2. Your Customer Says They Didn’t Make the Purchase – Now What?

1-10 percent of chargebacks are attributed to criminal fraud. While criminal fraud is a reality, it’s worth noting that there are times customers mistakenly think their credit or debit cards were used inappropriately when in fact they were not. This commonly occurs when a spouse or family member uses a credit card without telling the card owner, the card owner forgets about making a purchase or when the merchant name on the credit card statement doesn’t match the business name.

Make sure your card processing company lists your business name properly on customer transactions. If you believe a refund is being requested in error, follow card processor and bank dispute policies appropriately. Sometimes you’ll have to agree to the refund, but there may be instances where you simply need to clear up misunderstandings. Reach out to your customer and ask whether this is the case. Most will be appreciative that you caught the mistake and feel reassured that their card hasn’t been compromised.

3. Your Customer Has Buyer’s Remorse – Now What?

Buyer’s remorse is a common – but serious – problem for merchants, one that can even produce emotional and physical discomfort in buyers who feel like they made a mistake; such as: anxiety, nausea or breaking out in a cold sweat. It’s such a big deal that there are even laws and regulations in some industries (real estate, auto sales, etc.) where buyers have a specified amount of time to change their mind.

If you believe buyer’s remorse is at the root of a customer refund request, see if they’ll share their concerns with you so that you can reassure them or somehow mitigate their discomfort. If not, and you make a refund, reassure them that you value their business and hope they’ll consider doing business with you when they’re ready. Make it a point to reach out to them at some point in the future to see if they are ready to make the purchase they weren’t quite ready to make before.

4. Your Customer is a Serial Returner – Now What?

There are people who routinely make purchases for the emotional satisfaction it produces knowing that they will return them almost immediately. There’s even a name for them: Returnaholics. There are even a few who buy items to use for a specific purpose or event and then return them. These serial returners might not mean any harm, but chargebacks cost your business in many ways (time, accounting, restocking, re-marketing, etc.) beyond the refund.

Serial returners may need to be educated or encouraged to change their behavior. In some instances, the behavior is so costly to your business that they might need to be encouraged to shop elsewhere. As in the case of any type of business, there are some customers who aren’t good for your business.

Your response to a buyer’s refund request can set the stage for future business transactions; one in which the customer rewards your leniency by purchasing even more and telling their friends how great you were to do business with. Make sure you have a plan for processing customer chargebacks that leaves the door open for tomorrow’s sales.

Before adopting restaurant self-service POS payment options, you should understand the pros and cons and make sure that you don’t damage the customer experience in the process.

Do Diners Really Want Restaurant Self-Service POS?

More and more restaurants are moving toward not only restaurant self-service POS but digital ordering options as a way to increase efficiency and match capabilities to the consumer’s ever-increasing love of all things tech. It may be inevitable that most – if not all – restaurants eventually offer customers the ability to process their own payments in the course of their dining experience.

Inevitable or not, it’s important for restaurant owners to understand how implementing a self-service POS could impact their customer’s experience for better and for worse, so they can make sure they don’t unwittingly damage the customer experience in the process. Data from a Panasonic white paper called ‘Self Service POS: Do Diners Really Want It’ published on QSRWeb.com earlier this year provides information that restaurant industry entrepreneurs might want to consider before they take the plunge.

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Self-Service POS

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Self-Service POS

Pro: Diners want the option – nine out of ten diners say they would prefer using a self-service option at the table (but not at a kiosk).

Con: Diners face a learning curve – navigating a menu (especially one they are not familiar with) and learning a new software environment takes time and doesn’t come easily to everyone. Wait staff who might have processed the payment in less than a minute might have to spend more time helping diners successfully use the platform, or fix the problems when they don’t.

Pro: Self-service options enable customization – 47% say they would use self-service options to customize their orders and tailor them to their preferences.

Pro: Self-service POS makes it easier to split the bill – 39% say they would want to use self-service POS to split the bill.

Con: Restaurants may incur higher merchant card processing fees when multiple payments are processed.

Pro: Millennials prefer it seven to one and Gen Y and Xers lean toward it (57%).

Cons: Polar opposites, 65% of Baby Boomers would rather not order for themselves and 40% of Gen Y and Gen X diners aren’t interested.

Cons: It’s a no-go with fine diners who are paying more (in part) for high-touch, hands on service, plus 13% of fast foodies aren’t interested either, since they’re worried about holding up the line behind them. Quick-service restaurants have the process down to a science; so much so that self-service ordering and payment POS systems are often slower than working with a live server.

Cons: The more self-service in the customer-experience, the less control and opportunities a brand has to exceed expectations and leave a lasting impression.

Restaurant Marketing: 3 Ways to Provide a Full-Service Experience in a Self-Service World

Repurpose the human element, don’t eliminate it.

Many people perceive implementation of kiosk and POS tech as an attempt to reduce payroll; however, the real goal should be to free up a restaurant’s employees to become true brand ambassadors whose role is to improve the customer experience, not automate it.

Make it an option, not a requirement.

A self-service POS is by no means a slam dunk with Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. As you introduce technology to enable digital ordering and self-service restaurant bill payment, you should view it as an option that can enhance the experience for some but detract from others. It should not replace the diners option of ordering from and having their payment processed by a real person, but be introduced as an option for those who are interested.

Use tech to boost up-sells and keep diners in your restaurant longer, instead of viewing it as a way to speed customers in and out the door.

Increasing the average order of diners can make a restaurant much more profitable. Instead of viewing restaurant self-service POS as a way to increase efficiency and move diners through more quickly, use its technology to make suggestions to diners about side dishes, beverages and special offers that can boost your bottom line revenues.


We may be able to help you reduce your restaurant merchant services fees and we also offer free service and setup for restaurant point of sale solutions:

Interested? Contact us at 888-580-2234 or complete the form below for a free, no-hassle quote on any of our salon business solutions.

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Consumers find new restaurants to visit via online search and word of mouth, but this isn’t what brings first-timers back. These five restaurant first impressions can leave new patrons with positive perceptions that can bring them back for more.

The Power of Positive Restaurant First Impressions: Make It and They Will Come

As a restaurateur you might assume that your food is the beginning and end of what brings customers back; but that simply isn’t so.

The expectations a first time customer has when they visit your restaurant may vary widely and cover everything from quality of service to how soft the toilet paper is in your restrooms. Depending on where they heard about your restaurant, how it was described and what is most important to them personally, the food your restaurant serves is only one of many aspects that might produce the positive restaurant first impressions needed to bring first-time guests back.

Five Restaurant First Impressions that Create Positive Customer Perceptions

1. Marketing Presence

Can a customer easily find your business online through search results, social media outlets, directories or by typing in your business name as a website? Today consumers look for local restaurants online. Your restaurant first impression is non-existent if your website can’t be easily discovered in online search.

Customers are searching online for quick and easy answers and a reported 57% of consumers view a restaurants website before dining there (statisticbrain.com). When they do so, hours of operations, current reviews, and menu selections are among the most common questions. Before walking into a restaurant the customer uses the restaurant’s online marketing presence to validate their decision to visit. In addition, word of mouth through friends, colleagues and online may also decide whether a customer will visit or look elsewhere.

2. Cleanliness

For most restaurant-goers, there is an unwritten expectation that any establishment they visit in order to eat will be organized and sanitized from the front of house to the back where food is prepared in the kitchen. Customers expect to see clean surfaces from top to bottom: table tops, wall molding, fans, floors, and windows – everything should be dust and stain free and properly sanitized. Lack of cleanliness in the front of the house will lead to similar perceptions about how clean and sanitary food preparation and serving areas are.

A second unwritten rule customers expect is the restaurant to be handling food preparation with extreme care. One need only consider the 2015 E. coli outbreak that caused Chipotle’s business – and stock – to tumble or the most famous (infamous?) outbreak which occurred in Jack in the Box restaurants in 1992. Jack in the Box stock took a full five years to recover to pre-outbreak levels and its brand name became synonymous with the problem.

The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. More than 100k are hospitalized and 3,000 die as a result. In Washington State alone, where our headquarters are located, up to 60 foodborne illness outbreaks occur affecting as many as 700 people each year (Washington State Department of Health). A customer is dining with the reassurance the food served to them is prepped, cooked, and plated following the State Department Health procedures.

If a first-time customer perceives any area of a restaurant to be less than clean or sanitary, from the hostess station to the table to the restroom, they may make assumptions about the kitchen and serving areas that preclude a second visit, make them hesitate before recommending your restaurant to their friends or colleagues, or may even make them walk out before they give your business a chance.

3. Menu

As restaurant first impressions go, your menu might well have been seen online before a new customer ever arrives. Having a menu that entails a variety of food price points, healthy eating, and options for those with food allergies provides the breadth of choices capable of creating a consistent stream of customers. For restaurants that specialize in certain types of foods that might not be familiar to first-time customers, accurately describing menu items in a way can also be key in helping them make a selection on their first visit that makes them want to come back a second time.

4. Pricing

Most first-time restaurant goers will be looking for menu choices paired with a reasonable price structure (which might be low or high, depending on their perceptions and expectations). In 2013, 45% of respondents stated good prices were very important to them when choosing a restaurant (Statista.com). Many customers also want to be able to estimate how much they will be spending before visiting a restaurant for the first time.

When paying the bill, it’s common for guests to go through a metal check list and evaluate whether they feel they received food in proportion to the price charged and whether the presentation of the food was up to par, whether they enjoyed the ambiance of the restaurant, etc. The more questions they answer with a “yes,” the more likely it is a first-time customer will come back, leave a positive review online, tag your business or check in on social networks, or even recommend your business to their own friends, co-workers and loved ones.

5. Service

Customers are looking for friendly and helpful customer service the moment they walk in the door, regardless of the type or price point of a restaurant. There should be adequate restaurant staff to be present wherever a customer is likely to need assistance – front of house hosts, wait staff, servers, bussers, bar tenders, shift or restaurant managers – each has a role to play in ensuring the customer feels cared for.

From the hostess to the busser, staff need to be an extension of the restaurants mission. A customer is coming to your restaurant to enjoy the food and overall experience.  The team of wait staff needs to be attentive yet not an inconvenience to the guest, and they need to possess the discretion to understand that their level of involvement might vary for different guests and different size and types of parties.

If a first-time customer is likely to respond that their server came by the right number of times and was pleasant, friendly and helpful, they are much more likely to leave with a positive first impression of your restaurant.  A customer is counting on paying for great food and quality service. Even if your restaurant’s food is good, if the service is poor, a first-time customer might not return.


We may be able to help you reduce your restaurant merchant services fees and we also offer free service and setup for restaurant point of sale solutions:

Interested? Contact us at 888-580-2234 or complete the form below for a free, no-hassle quote on any of our salon business solutions.

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As much as you might be tempted to say “no cell phones in the salon,” this approach could offend and backfire with clients. Here are some ideas for salon cell phone policy that take client preferences, marketing and your salon’s atmosphere into account.

Just Say No to a No Cell Phone Policy in the Salon

Ideas for a Salon Cell Phone Policy

Most of your clients are using their cell phones for everything from calling, texting and emailing to dealing with important work matters and posting on social media platforms. Some people don’t seem to do anything without posting about it on Facebook and Instagram.

While a client’s unwillingness to disconnect during an appointment might be annoying for a stylist, you can actually use it to your advantage.

If you move forward with a salon cell phone policy that mandates client cell phone use in the salon, there’s a good chance that you could offend many of your clients.

We recently came across a social media update where salon owners were weighing in on whether banning cell phone use in the salon is a good idea. One of the salon owners wrote,

“My salon, my business, my rules! Clients aren’t allowed to use cell phones in my salon!”

Our first thought was, “Wow, that’s a great idea if you want all of your clients to be grumpy old men who hate technology!”

It’s simply not practical to assume that a policy banning the use of cell phones in the salon creates the environment that every client wants during their appointment. Nor is a salon cell phone policy that prohibits the use of  phones compassionate, especially when your clientele includes busy working professionals who need to remain available to co-workers or customers, parents that need to check in with kids, or whose friends or loved ones might need to contact them in case of emergency. Indeed, many of your clients may not feel that you have the right to tell them whether they can use technology in your salon since they are paying for your services, not signing up for a phone-free environment.

A no cell phone policy isn’t good marketing, either. Your salon could grow more quickly and engage followers online by taking before and after photos for your website and social media. Your salon marketing could benefit even more when you encourage your clients to check in via wifi, share photos of your work, leave reviews and otherwise make public endorsements of your brand on social media and review sites.

Ideas for a Salon Cell Phone Policy

In particular, you should encourage clients to use their cell phones in the salon so that you take full advantage of social media for your brand. There are stylists on Instagram with hundreds of thousands of followers who are showing off their work each and every day, like Los Angeles-based Kristen Ess, the owner and co-founder of thebeautydepartment.com and Chrissy Rasmussen, the owner of Habit Salon in Arizona.

Just Say Yes to a Salon Cell Phone Policy that Helps You Grow Your Business

It is likely that many of your clients already post photos of their fresh manicures and hair styles to social media. Ask them if you can post a photo of their beautiful new look on Instagram and Facebook (and tag them so that your updates are visible to their networks). If they are posting your work on social networks ask them to tag your salon’s accounts in their own posts.

Social media can take having a portfolio to a higher and more competitive level. If you are an owner, create Facebook and Instagram accounts for your salon and ask clients to check in to your salon on Facebook and leave feedback. Also, ask them to tag your salon in posts regarding their experience. Yes, you may occasionally receive feedback that is not positive but most of the time you will probably see posts from happy clients who want to show off their new ‘do or recommend you or your salon to their friends.

While a salon owner should set guidelines for staff use of cell phones in the salon, stylists, too can help attract clients if they are encouraged to snap before and after shots of their work and post it to their own networks, tagging both your salon account and their client’s account in order to extend post reach.

If a client’s use of a cell phone is genuinely interfering with your ability to provide their service, politely explain how it’s affecting your work and ask whether they can wait until you’ve finished to use their cell phone. Remember to err on the side of compassion for your clients, realizing that things can come up without notice and using their phone might be a necessity.


We may be able to help you reduce your salon merchant services fees and we also offer free service and setup for salon point of sale solutions:

Interested? Contact us at 888-580-2234 or complete the form below for a free, no-hassle quote on any of our salon business solutions.

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