As we near the end of the year, it’s important to tie up all the loose ends of your business so it can start rocking and rolling when the New Year arrives. Here are six things to add to your year-end checklist.

A Year-End Checklist Can Prepare Your Small Business for a Fast Start in the New Year

How you choose to close out the current year may determine how fast your small business grows in the New Year. Make sure these six tasks are part of your year-end checklist to ensure your company is ready to hit the ground running next year.

1. Revisit your goals from this year

In order to make progress as a small business owner, it’s critical to review your progress on the goals you set for this year as part of your year-end checklist. Not only will you see the progress you’ve made, you’ll discover valuable insights that will benefit goal-setting for the coming year.

Say one of your goals was to increase your customer service satisfaction rating by 5 percent year over year by observing/coaching/documenting employees weekly to see if they greeted each customer on arrival to begin the customer experience and ended each customer experience with a specific procedure, such as:

  • walking the customer to the door
  • promoting add-on sales at the point-of-sale
  • offering guarantee or warranty services
  • signing the customer up for your store’s loyalty and rewards program
  • and so on.

Assuming you kept weekly documentation of these actions, it will be straightforward to see the customer service review trend year over year. Build a chart, if you don’t already have a system in place, and evaluate your weekly/monthly/yearly trends.

Where your team failed to hit your customer service rating goals, find out what happened during a given time period that might have caused your customer service rating to drop. Was it an isolated occurrence? Does the dip continue to occur throughout the month? Review customer comments and be sure to identify the reason for the lower customer service rating and create a specific plan to improve in that area over the next year. Revisiting specific goals will take some time but it’s extremely important to understand where your business is in order to move forward from there.

2. Assess the books

Bookkeeping is one of the most important preventative measures you can take as a small business. It’s a good best practice to keep all documents in hard and soft copy form. This way you have a backup in case of emergency. Keeping financial forms is also very important as you prepare for tax season. 40 percent of small business owners hate tax season, are you among them? If you are, it may be a smart move to outsource to a tax professional, so you can spend your time in other areas and still be confident that the monetary section of your small business is under control.

3. Backup all digital files

Backing up your files is time well spent. If your phone, cash register, POS equipment or computer got stolen today, what important documents would be lost? You would not only be losing your documents and folders, but also your business contacts. As a small business owner you rely heavily on your portable devices, so do yourself a favor and prevent yourself from wondering “what would happen if my things were stolen.” Make sure you are backing all of your important data up on a regular basis so that you can quickly get back to business in the event that any of your equipment is stolen, lost or damaged.

4. Audit your website

While you should be doing this on a regular basis, the end of year is a good time to make sure all website links work, phone numbers are accurate, hours of operation are up to date and that your website looks New Year ready. With percentage of time on mobile (51 percent) surpassing the time on desktop (42 percent) it’s crucial that your website is mobile friendly and your site is aesthetically pleasing (both on desktop and mobile). Cleaning up your website may take some time if it’s not regularly monitored, but having a strong website will drive more customers to your business.

5. Communicate

If your business is thriving and booming, let your team know! Schedule a team meeting where you can call out accomplishments for this year as well as discuss the goals set for next year. It takes a team to run a successful operation and they will appreciate you taking time to thank them for their contributions. You may also have a few goals that they can help add measures to track those goals. This boosts the team moral and generates a positive progress note going into the new year.

6. Set goals for the New Year

Let’s say you want to make a goal to sell more of a specific item, such as appetizers or cocktails (for a restaurant) or service agreements or accessories or something else this year. It’s hard to measure if you’re making progress if you don’t explain how you are going to reach this goal, when you’re tracking this goal, or what accessories you’re even talking about. Consider using the SMART goals format.

  • S – Is your goal specific? What kind of accessory would you like to sell more of?
  • M – Is your goal measurable? How will you measure if you are selling these accessories?
  • A – Is your goal agreed upon? Are all stake holders in your business ok with this goal?
  • R – Is your goal realistic? Set the bar too low and it’s meaningless, set it too high and it’s outrageous. In either case, it can lead to your team not taking your future goals seriously.
  • T – What is the timeline? When do you plan to achieve your accessory goal?

After inputting SMART format into your original accessory goal it turns into “sell # more a month until December of next year by observing/coaching/documenting our employees weekly to see if they promote the item appropriately to customers.” Ensuring your goals are specific and reachable will help you track your business progress.

Incorporating these six tasks into your company’s year-end checklist will help you move faster than your competitors going into the new year.

Not every year is going to be the best year for your business, so even more reason to make sure you identify and understand areas which need improvement. A year-end checklist can be invaluable in helping you see what needs to change next year. Maintaining organization and keeping your eye on the prize will help you reach your yearly goals, and ultimately reach your business goals.


Digital signs aren’t inexpensive, but the marketing benefits for retail stores and restaurants can be significant. Here are ten ways digital signs help retail marketing.

Invest in Digital Signs, Reap These 10 Benefits – Digital Signage Statistics Infographic

Some of the benefits of installing digital signs in your restaurant or retail store are readily apparent. Unlike non-digital signage, marketing messages can be changed more frequently and video-based marketing is a proven winner with today’s shoppers. Even so, the cost of using digital signs for marketing can seem prohibitive, since retail stores or restaurants may need to be prepared to pay for:

  • Screens (often LCD televisions) and mounts
  • Player hardware
  • Software purchase or subscription
  • Installation, on-boarding, setup and initial training
  • On-going support or maintenance

All of this, before the unit is even turned on. Given that this could mean an expense of a few to many thousands of dollars depending on the number of digital signs installed, it’s not a strategy to be implemented lightly. Fortunately, statistics seem to show that the investment is well-worth the cost. As you evaluate which marketing strategies you might use to grow your retail store or restaurant business more quickly this year, consider these ten marketing benefits enjoyed by businesses with digital signs.

Infographic: Digital Signs Statistics Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

1. Improves Recall

Marketing displayed on digital signs have a recall rate of 83 percent. A Nielsen survey of travelers found that 82 percent recalled specific ad campaigns they had seen during the last month. Plus, since digital displays can be changed frequently and used to display multiple messages over the course of a given customer’s or diner’s visit, they capture 400 percent more views than static displays.

2. Increases Spending

Digital marketing displays bump up average purchase amount at the POS (point of sale) by nearly 30 percent. One big reason for this is how they “feed” the impulse-buy-friendly consumer’s brain. One in five consumers say they made unplanned, impulse buys of products they saw advertised digitally.  Additionally, businesses that use digital signage enjoy a 32 percent upswing in overall sales volume. Digital marketing signs provide the opportunity to make shoppers or diners aware of special or limited-time offers, closeouts, or to introduce them to previously-untried menu options or products. They can be employed at any point in the restaurant customer’s journey, from the entry way to the waiting area, table, bathroom and right up until the POS point of sale transaction.

In one experiment, two static signs went head to head with one digital display in an effort to prompt customers to go to the help desk to receive a free tote bag. Both locations had similar amounts of traffic during the experiment; however, only six people took advantage of the offer in the location where static signs were displayed, while 610 people grabbed the free tote bags in the location where the digital display conveyed the offer – over 100 times more.

3. Increases Retention

Not only do digital signs improve the customer’s ability to recall specific marketing messages, they also improve customer retention for the businesses that use them by 30 percent. Digital signage gives the retailer or restaurateur a uniquely powerful way to engage and interest patrons, which in turn, can help the shopper feel more personally connected to the business.

4. Improves Satisfaction

Using digital signage boosts customer satisfaction by 46 percent. Digital messaging can help patrons feel like they’re “in the know” and make them aware of anything from a flash-sale to in-store only offers, closeouts, and other sale-related data that makes them feel reassured they are getting a great value for the money they spend at a business. They can also be used to let customers know about how the business is participating in the community, charitable give-backs, brand story, company history, and other information that can make the consumer feel happy about choosing to do business there. Digital signage can also be used to help guide the shopper to the items they’re looking for more quickly, giving them additional time to browse before they need to leave or helping the consumer who doesn’t particularly like shopping expedite the process.

5. Generates New Traffic

Businesses that implement digital signage generate a 33 percent increase in the number of repeat buyers; moreover, they also increase in-store traffic by 33 percent. Improved brand and marketing message-awareness can lead to more word of mouth marketing and referrals occurring outside of the business. In fact, in one study of small businesses that had installed outdoor LED digital signage, an impressive 86 percent – nearly 9 out of 10 – believed the new signs had brought them new customers, and nearly as many (83) noticed an increase in sales after installing the digital signs.

6. Keeps Customers In-Store Longer

In retail, the longer a customer stays in the store to shop and browse, the more they’re likely to spend. Using digital signage in-store produces a 30 percent increase in the length of the shopper’s visit.

7. Reduces Perceived Wait Time

Digital displays with engaging content serve as an entertaining distraction, reducing the dissatisfaction that waiting engenders. Whether restaurant patrons are waiting to be seated, waiting for their food, waiting for a sales person, waiting to check out at the point of sale (POS), digital signs can be used to amuse, educate and interest. As a result, even if wait time is equivalent, consumers perceive wait-time to be as much as 35 percent less at businesses where digital signage is present vs. those without.

In addition, digital devices can be used to set expectations and display information about wait times, call customers forward, and let people know which cash registers or stations are available for whoever is next. Expediting the queuing process reduces wait time for everyone, and also helps to manage expectations and reduce customer anxiety (such as the anxiety that they might have been overlooked or forgotten).

8. Significantly Improves Brand Awareness

It should come as no surprise that digital signs are 47.7 percent effective when it comes to brand awareness. Another Nielsen study on “Awareness and Effectiveness of Digital Display Screens in Grocery Stores” found that patrons exposed to point-of-sale digital ads exhibited a 31 percent increase in brand awareness and recall.

9. Creates Intrigue

59 percent of people who saw digital signage wanted to learn more about the advertised topic. Digital displays can often be programmed to display many different messages, exposing the patron to many different brand and marketing impressions during a given visit to the retail store or restaurant. The more retailers and restaurateurs recognize and take advantage of the medium to entertain and engage, the more they can create interest and intrigue among customers.

In addition, digital signage can be used to display information about offers scheduled for the future, helping to spur repeat visits and to potentially increase the frequency at which the customer regularly visits the business.

10. Improves Employee Engagement, Productivity

Customers aren’t the only ones whose behavior is impacted in ways that benefit the retail store or restaurant. Businesses with digital signs had improvements of 20 to 25 percent in employee engagement, with a corresponding increase in employee productivity. Digital displays can also help employees remember to engage with patrons about specific special offers or new products, or motivate the customer to ask the salesperson for more information as a conversation starter.

The good news for retailers and restaurateurs who have been discouraged from installing digital signage due to cost concerns is that unlike the cost of most things – which only rises over time – the cost of this technology has decreased significantly. While the average cost of digital signage was $8500 in 2004, that number dropped to $3720 in 2010. Like similar technologies, it’s one whose highest cost is at the pioneering phase, that is reduced significantly and quickly as more companies enter the marketplace and volume as well as continued advancement decreases the cost of equipment, software, and infrastructure for everyone.

Digital Signs Statistics Infographic Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

Restaurant loyalty programs that offer deep discounts, 2-for-1 offers or daily deal marketing programs take note: A recent survey revealed the overwhelming majority of restaurant-goers will frequent their regular, favorite restaurants, regardless of price or promotion.

Are restaurant specials or special restaurants the key to restaurant loyalty?

They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and apparently the same holds true when it comes to restaurant loyalty programs. When it comes to restaurant loyalty, it might be more effective restaurant marketing to offer customers a special restaurant, rather than reduce margins and profitability  through discounts and restaurant specials.

Since we provide restaurant POS (point of sale) terminals, software and mobile solutions, we hear about a variety of creative ideas from our customers. When small business owners come to us for restaurant POS equipment or software, it’s often to help fuel their growth. Putting effective restaurant marketing tactics into place is usually high on their list of priorities.

So we took note when a article pointed out that when it comes to customer loyalty to restaurants, only about one quarter of those surveyed in a new report from The NPD Group will switch restaurants because of a special promotion.  A wide majority of restaurant-goers said that regardless of promotions, they would continue to dine at their familiar, favorite restaurants, instead.

restaurant loyalty marketing - restaurant marketing ideas

Turns out, the best way to gain loyalty among restaurant customers isn’t by offering discounts and restaurant specials — it’s by making the restaurant special. So we came up with six ways you can make your restaurant more special in order to garner customer loyalty, repeat visits and referrals.

6 Ways to Improve Restaurant Loyalty Marketing

1. Train and empower staff to go the extra mile for customers in solving problems, righting wrongs or relieving dissatisfaction.

2. Infuse every customer visit with an unexpected, exclusive “gift;” be creative! This could be as simple and inexpensive as:

  • bringing a treat with the check that is different than delivered to adjacent tables
  • bringing a sample size of a new appetizer, entrée or drink and ask diners to taste and provide feedback (this might even spur new sales of that menu item!)
  • having hand-written thank you cards at the ready and asking wait staff to sign and deliver at the end of a customer’s visit

3.  Create a unique and impeccable atmosphere. Infuse elements of your brand identity into memory points throughout your restaurant. Install furnishings that reflect your brand and caters to customer comfort, privacy and other amenities.

4.  Solicit, act on and recognize customers who provide you with suggestions for improvements. People love to be recognized – why else would all those restaurants feature photo walls of sombrero-laden patrons?  Certainly not for the fashion statement!

5.  Be connected within your community in supporting causes and organizations that matter to your most valuable customers.  Host a local business networking group.  Support student car washes and fundraisers.  Recognize local community servants.

6.  Above all else, be known for the quality of experience that you deliver from end to end during the customer’s experience at your restaurant – especially, of course, the food!  Restaurants develop loyal patrons by delivering consistent quality of menu items and exceptional, unique levels of personalized service, time and time again.

The key to loyalty for restaurant customers must lie in delivering what the customer has come to expect – and want – over and over again. They want to know that they can count on their favorite restaurant, and their favorite menu item, when they’ve had a bad day, when they’re hosting an out of town guest, when they want to impress a boss or co-worker or they just want to relax with family or friends.

So forget restaurant specials!  Deliver quality of restaurant customer experience, and you will make your restaurant special – which produces a far greater return on restaurant loyalty.

Most retail businesses have seasonal slowdowns at some point of the year. Here are nine ideas for restaurant owners who want to eliminate the ups and downs that come along with slow seasons.

Counterpunch Seasonal Slowdowns – 9 Marketing Ideas for Restaurant Owners

Most restaurant owners have no problem identifying – or even predicting – which weeks or months of the year are slower than others. Your restaurant may see a decline in the summer months when local residents flee to vacation spots, or when they abandon your restaurant’s cuisine for competitors with more summery fare. You may see a decline in traffic in the winter months if many of the people in your area depart for warmer climates or opt to eat at home instead of venturing out.

Whatever the cause, and whenever your slow season occurs, you may have the ability to negate the consequent slowdowns in your restaurant’s sales by adjusting your marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look at nine different tactics restaurant owners can use to counteract seasonal slowdowns to ensure more predictable, consistent revenues year-round.

9 Ways Restaurant Owners Can Turn Slow Seasons into Cash Cows

Double Down on Local Marketing

A slow season is the perfect time for restaurant owners to double down on their restaurant’s local appeal and outreach. Reaching out to the people who live and work in your community won’t just help generate sales, it will also enhance your reputation in the community. If you’re not currently reaching out specifically to local residents, try one or all of these ideas.

1. Local discounts. The people who live or work near your restaurant represent the individuals most likely to become regulars at your restaurant; turning them into fans of your business could be gold! Start a promotion that includes a free drink, or 10% off of a local’s order. This will entice them to come back to your restaurant and tell the people they live and work with to check out your restaurant.

2. Local rewards programs. When your local-only promotions successfully draw local people in to your restaurant, show them you don’t stop there. Give them a punch card and every 5th or 10th visit they get a buy-one, get-one free entrée. Not only will they be encouraged to return, they’ll be encouraged to bring other people with them.

Update your POS (point of sale) merchant services systems to feature payment processing software that integrates seamlessly with your customer rewards and loyalty programs. Point of sale loyalty and rewards programs can even generate business with triggered marketing automation based on customer preferences and purchasing behaviors.

3. Host local events. If a local girl scout troop is looking for a place to hold their awards dinner, offer your restaurant. Create a special menu for the event and offer them a percentage off since they are bringing in a large group. Now you’ve not only got the girl scout talking about your restaurant to their friends, but their parents as well. That’s a lot of good chatter about your restaurant! Other groups you might extend a welcome to include:

  • Non-profits, churches, schools
  • Business networking groups
  • Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and other civic groups
  • Coaches, parks and rec teams, etc.

Beef Up Your Restaurant’s Online Presence

Chances are, if you’re experiencing a slow season your business-neighbors and competitors are too. You can leverage a strong online presence to differentiate your restaurant from the pasta place, burger joint, or bar and grill right down the street. Since many online marketing activities require only an investment of time, using your energy to build your online presence is a low-cost way to reach out to a large group of people.

4. Social Media. If you don’t already have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram the time to make one is now (and you can use them for free). Use these online platforms to call out your customer of the week, talk about your restaurant’s community involvement, and share seasonal promotions. Not to mention all of these platforms make it easy for your followers to share all the great content you are posting. If you do have a few dollars to spend, you can also bolster your local marketing efforts with targeted Facebook ads and sponsored post.

5. Think visual and video. If you have an awesome seasonal promotion, pictures are a more captivating way to promote your menu items than words. Say you’re holding a promotion that allows customers to buy one entrée and get the second half off. Your followers are more likely to read your post if there is a picture of yummy, yummy food associated with your post. Or better yet, share a photo that has the promotion included on the picture. Taking time to edit a photo, will definitely pay off. Likewise, capturing a real customer’s review on video with your smartphone creates a video testimonial that can be instantly shared on your website, social networks, and other marketing channels to help promote your restaurant.

6. Thank your reviewers. The slow time of the year is a great time to respond to those people who left you glowing reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other sites. This will not only show your past reviewers that you value their opinions, but will show all future customers that your restaurant has great customer service. 70 percent of consumers read reviews before purchasing from a business, so it’s that much more important that you know what your reviews say and you take time to personally respond to them.

Hold Events at Your Restaurant During Slow Hours

7. Host meetings and events. Reach out to local professionals, alumni organizations, consultants, coaches, and small business owners who could benefit from a networking or corporate meeting space. Holding events during slow seasons can help you bring in more revenue and introduce your restaurant to new people. This could also be a convenient way to test out new dishes, since you will often be asked to create menus just for the event.

8. Happy hours. If you don’t have happy hours yet, slow seasons are the perfect time to experiment. If you already have happy hours, you may need to consider changing or expanding happy hours to make it more convenient time for people coming from work. Happy hours are a great time for old friends to reconnect and for consumers to try new places they wouldn’t usually go for a full-fledged dinner. Whatever your hours, it’s imperative to make your happy hour enticing to drive the traffic you want.

9. Research competitors. Take time on your off day to check out other restaurants and see what they are doing to attract patrons during slow seasons (or to see why your slow season is their ‘hot’ one). Once you understand what they are doing, you can make sure your marketing strategy is unique enough to bring in the consumers you need to continue to drive sales.

The keys to overcoming your slow seasons are to reward local businesses and families, establish a strong online presence and plan events. The best thing about a slow season is that you can really execute your thought-out marketing plan to ensure you not only bring in traffic now, but build your customer base for seasons to come.

Startup Darwinism says that as new startups get funded, others go the way of the do-do bird. Here are five keys for growing a startup to make sure your new business survives.

5 Ways to Overcome Startup Darwinism and Turn Your Startup into a Success Story

An interesting report suggests that as more and more startups get funding, more will have to die. While we are not so sure that it’s a zero sum game, we have five tips for growing a startup to help you strengthen your new business.

A day seldom passes that business media sites don’t announce the launch of a new startup or the demise of others. Happily for entrepreneurs today, there are many private and public investors standing at the ready to provide funding for a wide variety of different types of promising new startups.

Lest you think that startup failure is something that only happens to other entrepreneurs, consider these words from Forbes contributor Neil Patel cofounder of some little startups you might have heard of called Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics.  In an article titled 90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%, Patel says, “Nine out of ten startups will fail. This is a hard and bleak truth, but one that you’d do well to meditate on. Entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortem before they launch their business.”  Bleak, indeed.

If startup funding were enough to ensure success, the failure rate would be much lower. So given adequate funding and – presumably – a business plan worth pursuing, why is it that so many startups fail?  The short answer is: Burn.

Burn refers to the speed at which a startup exhausts its resources. Most startups that fail do so because they burn through their resources faster than they replenish them through sales or additional capital put in by investors. Even fast-growing startups can suffer from burn, when high sales still do not translate into adequate cash flow.

So what is a growth-seeking startup to do? 

5 Keys to Growing a Startup Without the Burn

  1. Stay focused.

Before a startup actually starts up, entrepreneurs are burning the midnight oil. Working with intensity and single-minded focus, they are building the business model, writing the marketing plan and selling their idea to investors.  Once the startup actually launches, and there are a thousand different directions the startup could grow, it’s easy to lose focus and try to move in too many directions at once. Stay focused; work the business plan you sold to investors.

  1. Plan for contingencies.

The road to success is rarely a straight line or a smooth road. Your business plan should have contingencies and triggers built in that will prompt you to shore up areas that are slipping, reduce expenses, expand marketing – whatever the best course correction for the situation. Without contingency plans based on thinking through possible scenarios, when trouble strikes you might not have enough time to come up with a solution on the fly.

  1. Milk your cash cow.

Most businesses, and even most startups, don’t come out of the gate offering just one product or service. Before you open your doors or launch your ecommerce site, you should have a good idea of which products or services are likely to be your cash cows, your most popular entry points for customers, and your most profit-generating offers. These are the products and services that you should spend most of your time and resources in promoting during the startup phase to be sure that you get your business off the ground.  Save pet projects and harder-sells for later on in the game.

  1. Set Aside Money for Marketing

You know you need money for equipment, inventory, staffing and a long list of other items, but if you don’t purposefully set aside money for marketing your startup you may find that you build it and no one comes – because no one knows about your business! Some of the marketing costs you may want to plan for include:

  • Point of sale (POS) merchant services with loyalty and rewards programs built in
  • Direct mailer or door hanger campaign in targeted neighborhoods
  • An attractive website that produces conversions (sales, reservations, bookings, form submission for lead generation, etc.
  • A “soft opening” to spark interest in your business, get early reviews and test your staffing and systems
  • A PR event such as getting local celebrities to try your products or services, or attend your soft open or launch
  • YouTube reviews
  • Videos that explain your products/services, include early testimonials, etc.
  • Social media account set up, sponsored posts, paid ads and boosted events
  • Email marketing – and so on

The more interest you can generate in your business before the doors even open, the faster you can go from launch to profits sufficient to sustain and grow your business.

  1. Don’t go it alone.

Many entrepreneurs are independent by nature. They have had dreams and ideas that they had to pursue on their own, they’ve had to write their own plans, build their own websites, design their own business cards and clean their own bathrooms. They are used to going it alone. Before you launch your startup, get a mentor on board who has business (and preferably startup) experience who can give you good advice and help you shorten the learning curve when it comes to business tasks like bookkeeping and accounting, taxes, marketing, merchant services, human resources and more. The less time you have to spend on administrative tasks and busy work, the more you have to focus on activities that will grow your startup more quickly.

Effective POS marketing strategies could make the last point of the buyer’s journey the most profitable one for your business.

9 POS Marketing Tactics Increase Average Spend and Generate New Revenues

If you evaluate the customer journey in terms of how it breaks down across each point, you may find that you’re failing to take advantage of many opportunities that could help you influence customers to spend more overall, choose upgrades, add-on accessories, and try new products or menu items. Instead of thinking about your marketing in terms of channels, lay it out so that you can see what occurs at each step of the buying journey:

  • Before the first time a customer visits your store or website
  • In-between customer visits to your store or website
  • As the customer arrives at and enters your store or website
  • What happens right after they arrive
  • While they’re browsing
  • As they approach the (POS) point of sale
  • At the point of sale register or checkout process – when the actual merchant services POS transaction occurs
  • After the POS – what happens after the payment processing transaction?

In this model, what occurs during the point-of-sale portion of the customer visit (including what happens immediately afterward) could constitute one-third of the opportunities you have to impact how much the customer spends and whether they spent more than they would have otherwise (because of the marketing tactics you employed at the POS).

9 POS Marketing Ideas for Generating Higher Sales

As they approach the POS

This is when the customer has clicked on their cart or started the checkout process online, when they’re approaching the cash register or standing in line, waiting at the table for you to bring the bill or take their payment, etc. At this point in the buying process, the customer has mentally stopped shopping. In their minds, they have everything they need in their carts (or tummies). However, according a poll, five out of six Americans admit to impulse buys, so the game is by no means over!

  1. Appeal to pioneers and early adopters.

These are the individuals who just looooove being the first to try something new. They relish being ahead of the rest when it comes to new technology, products, or services. While customers are waiting to start their transactions, use marketing to ask whether they missed out on new arrivals to your company’s line up.

  1. Use technology to mitigate the wait.

Studies show that consumers perceive their wait time to be less when digital signs, kiosks, and other devices are present. While you have the customer as a captive audience, entertain and engage them with digital displays, videos, or interactive messaging.

  1. Remind them of past purchases.

The idea behind Amazon’s “dash” buttons is genius: Make it easy for customers to replenish supplies as soon as they run out (or even before). Before the customer transactions is completely underway, use information about their historical purchases to generate questions that might remind them it’s time to repurchase something they may be running out of or which they would enjoy again.

During the POS transaction

This is the moment where the payment processing transaction process has begun but has not yet been completed by the merchant services company. Questions and suggestions raised here can instantly increase the amount of the sale and make the customer happier, since they didn’t miss out on something they couldn’t find or miss an opportunity to scoop up a special deal.

  1. Start with what they couldn’t find.

Tried and true, asking customers if they searched for something they weren’t able to find is a great way to ensure they leave with everything they came for. It’s also an invaluable way to discover whether there are additional needs your business could be meeting by adding specific menu items, products, or services based on customer demand.

  1. Tell them what they might also like.

Another e-commerce point of sale technique that brick and mortar businesses of all kinds could be using is the “you might also like” suggestion. This is where you can talk about the benefits of upgrading, upsizing, and add-ons like accessories or warranties that might enhance their purchase.

  1. End with last-chance opportunities.

Before payment is submitted, ask customers whether they want to take advantage of any last-chance or limited time offers. These are offers that help customers feel like they’re getting the most value for their dollars and in an era where direct mail and email offers often go unread, they’re also offers that customers might be unaware of and open to considering before payment processing is finalized by the merchant services company.

After the POS transaction has concluded

This is the time immediately after the merchant services transaction. The post-POS marketing tactics you deploy here give you a chance to get feedback, ask for reviews, and remind customers about what’s coming to your business in the near future, so that you can immediately get them thinking about returning. Post-POS marketing and marketing done in-between visits can increase the frequency with which the customer visits, thereby increasing their lifetime value to your company.

  1. Information on the receipt.

Many businesses now use receipts to generate coupons for future visits, ask customers to complete online surveys, or remind them about upcoming events. Plus, since many people keep receipts around for accounting or tax purposes, they can provide a lasting reminder about your company long after the payment processing transaction has been completed.

  1. Ask for a review or rating.

Stars and positive reviews are the new word of mouth. They are the data that prospects use to decide whether to try your business in the first place, and set expectations for how they perceive your brand, and how they feel about doing business with you. While your company is still top-of-mind in the moments following a successful point of sale transaction, ask the customer to leave a review for your business and make it easy to do so, with digital devices placed in-store or an online link to a review site provided with the digital receipt.

  1. Get the registration.

Every POS merchant services transaction should give your business the opportunity to gather contact information for email marketing. Email is far and away the channel most consumers cite as their preferred method for receiving brand communications. Make sure that if you haven’t yet gotten the customer’s email address otherwise, you capture it at the point of sale, by emailing receipts to customers rather than print them directly in-store or online.

Every point during the buying journey offers unique opportunities where your business can engage the customer. Make sure you’re making the most of the last – and most powerful – part of the customer journey so that you’re not leaving money on the table.

More than half of millennials dine out once a week, compared to just 43 percent of the remaining population. See how these restaurants exemplify what it takes to attract this generation.

In-Touch Restaurants Attract Millennials by Understanding their Dining Desires

50 percent of millennials dine out according to, and they do so for more reasons than just to eat food. They use it as an opportunity to gather with friends, eat local, and show philanthropic support. As a restaurant, understanding the desires of this generation is crucial as they hold $200 billion in spending power and are projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Be current, be hip.

To attract millennials, restaurants need to continually update your menu, adapt cooking practices, and mold their ambiance to stay on top.

When you think about millennials’ favorite sit down restaurant, Red Lobster is the first that comes to mind, right? Don’t worry, we were just as surprised as you. In May 2016, Red Lobster was named the number 1 choice with 18-24 year old’s, over 173 other brands. What did they do to revamp?

  1. Updated their menu. Red Lobster constantly updates their menu to the newest food trends in the country. Recently they added new flavors such as chimichurri and spicy Tennessee bourbon.
  2. Adapted cooking practices. Red Lobster took feedback from their customers and increased the size of their shrimp by 47 percent. They also prepare more dishes in house (over shipping) and added more sauce to their dishes.
  3. Molded their ambiance. Red Lobster encourages their customers to dine in by offering a new line of unique alcoholic beverages and has made sure their restaurants are designed to hold large parties, which perfectly fits a millennial’s desire.

On top of these changes, Red Lobster has embraced their role in pop culture. Pop singer, Beyoncé, mentioned the restaurant in one her songs in February, and sales went up 33 percent the day after she released her song.

We understand not every restaurant can get a shout out from a pop singer, but staying current with your menu and ambiance is an effective way to grab hold of your millennial audience.

Be online, be mobile.

As a restaurant owner you should be asking yourself these questions: Do you have a website, do you have an app, is your menu available online, how easy is it to order, and are you racking up online reviews?

59% of Millennials Review Menus Online Before Going to a Restaurant

59 percent of millennials review menus online before going to the restaurant. Millennials research places to eat like they research buying a product on Amazon. They will go to your website, look at your menu, read your reviews on Yelp, and look at pictures of your dining experience.

19% of Millennials Use Mobile Devices to Research Restaurants

19 percent of millennials will use a mobile device when researching a restaurant. Being mobile friendly goes beyond your website – and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create an app either. Creating a simple online order process won’t cost you much and will make it easier for millennials to order on the go, as they sometimes prefer. Your website can even help save on labor costs by eliminating or at least reducing the amount of manpower needed to:

  • take restaurant reservations
  • chalk up points or rewards to a customer’s loyalty account
  • find out whether rewards can be redeemed
  • act as a digital POS (point of sale) for to-go orders (or any customer check)
  • promote ancillary services like catering, special events, membership programs, and so on
  • estimate staffing needs (based on reservations, advanced orders and trends)
  • and much more

For fast food and fast casual restaurants that want an app, consider Starbucks as a model. Starbucks users can use the Starbucks mobile app to pay and order ahead so they can bypass the line, avoiding a potentially lengthy point of sale experience in-store, and receive promotions to entice them to return every day. Regardless of whether millennials will be taking their food to go or eating at your restaurant, enabling point of sale functionality through your website or mobile app can be an attractive perk for customers, especially if they are short on time.

Be healthy, be local.

Counting calories is so last year if you talk to millennials. Understanding the ingredients in your dishes as well as where they came from now takes precedence.

30% of Millennials Prefer to Eat Food Labeled as “Organic”

30 percent of millennials prefer to eat food that is labeled as organic. Many restaurants have taken part in the farm to table movement. The idea of this movement is the minimize the miles between your food source and your restaurant.

The great news is this kind of food doesn’t have to break the bank. Chipotle, and Five Guys are the most popular restaurants that have adopted the healthy and local menu. Chipotle serves meat with no human antibiotics while Five Guys writes their meat and potato source on their whiteboards every day. Make it a priority to help millennials understand where your restaurants food originates.

Be giving, be ethical.

Of all the generations, millennials are the most likely to visit a restaurant with good social ethics. 40 percent of millennials are more willing to endorse a company with eco-conscious values over a company without a societal stance.

40% of Millennials Prefer Restaurants that Express Eco-Conscious Values

Your restaurant in no exception. Think about Chick-Fil-A. Everything about their brand shows what they stand for; it’s easy to see how they are involved in their community. If your restaurant is involved in local community events, you should be publicizing your involvement on social media in order to attract philanthropic and charity-minded millennials.

Incorporating these four millennial drivers can help your restaurant capture the attention of this generation and attract more millennials.

Understanding the desires of the millennials will help your restaurant move faster as this generation continues to move into its buying power. While not all millennials have the same taste in food, they do look for the same qualities in choosing a restaurant. Adapting your restaurant to these changes now, will help not only help you attract millennials, but will also help you stay current, and stay resilient as times continue to change.

If your business depends on attracting and serving customers within a local area geographically, it’s never been more important to properly optimize your website, social profiles and internet marketing.

If you own a business that depends on attracting customers from the local area, it’s never been more important that you have an internet presence that is mobile friendly and optimized for local search. Forty percent of US consumers reportedly search for a local business once a day, and 66% of consumers use local search at least 3-4 times each week. In a local search research study by Immr and Street Fight, success hinges on local search for eleven types of businesses, in particular.

Here’s what the report found in two important categories, people who searched for those business types during a specific time period and people who purchased from the same types of businesses during that same period of time.

Eleven business types for which consumers searched online over the 12-month period:

  • Local entertainment (87%)
  • Local restaurants (84%)
  • Transportation (80%)
  • Local contractors (79%)
  • Local retail stores (77%)
  • Local automotive businesses (72%)
  • Local professional service providers (70%)
  • Local personal and fitness facilities or professionals (70%)
  • Local financial services (70%)
  • Local health care providers or facilities (67%)
  • Local grocery stores (61%)

And while local grocery store owners may be disappointed that only 6 of 10 consumers search for them locally, they should be heartened to realize that they top the second category of consideration. A whopping 96% of consumers reporting they had purchased from a local grocery store during the past year.

Business types from which consumers purchased during the 12-month period:

  • Local grocery stores (96%)
  • Local restaurants (94%)
  • Local retail stores (90%)
  • Local entertainment (82%)
  • Local automobile related retailers or service professionals (76%)
  • Local healthcare facilities or providers (75%)
  • Local personal and fitness facilities (65%)
  • Local financial services (63%)
  • Local transportation (41%)
  • Local contractors (36%)
  • Local professional services (31%)

Optimize your website for local search and maximize your small business marketing ROI

When it comes to what consumers were looking for on websites, trends vary from industry to industry. For instance, restaurant goers typically viewed more than one online menu before choosing a restaurant and were often looking for maps, directions and distance from their current location, whereas those searching for grocery stores were more typically looking for listings and hours of operation. The year also saw sales of mobile devices top those of PC sales, and mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all internet traffic, and more than half of all online searches.

This small business internet marketing recipe can optimize your business’ presence online so that your business gets found in local search more often by members of your target audience:

  • Keyword research to identify the phrases local consumers use most frequently to find businesses like yours
  • Inclusion of the best keywords/phrases identified in your research on your website’s meta title, description and keyword fields
  • Inclusion of the best keywords/phrases identified in on-page content on your website (and don’t forget alt- tags for images, search engines can’t see pictures!)
  • Incorporation of keywords/phrases to optimize your social networks/status updates and email marketing
  • Enhancing your backlinks and content marketing strategies by publishing optimized blog articles on a regular basis
  • Development of a website that is both desktop and mobile-friendly, and whose content focuses on engaging consumers by optimizing the site visitor experience itself

With holiday shopping in full force, it’s crucial that your retail business staffs enough employees to keep your customer’s experience in your location as relaxing, stress-free, and positive as the rest of the year. Here are six tips for attracting the best seasonal retail employees.

Hiring the Best Seasonal Retail Employees is Crucial for Holiday Sales

If you’re understaffed during the holidays, there’s a good chance one or more of your customers is going to have sub-par service at some point during the season. How does being understaffed affect sales?

78 percent of customers have bailed on a retail transaction because of a poor service experience, and 91 percent of unhappy customers will never again willingly do business with the offending retailer. Since holidays are a high stress, high traffic time, hiring the best holiday employees is key for retail business success. Here are the six tips that can help you attract the best seasonal retail employees, so you have a better chance of hitting – or even exceeding – your holiday sales goals.

6 Tips for Attracting the Best Seasonal Retail Employees

Look Early

Even if holiday candidates are only going to be on the books for a few weeks, their impact on your organization’s sales and reputation can be long lasting. Just like hiring a full-time employee, you need ample time as a hiring manager to select the best seasonal employees, and train them on customer service, POS (point of sale) software and equipment, loyalty and rewards programs, internal procedures, and so on. While most businesses target November to start posting their open positions, consider posting in September and October to ensure you have first pick of the best available talent.

Is your candidate jolly?

Around the holidays, your team can encounter various stressful situations from customer escalations to long wait times at the point of sale. When hiring a holiday employee, they should be able to stay positive through the holiday craze and never sacrifice customer service.

Posing a role-play in the interview where the holiday employee must act on a tough situation rather quickly is a beneficial way to gauge how they’d handle the situation in real life. This also eliminates potential candidates who may say they would act a certain way but really aren’t that way in a real situation. These “jolly” seasonal retail employees are also crucial to keeping a positive and engaged company culture, and a performing team will help your business operate smoothly through the holiday season.

Recruit local college students

Have you considered advertising your seasonal retail positions to college students? Partnering with nearby universities can help you access a solid pool of candidates when it comes to hiring for holiday positions.  In some cases, seasonal employment at your company could even help fulfill internships required for college majors. It’s worth your time for you to reach out to local trade schools and universities with a goal of creating mutually-beneficial partnerships. You could end up with a steady source of the best seasonal candidates and reduce seasonal hiring costs in the process.


Retirees represent a large pool of potential holiday workers as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement. Imagine if you own a boutique retail clothing shop and you hire a retiree who spent their career at Nordstrom! They have a lifetime of knowledge that will mesh well with your customer base, as well as your employees. They also have a love for fashion and will stay engaged in their position. Retirees also want to enjoy their time off, so they like the flexible work schedules that are needed around the holidays. Give ‘em a shot!

Go beyond seasonal

Some of the best seasonal retail employees are the ones who see a temporary position as a stepping stone to full-time employment and not merely a job. These types of candidates will likely be your superstars during the holidays and want to use the skills they learn from you not just for a few months, but for years to come.  As an employer, you can use the holidays as a probationary period or test run. Seasonal hires who perform outstandingly could be a great fit for a current or future full time position.

Employee referral program

Great hires come from great hires! Start a company incentive program that pushes your current employees to refer their connections that they think would be successful candidates. When your employees are stretched thin over the holiday season, the last thing they want is to work with people they do not like or trust. Using a referral program allows your team to be comfortable in the holiday hires as well as take the edge off as your team handles tough customer situations.

Using these six ways to hire the best seasonal retail workers will help your team transition into the busiest season of the year.

Employee culture is the key to a successful holiday season. Allowing yourself time to hire the holiday worker that best fits your team and pulling candidates from outside of your typical candidate pool will help make the transition into the holidays as smooth as possible.


Use these ten marketing ideas for food trucks and other mobile business models to grow your business by creating brand awareness and demand for your signature menu items.

On the Road Again:  10 Marketing Ideas for Food Trucks and Other Mobile Business Models

Over the past several years, the food truck has transitioned its role in the restaurant industry from sometimes-questionable construction site staples to gourmet fast food restaurants and tourist destinations. Food trucks found their way into the mainstream and even onto movie screens, sending foodies and other local diners out into the streets in search of the specialty foods and unique experience only a food truck could provide.

Some food trucks remain truly mobile while others have taken up more permanent spots; food trucks are now common vendors of specialty dining fare in urban business districts, on college campuses, in residence at street fairs and farmers markets, at music festivals, outside nightclubs and sports arenas and in a host of other locations.  And with menus filled with delicious street eats from hot dogs and burritos to specialty, regional gourmet signature menu items, there’s something for just about every palette. Food trucks also provide restaurateurs with an innovative way to test-market new locations or expand at a relatively low cost.

Consider these food truck industry statistics: 

  • More than 3,500+ food truck businesses in the U.S.
  • More than a billion dollars in annual revenue
  • Employing more than 15,500 people
  • Growing at an annual rate of over 8%.  [Infographic]

Small wonder that an overwhelming 91% of consumers say that food trucks are no passing fad, but are here to stay.  One of the pitfalls of the food truck industry is lack of marketing plan, so we came up with these marketing ideas for food trucks (and other mobile business models).

10 Marketing Ideas for Food Trucks and Mobile Business Models

1. Frequent and timely use of social media, email and text message (SMS) marketing – post a status update on your social network and send an email and/or text SMS with mouth-watering image or compelling offer right an hour or so before the lunch or dinner bell sounds.

2. Get people to look for you by rewarding customers for sightings or holding contests on social network, email and text SMS marketing where customers get clues as to your next location and a reward for finding you there.

3. Tie in to a local charity and donate a portion of proceeds or proceeds from specific menu items or from sales made on specific days of the week to make people feel even better about buying from you, create predictable demand for certain menu items or boost sales on slower days of the week.  Charitable tie-ins are also a great way to get some love from local media!

4. Offer “rainy day” specials and create an instant patio by setting umbrella-covered bistro tables to entice customers to buy from you on bad weather days.

5. Update your website every day and make sure it’s optimized for mobile; people searching mobile devices for a local place to eat usually take action within 1 hour!

6. Offer street samples and a bounce back offer coupon to commuters passing by in the morning to create demand for lunch items later in the day.

7. Send email announcements to the offices of local employers with special offers just for their employees, provide a stack of menus and limited-time-offer coupons for break rooms and seek out listings on corporate intranet sites and employee newsletters.

8. Create signature or regionally-oriented menu items that tie in to local tourist destinations or sports teams.  Send samples to local media and invite them to come and cover your business for use as a web or TV news “fluff” piece with local flair.

9. Expand your capabilities by offering local delivery service or for group orders.

10. Incentivize standing orders and pre-ordering and use pre-orders to help determine where you will set up shop next or on certain days of the week.

food trucks infographic - statistics about food trucks in the US

[Infographic – Food Trucks – Restaurant Marketing Ideas]
source:Mary Beth Campeau via wordpress