Some of the SCORE Workshops I will be teaching this coming February: (these are free workshops, please take advantage of them!)
If you are a new business starting out or even been in business for a long time and need help, please request a SCORE mentor! SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. … SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SCORE’s mission is to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. With the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, SCORE has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs since 1964. SCORE mentoring is FREE! My chapter in New Hampshire has over 100 mentors!
Being a SCORE mentor is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, to give back and help people is truly an amazing experience. SCORE mentors are not paid, we volunteer our time to help other business owners.
How to Up Your Marketing Game Using Social Media Monday, January 4, 2021, two sessions at 10:00am EST and 2:00pm EST With the proliferation of social media platforms, it’s essential that you identify and master the right ones to reach your potential customers. In this first in a series of workshops, we’ll provide you with an overview of many of the major platforms, followed over the next few weeks by in-depth workshops on how to use them to get the best results. In this workshop you’ll learn what social media is and how to use it, what you can and can’t do with each platform, as well as the uses for each one. Terrific for companies that want to get their feet wet in social media but don’t know which platforms to use. Includes the pros and cons of each one and which ones work best for what kind of markets, B2B and B2C. You’ll learn what’s new, what’s hot and what has changed in the past year and the importance of using and creating a content calendar.
Using Twitter and YouTube for Your Business Friday, January 8, 2021, 2:00pm EST In this free online workshop, you’ll learn a step by step plan to get your Twitter account as maximized for marketing and how to use the free Twitter tools that can make updates less time consuming to post and easier to manage. We’ll cover -Twitter etiquette and the art of the DM (Direct message) – How to find and source contacts and potential customers -What not to do to market your business on Twitter – Tips, tricks and techniques to leverage your posts for maximum exposure to potential clients and customers. You’ll also learn how to customize your Youtube channel and tie it into your other marketing and social media marketing including Pinterest, Facebook, Blogs and websites: how to optimize your channel and videos and promote them; and learn about the new offerings Youtube is rolling out. We’ll l touch on some of the advertising options Youtube offers as well. Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/using-twitter-and-youtube-your-business
Introduction to Pinterest for Your Business Monday, January 11, 2021, 2:00pm EST In this free online workshop you’ll learn how to use one of the fastest growing social media network to promote your business. What is Pinterest? A Virtual Pinboard. It lets you organize and share all the things you find on the web, plus it lets you upload your own photos, and pin photos and images directly from your website and blog. You’ll learn how to use your pinboards and utilize the pinboards of others to enhance your marketing. Some of the reasons to use Pinterest: -It can help drive traffic to your website and other media. – Pinterest is addictive, which is great for getting people to focus on your business or properties, – Pinterest integrates with your website, as well as other social media channels to help push your brand further out into the world of online marketing and branding. Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/introduction-pinterest-your-business
Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest Advertising Friday, January 15, 2021, 2:00pm EST Learn about the different advertising options that Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest offers. We will be covering best practices, ad options, targeting options (for Twitter and Pinterest) as well as what audiences are best reached using these channels. We will also give some statistics on business advertising and ad pricing for these channels. Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/twitter-youtube-and-pinterest-advertising
The Basics of Blogging Monday, January 18, 2021, 2:00pm EST In this free online workshops, you learn blogging tactics for marketing your business and some tips, tricks and techniques to leverage your posts for maximum exposure to potential clients and customers. We’ll cover Guest Posting and how to integrate your other social media marketing and offline marketing with your blog and help you develop a marketing plan utilizing a blog including a blogging schedule. You’ll find out how to best integrate your blog into your overall social media strategy and why blogging is one of the best platforms out there for long term search engine optimization. Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/basics-blogging
Content Curation For Business Monday, January 25, 2021, 2:00pm EST What is Content Curation and why is it important for Businesses? Content Curation is done to make life easier for businesses and their marketing, to help with SEO, and using the free tools that Facebook, Twitter and others offer, to aggregate content, posting and utilizing social media to promote their business becomes in less time. Register at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/content-curation-business
Thursday, February 4, 10:00 AM Leveraging Facebook Groups for Business While businesses do still need to have Facebook Business Pages, learn how to leverage and optimize Facebook groups, both starting your own and taking advantage of local and targeted groups. Paying attention to group etiquette and rules as well as learn how to set that up in your own Facebook group and how best to moderate a group. If you are in need of employees, learn what groups out there that you can post help wanted on as well as business oriented networking groups where you can share your business promotions.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4
Tuesday February 9, 10:00 AM The Art of the S.W.O.T. S.W.O.T. Analysis is an approach that can be used to assess personal and business practice and progress: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It can be applied to a variety of strategic planning goals and evaluations for business, whether you are starting a business, trying to figure out a business name and more. If you are an established business owner, S.W.O.T. analysis can be used for evaluating your competitors, deciding on whether a new service or product offering is worth pursuing or whether or not now is the time to expand your business or hire more employees. S.W.O.T. Analysis is one of many strategic planning tools that businesses can use for decision making.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4
Friday, February 12, 10:00 AM Questions to Ask When Evaluating Hiring a Website Developer Are you a business owner considering hiring a website designer/developer to do or redo your business website? Do you know what questions to ask? Do you know how to research their business to evaluate if it is someone you feel comfortable hiring? Join us for this workshop where we will cover what questions you should be asking a website developer before signing a contract and what the questions mean and why they are important to your business. We will also provide you a handy RFP (Request For Proposal) that can be used and modified for your business. We will also touch on photo and image copyright, GDPR, ADA website accessibility liability and other privacy and accessibility laws that your website should be complying with and whether the website designer you hire will be liable or your business would be for non-compliance with any of these topics covered.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4
Thursday, February 18, 10:00 AM Questions to Ask When Evaluating Hiring a Digital Advertising and Social Media Marketing Firm Are you considering outsourcing your digital and social media marketing? Before you do, please join us for this informative workshop. Do you know what questions to ask when evaluating a digital marketing firm and how to evaluate their own marketing as well as their clients? It’s important to know what level of access to give to an outside firm as well as evaluate if your company even needs to outsource. We will cover what kind of reporting a digital marketing firm should be providing you as well as we will also provide you a handy RFP (Request For Proposal) that can be used and modified for your business plus we will go through the checklist to explain how and why these questions should be asked.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4
Friday, February 26, 10:00 AM Google My Business and Bing Places for Business (with Robert Rustici) Learn more on how to leverage the Google Business Listing for increasing both traffic to your website and customers to your business. Think of the Google Business Listing as a social media extension for when people are searching about what your business has to offer. This important online marketing channel can improve your SEO and expand your reach to new opportunities when used in conjunction with Google’s paid advertising. We will also review Bing Places for Business which is Bing’s version of Google My Business for the Bing Search Engine. Over 35% of web searches are using the Bing search engine.
Registration will be up shortly at https://merrimackvalley.score.org/take-workshop-4
About 4 years ago I had written a blog post about Planning Ahead for Your Bed and Breakfast Promotionsand this ties into the new calendar I’ve put together (below) and your content scheduling, or you can adapt or just use one format or another. Here is theonline spreadsheetfrom that post (don’t forget you can download it and it does have multiple tabs). Tips on downloading or copying if needed near the bottom of the post.
At the beginning of this year with Covid hitting and B&Bs being closed or having a limited business, the big question was what to post, so I had designed this campaign with posting ideas https://betterwaytostay.com/campaign/. And the idea can still be used at any time.
I’ve had several questions from friends and other B&Bs if I was going to do the annual National and other Days of interest list that I do once a year compiled from a bunch of sources around the web. Since I had just finished next year’s calendar I am happy to share, but I also added some other tips (in the additional documents in the post) that might make posting and figuring out when to post for specials and other events (like Holidays) a bit clearer and hopefully easier.
It’s much easier to take about an hour at the beginning of the year, if not before, and develop at least a rough outline for your content calendar for the year and add to it (or subtract) as needed. Here are some content calendar ideas that I hope will help you start to develop a content calendar. The National Days is just a starter and I know every marketer under the sun pushes it, but it is admittedly a great “starting” point. I spent about 4 hours collating National, International Days and other Days of interest including as many food ones as I could find. This might be useful for restaurants as well looking for a few ideas to post. If you know of any I missed please let me know and I’ll add them in.
Calendar Example for a B&B. This is an example of a property going through the list and leaving the ones they might be interested in using for potential posts or blog or video posts. It doesn’t mean a property will do them, it just means a property found something interesting in the list, something that speaks to them (military family), a love of fun (Soylent Green Day or UFO Day for those with a sense of humor and love of Sci-fi), particular food days that resonate with things the B&B serves for breakfast, etc. Note this list is 11 pages pared down from 17.
Calendar Example for B&Bs with Specials. This is an example of preplanning your yearly calendar for posts and promotions that can be used stand-alone or in conjunction with the spreadsheet mentioned at the beginning of the blog. I only did the first couple of months but hopefully, you can get a good idea of how to go about adding information both for notes for yourself and scheduling posts for any ongoing specials or holidays you want to promote.
This is aPDF fillable calendar.(please download to fill) that you can fill in and print off or just print off and write in ideas (note please save it as a separate document or it may not save any inputted text). I would suggest making a checkmark next to the ones you’ve done, plus making any notes about engagement, likes, shares, and comments, these will help direct you in the following years if you want to do similar posts or promotions.
Content Calendar Sample Format.If you prefer a calendar type format instead of a spreadsheet or word document for figuring out your posting schedule you can use a format like this. There is no wrong way to do this, you find the format that works the best (and easiest) for you and go from there.
Something some B&Bs don’t do is link to their website or a specific page on their website in posts at least once a week. If you are wondering about conversions and clicks from social media (and why you are not getting many or any) it’s something you need to look at.
I was talking to an innkeeper earlier this week and she was complaining that while her posts on Facebook were getting a lot of engagement, she had not gotten a single click through from Facebook in more than 3 months according to her Google Analytics. Not one of her over 100 posts had a link to the website in the post body itself. People tend to forget once someone has liked a page, the only link (unless you remind them in the posts that show up in their Facebook personal feed) to your website is back “on” the business page itself. People will not double click to search for the link.
I’d also recommend checking outYou Need This 2021 Marketing Calendar [Free Templates]and his spreadsheet ofhelpful links and dateswhich does have things like the NHL Winter Classic, PGA Tournament of Champions, and the Grammy’s dates if these are things that you want to tie into your marketing but does not have the majority of the food dates that mine does. My calendar has most of the same information plus food but is missing sports and TV related events.
If you find any of the information above useful, we always appreciate a follow/like on our Facebook page (we don’t post a ton there as I personally prefer being able to chat with people but I am on FB pretty much all day during the week and your welcome to message me anytime) but would appreciate a page like and happy to reciprocate if you let us know your business page link, or you can connect on Linkedin or Twitter or just come say hello .
If you know someone that can use some social media help and would like to be able to learn it and manage it themselves (that’s what we do, we teach it) instead of paying an external company to manage it, please give me a call (860-326-0721) or email me, we are happy to help. Cheers and Happy Holidays. Please stay safe out there!
This past Monday I ran a workshop session for my SCORE chapter, Restaurants, Mastering the Art of Takeout. One of the topics I touched on was QR codes and how restaurants and other foodservice establishments could leverage use QR codes in conjunction with Google Docs to be creative with their menus as well as offer things like reheating instructions for takeout to customers without having to add a printed piece of paper to the takeout order. I had written a blog post touching briefly on this topic last month, Tackling Some of the Challenges of Takeout Food for Restaurants. Before I dive into some of the uses, there are somethings I want to touch on first. This is something I have been discussing with many of my own business clients for months.
If you are not familiar with Google Docs, it’s Google’s free online alternative to Microsoft office, there are also Google Sheets (like Excel), Google Slides (like Powerpoint), and quite a few more applications. I like using the online applications because you can share with anyone, share editing capability with anyone, access it from anywhere, and unlike desktop-based programs, which even if autosave is turned out, you may lose content if you have a power outage or other computer issue. When you add something in a Google Doc, it’s still there even if you get booted off the internet or you go offline for other reasons. If you are looking for help with the Google applications, Google itself has a lot of resources, https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9282664?hl=en and https://support.google.com/docs/?hl=en#topic=1382883 have some great tutorials. There are also some very helpful tutorial/help documents at https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/googledocuments/.
If you are not overly familiar with QR Codes, this might also be useful. I am glad to see the resurgence of them because they had so many practical applications and were also often misused but that’s a topic for another blog, but if you want a laugh, this is probably my favorite UnMarketing video featuring Marketing Guru (and I don’t apply the term Guru lightly to anyone) Scott Stratten, QR Codes Kill Kittens. It looks like a session he did at one of the conferences he speaks at but sadly it doesn’t say which it. Scott is also one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.
Before you create your first QR code, read the difference between both, and make sure you read the fine print before you set up and start using them in your business. I bring this up because many Dynamic QR Code creation platforms offer it as “free” but it’s not really, it’s a free trial or they don’t actually point out that heaven forbid you actually want to edit/change any links after you’ve created them…….you have to pay for them. Static QR Code: A Static QR Code contains information that is fixed and un-editable once the Code has been generated. Dynamic QR Code: Dynamic QR Codes allow you to update, edit, and change the type of the QR Code however many times you need, which makes them the best fit for restaurants and marketing purposes. Back to the topic at hand ?
With many menus now only being hosted solely online and traffic driven to them in-house from QR codes or having to do daily printed menus for safety reasons, having an easily editable and also (and this is important) mobile-friendly version of your website is key. While you can tie your menus into online ordering if you want people to call or email or message you to make a takeout order instead of ordering through an app or website, being able to easily edit and change your menus becomes a higher priority, especially if you employ a web designer to maintain your website and who would charge you every time you wanted to make a menu change. While you can upload a photo or image of the menu daily or embed a word doc or other type of document, while it may look great on a desktop or laptop, it’s not generally mobile-friendly.
I bring this up because I’m seeing a lot of this recently. A mobile-friendly website with an image in it (the menu) that is too small to read on mobile because it doesn’t resize. Example one below, example two (Below that) is what a Google Doc looks like on mobile.
Even if you don’t want to use Google Docs for the above reason, it is something to think about if you are giving people heating or re-heating instructions for items, think about doing a Google Doc for menu items and doing a QR code with a link to the online instructions to reheat them. These QR codes can be easily printed off using an in-house printer and Avery labels and stuck onto the outgoing takeout containers. Whether you do one document that has general heating instructions for all, one that has individual heating instructions for everything that could be reheated on the menu (remember this is extremely easy to change the information online and an update is instantaneous) or customized documents for each with different QR codes is up to you. The QR code on the below sample actually works, any links to my Twitter account, come on over and say hello!
In a few weeks, I’ll be doing a follow-up Webinar for SCORE (these are free so I encourage people to take advantage of both SCORE national and regional/state offerings as they come up.) Restaurants, Prepping for the Winter, Marketing and Operations Considerations Monday, November 9, 2020, 10:30 am EST The COVID-19 pandemic has forced restaurants to rethink their strategies, including how customers pay for their orders, operations, menus, staffing, and marketing. We’ll be taking a look at what’s working and what hasn’t been working for restaurants for the past few months and look at what restaurants can focus on to help their business into 2021. https://merrimackvalley.score.org/event/restaurants-prepping-winter-marketing-and-operations-considerations
So ADA Website Compliance, for those who have not heard of it, yes it’s a thing. For those who have heard of ADA psychical compliance, yes it is related but it relates to your website instead of physical space and also to parts of your online presence. And just because your business does not have to be physically ADA compliant, does not mean you get a free pass when it comes to online website compliance.
This first came to my attention a few years ago when the lodging association I work for started getting a lot of lodging properties hit with threat letters saying that their websites are non-ADA website compliant. And so it was that I had to get up to speed with what ADA website compliance meant.
And here comes the rub, for small businesses, there is no set in stone legal guidelines we are supposed to be following, only suggested guidelines and they are important for businesses to follow for several reasons besides just making a website compliant for people with disabilities.
One, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) also has a lot to do with good SEO (Search Engine Optimization, ie getting found in Google search) but it also has a solid basis in good marketing, ease of navigation, ease of readability, etc.
For example, if your customer base is over 55, chances are they no longer all have 20/20 vision, if the text on your website is font size 6, not only is it not going to be ADA compliant but it will also probably not be user/customer/guest friendly, odds are you will have a pretty high bounce rate (i.e. they will navigate away) with the people that can’t easily read the text on your website who will probably go elsewhere to shop, so you have lost a sale. And that’s just one example out of many.
Why do I bring this up now if it’s been around for several years and not a new thing? With the start of Covid, we saw a drop in the number of cases and threat letters, unfortunately in the past few months, both have been on the rise.
Two, there are an awful lot of business owners who are still unaware of this, and three, the bill that has been sitting in the government languishing literally for years is being reintroduced.House Bill Introduced to Require Accessible Consumer Facing Websites and Mobile Appswas introduced (or technically reintroduced with changes from some years ago) at the beginning of October. Whether it passes or not, we won’t know probably for a while, and there are some big pros and also some big cons for businesses if it does. If that does come to pass, we may have more direction (which would be good) but we may have fewer protections (not so good) but again we won’t know unless it passes.
This is a tough one as well because even if you or whoever you work with as a website designer makes your website on the technical side 100% ADA compliant, it doesn’t mean you would pass a visual site audit by a specialist or be oked by someone using a screen reader whose job it is to specifically test websites. There are technical audits you can run to check your site at least to start with and get a heads up if your website is in really bad shape compliance wise. It’s a good place to start.
There are a ton of things that you can do (many are small changes) to make your site as accessible as possible. Adding an accessibility statement to your website is very much suggested as well as when you (or your web designer) make changes to the site, you document document document. If your business does end up going to court, having proof that you gave someone an alternative way to get the information provided on your site as well to show the fact that you know a business needs to be compliant and you have been working on it (and documenting that you have been working on it) seems to go a long way in the court cases that I have been tracking.
There is some hope for ADA complaints (which the bill, if it passes, may or may not help with),The Eastern District of New York Provides Businesses an Early Holiday Gift in Strictly Construing Standing Requirements in ADA Title III Case, the gist of this was that a woman wanted to purchase tickets to a performance and failed to actually contact the venue to see if snacks she had to bring because of her disability would be allowed, read the full article to see the full version of this as it is important from a standpoint of having an accessibility statement on your website and giving people alternative means of contacting you, i.e. sending an email or calling vs having to make any sort of transaction or reservation on your website.
I am also glad to see that the serial threat letter senders are starting to make the mainstream news so more people are aware of this. Woman files ADA lawsuits across US as ‘tester’ of compliance as this has been a huge issue for years with a handful of lawyers and plaintiffs sending out threat letters to lodging facilities, art galleries, car dealerships, and many many more types of small businesses.
The importance of having an ADA compliant website is so that your website should be as ADA compliant as possible because it is good business practices and because it should be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, the ongoing slew of drive-by lawsuits are not helping this get recognized as the true reason to do so, instead relying on scare tactics and the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) because it’s been such a gray area for so many years.
All of the people with disabilities I have discussed this issue with are not very happy about this either. It reminds me (and I personally have a huge problem with this) of people passing fake service dogs off as the real thing, it makes it that much harder for people that have real service dogs. As someone with a disability myself (dyslexia and I name that because I am great example of if your website has text (small font size and/or fancy dancy script on it) you’ll see me click away faster then freshly cooked bacon disappears in this house and that’s darn quick!), the drive-by lawsuits absolutely horrify me because it minimizes the real importance of businesses taking this seriously to make sure that a website IS accessible to everyone.
I’d recommend businesses get up to speed on ADA and learn the basics, talk to your web developer (if you have one) and get as much as you can done to make your site as compliant as possible. Even if this bill doesn’t pass, it’s likely to come up again plus your business could be hit with a threat letter at any time.
My two favorite law blogs to follow, they both have a free newsletter subscription so you can keep up to date on current news regarding all types of ADA.
I am not an ADA expert, I just know more then your average person but I am also learning new things every day as additional issues get raised and as businesses get hit with threat letters and come to me looking for additional information. Awareness is the first step, taking action to make your business accessible is the second.
As usual Facebook when they add (or delete) things, they tend not to let users know. This is one that I suspect not a lot of business owners know about as I’ve only seen it so far on two business pages.
If you are advertising additional safety measures that your business is doing to help keep people safe you may want to consider enabling this option. I suspect we may see additional changes in the next several weeks to a month as since I had done a SCORE workshop on the new business format there have been over a dozen small page changes since then.
In order to get the banner, go to “Edit Page Info” (on the left) or on the left alignment in the body of the business page and then scroll down towards the bottom (in the middle) and you will see various options. I’d recommend not just sending people to your home page unless you are actually advertising the information on your home page but instead directing people to specifically where on your website that information is listed so you don’t make people hunt.
For at least the foreseeable future takeout is probably here to stay for a bit. Love it or hate it as a restaurant owner, having to accept the fact that it is a viable revenue stream is still tough for a lot of owners and managers to adjust to, especially for fine dining restaurants. But as the colder weather approaches it bears a lot of thought to re-address all aspects of takeout.
I’ve seen many restaurants trying to offer the same menus for in-person dining repurposed to do as takeout, unfortunately for many restaurants, that can be a fatal flaw. Not every menu item adjusts to the takeout scene well, in many cases, reheating it causes overcooking, dryness, or in the case of many fried or sauteed items (like a chicken Marsala with a chicken breast that has been egg and flour dipped and then sauced right before serving) ends up being soggy in transit and may not lend well to reheating.
I’ll be addressing doing a deep dive on the menu itself in the next blog but wanted to address some things regarding takeout containers first.
Questions to ask:
Does it reheat well? And specifically, have you as the Chef or management/owners tried to reheat it in a variety of ways? To take the chicken Marsala as a good example, microwaving the chicken will probably kill it (unless you like rubber chickens), and nuking the sauce will probably break it. Heavy cream doesn’t generally play nice with microwaves. A perfect reheat would probably be the chicken heated up separately in a hot oven with the sauce separate and reheated with the mushrooms in a saucepan and the sauce packed to go separately.
So…Do your customers know how to reheat your food? And if not, how would they know? And if you don’t want to bother considering that, is a rubber chicken with broken sauce doing your restaurant any favors as an example? The number of reviews I have seen since Covid hit mentioning that people were not very happy with their take out for restaurants with normally good to great reviews has not decreased much so it’s still apparently a big problem.
Next, Is it going to look attractive in the container? While some restaurants may not have the style of dining that plate presentation is high on the priority list, if you have a fine dining restaurant (for example) and you take pride in that, it is a consideration. While I have worked a variety of types of restaurants no matter the level of dining, plate presentation was always important to me, but in some cases, a takeout burger and waffle fries may not have a ton of ways to dress it up but even that can either look attractive when unboxed (or not). I am seeing a huge amount of takeout photos on Instagram and Facebook, so the love affair with taking food photos has not dimmed much. Does this container of pasta look ok? Or could a little garnish improve it? Not sure? Take a few photos with your smart phone yourself? Does it look attractive? Appealing? If you saw it posted on Instagram, would it make you want to get take out from your restaurant?
Are there reheating instructions? A medium-rare steak will not be MR when reheated improperly, does that reflect on the restaurant if customers overcook a dish at home? I would say yes because you can’t expect people to know.
Can customers reheat a dish directly in the container or does it need to be transferred? Is it easy to transfer? Is it messy? Do you loose sauce or ingredients in transferring?
Is the takeout container reusable? To use an example of why that may be a consideration: when we lived in CT, there were two oriental restaurants with similar pricing and fairly comparable food. We ordered from one because A. the containers were not flimsy, the other ones were and we gave up ordering food from them when we had a mess to clean up at home almost every time, and B. the containers were washable and reusable.
Is the takeout container cheap and flimsy? (see above) If you want to go for non-reusable/non-recyclable containers, is the container going to stand up to travel, being lifted out of a bag, and held with one hand (or will it take two and fold over spilling everything everywhere?). We have gotten take out from restaurants who use the round oval aluminum take out containers which while they are fine for light food like salads, load them up with a heavy entrée with sauce and the result can be a mess on the customers end. They might remember the food was good but they will also remember the hassle and inconvenience.
Does the container retain heat well? or remain cold? If I order takeout from a restaurant minutes away I expect the food to remain hot until I get home. And is it protected from anything that is not hot? Is there a layer of cardboard or another item in between. Is your staff giving attention to packing up take out so salads don’t end up directly above or below a hot item? Or cold desserts getting melted by being close to a hot item? Yum wilted warm salad. Delish!
Having a variety of containers on hand for different types of items are highly suggested. And add the price of takeout to your menus, it may only be 15-20 cents per but it can add up very fast if you don’t factor it in and it appears looking at a lot of menus from pre-Covid and current, many restaurants are not. It’s a small adjustment but worth it.
Consider the Chinese takeout container, high sides, fairly heavy-duty, and well designed, there is a reason this design has been in use for a very long time. It also stacks well and that is an additional factor to think about when evaluating your takeout containers. I’m not saying every restaurant should use these, but merely to consider things that need to factor in choosing containers. Stackability, structure, and compact fit in a bag vs rounds or an assortment of different shaped oblongs. The vast variety of takeout containers available on the market offers a plethora of options, find what works for you instead of purely going by price or looks. The final result is the important part and again if a decent container that fits the bill is 5 cents more then the cheap round, buy it and add it to the menu price, your customers will thank you.
We do have over 400 posts on our old blog, ranging from hospitality management, to recipes, to social media for innkeepers and more. Don't forget to check it out in our archives at https://chefforfeng.wordpress.com.