Archive for September, 2016

What Your Restaurant Booth Style Says About You

What Your Restaurant Booth Style Says About Your

It is opening night of your new steak restaurant and everything is ready to go. Your entrees are savory and your deserts are delectable. Every piece of furniture is in its place. Staff is fully trained and prepared to take on their first shift at what they hope is the new hot spot in town. The clock strikes and you are officially open for business. A man approaches the door and moves to pull it open, you hold your breath in anticipation of your first customer. That is when you spot them. The flip-flops.

As your eyes begin to take in the whole picture you notice not only is this man wearing flip-flops but swim trunks, a t-shirt, and his hair looks like he just came out of the water. He grabs a menu, takes one look at your prices and heads right for the door. You can hear his flip-flops echo down the sidewalk as he heads to the hot dog shop next door.

As customers begin to trickle in for the dinner rush you start to notice a pattern. Many customers dressed like your first arrival gaze at your pricing and promptly leave. You can’t figure out what is getting lost in translation. Why are people arriving fresh from the beach to dine at your restaurant? Your menu isn’t the problem, but your furniture just might be.

The way a restaurant looks helps to let its potential customers know what to expect when entering. It helps them to determine what kind of food they will be eating, atmosphere, pricing, and even if there is a dress code or not. Sending the wrong message can leave your customers with unfulfilled expectations, and you with bad reviews. Let’s take a moment to consider what your booths are saying about your restaurant and if it is the right message for you.

Color

Retro Booth DesignColor plays a major role in what type of experience potential customers expect from your business. Bright colors paired together communicate a fun vibrant atmosphere perfect for a night out or a casual get together with friends. Darker colors speak of an intimate setting such as a date night or maybe a business meeting. Deeper/darker hues often give a feeling of a more formal establishment that is going to have a higher price point than that of a dollar a slice pizza place.

Consider the clientele that you are hoping to cater to when looking at colors. Opening up a Mexican restaurant looking to specialize in fast service at great prices? Bright colors would be a great way to attract customers trying to grab a quick and affordable lunch before heading back to the office. Blacks, browns, and deep hues work well in upscale bars and restaurants because they feel more traditional of a sit down dinner venue. This lets your customers know that the food might not be best for a quick lunch but better suited for a business lunch.

The only exception to the idea of bright colors communicating a lower price point is a business that serves exclusively breakfast. Touches of bright color to a brunch spot helps to let customers know that you cater exclusively to early morning meals that help start their day off right. It brings to mind the idea of fresh fruits and bright starts. Darker colors in a breakfast establishment communicate more of a budget friendly diner atmosphere.
Comfort

It goes hand in hand that the higher the quality of the materials used to cover the booth, the higher class your establishment will look. The more upscale the appearance, the greater expectation for the quality of the meal, and the more willing customers are to pay higher prices.

Reclaimed Restaurant Booth

Vinyl is the most common material used for restaurant booths. It comes in many colors, is durable and easy to clean, making it a go to option for many owners. The design of your vinyl can be a great indicator to customers what to expect of an establishment. A simple black or red vinyl booth with no piping or pillow top clues customers in to the idea that establishment might be more concerned with quick service at good prices than making it a total dining experience from start to finish. While a booth with a custom fabric pattern with a pillow top and a coat hanger speaks to additional comfort and a business that invested in their appearance, overall atmosphere and comfort level of patrons.

An option other than vinyl is wood. Restaurant booths made of wood are a more expensive option than vinyl but adds a level of durability to the booth, as well as adding a feeling of warmth that wood brings to a design. Stain options run the gambit from very light to black, allowing you to choose the message that you send customers as soon as they walk in the door.

A unique yet popular wood choice is reclaimed wood. This is wood that has been taken from barns and re-purposed to create something new. The look is very popular right now, but especially for booths. It has an earthy feel while still managing a look of sophistication and finesse. The reclaimed look is particularly prominent in craft breweries and bars looking to make a statement about being unique. It lets customers know that that the owners have a lot of pride in their business and have a mind of their own. Their menu offerings and ambiance are going to reflect that individualistic intention.

One way to achieve that upscale design is by integrating texture into your booth materials. Whether it is a physical texture of wood, reclaimed wood, or fabric, that small difference can make a big change in how your business is perceived. Even patterned vinyl can help get the look of adding texture while keeping the comfort and easy cleaning of vinyl.

Privacy

The size of your booth can speak volumes to a customer without ever saying a word. A booth with a 36” back (the shortest available) does not afford the same amount of privacy and intimacy as the same exact booth but with a 54” back (the tallest available). The higher back prevents kids from peeking at other dinners, and helps to dim the conversation from a nearby table, something that dinners who are seeking a special night out appreciate.

The lower back height might be a perfect fit for the local diner looking to provide food that sticks to your ribs at a good price with a decent turnover rate. A higher back booth might be a good fit in a high-end steak restaurant looking to cater to guests looking to dine out for a special occasion and spend some time enjoying the meal and good conversation before leaving. Currently higher backs are trendy. So any business wishing to communicate that to their potential customers might want to consider booths with taller backs.

While booths are only one part of a restaurants design, they are an anchor point visually. It is easy to forget about their importance when building a restaurant’s atmosphere but if done wrong they can ruin the perception that has been so carefully curated throughout the rest of the business.

Appearances aren’t everything, but they do say a lot about your business to first time customers. Color, materials and back height are all clues to lead your customers to a certain conclusion as to what they can expect from your restaurant in terms of food style, pricing, and atmosphere. Be sure to use your booths to project the messages that you wish to say to your customers about what to expect.

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How to Make Your Restaurant Successful on Yelp

Find Us on YelpFaced with large amounts of competition, businesses are constantly fighting for their customers’ attention. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful driving force in today’s society and has the ability to sway decisions like what to buy and where to eat. This type of marketing may seem difficult to harness, but with programs like Yelp, businesses have a way to engage with customers and help mold their opinions.

Yelp is a great way for small businesses to compete with larger chains by showcasing what they have to offer. In Q2 of 2016, Yelp had a monthly average of 23 million unique visitors who went through Yelp’s mobile app and another 69 million unique visitors who visited Yelp via the web. A Nielsen study reports that 78 % of users rely on Yelp to find restaurants (out of all categories), capturing the highest percentage of the categories. Needless to say, Yelp is a well-used resource for restaurant-goers whose importance is often under-estimated by restaurant owners.

How It Works

Imagine you’re on vacation and it’s your first time at a destination. Up and down your hotel’s strip, there is dinner option after dinner option. As a consumer, the choices are overwhelming. How do you even begin to choose? You could just waltz into the first place you come to and take your chances.  Or, you could leverage the experience of thousands of Yelpers that have visited before you and have left reviews of just about every restaurant in town.  Without the uncertainty and risk of visiting an untested spot, you and your family can get down to the business of enjoying your vacation.

According to their website, Yelp’s purpose is to “connect people with great local businesses”. Their automated software program scours the top reviews that are written by users (“Yelpers”) based on quality and helpfulness, and it ranks businesses according to a proprietary algorithm. So how does your restaurant get the highest ranking? Typically, a larger number of reviews lead to a higher ranking in Yelp search and many other search engines.  The strategy then with Yelp is to get your restaurant as many good reviews as possible.  In this article, we are going to show you how to get started.


Yelp Ads
Claim Your Business

Claiming your business is the starting point for all businesses on Yelp. To be proactive with a Yelp strategy, you must claim your business to have control of that page. After you claim your page, you can then personalize it to help distinguish it among other pages. The goal of this page is to drive traffic to your own site. Optimizing this page will help your restaurant appear, not only in yelp searches, but also in search engine queries like Google.

It is interesting to note that according to a Boston Consulting Group study, businesses that simply claimed their Yelp profile generated incremental revenues of $8,000 annually just from being on Yelp.  Wouldn’t it be nice if your business could bring in an additional $8,000 per year by spending a small amount of time setting up you page and managing your reviews?  By the way, according to the same study, those who claimed their profile AND advertised on Yelp through PPC campaigns (more on that later) generated additional revenue of $23,000.

Rack Up the Reviews

Although it is the core function of Yelp, many businesses may wonder how customers will know to leave a review. Be cautious of how you approach this topic.  Yelp prefers “organic” review, which means reviews that have not been solicited or, worse, paid for.  It’s understandable if you think about it.  Most businesses only ask for reviews from their happiest customers, not those who have had a bad experience.  That might be great for the restaurant, but it damages the overall credibility of the review system. Yelp wants your restaurant to earn great reviews through exemplary business practices, not through solicitation and/or reward.

Even though Yelp discourages direct solicitation, they do leave the door open for more subtle ways of generating reviews.  The first, and most obvious, is to make sure that your customers know you actually have a Yelp account. You may have a customer that comes to your restaurant every single day for their morning coffee, but if they don’t know you’re on Yelp, how will the world know that you have nurtured and cared for this customer, so much so they visit your business every day? Make customers aware that you use Yelp by using this form to receive a window cling for your business. Also, remind customers to visit your Yelp page with a link in your email signature and/or a badge on your website.

To attract customers that are in the decision stage, use a Check-In Offer to entice them. A Check-In Offer is a reward a customer receives when they check into a business on Yelp. This reward is redeemed by mobile device at the place of business. After a checking in from a mobile device at a restaurant, the user is later asked to write a review of where they checked in at. Be careful not to offer incentives to customers who give better reviews, which is against Yelp’s policiesCheck In Offer

While the tactics above are handy with a new restaurant or during a slow time to jazz up reviews, you should always try and go above and beyond for customers. Have the mindset of what kind of experience you want your customers to walk away with, and then double it. What sets your business apart from the competition? Is your atmosphere, food, staff, or price point? Find what makes your restaurant original and makes for a memorable experience for your guests. Inspire people to choose your restaurant, enjoy themselves, and then right a smashing review because their experience was just that good.

Take a look at this improvement calculator to see how many reviews it will take to attain a certain rating for your restaurant.

Interact with Customers

You’ve put the work into claiming your business, spruced up your Yelp page, and the reviews are pouring in. All of a sudden, your first bad review comes in: a piece of coal in your carefully cultivated glittering diamond mine of positive reviews. Your first instinct might be to ignore the review, hoping it gets lost in the sea positive reviews. Maybe no one will see it?  That is a big mistake.  You should always respond to a negative review, even if the response is private.  The last thing that you want is an already upset customer feeling like you’re ignoring them.  You’ll definitely want to reach out to that Yelper in a way that lets them know that their concerns have been heard and you will take their input into consideration when shaping future decisions.

Whether you handle bad reviews publicly or privately is up to you, but maintain consistency – don’t respond publicly to the reviews where you feel like a customer is wrong, and privately to the reviews where you know you messed up. The flow chart below outlines Yelps best practices for responding to reviews publicly or privately.

Review Flow ChartFinally, remember that your public responses will be seen by existing and potential customers so always be courteous and understanding. Practice up on your PR skills and don’t isolate customers. You don’t want jeopardize your future business with a poorly worded response.

Free Assets for Business Owners

Yelp has many free resources for business owners to use, making it effective and easy on a budget.

Yelp for Business Owners app is the most comprehensive of these resources. With the app (available in the App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android), businesses track engagement, leads, and clicks to their site from Yelp. The app also has the capability to track the number of check-ins to a business, calls (from clicking the phone number), and the reservations made off of Yelp. Not only do these factors help you gauge your success on Yelp, but could justify an increase of foot traffic in your restaurant. Through the app you also have the capability to respond (publicly or privately) to messages, upload photos, and report reviews or messages. For a busy, on-the-go restaurant owner, the Yelp app is extremely valuable in managing your presence on the site.

Again, you don’t want to come right out and ask for reviews. But if you want another, more discrete way to remind customers about giving you a review, place a Yelp review badge on your website. By placing a review badge on your site, your customers can see that people have a reviewed your restaurant and prompt them to check out your Yelp page. Potential customers will be more inclined to visit a restaurant with many positive reviews, which the badge helps them see at a glance. Every time your business is reviewed, the counter clicks up and/or reflects in the stars. Per Yelp’s brand guidelines, there are only two badges allowed on a business’ site that shows their association with Yelp.

Web Review Badges

It is important for business owners to stay up to date on ways to effectively use Yelp. Yelp offers free 30 minute webinars that improve upon your existing Yelp knowledge. Topics range from how to respond to reviews to becoming a 5-star brand. These webinars help clarify how your restaurant can use Yelp as a sustainable, effective strategy for the long term.

Yelp Ads

While Yelp has plenty of free resources for businesses, there are also advertising packages to enhance your profile even further.

Yelp’s advertising packages operate on a cost per click (CPC) basis and could be beneficial for your particular niche. There is no pre-determined set cost because the cost depends on the competition and relevance of your advertisement to the user’s search. Yelp Ads can help your business with targeted local advertising and a more prominent placement on search and competitor pages.

If you want to upgrade your Yelp experience by paying for advertising, the Call to Action button may be one you want to take advantage of.

Whenever potential customers have searched and found your business on Yelp, what is the next steps you want them to take? The best way to provide a specific direction for these customers is to have a Call to Action button. When set up, this button appears towards to the top of your business’ page, underneath the location and uploaded photos.
When narrowing down what your Call to Action should be, think of what your desired end goal is. The button will take customers to more information in the form of a specific page of your website or coupon.

Call to Action
In the example above, Olive or Twist’s Call to Action button promotes their happy hour and links to their specials section on their website. Make sure your button is labeled with a broad, but relevant statement. You don’t want to give away all the information on your Yelp page, because then there is no need to click. This button provides a next-steps for potential customers to take part in.

Compare the different products that Yelp Ads has to offer with this chart.

Please note that just because a business advertises on Yelp does not mean they automatically get better ratings. A business could be rated two stars and advertise, leading to more people seeing that rating. On the other hand, a business that does not pay to advertise can have a five-star rating. For more information on Yelp’s advertising policy, feel free to check out their FAQ page.

If you own a restaurant that has never used Yelp or only as a consumer, go claim your business. Doing a simple Google search will leave you with endless results on how to optimize Yelp and best practices. But the best way to use Yelp is to jump right in! There are so many free resources and options for a business getting started on Yelp. Don’t think the only way to be successful on Yelp is to shell out a portion of your advertising budget. Let your customers know that you have a Yelp presence, respond thoughtfully to their reviews, and keep providing excellent experiences to make Yelp work for your business.

Does your restaurant or business currently use Yelp as a strategy? If so, what’s your experience with having a page? If not, what are your reservations about it? Let us know!

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What is Werzalit? – Frequently Asked Questions from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

 

Werzalit tables at an outdoor cafe

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we answer questions about restaurant furniture all day, every day.  Some of the questions are unique to a particular situation, but many are relevant to all of our customers and are asked quite frequently.  In those cases, we are going to start answering them here on our blog so that all readers can take advantage of the information.

One of the common questions that we get asked is about table tops.  Most people know what a wood, resin, or laminate top is, but many ask, “What is Werzalit?”

The answer is:

Werzalit is a company – Founded in 1923 by Jakob Friedrich Werz, Werzalit is a family run company headquartered in Oberstenfeld Germany, with representation all over the world.  The company was originally started as a small glue factory until, in 1941, Werz took over a manufacturer of molded plywood materials.  Eventually, Werzalit became the inventor of a patented process in which fine grains of wood are mixed together with synthetic resin and molded into tabletops, surfaces, and other products.

Werzalit is a process – The patented process founded by the company in the 1950’s is also called Werzalit.  It uses specialized machines that generate immense pressure to mold wood grains and resin into usable shapes.  The company licenses the process and technology to manufacturers around the world.

Werzalit is a material – When most people think of Werzalit, they think of the actual material, as in a Werzalit table, a Werzalit counter top, and so on.  As a material, Werzalit is a strong, dense composite that is resistant to scratches, temperature fluctuations, and staining.  Werzalit is a popular commercial material thanks to its durability, low maintenance, and steady performance under even the harshest indoor and outdoor conditions.

While the name Werzalit has become synonymous with wood-polymer composite tables in many consumers’ minds, there are alternatives on the market that offer the same material composition under different names and price points.  For example, Topalit is a popular table top brand that is similar to Werzalit in performance, but is manufactured by a different company in Austria.  Similarly, the IsoTop wood-polymer composite tables that we carry utilizes the same manufacturing process as Werzalit, but is available at a lower price point.

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End of Summer Sale

End of Summer Sale

The outdoor furniture on your patio area is the first glimpse of your restaurant a customer gets when casually passing by. The atmosphere that you’ve worked so hard to create in your restaurant or bar should also translate to that glimpse. It could be the deciding factor of whether a customer decides to give your establishment a try.

So if your patio leaves something to be desired, check out our End of Summer sale! We’ve put your favorite outdoor furniture items on sale at our biggest discounts yet!

If you’re looking to furnish your restaurant or bar’s outdoor area, now is the time to buy. The beginning of fall is the perfect season to upgrade the outdoor space you already have and be ready for the new year.

Enjoy products from our Atlantic, New England (pictured below), Sydney, Cayman, Shipyard, and many more collections at prices you won’t see anywhere else in the industry.

NewEngland_BlogHeader

Whether you’re improving your patio layout or buying outdoor furniture for the first time, you can’t beat these high quality pieces at clearance rates. Choose from a wide selection of table tops, bar stools, and chairs.

All sale items are only available for a limited time while in-stock.  They won’t last long, so act now to make your restaurant dreams a reality with this summer sale.

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