Every Friday we bring you the week’s top news stories in our Foodservice Week in Brief. As 2011 is coming to a close, here’s a special edition with Central’s top blogs for 2011 then resources from the foodservice industry with their top news stories of the year. Enjoy!
There are many statistics on the number of smartphone users in the United States. So if we estimate at least half of the population owns a smartphone, which is a number that continues to increase, that says a lot about the direction of the QR code.
QR code stands for “quick response,” and is a convenient way for smartphone users to get information. All one needs is a QR code reader application, such as Kaywa or Neoreader, then can just take a picture which scans the barcode and redirects them to a link of virtually anything.
At one point, QR codes were just looked at as cool and fun. But now, they are proving to be reliable way to share information. For a quick QR code 101, check out this Social Media Examiner article. Once you’re ready, here are 10 creative ways your restaurant can use QR codes and potentially boost sales.
1. Front Door or Host/Hostess Area: Many times, especially during peak hours, customers will have to wait to be seated. Put a QR code in the area with a link to your website or menu to keep them busy.
2. Foursquare: It’s free and easy to get your restaurant on Foursquare—and upon claiming your restaurant, you get a free window cling to encourage people to check-in. Take it a step further to make it even easier for your customers and have a QR code at the entrance with a link to your venue on Foursquare.
3. Menus: Stick a QR code right in the menu. It could direct them to information on how certain products are made, pictures, videos of the chef cooking up an entrée or nutritional and allergy information.
4. Pagers or Coasters: People find it interesting to find a QR code in an unusual place. It’s almost like unlocking a secret. Put a QR code on your pagers or coasters that link out to drink-related things such as specials or a video of the bartender making a drink to shows off their skills.
5. Table Roll Stands: While the menu usually goes with the wait staff upon taking an order, many restaurants have table roll stands with appetizers, drinks and desserts on the table. Use a QR code on your roll stands to link to these items as an added effort for an impulse buy, whether it be a creative video, pictures, positive customer comments or additional information.
6. Bathrooms: Typically, guests take a trip to the bathroom while they are waiting for their food or their check. Place a QR code on the side of the door that exits the bathroom (so they’ve washed their hands!) that links out to appetizers and desserts to get them thinking.
7. Table or Signage: Similar to the first idea about keeping people busy while they wait, sometimes customers can be waiting for quite a bit on their food, especially during peak hours. Put a QR code on the table or on created signage that links to all kinds of things such as your Facebook, Twitter, website, videos, etc. to keep them busy. Many times, using a phone at the table is rude to the other guest, so perhaps you could use the QR code in a way for multiple guests to interact such as trivia, games, etc.
8. Check Holders: It’s always great to get feedback about a customer’s experience and many places put a survey on the receipt. Unfortunately, people get home and forget all about it or throw it away. Put a QR code on your check holder to encourage customers to immediately leave their feedback and possibly even give an incentive for them to come back.
9. To-Go Cups or Packaging: You always want your customers to be thinking of you and when they will come back next. Put a QR code on your To-Go packaging that links to a special “thank you for visiting” message, or even a special offer for them to print off and bring in for their next visit.
10. Advertising: When buying advertising space, using a lot can get expensive or it may just not be an option. Give prospective customers more information and incentives to stop in with a QR code that links to information about your restaurant, current specials, top picks and more.
Even in all this smartphone-user talk, there are still many non-smartphone users and it may seem unfair to exclude them from specials and deals just because of their phone. To help keep things balanced, Central usually puts the link under or around a QR code. It is just much easier for those with smartphones to quickly scan it and be redirected immediately. And after all, it may just put a little more money into your pocket too.
What interesting ways do you use QR codes at your restaurant?
Technology is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Here is some of the latest technology available that all kinds of foodservice establishments can take advantage of.
A majority of people have a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) and with the popularity of these phones, there is practically a mobile app for everything. A recent article by Nation’s Restaurant News said several restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Culver’s have apps for smartphones and many other chains have a mobile app in the works. Mobile apps help customers spend money and also provide a convenient way to obtain information. Snapfinger is one of the places to sign up for an app for your restaurant.
The number of Facebook users varies per source, but at least 500 million people use it. Social media is much more than posting what is going on that day. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a very powerful tools to increase sales.
Using Facebook’s “like” button has proved to have increased sales for many restaurants and others use their Facebook page for online ordering. Twitter provides real-time posts and while you are limited to 140 characters, they can be a very powerful 140 characters. By using either or both of these sites, you can promote your business and connect with customers.
A recent article from FT.com has this quote from Facebook Creator, Mark Zuckerberg, that expresses the importance of social media: “If you look five years out, every industry is going to be rethought in a social way. You can remake whole industries. That’s the big thing.”
This QR code was generated in 10 seconds and leads to the Central website
QR Codes are everywhere. But what are these odd barcode like boxes? Convenient! With a click of a button, information goes straight to a phone.
The Qurify website defines QR codes as “two dimensional barcodes that are easily scanned using any modern mobile device. This code will then be converted (called “dequirified”) into a piece of (interactive) text and/or link.”
To break this definition down, anyone with a modern phone simply needs a QR code reader app for their phone, such as the Kaywa Reader. Then, whenever a person sees a QR code, they take a picture of it and it takes them straight to a link. This makes things incredibly simple. So you’re wondering how to make your own QR code? It’s just as simple as retrieving one. There are a variety of QR code generators out there. Putting in “QR code generator” in a Google search will provide you with many sites, qrcode.kaywa.com being one of the main ones. Use a QR code to link customers to an important part of your establishment, such as a information about a particular product or a promotion.
Technology + Menus = Electronic Menus. While this technology is still in its early stages, it’s a neat feature to keep in mind for the future. A restaurant in Tokyo is using the Graffiti Bar. An article by The Independent (United Kingdom) says this interactive menu bar allows guests to look through menus, interact with waiters, play games and create graffiti. Another article from Digital Signage Today revealed KFC in the U.K. is testing out electronic menus.