Tag Archives: social media

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Tips for Your Restaurant

Whether you’re an avid social media user or not, when it comes to your restaurant, it’s time to be one! Social media marketing can have an incredible effect on your restaurant’s sales – but you need to do it the right way. We’re here to help! Scroll down to read some of the top tips in the business that will make your restaurant stand out using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Facebook

Let’s face it: Facebook has opened up an entirely new way to market for restaurants. Now, instead of owning a website, you can put all of your information including hours and menu, on your Facebook page! It’s a great free resource for anyone starting out in the business. With Facebook, you can connect with customers on a personal level, all while posting updates about your food and business.

Make sure you utilize your coversocial media image to show off your beautiful food, along with posting pictures, updates, events and specials going on around you city and restaurant. Use the tabs options for Facebook as well. Some examples of great tabs for restaurants include photos of food; locations; food deals; and featured menu items. Finally, try setting up some offers and deals for current and potential customers. This is definitely a great way to secure repeat business along with getting new customers. You can also run sweepstakes and contests too – perfect for giving away a gift card or two!

If you really want to get into marketing on Facebook, try out some ads and videos!

Twitter

To perform great on Twitter, you’ll follow a lot of the same trends as Facebook. But, with Twitter, tweets are created and gone in an instant on someone’s timeline, unlike a Facebook post. On this social media outlet, the timing will be essential if you want your tweets to be seen. Think like your customer! Include tweets with links to your menu, images of your food and offers to entice them to follow you. Then, think about the time of day when your customer will be looking for these things the most. Dinnertime? Breakfast? It’s when your most popular service is.

Similar to Facebook, you can do sponsored tweets to get your branded tweet shown in more timelines, creating potential new customers! Cha-Ching!

Instagram

Instagram is newer to the social media game, but it’s just as important as the rest of them. The reason? Instagram is primarily a photo sharing platform, and for restaurants who use it well it’s working out to their advantage. Any employee at your restaurant can take a regular photo they took at work and transform it into a great marketing image by using Instagram.

social mediaRemember to use trending hastags, whether it be National Bourbon Day or Eat a Cookie day – but only if it works with your photo. You can use niche hashtags that focus more on the area of your restaurant, say #Indianapoliseats for example.

Instagram is a great outlet because you can entice your customers to share their images of your food on their platforms, which lets you get involved socially and create a personal connection. Also, people love to see employees on social media so your restaurant or business feels more human. Snap a few pictures of your employees hard at work and share! It will show that you restaurant is a fun place to be and has great customer service. Finally just like the other two outlets mentioned, you can have photo contests on Instagram. Have customers share their best pictures of your menu items and in return enter them in to winning a gift card at your place! Essentially you’re sharing the wealth for everyone!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the social media game for five minutes or five years. What’s important is that you use these tips to broaden your audience and generate more revenue as well as repeat and new customers!

Periscope

Periscope: A New Medium to Connect with Customers

New Social Channel: Periscope

There’s a new social media outlet on the scene: Periscope. I know, I know, the last thing you want is another social media network to have to keep up with.

Well first, if using social media for your business, you should only be using the networks that make sense and your customers to better connect. So if you or your customers aren’t benefitting from one of your channels, move on from it!

Second, Periscope is different than your post-type channels and will allow your customers to keep up with you real time.

Periscope prebroadcast

Screen prior to starting your broadcast. Add a title that will be relevant to your live stream.

What is Periscope?

Periscope, Twitter’s live video streaming app, connects people all over the world in real time via smartphone. It is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Instead of posting words, pictures or video clips, Periscope allows you to broadcast so people can watch whatever you want them to see in real time.

“It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation,” Periscope explained. “While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience as place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.”

Periscope was launched in late March 2015, and had one million users in it’s first 10 days. It has been connecting people from all over the globe ever since. Simply log in, and either choose someone else’s live stream to watch wherever in the world, or start broadcasting your own.

People can interact with you too via text if you enable that option. So while you are broadcasting, people can connect with you and share thoughts, ask questions or just say “hi” in real time.

So How Can My Restaurant or Foodservice Benefit from This?

Businesses, entrepreneurs and more are capitalizing on Periscope to give fans, customers, etc. and inside look into anything. Often times tweeting out when they will be live streaming ahead of time, then again at the time they go live, businesses can quickly gain a following on Periscope and create a personal bond.

Periscope broadcast

Viewers have the ability to comment in real time, as shown in this screen shot.

For restaurants, there are many opportunities you can stream live on Periscope and involve your customers. A few ideas include:

  • Back of the House Behind the Scenes: To advertise, leave note cards on each of the tables which will be a neat opportunity for guests to see a “behind-the-scenes.”
  • Create an Entree: Advertise beforehand a time when you will be putting this entree together both in the restaurant and on social media. This not only is great for current customers, but may be intriguing to chefs and others around the world to learn about your cuisine and culture.
  • “A Day in the Life:” Are you popular with your customers? Do you have a large following? Give people a glimpse in the day in the life of you. You don’t live in that kitchen. (Well, almost.)
  • Host a Q&A Session: Choose a topic pertinent to your foodservice operation then host a Q&A. This will allow your guests or peers to learn more about whatever you are interested in sharing.
  • Chat with Regulars: Share a quick experience with followers or anyone that wants to find you with one of your regulars. Speak with them ahead of time, but if they are on board just have a quick conversation, share a laugh, anything with them! People will enjoy seeing that and will think of you the next time they’re in town, or if in town and looking for a great place to eat.
  • Use as a Teaching Opportunity: Host sessions to help your guests with tasks they can do in their own kitchen. For example how to cut properly, benefits of a good knife, cooking techniques and more.
  • Save and Share: Not everyone can be live when you are, and Periscope does allow you the opportunity to save your broadcasts. After broadcasting, save the video and share it through social media, your blog, etc.

Resources

Ready to get started? Here are some great resources on how to make the most of your Periscope experience!

Images from the Periscope website

social media tips for restaurants

8 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Restaurant Sales

Social Media: Take Out The Complications

Social media is such a part of today’s society–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube.  As a restaurant owner, you may find the concept of social media overwhelming and while many resources encourage businesses to create strategies and business plans, restaurants don’t necessarily have time for that. It’s all about serving the customer.

Instead of avoiding social media all together, or taking time out of your busy schedule to create a plan your staff might not even be able to follow, here are some ideas to start or ramp up your current social media efforts.

1. Share Information Customers Want To Know

Social media is powerful because it is more personable and includes so many other elements that can’t be used in traditional advertising. Share what items are on the menu and/or what your specials are that day. Even if that’s all your restaurant posts, it is something that can be done across most platforms:

  • Facebook and Google+: Image of food with full details on special
  • Twitter: Image of food with caption (only 140 characters are allowed so just pull what’s the most important)
  • Instagram: Photograph a menu or sign covering that day’s specials
  • Vine: Take a video snippet of the menu and then of the food

social media restaurant sales2. Use Images To Your Advantage

Words can sell a menu item. But you know what’s even more powerful? A picture. Post photographs across all platforms of your amazing dishes that will entice them in. Yes, it might take a minute to set up the area. Basically just don’t take a photo in a messy area.  Walk over to a cleaner spot to snap your photo.

3. But Do Use Words

You can take a picture of an amazing dish, but definitely take advantage of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to talk a little bit more. What are the specials? How much do they cost? What are customer favorites? Are there any events going on to promote?

4. No Time? Yes There Is.

Posts don’t necessarily have to be made in real time. There are social media tools out there to help you schedule ahead such as Facebook’s scheduler, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc., so you can prepare posts to hit customers throughout the day.

5. Let Customers Promote Your Restaurant

Let your customers be your advocates.  Run a contest, for instance on Twitter, that uses a hashtag to encourages customers to share something they love about your restaurant with others. Choose a winner at random and reward them with a free meal.

social media restaurants6. Be Real–Show Behind The Scenes

Instagram and Vine are great for short videos. Use these to give your customers an inside look of your restaurant, whether it’s a brief video of a chef preparing a dish, or a mix of shots from the kitchen to the dining room. If you’ve never used either of these social media platforms before, they make it incredibly easy to shoot the video on your smartphone. Download the apps and check it out!

7. Share General Tips and Knowledge

People use social media to learn, whether it’s mindless reading or to educate themselves on a certain topic, place, etc. Why not give them something? Building relationships will entrust a bond between your restaurant and that customer. So for instance, share a cooking tip, or advice on food safety that can apply to their home life.

8. Be Funny (If You’re Funny)

If you or someone at your restaurant that can post is funny–be funny! Obviously make sure it is appropriate because what you post on social media speaks for your brand.  Don’t let that hinder your restaurant or scare you away from being funny. Humor is a perfect way to attract customers.

 

How Restaurants are Incorporating Social Media—Part 2

On Tuesday April 24, we broke down the latest on restaurants using social media and some information on using Pinterest.  The other heavy hitters in the social media game are Facebook and Twitter.

It may seem like there is a lot involved with keeping up with social media—but it’s really not as time consuming as you think, especially when there are websites available such as HootSuite or Later Bro.  Sites like these enable you to post in advance, because let’s face it, during any meal time rush, the last thing you have time for is to post.

Here’s a breakdown and the latest on Facebook and Twitter as well as a few ideas to help you rejuvenate your pages.

Facebook

On March 30, all Facebook fan pages got a facelift as they were automatically switched over to the new Timeline.  Some hate the new Timeline while others love it–but if you want to be on Facebook then you’re stuck with it. Don’t look at it that way though; the new Timeline feature actually brought on a few new really neat features that help to humanize your business. After all, your restaurant is more than words typed on a screen.

1. Cover Photo

The cover photo is at the top of your page and it’s a way to display what your business is about and grab attention.  Facebook did set a few rules on cover photos such as no calls to action, purchase information, contact information or references to interface elements (i.e. “Likes Us”).  So if you use one of these no-nos in your current cover photo, you may want to get it updated.  View the rules and cover photo tips here.

2. Contact/About Information

While you can’t outright promote in your cover photo, your contact and “About Us” area is where you can promote your business in your account settings.  There are actually a few different sections you can fill out—so write whatever works best to describe your restaurant.  The more information the better, so be sure to put in your address, website, phone number(s), hours of operation and anything else available.

3.  Apps

New word and new page placement, but same concept.  What are we talking about? Apps. Remember how you had “tabs” on your old Facebook page that were on the left side? For instance check-in, Like Us, maps, notes or a link to your blog? Those are now called “Apps” and they are located at the top of your page instead of at left. Four apps appear and you can add more (up to 12) in a drop-down. Just be sure the top four are your most important.

4. Top Pin

If there is something you want to be sure people see, such as a menu special or event, there’s an option now to make it a “top pinned post,” and it will stay at the top of your page. Do keep in mind, if you mark something as a top pinned post and it’s time sensitive, set a reminder for yourself to change it or un-mark it. According to a SmartBlog on Social Media article, top pinned posts can stay up for a week.

5. Pictures, Timeline and More New Features

It’s called the Facebook “Timeline” because it now allows you to tell the story of your business.   Things you posted in the past are easier for viewers to find and you can add milestones in your restaurant’s history such as when you first opened or a huge memorable event. It’s whatever you want to portray.

With the new Facebook Timeline, there is more of an emphasis of pictures–so if you can post some, whether it’s in a status or an album, do so!  And they don’t have to be anything epic.  Let’s say you’re having a special on one of your sandwiches. Instead of just posting a status update about the sandwich, why not include a picture with it?

Twitter

While Facebook and Twitter are both social media sites with a concentration being on words, they are completely different and should be treated that way.  You get 140 characters.  That’s it.  But it’s really not that much of a challenge.  In a recent Sociable360 infographic, they describe Twitter being best for “short, to-the point updates; monitoring conversations about your brand and finding potential customers.”

We live in a world where people’s attention spans are low. If you don’t capture someone’s attention in the first sentence of anything, they move on. So with Twitter, they make you get straight to the point. Here are a few quick tips on making the most of your restaurant’s Twitter:

  • Make your tweets different than your Facebook posts so your audience has fresh content on both platforms.
  • If do have to have Twitter linked to Facebook, or vice versa, try to make the Facebook status 140 characters or less. It’s obvious to people when a tweet is just an actual Facebook post because it cuts off.
  • Only use Twitter terminology (hashtags, @ symbol) on Twitter and not on Facebook.
  • Post specials or tips to get people to come in! Restaurants are really the exception to the “don’t be over salesy” rule for businesses on social media. It’s okay to post “Two tacos for $1 until 6 p.m. today!” or “Doesn’t a personal pan pizza sound like the perfect lunch?”
  • Use hashtags to your benefit. The hashtag (#) marks an important keyword in a post. It spreads your posts out further, just beyond your own followers.
  • Use trending topics to your benefit.  If there is a way to incorporate a trending topic into a post, do it! Don’t add it in if it’s irrelevant though—only if it fits with what you’re saying.
  • Tweet back. Engage with your followers that are trying to interact with you. And interact with people you follow.
  • You can post pictures and video by using sites like TwitPic or yfrog.
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to compose “the perfect Tweet” because it’ll already be old news within five or 10 minutes.  Don’t waste time, just post.

 

Foodservice Trends and Predictions for 2012

Last December we put together a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Some that topped the list and stayed strong were food trucks, social media, better nutrition and mobile ordering.

For 2012, there’s much being talked about.  Several blogs, lists and articles are surfacing with upcoming trends and there’s so much great information available.  So this year, not only will you get a list from us, but each one on the list will include a link for more information so you take a look at all of the trends yourself.  Enjoy!

Image: 3rdworldman/MorgueFile

Handing Over the Control

Today’s world is very particular, especially when it comes to food.  Fast Casual reports 2012 will be the year customers gain more control over their dining experience.  They mention custom ordering systems will aid with this—which is what we’ve seen all year.  From tablets to smartphone apps, restaurants are certainly headed in the customizable direction.  One concern earlier this year with the mobile devices was if they would take away from customer service.  When we attended the NRA show in May, we learned tablets won’t take away from customer service, but in fact enhance the experience as the wait staff will have more time to focus on customers. Read Fast Casual’s full trends list here.

The Best of Both Worlds

Some customers want healthier menu items while others just want something that tastes really good and aren’t too concerned with nutritional value.  For 2012, restaurants will start catering to both types of customers.  Many sites including QSR Magazine call this trend the “Double-Sided Menu.”  The double-sided menu will give customers the best of both worlds—healthy options and not-so-healthy options.  Read QSR’s top five trends here. 

Southern Foods

Image: Jdurham/MorgueFile

During tougher times, people turn to what makes them feel good, comfortable and safe–which in many cases, is food.  According to Monkey Dish’s trend list, southern comfort foods will become more popular.  Chefs will be making favorites such as grits, chicken and dumplings or smokehouse barbeque.  They may even put their own spin on the recipes too.  Read Monkey Dish’s full article here, and check out all of their 2012 predictions here.

 

 

 Healthier Kid’s Meals

Restaurants and QSRs all over the country have been upgrading their kid’s menus to be healthier; so this is definitely not something that’s brand new.  But according to another QSR article, healthier meals for children will be on the agenda.  This will tie in extremely well with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” to help curb childhood obesity.  Read more trends from QSR here.

Plate Shapes

At Central, one of the trends we’ve seen in restaurants is an interest in unique or customizable shapes for dinnerware.  It looks like these unique shapes will continue in 2012, but in a different way.  In an article by SmartBlog on Restaurants, they reveal chefs will be changing their food presentations to be more spread out as opposed to high.  This would make a change for a higher demand of square plates instead of round.  And as a side note on ordering plates, if you do a custom order—make sure to order extras to avoid any trouble in the future if the vendor is no longer able to provide you with your custom dinnerware. Read SmartBlog on Restaurant’s full blog here.

Social Media for Small Businesses

This trend seems familiar from last year, doesn’t it? It was on the list, but it’s different for 2012.  According to Duct Tape Marketing, they predict social media will impact smaller businesses.  This stems from their statement that social networks will move in the direction of being their own marketplaces.  So far, sites like Facebook and Twitter have made restaurants successful with spreading the word about themselves and connecting with fans—so now is the time for the smaller places to get on board and take advantage of this free advertising.  (If you need help, check out our tutorials for Facebook and Twitter).  Read all of Duct Tape Marketing’s small business predictions here.

24/7 Breakfast

Image: Jeltovski/MorgueFile

Looking to bakery trends, Modern Baking says several bakery cafes keep breakfast on the menu all day.  With this in demand, many other bakeries and restaurants may follow suit and also provide breakfast items throughout the day.  Read all of Modern Baking’s bakery trends here.

 

 

Local

According to the National Restaurant Association’s list of food trends, one that tops the list is going local.  This could be anything from meat to alcoholic beverages. Going local is a great way to support your community and to also know where food is coming from.  Luke Patterson, owner of Luke’s Joint and a few other establishments in Arcata, Calif. is one of Central’s customers who buys local—and it’s been very successful.  Read about his experience here and read more from the NRA’s trends list here.

The Signature Item

Image: Maxstraeten/MorgueFile

Whopper. Big Mac. Soup and Salad. Bloomin’ Onion.  We didn’t mention restaurant names yet you most likely know where each of these items comes from.  In a recent Nation’s Restaurant News article, they interviewed Galletta Oliver of Ink Foundry who said the importance of the “signature item” will increase.  That being said, restaurants will create or promote menu items that will make customers choose their restaurant over another.  Read all of NRN’s predictions here.

With these predictions just being a handful of many, it looks as though 2012 will be a busy year for the foodservice industry.  We look forward to seeing how these predictions go and we’ll be sure to follow them throughout the year and keep you posted on how they are doing.

Central wishes you and yours a very happy New Year.  We look forward to a great 2012 for everyone!

2011 Foodservice Trends and 2012 Predictions

Last December, we searched all over and compiled a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Overall, all 10 items on our list have been successful as far as the predictions go.  Take a look at the list for a quick refresher, then read below about some of the major trends that have now become mainstream.

Food Trucks

It’s been incredible to see how the food truck has evolved this year.  They’ve gone from something people were skeptical about to full-blown restaurants on wheels, serving everything from comfort foods and pizza to ethnic cuisine and desserts.

According to the Mashable infographic, “The Rise of the Social Food Truck,” almost 2.5 billion people eat street food.  Food trucks heavily rely on social media, which for most is their No. 1 way to advertise.  They just send out a tweet and Facebook status about where they will be and when.  This gives customers the convenience of different options close to them.

What is even more fascinating is how many food trucks team up together, park near each other or event go to events together.  Whether you love the food or own a truck , check out the Mobile Cuisine website for some great information on the industry.

Social Media/Mobile Ordering and Apps

While many restaurants have probably been using social media for quite some time, it seems as though this year its fully come mainstream.  In Nation Restaurant News’ webinar “The State of Social Media for Restaurants,” panelist Paul Barron (founder of DigitalCoCo) said in his presentation,

“87 percent of restaurant brands have identified social media as a main force for guest connection.”

After all, according to this New York Times article, social media is the most popular way Americans spend time online.

When looking into mobile ordering and apps, restaurants are implementing tablets (i.e. the iPad) in restaurants more and more to increase customer service and productivity (note—these aren’t replacing the wait staff).

At this year’s MUFSO conference (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator), during New York Times’ Technology Columnist David Pogue’s session, he stressed the importance of restaurants not only using social media but to start looking into smart-phone apps too.  We’ve seen restaurants bring in the tablet, but having an app could be another solution to increasing productivity.  Pogue did take into consideration restaurant’s fears of using social media. His response was,

“But if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.”

Better Nutrition and Local/Hyper-Local

This year we’ve seen huge changes with restaurants becoming healthier.

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Restaurants like McDonald’s and Arby’s have changed out fries with apple slices in their kid’s meals, Darden Restaurants recently announced their goal to lower sodium and calorie counts must be posted in certain areas–just to name a few.

The food pyramid got a fresh look this year too, as the USDA released “MyPlate” which replaced the food pyramid.

Schools are definitely headed in a healthier direction with updated nutritional standards.  The School Nutrition Association (SNA) gave the following statistics in this press release from their State of School Nutrition:

  • 98% of American school districts offer fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 97% have expanded the access of whole grains
  • 89% offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads
  • 98% have fat-free or 1% milk

Schools have also added many programs that work to bring in local foods.  When it comes to local in general, people and restaurants are pushing more support for local farmers.  Many restaurants are even taking local a step further and going hyper-local by growing their own food.

What’s In Store for 2012?

Image by Gregory Dicum on the NY Times website

While predictions for 2012 foodservice trends are just now beginning to surface, there are a few to start watching.  We may start to see more artisan and comfort foods on menus and maybe even celebrity food growers (which take it a step ahead of celebrity restaurants).

A trend that we’re already starting to notice is the “all-day” menu at restaurants that meet the demand for food at all hours of the day and night.  Also, pop-up restaurants may also be on the rise.  They are already starting to appear more and more, such as “Goodness,” a fashion week pop-up that provided healthy menu options.

We’ll continue to follow these and will provide our Top 10 Foodservice Trends for 2012 at the end of December. Let us know, what are you seeing? What’s been your favorite trend of 2011?

Central’s Week in Brief: September 30

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1.) Usually when you go to a baseball game, common beverage options are water, soda and beer. Well, it looks like there’s another beverage that’s become quite popular at ballparks–wine! Andrew Shipe of Aramark told the Houston Chronicle, “Five years ago, wine was mostly limited to the premium seats.  But these days, it’s more likely to be on the main concourse.” Read the full story here.

2.) When it comes to advertising, sometimes looking into your company’s archives may hold the key to success, or at least is a good shot! Wendy’s latest marketing campaign answers the 1984 question, “Where’s the beef?” by simply, well, answering it!  “Here it is!” they say.  To address it, Wendy’s has thrown in snippets of the now decades old commercial into new commercials for their line of “Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburgers.” Check out more information on the New York Times website.

3.) In the last few weeks, a listeria outbreak from cantaloupe has claimed at least 13 lives and has infected over 70 people, according to statistics from the Center for Disease control.  Then just this week, Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. has recalled 131,000 pounds of ground beef under the suspicion it may be contaminated with E. Coli.  An ABC news article reported that so far, no one has reported being ill from the beef  and the recall was voluntary.  With two major recalls, now is a good time to review standards and procedures at your restaurant. Click here to view ABC’s article, which includes tips.

4.) Is your restaurant using social media or mobile apps? At this year’s MUFSO (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator) conference, which was held September 25-27, NY Times Columnist David Pogue stressed the importance of using these methods of communication.  He noted many restaurants are leery of social media and apps but, “if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.” Read the full story here from Nation’s Restaurant News.

5.) Exciting news from Central! We’ve recently rolled out our Monthly Customer Newsletter which includes the latest from our blog, foodservice news, tips, questions, a Twitter topics and more. This month’s @CRPRestaurant Twitter topic is “What is/was your favorite school food and why?” Answer it on Twitter by using the hashtag: #crplunchfaves.  Then enter in #crplunchfaves in Twitter’s search tool to see what others are saying.  Feel free to get creative and dig deep to remember some of the neat things you ate as a kid!  Also, be sure to check out the newsletter here!

 

The Latest News and Trends for College Foodservices

College foodservice is an ever-changing industry. Here are some of the latest trends and news about campus food across the country.

The Push for Healthy

Are the days of the traditional “all-you-can-eat” buffet on college campuses over? Well, students are always going to be hungry and have extra meal plan dollars to use,  so they’ll probably never be over.  However, according to the College and University Consumer Trend Report, mentioned in this Food Product Design article, only 28 percent of students are happy with the amount of “healthy” foods they are provided. There has been such a huge push for healthy grade and high schools, so why wouldn’t it trickle over to the college campus? Many college foodservices are going in a healthier direction too, one being Sodexo.  They are mixing it up with healthy and customized Mediterranean food—which seems to have resulted from their own student’s research.

Grab n’ Go

When a student is in a rush between classes, they don’t exactly have the time to sit down and have a meal in the cafeteria, especially if it’s during odd hours.  This is one of the moments where Grab n’ Go’s really get their time to shine, but students are always looking for something quick and different.  After all, one can only have a ham or turkey sandwich with chips everyday for so long before it gets old. Some campuses are mixing up their Grab n’ Go selection, such as Bennington College with menu items like the Chipotle Smoked Turkey and Bacon Wrap, Vegan Hummus Wrap, Protein Salads or Tangy Roast Beef Sandwiches.

Food Trucks

Without a doubt, it’s been the summer of the food truck. They are fast and convenient, making the college campus a perfect place for them.  What makes it even better is they are convenient for students as the truck goes to wherever they are. So you’re not losing the students who don’t feel like walking across campus to eat.  Catering to laziness? …no.  Not necessarily.  You could think of it as being more convenient for those pressed for time, or helping the students out.  (Sitting in an hour and 45 minutes of calculus can be really tiring).  Either way, it’s more money in your pocket.  This Napa Valley Register article talks about Napa Valley College—who due to budget cuts can no longer serve lunch out of its cafeteria and have rolled out a food truck pilot program. The article says, “about six food trucks will be available on campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Fifteen food trucks are participating in the program, so the food options will vary each day.”

Social Media

Social media is a great way to inform customers in a quick and timely fashion, not to mention it’s mostly free too. With most students being glued to their phones 24/7, social media is probably one of their preferred methods of being contacted. (Do college students even check their email anymore? And are they going to know about your latest special if it’s only posted at the location…which they may or may not travel to?) Back in February, QSR wrote this article which covered a study saying 95 percent of university food operations use social media in some way. So, if you’re in that 5 percent, you may want to reconsider revamping your marketing campaign a bit. All the different types of social media sites out there can be a bit overwhelming, but that’s where websites like TweetDeck come into play, that can automatically post to several different sites at once.  You can even schedule posts ahead of time and could have a full day’s worth of posting ready to go in 10 minutes before the day really even gets started.  So no more excuses about not having time when a site like TweetDeck will do it for you…..for free.  The students will appreciate it.

What college foodservice trends are you finding?  What resources do you use that everyone should bookmark?