I think this is the third time I visited the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center and yet I always find several new items to taste, learn and see each time. If you work in the food industry, or own a bar, restaurant, catering business or winery you definitely should attend this multi-day event at least once.
I always take a slew of photos. If you don’t want to read my article take a gander at my slideshow here for the short version.
The favorites for me this year in both food and beverage include:
Kelvin Slush Company for several drinks including the Frose aka Frozen Rose made with wine and vodka, John Daly and Miami Mule; the “Resort Charger” that is a wine cooler/phone charger/beach table in one; St. Petersburg Vodka had a ever-so-slight sweet edge to it and “outscores Ketel One, Stoli, Grey Goose and Belvedere”; the Croqu Monsieur made with Ayoya Flatbread; Ginja 9 Cherry Liqueur can be purchased along with little dark chocolate cups; Lick’d natural ice cream bars; Pops Rumpopa Rum Cream Liqueur Almond flavor was yummy but they also make an original and banana; Torani syrup just came out with a lemonade flavor; Brooklyn Gin in its blue glass bottle was striking, as was its clean botanicals; Point Reyes cheeses; Don Chelada Michelada mix was perfectly spicy enough for a Michelada but would also lend itself well to a Bloody Mary or a spicy shrimp cocktail; Toguchi Japanese Whiskey from peated malt and grain aged in sherry and brandy casks; Kradjian olives and stuffed grape leaves; Breckenridge whisky; never skip watching the Honey Smoked Fish Co. “voted best smoked salmon” at least for the demo show they put on every year; Ohishi Japanese Whisky; Tailormade Foods cookies; Jozen Sake.
This year I attended two classes and share my notes from each below:
Driving Sales through Grass Roots Marketing, a Productive Team and Smart Operations.
I’ve heard Darren Denington from Service with Style speak before, may have even been the same topic. These are my takeaways this year:
- Start with employee morale, if they are unhappy they are looking elsewhere, giving away freebies and talking about you negatively. Owners/Managers: spend time with your team.
- Make sure your staff knows what items you make the most money from and push those.
- Marketing starts with your guest’s perspective. Secret shoppers are one way to find out. You will need to impress a guest at least three times – by focusing on service. The “how can I help you” type of serve that In-N-Out and Chick-Fil-A are known for.
- A whopping 85% of diners do the “one and done” with a restaurant due to staff with an “attitude of indifference.”
- Staff need to allow just a 15-second statement to make to a customer that is not about the restaurant. (I highly recommend that you allow the staff to find their own script for that. It will come across more sincere if your cosmetic-loving waitress compliments a diner on her makeup.)
- Once employee morale is high, then sell your promotions. Events, Happy Hour, whatever – if they are vested in the restaurants then their sales efforts will be effective and not forced.
- Be aware of something the diner liked and offer a deal on a return visit. If the desserts slayed them then offer a free dessert at their next visit, etc. This gives them a reason to come back.
- Partner with a non-profit on an event. Tests have shown that sales can go up afterwards.
- Design a bulletin board to hold breakable items, add in what the cost is for each so that staff is tangibly aware of how things can add up.
- Design different Happy Hours for each day it’s offered: Singles Nights, Legal/Biz Nights where they can invite potential clients.
- Meat + 3 sides lunch campaign where less meat is offered than the full entrée, and less expensive sides are pushed.
- Build your own marketing committee from your existing staff. This makes them listened to and engaged. Then plan one year in advance for all of the campaigns you want to do.
Lots to digest here so I’ll give you a week off and then you can return to read Part Two – all about what I learned from Bartender of the Year…Bar Rescue’s Rob Floyd.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com