by Margaux Salcedo | October 15, 2017
What does it take to be a successful restaurateur in this new world full of tech-savvy, well-traveled families? Not just a good menu, apparently.
Chef RJ Ungco, a graduate of the esteemed culinary institute Les Roches in Switzerland, is a restaurant consultant who gives advice on anything and everything you need to know about starting a restaurant, managing a restaurant, even saving a restaurant.
His company assists restaurateurs in everything from conceptualization to branding, developing a chef’s menu, constructing a restaurateur’s dream restaurant, and streamlining day-to-day operations, helping in hiring and training staff as well as marketing.
He has worked with restaurants on the brink of closing. He looked at their sales and price trends, studied their target market, and then advised them on how to tweak the concepts to make them become money machines.
He has worked with restaurants such as Casa Roces, Cafe Enye, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, Parmigiano at Resorts World, Toni & Sergio, Shrimp Bucket, Spatzle at Shangri-la Plaza, Rue Bourbon, Poke Shack and Ponzo’s beside the St. Alphonsus di Ligouri Church in Magallanes. Out of town, he has consulted for The Nest in El Nido, Palawan, Chateau de Busay in Cebu, Chateau by the Sea in Mactan, and Flotsam & Jetsam in La Union.
I picked his brain on what it takes to be a successful restaurateur in today’s world, given that there is so much competition.
His answer revealed something about today’s customers: It’s no longer just about the food; a lot has to do with marketing.
“Having delicious food is a given,” RJ explained. “But these days, it’s not enough. Customers are more sophisticated or at least try to be.”
This reminds me of the Madrid Fusion 2015 ad showing a young working girl engrossed in her thoughts about the dish before her: “The seasoning is spot on, nice acidity. Noodles al dente … and I love the scallions. It’s just missing something … something smokey.” Then the camera pans down and it turns out to be a simple bowl of mami. Or the artsy young man, wincing in what almost appears to be sympathy for the pastry chef who almost perfected her dessert: “So close, she almost got it perfect … It’s sweet, nutty, creamy all at the same time … but a pinch of sea salt would have nailed it just to set off the caramel.” Then the camera pans down and it’s just leche flan.
People no longer just eat; they want to experience a meal
Also, everyone is now a food expert, thanks in large part to social media, especially Instagram.
But food must not only be Instagram-worthy. “Use of textures and colors is important but the restaurateur should try to tickle all five senses of the customer. Aside from addressing a customer’s sense of taste and smell through the food, he should also activate hearing with good music, sight with great design, touch with interactive food items. This gives the customer a better overall experience at your resto,” he advises.
Beyond that, you must also tug at sentiment. “A lot of customers now are well-traveled so use your ingredients to bring out a bit of nostalgia, like remind them of their trip to Morocco with the plates that you use or a cooking class they saw of Marco Pierre White with the technique used for your chicken,” he suggests.
I guess he means a chef must bring out that moment in Ratatouille where Anton Ego, the fierce restaurant critic, remembered his childhood with the cooking of Remy the rat-chef—that take-me-back moment that brings the eater to a place of wonderful memories.
Just like in any other business, however, no matter how good your food is, if no one knows about it, it won’t translate to income for your restaurant. So RJ advises to invest in marketing.
“It’s a marketing-driven industry now, so a restaurant should spend on marketing the equivalent of 10-15 percent of bimonthly costs,” RJ says. “This may not immediately translate to an increase in sales but it’s important so that the restaurant get its message across. Awareness alone about a restaurant plays a big role in its success.”
He also acknowledges the importance today of “influencers” or “tastemakers” or social media personalities who allow marketing strategists to use them as subtle advertising platforms.
He admits, however, “Social media is both a blessing and a curse for restaurateurs.”
Marketing agencies now send these people to restaurants “so that enough influencers would say that your products are okay.”
Admittedly, this is also the reason why there are a lot of restaurants today that seem to be hyped up by influencers or tastemakers but when you visit, the food is just so-so or pretty but not tasty. This applies internationally as well.
One must not necessarily have a unique concept to make it in the market today. Instead, RJ emphasizes you must understand what your target market wants. Or if you are stuck in a certain location, know what the market in that area demands.
“Don’t insist on selling steak and fries in Binondo,” he says.
You must know the behavior of your market. Is your location near a church? In a condo building? Do you cater to families or single persons? What are their habits? What are they willing to pay for? Then look for angles to penetrate the market.
He cites himself as an example. “I’m a chef but there are already so many chefs, so since I have a business background and am very creative, I focused on consultancy instead.”
After understanding the market, a restaurateur must be open to change. RJ has acted as consultant for restaurants that needed fresh eyes to see why they were not making money.
He shares the hardest clients are those who are not open to change and those who are only concerned about income without having any passion for the very things that make the restaurant come alive.
Most important, though, is the restaurant owner’s dedication. The owner must commit to the restaurant or else, no matter what he or she does, the restaurant will not be a success. “The key is day-in and day-out consistency in everything you do.”
The restaurant must always be on its toes. “There must be constant innovation not just in the food but in all aspects of the restaurant. The staff must always be one to two steps ahead of customers so it is important to take good care of your human resources as well because they are your brand ambassadors.”
“A restaurant business is not all glam,” he stresses. “It’s really a lot of hard work.”
by Annie Pilon |Oct 14, 2017
New technology, trends and techniques are likely to have an impact on how you do business in 2018. These changes can vary depending on your business or industry. But members of the online small business community have lots of experience updating their online marketing and other operations. Here are some tips to help your small business do the same.
Pay Attention to the Key Drivers of the Coming Digital TransformationTechnology is constantly transforming the methods businesses use to run their everyday operations. So if you want to keep up, you have to pay attention to the factors that drive that change. This post by Blair Evan Ball of Prepare 1 includes a rundown of some of those key drivers.
Don’t Believe These Myths About Video Social Media MarketingVideo has become a huge part of the social media strategy for a lot of businesses. But you can’t believe everything you hear about video social media marketing. In this Marketing Land post, Jordan Kasteler debunks some common myths about using video on social media.
Learn These Trends Regarding the Future of Content and SEOContent marketing and SEO are two concepts that constantly change due to evolving trends, tools and technology. To learn more about the trends that could impact the future of content and SEO, check out this Content Marketing Institute post by Andy Betts.
Use These Techniques to Grow Your Business in 2018Looking forward to 2018, you’ll need to grow your business in ways that are going to resonate with modern consumers. This post by Valentine Belonwu on Just Money Web includes some key tips for growing a business in 2018. And BizSugar members share thoughts on the post too.
Steer Clear of These Content Marketing Best PracticesThere are some common tips and best practices for content marketers that might actually do more harm to your business than good. To avoid any negative impact from those marketing myths, check out the list and explanations in this post by Neil Patel.
Remember These Three Essentials for New WebsitesA website is an essential part of any online marketing strategy. And there are some essential ingredients that go into making an effective website, as Ivan Widjaya of Noobpreneur reviews in this post.
Keep Your Core Values in MindAs technology and trends change, your methods are likely to change as well. But one thing that shouldn’t change is your business’s core values. This Strella Social Media post by Rachel Strella includes a discussionon seeking clarity regarding those values. And members of the BizSugar community chime in here.
Improve Page Speed for More Traffic and ConversionsNo matter what kind of fancy online marketing methods you use, all of your efforts can be derailed if your site loads too slowly. That’s why improving page speed can lead to more traffic and conversions for your small business. Jeremy Knauff elaborates in this Search Engine Journal post.
Follow This Legal Guide for BloggersThere’s more to blogging than just throwing a few quick posts together. You need to consider legal issues like copyright and fair use images. This Process Street post by Ben Mulholland includes a guide you can use to navigate these legal issues for bloggers.
Use These Business Tools for EntrepreneursThe tools you use to run your business can make a big difference in how you reach customers. The tools listed in this post by Vartika Kashyap on Onaplatterofgold.com can go a long way for your business. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.
by KIM LACHANCE SHANDROW, FREE ENTERPRISE | OCT 13, 2017
Tech startups are the small but mighty heroes of the innovation revolution. They create jobs, stimulate the economy and bring bold, often life-changing new ideas and inventions to the fore. Reflecting this rising trend, cities all across America are home to an ever-growing crop of transformative startups - and the next generation of skilled tech talent propelling them forward.
To better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution - and to highlight exemplary patterns within their startup ecosystems that entrepreneurs and civic leaders can learn from to bolster their region's competitive edge - 1776 , the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation , the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center and FreeEnterprise.com developed the Innovation That Matters (ITM) report .
Drawing off of survey data collected from local tech startup founders and public and private sector leaders, the annual extensive research project, now in its third year, ranks 25 American cities' readiness to capitalize on the shift to the digital economy.The 413 entrepreneurs and business influencers polled (via an 18-point questionnaire) are working to solve problems in the healthcare, energy, education and smart cities sectors through technology and innovation. The information and feedback they provided centered around six key areas - startup capital, connectivity, culture, density, industry specialization and talent - was used to rank the various metropolitan areas.
"We're in the midst of a digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind," said J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The cities that embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups will be best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities."
Of the many tech hubs examined, 10 rose to the top as the hottest American cities to launch a tech startup from right now. They are:
Boston, home to a wealth of bleeding-edge health– and education-tech startups (and the world-class universities and hospitals that often feed into them in one way or another), has laid claim to the Number One spot on the ITM report for two consecutive years. The bustling seaside biotech hub led the rankings for its exceptional startup density, which fell far above the report average. This thanks to an exceptionally large tech entrepreneur population and for the city’s prevalence of next-wave technology startups.
2. San Francisco Bay Area
Situated in Silicon Valley’s big backyard by the sea, the San Francisco Bay Area capped the ITM rankings, holding the Number Two spot for a second year in a row. Once again leading for its remarkably high startup density, the Bay Area rose to the top of the list due to its continued eminence in the three following areas: talent, capital and industry specialization. On the whole, the densely populated region boasts an exceptionally large number of well-established and rising tech startups. The early dominance of many widely recognized early innovators has precipitated a surge in seed funding in the area, as well as a particularly robust startup community support system.
One of the most notable upward movers on this latest ITM report, the City of Brotherly Love moved up five places, to 3rd from 8th in overall ranking last year. The city saw marked improvements in startup culture and connectivity, and in availability of skilled tech talent. More specifically, Philadelphia, known to some as “Philicon Alley,” saw a 5.5 percent increase in receptivity to innovative ideas and a 6.6 increase in the business-friendliness of its regional regulatory environment.
4. San Diego
Sunny San Diego, a Southern California tourism hot-spot that attracts approximately 30 million visitors per year, inched up one place to 4th this year from 5th on last year’s ITM report. The seaside city, home to fast-growing tech sectors such as cybersecurity, Big Data analytics, robotics and software development, saw notable increases in startup connectivity and capital, despite significant losses in startup culture and access to skilled tech talent.
Austin, which has become a haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities from the more than 5,500 innovative startups in the area, jumped from 6th to 5th in overall rankings on the ITM report this year. Driving the Texas tech hub’s ascent is its considerable availability of skilled workforce members, as well as a particularly large startup density. The city — increasingly known as “Silicon Hills” and widely recognized for its business-friendly regulatory climate and relatively affordable cost-of-living — is also attractive to young software developers and other technology workers angling to break into large tech firms, such as Google, Facebook, Apple and HomeAway, that have set up shop in the trendy town.
Driven in large part by a surge in financial tech, education tech and health tech startups, Atlanta clinched the “most improved” city designation on this year’s ITM report, rocketing up more than 15 places since last year’s analysis. Georgia’s capital city, home to The Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech and Microsoft Technology Center, dramatically improved in its rankings mainly due to strong performances in the areas of startup connectivity and culture. Unlike most markets, where connectivity was on the decline over the last year, Atlanta, increasingly known in local techie circles as “Silicon Peach,” saw a 33.3 percent improvement in corporate-to-small-business connections, as well as an 11.5 percent improvement in connections with startup advisors and mentors.
Dallas, the Lone Star State’s fourth most populous metropolitan area, soared upward 12 places on the ITM report this year, claiming the 7th spot from the 19th the year before. Fueling its ascent is a marked improvement in startup connectivity, in which it bumped up 10 places this year. The city, known for its large and diverse pool of skilled workers, also clocked noticeable gains in citizen engagement (which increased by 13.3 percent) and access to startup ecosystem cheerleaders (which jumped by 15.5 percent).
Seattle, increasingly known as “Silicon Canal,” climbed from 11th on the ITM report to 8th this year in the overall rankings. Washington state’s largest metropolis — home to Amazon.com and several other prominent tech firms, with Microsoft headquartered out of nearby Redmond — saw a 7-place improvement in startup density, a 3-place improvement in access to talent and a 1-place improvement in venture capital.
9. New York City
Coming in at 9th in this year’s ITM report, New York City’s technology ecosystem, sometimes called “Silicon Alley,” is home to just about every startup niche imaginable, with notable sectors including education tech, health tech and financial tech playing a big role. Specifically, over the past year, the largest East Coast technology hub saw a 10-place increase in availability of skilled tech talent and a 10-place increase in startup culture.
10. Portland, Ore.
Nicknamed “Silicon Forest” and home to a booming green tech sector, Portland jumped up two spots in the overall ITM report rankings this year to nab the 10th spot. This ascent is mainly due to significant gains in startup density. Additionally, the city saw a two-place improvement in startup culture, as well as a one-place upward jump in availability of skilled talent.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles