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Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?

Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?
Show some love to your best customers”
It is beyond me why most restaurants do NOT have a V.I.P. list of customers. One’s that frequent your establishment often. They really should be treated differently than the average customer who comes to your place 1 or 2x a year.
There is one such place by me, that keeps a tally of what you spend on a swipe card. Then they reward you with a free dessert or free appetizer. They also have special nights where the V.I.P. might get $2.00 hamburgers or $2.00 vodka drinks.
An idea I’ve only seen 1x was a monthly membership by a pizza place. So for $19.00 a month you got a free pizza a month. So if they have 200 members, then before they turn on the ovens or open the doors, they already have $3,800 in the bank (automatic draws).
If you owned a nice restaurant instead of a pizzeria, maybe this $19.00 is good for 2 drinks and 1 dessert. Or 1 entree when 1 is purchased. Or 2 appetizers and 1 dessert. It really could be a lot of fun to change up what you offer your V.I.P.’s!
Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?
Start showing some customer love to your best restaurant customers. You will be rewarded with better loyalty, more repeat customers and a bigger bank balance to start the month!

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Social Media in Your Restaurant

Social Media in Your Restaurant
I see it happen time-after-time in every single restaurant I go in. Lunch hour (or two hours) and it is now 2:30-3:00 much before the dinner rush. And what are most wait staff doing at this down time? Either folding napkins or chatting with each other or other staff members. Why aren’t they on social media for your restaurant, promoting your place, offering a free slice of pie with every entrée or free cup of soup? It is so easy for a restaurant to be wetting the appetite of their followers!
How about including a picture of your best signature sandwich and say “free cup of soup with every burger tonight” or something similar. If you have 3 wait staff idle, they are promoting to 3 different followers of theirs, so 3 audiences. If I still owned a restaurant (that was 27 years ago, before social media) I Would insist on my staff doing this very task. It would be better than any groupon or Gusto advertising you can do!
Social Media in Your Restaurant
Or how about on an off day (lets’ say you close on a Monday), have your chef post a  soup receipe to his/her followers. THEY will try it at home and then come in and say “my soup wasn’t as good as you make it”!
Your restaurant customers want something for free (dessert, soup, wine) and will keep coming back for more. And will want to try to  make the chef’s receipe but really miss the way he/she makes it.
Get out their in social media circles with your restaurant!
Tom Larsen

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Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?

Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?
Show some love to your best customers”
It is beyond me why most restaurants do NOT have a V.I.P. list of customers. One’s that frequent your establishment often. They really should be treated differently than the average customer who comes to your place 1 or 2x a year.
There is one such place by me, that keeps a tally of what you spend on a swipe card. Then they reward you with a free dessert or free appetizer. They also have special nights where the V.I.P. might get $2.00 hamburgers or $2.00 vodka drinks.
An idea I’ve only seen 1x was a monthly membership by a pizza place. So for $19.00 a month you got a free pizza a month. So if they have 200 members, then before they turn on the ovens or open the doors, they already have $3,800 in the bank (automatic draws).
If you owned a nice restaurant instead of a pizzeria, maybe this $19.00 is good for 2 drinks and 1 dessert. Or 1 entree when 1 is purchased. Or 2 appetizers and 1 dessert. It really could be a lot of fun to change up what you offer your V.I.P.’s!
Why don’t more restaurants have V.I.P. customers?
Start showing some customer love to your best restaurant customers. You will be rewarded with better loyalty, more repeat customers and a bigger bank balance to start the month!

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Cyber Liability is for Your Restaurant.

Cyber Liability is for Your Restaurant.
Your wait staff takes your customers credit card and swipes it into your POS system….is it fail-safe that it went through? I know lots of credit card providers have secure system in place but ultimately it is your responsibility – you did the credit card swipe!
Just because you are not a Target (remember that breach?) or an Equifax (they got hit too), small businesses of all kinds are being hit every day – you just don’t hear about them. They aren’t big enough to hit the local news, so the public isn’t informed of this cyber hit.
As an insurance agency, we have a greater risk than your restaurant, as we also collect social security numbers, dates-of-birth and where they live. As a small business owner, I would never allow my business to go without cyber liability insurance. And for the $200 per year it costs me, well worth the peace of mind.
Cyber Liability is for Your Restaurant.
So any excuse for any restaurant owner to NOT carry cyber liability coverage is not valid given the low cost. And given the amount of hackers in the internet space, you never know when you will be targeted. It just isn’t for large restaurant chains or the bigger corporations either. I personally got credit card hacked in a Chicago restaurant by an employee there. My bank took care of the fraud but what if this employee did it several more times too?
Being a smart consumer of insurance and a smart small restaurant business owner is about being informed. The more you know, the more you will have the proper insurance protection you need.
Tom Larsen – tom@larseninsurance.com

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Beware the sex jokes or employee dating!

Beware the sex jokes or employee dating!
It is so common in bars & restaurants for employees to share dirty jokes and pass them on. A very common occurrence that happens time after time. Another common occurrence is dating amongst employees, people who get to know each other quite well in their working environment.
But what happens when the dirty joke falls on unappreciative ears? Or the dating couple breaks-up and 1 then claims sexual harassment?
Your typical restaurant insurance policy EXCLUDES these acts from their policy. Most restaurant owners do not know this.
Their is a policy out there call EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance) which addresses these issues. It covers things like wrongful termination, age discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe work environment. These issues affect just about every restaurant and bar in the United States and owner’s of these places should be aware of their risks.
You can be the best owner/manager, maintain a excellent work environment but all it takes is 1 disgruntled employee to blow the whistle and force you to defend yourself.
Beware the sex jokes or employee dating!
Be a smart insurance consumer and know your risks, know what you have protected and what you do not.
Tom Larsen, speaker, author, licensed insurance broker
P.S. – I bad manager can really ruin a restaurants reputation or cause a lawsuit.

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What Kind of Restaurant Are You?

This is a serious question being posed to newer restaurant owners. What kind of restaurant are you?
Locally, there is a very good restaurant with a lively bar crowd and good food. But they have 4 TV’s and sometimes call themselves a sports bar. Huh? The bar/restaurant 2 miles away with 20 TV’s is a sports bar, you are not! Know who you are, what you are and do that better than anyone else.
There is also an Irish themed restaurant, that has live music sometimes (2-3 piece combo’s) and pipes in classical irish music. They also sometimes promote sporting events too and they also have 4 TV’s! Knowing who you are, who you attract, what your typical customer is like is key. Don’t be who you are not or try to attract a different type crowd because a special sporting event is coming up.
What Kind of Restaurant Are You?
If I was starting a new restaurant, I would figure out the type of crowd I’d like to attract, what kind of foods do they like and promote that. We were at an italian restaurant in Chicago recently (dear daughter lives there) and EVERY customer left with a “doggie bag”, as their portions were so large. No TV’s, no loud bar crowd, great wine list….they knew who they were! Locally, there was an italian restaurant that also served large portions but did the same at lunch too? Why not have a small plate menu for lunch, so I don’t fall asleep after it!
Since we are in the restaurant insurance business, I love going and talking with the various owners and see what they think. What idea’s they have, what they vision the future looks like and me throwing at them a few suggestions. Most are open to these suggestions, not all are taken. But since I was a restaurant owner in the past, I really love the give-and-take with these business owners.
What Kind of Restaurant Are You?
Knowing the answer to the above will go a long way to be successful in the restaurant business.
Tom Larsen, Restaurant Insurance Authority
P.S. – If you are a current restaurant owner, why not survey your customers and find out what they say about you?

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Food Spoilage – a Restaurants Nightmare.

Food Spoilage – a Restaurants Nightmare.
      Oct. 13, 2006 in Buffalo, NY 22 inches of snow fell in 8 hours, snapping trees and utility poles. Since the autumn leaves hadn’t fallen off the trees yet, the added weight of the snow did cause much damage. Many homes (mine included) and businesses lost power for 5-7 days and this is a nightmare if you own a restaurant.
   Since insuring restaurants is one of our specialties, we were able to reimburse most of our clients food inventory, once power was restored. Food spoilage in a restaurant is not always included in a basic insurance policy but we always make sure it is included in our clients policies.
   Food Spoilage – a Restaurants Nightmare.
   Another insurance coverage we include for our clients is off-premises power failure. So in the Buffalo October Surprise storm, if a restaurant didn’t have a physical loss to their building/restaurant, they might not have a claim. But if this added coverage of off-premises power failure – the electric pole on the corner from which it gets it’s power got snapped in 1/2, then the restaurant would have coverage.
   So food spoilage could also come from an indirect loss, that of the power pole on the corner. If their is no physical loss to the restaurant, then this insurance coverage becomes important, especially for food spoilage.
Food Spoilage – a Restaurants Nightmare.
   Restaurants need more specialized insurance coverage than most other small businesses. So if an insurance agency doesn’t specialize in insuring a restaurant, they could be missing some important endorsements and coverage’s that they need. Very important coverage’s to keep their business going.

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Do You Offer Credit Card Payments in Your Restaurant?

Do You Offer Credit Card Payments in Your Restaurant?
If your restaurant is like 99% of them out there that offer payment via credit card, you must be careful. Cyber theft and credit card theft are pretty prevalent in our society today (sadly). Do You Offer Credit Card Payments in Your Restaurant? Read on….
Every restaurant is a target, just like (no pun intended) Target department store was a few years ago. You say “yeah it happen to them but won’t happen to me” but could you afford even $20,000 to straighten out a credit card theft?
I’ll tell you my story, as this is very real and an inside job. I was at an insurance conference in Chicago and as usual, 8-10 of us go out to dinner to keep the conversations going. When the individual bill was presented, my corporate issued credit card was denied, much to my displeasure.
It turns out the dinner the night before, paid with that same card, got swiped by the server and they posted 10 – $100 charges to that card. And then 10 more $100 charges were posted to the card. I guess the thief thought $100 charges would go through easier than 1- $1,000 charge. Luckily, as I reported it and had my account froze, the credit card company reversed all charges.
Do You Offer Credit Card Payments in Your Restaurant?
But what if I didn’t get satisfied by the credit card company? I’d be going after the restaurant, maybe posting all over social media about this incident. How many other’s has this happened too also? So an inside job or an outside job could cost your restaurant money, time spent to reverse the damage and your reputation. If your restaurant had a cyber liability insurance policy ($200 a year for $100,000 of coverage), you could now boast about your smart business acumen! And it would give you $25,000 of privacy loss mitigation coverage.
And turn to social media to tell your own story about it. People (customers) would look differently about your business since you are proactive, instead of being reactive like “How could this happen to me”? Stories go a long way in telling about your business and a “feel good” story is much better than a “woah is me” story.
Do You Offer Credit Card Payments in Your Restaurant?
So be that smart restaurant owner and get cyber liability coverage, which is never, ever included in a BOP or Restaurant insurance policy unless offered as an additional add on (like Hartford does).
An educated consumer is our best customer.
 
Tom Larsen, former restaurant owner, restaurant insurance advisor

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What Restaurant Doesn’t Need Marketing Help?

   What Restaurant Doesn’t Need Marketing Help?
There is a FREE REPORT I wrote (go here) on why most restaurant owner’s suck at marketing. I’ll give you more real life examples I have witnesses. Local to me and my wife (within walking distance) is a restaurant we frequent a lot. Waiting for our take-out order while having a glass of wine, the bartender puts a current register receipt in front of us (the kind TGIFridays does). So if we order another glass of wine, the new slip then replaces the old one.
I asked the bartender what is going on with this “system” since we are well known in the place. We’ll “Ella” thought is was a good idea to start this system. This is a small tavern type place, good food and all local patrons. She is changing the uniqueness and family type atmosphere that they have now – not good.
What Restaurant Doesn’t Need Marketing Help?
A second occasion recently, came up to me and my wife stating “We think we are going to copy ******* and get wine glasses with lines for a 6 oz. pour and a line for a 9 oz. pour. She wanted our opinion, since we mostly drink wine. I told her, bad idea, you don’t want to be like everyone else,you have a very good and unique place here, don’t try to be like everyone else! (The bartender thanked me for speaking up and voicing my opinion).
This locally owned restaurant is certainly one that could use some marketing help.
What Restaurant Doesn’t Need Marketing Help?
I see many, many restaurants copy other’s like what they do is either gospel or just the way it’s always been done. Instead of studying other businesses and find out if that could fit for their model. Do you know why 70% of all fast food is sold through a drive-in window? A restaurant owner was going through the bank’s drive-in window and had an idea for the restaurant to do this too! You never know when a great idea will come to you too!
We insure many restaurants throughout New York and if you own one can (go here) for a quote on your insurance.
Or shoot me an email – tom@larseninsurance.com
Tom Larsen
(716) 684-3203
 

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Craft Brewery Insurance

Craft Brewery Insurance
Since craft breweries are popping up all over the place, insurance companies recognize the special needs these places have. Since the brewery uses special equipment, like pressure vessels, grain mills, holding tanks and unique refrigeration equipment, this is so very different than a typical restaurant exposure. Craft breweries could lose a whole tank of beer, due to electrical arcing or power surge in their business.
Here is one loss that occurred: “After a power outage, the point-of-sale system servicing the brewery sustained electrical damage from a resulting surge. Due to the extent of the damage, the system required replacement. Claim amount = $15,550”
Due to the sensitivity of the brewing process, spoilage and business interruption (loss of income) can result from equipment breakdown. This can happen in any stage of the production, since it is an entire process to brewing beer.
Craft Brewery Insurance
Product spoilage can also occur as a result of utility interruption, failure of an electrical process control or mechanical damage to a compressor. There is also the need for coverage for those craft breweries that sell product off-premises (maybe a trade show, fair or beer festival) and also need coverage for that. The breweries also use underground piping, flues and drains that could come into play in a loss or claim.
Not all insurance companies know how to handle craft breweries and their insurance needs but some insurance companies understand breweries. Patterns, molds and dies are also some of the items these specialty insurance companies understand need coverage. The insurance coverage should be very comprehensive for craft breweries and all the equipment they need to brew their beer. They have a lot invested in making a business out of a hobby of brewing craft beer.
Craft Brewery Insurance
At Larsen Insurance we do insure craft breweries, having several companies that do this.
 
Tom Larsen
tom@larseninsurance.com
716-684-3203

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Why don’t restaurants use mystery shoppers?

Why don’t restaurants use mystery shoppers?
I read a review yesterday in the newspaper about how good the food was at this cheap (everything under $10!) local restaurant. But this was written by a food critic, who gets paid to do reviews and give his opinion. But what if the restaurant got real, honest opinions from 5-10 different parties and not just the food….the service, the atmosphere, the music…everything.
It reminded me of our twice monthly meeting my networking group has at another local restaurant. They accomidate us by having a 4 choice paper menu at each seat, so you can chose which you want. Last meeting I chose the soup and grilled cheese sandwich – which was awful. One piece of cheese on each 1/2 a sandwich – might as well just served bread!
I made sure to tell the managing partner, who is very good at correcting issues like this. But what if I was not a regular customer, had this as my meal and decided to never, ever come back again? This restaurant would never know what occurred or why their business was down.
Why don’t restaurants use mystery shoppers?
At another local restaurant, they take reservations on a Friday, which is a huge fish fry night in Buffalo. They will turn away a walk-in table of 5 because they have tables already reserved. I had mentioned to the owner, “Why not give the turned away party something to get them to return? A free soup coupon, a free dessert coupon, a free glass of wine coupon?” He looked at me like “we don’t give anything away for free.” But that same owner will turn around and put an ad on Goupon or some similar website for 50% off your next meal. What am I missing here?
But this isn’t unique to this particular restaurant owner, I see it happening time and time again. Or they will put an ad in a local paper and say something like – 25% off, new customer discount. What about your loyal, paying customers? Why not know their birthday, give them a completely free meal on their birthday and who will show up alone, without family & friends? I just don’t understand the logic these owners use!
Why don’t restaurants use mystery shoppers?
I would be mystery shopping at the very least 1x a year but probably every 6 months. If I want a growing, thriving business, I need to know what the average consumer is thinking…not some food critic. I would want that honest feedback and know how my restaurant rated in many different area’s, not just food (although very important). You, Mr. (or Mrs.) Restaurant owner could learn so much from these reviews, that it could change the whole bottom line for you! Instead of struggling and maybe contemplating closing your doors, find out what is wrong and fix it!
Use mystery shoppers and I think you’ll find ways to improve your business…..and quickly too!
 
Tom Larsen, Independent Insurance Adviser, Former Restaurant owner.
 
 

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Why Don’t Restaurants Collect Email Addresses?

Why Don’t Restaurants Collect Email Addresses?
I have been known to take clients out for lunch, coffee or a drink or two. Having been a former restaurant owner myself, I enjoy te atmosphere of most restaurants. But of all the places I visit and/or work from (like right now), I am on only 2 email lists!
I find it hard to believe in todays “social media” enviroment, that more restaurants don’t do this. Don’t you want to promote your best customers to repeat their visit? Doesn’t your restaurant have a special to promote this Tuesday or Thursday? Why can’t you share a favoirte receipe?
Why don’t restaurants collect email addresses?
In my insurance business, I use a program called allclients to touch my clients weekly! For $19 per month, it is an inexpensive way to touch your restaurant customers/clients and it doesn’t always have to be about business!
Talk about your local sports teams, what is happening in the community, what charities you support or walks/runs you are doing. People want to deal with people in todays social media world!
Be a person not a restaurant business. Show them how involved you are in the community. The tools available online are making it easy to connect with your customers.
Make no excuse going forward for your restaurant and email addresses. Start TODAY to have your staff collect email addresses and then use an online program to monitor this on a weekly basis. the sooner you start, the better flow of business your restaurant will have.
Tom Larsen, New York Restaurant Expert

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