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The UBER of Food

If you do not know what UBER is, look it up. The short version is that UBER is a Silicon Valley company that changed the old established business of taxi service. UBER makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. The company arranges pickups in dozens of cities around the world.

Traditional taxi companies are furious. Taxis must pay for “medallions” controlled by cities to regulate the number of cars in service. In theory, “medallioned” cars are inspected for safety and driven by trained drivers to insure safe passage and fair pricing. If you have ever hailed a cab in a big city, you might question that outcome. The monopoly power exerted by taxi companies and the municipalities that back them created the demand for a modern service that is responsive and priced fairly. In other words, a free market system.  Read more »

Brands and Millennials

I will “out” myself as a boomer.

We boomers came of age in a simpler time with three TV stations that played commercials to our moms in plaid dresses. In those days, soap operas actually sold soap. Mom would also read the Wednesday food section in the newspaper, clip the coupons and proceed to the grocery store to buy Tide or Kraft or Jell-O. As foodservice burgeoned in the late 1960’s, brands such as McDonald’s, Hot Shoppes and Dunkin Donuts etched themselves in our mind.

A recent study of retail brands and millennials indicates a very different relationship to brands. Brand loyalty is not a major pull for Millennials. When a national brand they wish to buy is not available on the shelf, four in ten choose the store brand; one third pick a different national brand but one in eight look elsewhere for the national brand they initially wanted. Read more »

Guest Post – INTEGRITY AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS

This is from our friend Dan Strogin – Manage Naturally - http://managenaturally.com/

Ethics, Integrity and Surviving the Long Term

Recent history is thick with hot-shot companies that flame out in scandal, but we rarely hear about real survivors in the news, companies like J.E. Rhoads and Sons, founded in 1702 and still operating, the oldest surviving American company. Somehow Rhoads and Sons managed to survive five major depressions, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution, and outsourcing to Asia. They make industrial belts, if you don’t know.

In the 1700s their founder ascribed the company’s success to a commitment to “treat people as they want to be treated,” customers and employees alike. His dedication to this principle has survived, and for most of the 20th century, “Rhoads family members and managers often left the company for months at a time to do work that helps mankind” (according to an article by Nancy Sheperdson from 1993). Read more »

Guest Post – Spoiler Alert

How many times have you warily eyed a milk carton’s sell-by date, sniffed its contents, and then, with a shrug, tossed it in the trash? When in doubt, the saying goes, throw it out. And sure enough, every year, about 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes uneaten; a typical four-person household discards roughly $1,500 worth. It’s not just our wallets that are hurting, though: between the energy that’s used growing and transporting crops and the methane gas released by rotting food in landfills, food waste is responsible for emitting the equivalent of 3.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. If food waste were a country, it’d be the third-largest greenhouse-gas emitter on the planet, after China and the U.S. Read more »

The Breakfast Wars

Up and down the foodservice spectrum, breakfast is heating up. Here are some recent developments:

• Taco Bell introduced a breakfast menu trading on ubiquitous locations and a massive promo of the Waffle Taco. The Bell blitzed social media and took direct aim at rival McDonald’s, including an ad campaign making fun of Ronald the clown. Read more »

Guest Post – 5 Reasons to Raise Restaurant Prices

When was the last time you raised your prices? If it’s been a while, what’s stopping you? Look around. You’ll notice that prices are going up everywhere on everything. Today is the day to raise your prices, and below are five reasons why.

Reason #1: You’re Worth It. If you are pushing out a good product that customers cannot get from the guy down the street, your prices should reflect that. You will not lose as many customers as you’re afraid you might, and if a few do disappear, they’ll be replaced by those willing to pay for the quality you’re providing. Read more »

Guest Post – Is healthy dining just a fad?

Gluten-free, organic, all natural, low sodium. They’re the familiar buzzwords that have come to define a growing movement among consumers for healthier menu choices when dining out.

Like it or not, food industry experts say restaurateurs can’t ignore an increasingly savvy segment of diners who are expecting better-for-you options on restaurant menus.

A growing public consciousness about healthful food and how to creatively incorporate it into restaurants’ culinary offerings was a common theme that infiltrated many of the panel discussions at the National Restaurant Association’s four-day trade show that concluded this week in Chicago. It drew more than 60,000 attendees and some 2,000 exhibitors from around the world. Read more »

The Personal Touch

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with some business colleagues in a restaurant near their office. It was a nice Italian place with an authentic menu in a strip shopping center. The wait staff brought the menus, typical large format menu in a plastic cover. There on the front was the restaurant name, address, phone number and in 24-point type: Owner – George, with his cell number.

I commented to the manager how unusual it was to see the owner’s personal number so prominent, he said instantly, “George wants to hear from customers if they aren’t happy.”  Read more »

Can Retail Experience Predict the Foodservice Future?

The big news in the grocery business is the sale of Safeway to Albertson’s parent company, Cerberus Capital. Safeway, the number two grocery retailer in the U.S., did not believe it had the strength to “go-it-alone” in the fast changing retail business.

After years of fighting off, Wal-Mart, Target, WINCO and Aldi on the lower-priced side, and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s on the natural, sustainable, quality side, the huge retailer looks to merge, cut costs and manage the steepness of their decline.

Is there a lesson for foodservice operators in this equation? Below are the highlights followed by my comment for foodservice operators.  Read more »

Guest Post – The Angela Test

Many years ago, when I was a young father, my wife and I would go out to a restaurant once a week for a meal. During the years my daughter was a toddler and we were “potty” training her, she would, without exception, request a trip to the restroom. I saw a lot of restrooms.  However, on most visits she would do nothing, just visit! Despite this outcome, we still visited the restrooms when she requested because at her training stage, we didn’t want to take chances.  We joked that she was inspecting the restrooms as a test about the quality of the food. As I grew older and involved in businesses that serve the public I realized the importance of the “Angela Test”. Read more »