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How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google My Business Listing

The days of hungry people driving down the street looking for a restaurant to try are gone. Now, people turn to the internet; specifically, Google, to help them find the perfect place to eat. 

Google has become the go-to source for people discovering new restaurants. This is because an increase of 46% of Google searches are now locally focused. These searches often consist of adding terms like “near me” or “in [City Name]” onto the end of the search phrase to limit results to local businesses.

In this post, we’re going to focus on a tool every restaurant should be fully capitalizing on to successfully market their business online and increase their profitability — Google My Business.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free and easy-to-use tool that allows you to promote your business online through Google. With GMB, you create a Business Profile for your restaurant, and it helps connect you with customers on Google Search and Maps. 

Why Is It Important?

Local search SEO (search engine optimization) on Google is one of the most powerful tools to increase your restaurant’s online visibility and attract new customers. 

When people are in a hurry to find answers, they rely on the top of the search engine results that Google gives them. So, no matter how great your restaurant’s website is, you may still fail to capture curious consumers if they see outdated information in your GMB listing.

Creating and maintaining your Google My Business profile is well worth the effort since it comes with a whole host of benefits, including increasing your business’s visibility and making a more positive, powerful first impression.

The Top 8 Google My Business Features for Restaurants

Hopefully, you’ve already claimed your GMB listing and added your necessary business information. Your Business Profile should have your restaurant’s name, address, phone number, and hours. 

This is a great place to start, but there are plenty of other opportunities to enhance your GMB listing.

Let’s go over GMB features you should take advantage of. These will help increase your online exposure, search ranking, and customer base.

1. Description

The first feature that will enhance your listing is adding a business description. This section is your opportunity to tell people what makes your restaurant unique. Here are a few talking points you should consider including in your description:

  • Cuisine: First, make sure you tell customers what kind of food you serve. Does your restaurant serve a regional cuisine like Chinese or Indian? Or a fusion cuisine like Tex-Mex? Also, make sure to include a specialized cuisine like vegan or gluten-free if it applies to you. Here is where you want to let diners know what kind of food they can expect to find on your menu. Stating your cuisine plays a significant role in people’s results for ‘near me’ searches. 
  • Atmosphere: What’s the atmosphere or vibe in your restaurant? Are you a fast-casual joint, a quaint cafe, or an upscale restaurant? The atmosphere of a restaurant is just as important to many people as the food they serve. 

The maximum length is 750 characters, but it will be shortened if you write a longer description. Be sure to frontload the most crucial information, but try to keep it brief and to-the-point. 

Here’s a screenshot of what Magnolia Table’s GMB listing looks like for reference to the right. Their description showcases their garden-to-table cuisine, hip vibe and is straightforward. 

2. Reservations & Ordering

Another great way to optimize your GMB listing is using the reservation feature. The reservation feature allows you to include a booking link in your profile.

Adding a booking button to your GMB listing is an excellent way to streamline your guests’ reservation process. You want to have an online reservation system that integrates with Google, such as CAKE’s Guest Manager

Take a look below and notice that the booking times shown are from the restaurant’s reservations system through Guest Manager.

Similarly, GMB listings have also become a place where guests can order food online. Your restaurant’s online ordering system link can also be on your GMB profile. With this, GMB becomes a customer’s one-stop-shop for whatever they need to do to enjoy your restaurant’s food.

3. Menu

Did you know 93% of people look at online menus? Because of this, your restaurant needs to be using the menu feature on GMB. There are two different ways you can use this feature. 

The first method is to insert a direct link to your menu page on your website, as Magnolia Table does above. 

Another method is adding a menu button that will list out your food and drink items. The menu editor lets you add, edit names, descriptions, and prices. It even enables you to break up your menus by categories, such as cocktails, appetizers, and entrees. 

In this area, customers can also add menu photos that will appear above the listed menu. We will show an example in the next section!

4. Photos and Videos

If you want to get people’s attention, you should add some visual interest to your listing in the form of photos and videos.

These visuals don’t have to be of the food itself, though pictures of your most visually appealing dishes are certainly a great thing to feature. People also like seeing pictures of your restaurant’s exterior and interior so they can get an idea of what the seating and atmosphere are.

When you add pictures or videos to your GMB listing, Google will ask you to categorize the photo. For example, you could identify a picture of your restaurant’s front as an exterior photo of the business. 

Here are Magnolia’s featured menu photos on top of their listed menu. As you can see, a lot of these features complement each other and work together to showcase your restaurant’s best offerings. 

This allows people to click on categories of images and videos. It is helpful when there are many visuals associated with your restaurant listing, and they’re looking for something in particular.

Anyone can add pictures and videos of your business online, which will show up in your Google My Business listing. But don’t worry — you can control the visuals people see first when they Google your restaurant. You can also flag a photo for removal if it was actually taken at a different restaurant or is somehow inappropriate.

5. Posts

An underutilized feature of Google My Business that you don’t want to miss out on is Google posts. This feature allows you to create and share announcements. 

Think of these posts as social media status updates. Google Posts can include text, images, and even call-to-action buttons. 

Not sure what to post about on GMB? Here are some ideas:

  • Events: You can post about upcoming events like virtual cooking classes or live music. 
  • General updates: Update your customers on the latest COVID restrictions and safety precautions. Open for dine-in or only take-out? Whatever the update, let customers know.
  • Promotions: Let people know about any special promotions or discounts you have going on in Google Posts. Feature your seasonal menu items and limited-time offers.

6. Q&A Section

The Q&A section on your Google My Business listing is where any user can post a question about your restaurant. With this feature, anyone can also post answers in response. So, it would be best if you closely watched this section to provide fast and accurate responses. You can do this most effectively through the GMB app.

Q&A’s will stay on your listing, so you want to provide thorough answers that future users will find helpful. Also, it’s important to pay attention to the questions people ask. It can give you insight into details you may want to add to your website or social media profiles. For example, if you’re an ice cream parlor and someone asks whether you offer any dairy-free options, you may want to identify dairy-free items on your online menu.

7. Reviews

GMB lets customers review your business through your listing and enables you to respond to them. It is imperative to respond to both good and bad reviews as much as you can. 

Why is this important? 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their purchase decisions. 

Reviews help build your credibility, and customers tend to prefer businesses that engage with them.

8. Insights

Last but certainly not least, is the insights feature. Once you have your listing created, you’ll get a dashboard with invaluable data on your customer’s activity.  

Suppose you’re curious about how many people are booking tables through GMB. In that case, you can look at your booking history through your scheduling provider, which should let you know what percentage of reservations were made directly through your GMB listing.

Google Insights gives you several different ways to understand how customers interact with your listing. Here’s a list from Google:

GMB provides answers to all these actions and requests. This insight can help you see what strategies are working and which need some attention. 

Google My Business Updates for COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to deal with shutdowns, limited opening, and operations have changed indefinitely. Luckily, with GMB, you can communicate these changes with your customers ahead of time. 

The newest addition to GMB is the healthy & safety attribute in your listing. In this section, businesses can let their customers know about the safety measures they are enforcing, such as: 

  • Masks required for customers or staff
  • Temperature checks required for customers or staff
  • Appointments or reservations required

Another update within your listing you can use is the COVID-19 Post. With so many changes due to lockdowns, this post type will let you update your customers, and Google labels it as “COVID-19 related information.”

If you have a temporarily closed restaurant location, you should make this update in GMB as well. 

Takeaway

Adding the necessary information like your address and hours to GMB is only scratching the surface of what it can do to help you market your restaurant effectively and pull in new customers. 

Utilize GMB to its fullest potential by adding the features above to your Business Profile. Hungry diners will have all the information they need to go straight from their phone to your restaurant. 

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The Latest Food News in RVA!

Pinkys-risotto_eileen-mellon.jpg
If vegan risotto gets you excited, head below for the plant-based details surrounding this weekend’s Soul Vegan Block Party. (Photo by Eileen Mellon)

Post originally appeared on RichmondMagazine.com.

All of the latest and greatest food happenings and events around RVA you may have missed!

Dairy Queen 

Among the fans of local ice cream artisan Rabia Kamara’s cool concoctions? No big deal, just celebrities Kevin Bacon and Ludacris and the brains behind the Ben & Jerry’s empire. The VCU grad and co-owner of the North Side ice cream shop Ruby Scoops recently competed on and won Food Network’s “Ben & Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones” and has her eyes set on more sweet ventures in the future. (Richmond magazine)

Fry, Fry Again

Fried chicken is the star of the menu at the newly opened Buttermilk and Honey, a pandemic pivot turned pop-up success and now brick-and-mortar restaurant from husband-and-wife team Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey. The owners of downtown’s Lillie Pearl and, more recently, Pop’s Market on Grace are giving us serious power couple vibes. (Richmond magazine)

Prime Cut

Dog treats, riffs on the sloppy Joe and ZZ Top may not be the first things that come to mind when one thinks of a craft butchery, but Jackie Wayne Beef Co. Culinary Director Garrett Eagleton says otherwise. Second in command at the local butcher and meat delivery service, Eagleton talks Texas chili, his relocation to Richmond and more meaty topics in our interview. (Richmond magazine)

Plant Power

After making its debut in 2019 and then having to cancel last year due to the pandemic, the plant-based party that aims to promote and diversify the vegan lifestyle is back. On Sept. 11, the Soul Vegan Block Party will host a five-hour event at Chimborazo Park that features a hefty lineup of plant-friendly eateries and vendors including Favour Cookie Co., SoulSmith Kombucha, Nomad Deli & Catering Co., 1115 Mobile Kitchen, and more. Come hungry, and come curious.

On the Farm Again

While their names may be familiar and their produce may be part of your weekly market haul, Real Local RVA’s 5th annual farm tour presents the opportunity to dig a little deeper with some area growers. Mark your calendars for Sept.18 and head to Mechanicsville’s Charlotte Acres — home to Shine Farms, Real Roots Food Systems and Hazel Witch Farm — for an outdoor nosh-and-learn session. Tickets are on sale now.

ICYMI

Get your croissant, cookie and challah on at the recently debuted Up All Night Bakery. The walk-up window from a seasoned pastry chef is open two days a week in Lakeside. (Richmond magazine)

The owner of Salsas Don Sebastian adores arepas and has a soft spot for spaghetti al limone. Learn more about the Venezuela native and mom in our latest spotlight. (Richmond magazine)

Monday restaurant closures can crush those dining dreams, but we’ve tracked down a collection of spots that stay open, and ones to skip, to help start the week right. (Richmond magazine)

Later, ‘maters. Savor tomato season before it’s too late, with a flaky tart recipe from The Roosevelt and tips on picking the ripest of the bunch. (Richmond magazine)

Drumroll, please. The winner of Gearharts Fine Chocolates’ custom flavor contest, a celebration of the chocolatier’s 20th anniversary that garnered a few hundred entries, is Strawberry Chutney. Expect the new bar to drop in coming months. The runner-up choices were inspired, too, with Peanuts and Cola as well as Pear Sangria getting a nod from Gearharts.

For all those welcoming the changing leaves and sweatshirt weather, Starr Hill Brewery is right there with ya. Beginning Sept. 15, the Scott’s Addition rooftop bar will host its annual Fall Fest, five days of food trucks, live tunes and festive brews including Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and in a few weeks Longoven’s Andrew Manning will head to Chicago to join chefs Noah Sandoval of Oriole and Ryan Smith of Staplehouse for the third annual dinner to benefit Vibrant Emotional Health, an organization that works with people to help achieve mental and emotional well-being.

RVA Love

A spoof on one of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A’s top-sellers, the Gay-Fil-A chicken sandwich at Carver dive bar and eatery Cobra Cabana recently got a shout-out in Ultimate East Coast Gay Road Trip Guide from Thrillist. Each week a portion of proceeds from sales of the strictly Sunday sammy goes to Side by Side, a local nonprofit that supports Virginia’s queer youth.

Upcoming Events

  • Sprezza Cucina Pop-up, The Coop (Sept. 11): Look for ricotta gnocchi, Bolognese pappardelle and more from this rustic Italian pop-up; preordering required.
  • Keya & Co. Pop-up, Tabol Brewing (Sept. 11): Ghee masala mac and cheese and frooti boxes are on the menu, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the NYC Fire Department.
  • The Cookout Drag Brunch, Charlotte’s Southern Deli & Tapas (Sept. 11): Start Saturday off in style with brunch and performances.   
  • Cider Festival, Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Co. (Sept. 11): Venture to Virginia Beach for a gathering of cideries from the commonwealth, including Richmond-area favorites Buskey, Courthouse Creek and Blue Bee.
  • Royal Pig Pop-upThe Veil Brewing Co. Forest Hill Avenue (Sept. 12): Cambodian comfort food; menu TBA
  • High on the HogPublix Cooking School (Sept. 13): Learn how to prepare pork all ways during this hands-on class.
  • Summer Evening Artisan Market, Main Line Brewery (Sept. 15): Catch Tiffany’s Food Truck, Loquito Coquito cocktails and more.
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Saved! Pop’s Market lives on!

Post originally appeared on https://richmondbizsense.com.

It looks like Pop’s Market will continue on under the tutelage of one of its downtown neighbors.

The market and cafe at 415 E. Grace St., which had reportedly been set to close this month, appears set to be taken over by Kimberly Love-Lindsey and Mike Lindsey, owners of restaurant Lillie Pearl across the street.

The wife-and-husband duo looks to be saving Pop’s from closure after filing an ABC application on Wednesday for the existing Pop’s space using the Pop’s Market brand as its trade name.

Kimberly Love-Lindsey and Mike Lindsey are the owners of Lillie Pearl. (BizSense file)

Pop’s Market has been operating out of the former Cokesbury books building downtown since 2015 under the ownership of son-and-mother duo Josh and Patti Wright. Named for Josh’s late father, the market’s sandwiches on fresh-baked bread and pasta-focused entrees have made it a popular downtown lunch and dinner destination.

But in the spring, the Times-Dispatch reported that Pop’s would be closing sometime this month.

Josh Wright and his mother Patti have owned Pop’s Market since 2015. (BizSense file)

Reached Wednesday, Josh Wright declined to comment on any deal that might be in place. Love-Lindsey and Lindsey couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

If the Pop’s deal materializes, the restaurant would be a fourth spot for Love-Lindsey and Lindsey. They opened Lillie Pearl last fall at 416 E. Grace St. after years helping lead EAT Restaurant Partners.

In addition to Lillie Pearl, the couple is also opening two locations of their fried chicken concept Buttermilk and Honey — one in Hatch Local, a forthcoming food hall in Manchester, and the other in West Broad Marketplace in Short Pump.

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Supply chain woes? Here’s how to protect you and your business.

It’s no secret that many industries are suffering from supply chain issues. The pandemic panic caused people and businesses to buy an abundance of items (hello, toilet paper!). In addition, production decreased due to a decreased demand for certain products. The restaurant and food industry has been one of the biggest victims of this crisis – many establishments are being forced to change menus, hours, and more due to supply AND staffing shortages.

According to Forbes.com, “initial consumer shelf shortages in 2020 were the result of many consumers wrongly believing a food production crisis was imminent, and buying up everything they could. Over the past year, however, production—particularly production targeting restaurants—diminished due to reduced demand.

With states now reopening, people are flocking to restaurants again, and most suppliers did not anticipate how rapidly customers would return. This has led to restaurant supply chain disruptions, from chicken parts to restaurant workers. Wages for restaurant workers are rising due to worker “return” shortages, caused in some cases by employees collecting unemployment benefits that may be higher than their previous wages, or else due to delayed re-openings for daycares and schools, which have forced many parents to stay home and care for children instead of returning to work. And as an example of how interconnected everything is in business today, the restaurant industry is also being harmed by the computer chip shortage. In addition, rising gasoline prices have resulted in increased transportation costs (refrigeration truck pricing has risen over 20% from February to May), leading to increased food prices.”

Fortunately, Forbes has some ways to protect your business from the fallout of the crisis.

1. Invest in the right technology

Within your secure and up-to-date digital network, you need integrated data from customers, sales, suppliers, and producers through “state of the art” inventory management systems connecting you to your suppliers, your production facilities, your warehouses, and your sales organization.

Invest in inventory management software that can provide real-time, detailed visibility into inventory control and supply chain management, including inventory levels, stock on order, and supplier on-time performance. Knowing the inventory levels at your vendors and raw materials at your suppliers will help you avoid volatility in your supply chain.

TAKEAWAY: Technology investments are relatively cheap when compared to the lost sales caused by a lack of inventory.

2. Diversify suppliers and manufacturing partners

Do not count on environmental, social, and political (ESP) stability. Follow your business instincts, not a simplistic, cost-focused software algorithm. Case in point is the political and economic issues between China and the United States, which have led many large manufacturers to use multiple suppliers—even at marginally higher costs—to avoid losing business and customers from potential supply chain disruptions.

TAKEAWAY: Hedge your bets—don’t rely on one supplier for a key component of your product.

3. Incorporate risk management into your supply chain management

Supply chain management is not just the sourcing of raw materials. It involves the end-to-end flow of goods and services, and includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products. It involves the active streamlining of a business’s supply-side activities to maximize customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Make sure you understand where you might have supply chain disruption that could affect product quality, pricing, and availability.

TAKEAWAY: Develop a supply chain risk matrix that allows the assessment of probabilities of supply chain disruption, and use it to mitigate and monitor risks.

4. Create a procure-to-pay purchasing system

Many functions in a business are not well integrated. Excel spreadsheets and manual processes are still common in many middle-market businesses. Procure-to-pay is a business process cycle spanning from procurement functions for goods and services needed, to receiving procedures (including verification), to accounts payable and accounting functions. Payables duties include vendor invoice matching to purchase orders and receiving reports, getting invoice approvals, paying approved invoices, recording transactions, and generating reports.

TAKEAWAY: Move from manual, paper-based purchasing to lower-cost, higher-control automated purchasing that links all relevant functions across your business.

5. Focus on the basics—cash is king

While thinking about supply chains, think about the supply chain involved with your cash flow. Do you conduct effective cash-flow forecasting? For example, how long can you last if there is a disruption and you cannot move your product? Is “just in time” inventory of materials and parts still a dependable theory? Do you have a line of credit or documents prepared to obtain a short-term loan if necessary to secure backup inventory? What is the cost of lost customers from not being able to sell your product due to shortages?

Good cash management is your ace in the hole, especially if your competitors lack this expertise. Successful businesses practice effective cash conversion cycle (CCC) management. CCC is a business measurement that expresses the time (measured in days) it takes for a company to convert its investments in inventory and other resources into cash flows from sales. Essentially, if your cash is tied up more days in inventory and raw materials than in days to collect on sales, then you could be “growing your company into the ground.” The more you grow, the more cash you will need from your bank.

TAKEAWAY: Focus on how long it takes to convert inventory to cash. Implement practices to accelerate cash collection from customers.

Coordination and cooperation are critical to avoid supply chain disruptions

Effective management of your supply chain provides several opportunities for your company to improve your profit margins and retain customers, but coordination and cooperation with all contributors to your supply chain is critical. Genuine engagement with those contributors is a win-win for manufactures and supply chain partners. Know this: your suppliers are ready (and in many cases eager) for change with you—this is a margin-increasing opportunity for them, too.

Article can be found here.

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Clean Restaurant? CHECK!

Keeping a busy restaurant clean is no easy task! Between lunch and dinner rushes, making sure customers are happy and taken care of, and now dealing with staffing shortages and Covid protocols, it can be harder than ever. Here’s a checklist to help you and your staff focus on the important stuff (and maybe the little things you may not think of!)

  • Train your staff – this may seem super obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in training on serving customers, we forget to train on the every day minutiae like cleaning. When you onboard someone new, make sure to take time to teach them the basics of maintaining a clean restaurant. When you teach them to use equipment, make sure to teach them how to clean it as well. A dry erase board everyone can see daily can help make sure your cleaning checklist gets done.
  • Cleaning during and after each shift – You don’t have to do all the cleaning right at closing time. Set aside a few chores for employees to do before and after each of their shifts. Chores should include wiping down the prep areas and cutting boards, washing the prep equipment such as blenders and slicers, brushing off the cooktops, emptying drip trays, taking out the trash, and wiping up any massive splatters on the floors or counters. You should also have someone do the dishes, so there’s always clean silverware available for customers.
  • End of day cleaning – Of course there are some tasks that can’t be completed until after your restaurant closes for the day. Not only would it be fruitless to do these chores before closing, but they may disturb customers as well. These end of day cleaning tasks include sweeping and vacuuming the floors, cleaning the washing stations, wiping down the floor mats, getting any splatters and spills off the walls, cleaning the beverage dispensers, washing the countertops, cleaning and shutting down the fryers and cooktops, and changing foil linings if your cookware uses them.  
  • Weekly cleaning – Some tasks are not meant to be completed on a daily basis. Pour your cleaners down the sink drains and refill them with fresh, new cleaner. After that, you’ll boil out the deep fryers and check your metal faucets, sinks, and coffee makers for built-up limescale. Clean the outside of your refrigeration units and give the interior and exterior of your ovens and steamers a good scrubbing.
  • Monthly cleaning – Every month or so, you should give your restaurant a thorough deep cleaning. One important thing you should include is the condenser coils in your refrigerators. If too much grease buildup on these, it will stop the unit from working as it should. You should also clean the tubes, air filters, drain pans, and the interior of the refrigeration units while you’re at it. Empty all your grease traps and switch out any pest traps you have lying around. Last but not least, calibrate the thermostats on your ovens if they need it. 
  • Yearly cleaning – There are a couple of larger jobs that need to get done each year. Check your ice machines and dishwashers for limescale buildup. When winter weather starts to come around, you should have professionals come in to check out your plumbing and heating to ensure they work through the cold months. 
  • The little things – Last but certainly not least, there are smaller tasks that are often forgotten about but just as important. These include:
    • Ice Accessories – the ice maker is your biggest challenge but that scoop your staff uses? Yea, that thing can get pretty gross from being touched all day. Run it through the dishwasher at least once a day.
    • Soda fountain – all the syrupy sugar can build up on your nozzles and make them super yucky. Remove them once a day for a good cleaning and then replace them
    • Menus – many restaurants post-Covid have opted for paper or QR code menus, but some establishments are still using the old-fashioned kind. If they are laminated, give them a good wipe down. If they are paper, make sure they are replaced often.