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Anonymous said: Any thoughts on POS for small cafes - breadcrumbs vs square vs lavu vs shopkeep, or PC based Aloha or Aldelo? I'm interested in CRM capabilities, I was really disappointed that breadcrumbs can't remember a walk in customer, only if they call from their phone. is it too much to ask to be able to remember a recurring VIP customer??

I agree that capturing customer info from all your points of sale  absolutely important. Online and mobile ordering, counter, table, catering, bar… what if you have a customer who orders delivery 5x month but never comes to the restaurant? or someone who buys coffee every day, pays cash and never has their info captured in the POS? Big time problem.

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Not just the world’s coolest lollipops. via thefancy

Not just the world’s coolest lollipops. via thefancy

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Welcome Luis E. Fabian!

A restaurant prospers or fails for a million reasons, but few are as powerful as location. And when looking for talent to staff our establishments- from servers to software developers- it is tempting to let geography guide our search as it does our store fronts. We recruit from the local college, the local Meetup, the friends of friends we can meet for coffee. But talent is a global community bounded only by the borders we impose. 

Today we are thrilled to welcome Luis to Ordr.in. Luis comes to us from Madrid (Spain) via the brilliant Jovenes con Futuro program, part of StepOne, placing high quality Spanish devs with U.S. companies. Competition for these developer is fierce and we are excited to get one, doubly so to work with Luis.  

Luis has wide ranging experience, from big systems work at a major telecom to just about everything at a startup. In his spare time he built a paid traffic app for android that is very popular. And, until this year, has never missed an Atletico Madrid home game. 

We didn’t find Luis at a Meetup. Luis didn’t find us because of a friend of a friend. It was StepOne coupled with our deep belief that talent can be found anywhere that made this match. A great team getting better. Welcome, Luis!

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Sympathy with style

Sympathy with style

(Source: benjw, via drinkshopdo)

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SXSW Panel Picks: Vote Now!

That time of the year is rolling around again — SXSW is fast approaching. Yes, the number of proposed panels is staggering, but there’s plenty of fantastic sessions out there to check out and vote up.
These are our official office picks, starting with a very special panel that features Senior Ordr.in Hacker, Ricky Robinett. Check em out and cast your vote!

From tactical tagging to tweeting at influencers, the panel will discuss the “how,” “when,” and “who” of strategic creation, so companies can target the best audience that will want and need to share their content.
  • Michael Selvidge, Twilio
  • Lian Amaris, Songbird
  • Ricky Robinett, Ordr.in
  • Peter Shankman, Vocus Inc
Synergies in food, tech and music are emerging - how can we accelerate these networks and create a more sustainable future of food and health?
  • Eytan Oren, Eytan & The Embassy
  • Tim West, Cerealize.com | Grub.ly
  • Danielle Gould, Food + Tech Connect
  • Destin Layne, GRACE Communications Foundation
This panel will discuss the kinds of startups being funded, deal mechanics, navigating pitfalls, and the implications of crowdfunding on food startups and innovation.
  • Matt Wise, Founderly
  • Wade Roush, Xconomy
  • Andy Donner, Physic Ventures
  • Ryan Caldbeck, CircleUp
Taken from their own experiences and partnerships, the panellists will discuss dos and don’ts and debate when to build yourself or buy from someone else.
  • Jeff Lawson, Twilio
  • John Collison, Stripe
  • Jim Franklin, SendGrid
  • Scott Kveton, Urban Airship
This panel of experts will explore the opportunities of learning to program, career options and the outcome of the growing online market for education.
  • Adria Richards, SendGrid
  • Sasha Laundy, Codecademy
  • Rob Conery, Tekpub
Vote for these winners, or take a look at what else is being proposed and vote for your favorites! 
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Farewell Summer 2012 Interns!

When the summer started I blogged about the great interns we recruited and our hopes for them. Turns out they exceeded our hopes. Jason, Joanne, Michael and Susie. An amazing bunch. I asked Joanne to write about her experience, what she learned and how she feels. Her words (barely edited) are below.

——————-

It’s a familiar routine now, march past Beecher’s and through the glass doors and into the clunky elevator, wait for a couple minutes, and greet the wood panels of the office on the 7th floor.

This, I am leaving.

In a day, I’ll be heading back home to cornfields and gas stations so I wanted to say a lot of things in this blog post, share what I’ve done, lessons I’ve learned. But I’d rather say one thing that will stick. So here it is:

I’ve learned here what it means to be part of a team. 

At Ordr.in, all of us believe this company will really change the restaurant industry. We are committed and passionate, motivated by the vision and encouraged by good company. All oars are in and we’re rowing hard and fast.

But we also get away from those devilish little monitors that can box us off to grab and eat lunch together, share good stories together, update everyone on our work together. 

We stop to celebrate finished projects, closed deals, awesome ideas and acknowledge the people behind them. (And when I say celebrate, I don’t mean a casual “hey nice job” I mean pull-out-all-the-stoppers celebrate).

We gather to talk about ideas, product visions, or a new phase in product development. There are spontaneous ice cream runs, ping pong games, and heated competitions over Google Doodle. It’s really great fun. But we also work hard and the combination of work, fun and acknowledgement is what makes this ship sail. We created a website about our internships for future interns.


Thanks team for teaching me how fun and rewarding it is to be part of a team. 

I am sad to leave. Truly. 

——————

We will miss you, too, and all the interns. We are very proud to have all of you in the Ordr.in family.

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Make your restaurant mouth-wateringly irresistible with great food photos

CNN has a great blog post by Derrick Chang on taking mouth-watering photos of food. This is critical for restaurant marketing. Customers respond to images of food. Having no images, boring images or sloppy images of your restaurant are missed opportunities — or worse, active turn-offs to browsing potential customers. 

  • Start with great looking food.  Not everything looks good in pictures. Pay attention to colors, contrasts, and moisture (seriously, no dried out veggies). And please arrange the plate nicely. Brown stew in a bowl 30 minutes from the pot isn’t going to look good.
  • Pay attention to lightEven without fancy lighting you can take great food pictures. Avoid flash which can be harsh; natural light is often best. Experiment with time of day, move from table to table. Keep at it until the light is warm and bright. 
  • Get in close. Food details including texture bring the item to life. Don’t be afraid of your camera’s macro setting to get right…up…close.

And now two of my own tips:

  • Use them. Once you have your best pics — and only use your best — post them on Facebook, tweet them, pin them, post to Foursquare and Yelp.  Create social media contests by asking customers to guess the menu item. This isn’t art, it’s marketing.
  • Refresh them regularly. Taking great pictures of food can take a little time but is a great investment. New images are instantly engaging to customers and can help your website and social media profiles. I recommend a few new pictures every month, especially when you release new menu items. 

Need some inspiring examples? Check out our Pinterest boards on food styling and restaurant design.

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Groupon is not to blame

Last week another restaurant-Groupon faceoff went public, featuring Back Alley Waffles in Washington, DC. Back Alley claimed Groupon’s slow payment cycle was to blame for a business-killing cash crunch. Groupon fired back saying they were paying on the agreed-upon schedule, and that only 18% of the daily deals sold had been redeemed.

It is easy to blame others when business goes south. Ruby Tuesday once blamed “winter weather” for missing sales targets. Groupon makes a tempting target. But the facts are on Groupon’s side and provide an unfortunate but helpful lesson to other operators.

Let’s run the numbers:

  • Customers bought a $16 coupon for $8.
  • 733 deals were sold, generating $5,864 in sales.
  • Back Alley earned half ($2,932) payable in 3 monthly installments
  • 132 deals were redeemed.

Note: the restaurant is publishing somewhat different numbers but the difference is  not material.

My gut (and I’d love some operators to weigh in) is that the gross margin on an artisinal waffle is at least 60%. That means for every Groupon redeemed, Back Alley Waffle incurred tops $6.40 in direct cost. Cost = $6.40 x 132 = $844.80.

Let’s play that back: Back Alley Waffle earned $2,932 at a cost of $844.80. 

Even with a slow payment cycle, Back Alley was out $844.80 while waiting for their first $977 installment.

There are two big lessons here. The first is to make sure you have enough cash on hand to invest in your business post-opening. If you get to opening day with nothing but loose change, you’re probably toast. As a new restaurant Back Alley was just figuring out their operations and doing so with what they describe as “no money”. Sudden success, even before the Groupon, made the learning curve doubly hard. So why then spend money you don’t have to get customers you don’t need? Operators should to align their marketing investment with their business goals.

Second, know your operating metrics. The cost of the campaign is not forgone revenue ($16 X 733 = $11,728) and should not include indirect costs. Did Back Alley add staff specifically to serve 132 Groupon customers over a month? Did they pay more rent or need a new licence? The only costs are the direct costs of cooking and serving waffles for the customers who redeemed. 

I don’t think daily deals are for everyone. I think a daily deal can be dangerous if not done right. But this deal looks like like it accomplished what was intended- customers acquired profitably. 

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Twitter for Restaurants: A Guide to Getting Started

Ordr.in is in the business of simplifying digital life for as many restaurants as possible. With that goal in mind, we’re launching a new series of social media guides for restaurants: How-to guides for restaurants to understand how to make social media work for them to build their brand, handle customer service with care, and attract new customers.

Our first guide is Twitter for Restaurants — an overview of how a restaurant can get up and running on Twitter. The rewards for the restaurant that does Twitter right can be so worthwhile in the long run, so take a look at these Tweeting best practices and make sure your restaurant is maximizing its impact on Twitter.

Our Twitter guide for restaurants is short and concise — easy to print out and tack onto your wall. We hope restaurants everywhere trying to understand the art of the tweet will find our guide to Twitter a useful resources. So share and share alike!

image credit: Twitter ad for @pancheros at their ames location. by Brood_wich, on Flickr

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TwilioCon 2012 is coming

The second annual TwilioCon is fast approaching, and we’re thrilled that our own Ricky Robinett, hacker extraordinaire, will be a featured speaker at the SF-based event.

If you don’t know Twilio, you should: They’re making telecom accessible for over 10 million developers worldwide to be able to automate phone calls, text messages, and more. Next generation communications are essential to what Ordr.in does for restaurants, and Twilio makes it easy.  

Ricky’s apps have been used by hundreds of thousands of users and covered in multiple media outlets including CNN, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat and the Today Show.

TwilioCon early bird registration ends in just a couple of weeks, so take a look at the schedule and speakers. And let us know if we’ll see you there!