By Lorie Verdi, VP of the Restaurant Group at DataSource
While many restaurant operators may be in good shape when it comes to meeting the caloric-labeling deadline of Dec 1, not all have considered the (print) execution efforts for menu boards, to-go menus, catering menus and related signage. All printed and digital items must contain current nutritional data, and the execution solution that streamlines the production and delivery of these printed items is the key ingredient to a successful implementation.
So, what does this solution look like? Ideally, it’s a service and technology solution, accessible for the field and home offices. It should provide customized production and printing on demand and help the corporate supply chain and marketing teams manage the entire process from creation through distribution to ensure speed, accuracy and a consistent brand from location to location.
To ensure you have the right building blocks for your execution solution, here are five elements to consider:
Look for a robust technology platform that is accessible to those, who are in charge of menu management requirements and design as well as local market users. While the national marketing team may be deciding on menu design and pushing menus to the local market today, there may be a desire to allow an on-demand solution, where the local market user can customize and order their own menu materials after local menu items are altered or updated. This option will help the national marketing team build in scalability that will eventually (if not currently) remove time and headaches from their day, as well as enable efficient local market reporting on materials ordered.
Make sure the platform is powered by location profiling. Location profiling is the collection of information that captures attributes about each location to keep marketing communication targeted and relevant. These attributes can include products and associated calories, pricing tiers, store address information, hours of operation, merchandising attributes (signage, sizes), language preferences and zoning requirements. Location profiling is a gradual process of collecting data. It’s important to fully understand the profiling capabilities of your partner/supplier. Some considerations include: Who collects the information? How is it collected? How are changes communicated? How does the information integrate into the production process?
One portal for multi-channel execution is crucial since caloric counts must be included in all forms of marketing execution that contain menus: print, email, direct mail, downloads, social and online and print ads. Even if your brand is not empowering local users to order and produce multi-channel marketing pieces today, this is an important aspect to creating a scalable model and developing a long-term partnership with your provider. A unified technology solution that allows for brand control yet localization and customization across multiple channels will remove the time and complexity of material creation, one-off request fulfillment by your national team and create a scalable technology solution that eliminates the need to migrate later.
Although it’s somewhat of a buzz word in today’s marketing execution environment and means different things to different people, “menu management” is an important ingredient for successful execution of caloric labeling deadlines. Bottom line; Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your marketing execution partner manages data and related changes for menus. Some key questions to ask include:
Pursue relationships with providers that can integrate the caloric-labeling execution process, from creative concepts to technology implementation through production, fulfillment and billing for accurate production and delivery in a timely, consistent manner. It’s important to create a road map that reflects every step of the process. You should expect a SOW and accompanying infographic that includes detailed deliverables and a process map. An experienced provider of both the services and technology can guide restaurant marketers through the pitfalls and best practices, turning a challenging task into an opportunity for the team to shine. The marketing and procurement team will benefit from not only a streamlined solution, but industry expertise and cohesive processes that increase effectiveness, reduce cost of labor and product while drive satisfaction levels at the corporate and field levels.
For all of the above considerations, it’s important to pursue a partner that has a track record of helping restaurants keep up with the constant motion of the industry. You’ll be able to jump from one campaign to the next, create seasonal LTOs in an agile environment and roll out new store openings quickly — all while staying under budget and maintaining brand control.