Highlights and Insights from GGRA’s 3rd Annual Industry Conference

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On April 10 -11, 2017,  the Golden Gate Restaurant Association hosted our 3rd annual GGRA Industry Conference at The Bently Reserve in downtown San Francisco. This gathering brought together nearly 350 attendees from the Bay Area restaurant community as well as industry service providers and stakeholders. Over two days, during twenty-three sessions that included more than seventy presenters, the conference delved into the industry’s complex and shared challenges as well as offering best practices.

The topics were widespread and included a State of the Industry update given by GGRA Executive Director, Gwyneth Borden replete with current data and insights. A selection of the most popular sessions included: Avoiding Costly Litigation; Immigration, Diversity & Implicit Bias; Best Practices in Profitability; and Restaurant Tech. Here is a summary of key takeaways from a selection of panel topics from the two-day program.

Social Media 101: What are Your Social Media Channels Actually Saying

  • Most popular food images on social are pizza, sushi, and steak in that order.
  • Instagram is the most popular and effective platform for food-related content.
  • Monitor hashtags to find out what your community is saying and join the conversation. Posts that use hashtags get considerably more engagement than posts that don’t. You can add up to thirty hashtags to a post. It’s best to add them in as a comment to avoid cluttering your post. Create your own brand hashtag.
  • Geotags can show you what content already exists about your brand and help you identify influencers and ambassadors that can help signal boost your message.
  • Planning an influencer event is a low-cost way to generate high-quality content. Make it easy for your influencer guests to generate content by creating an ideal space for composing images (pre-styled food staged in a well-lit area).
  • Respond to all social media comments, it helps to engage the community with a personal touch.

Restaurants: When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them, and When to Reconcept

  • When structuring a restaurant deal, make sure to factor in an exit plan.
  • If you are going to close, prepare your staff and community for the changes you are about to make. Avoid dropping the big news with minimal notice.
        • Have paychecks ready
        • Return investments
        • Avoid burning bridges (the restaurant industry here is small!)
  • Try to avoid relying heavily on investments from the outset.
  • The benefits of saving money on transitioning to a fast casual concept from full service must be weighed against the community of regulars that could be upset by the change to the service model. 

Restaurant Tech: Adding or Taking From the Bottom Line?

  • Restaurant Tech is just starting to be built by industry veterans and this is making a huge difference in the value it can provide.
  • To the extent possible, try to build a real, solid relationship with the tech provider. They should experience using their tech the way you do so that it can reveal pain points and you can help drive improvements.
  • Adaptation is key to success. Restaurants don’t necessarily need to adapt the new technology early but they need to be open to learning about new platforms and adapting.
  • If you rely heavily on tech systems for POS, delivery orders, etc. make sure you have a backup internet line in case the primary goes down. It is a low-cost way to ensure that service won’t be lost in the event there is a specific service provider outage.

Immigration, Diversity & Implicit Bias

  • 4th and 5th amendment rights apply to all people; citizens and noncitizens alike.
  • We haven’t yet seen large-scale raids or enforcement actions in the Bay Area but it’s important to be prepared and have a plan. Train your employees on correct protocol with immigration officers.
  • There are resources available to help if someone has been detained. There is a hotline for both San Francisco (415-200-1548) and Alameda County (510-241-4011) to report any observed immigrant enforcement actions or raids.
  • Only a judicial warrant–signed by a judge–allows immigration officers to enter a restaurant or other private space. Officers may have something that says ‘warrant’ on it but it will not be signed by a judge and thereby doesn’t count as an actual ‘warrant.’

Other highlights available on social media with the hashtag #IndustryOnlyGGRA and #GGRAIndustryConference. This year’s complete program can be viewed here. 

The conference will return April 2018 and the Bay Area restaurant community and its service providers are encouraged to attend and join the conversation. The GGRA is a force multiplier for the industry and its voice is strengthened when the community comes together to share and exchange insights and tackle its challenges together.

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