This post is sponsored by LINKFRESH. Consumers continue to ask where their food comes from and if it is sustainably produced. Companies have the opportunity to earn trust and win business by providing answers to these critical questions. In this Spotlight, we’ll share ways food providers can leverage technology to meet changing consumer demands.

Robert (Rob) Frost is group chief executive officer for LINKFRESH. Since joining the company in 1998 as finance director, he has worked closely with the Board of Directors in realizing a new vision for the business. In 2010, LINKFRESH began to expand internationally and now has offices in California. In addition to Europe, USA and Canada, LINKFRESH is also active in Australia and the Middle East. Robert’s early career was in the finance departments of large organizations, notably the University of Cambridge and BUPA private healthcare provider.

How can an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution help companies grow their business? (read more…)

Good food and a pleasant atmosphere are a big part of bringing customers in the door, but building relationships with those customers is important to securing repeat business. Tools like post-dining surveys, mobile applications and customer recovery programs are key for restaurants that want to get to know their customers and keep them coming back for more, a panel of experts said in a webinar presented Tuesday by NCR titled “Closing the Loop: Turning Customer Engagement into Repeat Business“.

Here are some key takeaways from the panel discussion:

Invest in tech

Technology is quickly becoming an inextricable part of the dining experience for many consumers, whether they are placing an order on a tabletop tablet or using Twitter or Facebook to leave feedback about their experience. Many customers — especially tech-savvy millennials — are starting to expect eateries to offer online ordering and mobile payment, and brands that fail to integrate tech solutions could lose business to competitors who are quicker to embrace tech. (read more…)

Tempting as it is to believe that women still handle most of the household food shopping, and that marketing and merchandising to them is the best way to attract shoppers’ dollars, the reality is more complicated.

Not only are more men shopping – almost half of primary shoppers are now male – but they also shop differently from women. Those differences are worth considering in everything from product selection to store layout.

Men browse less, although they enjoy browsing at club and dollar stores. They tend to shop with a “search and retrieve” method that contrasts with women’s typical “browse and buy” technique. Men go to whatever section they need, consider what’s there and head to the cash register.

As a result, some drug stores have set up special aisles devoted to male grooming products. “The man aisle” includes everything from razors to body sprays to lotions made for men. Sometimes there’s even a flat-screen HDTV. (read more…)

America’s foodies have educated themselves about different cuisines and exotic ingredients through travel, food TV shows, social sharing sites and even old-fashioned word-of-mouth, and the most adventurous among them are fueling the rising popularity of chefs’ tasting menus. Paradoxically, the more they know, the more many want to be surprised and delighted rather than dictate each course.

Chefs Andrew Kochan and Tim Lanza bought Philadelphia’s Marigold Kitchen this year from founder Rob Halpern, who spent five years building a following for the eatery’s tasting menu. The partners are carrying on the tradition Halpern started, along with Chef Keith Krajewski and General Manager Christopher Albert.

“We’re doing the same thing as the previous owner, it’s something bold and unique, but we have tweaked it in our own way,” said Lanza.

Marigold Kitchen offers a 14-course tasting menu for $90 per person, with seasonal offerings that change at least four and as many as six times a year, Lanza said. (read more…)

For many people, the restaurant industry is a doorway into the working world — one in three adults report that their first job was in a restaurant. For some, that job leads to a life-long career. In a recent workforce survey of U.S. restaurant workers, the National Restaurant Association found that 88% of restaurant workers were proud to work in the industry, and 70% said they would likely continue to work in the industry until they retire.

SmartBrief talked to NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney about how restaurants help employees rise through the ranks and what it takes to be a leader in the industry.

According to the NRA Educational Foundation’s workforce study, seven out of ten restaurant employees say they will likely continue working in the industry until they retire. What can restaurant companies do to help employees rise through the ranks?

The industry is honestly doing a great job of this already. (read more…)