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March 2009

The digital edition of the March 2009 issue of Chef Magazine is now online through the Chef Web site. This digital edition features all the same great content as the print edition, plus an online exclusive article on more chicken recipes. To access the issue, click the icon above. You can also register on the Chef Web site to receive e-mail notification when each new digital magazine is available for viewing.
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By Maggie Shea, Chef Magazine

Restaurants in all facets of the foodservice industry are struggling as diners opt to eat in and save their cash. But instead of paying top dollar on advertising campaigns to attract new patrons, restaurant operators from QSRs to casual and even fine-dining establishments are seeking less expensive ways to reward the customers they already have, with the help of e-mail marketing firms.

"Before the economy slowed down, QSRs had a strong foothold in the effectiveness of e-mail marketing," says Boris Bugarski, CEO and president of Santa Ana, Calif.-based e-mail marketing company mUrgent. "Fine dining has been slower to adopt e-mail because they have felt it might hurt their brand. More fine-dining and casual restaurants are calling us now." He says mUrgent is experiencing its highest growth ever this year as a result. Some of its clients include Landry's Restaurants Inc., Koo Koo Roo, Marriott, Rally's Restaurant, Yves Bistro, Chuck's Steak House and Virginia Barbecue.

"Restaurants need loyalty now more than anything," Bugarski says. "Eighty percent of revenue is derived from 20 percent of restaurants' top customers." He adds that e-mail marketing has increased in popularity as restaurant operators seek lower-cost ways to secure revenue from that top 20 percent. Retaining existing customers is cheaper than spending money on advertising to get new customers, he says.

With mUrgent's e-mail marketing programs, restaurant operators can opt to send one or two e-mails per month to customers, which mUrgent will design and write.

The unlimited e-mail marketing plans include birthday and anniversary programs; an online enrollment page for the restaurant's Web site; unlimited e-mail volume, customer list sizes, standard card printing and data entry of cards; a custom, 4-e-mail library; unlimited e-mails from mUrgent's online self-service center; and integrated mobile text marketing, which is optional for the restaurant client. For more information, visit www.murgent.com.

At Alexandria, Va.-based e-mail marketing solution provider Fishbowl Inc., clients range from QSR-style Sonic and McDonald's to Buffalo Wild Wings, Au Bon Pain, Don Pablo's Restaurant, Brazilian steakhouse Texas de Brazil and upscale steakhouse Zed 451.

That's because Fishbowl provides an end-to-end integrated e-mail marketing solution that can be tailored to fit different styles of restaurant companies. Fishbowl's e-mail marketing solution includes member list growth strategies, customized targeting and messaging capabilities and premium delivery and results tracking ability.

The member list growth feature is unlimited, and restaurants can track in-store activity. The targeting abilities are flexible with segmentation abilities to group customers. The messaging package provides corporate brand-oriented messaging, recurring loyalty messaging and local store and viral marketing campaigns to increase guest traffic in both mid-size and large restaurant companies. Independent restaurant operators using local store marketing techniques also can access Fishbowl's design and promotional library, which provides multiple restaurant-oriented e-mail templates and prewritten campaigns that can be altered to fit their brand.
Fishbowl's support team guides clients through the setup process, and handles guest replies. For more information, visit www.fishbowl.com.

Micros Systems Inc., Columbia, Md., provides a customer relationship management (CRM) solution called iCare that monitors and controls all customer activities from a central database. This helps restaurant operators recognize their core customers based on most frequent visits and/or highest spending. Restaurants also can determine methods to attract and measure the development of new or less frequent customers into the core customer database.

iCare provides easy setup and management of stored value and point-based guest information and loyalty programs, with reporting through www.mymicros.net for card balances, transactions by card and transactions by store every 15 minutes with menu-item detail. The solution allows restaurants to track each customer's favorite menu items and anonymous or identified guests, build their guest database and provide specific customer reporting on which to build reward programs and improve communication with guests.

With iCare gift cards or stored value cards, restaurant operators can: activate cards with preset or fixed values; credit transactions with cards through tenders or discounts; reload, cash out and transfer balances to another card; look up gift card accounts by name, ZIP code or phone number; apply usage fees to inactive cards; and manage and control issuance and redemption of cards. Operators using the stored value system, My iCard, can hyperlink www.myicard.net to the restaurant's Web site, and the iCard homepage can be designed to match the restaurant's site design.

Depending on how a restaurant operator wants to build or recognize customer loyalty, he or she can set up a system of points and rewards through iCare at specific restaurant locations or during certain date ranges or days of the week, for example. Restaurant operators can also offer print coupons for subsequent visits, award amounts to customer accounts that achieve a certain point level and on-the-spot discounts to customer checks.

Some of the restaurants that have implemented iCare programs includeMax Restaurant Group and Silver Diner. For more information, visit www.micros.com.
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"Networking is one of the most positive and effective ways to find a job or expand your business. It is the process that leads to building relationships to support your goals. It takes time, planning and follow-up--which means networking is always ongoing. It doesn’t stop at the end of a conference or after a chance meeting. The value of networking is reaped over time and pays off in both imaginable and totally unexpected ways. ..."
--Irena Chalmers, "It's who you know," "The Last Word" column, March 2009, Chef Magazine
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March 2009

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"The prospect of becoming sustainable is enough to make your head spin, especially when it comes to food sourcing. It’s about repairing decades of damage created by overfishing, harmful farming practices, excessive energy and water consumption, ever-growing landfills and pollution.

The solution is a journey where success is measured by progress--not perfection. ..."
--Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, dean of Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, "Industry Voices" column, March 2009, Chef Magazine

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March 2009

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