Four Ways You Should be Using Restaurant Data to Grow Sales

Personalization is the buzzword of the 21st century. Everyone wants to feel like what they’re getting was made for them. Enter data-driven marketing. Data-driven marketing uses the information gathered from customer sales to personalize future interactions with them. The result: they feel more connected to your brand because you “know” what they like.

Using sales records from your in-store POS, mobile app and online store, you can uncover customer habits and trends that allow you to customize guest interactions, customer experience and loyalty programs. Within this data resides the “voice” of the customer which can help you grow sales in four ways.

Customized offerings

The key to restaurant success is repeat purchases. You need to get a new customer to dine at your location four times before your location joins their shortlist of places to eat.  For existing customers, you want to shorten the interval between visits and you want to incentivize them to spend more when they come in.

You can accomplish this using data about who your customers are, their preferences and which items they order in conjunction with other items. For example, many customers will place similar orders each time they dine with you. Using this intelligence, you can customize menu suggestions and special offers. Additionally, you know how frequently customers visit and how much they tend to spend. This enables you to target premium customers with personalized loyalty rewards to bring them back more often. You can also lure less frequent customers with discounts on popular or new items.

Maximize customer value

Enhancing the customer experience is another way data can boost sales. If you know a customer orders the same combo meal once per week, you can target that person for a limited-time offer that encourages a second weekly visit. You can also send an upsell offer for an add-on, such as an appetizer or dessert to get them to explore new options.

Additionally, you can offer a coffee or snack to a guest who only orders kid’s meals, presuming that the paying adult might enjoy a small treat as well. Or, you can send the person a special offer, such as a family discount for dining together.

Menu Changes

With access to sales data, you know exactly what menu items sell the best, and can pair them with new or a less popular one to build interest. Getting an extra $1.50 out of your menu 125 times a day each year, adds up to almost $70,000. So take the time to analyze data to uncover opportunities. Look at meal popularity and profitability, as well as trending menu items, such as healthier choices, vegetarian and organically grown. Sales data will tell you what the most popular price point is, as well as frequently requested dietary needs and allergens to avoid in recipes.

Traffic Patterns and Staffing Adjustments

Sales data tells you what your busiest parts of the day and week are, as well as whether customers are being serviced in a timely manner, and which team members do the most upselling. These insights into average service time relative to customer demand allow you to more efficiently staff your restaurant. You may find that you can get by with a smaller staff during slow times and can sell more by scheduling your best upsellers during the busy times. Conversely, you can build data-driven marketing plans to increase traffic during quieter periods of the week. For example,you can offer a special price on products that a customer really likes during slower hours.

The true power of data emerges when it is fully integrated into your marketing plans. Using data that you already have at your fingertips, you can create personalized offers based on your customers’ previous purchase history.


About Heartland

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN). Learn more at

FRLA Remembers Bill Shumate

Sadly, Bill Shumate, FRLA member and the owner of Bella’s Italian Cafe in Tampa, passed away last night, peacefully, in his sleep. He had been suffering with Lewy Body Dementia for several years and recently had a fall that badly bruised his ribs and put him in the hospital.

He was an inspiration and guiding light to us all.

Bill opened his first restaurant, “Across the Street,” in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1963. Following that were many more restaurants—including a 900-seat disco!

Bella’s was his favorite.

He has probably already started looking for a good location in heaven, catering to clientele of a higher power.

We love you, Bill Shumate.
November 27, 1930–July 7, 2020

Five ways to use email marketing to stay in touch with your customers

With many businesses temporarily being disrupted, email marketing is essential for letting people know you are still open for business. Industry research shows that almost three quarters of consumers prefer to hear from businesses by email versus social media platforms.

With that in mind, here’s five tips on using email marketing to boost revenue.

1. Communicate regularly
Your customers may be hunkering down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay connected. This is the time to communicate with your customers through email marketing like never before to keep your business relevant. Find the right cadence. Research shows that almost nine out of ten customers like receiving email marketing messages from businesses monthly – and 63% want them weekly.

2. Provide special offers
People are at home, looking for ways to save money. Offer them discounts to increase engagement and maintain your revenue flow. Help your business ride out the storm by emailing current customers with offers of coupons, free items, or other values if they refer someone via email to your business.

3. Offer gift cards
Gift cards provide an immediate infusion of cash and guarantee that a customer will return to your business in the future. Encourage customers to buy gift cards to redeem at a later time. This will help maintain sales, while giving your customers something fun and exciting to look forward to.

4. Point people online
Anything online right now is being consumed more than ever before. Thus, point people to your website and information about your location, operating hours, and how to order online, over the phone, or on an app. Remind customers that they can still shop for their favorite items on your website.

5. Pivot as a business and inform your customers
If you’re in a food business of any kind, let customers know you are now offering delivery or parking lot pickup. If your gym has closed its doors right now to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, why not offer online workout classes right now, or a training app they can download? Use email marketing to let customers know how your business has changed to better accommodate them.

Leverage email marketing to keep your business top of mind with customers. At some point, the coronavirus will pass and normalcy will return. The customer relationships you strengthen now will help you get past current challenges and better position your business to rebound in the second half of 2020.

AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ Crown Jewel, Invites Guests to “Return To Rosen”

ORLANDO (June 8, 2020) – The AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando invites luxury travelers to “Return to Rosen” – and to do it in style – with an array of indulgent relaxation and recreation packages including value-added features exclusively offered at Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ own crown jewel.

The savings begin at check-in where there is never a resort fee and always complimentary Wi-Fi in guestrooms and public areas.

New overnight stay packages at the expansive, naturally lush Orlando property feature something for every member of the family. Enjoy challenging golf to posh spa pampering to excursions to nearby SeaWorld Orlando, where the hotel’s convenient central location places it minutes to all of the area theme parks, attractions, shopping and best of Orlando. Plenty of opportunities to bask in the Orlando sunshine include four outdoor swimming pools, sports courts for basketball, tennis and sand volleyball, seasonal fishing, a nature trail and winding paths to rejuvenate while roaming the hotel’s 255 scenic acres aside the banks of historic Shingle Creek.

A sampling of the “Return to Rosen” packages are listed below. For a complete list of packages and to book your stay, visit or call 407-996-9939. All packages are exclusive of applicable taxes and based on availability. Packages cannot be combined with any other promotions or offers and are not applicable for group business. Package prices and dates are subject to change. Please visit the website for complete disclaimer and more information.

Shingle Creek Dive-In Movie Packages – $150 per night for a luxury guestroom for two and $170 per night for four. Enjoy an evening poolside movie complete with popcorn, soft drinks and candy treats. Additional concession items will be available for purchase. Includes complimentary self-parking. Upgrade to a suite for an additional $100 per night, based on availability. Don’t miss booking both: our Retro Movie Friday Feature and our New Release Saturday Night Splash. The package is available July 1 – September 30, 2020.

Golf Stay & Play Package – $199 per night for two people. Enjoy an overnight stay in a deluxe guestroom and two rounds of golf at our championship golf course designed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company. Includes a one-time $25 resort food credit and complimentary self-parking. The package is available July 1-September 30, 2020.

SeaWorld Orlando Package – $250 per night and $350 for two nights, for two people. Spend the day with two tickets to the world-famous SeaWorld Orlando, plus enjoy a 25% discount on golf and spa services and complimentary self-parking. The package is available July 1-December 25, 2020.

Gatorland Package — $199 per night for up to four people. For a truly Florida-themed experience, enjoy a day at the legendary Gatorland for up to 2 adults and up to 2 children. Includes a one-time $25 resort food credit and 25% off golf and spa services. The package is available July 1 – September 30, 2020.

Fun Spot America Package – $279 per night for up to four people. Enjoy an action-packed day for up to 4 guests at Fun Spot America, followed by a restful stay with deluxe accommodations. Includes a one-time $25 resort food credit and 25% off golf and spa services. The package is available July 1 – September 30, 2020.

I Love Rosen Card – If you love Rosen Shingle Creek and love to travel to Orlando, then the I Love Rosen card is for you. Available for Florida residents, the I Love Rosen card entitles the bearer to a 25% discount on the hotel’s best available guestroom rate (excluding packages), select dining, golf greens fees and spa services each time they visit. Good year-round (based on availability), the card is ideal for the guest who looks forward to their return at the end of every stay. The card is free with a Florida resident I.D.

Featuring a quiet elegance amid the most contemporary, world-class amenities, the exquisite Rosen Shingle Creek welcomes guests with 1501 sophisticated guestrooms and 524,000 square feet of dynamic and versatile meeting and event space. Two AAA Four Diamond restaurants headline an impressive list of 15 enticing dining and lounging options (operation hours may vary) and relaxing recreation such as a full-service spa and the 18-hole championship Shingle Creek Golf Club, re-invented in recent years by the Arnold Palmer Design Company. An unparalleled service standard assures that each guest experience is the most pleasurable in Orlando.

“The team at Rosen Shingle Creek eagerly anticipates the return of our extended Rosen family – our valued guests,” said Rosen Shingle Creek General Manager, Dan Giordano. “As a result of COVID-19, new operational provisions will be implemented throughout the property to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests and associates. These necessary and vital changes have been devised to minimize any potential impediments to our guests relishing a carefree, most delightful stay. We look forward to imparting the same heartfelt hospitality our guests have come to expect at our exceptional property.”

Rosen’s Total Commitment (RTC) is Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ COVID-19 screening and testing plan of action developed by a team of experts including those from the Rosen Medical Center and from throughout the company to help elevate the hotel’s already superior level of hygiene and cleanliness. Parameters include the placement of new queuing floor decals and the reorganization of seating areas to help ensure social distancing. Plexiglass screens will be placed at the front desk, while hundreds of easily-accessible hand sanitizers with reminder signage to use them will be placed throughout the hotel. Hospital-grade disinfectants will be used to thoroughly clean guestrooms and public areas on a more frequent basis, while associates will be actively screened for COVID-19 prior to each shift, among numerous additional new safety initiatives.

For more details about Rosen’s Total Commitment, please visit

To book a stay, visit or call 407-996-9939.

Sustainability & Green Initiatives at the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

By: Tim Bailey, Area Managing Director of Operations, Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando

Our Commitment

As the co-owner and operator of all eight hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, Loews Hotels & Co embraces its responsibility as an environmental steward and is committed to achieving success through sustainable and environmentally responsible business practices. Our hotels are focused on conserving energy and water, reducing waste and optimizing responsible sourcing.

“Loews Hotels is in the business of hospitality, but we also believe that doing the right thing is everyone’s business, especially when it comes to being environmentally responsible,” said David Bartek, vice president of operations for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando. “That’s why we remain focused on consistently re-evaluating and raising our standards to find greater efficiencies and innovative, sustainable solutions.”

Current Practices at Some or All of the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels


  • Guest rooms feature programmable thermostats with motion detectors to control air conditioning and reduce energy use as well as low-flow shower heads and sink faucets to conserve water. Energy-efficient lighting is used throughout the hotel and public lighting is on timers.
  • We are an Energy Star Partner through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings initiative.


  • Green bags in guest rooms empower guests to recycle aluminum, plastic bottles, glass and papers. Heart of house recycling includes aluminum, steel, plastic, cardboard, toner cartridges, fluorescent bulbs, paper, newspaper, office paper, glass, and magazines.
  • Our hotels utilize recycled products, including all paper products made from 100% recycled materials.
  • In 2019, our Orlando hotels recycled more than 15.2 million pounds of waste and 370 tons of cardboard.
  • Biodegradable and low toxicity cleaning products are used throughout the operation.
  • Excess food is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
  • Our hotels partner with Clean the World, a global health organization committed to improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations around the world. Through their programs, they provide hygiene supplies and education using recycled and repurposed supplies donated by hospitality industry partners.



  • Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando purchase products and seasonal items from Central and South Florida vendors.
  • Our hotels use eco-friendly inks and papers. Room service, lounges, bars, banquet rooms and restaurants, including pool restaurants, primarily use reusable linen, dishware and silverware.


  • Our hotels are designated members of the Florida Green Lodging Program and the Orlando Green Business Certification program.
  • Six hotels earned the Three Palm designation, the second highest ranking of environmental performance from the Florida Green Lodging Program. The two newest hotels in our portfolio at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort are currently in the certification process.

Focused on the Future

As technology advances, Loews Hotels & Co, in partnership with Universal Orlando, will continuously seek new ways to integrate leading environmental practices into our operations and partner with like-minded vendors. Our teams remain focused on consistently re-evaluating and raising our standards to find greater efficiencies and innovative, sustainable solutions that help build a greener world.


Uber Eats Gives Back to The Restaurant Industry

Uber has been a leader in aiding the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to promoting and waiving delivery fees for customers on orders to local, independent restaurants and making contactless delivery possible, they have now launched an in-app feature that allows customers to donate to their favorite restaurants.

The in-app feature allows for customers to donate directly to their restaurant of choice, and Uber plans to match every contribution dollar-for-dollar up to $3 million to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. They have already committed an additional $2 million donation also going to the fund.

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was established by the National Restaurant Association to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The fund will make $500 grants available to all US restaurant industry workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis — front-of-house, back-of-house, and delivery workers, including those who deliver via Uber Eats. This will provide great relief to restaurant workers throughout Florida and the nation.

To learn more about what Uber is doing to save the restaurant industry and how you can become a partner, visit their website.To apply for aid through the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund or learn more, click here.

Best Practices for Curbside, Delivery and Upping Sales to Help You Survive in the Covid-19 Environment

Compiled by Susie McKinley

In order to #flattenthecurve and protect citizens and guests from highly contagious and deadly Covid-19, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has closed down dining rooms in restaurants across the state to minimize exposure.  Today in order to survive and feed customers, restaurants have moved to curbside pickup, delivery and drive-thru for food service.  The FRLA team has attended several webinars and read many articles recently about enhancing your curbside, delivery and drive-thru presence.  The following is a compilation of what we’ve learned.

There are two ways to approach delivery:  either do it yourself in-house or work with a delivery partner.  If you choose to do it yourself, be certain to work with your insurance provider to ensure that coverage is adequate.  If you decide to deliver in-house, there is the added bonus of potentially keeping extra folks on staff to assist with this.

Many delivery programs are now offering custom contactless delivery in that the customer pays in advance and advises the delivery person where to drop the food.  This can provide some measure of comfort to the customer when not having to interact with a delivery person.

Alex Canter from Ordermark, an online ordering management solution, recommends to restaurants to “omni-channel” with delivery services if using a third-party delivery option in order to cover all of your bases.  If you aren’t listed with a delivery company, customers loyal to that delivery company won’t find you.

Online ordering is a must in this environment.  Be certain that your restaurant has the capability and an effective system to follow up with online orders.

Delivery and curbside pickup can be made easy.  Establish a protocol for staff taking orders that includes basic information such as address and contact number, where to actually deliver food once onsite, food and drink order of course, and if utensils/napkins will be needed.  Ask the customer if they would like a gift card as well.  Customize the protocol as needed for your restaurant and be sure to thank the customer for the order.  We’ve heard that a short note included with the order expressing gratitude for the order is welcome and easy. Insert a menu flyer with the order to encourage next time ordering. Be certain the food is maintained at the correct temperature:  if hot food, keep it hot and if cold food, keep it cold.  Use travel bags that allow for heat and cold retention.  Advise employees to keep their “social distance” when delivering food to make sure the customer and the driver are comfortable. Process the payment information in advance to resolve any payment issues onsite.  Make it as simple and easy as possible for the customer.

Curbside is something that is very popular, but it has not been utilized as much as other food service.  Many of the practices noted above can be used in this approach.  In addition, when taking the order for curbside, require employees to ask the customer where they would like the food placed into the vehicle upon arrival.  Some folks may want it dropped in the trunk of the car.  Others may want it in the front or back seat.  It’s important to give the customer a choice, so that if they don’t want any physical interaction with the restaurant, they don’t have to engage in that manner.  Again, it is important whenever possible, to process payment in advance in order to minimize exposure.

Think about narrowing your menu to the most popular dishes and then what travels the best.  Other things to think about are:  what menu items use less staff and equipment to prepare?  Do offer a daily special if you can.  This gives some variety and interest to your menu and gives the operator a chance to use what is readily available.


Large Format Food Items
With so many people at home with family, consider preparing some menu items in a larger format than what you’ve done in the past.  Food items serving larger crowds may be enjoyed by a group or as leftovers.


Frozen Food
Frozen food is another way to serve your customers.  Offer food items that hold up well to freezing as an option.


Gift cards
Perhaps offer a gift card with a minimum threshold level and give extra credit on top for redemption in the future.  This is also known as gift card bonds.


Show your appreciation to health care professionals or first responders by giving them a discount on a specialized menu item or on the whole order.  You will receive some goodwill from this effort and will help those who are helping us.


Can be very useful in ordering and in pre-payment. Encourage use whenever possible.


Customers are looking for deals, options and offerings now more than ever.  Be sure that your restaurant is visible in an online search.  If possible, improve your SEO if needed.  Frequently engage socially to let followers know what is going on.  A daily email to your loyal customers might be something they are looking for.

Susie McKinley is Editor of FR&L Magazine and a former Director of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.  Susie sat in on several webinars recently and has compiled information learned in webinars in this article.

Restaurants Stay Open During COVID-19: A Great Win For The Industry

On March 20, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-71, where he announced that restaurants will move to take-out and delivery only in response to the evolving COVID-19 impact across the state. In his Executive Order, the Governor also lifted the ban on alcohol delivery for restaurants under certain conditions.

Allowing restaurants to remain open is a great win for the industry among the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital for restaurants and hotels to remain safe and practice sanitation and social distancing during this time. Governor DeSantis has expressed his support to retailers, restaurants, and employees as they pursue creative business practices that safely serve consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.

In addition to allowing restaurants to offer to-go and delivery service, the ban on alcohol delivery has also been lifted. Restaurants are now allowed to sell alcohol in sealed containers to be consumed off of the premises of the restaurant, so long as it is accompanied by the sale of food and complies with Section 561.57 of Florida Statues.

For more information and industry-related COVID-19 updates, please visit

Meet our January Member of the Month

Meet Laurie Farlow, our January 2020 Member of the Month! Laurie is the proud owner and operator of Farlow’s on the Water, located in Englewood, Florida, which she runs with her husband Keith.

Her career in the restaurant industry began in 2003, when she and Keith opened Farlow’s. The 285-seat restaurant serves food with a Caribbean taste and Southern twist. Before opening Farlow’s, Laurie had zero restaurant experience but plenty of supervisory and management service. It was actually Keith who had the experience and passion for food service. With their combined experiences, Laurie and Keith make the perfect team for operating Farlow’s.

Laurie’s favorite part about working in the restaurant industry is meeting people (customers, employees and other trade professionals). To her, customer service is about connecting with people.

Thank you, Laurie, for being a wonderful FRLA member. We are proud to honor you as our January Member of the Month.

If you haven’t already, watch Laurie’s highlight video below:

Feeling Jolly About our December Member of the Month

Get to know our December Member of the Month, Damien O’Riordan, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Damien attended the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology pursuing a degree in hospitality management nearly 25 years ago and immediately found his passion for the industry.

To Damien, Sarasota has so much to offer visitors and locals alike, and considers it the “best kept secret”. Boasting 35 miles of white-sand beaches, fabulous restaurants, and countless things to do, Sarasota is a tourist haven. Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton boasts over 250 rooms, and offers wonderful amenities to help visitors explore this beach destination. However, Damien doesn’t take credit for the exemplary service offered here. He couldn’t do it without his hard-working staff.

Damien is a gift to FRLA, and a gift to The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Be sure to check out his highlight to learn more about this awesome member!