The Inn-side scoop on our Member of the Month

Our September Member of the Month is inn-spiring! Meet Anthony Sexton, owner of the Victorian House Bed & Breakfast in St. Augustine. Anthony is a member of our newest chapter, the Florida Inns.

While he’s always loved the hospitality industry, managing an Inn is his first time on the lodging side. Now a seasoned innkeeper with 8 years of experience under his belt, he has enjoyed every minute tackling his goals with his wife, Marilyn, by his side.

Anthony truly has a passion for the hospitality industry, and enjoys getting to meet every friendly face that walks through the door. As an “ambassador” of St. Augustine, he always makes sure guests are set up for a successful trip!

Take a look at Anthony’s highlight video!


Know someone you think should be our next Member of the Month? Nominate them today!

Reputation Equals Revenue

A few keystrokes on social media can have a powerful effect on your business.

Did you know:

  • Over 80 percent of potential guests read local business reviews before deciding where to eat. Nearly 70 percent trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
  • A positive review makes 68 percent of consumers more likely to visit a business. Meanwhile, 87 percent of people won’t consider a restaurant with low ratings.
  • A 1-star increase in online reputation yields up to a 9 percent increase in revenue.

This makes regular monitoring of your online reputation mandatory. These five tricks will ensure your social presence isn’t driving your customers to competitors.

1. Run a search
It’s been said that your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is. Online search results are today’s digital storefront, and you need to make sure you’re creating a good first impression. Run a Google search on your name and your restaurant’s name. What types of comments, news, and images pop up? If you don’t want customers to see things that should have stayed in Vegas, don’t post them on your social media pages.

2. Help customers find you
Make sure your name, phone number, menus, URLs, and operating hours are consistent across all of your online touchpoints (website, social media, local listing sites, etc.). This ensures that when someone searches for your business online, they can find you—as well as accurate information about what you offer.

3. Respond to reviews
A 1-star difference on Yelp between you and a competitor represents about $90,000 in lost sales each year for restaurants earning $1 million annually. So it’s important to nurture good reviews.

Over 50 percent of customers leaving reviews expect a business response within a week. Thus, whenever someone sings your praises, go out of your way to thank them. Positive reviews are a more important purchase consideration for consumers than discounting or business location.

If a customer leaves a negative review, don’t ignore it. When you respond respectfully to a negative review, people are more likely to visit your business. Meanwhile, online complaints that go unanswered make consumers distrust your business. Instead take a non-defensive attitude and apologize publicly to the customer. Offer to find a solution, and invite the individual to contact you to resolve the problem together. When a business tries to make things right, 89 percent of consumers are willing to change a review.

4. Make your website current, mobile friendly
More than half of consumers view websites with their smartphones. Is your website mobile-optimized? No one wants to squint to read a menu or scroll 10 times to find your phone number. Also, when was the last time you updated your site? Does it showcase your current specials and menus? When consumers see old, stale content, they are less inclined to visit.

5. Auto post and monitor content
If you aren’t already using a social media management platform, you may want to start. It’s a time saver by consolidating all of your social media site content in one place for you to review. It can show you which posts are popular, shared, liked, and commented on. It also empowers you to post to multiple social channels at once.

Everyday consumers are window shopping your digital storefront. How you manage your social reputation either invites them in the door or sends them someplace else. Use these simple steps to build a positive online presence.


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 heartland.us.

Meet our June Member of the Month

We are honored to have Heidi Dennis as our June Member of the Month.

From the beginning of her career, Heidi knew the hospitality industry was meant for her and aspired to become a general manager of a hotel. When people doubted her, she kept pushing with strength and determination, eventually becoming the general manager of the beautiful Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale.

With such a passion for our industry, it was a no-brainer to select this hospitality hero as our June Member of the Month. In addition, Heidi is a champion for FRLA and currently holds the position of Chair of Events for our Broward Chapter. Heidi is described by Regional Director Lynne Hernandez as being an “incredibly humble and generous person who cares so much for others.”

We can’t wait to see Heidi continue to grow and further her team at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort.

Watch Heidi’s highlight below to get to know more about her.

Want to see our previous Members of the Month? Click here.

DBPR’s Food Safety Tips for the 2019 Hurricane Season

The 2019 hurricane season has officially begun, and DBPR’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants would like to provide the industry with the following food safety tips and reminders on how to operate safely during an emergency:

• Hot food should maintain a temperature of 135°F or above while cold foods should be kept at temperatures of 41°F or below.

• Minimize the handling of foods before, during and after preparation. Wash hands with potable or boiled water.

• Single-service articles should be used whenever possible. Discard single-service items such as paper or plastic plates, cups, plastic utensils, lids, straws, etc. if the items have been exposed to contamination.

• Food should be covered and protected from dust, dirt, insects, vermin and other contaminants.

• Add bags of ice or dry ice to refrigerators and freezers prior to the emergency if a notice is given and loss of power for an extended time is expected.

• Do not operate if the establishment has no safe water supply or electrical power (or generators) to run essential equipment.

• Do not operate if the establishment has no roof or is not structurally sound.

• While power is off, keep the doors to freezers and coolers closed in order to maintain temperature as long as possible.

• When power is restored, identify all potentially hazardous foods (PHF) that may have been above 41°F or below 135°F for more than four hours. PHF foods that have been out of temperature for more than 4 hours must be properly discarded.

• Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals and are 41°F or less can safely re-freeze.

• Discard any food that has been contaminated or come in contact with floodwater, sewage, smoke, fumes, chemicals, or other liquid contaminants.

• Discard vulnerable containers of food such as those containing peel-off covers, scored pop tops, waxed cardboard, cork or screw tops or paraffin seals such as glass or plastic containers of catsup, dressing, milk, mayonnaise, soda, beer, sauces, etc. if the containers have been exposed to contamination.

• Discard foods packaged in soft, porous containers like cardboard boxes, paper, foil, plastic and cellophane such as boxes or bags of food, cereal, flour, sugar, rice, salt, etc. if the packages have been exposed to contamination.

• Discard shell eggs exposed to any contamination – the shell is porous

• Do not use swollen, leaking or damaged canned goods.

• Smoke damage to food is difficult to assess. Insoluble tars and plastics and their byproducts suspended in smoke is a major concern. Discard all foods exposed to smoke.

• Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans can be saved if you remove labels that can come off, thoroughly wash the cans, rinse them, and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Finally, re-label the containers with a marker.

• If the establishment was exposed to contamination, clean and sanitize all equipment and food-contact surfaces with potable or boiled water. Do not operate until the entire establishment has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized or disinfected. Š

• All water filters on equipment should be removed and replaced if not designed to be cleaned in place.

Division Director Rick Akin would like to remind all operators, Food Safety is in Your Hands!


For more hurricane tips, visit our Hurricane Resources page.

Our May Member of the Month Came to Play🍴

Have you met our May Member of the Month?

Meet the owner of 21 Spices in Naples, Chef Asif Syed. Chef Asif makes a mean Tandoori Chicken, and is well known for beating Chef Bobby Flay on his own show, Beat Bobby Flay!

Chef Asif says it best: “Hospitality runs in my blood.” He was raised in a city in Indian known for its hospitality. Because of this, he has developed a passion for helping young adults entering the industry find their passion. It is important for him to teach “youngsters” his knowledge, so that they can one day go on and succeed in the industry.

Congratulations, Chef Asif, for being our wonderful May Member of the Month!

 

Our March Member of the Month is a Gem

The statement “home is where the heart is” was taken quite literally by our March Member of the Month, Barb Bowden, with Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida. After completing a summer internship with Disney, she knew in her heart Orlando was where she was meant to be.

Barb is a take-charge woman and an exemplary member of FRLA. She has been involved on the FRLA Central Florida Chapter Board, served on panels for our Marketing + Operations Summit and more.

Barb has a passion for the hospitality industry, and with that drums her passion for mentoring students and young adults entering the industry. Because of this, FRLA has helped further her enthusiasm by providing her with the opportunity to do just that. She states one of her favorite hospitality memories is seeing the “amazing people” she’s mentored over the years grow and take on senior-level positions in the hospitality industry.

Thank you, Barb, for being an outstanding FRLA member, and a wonderful mentor to those looking to enter the hospitality industry. If you didn’t have the chance to see her Member of the Month video, check it out below.

Know someone you think should be our FRLA Member of the Month? Nominate them here.

Serving Up Our February Member of the Month

We are excited to introduce Dennis Chan, owner of the delicious Blue Bamboo restaurant in Jacksonville. Dennis comes from a long line of chefs, and knew it was his legacy to continue serving food and carry on his family’s traditions.

One of his favorite things about working in the restaurant business and hospitality industry is the ability to use his food and excellent service to brighten someone’s day.

“You never know if you’re going to have a guest come in who is having a bad day and you need to turn them around, or they’re just having a great day and coming out to celebrate.”

Dennis is a long-standing, second-generation member of FRLA and is committed to helping aspiring restaurateurs. He teaches culinary classes at local schools and volunteers with ProStart on a regular basis. Thank you, Dennis, for your continuous support of FRLA and all you do for your community.

Next time you stop by Blue Bamboo, we suggest you try the Sunshine State Orange Crunch Cake Cake!

Check out Dennis’ Member of the Month video below:

Know someone you think should be our FRLA Member of the Month? Nominate them here.

There’s Room for Everyone Under the MO+S Umbrella

We’ve attended the FRLA Marketing + Operations Summit since its inception. In fact, we’ve found this event to be so valuable and important that we’ve been a sponsor for the past three years.

M+OS is more than an opportunity to hear about the latest and greatest trends in the hospitality industry with regard to marketing and operations issues. The Summit helps us stay current with the challenges our customers face and gives us specific topics to discuss with them throughout the year.

We’ve learned countless tips and tricks in our years of attending the Summit, but I will never forget participating in a Breakout Session focusing on how to market to various generations when we had a lightbulb moment. Each year, we gain real-life lessons, and this one convinced us to hire a social media staffer. Thanks to this realization, we’ve seen a significant uptick in our online interactions with existing and, most excitingly, new customers. Incorporating such a simple tactic into our marketing strategy allowed us to reach more people.

The Summit provides us with an opportunity to network with members who could one day be potential customers. Through our networking over the years, we’ve found it crucial to learn what customers are trying to accomplish so we can work with them to support their efforts. For example, we can assist in combining a restaurant’s marketing and operational goals by offering custom logos imprinted on their umbrella canopies. Operationally, their guests receive the comfort of shade and may stay at the table longer, ordering coffee and dessert, thereby increasing the bottom line.

It’s been our experience that the Summit is a great place to learn from industry veterans, find out what innovative, best practices are out there, and how different successful brands have overcome challenges. The quality of the speakers is fantastic – from famous chefs like Robert Irvine, to entrepreneurs and restaurant executives from Firehouse Subs and Tijuana Flats. Both the networking opportunities and the chance to meet with decision makers across the industry are terrific. We are looking forward to what this year has in store!


This week’s blog comes from Jordan Beckner, President of Sales at FiberBuilt Umbrellas & Cushions.

Meet our January Member of the Month

 

 

Meet Chip and Amanda Evans.

They are the proud owners of Willie Jewell’s Bar-B-Q in Tallahassee, Florida, and FRLA’s first ever Member of the Month.

These members have been actively engaged in FRLA since they joined in June 2018. With a passion for giving back, Chip and Amanda have taken advantage of FRLA’s involvement in the community. Chip says, “We try and give whenever we can. FRLA has been good about plugging us in. This is where the opportunities to give are.”

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle. Victims of this disaster were left homeless, without food, water, power, or clean clothes. Along with other FRLA members, Chip and Amanda headed to Marianna to provide hot, fresh food and necessities to the community members in need.

From help with the hurricane to volunteering time and food with Vet Events Tally and other organizations, Chip and Amanda always go the extra mile to give. Regional Director Nick Lowe noted that they are “members who understand what it really means to serve others.”

Thank you, Chip and Amanda, for all you do for FRLA and the community.

To see what they had to say about FRLA, check out their Member of the Month video below.

 

Path to Power: Insights from Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s Mary Rogers

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Magazine presents Path to Power, a feature that showcases our industry’s top hotel and restaurant leaders. The questions posed by FR&L are structured to be of interest to all readers, but particularly those readers who are just beginning to hold management roles with his or her employer. Path to Power offers insight into valuable lessons learned or experience earned by our hotel and restaurant leaders.

Our Fall 2018 Path to Power leader is Mary Rogers. Mary Rogers was recently named as the Vice President and General Manager of the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach.  She is the first woman named to this position with the Resort.

How did you get started in the hospitality industry? 

I worked for five summers in a bed and breakfast and fell in love with the service industry.   I derived great satisfaction from ensuring guests had enjoyable and memorable vacations.  I also realized that the hospitality industry would be a great gateway to travel the world, while enjoying a very fulfilling career.

Early in your career what was the most valuable lesson you learned? 

I feel the lesson that has stood with me through the years is to always treat others the way you would want to be treated.  I also feel it is very important to let our team members know that the work they do every day makes a difference, and that they are hugely important to our success.

Do you have any mentors who were instrumental in helping you achieve your goals? 

I am fortunate to have a number of mentors in this business.  Individually each played a very important part in my career development.  Most recently I have worked very closely with our President and Chief Operating Officer of Fontainebleau, Mr. Phil Goldfarb. He taught me to look at each operational department as an individual business unit, and how each unit plays their part in the overall success of the hotel.

What is the single greatest factor in the success of your career? 

I took advantage of every opportunity for growth that came my way.  In many cases it involved relocating to another state or even another country by myself, but with every move I learned something new, my career grew, my network expanded and the opportunities increased.  Do not be afraid of the unknown, take chances and grab every opportunity you have to broaden your horizons.

How have your philanthropies and giving back to the community affected your business decisions? 

Fontainebleau recently launched “Bleau Adopts”, a new internal pet adoption program that matches our employees with dogs from the Greater Miami Humane Society.  The initiative invites a dog to our hotel for a day each week where it gets to meet our team members.  So far we have found homes for nearly twenty dogs.   This philanthropic effort has had the dual effect of boosting the morale of our employees during their workday while saving the lives of many dogs.

Is there anything you would like to share with Florida’s hospitality industry members? 

Our industry is complex, ever changing and evolving.  As such, I encourage our members to stay involved and up to date with all the changes that affect our industry.  It is hugely important to be active in an organization such as FRLA, as they advocate on our behalf at the local and state level.  Use your resources wisely to ensure your voice is heard and that you partner with the right organizations to fight on your behalf.   Be involved, be heard, be seen and don’t stand on the sidelines while others make decisions that affect your business.

 

Thank you, Mary!  Congratulations again on your new role.  We wish you much success!