Monthly Archives: October 2013

  1. Ice-O-Matic Releases New HIS Undercounter Ice Machine

    Ice-O-Matic HISU050 compared to ICEU070To clarify, Ice-O-Matic is offering a new undercounter ice machine to both males and females, but Ice-O-Matic has labeled these new units with the acronym “HIS”. (HIS stands for Horizontal Ice System- All of the ice machines in the HIS Series feature a horizontal evaporator plate). Similar in construction to the ICEU070, HIS ice machines from Ice-O-Matic offer many of the same benefits, but create a different type of ice cube – standard, full size cubes. (The ICEU070 makes gourmet cubes). HIS undercounter ice machines take in and release air from the front of the unit, so there is no side clearance required, which allows this ice machine can fit seamlessly among other appliances or bar equipment. HIS undercounter ice machines from Ice-O-Matic are the newest way Ice-O-Matic seeks to provide more ice at the best price, and at the perfect size to fit just about anywhere.

    Ice-O-Matic’s currently offers three different models in the HIS Series. All of the HIS undercounter ice machines make full size ice cubes, but do so in varying increments. The HISU050FA makes up to 60 pounds of ice per day while the HISU070FA makes up to 80 pounds per day. Both of these models have an internal storage capacity of 36 pounds. The largest ice machine in the HIS Series is the HISU090FA, which measures about five inches wider than the aforementioned two, but makes more - up to 100 pounds of ice per day. The HISU090FA has the ability to store up to 51 pounds of ice when filled to capacity, nearly double that of the smaller models. Every individual model from the HIS Series is available in 115/60 Volt, 208-230/60 Volt, and 220-240/50 for European outlets.

    Full Cube Made by HISU Undercounter Ice Machines Full Cube Produced by HIS Undercounters

    These Ice-O-Matic HIS ice machines are commercial grade, but are well suited to operate in residential environments. The 115/60 Volt unit (HISU50FA) is equipped with a power cord and simply requires an electrical outlet and a water line to operate effectively. Measuring in at a slight 11.8 inches wide, the HISU050FA and HISU070FA are two of the slimmest undercounter Ice-O-Matic ice machines available from any ice machine manufacturer. The horizontal evaporator plate is the biggest reason for the slim size. These two ice machines stand 37.6 inches tall, so they can fit easily beneath most bar counters. Every HIS undercounter ice machine is ADA adaptable as well, so if you require an ice machine that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, inquire about KADA-15 adapter kit for the two smaller units or the KADA-20 for the HISU090FA.

    Ice-O-Matic is well known for their undercounter ice machines. They offer one of the most popular undercounter cube ice machines - the ICEU150 - at the lowest price in its class. This ice machine also produces the most ice when compared to other ice machines in the same class, further adding to its value. The GEMU090 from Ice-O-Matic gave people the opportunity to make nugget ice (which Ice-O-Matic calls Pearl Ice) in the comfort of their own homes. By introducing these new ice machines from the HIS Series, Ice-O-Matic has further bolstered their status at the top of ice machine world. Any ice style at quantities up to 2,000 pounds per day can be had with an Ice-O-Matic ice machine.

    Currently, we at Ice Machines Plus are one of two retailers with the ability to offer these new Ice-O-Matic undercounter ice machines. If you are opening a new small business, HIS ice machines may be a great fit, especially if you have lower level ice making requirements. While these ice machines won’t be able to support the needs of a large bar or foodservice establishments, they can easily provide adequate ice making for small bars, lounges, hotel bars, or recreation areas. As usual, you can always give us a call and we can help outfit you and your business with the best possible ice machine, along with many other commercial restaurant appliances.

  2. Manitowoc Koolaire Ice Machines- Simplified Ice Making

    Those familiar with Manitowoc know how reliable and complex ice machines from their Indigo Series are. For some though, these ice machines may seem too complex to achieve what boils down to a relatively simple objective – making ice. The Indigo Series has been renowned for its technological features, programmable ice making, and up to the minute diagnostics and reports. With the introduction of the Koolaire Series, Manitowoc has scaled back the “bonus features” to offer a simplified ice machine – one that features only three basic control switches – “On”, “Off”, and “Clean”. There is no guesswork with Koolaire ice machines. They are another exceptional option, adding to Manitowoc’s already stellar line of reliable ice machines.

    Manitowoc Koolaire Ice Machine LogoIt’s not just the ice machine and the ice making process that have been simplified; the ice machine’s physical structure has been designed in a way that makes it easy to service and clean as well. If it is time to clean or service the inner parts of the ice machine, simply remove two screws and the front door can be lifted off, allowing access to the evaporator and the food zone. With other ice machines, the evaporator plate may be difficult to access. Hoshizaki’s is notoriously difficult to service when service is required. With Koolaire ice machines, all important ice machine can be accessed behind the removable door. Once inside the ice machine, parts can be removed without tools for individual cleaning if required. These parts include the water shield, the distribution pump, the floats, and the trough. Manitowoc provides an optional CleanAir™ pack that helps inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and slime in the food zone, so your ice is clean, clear, and fresh for consumption.

    Even though when it comes to construction, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, these Koolaire ice machines were designed to be easy on the eyes as well. A high tech stainless steel finish offers superior corrosion resistance, and the external shell of the ice machine is smudge and fingerprint resistant. Your ice machine doesn’t have to be an eyesore, and with a Koolaire ice machine, it never is. While some ice machines require special care or chemicals to clean, Koolaire ice machines require only a mild detergent to clean its surface. This means that you are not required to purchase or handle harsh chemicals that may cost a bit more or damage the skin of those cleaning the ice machine.

    Koolaire Ice Machines from ManitowocCurrently, Koolaire ice machines are only available at Ice Machines Plus and very few other select retailers. Currently, we offer only four models from the Koolaire Series at, but we are expect to add more to the list in the near future. These four models are the KD-0600A, the KY-0600A, the KD-0600W, and the KY-0600W – two air cooled ice machines (A), and two water cooled ice machines (W). KD units make full dice cubes and KY models make half dice cubes (which are called “Kubes” in this instance). These ice machines all measure 30 inches wide and have the exact same dimensions as Manitowoc’s Indigo ice machines, so they will be compatible with any of Manitowoc’s 30 inch storage bins or ice dispensers. If you already own a Manitowoc ice storage bin or ice dispenser, you will not be required to purchase a new unit. All of these Koolaire ice machines have the ability to produce between 550 and 600 pounds of ice per day.

    Koolaire ice machines were designed to offer a more convenient way for businesses to make the ice needed to operate on a daily basis. Designed by the reputable Manitowoc Foodservice, you can rest assured that you will receive the same quality that they put into every one of their ice machines. Stay tuned to Ice Machines Plus, or follow us on Twitter for announcements of new ice machines and new products as soon as they become available. Or, give us a call if you have any questions regarding ice machines or any other commercial restaurant equipment.

  3. Your Restaurant Social Scene Just Got a Lot Bigger

    But first, this- If you're wondering, "Why am I about to read a blog post from an ice machine company regarding social media and the restaurant business?", let us explain. Most of us here have worked the majority of our lives in the bar and restaurant industry. With the development of our content and social media department at Ice Machines Plus, we are now able to share firsthand knowledge of the industry, and regarding the way we've seen social media grow not only in the foodservice industry, but in ours as well. (Many of the mistakes we note in this article were learned first hand.) Now, we hope to pass on a few of these lessons so your social campaigns can be more successful. Whether you need new restaurant equipment, or tips for a bit of added exposure in the social media world, we hope our site will be of some assistance.

    Social Media: Reshaping the Restaurant Landscape

    The days of water cooler gossip are all but over. Gone are the 15 minute phone call where friends discuss their most recent dinner outing with each other. No longer is the food critic your biggest nemesis in terms of a low quality review. No, nowadays the water cooler is a little blue bird. A 15 minute phone call has been replaced with 1,500 Facebook friends. And the number of "food critics" visiting your restaurant each year has multiplied by the thousands- each with a personal analysis and critique of your restaurants’ meals, appearance, style, and service. While your customers undoubtedly made judgments and criticisms about your establishment in the past, they now have something which they lacked before- a platform by which to express themselves (and potentially most damning- hundreds or thousands of people who will listen).

    On the surface, social media may appear to be a way that customers can level the playing field, assuring that, since restaurants will be under constant scrutiny, they will provide the highest quality food and service. An unsatisfactory meal or unpleasant incident can cause your guests – however biased their experience may be – to leave a scathing review of your establishment on one of many social outlets. Where Zagat and Yelp once reigned, they have been set aside for Facebook and Twitter, among countless other social networks. Typically, “average” to “good” service will warrant little social response. Poor, very poor, and excellent service tend to move the social needle more than anything else. Because of this, social mentions of your business may be skewed in a negative way, as customers visit your establishment and expect a certain level of professionalism and quality with their visit, and if these needs are simply met, they will leave content, but feeling “content” does not usually equate to social publicity or shares.

    GREAT Service Moves the Social Needle

    We did a small case study searching the terms “good service restaurant”, “terrible service restaurant”, and “excellent service restaurant” using Twitter's search capabilities, and we found that, of the tweets including the words “terrible service restaurant”, 19 of 20 were negative – people upset with the service they received at the restaurant they had just visited. Of the tweets containing the terms “good service restaurant”, results were mixed with only 11 of 20 actually complimenting a restaurant’s service. The rest contained complaints like, “A restaurant with good food is nothing without good service”. When we searched for “excellent restaurant service”, the results were skewed in a far more positive way. 19 of the first 20 tweets featured extremely satisfied customers who were happy with their recent restaurant experiences. "Good" service did not necessarily cause a social outpouring of love and publicity. Excellent and terrible service (service that triggered a strong emotional response) got people onto Twitter, willing to publicize their experiences – whether these restaurants wanted the publicity or not.

    A great way to get your restaurant on the positive side of the social scene is to grab the reins and promote it yourself. Take the lead by creating displays reading, “If you’re enjoying your meal, tag it on Instagram or Twitter with the hash tag ‘LetsEat’ or ‘HeresToTonight’”. A catchy phrase or saying will encourage your customers to join you socially, and they will more than likely take you up on the offer, and continue to engage with you, assuming that you interact with them in return. A re-tweet by a patron’s favorite restaurant may mean the world to someone with only a few friends or followers, and can build on and foster a greater loyalty to your location and your brand. The benefits are reciprocal, as this person will also be more likely to promote your restaurant, return in the future, and tell his or her friends about their experiences with your company firsthand. Creating your own hash tags and catch phrases will let you monitor your mentions and gauge customer reactions and experiences with your establishment in real time. Be prepared however – the social world can be brutally honest, so it is always important to gauge the potential positive outcome against the potential negative publicity that may arise from a new social campaign. Look what happened here with McDonald’s McD Stories campaign (via BuzzFeed) when a few disgruntled customers came across the new campaign.

    Don't Be Socially Antisocial

    Nowadays, hiring a professional to manage your social media accounts is akin to hiring a public relations manager for your business. This person should be able to relate to and communicate with a variety of diverse people- people from many backgrounds, income levels, and education levels. The social media manager of your restaurant should be articulate, with the ability to create concise, smart, hip, relevant, and personable posts. They should be up to date with current events, social issues, pop culture, and sporting events which can all be intertwined with specials, promotions, and events. They should also be able to handle social criticism, and think before they MissPrisci Lonely Twitter Account Doesn't Tweetpost or reply. Here are some examples of bad crisis management via social media (Rally Engine), and more examples on “what not to do” in certain online social situations. The person running your social media accounts should seek and create interactions and conversations, and not be like the mysterious Miss Prisci who has thousands of followers, but has never sent a single tweet to her fans and followers. It’s called social media for a reason. Be social. (*Note - This is undoubtedly a fake/spam profile, but it illustrates our point. It should be noted as well that, when you buy followers, this is predominantly what you get. A face or an egg, and either nonsense tweets, or none at all. They really don't help your cause all that much.) Bars, restaurants, and even celebrities that do not seek to engage with customers and fans socially are missing out on major promotional opportunities to expand their brand and increase publicity and revenue.

    Social Media and Damage Control

    Instagram picture of Taco Bell employee licking taco shellOne of the prime purposes of the manager of your restaurant’s social media accounts will be interacting with your customers on a direct basis. They can field inquiries and provide information, but one of their most important roles will be in the “damage control” department. By now, a few company-harming images have been well-circulated around the internet, especially the Twitter-verse. McDonald’s had to deal with the pink slime controversy. Taco Bell coped with the infamous shell-licking incident, and Wendy’s faced problems when a photo surfaced of one of their employees eating ice cream directly from the dispenser of one of their machines. Social media is akin to the front lines of battle in these instances, as angry customers lined up to take Man eating from Wendy's ice cream spouttheir shots at these quick-serve restaurants. Wendy’s was able to somewhat deflect early criticism, taking to Twitter quickly and addressing the issue directly, tweeting: “Unacceptable. The person in this photo is no longer at this Wendy’s. We will be reinforcing proper procedures.” While this undoubtedly caused harm to Wendy’s image, their social media manager was able to acknowledge the incident, and help begin the process to resolve it. There is a bit of a silver lining - in all of these cases, restaurant owners were also able to receive information they may not have gotten about their business through social media, and were able to take action against a problematic employee. That’s a positive for both restaurant owners and patrons.

    While social media can alert you of potential problems or issues at your foodservice establishment, it can harm your business just as easily. One of the biggest issues with the new social scene lies with the fact that opinions can go viral, which can be harmful even though oftentimes they are not completely factually accurate.  This can result in unfair and biased reviews of your establishment. Negative emotions and overreactions tend to motivate people to criticize, whereas quality service and a good meal have come to be brushed aside and expected by patrons. If a server performed well throughout the evening, they did their job. If mistakes are made, there can be a backlash in the social world.  Here’s an example featuring McDonald’s and their ice cream machine:McDonald's Ice Cream Machine Constantly Broken Tweets If you went by what was said in the Twitter world, you would wonder if McDonald’s ice cream machine was ever in operation. What we can glean from these posts are three things: People really love McDonald’s ice cream. The ice cream machine at their chosen McDonald’s is out of service (perhaps frequently), and these people are quite unhappy about it. There are far fewer posts from customers enjoying their ice cream however, and tweeting about it (we checked). We searched the terms “McDonald’s Ice Cream” and the negative tweets outnumbered the positive by two to one overall, and three to one on some days. Being content does not breed publicity. But, if McDonald’s were to create a special that gave away free ice cream every day the temperature broke 90 degrees, or offered 99 cent cones for example, the negative trends and tweets would undoubtedly be reversed. Twitter has provided an exceptional way for people to have their voices heard, especially when they are voicing complaints and criticisms. It is up to you to ensure that your business remains in a positive light as often as possible.

    While the previous ice cream tweets may seem predominantly negative, they offer a bit of insight into specific restaurant locations. Owners or managers who monitor social mentions will be able to check on these problems, and be notified as to whether or not their ice cream machine is broken, requires service, or to find out if your employees are simply not making ice cream. In the past, some businesses found that employees were lying to customers to avoid the task of serving certain items at certain restaurants- and look: This guy has no problem admitting it! We unplugged the ice cream machine to not serve it tweet.(Sorry McDonald’s ice cream lovers!) You can easily keep tabs on these issues by monitoring your business’s mentions on Twitter, and may be able to find out a bit about the daily operations of your business this way as well. Following your employees social accounts may help you learn something about the ongoing daily activities too.

    Trial and Error, Success and failure

    As mentioned earlier, negative emotions tend to be acted upon more frequently than positive ones, but there are ways to take control of your social presence from the start. By providing your guests with free giveaways, perks, or bonuses for social interactions or Facebook “likes”, you can start momentum rolling in a positive direction immediately, as soon as guests arrive at your restaurant. This way, your business holds the upper hand from the start. You can help steer customer actions and reactions with social promotions. By persuading your customers to like your Facebook page, follow, or circle you, you will earn a consistent spot in their news feeds, and all of your future specials, deals, and promotions will show up there as well. This past spring, at Ice Machines Plus, we ran a seasonal “Twitter2” discount for our social followers which created a buzz about our company on social media, earned us a few new followers, and caused an uptick in internet sales. Dunkin' Donuts celebrated National Coffee Day on September 29th with perks across the United States. Among them, they offered free coffee at all participating locations. (Customers simply had to download Dunkin' Donuts smartphone app to enjoy the deals.) Even while competing with trends from the National Football League on Sunday, National Coffee Day and Dunkin’ Donuts were still among the top Twitter trends on the 29th. By showing your customers that you are socially available, you are inviting them into a more personal world, and allowing them to share in a more relaxed, social environment. This allows your customers to feel more like friends or confidants rather than simply dollar signs. Your customers are people, and when they feel they have been slighted, cheated, or wronged, the backlash and consequences can be dire. Check out these “Social Media Fails” from Arielle Calderon (Twitter @ArielleCalderon) from BuzzFeed and avoid the mistakes these companies (which include some big names) have made in the past. And if you take nothing away from this list, here's a summary: If you ever think manipulating cancer, mass tragedies, and acts of terrorism into your marketing ploys is a good idea, take a step back, and just start over.

    It's a Tweetmocracy!

    Social media – especially Twitter – has become nothing short of a social search engine that – in certain instances – is faster, more accurate, and more useful than Google. Google’s dominant, monarchical control of the internet consists of rules, guidelines, a complex algorithm, and much more. Twitter is more like a democracy, where the people decide what is important, the people decide the trends, and the people control their tweets. While Google must individually crawl and index web pages, then judge, decide, penalize, or promote individual pages, Twitter happens at the speed of life, with constant, free-flowing information. If I’m looking for happy hour specials in New York City, I may be required to search through numerous web pages until I am satisfied with the results. With Twitter, I can have up to the second results, and promotions that are happening right now. With followers, I can get localized, personal recommendations from people I trust who have experience with a brand, restaurant, or products. I can also send out a Tweet, even with zero followers, and tag it “#NYC, #NewYork, #HappyHour, #Bar, #Drinks, #Alcohol”, and all but guarantee I find an answer, or get a response from a person or bar in my area within minutes. Utilizing tools like HootSuite and Google Alerts can help your restaurant keep tabs on multiple search terms at the same time. If your bar or restaurant is monitoring key phrases related to your industry, you can provide information to potential customers faster than anyone else. According to Social Media Restaurant, “[i]t is now estimated that 30% of all restaurant website traffic is mobile generated – and that number is not only growing, but also skews [towards a] younger demographic with a relatively large discretionary income.” (Full article here). This is the same generation that can be found entrenched in multiple different social media outlets, has money to spend, and has the power to positively or negatively affect your business with a few quick keystrokes.

    Here’s an example of Twitter trumping Google in terms of quality of information from a customer’s point of view: About a year ago, I found a happy hour special on a restaurant’s website, only to arrive to find that the restaurant no longer offered the special anymore. Google brought me to a page with outdated information. While this is not Google’s fault that the page contained misinformation (blame the restaurant and their website), issues like this rarely arise on Twitter. Tweets are constant, up to date, and provide information by the second. If you desire information about a certain bar or restaurant, you can directly tweet them and receive immediate feedback. You will never see a special tweeted out to run all day long, and arrive at the restaurant and hear, “we no longer offer that”. Of course, Google can provide a greater amount of in-depth information and details with their search engine, but Twitter is almost always more current, with the most up to date information available. Twitter trends reflect what is popular as well, as voted on (based on tweets) by the people. Twitter’s simultaneously biggest asset and drawback is that many tweets are opinions, and can be factually misleading. For consumers, tweets must be taken with a grain of salt. It can be useful however, to find say, a restaurant that has a favorite beer on tap, or has a renowned happy hour in the user's area. As a restaurant owner, you can follow tweets, mentions, and posts and be the first to answer questions and inquiries to drive more traffic into your physical establishment.

    Twitter Egg Egg: Follows You!

    With Twitter, opinions and loyalty cannot be bought. Followers can be bought, but they usually offer few benefits, and are largely inconsequential- Social media should not be seen as a popularity contest. It should be used as a resource to obtain and convey information. If your restaurant is terrible, and consistently upsets customers, the public will be alerted via Twitter and Facebook. People do not need to (nor do many have the attention spans these days) to read a three page write-up of an “official visit” to a restaurant by a food critic, whose judgments and opinions usually differ greatly from the general public (the majority of your customers) anyways. Scrolling through numerous posts of 140 characters takes less than a few minutes, and can often provide more than enough information to gauge the quality of a bar or restaurant from a variety of different sources. The use of hash tags also allows consumers and businesses to get their message out to a much larger audience, beyond immediate circles, friends, or followers. This will place any commentary on your restaurant in an area with much higher visibility and viewership.

    Google’s algorithm is incredibly sophisticated, and no one (aside from Matt Cutts and Google’s higher-ups) knows exactly what it takes into account when ranking websites. Twitter works in a similar way, but instead uses information to rank trends in the social world. In the Twitterverse, Page Rank and Domain Authority are replaced by followers and social clout. If someone with 50 followers tweets about the bad time they had at your restaurant, the repercussions are less likely to impact your business negatively. If Justin Bieber tweets a message to his 45 million followers regarding a sub-par cheeseburger from your restaurant, watch out- that’s 45 million angry “Beliebers” who will likely respond with an emotionally charged reaction, retweets, and real world action, and may be prone to boycott your restaurant based on their idol’s message. While Justin Bieber may not be a cheeseburger aficionado, his clout dominates the social scene, and young, impressionable teens are the ones who are likely to listen. (I would also be sure to provide world class food and service for Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and President Obama too, as they round out the top four Twitter accounts with the most followers). Just as a link from a PR8 or PR9 website can drastically impact the status and reputation of your company’s website, those with a greater social influence can harm or help improve your social status in the same way. It is possible that, in the future, Google may place a greater amount of value on social cues, posts, and tweets to gain a better understanding regarding the quality of your physical establishment and your website via social cues.

    Incorporating Social Media into Your Business

    So, how should your bar or restaurant take control of its social scene? Get active! Get your social accounts out in the public eye, and promote specials, discounts, and upcoming events.  Use Google Plus Hangouts to interact and converse. Retweet followers and follow new people. Follow businesses, bars, and restaurants - people in your industry - to stay up to date on the latest trends, and to scout competitors. Make use of Instagram to easily take and post beautiful images and share them with your followers. Choose the best photographer who uses a hash tag you crated to win something unique (and desirable), the way this Chicago restaurant featured on CBS News is to promote their business. If you offer something cheap (free chips and salsa!) or something no one wants, your contest will be a dud- it will probably also fuel negative responses and repercussions. The more creative the contest, the more likely it will receive notice and attention. Use FourSquare to offer deals or freebies to the “mayor” of your location, and discounts to those who check in at your restaurant's location frequently via Foursquare. If you are completely socially handicapped, even an email campaign can help deliver news of upcoming events and specials. Whatever you choose to do, don’t be overbearing or spam your followers and patrons with messages like, “LIKE OUR PAGE NOW!” or “BUY THIS PRODUCT TODAY!” (Firsthand failure on our part- Sorry, early Twitter followers). Commands like this can put off your most loyal customers. Offer incentives, good information, unique deals, and always provide something of value that people can find and share with others in their social circle. Check out this infographic from Digital Dining regarding the ways social media can be effectively used in restaurants.Restaurants using Social Media Infographic

    Even at Ice Machines Plus, our Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook accounts have become invaluable assets. Social media has led directly to sales in some cases, and we have made many acquaintances in our industry. We have been able to distribute our content (probably how you came across this article) to a much wider audience than ever before. Prior to combining our social media and content departments, our blog received anywhere from zero to ten clicks per post. (When your subject matter is ice machines, it can be tough to pique interest.) Now, we range from 50 to 500 clicks per post! We have received exposure, made acquaintances, solved problems, and helped customers locate products all via various social media outlets. Our web traffic and impressions have also increased exponentially.

    Bar and restaurant owners will find that they can use social media to attract new customers, promote specials, poll customers, and be able to accurately find out what’s “hot” or “trending”. You can also tailor trends to your area, so if something is trending specifically in your geographic region, you can be alerted to it, and capitalize on it. The Seattle Sounders for example, an MLS soccer team, draw over 40,000 people to an average home game (Attendance source: Wikipedia). This is almost double the second highest attendance in the league, so a restaurant or bar in the Seattle area could benefit from a social special during home matches. The same soccer special may not be as effective in New England, whose team draws around 13,000 fans per game, and must compete with the Patriots and Red Sox for publicity and loyalty as the MLS season runs from March to late October, which -in New England - is largely dominated by baseball, beaches, and the beginning of football season. Tailored trends are a great way to find out what is going on and what’s hot or popular in your area. Be examining trends, you no longer have to “fish” for leads or ideas as you would to in the past. You can now go directly to your customer base to find what they want, and act accordingly.

    You're Doing it RIGHT!

    For an exceptional example of a restaurants making great use of social media in their daily procedures, check out Plan B Burger Bar on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This restaurant’s social accounts are run by Rachel Hurvitz (@RHurv), who can aptly be described as a social media aficionado. Follow Plan B on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you are guaranteed to be up to date with every special, promotion, beer rotation, burger of the week, and new menu item that makes an appearance. (Just don’t follow on an empty stomach- trust me.) Not only does Plan B provide up to the minute information regarding the restaurant, but more importantly, they interact with their customers and provide insight and information that would be almost entirely unavailable just a few years ago. Rachel has helped create more hype and buzz for Plan B than could ever be expected in the past. When contacted, Rachel had this to say about Plan B in regards to their social media endeavors:

    We are constantly working to contribute to our community. Social media helps us to stay connected to customers through the sharing of information and ideas. Through social media we are able to make real connections with real people. Our patrons contribute their own experiences to our online brand and in turn grow our community with our support. We are constantly working to keep an open dialogue with customers and we always have our eyes and ears open. Through social media we are able to learn what our customers want, what they like, and even what they dislike. We read all of our Yelp reviews and if someone is dissatisfied we reach out to them to see how we can make amends. Social media has been the leading way in which we connect to our customers and has helped us grow our brand over the years.

    If you need to “how to” blueprint regarding social media for your restaurant, consider Plan B a perfect “Plan A”.

    Elsewhere, we came across J. Timothy’s Taverne, which calls itself one of the “finest casual theme restaurants”, and is situated in Plainville- almost the geographical center of Connecticut. While this restaurant resides in a building that was constructed over 220 years ago, their social accounts are more than up to speed with the social scene than many others. Following J. Timothy’s Twitter account will keep you abreast regarding specials, rotating local craft beers, community news and events, and naturally, new wing flavors as they are introduced. Both Plan B and J. Timothy’s, while smaller in size, make use of social media to its full potential and do a great job engaging with customers as well, keeping up with current trends, and promoting themselves in an increasingly competitive market.

    Embrace the Social World

    Social media has helped blur the boundaries between company and consumer. If a customer has a gripe, an issue, or a need, they can contact you or be contacted quickly and directly. By simply typing a keyword or phrase into the Twitter search bar, restaurant owners can place themselves among all the latest tweets involving that keyword. At Ice Machines Plus, we frequently keep tabs on the key terms in our business which include “ice machine”, “ice maker”, and “sonic ice”, and interact when we can provide information, even if it may not lead directly to a sale or conversion. In any case, we gain exposure and leave an impression on potential future customers. We do not however, use an auto reply program to respond to these keywords with generic messages. Each response is personal, and dedicated to the person, account, and experience. Auto reply programs will make you look like a robot, and will get be ignored, blocked, or shut down if reported for spam often enough. Auto reply programs work well in other instances - say when your social media manager is out of the office or on vacation.

    Social media can be used to gain information about your customers, their issues, and complaints. It gives you insight where you may not have had it in the past. When properly utilized and managed, you can find a way to help and interact with people, eventually turning them into friends and customers. Doing so will help you gain a competitive edge over the rest of your industry and allow you to offer products and promotions based exactly on your customers wants and needs. Technology is moving exponentially faster and faster every day. If your bar or restaurant isn't already taking advantage of social media, there is no time better to start than right now. The only thing worse than being spoken about negatively in the social media world may be not being spoken about at all.

    TL;DR: Hiring a professional to operate your social media accounts is now a MUST in the foodservice industry, and for just about any business. It can and should be used to monitor complaints, promote your establishment, and to locate and interact with new, existing, and potential customers. Your social account is a direct representation of your bar or restaurant as a whole. Bad, very bad, and excellent service gets people talking via social media. Don’t use terrorism, tragedies, or cancer as marketing campaigns. A person or establishment’s online “Clout” is now the social equivalent to a website’s Domain Authority when it comes to influence, respect, and authority through social media. Follow Plan B and J. Timothy’s Taverne for excellent examples of how smaller-town, non-chain restaurants are using social media to their advantage in the bar and restaurant industry.

  4. A Quiet Ice Machine is Key for Hotel Guests' Rest

    Do Not Disturb Sign on Door KnobWhile recently browsing hotel reviews, we noticed a recurring trend coming to light - a lot of people are unsatisfied with their overnight hotel stays due to the noise created by an obnoxious ice machine! The negative reviews were varied – some complained about room cleanliness or poor room service, but the ice machine was the number one culprit when it came to ruining guests’ sleep time. Whether it was from a whirring condenser, the clanging of a malfunctioning machine, the sound of ice dropping in the middle of the night, or the noise made by people accessing ice - a room next to the ice machine was often conducive to a poor night of rest.

    For most hotel and motel owners (save for ski resorts and those in more temperate climates), the summer months bring the greatest influx of visitors. This is the time of year occupancy levels may diminish, so greater measures should be taken to ensure that, if people are considering an early fall getaway, they consider your location first. This is why you can leave nothing to chance in your hotel. A quiet ice machine will keep the noise down, and allow all of your guests an adequate night of rest. This will also help save your establishment from the often scathing reviews that follow a guest's unhappy stay. For most, this is the best time of year to consider replacing old equipment, as occupancy will start to fall a bit over the coming months.

    Man Sleeping Uncomfortably on Hotel BedIf you’ve ever heard an ice machine operate, you know that the noise can be deafening in some cases. The clang of the condenser as it kicks on can be startling, and the incessant whirring that follows is enough to keep one’s eyes open all night. There are a few ways to keep your ice machine quiet however. A remote air cooled ice machine lets you move the condenser to the roof or to a location outside the building. This way, the heat and noise created by your ice machine can be relocated as far away from your guests' rooms as possible. Remote air cooled condensers are available from every major ice machine producer, and they also help your ice machine create ice more consistently in adverse temperature conditions, and operate at a lower cost to your business. Many remote air cooled units are Energy Star qualified as well.

    Ice machines from Scotsman’s Eclipse Series or Manitowoc’s QuietQube Series are some of the quietest available, and must be considered if you are searching for a truly quiet ice machine. These units are like none other on the market, as they take the condenser and the compressor out of the ice making head, allowing the user to move them outside or to the roof of your building. This will allow your ice machine to operate up to 75% more quietly than a standard remote air cooled unit. If you’re looking for the best quiet ice machine, any from the QuietQube Series or the Eclipse Series will suffice. The only deterrent from these ice machines is that the compressor and condenser both must be purchased as separate entities.

    Indigo ice machines from Manitowoc allow you a great amount of versatility when it comes to the ice making process too, as they can be programmed to create ice when it is most desirable for your establishment and your guests. This way, ice machine noise can be cut out completely from overnight hours. If you choose to, you can allow your ice machine to operate only between 8AM to 10PM (or any other timeframe), so it is only creating ice and making noise when the majority of your guests are awake and active. (Scotsman Prodigy machines can also be programmed, but this features is available at an additional charge.) If you own or operate a high end resort and have the means to do so, you may want to consider offering personal, in-room undercounter ice makers for your guests’ private use. These usually operate more quietly, and run less frequently than the larger ice machine head and bin combination units. They also provide a convenience that cannot be matched by other hotels and motels.

    A quiet ice machine makes a great difference in the quality of your guests’ stay, but it is also important to place your ice machine in an area away from your guests’ rooms if at all possible. A hotel with thin walls and doors can be a horrific place to stay if the ice machine is rumbling and rattling away right outside the room. Foot traffic and the sound of people accessing ice from the machine at irregular hours can also cause a disruption if the ice machine is not placed in a reasonable location. By placing one ice machine in the hotel lobby, or in a dedicated, walled off area, your hotel can hope to avoid some of the inevitable disruptions that come in addition to simply the sound of your ice machine making ice.

    Hotel Ice Machine and Ice Dispenser from ScotsmanTake the current state of our nation’s economy and combine it with the United States government shutdown, and add in the lull that usually takes hold of the hotel industry this time of year, and you cannot afford to take any chances with poor online reviews. Nor can you risk your establishment’s reputation with something as simple as your hotel ice machine. At Ice Machines Plus, we can get you outfitted with a quiet ice machine for your hotel, and the best hotel ice dispenser for your establishment as well - whether you require the standard “push to dispense” ice dispensers, or something different, like room key or coin operated ice dispensers. If you want to ensure the quality of your guests' rest, you've got to make sure you've got the right ice machine.

    You can find out more about every hotel ice dispenser offered at Ice Machines Plus by following clicking here. This post breaks down everything that our hotel ice dispenser have to offer - from capacity to dispense rates to compatible ice machines. As always, give us a call if you have any further questions or concerns.

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