REWrite - The Restaurant Equipment World Blog

Brad Pierce Wins Young Lion Award

October 1st, 2012 by REW Blog Team

Brad Pierce is the winner of the Young Lion Award for 2012/2013. No, this is not the Fiction award and Ethan Hawke will not be presenting the award. This Young Lion award, presented by Foodservice Equipment Reports magazine, honors professionals at or under the age of 40. Professionals who do not just contribute but dedicate their work to improving the standard of excellence. Brad Pierce is recognized for his contributions to the dealer segment of the industry.

Reflected in his personal website’s title, Brad In Motion, that is exactly how our interview happened, in motion.

Q: How long have you been in the industry?
A: I’ve been involved with the industry since I was really young. Essentially my entire life, foodservice equipment has been in my blood.

Q: What contributions does the Foodservice equiptment industry need?
A: 
The industry needs dealers to stand together and collectively convey their value to the rest of the industry. There’s training, knowledge, inventory, service and support that all go into servicing the customer. It’s important that we as dealers convey this value proposition to our end-user customers, as well as to our manufacturer partners. We’re much more than a middle-man in the equation, we provide value each and every day and are proud of the markets and customers we serve.

Q: What did you do to have such an impact?
A: 
I’m not good at sitting on the sidelines and would much rather be in the game, so when the first opportunity for leadership within the industry happened, I jumped at the opportunity. Since that time, I’ve been involved in writing countless industry magazine articles to help other dealers, spoken at conventions, hosted dealer round-tables  become active in buying group committees, and much more. I’ve also served as a board member for the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA) and currently serve as the Vice-President for the organization. This industry has given a lot to me, both personally and professionally, so it feels fantastic to be able to give back to it.

“We’ve got great staff members and great vendor partners, this award is more a reflection of all of them than myself. There are numerous people in this industry who’ve paved the way and given me wisdom and knowledge over the years which has certainly been a key to our success. I appreciate each and every one of them more than words alone can express.” – Brad Pierce

You can see the all 6 winners at the FERmag website http://www.fermag.com/news/late-breaking/single-article/fer-announces-winners-of-young-lion-awards/152749e82f.html

The event is scheduled for February 8th 2013 at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Fl.

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How Dealers Should Reach Out To Promote Their Web Sites

February 4th, 2011 by REW Blog Team

By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World

via The Schechter Report

There’s a line from the movie Field of Dreams that goes, “If you build it, they will come.” While this may be true for a ballpark, it couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to a foodservice equipment supplier’s web site.

This is the reality I know all too well personally. After spending months developing my company’s first site, I eagerly looked at the visitor logs a few weeks after it went live. To my shock, I had attracted a total of 10 visitors, nine of which I’m quite sure were family members. I realized that I needed to do some promotion quickly or the world wouldn’t know about the great content I had developed. The tools have changed since those early days of the web, but the premise is the same: You must get out there and promote your site to make it successful so that operators can find you and the equipment you’re promoting.
Ensuring that your site is listed with the Google and Bing search engines is essential, but this process can be time consuming as you work to gain relevant rankings and is often competitive and costly, especially if you’re using these companies’ paid advertising services. Starting a company blog on the other hand and syndicating your content to the blog search engines is, however, a quick and inexpensive way to start getting your name and site out there.
News releases can also work well, especially if they’re distributed via one of the many established online press release agencies. One caveat is to ensure that the information being presented in your release is relevant and interesting to readers. Sure, it’s alright to toot your own horn to attract operators or promote your equipment, but be sure to spell out the value you’re actually providing and why it’s relevant to them or it’s likely to be dismissed as a sales pitch disguised as a press release.
Lastly, foodservice equipment dealers need to engage in social media networking. Start with Facebook and Twitter, since those have a minimal barrier to entry and the largest audience sizes. Don’t just head right into promoting your site, however, or you’ll likely be blocked by people instantly. Instead, engage in the ongoing discussions, form personal relationships and get to know your existing and potential operator-customers Once you’ve established trust, then — and only then — should equipment dealers  promote your brand and products, and ask operators to visit your site. Before you know it, they will come to see what you’ve built — and they’ll bring their colleagues and business associates with them, as well.
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Just Blog It: Setting Up A Blog For Your Operation

January 31st, 2011 by REW Blog Team

By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World

via The Schechter Report

Having a blog for your restaurant or foodservice is perhaps one of the easiest online marketing techniques, yet many operators miss this important step in their quest to drive customers and traffic to their sites. The most common reason cited by operators I’ve spoken with is that they just don’t feel like they’re tech-savvy enough to handle the task of getting a blog set up. Have no fear, it’s actually quick and easy to get started, which I’ll explain below. Another common reason I hear from operators is that they are already using FaceBook to post updates, so they see no need for their own blog.

While FaceBook is great and a useful online marketing platform, it’s important to remember that with FaceBook content, you’re helping to build their site, not yours. It’s like the difference between renting a house versus buying one. Ultimately, you want to be the one to control your content and hold ownership of your message. This allows you to market your content on whatever platform is the latest and greatest social media site without being locked into just one. The reason for this is you never know when the next social media site will become a hit, much like what happened when FaceBook took over market share from MySpace. Simply stated, the best practice in online blogging is to develop your own content on your own site, then to tell the world about it on sites like Twitter and FaceBook to drive traffic back to your site.

The most common blogging platform is called WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com). This software is 100% open source and will never cost you a dime as it’s built and maintained by hundreds of volunteers. There are literally millions of online sites that use WordPress, so if questions do arise there is a vast pool of resources available to help you quickly. Installation of the WordPress software is fast. So fast, in fact, they call it the “Famous 5-Minute Install.” The stand alone version of WordPress for your own server can be downloaded by visiting http://wordpress.org/download/. If you prefer not to deal with security updates or don’t have your own domain, you can also choose to have WordPress host your blog on its servers. A hosted WordPress installation can be installed by visiting https://en.wordpress.com/signup/, which only takes a few seconds.

Whichever method you choose, you should plan on investing more time to customize your theme (colors, background, images and the like), but even this process is typically quick and straightforward. Additionally, there is a number of optional add-ons which can be installed to handle functions such as automatic spam detection. These don’t need to be added initially but, as your blog comes to life, you may find that daily management of your blog is more easily done by incorporating these types of tools. As a side note, these add-ons are typically open-source and 100% free, as well.

I hope that you’ll spend a few minutes today and invest in your operation by setting up your own blog. In a future entry, I’ll explore the next steps in blogging focusing on content and strategies for building a successful discussion platform. Happy Blogging!

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Taking Your Web Site Mobile

November 3rd, 2010 by REW Blog Team

By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World

via The Schechter Report

Nearly 10 years ago, I built the first mobile site in the foodservice industry. While I may have made my mother proud, no one else cared or ever used it. Today, however, the pendulum has made a complete swing. The mobile revolution is here and the time for operators to embrace it is now. Here are a few items to keep in mind during this process.

It’s the Same, but Different: A mobile version of a web site should keep many of the same design elements of the original-browser web site, including colors, graphics and themes. Keep branding consistent among all platforms, even though an actual mobile layout will be a bit more compact to accommodate user navigation on smaller screens.
An Easy Entrance: Don’t make customers hunt and peck around your organization’s site or make them remember a special url for a mobile version. Instead, have web developers add redirection rules to the original site configuration files. This way, when customers visit from a mobile device, they’ll automatically be sent to the mobile version of your web site. This takes less than 5 minutes to implement and customers will appreciate the ease of use.

Flash Is Not Your Friend: All of us have seen plenty of sites with rotating graphics and lots of animated features. That’s great for standard browser sites, but it’s a big no-no when it comes to mobile sites. The reason is that most mobile browsers don’t support Flash. Instead of getting your site, existing and potential customers will just be greeted by a message that their browser isn’t compatible, and they’ll go elsewhere.
Javascript Isn’t Your Friend, Either: Unlike Flash, Javascript is actually supported by most mobile browsers. However, there are those devices on which Javascript doesn’t work well — causing errors and freezing browsers. Just because it works on a state-of-the-art device doesn’t mean it’s going to run well across the wide range of mobile computers used by foodservice customers. It’s best to stick to using good-looking static pages.
Show Me the Menu: There are countless foodservice sites that show PDF versions of their menu to visitors.   That’s fine for a normal site but, once again, it’s not the right solution for mobile browsers. While PDFs can often be opened with mobile devices, they tend to be cumbersome to navigate. Instead, menus should be available as plain text on mobile web sites. Your customers will appreciate being able to see all offerings in an easy to use format.
Thumbs Up: Encourage customers to post online reviews, as they really do help to drive traffic in the door. The last time I was traveling, I was looking for a good BBQ restaurant. I fired up my Blackberry and found two restaurants equal distances from my hotel. One had no customer reviews and the other one had several favorable ones. Needless to say, I had a great BBQ dinner at the reviewed restaurant!
I’ve got to go now and give my thumbs a rest… In keeping with the spirit of this article, this entire blog was composed on my Blackberry!
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Avoiding Common Web Site SEO Mistakes

November 3rd, 2010 by Brad Pierce

By Brad Pierce, President Restaurant Equipment World

Via The Schechter Report

It never ceases to amaze me how much “bad advice” there is out there when it comes out to suggestions about how to improve a web site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Here are three common site development strategies to avoid:

1. Generate Hidden Text: Here’s what has been widely considered a brilliant idea – Developers work to fill their web pages with lots of ‘hidden’ keywords to improve a site’s ranking. They do this by coloring all text the same hue as the background of their web pages. That way, search engines “see” the text, but visitors to the site never know it’s there. That was a quick way to rocket a restaurant’s or foodservice department’s web site to the top position of search engines… back in 2000. Unfortunately, many people still errantly advocate using this development technique. Major search engines have gotten much smarter and now see tricks like this as spamming and will downgrade a site’s ranking rather than upgrade it.

2. Stuff “Meta Tags” With Keywords: Here’s the reality – meta tags are dead. They’re no longer recognized by search engine ranking algorithms, due to spamming techniques that made meta tags too easy to exploit. As a result, inserting meta-keyword tags will no longer help to improve a site’s ranking. However if foodservice operators do choose to use meta tags, don’t stuff them with keywords. Instead, keep the list of keywords to a minimal size and never, ever repeat keywords or phrases multiple times or you’re likely to be labeled as a spammer.

3. Guarantee To Position Sites As #1 On Google, Yahoo Or Bing: Many restaurants and foodservices have been pitched by companies selling search engine optimization services “guaranteed’ to place their web sites in “the #1 position.” If you ever hear this promise again, run! Sure, there are reliable ways to get a site into a number one position, but the results of those techniques are very short lasting and almost always will get a site banned from the search engine for violating their business practice terms. These bans can run anywhere from six months to forever, depending on how sneaky the tricks were the optimization company used to get a site into that coveted #1 position. Overall, It’s simply not worth it. Operators will be much better served by going with a reputable search engine optimization company that doesn’t “guarantee” pie-in-the-sky results.

Now that I’ve shared several common SEO mistakes to avoid, I’ll leave you with the magic key to improving the ranking of your site: Develop strong content. Yes, it really is that simply. Content is king. Build it and they will come (and your site will rank high up in search engines rankings, too!)

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