Hazlnut Food Photography Tips

In recent posts, we have emphasized how important it is to have photographs of food items on social media and online ordering for customers to see. Research shows that adding photos of the product on an online ordering page can increase sales by 30%, help build the brand, and increase customers’ conversion rate. With all of this data to support pictures’ importance, we decided to give our tips for all restaurant photographers who want to snap some photos.

Presentation

How a dish looks can significantly impact how the picture comes out, and presentation is critical. A “the camera eats first” culture that craves beautiful looking food, giving them what they want can draw them in. Factors in the presentation to consider are plating, props, lighting, and background. All of these things working together is the key to snapping the perfect picture of the dish.

Plating

When plating a dish for photos, present it in the way it is served to the customer. Plating the food one way in a picture then serving it a different way can confuse and disappoint customers. Although most orders are for takeout or delivery these days, try to avoid plating the dish in plastic containers. Cheap packaging can come across as telling the customer the food is exclusively for takeout, and customers won’t consider it when thinking of where they would like to dine in.

Background and Props

Props are a fun way to show what is in a dish or pairs well with it, like putting a champagne bottle next to champagne infused cupcakes. Props can also be used to create the background and help encourage the customer to order more. Placing a glass of red wine in the background of a steak can get someone to think about the pairing and how they would enjoy it. Going back to the “the camera eats first,” a customer may be inclined to want to recreate what they saw, so they need to order what they saw. Backgrounds can help set the scene and get the person in the mood for food. An all black background can hinder rather than help because food isn’t best enjoyed in a void.

Lighting

Lighting has a huge impact that I didn’t believe until I saw it. The way a camera sees the item is different than how we see the same thing with our eyes, so with proper lighting, the dish can look better on camera than it does in person. A cameraman for the Cooking Channel showed this to me in real time. He panned over a tray of sticky buns that were directly in front of me. I watched the live feed from the camera, and the sticky buns on the feed looked more delicious than the ones in front of me, even though they were the same thing. The cameraman explained the science, but he said the key was the lighting.

Framing

Once the dish’s presentation is ready, it is time to take some pictures, but it is crucial to consider the picture’s framing. A photo too close can make the dish look strange and take away from the background and props. One framed too far out can lose details on the plate, and the customer may not be drawn in. Choosing the shot angle can take some planning. When we look at food sitting down, we look at it from a 45-degree angle, which is a natural angle. A birds-eye view angle can be tricky when incorporating props but can really pay off with individual dishes.

Taking the Picture

At last, the time has come to snap the picture and capture it. Most modern cell phones have cameras that will take a high-quality image. It is good to take a few shots from various angles to have a selection to choose the best from. Never be afraid to play around with all of the elements. Have some fun with it. While pictures are essential, customers can sense if it isn’t genuine, which can hinder rather than help.

Check out some other tips here.

Boosting Restaurant’s Social Media Engagement in 2021

Looking back at 2020 one lesson we’ve learned at Hazlnut is the importance of social media and digital branding. We are on our phones more than ever giving restaurants a unique opportunity to reach more customers and sell not only food, but a social experience through digital marketing. With the crazy year we have had coming to an end, we can start looking to the upcoming one and what we can do to prepare ourselves for it. At Hazlnut, we have a few ideas to help restaurants start 2021 off on the right foot!

Social Media

With smart phone cameras competing with DSLRs these days, we live in a time where food photography is shown off and photography has become an integral part of how we choose where to eat. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and even LinkedIn have become channels for sharing delicious food – so that’s where our focus will be in 2021. When a restaurant’s social media is managed well, it shows off the food and reassures a customer that the restaurant is open, trustworthy, active. Going to the social media page of a restaurant and seeing the last post was months or years ago can turn away customers. We believe that when it comes to food, people shop with their eyes so posting high quality photos of a menu that can be shared and shown off can really help elevate marketing reach and bring in more hungry customers.

SEO

People need to be able to find the business when they search it, so SEO is important. We all know no one goes to the second page of Google search results, so being front and center is key to getting clicks. SEO is something that needs to be refined restaurant to restaurant, there is no blanket solution but there are tips and tricks. For example, when posting on Instagram there is an option to edit the caption in advanced settings to include Alt Text to increase the restaurant’s visibility. There are companies that specialize in SEO or with some time and research it can be dialed in by anyone. This is something that will take some time, but it will pay off in the end.

They found the restaurant…..what now?

Once someone finds a restaurant’s social media channel and decides the food looks amazing and they MUST have to have it now, the next step is finding a way to order. That’s where Hazlnut comes in with online ordering. We build a branded online ordering page and give the restaurant a link to it that they can put on all of their social media and website directly. Posting a picture of a new item that looks amazing and garners a bunch of likes? Put the OLO link in the description to convert it to a sale on the spot. The online ordering link is a tool to get all of those people that they were able to reach using SEO and social media to make the final step to fall in love with the restaurant.

How Hazlnut wants to help Small Business

Small businesses make up over 99% of US businesses, and Hazlnut, being a part of that statistic, wants to help other small businesses. There are resources in place from the SBA that allow small businesses to stay afloat in these trying times, and new guidelines on those resources have recently been published. The new guidelines may allow some funds from the PPP program to be used on software, and that is where Hazlnut fits in. We provide contactless ordering to keep your employees and customers safe. More information about that can be found here.

According to various sources, the SBA is now allowing 40% of the funds received from the PPP loan to go to non-payroll expenses. This helps small businesses allocate some funds to create a safer environment for employees and customers. Using contactless ordering is a sure way to create a safer environment for everyone and Hazlnut provides the means to set up contactless ordering. In our contactless ordering blog post, we talked about order types and how we can customize them to fit most contactless order types.

We are here to get restaurants set up with a premium contactless ordering solution fully integrated with their Clover station. We offer online ordering and mobile apps and are running several promotions. Contact us at sales@hazlnut.com, and we would be happy to answer any questions and show a demo of our system. Please contact your PPP lender to ensure they will cover Hazlnut in the loan.

How Does Clover’s Online Ordering Compare to Hazlnut?

When choosing an online ordering service, it’s essential to do a lot of research and make sure you’re going with the right provider. This series offers a fair and honest look at how Hazlnut compares to other leading online ordering systems. In this installment, we’re taking a look at Clover’s built-in online ordering solution.

At their roots, these platforms have some similarities. They both allow customers to browse the menu and place orders, they both operate without any commission fees, and they both use the existing items in your Clover to build the menu. Both platforms operate as an external link that can be posted on your website, which allows you to use them regardless of the website provider you use.

Let’s look at both platforms’ pros and cons and discuss the best fit for your business.

Clover Online Ordering

Pros:

Free: Easily the strongest selling point for Clover’s online ordering is the price point. You can’t beat free and having an option like this available during the pandemic has saved many businesses from going under. Clover’s Google integrated partner, The Ordering.app, charges a 1.5% fee per transaction and allows customers to access the menu through a button on Google.

Quick set up: For those looking to get something in place as soon as possible, Clover’s solution can be set up in as little as 10 minutes. Clover copies over your existing inventory and then allows you to make changes from the pre-built menu.

No commitments: As easily as you can get Clover’s ordering set up, you can cancel the service. This makes it a good starting point and something that you can upgrade from at any time.

Manage from existing Clover Dashboard: Because this service is available directly from Clover, it’s all managed from the same Clover Dashboard where you currently make inventory changes.

Cons:

Not branded: Clover’s platform is very clearly a Clover product and does not allow for a company’s logos or colors to be used on the page. While this allows them to keep costs down, it can be off-putting to customers who may feel like they’re ordering from a third-party as opposed to directly from the business.

Lack of features: The old adage “You get what you pay for” rings true here. Clover’s system is very basic. There are no bells and whistles, lacking in areas like upselling, dynamic prep time, cash payments, modifier customization. It does what it’s supposed to: Take orders and accept payments.  But unfortunately, not much else.

Manual editing: The set-up is quick and matches Clover directly, but then it’s up to you to make changes as you go. In most situations, a Clover’s inventory contains shorthand names or modifier groups that are designed to make things easier on the staff, but these aren’t always ideal for online ordering. This can cause some headaches in the set-up process, and Clover’s general support line tends to be an unreliable source for problem-solving.

Lack of personalized support: This is one of the biggest differences between these two services. While Hazlnut provides you with a personal onboarding rep and a support line that gets you directly to an expert, Clover requires you to go through their general support line, which tends to be very unreliable.

Limited to one printer: Despite being a service directly from Clover, this online ordering system limits you to using only 1 printer for all online orders. This can be a pain in the event that a business has multiple stations and printers and creates a disconnect between online orders and standard, in-store transactions.

No pictures: Pictures are extremely important whenever someone shops online, but especially so with food ordering. Not being able to add pictures can hurt customer engagement and can result in a lower average ticket size. According to DoorDash, menus with pictures receive 25% more orders.

Hazlnut Online Ordering

Pros:

Branded: One of the biggest selling points for Hazlnut is that it’s a completely branded solution. We use your logos, colors, and fonts to make the page look and feel like you built it yourself. This adds a personal touch to the order process and allows you brand to be represented well every time an order is placed.

Food pictures: Hazlnut allows you to add food pictures for every item and category, which can really help customers to engage with the menu more and can even increase ticket size by 30%.

Customizable: While Hazlnut’s system uses the existing items and modifiers in Clover, it’s not limited to how these things are display on Clover. From pictures, descriptions, and modifiers to the display order and categories items are displayed in, Hazlnut allows for nearly unlimited menu customization.

1-on-1 support and hands-off set-up: After signing up with Hazlnut, you’re assigned an onboarding specialist to work with throughout the entire set-up process. Based on the information you provide, that specialist will help set up the menu for you, and adjust it based on any feedback you give. That same person will be a direct contact for you in the future if you run into any issues.

Custom printer set-up: In direct contrast to Clover Online Ordering’s printer limitations, Hazlnut allows you to utilize any printers you have and can even set things up to mirror exactly what you’re using in-store, blurring the lines between these different order types and making these transactions feel like the normal in-store transactions that the staff is used to.

Dynamic upselling: Hazlnut has the ability to offer customers an item at the end of each transaction. It’s called “dynamic” because the item that gets offered can change based on what’s in the customers cart. This allows you to pair items that go well together and avoid offering a customer something they already have in their cart.

Cons:

Price: Hazlnut isn’t the cheapest option out there (starting at $89 a month), and it definitely can’t compete with Clover’s pricing (free). It’s much more so a premium option and if you’re looking for a short-term bare-bones solution, it might not be right for you.

Longer set-up time: Because Hazlnut’s product is more customized and we do the set-up for you, this obviously takes longer than the 10-minute set-up that Clover’s ordering boasts. Assuming you’re able to get your brand assets to us pretty quickly, we’ll have the ordering page up and running within two weeks, or sometimes sooner, depending on the complexity of your menu.

Conclusion

Both of these solutions have a place in the market, but cater to different groups of people:

Clover’s online ordering is best suited for the extremely cost-sensitive. If you’re in a really tough financial situation and just need a quick fix to survive as a business, this is the solution for you. It’s not flashy or feature-rich, but it could be just what you need to get through a tough season, like we’ve all just experienced in 2020.

Hazlnut’s online ordering is a premium solution best suited for growing brands looking for a customized solution that they’ll never have to upgrade from. The price point is very competitive compared to others in the market. Upgrading to Hazlnut’s All-in package also includes an app and loyalty program, so it can become the all-in-one solution your brand is looking for.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hazlnut and seeing if it’s a good fit for you, schedule a demo today!

How Hazlnut Makes Contactless Ordering Easy

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken quite a toll on the US economy, but perhaps no industry has been hit harder than hospitality. Lockdowns, dine-in restrictions, and fears about food preparation have all contributed to many businesses closing their doors for good.

If your business has survived to this point, congratulations, that’s a huge accomplishment! But as a vaccine rolls out and this virus becomes a part of history, a new normal will set in regarding the health and safety standards people want and expect from businesses.

Contactless ordering is a term that has gained a lot of popularity recently, as customers are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with handing a cashier their cash or credit card. So how can your business navigate this trend and continue to serve customers in a way they expect and appreciate? Hazlnut provides a suite of features to make this transition easy for everyone!

Ordering for Pick-up, Curbside, or Delivery

If your restaurant doesn’t have an online or mobile ordering platform, you’re already behind the times and failing to give customers the convenient ordering methods that are essential to restaurants in this environment. Hazlnut’s core order types, pickup, curbside, and delivery, all provide ways that a customer can safely obtain their meal without having to come in contact with other people. And if you need something more tailored to your business, Hazlnut gives you the ability to create a “custom” order type to perfectly fit your unique situation!

These alternate order types make it possible for customers to completely avoid waiting in a line of people, drastically improving social distancing and hopefully helping to stop the spread of this virus. Being able to have food placed at your doorstep or in the trunk of your car can help alleviate some of the anxiety customers have and allows you to continue serving everyone effectively.

In-Store Scanning

Mobile apps through Hazlnut include a very useful feature called “Mobile Pay.” Much like what you’d see at Starbucks, this feature allows a customer to pay for an in-store transaction by simply scanning a QR code at the register. On most Clover devices, such as the Clover Station, you’re able to flip the screen around and let the customer scan on the built-in camera. No extra hardware needed! But for those who expect to do a lot of scanning, we recommend buying an external scanner, which completes this “Starbucks experience” of paying with your phone.

Hazlnut’s apps also have a built-in loyalty program, so each time a customer scans their phone to pay, they’ll also be earning points which can be redeemed for rewards. This can really help generate more regular, loyal customers customers which are even more important to stay afloat during these trying times.

QR Codes on Tables

Another popular way to generate contactless ordering for customers is to use QR codes codes to take customers directly to your online menu. This is done by placing the QR codes on tables or signs around the restaurant. The customer can easily scan it with their phone and instantly browse the menu while giving them peace of mind.

Hazlnut has a few great ways to make this work easier and to be more customized to your brand! For example, by utilizing Hazlnut’s custom order types, you can create an “Order from Table” option and allow the customer to select their table number upon placing the order. That way your employees will know exactly which table to walk the order to. In addition to this, Hazlnut creates a branded QR code template that you can put on every table. This allows you to make sure your brand is well represented no matter how customers place an order!

Learn more about these and other great features Hazlnut offers by scheduling a demo!

Boost Your Restaurant’s Social Media Engagement in 2021

Looking back at 2020, one lesson we’ve learned at Hazlnut is the importance of social media and digital branding. We are on our phones more than ever giving restaurants a unique opportunity to reach more customers and sell not only food, but a social experience through digital marketing. With the crazy year we have had coming to an end, we can start looking to the upcoming one and what we can do to prepare ourselves for it. At Hazlnut, we have a few ideas to help you start 2021 off on the right foot!

Social Media

With smart phone cameras competing with DSLRs these days, we live in a time where food photography is shown off and photography has become an integral part of how we choose where to eat. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and even LinkedIn have become channels for sharing delicious food – so that’s where our focus will be in 2021. When social media is managed well, it shows off the food and reassures a customer that the restaurant is open, trustworthy, active. Going to the social media page of a restaurant and seeing the last post was months or years ago can turn away customers. We believe that when it comes to food, people shop with their eyes so posting high quality photos of your menu that can be shared and shown off can really help elevate your marketing reach and bring in more hungry customers.

SEO

People need to be able to find your business when they search it, so SEO is important. We all know no one goes to the second page of Google search results, so being front and center is key to getting clicks. SEO is something that needs to be refined restaurant to restaurant, there is no blanket solution but there are tips and tricks. For example, when you post on Instagram you can edit your caption in advanced settings to include Alt Text to increase your restaurant’s visibility. There are companies that specialize in SEO or with some time and research it can be dialed in by anyone. This is something that will take some time, but it will pay off in the end.

Now that they found you… What now?

Once someone finds your social media channel and decides your food looks amazing and they MUST have to have it now, the next step is finding a way to order. That’s where Hazlnut comes in with online ordering. We build a branded online ordering page and give you a link to it that you can put on all of your social media and website directly. Posting a picture of a new item that looks amazing and garners a bunch of likes? Put the OLO link in the description to convert it to a sale on the spot. The online ordering link is a tool to get all of those people that you were able to reach using SEO and social media to make the final step to fall in love with your restaurant.

Meet the Team! Zachary – Account Executive

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Zachary, an Account Executive for Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Zachary.

Pleasure to be here!

What were you doing before working for Hazlnut?

I was a student at the University of North Florida before being hired at Hazlnut. Nathalie, one of our Account Coordinators, and I actually graduated in the same class. For work history, I come from a food service background. My family owns a local bakery called Amaretti Desserts. They have been in business since June of 2013 and I helped out since day 1. The bakery will always have a special place in my heart, and it taught me so much.

It’s great that you have restaurant experience since you now work directly with restaurant owners. That must make it a lot easier for you to understand what these owners are going through. How did COVID affect things at the bakery?

The food industry as a whole was shaken by COVID and the bakery was lucky enough to be able to ride it out. The customer base there is very loyal and continues to support them through this tough time. I know my family will be eternally grateful for all that the customers do for them. We had a second location in the San Marco Theatre for three years and closed it last December when the owners reclaimed the space we were using. I can’t help but feel like that wouldn’t have lasted if we had stayed there. 

How did working in a bakery prepare you for the job at Hazlnut?

I think it gave me a unique insight into the businesses I reach out to. Like you said, I was in the shoes of the clientele we have here at Hazlnut, so I know how restaurants work. I also know how to take a “no”. I got calls from so many people who would ask to speak with the owner, who was my mom and standing next to me 90% of the time. I would look her in the eyes and tell the sales rep that she wasn’t in and hang up. Now I am the guy on the other end of the phone. So, if anyone ever receives a call from me, don’t be afraid to tell me no because I understand and won’t hold any hard feelings.

How did you start working for Hazlnut?

My story is an interesting one, I met Dick and Steven months before I got hired. I was in an entrepreneurship class that had weekly guest speakers. Dick and Steven came in one week to talk about the life of Hazlnut. They had an awesome presentation that showed how much they loved this company and how they pour that love into their product. I briefly spoke with them after class, and apparently my flour and cocoa powder covered hat made an impression. Nathalie and I graduated that semester and started our job hunts, keeping each other updated. She called me one day and told me she had an interview with a company called Hazlnut. I was excited for her and a little jealous she saw the listing before me. She got the job and kept me updated and told me how much she loved it. When a new position that I was qualified for opened she let me know and put in a good word for me. They remembered me from that hat, and I guess they liked me enough to hire me.

That’s awesome! What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m pretty lame outside of work if I’m being honest. I love spending time with my significant other and going record shopping with her. I collect vinyl records, so we go out once a week to try to find new ones. She collects Funko Pops, so we search for those too. I still go help out at the bakery because I do love baking and spending time with my family. If no one is available, then I will relax with some video games. I built a PC a few years back and try to still get use out of it.

Thanks again for your time today, Zachary. One more question before we leave: What’s your favorite thing about working at Hazlnut?

I am a firm believer that people are what make a business, and the people here are genuinely amazing. I am constantly amazed at what the development team accomplishes on a daily basis. I know when I pass someone onto Nathalie for onboarding and support that they are in the best hands they can be in. Jordan provides the friendly competition needed to strive in sales. Dick and Steven are great to work for because they see all of our talents and potential and help us thrive. This team is unbeatable and I am so excited to see and help it grow and flourish.

Good luck to you and everyone on the team!

Click here to schedule a demo and ask for Zachary!

Meet the Team! Bhuvan – Software Developer

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Bhuvan, a Software Developer for Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Bhuvan.

Good to be here!

What did you do before working for Hazlnut?

 I grew up in India and I’ve always been interested in tech and programming. For me, it had to be either a sport or Computer Science as a career path. I completed my Engineering degree in Computer Science and worked for two startup companies prior to coming to the United States, which had always been a goal of mine. In Spring 2020, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Florida (Go Gators!!). Completing my graduate degree at UF was an amazing and unforgettable experience as Gainesville truly felt like home and I’m grateful for all the memories and friends that I made. Post-graduation was a difficult period as the pandemic worsened making interview opportunities difficult to come by. Thankfully, a professor at UF whom I’d worked with during my summer internship offered me a volunteer research assistant position.

That’s great! How did you start working for Hazlnut?

As I mentioned, I worked for two startups before and I’ve always loved the startup culture. Especially since I get more responsibilities and a chance to work on things from the ground-up all the way to production on the latest technologies. So I was definitely leaning more towards startups and stumbled upon Hazlnut on a job board. The technologies I was interested in aligned with what Hazlnut was looking for, and the work environment they described was just what I was looking for. So, I applied! The hiring process was the kind I excel at, involving the development of a small project. Everything worked out and I’m grateful to Dick and Steven for giving me an opportunity to work with this team.

So, we know you lived in India before coming to America. What was the transition like and what were some of the biggest challenges in adjusting to a new culture?

I have always been a fan of American culture, sports, music, etc. I had visited the United States twice before, in 2008 and in 2010 which only heightened my interest in coming here. In some situations, all that has been helpful. Adjusting to a different culture does take a bit of time and getting used to. Two years of school definitely helped me getting used to the new culture. Making friends and connections has helped me feel more comfortable. You do miss your family and friends back home, of course, especially on big or important occasions. I know they’re always there for me and rooting for me!

Thank you for sharing, we are happy to be on your team and we’ll be your home away from home. Tell us, what does your role at Hazlnut look like?

I work across the stack, front-end and back-end. I get to work on anything from adding/prototyping new features and functionalities, updating existing ones, and solving bugs. There is an impact from everything you do on the final products.

What do you like to do in your personal time to decompress after a long day at work?

Playing any kind of sports or games such as badminton, basketball, pool, volleyball, running, and more. I like watching sports and being on top of what’s happening by watching movies and tv shows. I often hang out with my friends on the weekends and play Poker with them. I’m very passionate about music too.

What’s your favorite thing about working for Hazlnut?

I always struggle to pick a single favorite in anything. My favorite things are making software that improves people’s lives, working with the amazing team, and sharing crucial responsibilities. Oh, and not to forget our mini-basketball sessions! They’re a fun way of taking a break and relaxing for a bit during the day.

Thanks again for your time today, Bhuvan! Good luck and happy holidays!

5 Ways Hazlnut Will Make Your Holidays Happier

On-the-Go Ordering Simplified

With holiday savings at major retailers ramping up, the restaurant industry is preparing to feed all of these shoppers. Considering the current events, we have a huge number of people grabbing their food and drinks to-go. When people are out shopping for deals, they don’t typically want to stop and sit down. With Hazlnut it has never been easier for your customers to place an order while waiting in line somewhere else. With future ordering, your customers can place an order for pick-up from the retail store they are waiting at. Their food will be cooked, packed and ready as soon as they’ve gotten through the line, checked out and make their way to your restaurant.

Gifts and Food from the Couch

Retailers are shifting to an online ordering model for this holiday season to accommodate those who can’t go out. It is estimated that a third of all holiday shopping will be done online this year. Hazlnut is here to let you reach those customers too. Our apps and online ordering support delivery options, all you need to do is supply the driver. From the comfort of their home, customers can order gifts and have dinner delivered to their door!

Push Season’s Greetings

Thinking of a restaurant to order from to host loved ones can take a lot of energy and time. Make your restaurant the easy choice! With push notifications you can remind customers you have the best product. Customers on the run will be drawn to your restaurant because they won’t have to make that arduous choice of where to go. That quick suggestion in the form of a push notification is the only nudge they’ll need to choose you.

Catering Ease

Catering has never been easier to manage with Hazlnut. We have the ability to add a catering menu button on the app and a catering page for your online ordering. If customers are ordering catering for home or for an office, it is easy for them to customize their order and easy for you to set it up without a hassle. With future ordering limits, we close off time slots once they are full. No need to worry about all those orders being picked up or delivered at once!

Grab Valuable Real Estate

With the release of new phones like the iPhone 12 and the Galaxy S20, people will be opening boxes with new phones. This opens new real estate for your app to take up, with newfound potential to increase the number of your app users and overall customer base. At Hazlnut we want to give our clients the ability to offer their customers an app experience on the same level as Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A. Our apps have a loyalty program and one-touch reordering so you can grow your list of regular customers. Storage space on a phone is valuable and we guarantee your app is worth every byte of it.

Meet the Team! Jordan – Account Executive

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Jordan, an Account Executive for Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Jordan.

Thanks for having me!

To get started, tell us about what you were doing before starting at Hazlnut?

Before working at Hazlnut, I worked for Publix: a supermarket chain based here in Florida. I worked there for over 6 years and it’s the only other job I’ve ever had. Publix’s Tuition Reimbursement program allowed me to work there part-time all the way through college without having to worry too much about class payments. I graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2019, shortly before I started at Hazlnut.

How do you feel Publix prepared you for your role at Hazlnut?

Publix is all about customer service and quality. When I interviewed with Hazlnut, I asked Dick Sikes, our CEO, what the company values were and those were two things that he mentioned. I knew it would be a great fit.

Publix helped me gain invaluable people skills that have helped me in my current role. During my middle and high school years, I was the quiet kid. Working a customer service role forced me to talk to people all day, every day and that helped me gain a level of confidence that has carried over into my position here at Hazlnut.

Was it strange transitioning from retail to software sales?

Definitely! Working in retail is very fast paced. There is always something to do and more customers to help. But it’s always the same exact thing every day, just moving customers through the line.

Compare that to my job at Hazlnut… It’s night and day! The job here is task-oriented, so it feels more satisfying to get things done. The work environment is also much more relaxed, which I definitely appreciate.

How did you hear about Hazlnut, and how did you start working there?

That’s a funny story, actually. I was about 2 months away from graduating college and having trouble finding jobs that seemed like a good fit for me. Marketing was my major, but I was never really into the creative side of marketing. Business to Business sales were something I had a growing interest in, but sales can be tough to step into without any experience or internships under your belt.

One day a close friend of mine applied for an E-Commerce position with PS27 Ventures, a group that invests in Startups. He mentioned a sales position was available, and the possibility of working together peaked my interest. I applied, and later discovered that the position was for Hazlnut, a business that PS27 invested in. After researching the company, I became very interested in what Hazlnut was doing. I moved forward with the interview and was offered the job later on.

That’s great! I know B2B sales can be cut-throat. How do you stay inspired in your sales position?

It’s definitely a challenge sometimes. I was told it would be an emotional rollercoaster, but I didn’t really realize what that meant until I got started.

Sometimes things go really well and everything seems to come so easily, other times you have to grin and bear it until things start to fall into place. But, between my faith and the encouraging work environment here, I’m able to work through the rough days, knowing that better times will come if I work hard enough.

What do you do outside of work? 

I love to spend time with my girlfriend, friends, and family, but when I have free time, I enjoy watching sports and playing video games. Both of my football teams, the Jaguars and Seminoles, aren’t doing very well right now so, like sales, it can be an emotional rollercoaster and I try to stay positive!

COVID-19 really ramped up around the time that you got hired, and after only a few weeks you ended up working from home for several months. At its height, how did COVID-19 affect the way you connected with the team and restaurant owners? 

I was just beginning to get comfortable around the office and all of a sudden I had to work from the desk in my room. Communication between the team was tougher and we had to meet on Zoom every morning to make sure we were all on the same page. Everyone was really helpful in making sure I was well equipped to do what was asked.

Thankfully, it didn’t really affect communication with restaurant owners on my end, as most of what I do is through email or Zoom. However, it did cause me to become an independent employee much faster. Doing demos from home without my bosses around to help or answer questions, forced me to learn new things on my own in such a short amount of time.

I understand working for a growing startup business is considered risky to most college students. Do you have any recommendations for young professionals who are afraid to take a leap of faith shortly after graduating?  

Through college, I always assumed I’d find a job with a big company and try to work my way up in a secure environment. At Publix, everything was structured by corporate and there wasn’t much flexibility, so that’s what I was accustomed to. Working for a start-up is a completely different world. You have a lot more say in how things are done, and you get an in-depth look into how the business is actually run.

I’m really thankful I ended up working here, and to those who are afraid of taking the leap: I recommend you look at the leadership and values above anything else. If you feel confident in the leader’s ability to take the company where it needs to go, and the values are consistent with those goals, then it’s worth taking the chance!

Thanks for your time today, Jordan!

Click here to schedule a demo and ask for Jordan!

Meet the Team! Amrita – Software Developer

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Amrita Sapkota, a Software Developer for Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Amrita.

Thank you for having me!

Before we really get into your job at Hazlnut, what are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Outside of work I like to travel and spend time with my family and friends which I cannot do right now due to COVID. Though I am not good at editing pictures, I love to take pictures and read books whenever I am free. Also, I love cooking and I spend most of my time trying out recipes for various dishes.

What did you do for work and school before Hazlnut?

Before Hazlnut, I obtained my Master’s Degree at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. While in school, I worked there as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Career and Professional Development. My job was to monitor candidates during different kinds of tests, administrative support for testing, career service functions, troubleshooting, and general technical issues.

I understand you grew up in Nepal before moving here for school. How was the transition to America?

That’s a good question! Well, my cousin lives in Dallas, Texas. When I was doing my undergraduate in Nepal, I was frequently in contact with him. Through him, I got to know about the American education system (which is completely different from Nepal) and I really liked it. Since then, I was determined that I would complete my Master’s Degree in the United States. It was not easy, but I did it. And as we all know, the United States is really ahead in the latest technology and tools. Plus, an international degree would open up an infinite number of career opportunities.

How did you start working for Hazlnut?

After my graduation from Lamar University, I was looking for a job. I found a job posted in Indeed and I applied for it. I got a response after couple of days for an interview and then they hired me. I am really thankful to Dick and Steven for providing me this opportunity and trusting a college graduate who didn’t have any professional experience working in the tech industry in the United States. It’s been amazing working here at Hazlnut.

What do you do at Hazlnut?

I mostly work on Android, but I also do iOS, Python, PHP, and JavaScript. My day-to-day activities include working on adding new features, fixing bugs, or testing new features. Sometimes I also help with taking care of customer requests.

Very cool! Development for a tech company definitely seems to be a job that keeps you busy.

Thank you for your time today, Amrita. Just one more question before we end things here. What is your favorite thing about working for Hazlnut?

My favorite thing about working for Hazlnut is the work environment, the team, and doing what I love to do, which is coding. Every morning when I wake up, I always feel excited about going to work, which is really a good thing. Also, the team is really very helpful and supportive. I still remember those days when I just started working with Hazlnut, where my team members really supported me in each step and helped me grow and learn. They always push me for better and appreciate the work I do. I feel really blessed.

Thanks again and good luck!

Meet the Team! Steven Edwards – COO

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Steven Edwards, COO of Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Steven.

Glad to be here!

As one of the founders of Hazlnut, I’m sure the company is a big part of your life, but what hobbies do you have outside of work?

I enjoy listening to music, reading, brewing beer, and playing guitar and bass.

You have some pretty creative and artistic interests. Did your work life before Hazlnut reflect that?

Not really. I worked as a Quality Engineer for Vistakon/Vision Care and DePuy Synthes, both of which are Johnson & Johnson companies.

We spoke to Dick a few weeks ago and got a lot of insight into the founding of Hazlnut, but that’s only one side of the story. Tell us more about your role in starting the company.

Dick Sikes called me one day and said he had a coding project he was working on and wanted to know if I’d help him with it since I had a little development experience. I helped get his vision off the ground and we immediately started thinking about how we could launch it and turn it into a viable business.

While we didn’t have any direct experience in starting a business, Dick was very sharp in terms of accounting and finance and had some business acumen from his days at FSU, but the rest we just learned on the fly. Just to be clear, it was very different from what the company is today as the initial concept was centered around customer satisfaction surveys. All of the stuff we learned on our own during this venture helped define what the company would eventually become and later expanded to include a loyalty reward system and eventually morphed into online ordering. Hazlnut is the culmination of all of the hard work building out the former company idea and learning every facet of running a real business.

I’m sure that process of getting things off the ground came with all sorts of ups and downs. Any interesting stories from the early days of the company?

When we first conceived of the company, we decided to launch it at a local startup festival called One Spark. We had a big vision with lofty goals for One Spark and while we did draw very impressive crowds at our booth (in addition to some local press and placing 6th overall in the Technology category), we walked away with zero customers. We did however pilot with a local restaurant who took a shot on us and while it didn’t work out in the end, we learned a ton about ourselves and our business. This eventually set the foundation for the evolution of our company and helped propel us to where we are today. I have a lot of fond memories of that week at One Spark and it’s awesome to see how it started as an idea to now, where we have a company of 8 people and still growing.

That’s great! What has your role been at Hazlnut?

Currently my title is Chief Operations Officer. In the beginning I handled all of the customer onboarding activities, customer service interactions and new customer apps, while also heavily contributing to the User Interface for all of our products (apps, online ordering and dashboard). While I currently do a lot less of the hands on with customers, I do oversee most of the day to day activities including customer onboarding, new customer apps and customer service and while also still communicating with the bulk of our customers directly.

It definitely sounds like you had a big role in creating the customer service-focused culture at Hazlnut. Were there any mentors or experiences that helped you develop this focus on service?

I would definitely say the first thing that made me think about the customer’s needs, and to a greater extent placing the customer first, is when I first started working at Johnson & Johnson. Embedded in their DNA is the company credo. Their credo touches every single part of the company, no matter your title or position and in that credo it literally says in the first sentence: “We believe our first responsibility is to the patients, doctors and nurses, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.” In this case, patients, doctors, nurses, mothers and fathers who use their products are their customers and no matter what product they’re working on and no matter how small the task, we always had to work with that in the forefront of our minds.

This was very impactful on me and made me understand what customer experience is all about and what makes a great company. I know it’s a little cliché, but I’ve always been inspired by Steve Jobs (for what he’s accomplished in business). I’ve seen him in interviews and being quoted in various articles as saying “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” Especially in technology, you have to start with the customer in mind. Where a lot of companies fail is when they invent a new technology and try to find a need in the market that may or may not exist.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Steven! It seems the company is in really good hands with you and Dick in charge. We’re all looking forward to watching as the company continues to grow and succeed in the future!

Meet the Team! Nathalie – Account Coordinator

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with Nathalie, an Account Coordinator for Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Nathalie.

It’s my pleasure!

To start off, tell us a little bit about your life and hobbies outside of Hazlnut.

Photography has been a major hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. Since I moved to Jacksonville from West Palm Beach, I’ve taken it a lot more seriously. I try to book photoshoots or take pictures of surfers whenever I’m free. Besides that, I love helping small businesses by creating logos and branding kits for them to take their business to the next level. Most of my free time ends up consumed by editing photos and brand assets on Lightroom and Photoshop.

I’ve also devoted a lot of my time to the Honor Flight Network. My high school history teacher asked me to join his volunteer club, and next thing I knew I was on a flight to Washington D.C. with 80 World War II veterans. Since then, I have helped organize local fundraising and volunteered at a wide array of events to support their cause. I highly recommend you research their mission at honorflight.org.

That’s really cool! You don’t really hear about people being involved in those types of causes while in high school. What were you doing between high school and working for Hazlnut?

I’ve always worked in the restaurant industry in some capacity. I’ve worn many hats: hostess, to-go specialist, server, captain, kitchen prep, delivery driver, and in the catering industry I’ve seen how much time and effort goes into being a manager/owner. 

Since I moved to Jacksonville, I took advantage of my school-to-work schedule ratio and made sure I gave myself enough time each week to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to visit several states and countries in such a short amount of time, not to mention all the local sightseeing around Florida. In May, I graduated with my Bachelor’s at the University of North Florida. I was working on 2 majors (Business Administration and Marketing & Logistics) and 1 minor (Digital Marketing & Analytics).

How did you start working for Hazlnut?

I got very lucky that a friend of mine worked at Hazlnut already. We studied at UNF and took several classes together, always teaming up for projects. We reached out to one another to catch up and eventually my plans for post-graduation came up. He recommended me for the job and the rest is history!

Awesome! I understand that customer service is a big part of your role as an Account Coordinator. Customer service is definitely a challenging area and takes a special kind of person to make it work. What’s been the most challenging part of your role at Hazlnut?

The sheer volume of it all! I love answering questions, working through feedback and concerns, and simply helping people in any way I can. What I didn’t know was just how often customer service and support is the primary point of contact. At first it was hard to navigate since I was still learning so much about Hazlnut, how to write SQL queries, and how to search through a large database for the specific information I needed. It’s funny because I’ve always heard the saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ but my first month at Hazlnut definitely opened my eyes to so much I didn’t know.

We all know that customer service can be stressful, but you make it look easy. How are you able to stay so motivated and passionate about the job?

There are a few mottos I like to live by, these have helped me stay altruistic and motivated even outside of work.

(1) “Do at least one thing every day to change at least one person’s life for the better” 

(2) “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” 

(3) “Good customer service is less time consuming than bad customer service”

(4) “Happy customers are your biggest advocates and can become your most successful sales team.” 

(5) “Above all else, what are you doing to make sure everyone around you is positively impacted by your acts?”

I handle the stress by reminding myself what it’s like to be on the other end. At the end of the day, the customer is just as stressed as I am. Remaining positive allows me to convert my stress to motivation, and channel my energy towards resolving customers’ concerns. It also helps to have such an incredible set of coworkers that I know I can depend on. If the workload catches up to me, or if I can’t figure out a resolution on my own, we have a team of highly skilled and generous individuals to lean on.

Thanks for sharing today, Nathalie! Just one more question before we go: You’ve said a lot of great things about Hazlnut, but what is your favorite thing about working for the company?

It sounds cheesy, but it really is the team. Dick & Steven have done a great job creating a workspace that is welcoming and supportive. Teamwork is essential, especially in a fast-growing business. Working at Hazlnut has allowed me to wear several hats, learning new skills along the way and I know I can always turn to my coworkers for help when I need it.

Since it’s still a relatively small-sized company, brainstorming leads to innovative ideas that are implemented without needing to jump through too many hoops. You really get a sense of ownership and can see the end-result of your hard work. They’ve created a great balance of a relaxed work environment without losing productivity. I’ve never been a part of a workplace culture quite like this one. 

Wishing you all the best going forward!

Meet the Team! BJ – Software Developer

Next up in our series of interviews with the Hazlnut team, we sat down with BJ, a software developer for the company:

Thanks for joining us, BJ.

It’s a pleasure to be here.

Before we get into your work life with Hazlnut, let’s learn a little about your personal life. What are your hobbies outside of work?

I’m a diehard Jacksonville Jaguars fan & ticket holder, a total nerd, and a gamer. I spend the majority of my non-work time on a computer either gaming, surfing the web, writing code (yep, in my free time), or just chatting with friends via Discord. If I’m awake and the Jags aren’t playing, you can probably find me at my PC.

Thanks for sharing! Most people probably don’t associate development and sports, but it shows you’re a well-rounded person. Now why don’t you tell us a about how and when you started working for Hazlnut.

I started working for Hazlnut as an intern in November 2018. Back then the company was just Dick and Steven, and they found me through a program at Florida State College at Jacksonville called I-Tech. The internship covered by the program was set to run for 9 weeks, but thankfully I was offered a full-time position before the end of that term.

That’s awesome! It’s really cool to see a temporary situation like that turn into a permanent job. What did you do before Hazlnut?

While I was in the I-Tech program, I landed a temporary position doing some quality assurance (QA) work for a database administrator who changed my life. I am so grateful to “Cap” because I gained valuable experience and skills while working for him, and the job, which was supposed to be a few days of QA, turned into months of me testing and helping to develop the workflow for their new system. Then, when I interviewed for the position at Hazlnut, he wrote me a fantastic letter of recommendation which I believe helped Dick and Steven make their decision to take a chance on the guy with no professional coding experience.

What made you get into software development?

My step-dad has always been into computers and technology so we’ve pretty much always had a computer in the house; and I quickly developed a passion for computers and figuring out how they worked. In middle school, I saved up enough money one summer to buy my own computer; that’s when the hobby really took off. I eventually found Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and started to learn how to write simple macros and custom scripts there. I realized that writing code is a lot like solving a puzzle; you know what the end result should look like, the challenge is putting the pieces together. You know that awesome feeling you get when you solve a difficult problem or finish a puzzle? I get that from my job.

I love that you’re so passionate about your job! I know “Development” can mean a lot of different things. What does your average day look like and what are your responsibilities?

Man, I feel like I don’t have an average day, and I think that’s cool. I am pretty much always writing code in multiple software languages either for exciting new features or to fortify current features. The reality of software development is that there will be bugs, so I spend time on some days looking into reported issues and fixing those. I also monitor the status of our clients throughout the day in order to alleviate the pain of service interruptions caused by things like internet outages at their location.

Very cool! It sounds like there’s a lot that you love about your job, but what would you say is your favorite thing about working for Hazlnut?

That I get to be a real part of what goes on here. I get to see my work put to use because what I do actually matters to the company. Also, there is a lot to be said about feeling valued by your employer, and I appreciate how valued I feel working at Hazlnut. I never leave work feeling like I wasted a day on a useless project or busy work.

Thanks so much for giving us some insight into Hazlnut today. Good luck to everyone on the team going forward!

Meet the Team! Dick Sikes – CEO

We recently sat down with Dick Sikes, CEO and Co-Founder of Hazlnut:

Thanks for joining us, Dick.

Thanks for having me.

We’re looking forward to learning a little bit about Hazlnut. For those who aren’t really familiar with the business, tell us a little bit about what you guys do.

We build high quality online and mobile ordering solutions to help smaller restaurants compete with bigger brands. I’ve said it so much now it almost sounds cliché but it’s really our ethos. We’re constantly looking at the latest and greatest features on the market and in the best apps (Starbucks & Chick-fil-a for example) and thinking, “How can we make something like this work for our customers?”

As I’m sure you’re aware, you’re in a pretty competitive market. What makes Hazlnut stand out from the competition?

Our passion for what we do and our commitment to quality. All of our apps are native and full featured. We don’t just build a shell of an app that points to your online ordering page and I think the app store ratings reflect that. I was just looking at the Larry’s Giant Subs iOS app the other day and it had a ton of ratings and 4.9 stars on average. People have been really receptive to the quality we’re putting out there.

What’s become more and more evident lately is our service is a core element of our offering. I think people like the fact that they can call our number and get a hold of someone right away who knows what they’re talking about. That doesn’t happen much anymore in this day and age.

That’s awesome. It sounds like you have a hand in multiple areas of the business. What exactly is your role at Hazlnut?

My title at Hazlnut is CEO but of course in a start-up we all wear many hats, this was especially true early on. In the early stages, my co-founder Steven and I would act as development, sales, marketing… a little bit of everything. Luckily as we’ve grown as a company we have more qualified people filling a lot of those roles. And although I still do some development (mostly for iOS) I’d say my primary roles could be classified as Business Development and Strategy and Accounting and Finance. With our co-founder, Steven Edwards, in Operations this plays well to both of our strengths. He’s keeping the trains running on time and I’m expanding the routes and making sure we’re getting paid on each trip.

So how did you guys come up with the name Hazlnut?

I really wish there was a better story here but it just kind of came about. At the time we were called Gonogo but we couldn’t get the domain name or consistent social media handles. Also, SEO was impossible because it’s kind of a common phrase (a “go, no-go” decision) so no one could find us online. We knew we needed to change names.

We wanted something that represented the restaurant industry since that was the core segment we’re serving so Hazlnut kind of works there since it’s a common flavor, but also it was vague enough to work as a software company name to keep us flexible. In the same vein of “what does Apple have to do with computers?” Plus, we got a cool mascot out of it. Everyone likes squirrels, right?!

Of course! Now that we have a little insight into the company, why don’t you tell us about what you did prior to starting Hazlnut?

I worked in capital markets for a bank and I loved it there. Early in my career I worked very hard to earn my CFA charter and being an Analyst at a bank was exactly what I wanted to do. In a lot of ways that job shaped who I am, and how I think and approach things. 

As I much as I loved it, there was still something nagging at me to strike out on my own. And working in that role I started getting more and more into programming, first with macros in excel and then some other various business intelligence tools. So I really started developing a passion for software development and knew if I was going to do something entrepreneurial, that’s what it was going to be.

So what would you say to someone who’s unhappy with their corporate job but is too scared to take a leap into starting a business?

First, I’d say you shouldn’t really approach going into business for yourself as an escape from a job you hate. I think what you’re going into needs to be a passion for you or you won’t succeed.

Secondly, I’d say you need to get into a mentality of starting. It’s too easy to just think about something and never start, or to continue iterating and iterating to make your product or service perfect before you release it. I’ve seen it happen way too many times and have been guilty of it myself. PS27 Ventures, the VC group that invested in us has a motto, “Think Big, Start Small”. I love that, but I’d even amend it to just “Think Big, Start” because that’s the hardest part. Get something out there, fall on your face but learn from your mistakes and keep going. We’ve really bought into a mentality of “1.0, 2.0” here. Just get out a version 1.0 first and you can always work your 2.0 along the way.

Reid Hoffman has a great quote about this, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Also, I was extremely lucky to partner with my childhood friend Steven Edwards in this case. He’s a doer, so it made for a really good combo with us teaming up. I know advice on working with a friend is probably 50/50 out there, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.

It definitely sounds like you’re passionate about the company. Was there a specific role model in your life who helped transform this passion into a successful business?

There’s not a single role model, but multiple role models for different reasons. There’s a family friend who is a very successful business owner here in town, Greg Matovina, that I meet with regularly to catch up with and get advice. Jim Stallings and all of the advisors at PS27 Ventures who have been invaluable through the whole entrepreneurial process. And all the way back to high school I had an amazing teacher named Mr. Clark who ignited a lifelong passion of learning within me. As a side note, I also really enjoyed reading the Steve Jobs biography and loved learning about his view on products and marketing, definitely wouldn’t want to model his interpersonal skills though!

I know COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on decisions to start new businesses. How has the pandemic affect Hazlnut?

It’s been mixed. First off, it’s hard to be happy about any positive impacts it’s had on the business when it’s devastated so many lives. It’s a really weird feeling. Overall for the most part, right now, it appears to have been very positive. A lot of restaurants have been needing online and mobile ordering as dining rooms have been closed and people are practicing social distancing. 

The reason I say it’s been mixed though is to help restaurants get something up and running, we’ve reduced pricing on a lot of our services. All this has worked to shift our product mix entirely. Whereas now we’ve got a lot of new customers going with our online ordering only product which is not our core product (mobile apps) and affects things from a profitability and servicing standpoint. We’re seeing more attrition as restaurants close their doors, sometimes for good, unfortunately. We have concerns about what things will look like as this pandemic lingers on and government stimulus runs out.  So regardless of any short-term economic benefits, like everyone else, we’re hoping for this to be over very soon.

I think we’re all in agreement there. It’s been a strange time for everyone.

Well, we’re out of time today, but just one more question: Any exciting things on the horizon that you can share with us?

So many things. We have some really ambitious projects lined up for the remainder of 2020 into 2021. Mainly looking to expand our integrations to additional point of sales as well as coming out with kiosks which we’re really looking forward to. Also, some BIG things in the pipeline in terms of AI and machine learning that we’re really buzzing about internally, but I’ll keep it quiet for now. But we feel we’ve got some things in the works that could change the industry. I’ll leave it at that for now!

Thanks for your time today, Dick. Best of luck to everyone on the Hazlnut team!

Cruise Through COVID-19 with Online Ordering

Deep Dive into Hazlnut’s Future Ordering

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had a majority of their business moved to online and mobile ordering. This puts a lot of strain on both the restaurant and the ordering platform. At Hazlnut, we make sure that your ordering platform holds up during these high-volume situations. While most providers have run into bugs as a result of the increased volume, Hazlnut has three key features to help restaurants cruise through COVID-19.

1) Forming a Digital Lineup ?‍ – Order Limits on Timeslots

For in-store transactions, lines have been a way to help manage the number of orders being taken. This helps the kitchen to keep track of orders coming in without being overwhelmed. During COVID-19, restaurants have learned that online ordering lends itself to many customers ordering for the exact same timeslot or placing orders at the same time. This can quickly lead to a lot of unhappy customers because the demand can’t be met by the business.

Hazlnut saw this issue and implemented a new feature to fix the problem: Limiting the number of orders that can be placed for each timeslot. For example, if a restaurant can only handle three orders in a five-minute period, the 1PM timeslot would disappear after a third order is placed, leaving 1:05PM as the next available time. At Hazlnut we understand that each business is unique, so the number of orders each timeslot can handle is completely customizable. Whether that’s 3, 5, 7, or even just 1, Hazlnut has you covered.

2) Added Time that Makes Large Orders a Breeze ? – Order Lockout

Most online ordering platforms work off of an average prep time, listing earliest available pickup time based on the average time a restaurant needs to prepare an order. This works well in most situations, but not all. A small taco shack can’t be expected to prepare a $200 order in the same 10-minute window they use for a regular order. So what if an unusually large order comes through?

Hazlnut thought this through and created Order Lockout (Dollar based lockout), which adds additional prep time based on dollar amount. The default setting for this feature is that for every $50, 10 minutes gets added to the prep time, but again, each business is different, so those numbers are completely customizable. In our taco shop example, a $200 order would add 40 minutes of prep time, giving them 50 minutes to get everything ready, preparing the kitchen staff and the customer with a more realistic timeframe. Still need more time? Of course, these parameters are also customizable.

3) Volume Balance for During Peak Times ? – Volume Lockout

There is one other common scenario where average prep time falls short: an unusual increase in volume. Whether it’s a holiday or there’s a sporting event letting out, sometimes overall volume increases to unforeseen levels. While most online ordering platforms cannot account for this, Hazlnut’s system looks at total volume (online and in-store) from Clover and pushes back prep time incrementally based on how busy the restaurant is.

This feature is called “Volume Lockout” and it looks at how busy a restaurant is compared to their typical volume. If it notices an unusual spike in volume, it will add additional prep time to give the restaurant more time to get orders ready until such a time that volume returns to normal.

These three features are just a few examples of how Hazlnut is helping restaurants navigate and cruise through COVID-19. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today!

How an UberEats-GrubHub Acquisition Could Affect your Restaurant

Third party delivery is a double-edged sword. It offers a great convenience to customers, but the margins they take out, usually 25-30%, make these transactions nearly unprofitable for restaurants.

There are currently three big players in the delivery market: DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub. DoorDash has the biggest share of the market, nearly twice that of UberEats and GrubHub, but it’s been reported that Uber is looking to buy GrubHub and close that gap. This may not seem like a big deal, but for restaurant owners it could have a huge impact on their ability to continue offering these services.

If this acquisition is completed, we’ll be down to only two major players in the market. The less competition there is, the harder it becomes for restaurants to negotiate terms with these companies. If the day ever comes where there is only a single delivery service, restaurants will literally have no control over how much they get charged for each transaction.

Let’s look at the numbers: At a 30% rate per transaction, like UberEats charges, a restaurant is losing $3 for every $10 spent through delivery platforms. If your business is used to doing $5000 in orders through these platforms in a month, you’re losing $1500 a month. As these companies continue to merge, those rates are only going to go up, making it even harder for restaurants to profit off of these transactions.

These services are popular because they make it so easy for customers, so how can restaurants regain control in this situation? Obviously, offering your own delivery is a way to completely avoid these third-party services, but you have to make sure it’s a good fit for your business.

In our scenario above, $1500 is the magic number. If you can offer your own delivery for less than $1500 a month (factoring in delivery fees), it’s time to say goodbye to these other services. But maybe you don’t want to worry about managing delivery or feel it doesn’t fit your business model. The next best option is to offer more convenient ways for customers to order.

Studies show that a majority of customers would rather order directly from the restaurant than from a third party, so setting up an online ordering system, like Hazlnut’s, can go a long way in taking orders away from third parties. Mobile apps are an even better way to offer convenience to customers. Hazlnut also creates cutting-edge apps that are on par with national brands (Starbuck, Panera, Chipotle), but at a price that works for small, regional brands.

In addition to this, Hazlnut’s pricing is a flat monthly fee, so you don’t have to worry about losing any money on each transaction. There’s no penalty for increased volume, so you get to keep a lot more of the profits! And in some cases, the money you save by taking orders away from third parties more than pays for Hazlnut’s monthly fee. The rest is all profit.

Don’t wait for delivery consolidation to hurt your profits, schedule a demo with Hazlnut today.

4 Ways that Hazlnut Pays for Itself

4 Ways that Hazlnut Pays for Itself

Hazlnut’s ordering software stands apart from most other online ordering platforms in many ways. One of those way is its flat pricing structure. You pay a set fee every month and never have to worry about processing fees, transaction fees, or any limits to how much you can use the system. This makes cost-benefit analysis very simple when deciding if Hazlnut is a good fit for you.

Other platforms take money out of every order, so you never really get past the cost of the service. Here are a few ways that Hazlnut helps you blow past that monthly fee and keep all the rest as profit.

Increased volume

It goes without saying that if you give customers more ways to order from you, there will be more orders placed. Online ordering is all about convenience and it’s probably the most important thing to today’s consumer. If someone has to choose between two restaurants for takeout and has no preference, odds are they will choose the one with the more convenient method of ordering. Phone orders are outdated, and no one wants to place an order in store and then wait around for it to be ready.

According to PMQ.com, if a customer places an online order, they will visit up to 67% more frequently. When someone has a pleasant experience ordering from you, they remember that and usually end up coming back.

Online ordering increases volume by providing more ways to order

Bigger ticket sizes

When a customer orders in-store, they always feel rushed. Whether they have a line behind them or a cashier looking right at them, no one wants to waste other people’s time. When a customer orders online or through a mobile app, however, they have as much time as they want to look through the menu and make their selections. Maybe they even try something new that they never knew was on the menu.

This leads to an increase in ticket size across the board when compared to in-store orders. In fact, Business Insider says that pizza chains have an 18% higher ticket size online verses orders placed in store. Hazlnut has seen similar results: a 20% increase compared to in-store transactions.

Loyalty Program

This also seems very obvious, but a loyalty program, like the one Hazlnut offers, can help increase sales far beyond that monthly fee. Think about it, if a customer orders once and earns 80 points, they’re going to want to use those points eventually. Whether they burn them all on the next visit or come back multiple times to save up for a big reward, you’re almost guaranteeing that customer is going to come back again.

Loyalty programs, like Hazlnut’s, keep customers coming back for more

Moving Customers Away from 3rd Party Delivery

3rd party delivery through GrubHub, UberEats, or others is a double-edged sword. It’s great to provide that convenience to customers, but the margins they take out (usually 25-30%) are terrible. It turns out that having your own ordering platform, like Hazlnut, can help with that. According to Hospitality Tech, 70% of customers would rather order from you than 3rd parties.

Simply by offering your own online or mobile ordering platform, a large segment of customers will begin to order from you instead. You get to keep 100% of the profits for those orders and, in some cases, this alone can completely pay for your monthly fee.

Want to learn more about how Hazlnut can help increase sales? Schedule a demo today!

6 Creative Ways Restaurants Are Making Money During COVID-19

6 Creative Ways Restaurants Are Making Money During COVID-19

At Hazlnut we are passionate about helping small businesses in our community, specifically restaurants. With most stores closing their dining rooms mid-March, COVID-19 has forced managers and staff to evolve their businesses, to stay afloat, and to prevent layoffs. Through the use of technology and flexible business operations, many restaurants are finding ways to continue to serve their customers, despite the pandemic. Check out our top 6 ways restaurants can make some extra cash while social distancing and staying safe.

Online Ordering

Through the use of an online ordering provider restaurants are able to quickly and efficiently get customer’s orders ready and have them waiting for them at the door.

Online ordering providers that offer direct Point of Sale (POS) integration are the easiest way to start. On the Clover POS, for example, Hazlnut provides a high quality, user friendly ordering page where every order is processed directly on the Clover POS, so there aren’t any processing or transaction fees.

Hazlnut’s ordering platform integrates seamlessly with the Clover Point of Sale (POS)

Curbside Pickup

By allowing customers to stay in their cars and have their order walked out to them, restaurants are able to make money while keeping their customers as safe as possible. We recommend offering to place the bags in the trunk of a customer’s car so that they never have to get within 6-feet.

Using Hazlnut’s system, for example, each customer selecting “Curb side” is prompted to type in the make, model, and color of their car. This information prints out on every receipt, making it very easy to figure out which car each order belongs to.

Free Delivery

In an effort to serve the community and boost sales, restaurants are beginning to offer free delivery. Whether a restaurant does their own delivery or uses a third-party service like GrubHub or UberEats, waiving delivery fees can be a great way to help customers stay-at-home. Free delivery helps to promote well-being of the community and can increase customer loyalty increasing business profit in the long run.

Offering free delivery is great way to generate business during this pandemic

Discounted Gift Cards

By offering gift cards at a discounted rates, restaurants can receive a much needed influx of cash. In a sense, it’s a loan from your customers. They give you funds to help during this difficult time, you give them a little extra money to use down the road when things are better. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Simply offering 5-10% off of gift card purchases will entice plenty of regular customers to buy now.

Wholesale

Why not make money off of food that would otherwise be wasted? Moe’s Southwest Grill is doing this by selling excess rice, beans, and other ingredients by the pound at a discounted rate, much like a grocery store. This serves to help out people in the community, as well as help reduce their loss on excess food.

Selling excess ingredients in bulk is a great way to reduce waste

Ramp Up Marketing Efforts with Purpose

People aren’t going to buy from you if they don’t know you’re open! Designate a specific person to focus on social media marketing to spread the word. One way to go viral is by pledging to give back a portion of your sales to the community or offer a sale to essential workers. For example, Maple Street Biscuit Company uses their campaign #ThankYouThursday to offer $1 biscuits to teachers, healthcare workers, and restaurant industry workers.  Some business is better than no business, and the more people you can get the attention of, the better impact you can create.

Which ordering platforms are best for Clover Point of Sale?

Which ordering platforms are best for Clover Point of Sale?

One of the strengths of the Clover point of sale (PoS) is it’s robust app marketplace. Here you’ll find many different app developers competing to provide functionality for your system beyond what comes standard. These services can range from inventory management, HR and personnel related apps to online or mobile ordering apps with everything in between.

Today we examine some of the online and mobile ordering providers to assess strengths and weaknesses of each platform. While Clover makes the process of selecting an integrated ordering app as easy as installing an app on your phone, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. You will want to take some time and evaluate the merits of each provider to see which one is best for your restaurant. Trust us, your business will thank you for it.

“But first, what makes for a good ordering platform?” 

Every restaurant is going to have their own idea of what’s important to them but typically, requirements are going to fall into one of these 5 broad categories.

Accessibility– being available to your customers through multiple digital channels such as online ordering and on their smart phones…. reach them where they are.

Features and Functionality – what other features come with the service beyond ordering? Is this provider adding new features regularly and do you have access to new features as they come out?

Marketing Capabilities – The ability to engage with your customers and reach them with the right offers at the right time.

Analytics and Account Management – The ability to view and export your data to gain meaningful insights. This can also include the ability to change your menu and other account settings that control your customer facing channels.

Quality –This ordering page or mobile app will be a reflection of your brand. This is where you want to put your best foot forward. In today’s age, nearly 100% of your customers are heavy users of technology and can spot the difference in a quality product from a mile away. Whether it’s buggy apps or slow loading pages, quality matters. If customers think it’s a garbage product, they’re just not going to use it. 

For the sake of this comparison we’re excluding PoS integration since all companies being evaluated integrate with the Clover PoS system.

So now that we know the criteria, let’s take a look at the five ordering platforms that we’ll be evaluating.

Let’s get started!

1. Hazlnut – best overall platform

Smooth scrolling and clean look & feel of a Hazlnut custom built app

At Hazlnut, we provide beautiful, natively built mobile and web apps that customers will find engaging and easy to use. All with your branding and personality throughout.

These include the latest features that customers are beginning to expect. Features such as saved order history for one-touch reordering, “in-store loyalty” so customers can scan their phone at the register to get credit for purchases and redeem rewards, curbside pickup and custom delivery zones just to name a few.

Hazlnut’s cost is slightly higher than others due to it being a “all-in-one” solution which means you don’t need to cobble together different services. Also, with no fees per order you can recoup the cost within the first few days of each month and not worry about it beyond that.

Want to schedule a demo and see how Hazlnut can work with your brand? Contact us today to set one up!




Creating custom delivery zones through the Hazlnut dashboard.

The platform is powered on the back-end by an easy to use client dashboard where you can update your menu beyond what is pulled in from the Clover system. This includes adding food images and descriptions among other attributes. You also have the ability to view customer data and segment them into groups for tracking and marketing purposes. From here you can also send push notifications and targeted offers to your customers and manage your loyalty program all from a single online access point.




Grouping customers into marketing segments to send them targeted offers and notifications.

Hazlnut outperforms the others on this list by giving you all the tools and functionality to boost sales and customer engagement, helping you compete with the larger national chains.

Overall Grade: A
Best for: Multi-unit restaurants with strong consistent branding who are looking for a premium “all-in-one” solution.


2. OrderSpoon (4 Leaf Labs) – Good online ordering, but stuck in the 90s







OrderSpoon loses points for text-based menus and large block design. Notice the length of the buttons relative to the category names.

OrderSpoon does well at online ordering with robust and consistent performance in order handling. However, the platform looks and feels dated with mostly text based menus featuring little-to-no images and block styling.

They also offer “mobile apps” but beware… all apps are not created equal. These typically consist of one or two screens that simply redirect to your website. This can provide for a bad experience and actually reduce customer engagement and time spent in the app. If you’re going to have a mobile app, make sure you do it right and don’t just “check the box”.

“but beware…all apps are not created equal…”

OrderSpoon does one thing very well and that’s online ordering. But they lack many features and functionality beyond that and their look and feel is dated and unappealing.

Overall Grade: B-
Best for: Concepts looking for basic online ordering. Perhaps better suited for an owner/operator who doesn’t have the time or personnel to focus on customer engagement and marketing and is just looking to get started with online ordering.

3. Menufy – Many features, but no branded options and pay per order

Menufy is one of the more well-rounded options in terms of features. They offer account management through their “Menufy Manager” client dashboard as well unique features such as Facebook and Google+ integrations.

Many options for your customers to choose from in the Menufy mobile app.

They do offer iOS and Android apps but the big caveat here being they are not custom branded for your restaurant. So you’ll be telling your customers to download the Menufy app. Starbucks, Panera, Chick-Fil-A etc. aren’t telling their customers to download someone else’s app, so why should you?! Adding insult to injury the app will include all other Menufy restaurants. Meaning your customers may plan to order from you but end up ordering from someone else who catches their eye.

Also, with Menufy you pay $1.50 per order plus 2.5% + $0.30 per credit card transaction. However, you can choose to pass the processing fee along to your customers (everyone loves convenience fees!). But paying per order means you can never truly cover the cost like you can with a flat monthly fee structure.

Overall Grade: B
Best for: Single store concepts or larger ticket size smaller chains where branded options are not important and per order fees are less of an issue.

4. Kipos Labs – Branded apps, but low quality


Kipos labs one of the few here to offer online ordering along with branded mobile apps. Also, they don’t charge a setup fee. This makes them the only one on this list offering branded apps with no upfront costs. But this may be a case of “you get what you pay for” as the app design is text based and unappealing while the layout doesn’t appear to be suited for modern phone screens as menus and text typically run off screen (tested on iPhone XS).

Aesthetics are one thing but what’s more alarming are the issues with functionality. In the versions we tested we repeatedly found crashes along with spelling and grammatical errors throughout. They’re headed in the right direction but maybe not quite ready for prime time.

Overall Grade: C-
Best for: It’s hard to recommend their platform as it is today. It seems like their offering is “almost there” but too many issues to get past in its current state. The most devastating of which is functionality deficiencies.

5. Smart Online Order – Low cost online ordering, not much else

Smart Online Order definitely positions themselves as the low cost leader in this space. They offer a “bare bones” do it yourself online ordering platform starting at $30 per month with one-time setup fees of $200. 

No option for custom branded apps so they lose points in terms of accessibility and like others on this list (apart from Hazlnut) they are not an “all-in-one” solution. This means you’ll have to find a separate provider for any loyalty programs. This can lead to integration issues along with more confusion for you and your customers. 

They also lose points in terms of marketing as their platform doesn’t offer the ability to market to customers.

Overall Grade: C
Best for: Concepts where cost is the main concern and features, marketing and branding are all secondary. Another example of “you get what you pay for.”

So there you go! That’s our review of five of the top ordering platforms for Clover. Have one you want us to review or do you use a different one for your restaurant? Tell us about it on Twitter.