Canoga Park, CA – Robert Ancill is considered one of world’s leading restaurant consultants. Ancill is the co-founder and CEO of The Next Idea, a high energy, innovative international restaurant consulting and management group specializing in new restaurant concepts, re-positioning, cost efficiency, restaurant franchising, strategy and international growth.
“We’re not the traditional consultant,” says Ancill. “We’re not going to just issue a report and say have a great day. We do far more. Staff training and food handling are all critical components to us, but really what’s important is presentation, environment, and the experience from the graphics, the menu, the uniforms and staff to guest interaction.”
From fine dining to fast casual, The Next Idea has overseen the launch of over 89 new brands and 800 restaurant and cafés around the world. Much of The Next Idea’s success, says Ancill, can be attributed to its unique, human data-driven approach.
“We tend to assume that the client knows more about their business than we do,” says Ancill. “We will educate when they ask us to. We will use data to corroborate what we’re suggesting. Some might say that’s education; others might say that’s just doing your job. Either way, that’s The Next Idea’s approach.”
Still, while The Next Idea excels with its analytical approach, execution requires something more human: the ability to convert data into tactical strategy.
“Our mantra is ‘Nothing is easy,’” says Ancill. “We all really enjoy what we do, but the thing is we’re never confident, and that makes us try harder.”
For more information on The Next Idea, visit www.thenextidea.net
Robert Ancill. CEO of The Next Idea International LLC. Woodland Hills, USA
n 2002, after years of working in the hotel and restaurant hospitality industry, Robert Ancill challenged himself. Ancill wanted to build a company that provided full service restaurant and food consultation for other businesses. As a veteran of the restaurant game, Ancill knew exactly what was missing and how to better serve the industry.
The Glasgow, Scotland-born entrepreneur created The Next Idea with just $100. Since that momentous day, Ancill has seen his company grow into a world-wide consultancy and management group with offices all over the world.
Ancill isn’t just the CEO of The Next Idea, but he is often interviewed about the latest trends in the food industry. The Glaswegian has his finger on the pulse on the restaurant and hospitality industry; and he knows what will be hot even before it has been put in the oven.
Ancill recently sat down with Totalprestige Magazine to talk about The Next Idea, his career and achieving great success even when you’re told you will never make it.
Robert, can you tell us about The Next Idea and the services you provide?
The Next Idea is a full service restaurant and food consulting and management group. We provide services that cover everything from restaurant concept creation, business development and management, research, strategy, brand and product development, scaled location concept planning, and franchising through to design, marketing, execution, systems and operations, and communication.
How did the company begin and what have been some of the highlights?
The business was created when I was in restaurant operations. I realized that consultants were very good at providing road maps and strategy, however, they rarely supported the execution. The Next Idea provides the strategy and execution, thus providing clients with a robust follow through.
The highlights have included watching growth and opening our India and international licensed offices. We are also extremely proud of our many new concepts that have reached market and are thriving today.
Robert, you specialize in restaurants and hospitality, how can businesses benefit from The Next Idea?
We have a range of proven creative, operating and marketing services which cover all aspects of the restaurants and hospitality industry. Clients benefit from our ability to fill underserved areas in their businesses. Most companies have noticeable strengths and areas of opportunity; our expertise is in identifying those areas of opportunity and providing proven strategies that ultimately enhance profitability. We also work extensively with developers and hospitality and entertainment groups who need food and beverage support as a service to their primary offer.
Please let us know about The Next Idea Franchise program, your expansion plans, and how to become a partner?
The Next Idea provides multiple opportunities to license the TNI name and operate as a licensed office or distributor of services. This represents an opportunity for like-minded consultants and entrepreneurs around the world who can benefit from our broad network of clients, vendors and services.
Robert, what have you learned about yourself while running your businesses?
Truthfully, I was deeply academically challenged as a child, spending time in class dreaming as opposed to listening, and if I wasn’t dreaming I was doing something that was outside the rulebook. I was constantly being told that I was a failure and my future was bleak at best. I recall on one career evaluation, when I was around 16 years old, my evaluation report stated that I should focus on a blue-collar career path. The same report stated that I should stay away from professions, especially creative careers such as architecture and marketing.
Roll on 30 years: The Next Idea’s interior design and outsourced architecture department is possibly one of the largest in our industry and in the world. We have successfully designed multiple restaurant interiors and rolled out multiple franchise and corporate branded locations. Our marketing department index shows growth for our clients in 2017 on average 16% same store sales growth against the US market average of 4%.
While my ‘teachers’ were proved wrong a long time ago, reflecting on the experience, it taught me to listen to all sides and not necessarily side with experience. I think most of all, I have learned through my early life experiences and, applying them to my work, I have an ability to look past what is obvious and see what is possible.
Please let us know what sets The Next Idea apart from competitors?
The Next Idea is a uniquely branded consultancy. We follow our own systems and processes which have been successfully tried and tested over our 16-years of being in business. Most important is our ability to execute our strategies with clients. This mitigates stressing client resources and allows a business as usual approach as we make change. Our competitors typically follow more traditional consulting models.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
It’s all challenging. Managing a diverse team of creative and deeply intelligent consultants presents multiple challenges, as does managing our diverse client portfolio. With that said, possibly the greatest challenge is consistently coming up with The Next Idea!
Robert, what is next for The Next Idea?
Our strategy for 2018, and forward, is to grow our restaurant management division. We have proved to be very successful in managing client businesses and the team enjoy the extended engagement given they can experience the results of their hard work. We will of course continue to develop restaurant concepts and brands and grow the TNI franchise.
Were you ever influenced by other entrepreneurs?
Yes, of course. I found early on in my career you can always learn something from someone, even if it’s what NOT to do. It has value!
What is a day in your life like?
Very busy, very challenging, but never dull!
What makes you smile?
I know it sounds cliché, however, there is nothing more rewarding than a happy client. I smile when our clients give positive feedback.
What scares you?
An unhappy client.
What is your greatest achievement?
I think it has to be The Next Idea. I started the business from ground zero with $100. We are still in business today and have a presence across the world. I remember at school I was told that my options were very limited. I never liked school!
What is your secret talent?
I think my innate ability to understand a client and migrate their idea into reality, both creatively and physically, is both my secret talent and possibly greatest strength. Truthfully, it is a bit like a sixth sense and I often surprise myself, as well as the client, by getting it right first round!
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Mahatma Ghandi – I often feel that he achieved most while advocating peace. We can all learn from him.
Robert, do you have any hobbies?
I love to cycle, travel and explore. I am an amateur photographer and enjoy seeing the world through a lens.
What are you never without?
A photo of my children and girlfriend of several years. They all make the effort worthwhile.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” – Norman Schwarzkopf
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
What have you sacrificed for success?
It’s hard to say, but for sure, I would like to spend more time with family and friends. I sometimes feel that our need to pay the bills and grow wealth comes before family and our personal life. It should be the other way round. I have definitely sacrificed some personal time to develop The Next Idea.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
Starting a business is a long journey, there is no readiness program, and while a business plan is important, flexibility and the ability to adapt to market change is critical. Most importantly, you should be open to criticism and feedback. I have watched many people freeze their careers and businesses due to an inability to listen. Most of all do something that you love. Then it’s not work!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think smaller businesses need to adopt a more influential position in effecting positive change. In today’s world, we face many challenges such as global warming, population growth and artificial intelligence, to name a few. Businesses need to be proactive in considering the future impact of these macro changes at a micro level, and developing solutions that will ensure continuity in jobs and trade, while still positively contributing to the community at large.
For more information on The Next Idea and its one of a kind CEO Robert Ancill, please visit www.TheNextIdea.net.
Roscoes Files its Exit Plan from Chapter 11
Under Chapter 11 management by The Next Idea, Restaurant Consulting and Management group in partnership with Restaurant Finance Group, Triple Enterprises; reporting into court-appointed Trustee, Roscoe’s parent company, East Coast Foods filed a repayment plan that returns the bankrupt business to its owner and repays all creditors in full.
This is a very unusual and favourable outcome for a Chapter 11 business and is a direct result of the operational improvements and financial controls installed by The Next Idea and Triple Enterprise teams.
The result was an ability to show the long-term profitability of the business with a higher than market average cash flow, and thus an ability to repay the entire debt over a reasonable timeframe.
We are delighted to see such a positive result for Roscoe’s and wish them well as they emerge from bankruptcy.
This case demonstrates that it is always possible to turn around a troubled business and emerge without negatively impacting jobs, suppliers or customers.
The Next Idea (TNI) anticipates 2018 to be a very exciting year as the ever-changing restaurant and food landscape adjusts itself towards an uncertain yet deeply curious and discerning consumer.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged, to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” This fundamentally represents the modern consumer’s mindset when it comes to food and eating out. The consumer is a dichotomy between old and new. On one hand, consumers embrace the latest mobile phone and software technology as a need, like drinking water. On the other hand, consumers now aspire to eat the same food as their ancestors!
The Next Idea
Only a very select group of businesses earn our top ratings and the Spectrum Award. Even fewer are able to earn this recognition in consecutive years. Congratulations to you and your team for such an honorable achievement.
The Award is not a snapshot in time of a single interaction, it is all encompassing. That is because we take your ENTIRE customer service performance into account. Unlike consumer review sites, your 5 star rating is stable. It will remain 5 stars for the entire 2017 rating year.
People have greater faith in award-winning companies. As a Spectrum Award winner you earned the opportunity to promote your business as Award Winning!
There’s no doubt that Instagram is Emperor when it comes to #foodporn. The trend of sharing food photos is so formidable that Instagrammable restaurants can leverage their new persona to leave their competitors wondering what just happened!
The great news for any restaurant owner is that, in today’s high tech world, everyone possesses a smart phone, including you!
What’s the cleverest way to show the best side of your food and entice those increasingly elusive millennials to stop by?
There are right ways (and very ugly, fuzzy wrong ways) to showcase your delectable bites on IG at no cost.
1. Remove the clutter!
We like your friends a lot, but they’re not the focus here. Neither are your keys, wallet, half a warm beer…you get the drift. Try moving all distractions away from the dish to let it do what it does best – look hot (or cold)!
c/o The Next Idea International
2. Cue the (natural) lights
No flashers allowed! Opt for natural light when possible. Your next best bet is to enlist a friend to use their camera light, or to position a candle nearby. Flash generally doesn’t provide your camera phone with the right amount of time to focus and capture the best image. Turn the flash off and keep it off.
3. Angles: Focus on your dish’s good side
While that ¾ up selfie shot may work for you on a night out, your food doesn’t like it that much. Shoot from the top down. If that’s not doing it for you, shoot from the side.
c/o The Next Idea International
4. It’s ok to cheat (with other apps)
It’s hard to look great, so why not give your plate a boost? Yes, Instagram comes with filters and editing tools, but that’s not the main focus of the app. Take your editing elsewhere with apps like Adobe Lightroom for quick fixes, Adobe Photoshop Fix or Snapseed for fine-tuned edits, and Facetune to take your food’s look to the next level.
5. Be inspired
Develop a style. What makes @YourIG special and different from other foodie accounts? If you need a little help, try checking out #foodporn for inspo.
c/o @frasave_ c/o @davidwma
6. Go for colors!
While there are plenty of examples of IG-worthy food that isn’t colorful, adding color to dishes is one way to stand out. Adding a pop of color attracts attention, and when done well, lots o’ likes!
Tell your camera what to focus on – you’re in charge. Be creative! Focus on one part of the dish, encompass the full dish, or put something in the foreground and focus to the back of the photo with your dish.
c/o The Next Idea International
8. Delectable dishware is all the rage
Sometimes, the plates, cups, utensils etc. are just as exciting as the dish itself! Brighten up dull plates with funky patterned plates, colored glasses, and one-of-a-kind looking utensils.
Don’t show it all off, honey! Keeping the viewer guessing is just as exciting as centering your main dish. The best way to capture a large and interesting spread is to focus on one or 2 dishes, with the rest artfully cut out of the photos.
10. Put a “cherry” on top
Don’t forget about your caption! A great caption is the cherry on top of your tasty post.
Article by Thelma Weaver, Restaurant Marketing Consultant with The Next Idea
Editor and Partial Photography by Robert Ancill, CEO, The Next Idea
Why Outsource Architect Services
Outsourcing services in the Restaurant, Retail and Hospitality worlds have largely been isolated to accounting, technology, marketing and laundry services. This however has been changing in the past few years to include architectural and design.
We are now seeing great economic and efficient advantage in outsourcing rendering, architectural and design services for restaurants and retailers across the world.
THE SECRET TO SCALABLE ARCHITECTURAL SUPPORT
Successful architectural and design outsourcing depends on quality, communication and control. One group that has been very successful in this area is TNI Interiors. TNI Interiors’s workflow process is built on these critical functions. Unlike typical outsourced CAD design companies, we possess a custom approach to each client and their requirements.
No matter the size of a client’s company or project, TNI Interiors offers personal relationships and flexible options for integration, real-time communication and full control of the Client’s project.
The TNI Interiors staff is highly educated and experienced, with team members holding four-year degrees in all areas of specialization. Quality control is built into every project. Strict adherence to quality checks and passion for detail sets TNI Interiors apart. We take pride in being one of the most trusted outsourced architecture companies in the industry.
The Client defines the schedule, controls the work process and receives regular updates, just like with an employed team, but without the overhead and the need to manage human resources.
Depending on your needs, you can choose the model that works for you:
- Project-based CAD support
- Dedicated Studio / Back Office drawings support
- Franchise Roll Out Services
- Renderings (3d Max)
- Revit software
- Construction Drawings
TNI Interiors is committed to confidentiality. They enforce non-disclosure agreements for every client and project and never share our client list. TNI Interiors state-of-the-art security system limits information to those working on each client project.
Find out how you can get started – easily and painlessly.
contact: +1 818 887 7714
Menu Writing Explained
Food lovers have a saying: “We eat first with our eyes.” Of course, that’s absolutely true because we notice our food visually before we even taste a bite. Before even that, however, restaurant diners are presented with the menu, which can and should have its own visual appeal. This is the Art and Science of Menu Writing.
A large part of that visual appeal is the menu’s writing. Consider the many menu elements contributing to how diners will absorb information you present: – fonts, colors, space between each item, writing style, and so on.
Your menu represents your brand. It is your restaurant’s primary marketing tool. To maximize its effects, consider these important menu guidelines:
Identify the Concept
Ensure that your menu items clearly represent your brand. For example, if it’s a quick-service restaurant, reinforce that concept in the images and descriptions of the items.
Menu engineering is the study of the profitability and popularity of menu items and how these two factors influence the placement of these items on a menu. The goal is simple: to increase profitability per guest. Typically the goal with menu engineering is to maximize a firm’s profitability by subconsciously encouraging customers to buy what you want them to buy, and discouraging purchase of items you don’t want them to buy. Proper use of menu engineering can increase net profit.
Keep it short and simple.
Simply list major ingredients of different dishes. If applicable, use ethnic names and descriptions to add a bit of authentic flair to the menu description.
Know Your Customers
If your customers are mostly over 50, keep the typeface (font) large enough to read in dim lighting and the design uncluttered. If you’re a family style restaurant, make your menus appealing to children by including colorful artwork, unusual fonts, and lots of boxed items. A white tablecloth setting calls for a more understated, simple yet tasteful design including a good quality paper stock.
Keep in mind current health trends and concerns and prepare the menu accordingly. For example, if low fat, low sodium, low carb, or high protein options are valued by your diners, include them. Regional selections can also ramp up consumer appeal.
While preparing the menu, include and point out menu items and ingredients that reflect the current season and locale. Local ingredients are valued and appreciated.
Quality vs. Quantity
Do not compromise quality with your food offerings. The menu should value and reflect ingredient quality over and above simply the number of ingredients. Best to execute six dishes perfectly than twelve that are so-so.
Set the pricing that reflects the brand position and quality level. Menu costing and pricing is critical to the success of any restaurant
The menu’s language should be universal and easily understood by all.
- Be clear about your food and outlet concept.
- If you’re using unusual foreign terms, explain them.
- Keep menu descriptions concise and simple
Brand Names and Points of Origin
Some customers are brand conscious and prefer to order a known brand, so make sure that any brand that is being advertised is the one served. For example, Coke, Maytag Blue Cheese, Cointreau, Heinz Ketchup, etc.
Dietary of Nutritional Claims
Never claim anything you can’t back up, especially with regard to nutritional information. Menus making health or nutritional claims, such as “Sugar-Free”, must meet FDA standards and nutritional information must be provided upon request. Examples:
- Low Fat – Must not contain more that 3gms of fat in a standard
- Heart Healthy: Must be low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
- No Trans Fat: Must not contain or be prepared with any vegetable shortening or partially hydrogenated oils.
On three-panel (page) menus, people most often look at the center panel first, and then move counter clockwise. On two-panel (page) menus people most often look at the top right-hand side first. Consider putting your high profit items such as specials or specialty drinks in these spots.
People most often remember and buy the first two items or the last menu item in each menu category. Place your menu items with the highest gross profit in these spots on the menu.
Impact 10 to 15 percent of the space on your menu by boxing menu items. As a general rule box one out of every 8 to 10 items. Boxes draw attention and usually get orders, so it’s best to use them on high-profit items. Too many boxes creates clutter and defeats their ‘attention getting’ purpose.
Hospitality Symbols and Icons
Stars, bullets, or other food symbol icons can make your menu unique and draw attention to menu items that you would prefer to sell. Graphics can set items apart and increase sales on those items as much as 15 percent. (Be careful with the ubiquitous Heart symbol that usually denotes ‘heart-healthy’ as people have learned to translate that into ‘tastes awful’.)
Highlight types of foods by including menu headings such as “Fresh Pasta” or “Our Specialties”rather than using generic terms such as Entrees.
Brand your restaurant by offering a specials menu insert that creates a sense of “You can only get this here“. Menu inserts also give your servers something to talk about and keep your menu fresh. Additionally, you can use them to promote high profit specials or new items that could eventually move onto the regular menu.
Keep your menus clean
Customers often associate a dirty menu with a dirty kitchen. They may not walk out this time, but they are less likely to return if your menu isn’t clean and sharp. So keep your menus clean by using protective menu covers that can be washed or replaced
Embrace the White Space
A menu written with clean and uncluttered content allows diners to absorb the information quickly and efficiently. A menu that is overcrowded often leaves the diner frustrated and confused. Embrace white space, which allows the eyes to pause and rest. An ideal menu page should contain no more than 55% content, leaving plenty of space and the widest margins possible.
About The Author Robert Ancill:
Robert Ancill is the CEO of TNI International and The Next Idea Group. Widely considered the ultimate restaurant authority on emerging and frontier markets, Robert is well known as one of America’s leading global restaurant consultants and experts on menu writing and engineering.
Robert sits on several corporate boards of directors, and is regularly quoted in the media on global restaurant and food trends as well as food and restaurant opportunities in emerging and frontier markets. He speaks regularly at conferences on topics relating to international growth opportunities, restaurant concepts, food trends and consumer behavior.
Contact: The Next Idea Group – +1 818 887 7714 / firstname.lastname@example.org