Niche Markets in the Food Service Industry

You could pretty much sum up the restaurant scene in America in one sentence: Hamburgers are dead; and beef itself is losing some appeal. The kind of restaurant that is making a name for itself these days is the one that gets a cult following rather than marketing to a general broad appeal. Consider this as an open letter to the food service managers of America. For pity’s sake, do something different!

We might as well face it: only the young care about general appeal any more. A ten year old kid is the most conservative diner you could imagine. Take them to any restaurant offering a menu of wonders and delights, and they’ll head straight for the hot dog. No chili, no cheese, just ketchup, thank you. Pizza parlors are about as exciting as their culinary explorations get, but they’d better offer plain pepperoni or there’s going to be trouble.

But the grown-ups think in terms mostly of ethnic categories. And speaking of ethnicity, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese are fine… but isn’t it time that we acknowledged that there’s more than three countries that make food? Treat yourself to a Mediterranean restaurant some time and you’ll get a feel for what you’ve been missing. Falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, fresh wet green tea leaves, sweetening with honey instead of sugar, and ways to cook lamb you’ve never thought of. Pita bread baked fresh on the premises, so it shows up at your table in a puffed-up balloon and slowly deflates to the flat pancake shape.

America, the melting pot of international culture, and yet unless you’re in one of the five biggest cities you’re out of luck finding international foods outside of pizzas, and tacos. the bowl of chop suey if you’re lucky. South American cuisine that is farther south than Mexico is unheard of. An Argentinian or Brazilian restaurant perhaps? And when’s the last time you found a Russian deli outside of New York? America has made two gains in Russian cuisine – Pirozhki and Baklava, and Baklava is more Baltic than Russian. I bet if you’re a typical American, you’ve never seen Shashlyk. It’s a Russian-style shish-kebab usually made with marinated lamb and some favorably sweet grilled onions. How hard is that to make? To take another example, France gets praised for it’s wonderful cultural food, but by reputation only. Let’s see a few more French restaurants and perhaps we’ll get a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

America has a hard time dealing with it’s own native cultural diversity, it seems. You get cheese curds in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and in the rest of the States cheese is yellow and in the form of flat slices. Cajun cuisine got rave reviews on all of the cooking shows on Food network, but the craze seems to have come and gone without more than a few Cajun-themed restaurants popping up. Nobody east of Utah seems to have heard of a Denver omelet, nobody west of New England seems able to understand how to cook a lobster. I guess Indian cuisine within driving distance is a faint hope when you can’t even get all of America into one food court.

And as if the lack of international diversity and interstate diversity weren’t enough, it seems that even the methods of preparing food are stuck in a rut. Why must all chicken be breaded and deep-fat fried? Travel the planet if you have to, but find a place serving broasted chicken and grab a plate of that. There, now, wasn’t it nice to have chicken that isn’t drowning in grease for a change?

Consider the other food varieties largely missing from the American plate. Did you know pasta can be made from something besides wheat, bread can actually be something besides bleached and white, pickles aren’t always sliced and sour, and they’ve invented varieties of pepper which can be served whole besides the Jalepeno? That kielbasa sausage tastes just as good on a bun as a hot dog? That sweeteners can be based on something besides corn? That you can put condiments on a sandwich that aren’t yellow and red? That tortillas can be made from something besides bleached wheat flour? Listen, if only I never have to look at another “French fry” as long as I live, it will be too soon; enough with the damn deep-fried potatoes already!

American cuisine draws a heavy dose of criticism abroad, and for good reason. We simply do not offer substantial variety. The usually noble American ethic of being practical and down-to-Earth takes on an edge when you ask for something besides fried cow. What, are you some kind of elitist? Fried potatoes not good enough for you, you want fried mushrooms or zucchini instead, eh? Yeah, you must be an Imperialist to be making demands like that! No, actually, we’re not Imperialist, we just saw that food pyramid that the USDA put out and thought that it might make a good idea to support it.

Of course, the food industry feels a huge economic impact. Cost measures are everywhere; it’s difficult to get Americans to try something new, tough to find a supplier that offers a diverse stock who is also economical, and especially hard to hire trained staff that knows how to make dishes not usually found in the average homogenized restaurant. But with a small amount of effort, this can all be overcome. And the reward potential is outstanding. The restaurant business being competitive as it is, the one best way to draw a customer base is to offer something unique that you can’t get anywhere else.

Because you don’t want to be just another grill. You want to be that fantastic place that people drive miles out of the way to get to and tell all their friends about. You want to be the kind of place that serves the food people get an irresistible craving for. Irresistible cravings, after all, aren’t just a matter of taste – nutritionists have indicated that they’re your bodies way of telling you that you need certain nutrients that only the craved-for food can provide. But most of all, you want to be recognized as the food service manager with an edge, somebody who thinks out of the box and makes their business crazy successful by being better than all the others.

AdSense Business Services

There are many ways to earn money especially when it comes to the industry of business services. One among the various business services is the AdSense service. AdSense is a state of the art advertising program which places advertisements in your website. When internet browsers look at the ad on your site, and if these ads are relevant to your site content, then they might want to look at more information and click the advertisement. So, what your AdSense does for you is that it instigates the individual to click your ad and look what it has to offer.

The basic idea of AdSense is clicking transforms to earning – the click rate or the rate at which a viewer clicks on the ads that are posted through any of the AdSense service in the site, the owner of the site will earn money. In simple words if you own a site with ads placed by AdSense, and when your visitor clicks on those ads you get money credited to your account. This concept is generally mentioned as click through rate (CTR).

The catch here is that you need to have meaningful and relevant advertisements placed on your site. This is what will make your visitors to click on these ads with the purpose of getting more information. If the site content and the ads don’t match, then not many visitors will want to look at your ads.

First things first – when you are planning to earn money over the internet using the AdSense business service, there are certain things to be done initially. First and foremost you need to own a website. That website should be an authorized one and should contain a valid content without any false information. Once you are all set then you need to create an AdSense account from any of the authorized advertiser. Register you account by entering your valid website URL. It will take about 2 to 3 days for reviewing your website and the AdSense advertiser will review your website for the content and the usage and will approve accordingly.

The point that should be noted here is that if your content is not valid you will be no more eligible for AdSense. Once your account with the AdSense is approved the AdSense advertisers will place relevant ads in your website that contains some similarity with the content that are in your website. AdSense will then start working, helping you to earn money. Whenever a viewer enters your website and click on the ads placed by the AdSense people you get money credited to your account. This is a simple way to earn money. Be sure that you do not engage in fraudulent activity by clicking the ads in your own websites.

Commercial Fridges and Freezers Are Essential for the Food Service Industry

If you own a coffee shop or café, or even a hotel or restaurant, you will understand and appreciate the value of high quality commercial refrigeration. Commercial fridges and freezers are essential equipment for any business within the food service industry.

If you have this type of business, you will need to make sure that you store food correctly. This involves keeping it at the correct temperatures, for the appropriate lengths of time, and in environments that keep the food from being contaminated by other foods, dirt or debris and dust. Choosing the right commercial appliances for your business is an important hob and requires investment of time and money. However, by purchasing the correct equipment, you will save money and most importantly, your business will be operating within the stringent food health and safety guidelines.

If you need to buy commercial refrigeration appliances for your business, you should find a reputable supplier that has a reputation for supplying high quality, well-made appliances. Commercial fridges are much bigger, and more robust than the domestic models. In addition, they are designed for the heavy use that is an everyday occurrence in a busy commercial kitchen.

There are also a variety of chilled cabinets and display counters with refrigeration that can be fitted into delicatessens, cafes, Patisseries and other food retailers. Display and counter refrigeration units are wonderful ways of safely displaying food so that customers can see and choose the produce they wish to purchase.

A good supplier will have an in-depth knowledge of all the models in their range. They will know exactly which appliance would be best for your kitchen or shop front. In addition, good commercial refrigeration suppliers understand the food industry. They have first-hand experience of food preparation and food sales so they will also be fully aware of the health and safety laws that need to be adhered to, and of the needs of food preparation staff.

It is this specialist knowledge that makes commercial refrigeration far more than the mere purchase of an electrical appliance. It requires thought and planning. Because this is an investment in a business, care should be taken that the right equipment is bought, this saves time, money and ultimately helps the business owner to run a successful enterprise.

Look online for reviews and information about your chosen supplier. This is a good way of checking their credentials. Another good indicator is to find out who they currently supply. Companies that have built a reputation supplying leading names within the food service industry will prove to be a good choice. They will have a much wider choice of appliances to choose from, and they will have a wealth of knowledge they will use to guide you in your own choices.

By working with the very best commercial refrigeration supplier, you will be able to source and purchase the finest fridges and freezers for your business. Your investment in your business will help you run a successful commercial kitchen and serve your customers the very best quality foods at all times.

How Expatriates Are Exploited By The Offshore Financial Services Industry

Every year around the world, greedy financial advisors and international insurance companies persuade expatriates to invest an estimated $5,000,000.00 or more in offshore savings/retirement schemes that are little better than a swindle

Imagine an advertisement couched in the following terms:

==========================================================

Advertisement

COLOSSAL INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE LTD

Expatriates – How to Save For Retirement

For regular savings toward retirement our Offshore Pension Plan is the perfect vehicle. Here are the great features:

1. You contribute, say, $1,000 per month over the next 25 years.

2. If we achieve, say 10% p.a. growth your fund at maturity should, in theory, be worth about $1,065,308

3. But our charges will have swallowed up around 47% of the $300,000 you contributed. That means about $140,000 of the growth is lost to you.

4. If you stop payments, for any reason whatsoever and at any time during the first 23 months you get not a penny back; we shall keep all the $23,000 you had paid in.*

5. If you stop payments at any time for any reason whatsoever we shall hit you with a substantial penalty. For instance, had you paid for, say, 7 years and then cashed in, the amount you would get back is uncertain but is unlikely to exceed the $84,000 you had paid in over the seven years.

6. You can reduce your monthly contribution at any time. However, If you do so we s hall continue taking our charges as if you were still Paying at the original level. That means if you reduce the $1,000 per month to $200 per month we will keep levying the charges that would apply to a contribution of $1,000 per month.

7. You can increase your contribution at any time but if you do we shall apply to the increase a fresh ‘initial period’ – i.e. the period during which you would get little or nothing back if you stopped payments.

8. You could stop payments at any time and leave the fund invested with us but we will still, month by month, take out the charges to a total of around $140,000 (see 3 above).

9. There are offshore savings vehicles that give access to all the same investment areas but with much lower charges and no hidden penalties but we prefer not to tell you about these.

(Throughout this article the $ sign stands for any major currency. e.g. EUR, GBP, YEN, AUD, CAD)

==========================================================

The above “advertising” copy is very different from the hype in the real advertisements but it accurately sums up the typical features of International “Contractual Regular Savings and Retirement Plans” offered by some offshore insurance companies.

If they were advertised as above, would anyone ever buy them? Surely not. Consider some of the details:

1. Forty Seven percent of payments gone in charges!

2. All of your money confiscated if you stop contributing before you have made 2 years payments!

3. Crippling ongoing charges applied even of you reduce or stop payments.

4. If you increase payments a new set of charges and a new zero return period is applied.

And yet every year, thousands of expatriates are talked into joining such schemes.

Accurate figures are not available but reasonable estimates suggest that over $500 million is directed to such plans annually.

Who has the effrontery to market such nonsensical investments?

1. International Life Insurance Companies

These companies are mostly the offshoots of British ‘household name’ insurance Companies, and

2. Offshore Independent Financial Advisors

An Offshore Independent Financial Advisor is anyone who chooses to call himself an Offshore Independent Financial Advisor (IFA). Anyone? What about training? What about experience? What about background?

In most countries there is no legislation to prevent anyone setting up as an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA). Offshore insurance companies make cursory, far from thorough, checks on background before giving agencies but they cannot check qualifications because none are specified.

For an experienced, sometimes unscrupulous, salesperson it is easy to “spin” the negative features into looking like advantages. He/she is usually a skilled communicator, subtle in gaining the trust of his ‘prospects’.

Why do so many IFAs take advantage of the expatriate’s vulnerability in a new and unfamiliar personal financial situation?

The answer, of course, is money. The salesperson is paid a percentage of the client’s first year premiums equal to 3 times the years of the contract. On top of that there is normally a 40% over-ride.

Actual figures depend on the amount being invested and the contract term but where an expatriate is saving $1,000 per month:

If the plan is for 10 years the salesperson’s commission with over-ride = $12,600

If the plan is for 25 years the salesperson’s commission with over-ride = $ 5,040

For no extra work, simply by extending the savings term from 10 years to 25 years the Salesperson/IFA/Consutant receives an immediate extra payment of $7,500. No wonder the consultant often pushes hard for the longer term often using falsehoods to achieve it.

With very few exceptions the financial consultant is self-employed. He/she receives no salary. In practice, the IFA works not for the insurance company, not for his brokerage but as a self-employed consultant retained to look after the client’s best interests.

Unbelievable as it may seem, the IFA does not have to wait for premiums to be paid in order to receive his commission. The insurance company calculates the commission that would arise gradually month by month from regular premiums over the term of the plan, then pays it all, the entire amount in USD, GBP, EUR, or YEN to the IFA just as soon as the client’s very first monthly payment is made.

The average period for which payments are actually continued on these plans is a little over 7 years. When the expatriate stops payments the penalties will probably come as shock. Almost certainly he/she will be sorry he ever heard of the deal.

A complaint to the insurance company will get nowhere. ‘”Sorry”‘, they will say “you bought the plan through your Financial Advisor who works for you not for us. Take it up with that Advisor”.

Complaining to the IFA will also be futile. Even if he/she can be found, no laws have been broken and civil action in a foreign country is likely to be hugely expensive and pointless.

It is easy to say the victim should have read all the small print in the policy rules but deciphering all the meaning of that small print is often difficult. Easy too to say that he was foolish to contract for 10, 20, 25 years or other long term only to find he had to stop payments within 24 months and lost all or almost all of his contributions.

But the expatriate life is full of uncertainty. Right now thousands of expatriates are fleeing Lebanon. How many will also face job changes? How many will unexpectedly have to stop contributions to contractual savings plans?

There are, of course, offshore insurance companies that, to their credit, refuse to market these types of high products. Likewise, there are Offshore Financial Advisers who possess the skill, knowledge and integrity to offer service of great benefit to their clients.

One might suppose that expatriates would be better advised to deal with advisers based where there is regulation of the financial services industry. But home based advisers are not subject to regulation on business conducted overseas. In addition, many home based advisers will lack sufficient breadth of experience and skill to deal with the requirements of an international clientele.

To sum up, expatriates are financially exploited by being enticed into saving through offshore contractual policies that are little better than a swindle, presented to them by ill trained but persuasive and unprincipled sales ‘consultants’ masquerading as professional practitioners.

How many expatriates might be at risk is uncertain but with an estimated 6 million Americans living and working overseas and other countries’ nationals probably amounting to a similar number, the total must be substantial.

Could anything be done about this abuse? Almost certainly it could. If the insurance companies simply abandoned contractual savings plans or at least did away with ‘indemnity commission’ the shady offshore advisors would almost certainly disappear because they would be deprived of the mechanism that gives instant high income for little effort.

Copyright 2006 Hugh Stevenson