Tool: Rollyo – Customized Search Engine

Rollyo.com allows you to create a customized search engine using web sites you specify. I have created a Rollyo search engine using only restaurant industry web sites (click here). To see the usefulness of Rollyo, I just recently did a search for "outdoor dining" using google and the customized rollyo search engine.

Google search results for "outdoor dining"

Rollyo search results for "outdoor dining"

For a restaurant owner, the Rollyo search results link to much more relevant information which saves time and lets you spend more time reading then looking through search results. You can focus your sources on vendors, specific regions, or select magazines, as well as mix and match.

Go to Rollyo.com to create your own search engine and use your own sources.

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Tool: Google Alerts

galerts.jpg

"What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms. We currently offer four types of alerts: 'News,' 'Web,' 'News & Web,' and 'Groups.'

link: Google Alerts (FAQ)

It is very difficult to keep up with the news and content being posted to the internet everyday. One of the purposes of this blog is to help restaurants use free internet tools to let the web work for them. 

To stay on top of restaurant news, I receive newsletters from related web sites and publications, but I also receive emails from Google Alerts.

I have Google Alerts set up to search for phrases such as "restaurant service". This is useful for any restaurant professional interested in the latest news about specific topics or that use special keywords.

You can also have it stay alert for your company name so that you are notified when there is anything posted to the web involving your business. As a restaurant owner, you would be able to get notified by email when customers are talking about your restaurant or posts a review about your restaurant. This free service will not find everything all the time, but it is another tool that will help you stay current.

Free Service: Google Calendar

excerpt:
"Simplify. Organize. (And relax.) Organizing your schedule shouldn't be a burden. That's why we've created Google Calendar – our free online shareable calendar service. With Google Calendar, it's easy to keep track of all your life's important events – birthdays, reunions, little league games, doctor's appointments – all in one place.

Using Google Calendar, you can add events and invitations effortlessly, share with friends and family (or keep things to yourself), and search across the web for events you might enjoy. It's organizing made easy."

link: Google Calendar

How does a free, shareable calendar apply to the restaurant business?

First of all, many restaurant owners are busy taking care of their operations, which leaves little time to utilize web tools or work on a web site. If a restaurant does have a web site, it is probably maintained by a third party who handles major updates. Google Calendar is very easy to access and use. Anytime you want to make a change, get online and make it, you are in control.

What are the applications of a calendar for a restaurant? Here are some examples: employee work schedule, private event scheduling, reservations, restaurant seasonal dishes. Having the information online makes it easier for everyone to access. Google allows you to have multiple calendars, choose who you share with, and other features.

If you have any other ideas how your restaurant will use Google Calendar, please let us know.

Free Program: PrimoPDF – Create PDFs from any printable file

Here is a free program we use called PrimoPDF:

PrimoPDF

excerpt:
"Convert to PDF from any application by simply 'printing' to the PrimoPDF® printer – it couldn't be easier! Within minutes, you can create high-quality PDFs by converting from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and virtually any other printable file type."

It is easy to install and use. PrimoPDF appears in your printer choices when you decide to print a file. Simply choose PrimoPDF, press print, and pick a place to save the document.

The value of using the PDF format is that it is fast and easy way for others to view, save, and/or print a file. An example of using PDF is posting a one-page lunch menu on your restaurant web site for someone to print or save.

PrimoPDF is one of many free PDF creator/converter programs.

note: We are not specifically endorsing a particular program over another. The main purpse of these types of posts is to let restaurants know that they can accomplish or make a task easier using low cost, or even free, programs.

Article: “Trend enables users to save, store online material” (Apr.2006)

 

excerpt:
"Part of the problem with the Web is organizing information so you can actually find stuff. Tagging is a set of tools that people use to help other people find stuff," said Internet analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. "So communities form around this. If it's done well, it's useful and allows people to help each other. If it's done badly, it is just another complexity on the Web."

"It's a solution for the personal information management problem," said Michael Grubb, chief technology officer of Furl.net, a tagging site operated by LookSmart of San Francisco. "How to get back to where you were or save a page or do a search of what you've saved."

Furl.net also allows users to save entire Web pages rather than just bookmark and share. People use it to do research for work or dissertations, remember good restaurants, and collect information on colleges or graduate schools they are considering, Grubb said"

source: "Trend enables users to save, store online material" by Barbara Grady (InsideBayArea.com, Apr.17,2006)

Being able to quickly store web pages somewhere that you can look at later or share is very important with the quality. quantity, and potentially shortlived information on the internet.

For example, you find a great article on restaurant marketing, bookmark it.  When you go back to reread it, the web page has been deleted. Let's say you printed the article out, but it is filed away somewhere in a pile of papers, where is it? You have two friends that should read the article also, but you don't want to type it all over again or send it by regular mail.

These new services provide four big advantages:
1. Copies of the web page are stored in your personal web account
2. It allows you to add notes and tags that can help you and others find it faster in the future.
3. You can search through your personal web account like searching through google.
4. You can share your web account with others to see the copies.

Any piece of information you come across on the web: a recipe, training manual, restaurant review, can be copied,  archived, and tagged. You never have to worry about remembering the link, finding the bookmark, or the page being deleted. Right now these services are free, here are some of the ones available:

Furl
Spurl
Simpy 

We have chosen Simpy for use with TechWaiterBell, and any article that is referenced on this blog (or WaiterBell related blogs) can be found again in the WaiterBelll Simpy account: http://simpy.com/user/waiterbell. So if you ever read anything here, and go to the source link and it is no longer there, then check our Simpy account.