How Human Senses Affect Restaurant Design

When a customer enters a quick service restaurant,  a wide range of sensory factors affect their mood and behavior. These psychological influences can have a huge impact on a store’s productivity, sales, and guest satisfaction. By learning how each sense is affected by specific design choices, an owner can optimize their store layout to reach ambitious sales objectives.

Sight: Light and Color

Sight influences a customer’s first impression more than any other sense. What someone sees when first approaching an establishment can make them hungry, anxious, welcome, or even disgusted. These psychological responses are influenced by both light and color. While light and color are closely related, they have distinct influences when it comes to restaurant design. The primary colors QSRs should consider are:

    • Red –  Traditionally, QSRs use a lot of reds and yellows due to the belief that they induce hunger and energy. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King all want you to order a lot of food and then get out as quickly as possible.
    • Orange – A highly underrated color for QSRs that makes customers think of warmth, security, and most importantly, food. Orange is also considered a fun color. If it’s over used, however, customers may interpret an establishment as being juvenile or unprofessional.
    • Black – Rarely used in more traditional burger and fry restaurants, black can convey a sense of sophistication and glamour that modern eateries should take advantage. Black is best used in design as a contrast to lighter hues, so it shouldn’t be the primary focus of a restaurant’s color design.
    • Green – A color associated with harmony, balance, and refreshment, green is used in strategic ways by brands like Sprite and 7-Up. Green should be used by QSRs in moderation, as the color can induce feelings of boredom and stagnation.
    • White – Commonly assumed to be merely a neutral tone, white actually produces explicit psychological responses in restaurant customers, such as cleanliness and a sense of space.

According to research by the University of Cassino, light stimuli affects the “level of aesthetic appreciation by the perceiver towards a given environment.”  Changes in lighting can create feelings of spaciousness, visual clarity, privacy, pleasantness, relaxation, complexity. Traditionally, bright lighting is used to enhance the psychological impact of a chosen QSR color palette, especially red for hunger. They are also used to induce a bit of haste in diners so that establishments can serve more customers. Fine dining establishments, who often have a different objective, create darker environments where customers feel more subdued and relaxed, inspiring them to order more alcohol, desserts, and appetizers.

Sound: Kitchen and Dining Area

Sound in a restaurant is impacted by two main factors: dining room layout and kitchen setup. In the dining area, owners can create a noisy and boisterous atmosphere with music, televisions, and lack of acoustic dampening features. According to research, excessively loud background noise can suppress salty and sweet flavors and even the overall enjoyment of food. On the other hand, similar research also showed that loud environments can cause customers to over eat. Finding the right balance may require some experimentation. Music choice also helps owners target specific demographics.

One QSR design aspect that highly affects sound, but also sight and smell, is whether or not to have an open kitchen. Many popular chains have embraced a restaurant layout where customers can hear and see how their food is being prepared. In some restaurants, this can lead to a high level of customer satisfaction due to the perception of greater transparency. The sounds of sizzling, searing, and crackling from grill tops, deep fryers, and other cooking appliances can also increase customer appetite significantly.

Smell: Push Specific Products

Smell is integrally connected with taste. A great smelling restaurant will produce hungry customers, but smell can be used as a more complex tool. If a customer walks into a location and smells a particular ingredient they find enticing, they may be more likely to purchase a product with that particular component in it. Restaurants can use this to their advantage to push high-margin menu items. For example, bacon has a very distinct and attractive aroma. By making sure people entering your store smell bacon first, sales of premium priced bacon related items are likely to rise. In fact, many QSRs moved the cooking process of certain items into the front of stores, despite the increased costs, just the create appealing smells at their locations.

Touch: Actual and Perceived Customer Comfort

Restaurant customers experience touch through their hands, feet, and where they sit. Table topss, trays, counters, floors and door handles can all impact their perception of a location. Surfaces that are prone to stickiness should be avoided to prevent the perception of filth.  Smooth surfaces can make an establishment feel clean and sanitary. A hard floor with wood chips would be okay for a fast service BBQ place, but softer carpet would be more appropriate for a finer establishment. QSRs looking for particularly fast turnover often create hard, relatively uncomfortable seats to get customers moving as soon as they finish their meals. Fake wood and upholstery is a popular choice because it gives the perception of quality while providing only a modest amount of comfort.

Whether the goal of a QSR is to make customers hungrier or push high margin products, psychological influences through sight, sound, smell, and touch are very valuable tools. The more managers and owners understand how their customers think, both consciously and subconsciously, the better position they’ll be in to improve satisfaction and profitability. Even the smallest details can produce big transformations.

Disclaimer: This article was intended for a previous client who no longer needs it. It’s available for purchase. Just send me a message. 

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NAS: The Right Solution for Storing Dental Patient Data

As a dental care provider, storing information about your patients in a secure way is an essential part of your practice. Whether you’re handling a patient’s checkup history, communications, X-rays, or other active or inactive records, electronic storage is the optimal way to ensure compliance, easy of use, flexibility, and affordability. NAS, or network-attached storage, offers all these capabilities as well as other impressive features. Once you start using NAS as your office, you’ll wonder how you ever did things the old way.

What Is a NAS?

Network-attached storage refers to a type of  hard disk storage appliance. They are essentially computers specifically designed to provide a large volume of digital storage space that can be accessed by a group of network users simultaneously. In dental practices, they can be used to securely store text documents, database records, photographs, X-Rays, sound files, videos, and almost any other type of dental record. One or more hard drives can be used in NAS, and they are usually setup in a RAID configuration. These logical and redundant storage containers offer a central storage location while providing protection against data loss and corruption.

HIPAA Compliance

Many dental offices are apprehensive about using electronic storage for their records because of HIPAA compliance, but the truth is that keeping information secure on a NAS is a lot easier than you might think. The HIPAA Security Rule, which has been in effect since 2005, requires that dentists who store information in electronic form, often referred to as ePHI, maintain its:

  • Confidentiality – With a NAS, you have the ability to control who sees what information stored on your system. Centralized administrative capabilities allow you to make access changes whenever required.
  • Integrity – A NAS uses redundancy to safeguard against data corruption. RAID protects against drive failure. Mirroring takes care of entire shelf failure, and redundant peer controllers provide data backup capabilities.
  • Accessibility – With a NAS setup, data is continually available to anyone who needs to retrieve it. The fault tolerance for many NAS devices is reliable enough for many government institutions.

While there is no such thing as an officially certified HIPPA compliant NAS device, finding a product that provides all of these features is possible with just a bit of seraching. There are a wide range of NAS products out available online designed to handle very sensitive information used in your dental practice.

Easy to Manage

Your office is full of highly trained professionals who know how to take excellent care of patients, but technology isn’t necessarily your staff’s strongest area. NAS solutions are designed to make storage of high volumes of data securely really simple and easy. Even if your office has a dozen different computers, they’ll all be able to access data from a centralized location. You can even do this across multiple sites. That makes it a lot easier to backup all of your records and manage security settings.

Cost Effective and Adaptable

Finding a NAS with all of the security and storage functions you need might seem like it comes with a huge price tag, but there are a wide range of affordable products out there that have advanced features. The best part is that you can expand your storage later at a very reasonable cost. As your practice grows and adopts new forms of record keeping, you can simply purchase a few more hard drives to expand your space. NAS products are designed to adapt to what users need at any given time both in terms of raw volume and management features.

Using a NAS in your dental office has clear benefits that will improve experiences for both your staff and your patients. Hundreds of different models are available with a wide range of security and management features, and one that matches your data storage needs is available.

Disclaimer: This article was intended for a previous client who no longer needs it. It’s available for purchase. Just send me a message. 

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The PTA Disbands Is an Animated Masterpiece

Social commentary was a strong component of the Simpson’s from the very beginning, but no episode skewers the roles parents, teachers, and administrators play in Springfield’s seemingly only school better than “The PTA Disbands.” The episode begins with the Springfield Elementary School bus making its way down a rural road towards a Civil War battle site. Within just a few seconds, we see a broken bumper creating sparks on the asphalt, a gaping hole threatening to swallow Millhouse and Bart alive, several cross-eyed children choking down exhaust fumes, and principal Skinner instructing the children to use their clothes as drag parachutes.

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When “The PTA Disbands” first aired in 1995, it was likely exhausting to watch. The satire here is packed tightly into the 22-minute run time, leaving little room to digest a joke before the next one arrives. By the time the bus reaches Fort Springfield, the writers have already covered inadequate school funding, privatization of heritage sites, and the poor treatment of public employees. After the children are run out of the fort (R.I.P Ooter), tensions between Ms. Krabappel and Principal Skinner begin to heat up in the cafeteria – where malk and meat blended with newspapers and gym mats is being served.

The battle brewing here between the teachers and the administrators has no real antagonist or protagonist. Krabappel’s examples of the school’s lack of funding, including  a ‘banned’ book titled “The Theory of Evolution,” are persuasive, but even if Skinner agreed with her point, he doesn’t have the resources to meet her demands. The writers are concise in their commentary here: educational failures of our society are not the fault or teachers or principals. Who’s to blame? As the community tries to work together to find out how to deal with the teacher strike, the answer becomes clear.

Before the titular part of the episode arrives, chaos ensues in Springfield as the children have nothing to do during the day. Each kid, expect for Millhouse, approaches the lack of structure uniquely. Lisa soothes her anxiety by creating a mock school setting in the Simpson’s house and creating a perpetual motion machine,  Jimbo enjoys soap operas with his mother, and Bart disrupts order within the community in devilishly clever ways. His ability to create a run on the banks in just a few seconds is one of the highlights of the episode.

When Marge gets creeped out by Bart’s nighttime kite flying and Homer refuses to let Lisa disobey the laws of thermodynamics,  it’s finally decided that the PTA needs to do something about the strike.  As the meeting starts, its quickly apparent who’s to blame for this entire mess. Everyone is in favor of giving the teachers what they need to create a positive future for the children, but no one wants to pay for it. Krabappel’s and Skinner’s arguments eventually devolve into single-word sentences and hand motions as the parents chase their own tail.

Springfield’s citizens have already proven themselves too incompetent to simply raise a bit of money for their schools, so who better to entrust the education of their children than those very same citizens? The replacement teachers at Springfield Elementary include Moe, Jasper, and of course Marge, whose presence forces Bart to work against the strike for the first time. “The PTA Disbands” is at its weakest as the characters, now realizing this band aid isn’t working, try to find a solution to the strike, but there are still plenty of good jokes.

 

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How to Spot a Bad Recipe

As a home cook who makes nearly every meal for himself, I’ve seen a lot of recipes both online and in cookbooks. Nearly every recipe can be divided into three distinct categories: amazing, satisfactory, and horrible. If you’re a new cook, it can be hard to make a distinction between these groups, especially if you’re trying to follow a recipe that has no user ratings. While there is no definitive way to tell  good recipes from bad ones, there are some clear warning signs that your next meal may launch rancid warfare on your taste buds.

The problem with most bad recipes is that they sacrifice flavor for time. This usually means using processed products in place of home-prepared alternatives. It’s perfectly understandable for home cooks to want to save time, but cutting corners is rarely worth it. There are plenty of great recipes out there that are also fast. If you want a good lasagna, take the time to make it right on a night where you do have time.

1. No More Canned Soups or Sauces

Why does Mary Sue Huggins from Georgetown, Texas, want you to put a can of cream of mushroom soup in your green bean casserole? She’ll tell you it’s because that’s the way her mom and grandma did it, but the truth is that she doesn’t really know any better. Creamed soups add a creamy consistency to recipes and help thicken sauces, but they’re also filled with a bunch of ingredients you probably don’t want, not to mention the substandard taste. Instead of soup, a good recipe will tell you how to make a sauce from a roux, which is just a mixture of flour and fat. It may take a little more time, but the flavor will be much better.

When it comes to sauces, there are good options available on the shelves, but there are also many culinary atrocities. Good canned or jarred sauces, however, can be expensive because of their short shelf life. A recipe that calls for a canned sauce can almost always be replaced by something homemade, leading to results that will be far more palatable.

2. No More Pre-Cooked Proteins

Ever bitten into a canned or packaged piece of fish or chicken and thought, “Wow, this is tender and full of flavor?” No you haven’t, you liar. Pre-cooked proteins are dry, bland, and can make otherwise great dishes unappetizing. Sure, beef jerky is pretty good, but you’ve seen a recipe that has beef jerky in it, you’ve ventured further down the spiral of culinary dystopia than I have. If a recipe tells you to buy your beef, chicken, or fish in a can or cooked package, look elsewhere. There’s no telling what other horrible ideas they have hidden in the cooking techniques.

3. Beware of the Microwave

Unless you’re reading this from a college dorm room, there’s little reason for you to ever use the microwave while cooking. Folk wisdom states that microwaves kill off the valuable nutrients in your food, but that’s not really the problem. The real problem with microwaves is that they don’t offer the same flavor benefits, such as the Maillard reaction, that are delivered by other cooking methods. If you insist on using a microwave to cook your meals, cook only for yourself so no one else has to suffer.

Microwave Cookery

4. You Don’t Need to Use Acme Cheese

Placing products in recipes is one of the oldest marketing techniques for food companies. In fact, it’s probably how Mary Sue Huggin’s grandma learned how to make green bean casserole. While some of these recipes may yield decent results, there’s no reason to limit yourself to that name brand product. Substituting real cheese for the processed orange plastic is likely to improve the flavor of your dish in drastic ways. I won’t go as far as to recommend you make your own cheese because there are plenty of good products on the shelf. Just stay away from the shredded bags.

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