Cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and New York have the highest number of food businesses per capita, with around 20 to 21.5 eateries per 10,000 people, according to Bloomberg.com. This means that the competition for attracting customers is cutthroat. Eateries must win over restaurant traffic from other venues consistently in order to make the best restaurant profit possible. While limited time deals and occasional special events can boost business during slow seasons, having consistent strategies for how to attract customers can raise restaurant traffic in a continuous fashion.
How to Attract Customers
One of the best strategies for how to attract customers is to offer deals and discounts. Daily deals such as happy hour specials can spur a daily amount of restaurant traffic. However, having the same discounts every day is an ineffective strategy for increasing restaurant business because consumers will have no reason to frequent a venue on that specific day. On the other hand, having specials and restaurant deals that alternate on a regular basis will cause customers to feel like they will be missing out if they don’t dine at the venue within the deal’s valid period, increasing restaurant traffic during that time. For example, breakfast lovers will be likely to dine at a venue at some point during a specific week if they are offered free coffee with baked goods
Selling gourmet food to supermarkets is a dream goal for many food businesses as well as home chefs. However, the market is tough to succeed in and even tougher to break in to. Food businesses looking to expand their sales may want to consider taking a chance in the retail food market. Not only do restaurant brands offer a potential profit increase for the owners from direct sales, the packaged meals named after the restaurant instantly provide marketing for the venue. Businesses considering selling to supermarkets should be prepared to plan meticulously and invest time and effort into pushing the product into the markets.
Understanding Selling to Supermarkets
The first step in food branding is developing an idea. Without a vision of what the retail food will be and how it will stand out from the millions of products already available, aiming to create retail food is pointless. Once an idea for packaged meals, chef products, or any other gourmet food is ripe, research must be done about the local markets and opportunities for sale. FDA regulations for packaged products must be understood and followed as well. Restaurants can start out with experimenting with gourmet food in-house. Perfecting a recipe can be easier when an already existing consumer group is eager to sample it and provide feedback. However, once a product has been chosen, the retail food will usually have to be prepared in a separate venue, to allow both businesses to run efficiently and according to FDA standards. Tests will have to be done to determine proper nutrition facts labeling and sell-by dates, and proper packaging will have to be chosen. Once irresistible tastes and packaging for restaurant brands have been developed, businesses will have to think about how to market their products to stores, as well as consumers.
Marketing Restaurant Brands
Businesses wishing to sell chef products, packaged meals, or gourmet food to supermarkets must start the marketing process before the product is complete. Packaging is the best way to market, before even having an outlet to sell to consumers. Once a retail food product is complete, many brands choose to start selling at a local gourmet food store, or small markets. This is a great way to test the waters before going big, and gain a good reputation which will make it easier to convince larger stores to sell the product in the future. Supermarkets can be approached personally, or by using brokers. Brokers have connections and can therefore raise the chances of success and shorten the process of selling to supermarkets.
Be prepared for rejection. There are many products out there that are alternatives to your products. Have a catch phrase explaining how your product is different and better than other options available. Mention any local, gourmet food store selling your product, and successes of sales rates. Once a market has agreed to sell you product, you must aggressively, but subtly, win over the public. Offering samples in supermarkets and at community events can help consumers fall in love with the product before having to commit to a purchase. The steps to success demand hard work and unwavering belief in your product.
Creating gourmet food and chef products to develop a retail brand can expand a restaurant business by making it famous and providing the owners with an additional source of income. Packaged meals and other gourmet food are tough to sell when selling to supermarkets. Creating a truly unique product and starting out by selling to a local gourmet food store can increase the chances of success.
Menu innovation is the best way to improve the reputation of a venue, keep cooks interested in their jobs, and create restaurant menu ideas that will become the next bestsellers. Whether inspired by the latest culinary trends, or unusual flavor combinations, unique flavors on restaurant menus are daring additions which can lead to high rewards. Food business owners must have full confidence in their kitchen staff in order to allow them to freely go with their creative cooking ideas. However, by seasonally drafting new restaurant menus inspired by fresh produce, with unique flavors and food presentation in mind, businesses can create interesting meals that will make their venue stand out.
Finding Creative Cooking Ideas
Inspiration for restaurant menu ideas can come from a variety of sources. Putting twists on culinary trends, creating unusual flavor combinations from local ingredients, and reinventing ideas learned from other chefs, can create roots for dishes that can be improved and developed into bestselling menu items. The most unique restaurants around the world are famous either for their restaurant concept or innovative menus, proving the importance of investing time and energy into planning the best menu possible. Of course, businesses know the typical dishes that are popular in their
Customer service is one of the deciding factors for the success of a restaurant. Wait staff pagers are slowly cropping up as a better way to serve customers, but are they the right way to solve the puzzle of smoothly running the dining room? Waiter call buttons are a useful way for customers to let wait staff know they are ready to order, need something, or want to pay the bill. Restaurant pagers are also an efficient way for chefs to notify restaurant staff that dishes are ready to be delivered to tables. However, restaurant pagers may be uncomfortable for customers to use, eliminating the personal contact and challenge of getting the attention of wait staff, and replacing bad customer service with a foolproof technological solution.
Customer Service and the Restaurant Ambience
Top notch customer service is a very impressive characteristic for venues to have. Hiring caring and attentive restaurant staff is a sure-fire way to improve customer loyalty. Restaurant pagers enable customers to notify staff when they need something, providing the table location to wait staff for the fastest and most efficient service possible. However, to some extent, restaurant pagers also eliminate the challenge of providing good customer service, making it less impressive to customers. If waiters know exactly when and where a table needs service, can serving those tables quickly be labeled as good customer service? On another note, when a venue is packed and wait staff are obviously having a hard time juggling all their tasks, pressing the call button may be uncomfortable for customers, but they may not have a choice. If restaurant pagers are present, wait staff will not necessarily check on a table if not summoned by the call button, making use of
Food selfies are taking over Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites. Chefs and culinary professionals have mixed feelings about the trend and, in some cases, chefs have banned taking pictures of food in their venue, while others have gone to the other extreme, offering free food to those who take pictures of their food and tag the venue on Instagram. Food plating and presentation has always been viewed as an important aspect of running a restaurant. However, with food photography ballooning in popularity food stylist worthy dishes should be a key focus for venues. By pulling out those garnishes and squeeze bottles, and giving customers dishes worthy of the best food photography, businesses can get effective and free restaurant marketing from customers’ pictures of food.
Making Customers the Food Stylist
Let’s face it. The majority of customers do not know how to photograph food on a professional level. They lack the artistic knowledge and equipment. However, the widespread restaurant marketing that can result from customers uploading their pictures of food in a venue can bring in new restaurant business, and draw back old customers. Restaurant marketing is often at the forefront of the minds of managers and owners. Luckily, with the rise in social media and smartphones, as well as an appreciation for culinary culture, much word of mouth restaurant marketing is being done for businesses, for free, by the customer. Venues can easily get in on this type of restaurant marketing by persuading customers to take pictures of food and mention the venue. Offering prizes for the best food photography each month, or offering discounts for mentioning the venue, along with pictures of food, on social media sites, can get the trend started. Instead of worrying about food photographers or learning how to photograph food, venues can benefit from customers’ food pictures. Customers a likely to get a wide range of shots and, even better, flaunt them to their friends, giving a venue great restaurant marketing.
With relatively new food labeling laws, large restaurant chains are required to print restaurant nutrition information on their restaurant menus. Small food businesses are not obligated to do so, but some may choose to offer their customers this option, in order to show their support of healthy restaurant eating. Other venues may choose to simply provide menu labels near healthy options, rather than specific nutrition facts. Either way, a study by Drexel University’s School of Public Health has shown that restaurant nutrition information impacts customers’ purchasing decisions, ultimately leading customers to ordering fewer calories. Restaurant menus with healthy restaurant eating options may benefit from letting customers know about their healthy restaurant menus. However, despite the added comfort for dieting and health-conscious customers, restaurant nutrition labelling is usually not a worthwhile investment for small businesses, when not required by law.
Menu labelling is a restaurant marketing strategy that can attract customers on a strict diet. Those effected with diabetes and obesity can clearly benefit from knowledge of carbohydrate, sugar, fat and caloric meal content. A venue that offers healthy restaurant eating options should be confident enough in their restaurant menus to add a nutrition facts label, at least to some menu items. Many consumers are aware of the studies that have been done, showing that an overwhelming majority underestimate the caloric content of restaurant and fast food chain menu items. However, by being shown the estimated restaurant nutrition information for
Fast casual restaurants are minimizing the required amount of restaurant staff. At many fast casual venues, waiter training only needs to focus on ensuring that the floor is operating smoothly. However, like almost all fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants also need to take orders and serve food quickly, usually with no empty space between the customer and the computer. The reduced number of employees, due to less need for wait staff, is an obvious benefit for fast casual venues. However, this business plan is not an ideal solution for how to run a restaurant for all businesses. Some venue concepts demand high levels of waiter training in order to provide the best customer service possible. These venues are not considered fast casuals, but in some cases great customer service can increase restaurant business in equal measure to offering fast casual dining.
Don’t Leave Out Staff
Though fast casual restaurants do not need many waiters, they do need people manning the cash registers and taking orders, as well as more kitchen staff on shift to supply meals faster than a typical venue. In a study done by the NRN, it was found that about 85% of Americans visit fast casual restaurants at least once a month. These numbers show not only the potential success of fast casual restaurants, but also their urgent need to have
Catering is a relatively sure business compared to owning a restaurant. By becoming one of the many restaurants that cater, restaurants can expand their profits and success, while building a larger client base. Though restaurants that cater must invest time and money into planning the catering ideas, hiring restaurant staff to prepare and serve the food during event catering, and ensuring that all the restaurant equipment is up to par, the business expansion that can come about by offering a catering service can make owning a restaurant a lot more profitable.
Why Restaurants that Cater Have it Good
Restaurants that cater, and any catering service for that matter, have early income indicators. When a customer chooses a catering menu and hires a catering service, the service then knows the amount of food that needs to be ordered and can rest assured that it will all be used during the event catering. Whether the service is wedding catering or event catering of another kind, extra food will have to be prepared to cover any extra unexpected guests or hungry diners. However, the catering service can
Tea time is generally associated with the British tradition of having a small snack and cup of tea in the late afternoon, usually around 4 p.m. Though tea time has always been a great excuse to have a social hour, today it is gaining attention as an extra meal, creating an opportunity to split meals to improve health. Many health studies have shown that eating many small meals throughout the day helps people reduce their caloric intake and prevent overeating at meals due to hunger. Due to the health benefits of light fare, the Food Channel is predicting that split meals, or tea time, will be one of the major food trends this year. Conveniently for restaurants, tea time has the potential to boost business and restaurant profit, similar to the way happy hour specials do.
Tea Time Restaurant Meals
Every consumer appreciates a good bargain. Some even rely on them to justify dining out in today’s economy. Limited time offers are a great way to draw in customers at any given time of year, by compelling them to frequent the venue for fear of missing out on a good bargain or a guilt-free chance to try a new restaurant. Despite the obvious benefits that offering limited time deals can bring, businesses must be careful not to abuse this restaurant marketing strategy.
Unlimited Time and Fake Offers
Consumers, as a whole, are smart. Chances are that if they are being cheated continuously, they will quickly catch on. In the restaurant market, if consumers feel cheated by a venue, they can usually turn to another similarly priced, nearby venue that offers comparable quality food. In order to avoid dissuading customer loyalty, businesses should have honest restaurant marketing and restaurant deals. In terms of offering limited time restaurant deals, this means using those restaurant deals to increase restaurant business during slow periods, but not keeping them over extended periods. Limited time offers that are offered all the time will be less exciting to customers and therefore less effective for increasing restaurant traffic at a venue. Limited time offers can also fail to increase restaurant business when they are not an offer at all. Though initially customers may be drawn in by the visual restaurant marketing of a limited time offer, if a customer realizes that an offer is actually just an everyday price disguised as restaurant deals, the venue can expect