In a time of high costs and low revenue in the foodservice industry, creativity is called upon to help get customers through your doors and eating your food. The first key is to be sure you have identified the market niche in which your foodservice business falls and that you are targeting the correct customer base for this niche. This includes understanding the type(s) of food these customers are seeking and what they are willing to pay for them. Regardless of what the number behind that willingness to pay becomes, remember that each and every individual is looking for a deal and for a way to save a buck.
A good baseline for any foodservice establishment is to create menu dishes which appeal to the thrifty type and to those looking for healthier, lighter options. Offering individual menu options which have low ingredient costs and produce a lower-cost option for the customer is one strategy. Creating a menu in which customers can order half-plates of signature dishes is also appealing to patrons watching their pocketbooks and waistlines. Consider skipping a charge for splitting entrees or other menu items. Yes, the check average may be lower but you have a better chance of them returning because they were happy and satisfied with the service.
It’s tough and pricy eating out as a family. While a typical kid’s meal is simple and carries fairly low ingredient costs, check averages on the other end of the table adds up quickly for the parents. Why not offer a “Kids Eat Free” promotion either weekly or monthly at your business? Chances are during these family dining nights, the parents will splurge a little more on themselves, thus boosting overall sales.
Now that customers are in the door, be sure they are enjoying the experience of dining at your operation. Remember that people eat with their eyes. If a plate of food does not look appetizing (no matter how good it would taste to someone who was blindfolded), it is not going to be accepted. Review how your plates are served and get creative with new styles and garnishes. Go beyond the parsley sprig garnish and think about using other low cost, colorful vegetables to enhance the plate appearance. Evaluate the ambience of your place – keep the décor and atmosphere current and seasonal. Shag carpeting is sooo in the 1970’s! Does the décor match the style of food served? Does it add to the dining experience for the customer? These environmental cues affect customers’ dining experiences and greatly influence have a huge affect on their decision to dine with you again.
Yes we are in a slump, but to many, eating out is considered a necessity. So keep your customers! More information and a resource on food cost controls can be found on the Operations Management page.