The current economic climate has consumers in a penny-pinching mindset. Consumer spending is down, and consumer savings are growing. The restaurant industry is suffering as consumers cut unnecessary expenses from their budget. Those currently gaining market share are lower-end, fast-food restaurants. Consumers still have discretionary dollars available to spend for lunch; you just need to entice them to spend those dollars in your restaurant or diner.
How does a restaurant or diner focused on the lunch crowd increase their sales and profits, with minimum expenses, during a downturn in consumer spending? Follow these tips, and you will see growth and prosperity that will last through these tough economic times and keep you on the top as we push through to greater prosperity.
What Does Price Point Mean To Consumer?
Daily specials should have a significant discount. Choose a variety of items to discount each day. Offer a second seasonal soup. Add a dessert or beverage to your daily special. If they can’t be discounted, offer a smaller portion size as a special that will entice consumers to try the product and purchase the full-size offering in the future. Create excitement with your specials by choosing fun names. Use local sports themes or seasonal names. People will appreciate the lower price point when it is offered.
A Marquee Board Is The Oldest Method To Attract Visitors
If you are in an area with high foot traffic, use a marquee board outside of your restaurant to advertise your daily specials and entice those hungry consumers in. Offer sample tastes of meats, salads, soups, desserts, or beverages. Invite consumers in for samples. Use small cups with tiny spoons for sample tastes. Once they are inside your store, the likelihood of them spending their dollars with you increases at least 10-fold.
Free delivery is always an exciting offer
If you don’t have a large amount of foot traffic, offer free delivery on orders over a certain amount, within a certain radius, and during a certain time frame. Many consumers can’t get away for lunch but aren’t organized enough to bring lunch. In cold weather states, no one wants to go out. Make this message in large type and clear to the consumer on your menu and anywhere on social media. State your delivery charge clearly if you must charge one.
Offer contests or prizes to your consumers
Pick a theme for the month or the week. Have customers design their favorite sandwich and let other customers vote! Give away a free sandwich or lunch combo to the winner. Let consumers guess at the favorite sandwich from the previous month. Set a time frame and a method for entries. Have them an email their entries, as well as drop them in a fish-bowl with their business card. You are now harvesting emails for later use. If you have cell phone numbers, create a text database and text the winners or specials. Create punch cards that allow consumers to build points for free items but use a swipe card. People are more likely to keep track of these, and you have their habits tracked in a database. Create a database on a spreadsheet with this information.
Diversify Your Services By Getting Into Catering
Consider catering for executives and sales reps for meetings and presentations over lunch. Create flexibility within your catering. Ask for 24-48 hours notice for groups over a certain number. The executive assistant or sales reps are generally charged with the task of providing lunch. Make the task easy for them. Be creative and dependable. Create smaller portions or boxed lunches for catered-in foods. Allow for special orders. You will have the time to prepare them—charge per person for the orders. Always follow up to make sure everything was in order and the food was good. Be sure to get their contact information for follow-up.
Utilize your website and social media
You probably already have a website, so promote the site on social media. Offer printable coupons. Change the coupons monthly. If you have been harvesting emails, this gives you another reason to touch your customers. Each time you change your offer, alert your customers there is a new offer. Each time you have a contest winner, drive people to your website to see who it is. Don’t keep the same coupon on your website forever. Change it up! Keep it fun! If you are running any contests, be sure to list the winners. Be sure to get their permission when they win. Keep the current contest on the website with instructions for how to enter. Be sure to check your emails and social media for questions and orders regularly. Don’t overuse email by sending a barrage of email reminders. Have a reason to email your customers, or you will end up on their junk email list.
There are several inexpensive ways that restaurants and diners can entice customers to spend their limited discretionary money at your shop. These are just a few great tips. The key is to create excitement about your store and your products. Use your special as a loss leader to entice customers in. They won’t all order the special, and you will profit from add-ons such as beverages, soups, salads, and desserts. Keep it affordable, keep it exciting and fun, and keep your name at the top of their mind!