Written by Jim Stokes
In an overcrowded market of restaurants (and other prepared food options), everyone is competing for the same pool of customers. There are two traffic generating tactics that work particularly well in local markets: Price Promotions and New Product News
Price Promotions can work like a charm if used judiciously as part of a retail marketing strategy. The idea is that you give up some profit margin for the possibility of generating volume and cashflow. Price Promotions can also produce larger checks if you can successfully bundle or upsell (for instance, a dinner bundle comes to mind). Just be careful not to over do it. Prolonged discounting is a slow but sure way to go out of business. Also, be sure to promote this strategy out of store (on windows, etc.) and not instore.
Don’t confuse discounts with everyday value or a (low) cost of entry product. You can customize a part of your menu to accommodate value seekers. You can produce lower cost items that can be attractive to consumers and still result in decent profit margins. Such crowd pleasers must be engineered for profitability.
New Product News on the other hand, can produce traffic and help you increase full margin profits. Think about it, San Francisco has Sourdough bread, the Big Easy has Beignets, and Pittsburg PA has Primanti Brothers sandwiches. Each region has its own distinct crave-able crowd-pleasing flavors that were born there. So, think about what you can create that would appeal to your local clientele.
One of our California restaurant clients featured a California Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich that sold, pardon the expression, like hotcakes (I know, if they sold like hot cakes then why didn’t they just sell hot cakes… blah, blah). They had all of the ingredients already, they just needed to put them together, give the product a name, and sell the appetite appeal with mouth-watering imagery positioned near the menu or where customers order.
Also give some thought to the calendar. Many consumers still observe Lent (they eat no meat during lent), so specials like tuna or egg salad at full margin, might sell well during this period.
Not every operator has the ability to customize their menus, especially the big chains. They are so system-oriented they can’t allow their franchisees to create their own products. Why not take advantage of this and give customers something they can’t just get on every street corner?
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