As the foodservice landscape continues to shift, operators are looking for new ways to drive traffic to their restaurants and boost sales. From transparency and trust to enhanced convenience, here are a few ways you can attract customers and help grow your business.
Tap into Transparency
Transparency is here to stay. In fact, Mintel predicts that consumers will require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies this year.1 They also report that the next wave of clean label food will challenge manufacturers and retailers to democratize transparent food so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income.1 This will also drive decisions on where to eat when dining away from home.
With stronger demands for transparency, restaurant operators should pull back the curtain to reveal everything from how they source ingredients to the ethics of their business practices. Start by understanding what drives your customers’ dining decisions. Many customers today are seeking better-for- you ingredients and healthier cuisine. Technomic recently reported that 60% of consumers say they factor health into their dining decisions, with 37% saying they’re more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy options.2
Did you know that 86% of consumers said they would return to a restaurant they previously avoided if they switched to organic chicken?3 That means that just by updating your menu to include better-for- you ingredients, there’s potential to significantly increase traffic to your restaurant. With a better understanding of the impact of transparency, you can make sourcing the best ingredients from purveyors you trust a priority. Look for premium proteins like organic chicken, antibiotic-free turkey and grass-fed beef, and work with local farmers to get fresh, seasonal produce. Be sure to demonstrate your commitment to quality with descriptive, high-value menu claims and a marketing strategy that drives awareness around your establishment.
Elevate Off-Premise Dining
Delivery was one of the biggest factors that contributed to restaurant business growth in 2017.4 Therefore, it makes sense that 33% of consumers overall and 49% of those aged 18–34 say they are now purchasing food to go more often compared to three years ago.5 Convenience will continue to drive sales in 2018 with grab-and- go, drive-thru, curbside pickup, delivery and catering.6
Realizing the impact of off-premise dining, many restaurants are changing their structure to focus on to-go orders. For example, Bloomin’ Brands recently opened delivery and takeout–only concepts in Florida7 while Buffalo Wild Wings is experimenting with a delivery and takeout concept in Minneapolis called B-Dubs Wings Express, which will offer a scaled-down menu for delivery service.8
If you want to help drive traffic, it’s time to take advantage of the thriving grab-and- go business. There are several factors to keep in mind when developing a successful takeout program. Making sure the food reaches your customer in the same condition in which it left the kitchen is often the biggest challenge. To alleviate this problem, restaurants will sometimes offer a takeout menu that varies slightly from their main dining menu. Testing your takeout packaging to ensure it’s well constructed and maintains the food’s integrity will also help guarantee a better takeout experience for the customer.
Make sure your staff is properly prepared and organized to make it a seamless process for both front and back of house. You might also consider partnering with a delivery service in your area. GrubHub, Uber Eats and Seamless are a few of the most popular delivery companies. Even Facebook is getting into the delivery game with new capabilities that allow consumers to order food right from a restaurant’s social page. Facebook has partnered with existing delivery services so consumers never have to leave the site, making it easier to find and order from local restaurants.9
Leverage Social Media Social media can be an easy way to drive traffic to your restaurant. Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms to share restaurant news and menu specials while Instagram is the ideal visual platform to showcase your latest kitchen creations.
While this may sound extreme, Instagram has been known to garner significant buzz for some restaurants. For example, when diners started to post pictures of the over-the- top milkshakes at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in New York City, the press caught on and the restaurant had lines out the door.10 While this was a unique instance, social media is a great tool for garnering awareness and driving restaurant traffic.
Bring your brand to life through photography and video that provides a behind-the- scenes look at your restaurant. From live cooking videos and chef interviews to employee spotlights, you can leverage social media to share your brand’s story and cultivate trust among your customers.
1 Mintel, Mintel Announces Five Global Food & Drink Trends for 2018, Oct. 26, 2017
2 Technomic, Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 2016
3 Proprietary Perdue consumer study, Jun. 2017
4 Griffith, Matthew, 2018 Restaurant Trends: Industry, Rewards Network, Nov. 14, 2017
5 Technomic, Takeout & Off-Premise Dining Consumer Trend Report, 2016
6 Baltazar, Amanda, “12 Full Service Restaurant Trends for 2018,” FSR magazine, Dec. 11, 2017
7, Maze, Jonathan, “As delivery grows, casual dining tries takeout-only restaurants,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 6, 2017
8 Romeo, Peter, “Buffalo Wild Wings Debuts Previews New Delivery & Takeout Concept,” Restaurant Business, Jun. 15, 2017
9 Welch, Chris, “Facebook now lets you order food without leaving Facebook,” The Verge, Oct. 12, 2017
10 Reserve, “Black Tap Marketing Secrets: The Shakes That Broke Instagram,”8/31/16