Business traffic can be wildly fluid, as most of us in the food service industry can attest. Plenty of talking heads will try to tell us what the rationale is for this irregularity, but usually it’s anybody’s guess.
In a recent article, one popular retail chain was reported to have achieved a sales gain of 5% in same-store sales during the second quarter of this year. Interestingly, the increase was derived from an increased check average vs. increased traffic. Now that’s a concept, right?
Traditionally restaurants use wine, desserts and after-dinner drinks/coffee to boost check average sales and margins – and a growing number of them are adopting “server incentives” for upselling these high-margin items.
Deli, sandwich and plate breakfast/lunch venues, which include sides and drinks, must rely on other methods to increase check average. Putting a display of tasty treats near the entryway and other impulse-buy items by the check-out area, such as premium cookies or rolls of mints, are some common sales tactics for these types of operations.
To me, it really says something about the quality of a restaurant when antacids are the first thing you see at the checkout counter. However, I will save that for another post I plan to write about switching to a different type of frying shortening to reduce acid reflux.
Another strategy for increasing the check average is through specials or Limited-Time-Offers (LTOs). Does your food service operation run specials or LTOs?
Many operators find creative ways of repurposing their regular menu items by adding a seasonal ingredient. Others simply use specials to reduce long inventory. While these methods can reduce inventory and add variety, they can miss an excellent opportunity to test new concepts that may just as well lead to increased profitability.
Best-in-class operators use special customer-focused offerings to delight their regulars, attract new patrons, and increase profits.
A successful and profitable operation does not have to rely on specials to move long inventory. This challenge can easily be met by focusing on delighting the guest. Then, increased sales and profits are sure to follow.
Enjoy the food!
Director of Culinary Marketing, Unified Brands