Not long ago, at one of the industry's many conferences, I was asked to moderate an informal breakfast roundtable of operators. The task was to facilitiate an idea exchange on the subject of revenue enhancement.
Actually, it was an easy assignment. I can hardly think of a more universal topic for the onsite community and I don't know a single FM reader who isn't interested in building business any way he or she can.
To get the conversation going, I brought a short list of of “idea starters” to pass out to my group. We started brainstorming, and an hour later, everyone had a few good new ideas to take back to their operation when the conference was over.
I thought that for my column this month I'd share that same list as a starting point for those of you who might want to hold a similar exercise with key managers and supervisors on your staffs. To make it more useful, I am also including relevant links to archived articles on the FM web site that might provide some additional ideas, or at least some starting points for discussion. So here they are, in no particular order.
Revisit your merchandising strategies. Your customers eat with their eyes. Are you and your staff doing your best to ensure that when customers enter your café, the food and ambience is perceived in the best possible light? For ideas, go to The Art of Better Merchandising,, www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_18471
Consider a refresh of your catering services and menus. Re-evaluate the options you offer with close attention to the actual cost of providing them. For some ideas, read Catering Clout at www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_8989/
Re-evaluate your branding strategy, especially in light of stations or concepts you have that aren't pulling their own weight. To see what some other operators are doing, read, This Brand is Your Brand, This Brand is My Brand: at www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_1833
While you're at it, take a look at your station concepts as well. Just like a menu, these often need strategic rotation. For a look at some of the trends in food station design, consider the observations of the operators we spoke to in Station Innovation. It is posted on our website in two parts at these urls: www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_5651 and www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_5652
Brainstorm with staff to come up with more effective promotions. For some advice on what makes for the most effective promotions, check out, Promotion, Promotion, Promotion at www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_6840/
Review your pricing strategies. Too high and you'll turn off customers, too low and you won't make your margins. Balance the daily menu mix to appeal to difference customer value equations. For some experti advice, click on Eyes on the Price at www.food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_18635/
Decide whether a stronger convenience retailing strategy can help you boost impulse sales and add incremental volume throughout the day. Is there an opportunity for additional grab-and-go merchandising near your cashier area? At the end of a station tray line?
Try these articles for ideas: www.food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_2117 and www.food-management.com/fm_innovator/fm_imp_5321
Get more strategic with your marketing plans. Marketing involves effective sales promotion, but also a whole lot more. This series of columns walks you through what we call The 6 Ps of Foodservice Marketing: www.food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_6086
And last, but never least, take a fresh look at your menu. If you can, get some honest feedback from outside your organization from someone who understands the onsite environment. For some fresh ideas, stop by food-management.com/business_topics/menu_cuisine/