Driving footfall within your food business

Five proven ideas for your catering outlet

There are a number of ways cafés, coffee shops, quick service restaurants, leisure, recreation and takeaway outlets can all drive their football, but ultimately, it’s about understanding what value their business offers its customers, and how to expand on this. Get this right and operators could be well on their way to customers queuing out the door, explains Maria Bracken.

The benefit of the majority of these tips is that they only require a small time investment on your part. If you are smart about creating that personal and unique experience for each and every one of your customers, you could very quickly start to reap the rewards.

1. Be social

Social media thrives on fresh content. So, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (to just name a few platforms), be sure to keep that account active and think carefully about when you post content and include relevant hashtags to let people know where you are and what your outlet is all about.

Don’t forget to tag in local community groups and organisations. Also, take into account when your followers are online and how you engage with them. Whatever platform you opt for, it is important to think about who your customers are, what they value and how they choose to spend their time. It’s about enticing your customers through all social media channels where possible. The more followers and higher engagement you have, the more others will hear about your business which in return, will drive footfall.

2. First impressions count

Your storefront is your best advertising tool, so make sure it’s a welcoming one. Having an inviting space could be the difference between potential customers walking by or walking into your outlet. Think about how your products are displayed and question whether you are making the most of your high value items, whether that be a premium soft drink or indulgent dessert. There is also the signage and displays to consider. Is it as eye-catching and appealing as it could be, and is it in line with your overall branding and ethos? Remember, first impressions count for everything.

3. Reward loyalty

Any kind of reward or loyalty plan gives customers that incentive to return. It’s a personal touch that makes customers feel involved, but the key is to implement a program that customers find too good to resist. Given that we are living in a digital age where contactless is now king, consider introducing a digital loyalty scheme for your outlet. Going digital gives your outlet access to information about spending habits and preferences, helps to get new business and can boost slow periods. It’s little things like small rewards that go far when it comes to developing strong customer loyalty.

4. Special offers

Who doesn’t love a freebie or a bargain? Creating a special offer may seem an idea that’s been around for a while, but if done correctly and at the right time, can be brilliant for business. Think carefully about the timing of the offer to protect your profit margins. For example, half price coffee before 9 am could work wonders for your early morning trade and outlets with a takeaway and delivery service could offer discount codes and promotions by teaming up with online food order delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Just Eat. These are all potential ways of increasing your footfall.

5. Host events

Whether it be hosting live entertainment at a quick service restaurant, coffee masterclass at a café or themed evenings at the local leisure centre, these are all good ways to help liven up your offer and attract new customers. If you can’t fit an event into your schedule, or maybe your venue is on the small side to be hosting big live events, consider running something online. You could pre-record each class or event and host them on your website or on your social media platform e.g., Instagram Live coffee masterclass. At the end of each session, you could encourage your viewers to buy from you next time they visit the store by offering them a discount or freebie.