Is Your Foodservice Customer Satisfaction Impacted By These Common Mistakes?

Foodservice operations best practices: salad bar setup

Merchandising Strategies That Make a Difference.

Most employers today know that offering healthy, fresh food from an on-premise café can benefit both employee satisfaction and company performance. But often café managers are not taught about effective merchandising strategies that can boost sales and customer satisfaction.

Here are several common mistakes, along with quick fix suggestions from Unidine’s Serge Roche, director of field retail experience.

Mistake 1: Complex Promotional Pricing

While it’s important to vary your promotional menu choices, it’s best to keep the pricing structure consistent from week to week. For example, always offer a lunch combo meal that  includes a side and a glass of fruit-infused water for an additional $2.

“Entice your customers with your delicious entree or sandwich choices, not a complicated deal of the day,” explained Roche.

Mistake 2: Missing the Point At Point-Of-Sale

Impulse purchases at check-out are a great opportunity to increase satisfaction but success requires a strategic approach. For example, many cafeterias do not change the merchandise sold at check-out based on the meal period. Bananas and nutrition bars are great for breakfast, while healthy desserts and cookies are best for lunch. A generic mix of options that never changes becomes “invisible” to customers day after day while variety by day part creates visual interest.

Roche also emphasizes the importance of using height for merchandising at check-out to maximize space and capture the customers’ attention at eye level. He encourages the use of shelves, pedestals and layered dishes to increase vertical space.

Read more: Merchandising To Drive Healthier Food Choices

Mistake 3: Salad Bar Blunders

To entice guests who are passing by the salad bar, be sure composed salads are made with large enough chunks that the customer can easily identify the flavors.

“We make our choice with our eyes. If the composed salads are finely chopped, the guest has a hard time imagining how it will taste,” Roche said.

He also encourages café managers to be deliberate in how they set-up the salad bar: vegetables should be first, then eggs and cheese, and meats at the end. He explained that this provides a better guest experience, particularly for those with dietary restrictions such as vegetarian or kosher customers.

Mistake 4: Food Choice Guessing Games

According to Roche, authentic scratch cooking is not enough to be successful anymore. He coaches his teams to take time to study the clientele, talk to them about what they like best and then turn their favorites into staples on the menu. For example, you may find cultural nuances that lead to customer preference for rice as a standard side dish versus french fries.

Roche says, “If you give them what they like best, they will come back more often and everyone wins!”

Research shows that whether we’re shopping for food or clothing, people are inherently open to buying more if it’s presented in a simple and compelling manner.



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