As the market continues to improve, many diners are once again looking for a more complete dining experience. Where appetizers and desserts were once ignored, these two prime money makers are yet again popular and it’s time to examine what you are doing to promote the additional appetizer sale. In this week's blog we will look at three simple ways you can effectively increase appetizer sales without spending a ton of money!
Promoting appetizers and desserts can be as simple or complex as you’d like it to be. From high tech menus with rotating video and imagery, to a simple sales pitch from the wait staff, you can create the right atmosphere for any guest. Let’s start on the simple side. The easiest up sale technique is to have staff promote your product while taking orders.
Pizza Today suggests instructing cashiers and wait staff to suggestively sell your products. You can start with a simple, “would you like to start your order with an appetizer” to even suggesting the waiter’s own favorite on the menu, “my personal favorite are the fried raviolis, they make the perfect start to a meal.” Both approaches are pleasant and non-threatening to the consumer and call to mind something they may not have considered already. Make sure you never appear too salesy as this will be a turn off for your consumer.
Similarly you can end the meal with a suggestive dessert approach, “can I interest you in our dessert menu, tonight’s special is chocolate cream pie. I’ll have to double check but I think we only have a couple slices left.” In this instance the product we want to sell is made to seem scarce. Scarcity has a huge psychological effect on the consumer. We are hard wired to want the things we think are in demand or of limited supply. By implying a product is almost sold out you make the consumer more likely to want the product.
For more information on suggestive selling and techniques to try in your business, check out this article from QSRWeb.
Coupling suggestive selling with an overall promotional strategy can also be an effective way to boost appetizer sales. Pizza Today reported on an OK based chain promoting their 'Go 4 It' promotion. In this example, staff informs customers that they can add a starter for just $4. This is a low enough price point that even if the guest hadn't come into the establishment with an appetizer in mind they won’t have to think twice about the additional $4 spend. The alternative is that they may not want the appetizer that is being offered for $4, but now they have appetizers on their mind and are more likely to choose an alternative appetizer than if nothing had been suggested at all.
In each example so far the main ingredient in the increased appetizer sale strategy has been using the human brain to your advantage. Suggesting a product, creating scarcity or even creating a deal all rely on human nature to want what is new or limited or to buy something specifically because it’s on sale. These aren't new ideas, in fact marketing and sales have been using them forever because they work really well and can be implemented at almost no cost.
Our last appetizer promotion strategy involves visuals and helps make the consumer feel comfortable with your menu. The idea here is to present the consumer with the images of the items you want them to purchase. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and that remains true in the food service industry. Including pictures in your menu, on a rotating loop in your waiting area or even on table top tents can all help to promote sales of particular items. It should be noted however that visual impact is key, and you will need high quality food shots to really be effective with this strategy.
There you have it, three strategies to help increase appetizer and dessert sales. With these strategies in mind you are now on your way to easier sales and higher order totals. Of course you have to have the right items on your menu to promote, so if you’re looking for a new appetizer to add to the menu, check out this easy recipe for toasted ravioli which can easily be updated to a dessert when you swap out the typical ricotta filling.