With some good merchandising and creativity, you can attract a bigger lunch crowd at your bakery.
According to a recent survey, more than two-thirds of the working population spends an average of $2,000 a year eating out during lunchtime. This is a big market for your bakery to target and capitalize upon. You will not only increase sales by offering a lunch menu, but you will also draw a new set of customers.
Here are eight ways to help attract a bigger crowd during the lunch hours:
1. Offer a Lunch Deal
Most people who go out to eat at lunchtime expect some sort of a meal deal that might include a beverage and/or a dessert for a fixed price. Be sure your bakery offers a special lunch menu that not only highlights the breads you sell in your sandwiches, but also includes a small dessert to give your lunch customers a sample of your delicious treats.
2. Offer Quick Service
Most people have less than one hour for their lunch break, so it is important for your bakery to offer fast service. Consider a lunch promotion that guarantees customers will be served their entire order in less than five or 10 minutes. That way, those who are short on time will be more inclined to eat lunch at your bakery.
3. Give Out Free Samples
If your bakery is new to the neighbourhood, consider bringing free samples of soup, sandwiches and/or coffee to all the local businesses, office buildings and schools; include copies of your menu and stacks of coupons. But don’t just drop off the samples silently. Be funny and gregarious to attract attention so that the next time people are wondering where to go for lunch, they will remember you.
4. Establish Relationships with Your Neighbours
Walk around your area and introduce yourself and your bakery to other (non-competitive) shops and businesses. Ask questions about their businesses. It is important to establish personal relationships with other business owners in your area. That way, you will be more inclined to support and help each other.
5. Offer Group Specials
People often go out for lunch in large groups to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday or for a lunch meeting. Consider offering a group special, such as a 10 per cent discount, if customers have more than six people in their party.
6. Allow Customers to Order Ahead of Time
Give customers the ability to pre-order their lunch on your website. Ensure that your site provides a specific and accurate time as to when their order will be ready. Have a separate line in your operation for customers to pick up their food.
7. Target Stay-at-Home Parents
Many businesses often target the workforce or students for their lunch business, but don’t forget about the stay-at-home parents with young children who might enjoy a leisurely lunch. Consider creating a special kids’ menu with healthy items on it (i.e., a fruit smoothie) and keeping a stock of small snacks on hand like Cheerios or Goldfish crackers. Have toys, colouring books or a play area to encourage parents to meet up at your bakery for afternoon play dates. Be sure to have high chairs, a changing station and any other items that would make the dining experience more enjoyable for everyone.
8. Use Social Media
Generate a following by offering a different social media deal every day. For example, send out a Twitter message at 11 a.m. saying that the first 20 people who walk through the doors for lunch will receive a free coffee. Or boost your business by rewarding your followers with a 10 per cent discount if they bring a friend for lunch. The power of social media is undeniable and it is an essential tool for marketing your lunch business.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or at
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