Food isn’t the draw when people go out to eat. Whether it's a shortage of time, a desire to be waited on, or the opportunity to connect with loved ones and have a dining experience, the motivators are driven more by psychological needs than the physical need to eat.
In short—you’re in the restaurant business, but you’re also in the emotion business. Figure out how to give customers what they’re looking for beyond food and you’ve figured out how to boost sales. The following ideas pair a big picture emotional need, with easy tactical executions. Try them today. You may discover that what people are craving goes well beyond your menu.
The Sweet Appeal of Slowing Down
Lives are busy. Make your establishment a place where life slows down. Mellow music, lit candles and calm lighting will help diners mentally flip a switch from the moment they step in the door. Take it one step further by offering pre-set menus. People who have made a thousand decisions in their day will appreciate a few less at meal time. To aid in the escape from being rushed, encourage servers to be quietly watchful rather than appearing frequently at the table.
The Thrill of Something New
Exotic trips and life milestones don’t happen every day. In order for folks to find the mental rush that comes with trying something new, they’ve got to find it in more ordinary ways. Give it to them in the form of limited time menu items and featured ingredients. They’ll go home feeling like they did something different. They’ll come back looking for more.
The Satisfaction of a Deeper Connection
It’s weird how you can live with people, yet be so busy you don’t always connect beyond the day to day details. Turn your restaurant into the place where real conversation happens. Put some Table Topics next to the salt and pepper. Create paper menus with questions, facts, and jokes so good they have to be shared. Again, train staff to be unobtrusive. Minimizing interruptions can maximize bonding opportunities.
A Well-Deserved Reward
A funny fitness meme once said, “You’re not a dog. Don’t give yourself a treat for good behavior.” From a fitness perspective, good advice. From a restaurant sales perspective, though, humans love treats. Acknowledge that universal truth openly and unapologetically. “Life is full of commitments. Make sure it is also full of desserts” above the sweet section of your menu. Or “French fries are the universe telling you that you’re loved” next to the side dish options. Borrow from the internet or make up your own sayings. Wherever you get the verbiage, your customers will be grateful to have acknowledgment that they’re deserving of an indulgence.