Your fast food menu might no longer be relevant because you don’t offer customisation of meals, you stop serving breakfast at 10 or 11am, and don’t have healthy alternatives to your normal fast and cheap fare.
Your food may be popular with your loyal customers, but given a little more variety, they might visit more often – bringing with them customers like friends and family who wouldn’t ordinarily buy into your regular offerings.
Here are three methods to get even the choosiest of patrons queuing at your counter:
- Let them build their own meals
Put the power back in your customers’ hands by letting them customise their order. Paying for the tomato and gherkins they asked to be removed from their burger isn’t very satisfying. But, if you give them a plain burger and let them add their toppings – from garnish, to sauces – they only pay for what they’re eating.
Customisation is a recognition that each customer requires a different experience at different times under different circumstances, says Mike Palmer of Lost In Catering.
“We’re not talking about individualising products, because that would mean enormous menus with long waits on food, difficult service cycles and kitchens barely able to cope,” Palmer says.
“Throwing the kitchen sink in because you want to give more choice doesn’t work because customers don’t want to be overwhelmed. Yet it remains the most frequent mistake operators make because of the difficulty in interpreting customers’ demands.”
Limit the amount of mixing and matching that can be done to only a few items on the menu so you’re giving enough room for variety without compromising your bottom line.
- Offer breakfast all day
“Breakfast hasn’t traditionally been the most common dining-out daypart, but with the increasingly busy lifestyles we lead today, consumer interest is definitely stemming from the blurring of normal meal periods,” says Annika Stensson, the NRA’s director of research communications. “Who doesn’t like some good pancakes, no matter what time of day it is?”
It’s time to catch up with the likes of Wimpy and Mugg & Bean. You’ll be among the first in the fast food industry to give customers eggs way after breakfast or bedtime.
- Put healthier options centre stage
RocoMamas offers six burgers on the menu, and the option to build your own. That’s its trademark, but what impressed one customer is the alternative to their famous beef ‘smashburger’. “All of the burgers are available in vegetarian,” he says. “We bumped into the owner one day, who told us that his mother was a vegetarian, which is why he offers vegetarian options.”
You don’t have to stock up on soy patties to increase your reach, but take it from the likes of Kauai – health sells. Even those who eat meat want it grilled or in a salad sometimes. Globally the sector showing the most growth in the fast food industry is healthy food.
According to Kauai CEO Hendrik Coetsee, the consumer wants more healthy options, prompting the emergence of more healthy food brands. “The consumer is shifting and there are more opportunities for players to be part of the movement,” he says – adding that offering healthy, fresh meals can be more difficult than the normal burger patty and bun.
Invest in customer research to ensure a specific interpretation of ‘fresh’ is understood to curb unnecessary wastage and costs. Consider customisation, flexibility with meal times, and catering to the consumer health trend. These are great ways to attract new fans while giving your loyal clientele more options.