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Ideas on increasing sales?? Or rather bodies into the restuarant

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok I need advice. My restaurant is on the East side of Saginaw. This is none to not be safe....although it is safe where I am at. We have 5 tables and a small counter that seats 10 people. So I can seat about 20 people. Most of my business is take out. Most of our business is done from 6-9pm. We want a lunch crowd. I have a website, yelp, foursquare, twitter, and facebook page. I post all the time. Yet we are not getting business. We have given out golden tickets for free meals and only 1 came back. We have done fest, outside events. we have an after hours club next door and changed out weekend hours with no success. We pass out flyers, give free samples. Just not sure what else to do to get people in here. We have never heard a negative thing. Anyone (this is a small city) asked knows us and knows our food. 2 weeks ago popeyes opened and our business has really dropped.

 

Someone please give me some ideas!!!

post #2 of 15

Visited the website and fb page. A few ideas.

1.Stop giving away free meals and 20-30 percent off. The occasional free coffee with a meal is an affordable promotional  loss, but 20-30% off the entire bill is not and obviously does not bring in solid spending customers or you would not be here asking how to do so.

2. your menu is all over the map.. 4.99/8.99 for Dirty rice is really expensive for rice when listed as a side in a casual eatery in a bad part of town. Red Beans and rice is 3.99/6.99. Also appears way overpriced. Most entree items are less than a large dirty rice.

On the other hand, two piece chicken dinner is 3.99 or 3 piece is 4.99. with two sides.Why would anyone order a side of either rice alone when they can get it included with a cheaper chicken dinner?

Gumbo is listed with the salad. Underneath both it says With shrimp. 7,99 Does that price refer to the Gumbo or the salad? Or to the shrimp alone? Why are Gumbo and Salad listed together? $9 for a large bowl of chili in a small place like this? Most importantly, why, as a customer, do I have to be spending any time trying to figure this out?

I'll leave it there for the sake of brevity but the entire menu needs to be rethought.

     Study Popeye's menu to see how they structure it. Or any menu. Entrees are most expensive and biggest portions. Appetizers and sides are smaller and less expensive. Re arrange your menu so  like is with like for a similar price. Easy to read, easy to order from, easy to understand.

3. Be Who You Are. Get rid of the meatloaf dinner, Turkey club, hamburgers and other non-Cajun items. This cuts down on Food cost, re-inforces your standing as a Cajun cafe and helps you identify menu items in different categories. For example Sandwiches and Po-boys go together. Meatloaf and Sausage dinners are not sandwiches and should be listed elsewhere.

That's a start. Hope it helps.

. For what it's worth, I'd love to see you succeed. I spent 2 I/2 years in New Orleans as a young cook and love the concept. I miss all that good food.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

thanks for all of that....please tell me how to get bodies into my restaurant

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

for a mainly take out restaurant in a city that knows nothing about cajun the menu is good. We want businesses in here so we added sandwiches. Our burgers and sliders sell like hot cakes we would never take them off. As for the sides those are 16 and 32oz sides that is a lot of food for the price. Popeyes is not the way we want to go!! 15 bucks for 2 meals is way off balance and they are a fad....once the newness wears off they will slow up to as they are getting tons of complaints as it is.

 

I really would just like ideas of how to get people in our door. How to target businesses.

 

as far as giving discounts like I said before no one uses them....

 

We do have drawings for a free meal every month and our faithful returning customers love it!!!

post #5 of 15

I have to agree on the menu. Not trying to be mean, but if you think there isn't a problem with your menu, then nothing else is going to help. EVERYTHING starts with the menu. Without an easy to understand menu that offers good value and makes sense to people, without confusing your brand, you have nothing to work with.

 

Take this for thought. How would a customer describe you to a friend?

"Great small place with Cajun food, but they have other food too, like burgers and meatloaf."?

 

That isn't appealing. It doesn't make sense and it doesn't make you sound "special". It says to people that you are trying to be a bunch of different things all at once because you aren't good enough at one thing to just do that one well.

 

People don't go into small restaurants expecting big selections. They know if you have too much on your menu, that it isn't going to be good.

 

If you want butts in the seat, it starts with a menu that says "wow", not "we can make that too". No disrespect meant, but you shouldn't blow off the advise given. It's spot on. If burgers and sliders are "selling like hotcakes", then maybe you need to be a busy burger joint instead of a dead Cajun-ish joint that sells a bunch of other stuff.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #6 of 15

id have to agree also.   the menu is hard to read and  doesnt seem to give you an identity.    hope you arent so wishy washy with your customers as with your first 2 posts.   customers see that.   if that chili isnt selling like hot cakes at $9 a bowl then there is an issue.   to me chili=cheap.   ever see how many tacos sell next to an after hours club?   how about some crazy citrus beverage that enhances ones buzz that visits these clubs?   who is coming to that area?   hows the health dept scores been?   break it down,figure out a new plan,and do it.   dont wait till you have no money to change.

post #7 of 15

I haven't read your menu, but I hear your request.

 

My background is more to do with catering than it is with a'la carte.

 

So I guess you know where this is going.

 

Think about realisitically dropping the a'la carte and focusing on only catering.

 

Then again, the more people you ask for advice, the more replies and conflicting advice you will get.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 15

You're a cajun joint in a burger place.

 

Stop trying to be what "you want" and start being what the community wants.

 

 

 

The statement below tells me you will likely be closed up for good very soon.

Quote:

 

 Popeyes is not the way we want to go!! 15 bucks for 2 meals is way off balance and they are a fad....once the newness wears off they will slow up to as they are getting tons of complaints as it is.

Popeyes is not a fad... maybe all sorts of terrible but it isn't going away anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

The reality is people are not coming to your place because they are going to some other place.

 

You can not create new customers.  All the customers that there ever will be are already eating out.  

 

They just aren't eating at your establishment for a reason.  

 

Find that reason and correct it.

 

You need to change now.

You've been given great advice above - your turn now, I suggest you take the advice and stop defending what obviously isn't working.

 

Best of luck - keep us posted.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #9 of 15

In one place I owned I had an alarm clock and when it went off you got a free drink of whatever you were drinking . Or a coupon if you ate here  10  times a year you got a free meal. from the early birds menu. My sales increased about 23% slowly but surely. Also a free appi and drink on your birthday.with purchase of another appi and drink.of same or lesser value.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

ok guys....I am not the head chef I am the part owner and marketing person. My partner has left me in charge because he is sick. How do I stream line the menu? How do I make it easier to read? I realize I can not be all things to all people.

 

Why aren't people coming her well frankly they have no idea we are even here!!!! I have went to businesses and passed out flyers and I still have people come in that say they never heard of us and didn't know we are here.

 

I am on person with 1 employee trying to make this work. I have 10 years in this industry.

 

Popeyes failed here about 7 years ago. that is why i said it was a fad.

 

Any help is greatly appreciated!! I am not willing to fail

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

and we are pretty much a take out restaurant with no alcohol sales.

post #12 of 15

If there is only one cook in the back, you need to chop your menu to 10 items or smaller to be efficient while maintaining quality. Is there room for another cook if business picks up enough? If your burgers are your best sellers, make them burgers. Keep it simple above everything else. You could even go smaller if there is enough potential traffic outside the location. Also, make sure there is something "interesting" about your food and menu. Signature items are great, but they must be original. Something else that can build value into your menu is an "anchor item". This is an item that is priced very high whose intent is not to sell a lot of, but to make the rest of your menu appear cheap by comparison. One of the most successful anchor item strategies is to have one ridiculously large portioned item that could feed four people, but build it like it is for one person, then promote an "eating challege" with the item whereas anyone who can eat the entire portion by themselves within a certain time limit wins a t-shirt and their picture on a Wall of Fame in the restaurant, in addition to getting their meal for free. Items like this should be around 6 lbs or larger of total food after cooking so very, very few people can actually finish it. More often, you'll have groups of people buying the item and splitting it. Make sure it also doesn't take forever to fix.

 

If you want some help on the menu, lets start by telling us what all equipment you have in your kitchen, and what sort of storage space you have for food. A menu has to be constrained by what equipment you have. It should also spread the work of all production equally across your cooking equipment, making adjustments based on which pieces have more cooking capacity.

 

As far as promotions go, they don't matter until you get your menu and production right. Flooding a restaurant with a bad menu with more customers is like flooding a sinking ship with water. It only speeds up the inevitable sinking. If people don't know you're there, publicity is only half the problem. It starts with the right menu and the right theme or unique selling point for the concept. The promotion starts after those are right.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #13 of 15

After looking at your website and pics, I can tell you are very heavily invested in the Cajun theme. You obviously aren't going to get your partners buy-in on changing to a burger restaurant without some serious evidence to support the decision. None of us know that would be the right move regardless because we aren't in your place. I would suggest doing some research in the local market to find out what people really want. This is literally as easy as standing outside with a notepad and asking people questions, then recording their answers. If you stop them and ask if you can ask them a couple questions about restaurants, you shouldn't have any problem getting input. People love giving their opinion about restaurants.

 

I would first ask them what their favorite type of food is.

 

I would next ask them if there is any type of restaurant they want to frequent but don't feel they have in the area.

 

If you think a certain type of restaurant might be popular, you can ask them last if they would be more likely to go to a 1)"A" type restaurant, 2) "B" type restaurant, or 3) Some other type restaurant.

 

Keep the survey short. Three to five questions max. Don't wear anything or ask anything that might give away where you work so it can't skew their answers. You need honesty above all else.

 

I also have some input about the pics on your website. First and foremost, your sign is woefully inadequate. It's a banner tucked between two awnings. It just isn't visible and it's no wonder no one knows you are there. A good sign should have at least 180 degrees of visibility, not to mention it should be lit. By tucking it between to outcropped awnings, you sign has about 45 degrees of visibility.

 

Also, with your name and concept, I would remove all the pictures and references to anything non-Cajun if you are going to stay a Cajun place. People looking for a place to eat Cajun food are going to consider you LESS authentic, not more, if they see pictures of cakes decorated with rose shaped icing and Christmas tree cookies or whatever those other pictures are. Your message is all over the place right now, just like the menu. Reduce the menu down to the 10 items and 5 sides and 2 desserts you do best, keeping in mind that people are going to have to be able to walk or drive and eat your food if you ever want to be really busy since you have very little seating.

 

For a restaurant that depends on carryout or drive thru business to get any serious volume, the rule of thumb is to make it good, make it portable, and make it fast.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

We are a Cajun Restaurant with a full Bakery. All of our food is cajun. Not spicy but has the cajun seasonings in. We sell burgers and tacos and traditional cajun food. its a southern soul food take out joint. We do desserts and like to show case them. All desserts on menu are asked for by our regulars.

 

we have ovens, friers, steam tables, prep tables, pizza ovens, flat top grill, deep freezers, coolers, sandwich prep table/cooler

 

I am going to shorten the menu but not by much. Most things take no more then 10 minutes to prepare. Most items use the same items so we don't have a lot of waste or spoilage.

 

Honestly in this neighborhood I'm not standing anywhere and asking anyone what they want out of a restaurant. It is just tooo dangerous esp being a woman.

 

Our best seller is our Cajun Fried Turkey. it is spicy and good. We sell burgers and tacos because we know the market and it is a mix of african american and mexican so they want tacos and burger and soul food and spicy food. There is no other cajun restaurant in a 100 mile radius.

 

I can cut some of the sandwiches, and meatloaf and some other things but our burgers, sides, tacos, alligator, traditional cajun items are a must on the menu. I'm not trying to be hard just know what I am working with in a partner.

post #15 of 15

I'll be honest.... i'm not sure why i'm responding again to this post.

 

It seems that every time I read it or your other threads things change and then they change again.

 

Then again i'm hard-headed...  (I also think you're genuine... misguided but probably genuine) 

 

You were given good advice to truly find out what kind of food / place your neighborhood wants and desires.  You answer that it's too dangerous for you to stand on the sidewalk and ask a few questions.   Did this extreme danger ever give you a  hint that your restaurant location might not work?   Honestly get some tougher underwear (maybe even kevlar) and stand out there and ask the questions.  I have a feeling they will just say anything that is safe....  maybe hire a guard?  Make that your gimmic?   Good Safe Guarded Food!! (for cheap)

 

You defend your menu and the prices -I think you are dead wrong - however I would like to point out one final thing.   If a person walks into your place and only has 5 bucks in his pocket what does he get?   He won't ever get to see how much of a 'great value' your big portion sides are.  He has 5 bucks only!   You could be giving away 15$ of food for 6 bucks but he/she will never know because they only have 5 in their pocket and your sides cost 6$

Side items are not supposed to cost more than the mains, ever for any reason.

 

You said that Popeye's sells food too cheap... then you said they are a fad... then you said that they failed 7 years ago.  But now they are back again and your business is hurting.   Think about this and why they originally failed and why they are back.  7 years ago what did your neighborhood look like...?   where were people eating?  that is probably why they failed.  Now where are the same people eating?  Why do you think that they are back?  Remember it's a franchise, there are strict rules on where one goes in and when.

 

You say that you are a Cajun restaurant and a full bakery.   How is the bakery business going? Maybe you should close up the restaurant side of things and turn it into a full bakery?  From your description of things I don't think this is a good idea, as bakery shops need window traffic and in your rough neighborhood you won't get it. Maybe start supplying the other restaurants in your area with bread / baked goods?  This is very doable and doesn't need any windows let alone a safe place to eat.  Steel bars and roll shutters just add to the aura of the place.

 

You need plenty of menu items that are dirt cheap.   The idea of an anchor item is absolutely spot-on.  The rest should be fast and inexpensive.  Of the 10 items on your menu you should have at least 6 that are about 3-4 bucks.  They don't have to be fancy but they must pack a punch.   Cajun sausage sandwich, cajun 2 piece chicken, cajun jumbo shrimp, cajun fries, what ever, er just make it fresh.  Don't mistake this as being bad food or poorly done food.  Do the absolute best you can but make it affordable and make it quick, no pre-cooking required just stop with the ideas below.  The menu should be unified, complete and not scattered.

 

Cajun Joint - Sandwich Joint - Burger Joint - Comfort Food Joint etc.   but only one.  People need a reason to come to your place.  

 

No food business has ever created a customer - they just simply 'steal' customers from other businesses.

 

Do what you need to do in order to 'steal' customers from some place else.

 

You are located in an African/Mexican neighborhood is cajun food what they really want?   Be honest.   I don't think that is what they want simply by your statements.  You really need to re-work your menu, especially if it is just you and one cook.  You might be the only one in 100 miles who serves Cajun food but seriously if your kind of food was in demand wouldn't there be more than just the single one?   What does your neighborhood crave?  (now if you moved up here by me in the frozen north with genuine Cajun food - you'd be raking in the money)

 

Quote:

Well I think I am hearing we are just not a QSR then. And that is something we do not want to be. We want fresh home cooked meals. Something you just can not get in this area. We know our food is better then the other 3 restaurants here because we have tried them all. We know we give the most food and our customers know that to. Esp when the owners and families of the other businesses frequent our establishment. And then add our stuff to their menus.....

 

 

Are you running a business or just trying to make a dream work?

 

That is the question that only you can answer.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
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