How do you announce menu and service updates as your business changes? You might get questions about your offices. You might offer a new delivery service or change your menu as the seasons change. Use these steps to announce menu and service updates to customers.
Step 1: Review the environment and customer feedback for ideas.
There are some menu and service changes that you can decide on your own. For example, you might choose to close on certain days in order to do catering. To stay competitive, there are other trends to keep in mind. Use these tips to brainstorm possible changes.
- Customer Feedback. Whether you conduct formal customer surveys or simply listen closely, customer feedback needs to be carefully considered. For example, take note of the top five most popular food and drink items that customers order. You might choose to make those items even more attractive on your menu if they are profitable for you.
- Employee Feedback. Ask your employees for suggestions about what you should change. For example, they may tell you that 50% of your paper menus have to be thrown out each day because they are stained. If that happens, you might consider using plastic covers.
- Profit and Loss Driven Changes. Some menu items may become too costly. For example, a Consumer Reports analysis found that organic produce can cost 20%-100% more than non-organic produce. If you are using such ingredients, you may need to update your menu pricing to reflect the charges.
- Changing Business Strategy. Depending on your business goals, you may need to change your service and menu. For example, you might decide to focus your restaurant on lunch service and close on several evenings in the week. In that case, you may need to produce a special lunch menu.
- Insights From Industry Groups. Look beyond your restaurant and find out what other companies are doing in your industry. For example, check with organizations like the National Restaurant Association for tips and surveys about consumer behavior. The association publishes reports like the What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. This report will help you come up with ideas for new menu items (e.g. Healthy bowls and eco-friendly packaging).
Step 2: Plan menu and service updates.
Let’s say your restaurant has space for 30 people. However, social distancing measures mean you will need to change your dining room. For example, you might decide to remove half of your chairs to allow for more space between people in your dining room. The exact changes you implement will depend on your resources. To kickstart your planning process, review these health and safety measures.
Announcing service changes involves a few steps. First, identify the ways you will communicate the change. For instance, you might decide to stay open until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Start by updating your restaurant’s signs and telling all of your employees. If your hours are printed on your menu, you will need to create new menus. Also, check your website to update your hours of service. Update your website and phone voice mail message on yoursmall business phone service to reflect your new hours of operation. After you update your website, post updates on your Facebook page and other social networks you use like Twitter and Instagram.
Besides hours of service changes, you might also announce changes about health and safety matters. For example, if you have decided to increase the frequency of your restaurant cleaning, announce it. Retail research has found that “of those who have chosen to shop at a competitor due to unmet cleanliness expectations, 93% would return if that retailer made cleanliness a priority.” It is reasonable to assume that this expectation also applies to restaurant customers.
Announcing menu changes can be as simple as stating “Welcome to the fall menu.” On the other hand, if you are making a larger change like reducing the number of items on your menu, you might want to explain those changes in more detail. If there are small menu price increases, a simple statement like “We’ve updated our prices” is one way to communicate that change. You can also use a menu update as an opportunity to announce deals like “dining for 2” or “combo deals” to attract more customer attention.
Step 3: Communicate menu and service changes to employees, customers and suppliers.
Once you have defined your changes to your services and menu, it is time to communicate those changes. It is best to start with your employees first since they need to be able to answer questions from customers. Tell them that these measures will help your restaurant remain open and able to serve customers effectively. If you decided to change menu prices significantly, highlight that fact since your regular patrons might be surprised.
After you communicate to your staff, your suppliers and customers are next. Your announcement message needs to summarize the most significant changes.
What about new customers who might want to order from you? To connect with those customers, update Google Business Listing for your company with your new hours of operation and other service changes. Also, check your restaurant listings on Yelp and local business directories (e.g. Chicago Tribune business directory).
Step 4: Two ways to improve your customer loyalty with delivery services.
As more of your customers move to delivery services and curbside pickup, it might become more challenging to maintain a relationship with them. To address this challenge, add a few surprises for your customers. For example, add a surprise dessert item for customers who order delivery more than once in 30 days. Second, include a card thanking them for supporting a local small business. These measures will go a long way toward reassuring customers that you appreciate their business.
You can use menu price changes as a marketing opportunity. For example, announce that your new menu takes effect in 30 days and invite customers to order right now while your current pricing is in effect.
Make menu and service changes part of your business plan.
As a small business, you have the ability to make changes quickly. You do not have to consult with a dozen managers to make a change. Use that flexibility and speed to your advantage. If you have a special menu for an upcoming holiday, print it and announce it quickly. If you cut back on hours to take on catering during the season, announce those changes. By regularly updating your menu selection and pricing, you can improve your profits. After all, your restaurant expenses like wages and produce keep increasing, so your menu and services should also change to keep up.