You need to entice customers back to your business, this may require marketing, menu changes and creating an environment to inspire walk-in customers.

Sensory marketing is a range of techniques used by successful foodservice players to reach customer’s senses and influence their behaviour.

Sight – looking at your business through the customers eyes

It is no secret that customers will initially  assess a dining venue with their eyes before committing to purchase,  therefore, visuals are of vital importance. 

Not only will they be attracted by lighting and design elements, but, of utmost importance, is the visual cues that say: This is a safe place to eat!

Keep your front of house, kitchen and rest rooms spotlessly clean.

Sterilise public areas frequently and visibly so patrons are able to see and value the efforts being made.

Provide hand sanitiser for public use near cash registers.

 

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Work on restoring consumer confidence in dining-in through stringent health, hygiene and food safety actions that can be clearly communicated online, in and outside of venues.

Customers have a new appreciation for personal space and are aware of the behaviour of others – ensure that you space your tables to accommodate personal space.

Actually seeing food being cooked can put a customers mind at ease and create a sense of anticipation.

Create a planning document that allows you to look at your business through the eyes of the customer. Use this when you walk into your business for the first time after the lockdown and every day.

Smell – “Unlike other senses, smell skips the rational filter in the brain”

Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation - Chicago

Aromatic cues can play a large role in enticing customers into a restaurant or café. They also create a signature brand scent that will imprint into the memories of your customers to drive future behaviour. 

Cinnabon, for instance, strategically places its ovens at the front of the store and heats up additional brown sugar and cinnamon to attract the noses of potential customers in the surrounding area. 

Grind fresh coffee beans every hour or so and place them close to the door.

 

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Or have a “show oven” in a front of house location with regular bakes for a constant fresh-baked aroma.

Change out your baking times to emit the aroma of fresh baked goods at times you are most likely to attract customers.

The aromas that are most irresistible to passing customers are – Freshly baked bread, muffins, pies or cookies, freshly brewed coffee, sizzling bacon, caramelised onions, melted chocolate, BBQ meat, wood-fired pizza, roasted nuts or freshly made waffle cones.

Taste

Smell and taste are closely linked because flavour engages them both. To complete the equation – try linking deliberate aromas in  your outlet with a sampling offer to  prospective guest.  

How your food tastes is obviously important, but using marketing techniques such as sampling can give customers this sensory information before they decide on a purchase and leave customers wanting more. 

Ensure that food safety procedures are employed when sampling.

 

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Choose a dish which could be perceived as your speciality and ensure that it has a broad appeal for all potential customers.

Staff offering samples need to be friendly yet not too pushy to avoid annoying potential customers.

Train you staff up to answer any questions the customer may have, including dietary considerations.

Sound

Auditory elements are also important to consider. Music choices can set the pace of the environment and influence customer behaviour. In this time of difficulty, it is important to remember that customers are eating out a distraction from their daily realities and are 

looking for an upbeat experience. Keep in mind that background music, like interior design, affects people’s moods. Music can either  attract guests or make them want to leave as fast as possible.

If an open kitchen is part of your strategy, sounds of cooking will generate excitement.

 

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Bringing food to the table that makes a sound, such as sizzling fajitas, also creates added entertainment.

Calming music will encourage guests to relax, eat slowly, enjoy every bite and maybe even order that extra coffee.

Use background music that links in with your menu and environment to create a cohesive brand.

We are all social beings so ensure that background music is loud enough to create a vibe but not too loud to prevent conversations.