A recent survey we conducted showed that a massive 97% of diners interviewed use restaurant vouchers, thus allowing the offer to dictate both where and when customers eat out nowadays.
What is great is that restaurant operators are able to continue to grow sales by stimulating both frequency and spend with such an attractive discount offer AND as a result guests can still afford to go out for a meal in the current climate. So commercially the concept of a discount works at many levels and even the hit on the food margin should be more than compensated by the savings in labour that will result as the volume of customers increase.
Such is the approach from head office but one core issue is ensuring buy-in throughout the team. Is the strategy really understood by all staff, especially those front-of-house who actually serve the guests? For example, the waiter who is probably the least likely to spend his hard earned cash on eating out at a table service restaurant. He may wrongly perceive the discount-carrying guest as a bit of a ‘cheapskate’, who is unlikely to leave a tip and is not deserving of full-paying guest level service.
The new rules of not only surviving but thriving in the high volume world of the casual dining market are that diners want a really good deal ideally, 2 for 1 or 50% off, AND guess what, they want it with the same standards of food quality and service, if not better! Gone are the days that it was too embarrassing to present a voucher as part payment of a bill, I would go as far to say that it is now not just acceptable that diners admit to using vouchers on a date – the new cool is getting a deal!
So will diners ever go back to paying full price once the recession is over? I would say probably but who knows what will happen next? At the end of the day being continually aware of what diners are thinking and expecting and adapting to maximise the opportunities of any prevailing market conditions is what has and always will be a fundamental in succeeding BUT never ever compromising on quality, standards and service.
At the end of the day the maxim that says ‘it’s about value rather than price’ is as true today as ever.