Marketing a concession stand is very different from the way that traditional restaurants market their business. While a concession stand is much simpler than a sit down eatery, the art of actually marketing your booth to passersby is much more complicated and requires a little extra effort.
A traditional restaurant can run advertisements. Perhaps they are televised or simply in print, but this is the cornerstone of their business marketing. Because a restaurant is always in the same place, the owner can send out a consistent message week after week about their location and hours of operation. Concession vendors do not have this luxury as their location can change as frequently as every week.
With so much fluctuating from week to week, it can be problematic for a concessionaire to properly market their booth from outside the event he or she is participating in. That’s why most of the marketing that vendors do is typically from right within their very own concession stand.
This is the first impression event attendees have of your products, so make sure that you have professional signage that is displayed to maximize customer awareness.
Bright sign and a clear message are perfect for concession signage.
Make sure your signs are bright, big and bold. There is a saying in the concession business that “flash is cash,” and when customers go to a fair, they are expecting to be dazzled and dazed by flashing lights and bright colors. So if your signage can’t complete with the brightly colored banners of your competitors, you may be at a disadvantage compared to your customers.
Place your signs in an area where they can be read from a distance. It does you no good to advertise your amazing menu right underneath the trailer window. Signage that is located on the lower half of your stand or trailer can only be seen by customers that are already in line or attendees that are extremely close to your stand. Place your signs above your booth so that they can be seen from far away. That way, potential customers have the ability to see your menu and make a decision before they even make it to your stand.
Never put the name of your company as the main part of your signs. Many concession vendors make the mistake of placing their company name in big letters across their banners. While the name is clever, the name isn’t what is drawing customers to your booth. It’s what you are cooking that drives business. Be sure to put your main menu “attractions” at the top of the banner so that folks know that you are selling kettle corn or chili dogs. They will more likely to come visit if they know what is in store for them.
Quality Products and Customer Service
As with almost any other business on this earth, word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing and it holds true with concession stands as well. Customers looking for a bite to eat are eager for recommendations from attendees that have already sunk their teeth into a few different meals.
A happy concession stand employee makes for happy customers.
Ensure that your product always tastes good. It may seem like a no brainer, but all too often concession food can taste mass-produced or just plain lousy. In order to stand out from the crowd and get the rave reviews, make sure that your burgers are juicier, your ice cream is more flavorful and your nachos are the spiciest. This is even more important when you are selling a menu item that is different and customers are trying it to experiment with something new. Make sure that the flavors do not disappoint.
It may seem like a no brainer, but all too often concession food can taste mass-produced or just plain lousy. In order to stand out from the crowd and get the rave reviews, make sure that your burgers are juicier, your ice cream is more flavorful and your nachos are the spiciest. This is even more important when you are selling a menu item that is different and customers are trying it to experiment with something new. Make sure that the flavors do not disappoint.
Make sure your portions are equal to your prices. Customers who pay concession prices for food at concession stands do not appreciate being given smaller portions. They will see that as greed and will not recommend you to anyone. If your prices are higher, make sure your portions are larger.
Provide service with a great attitude. Long, hot days outdoors can certainly wear on even the most seasoned concession vendor, but when you treat each customer with respect and respond with w positive attitude, they are much more likely to remember and recommend your booth over the stand where the food was just handed over without so much as a smile.
Good PresentationFrom the booth itself to the food you sell, the way you present your business is the way that people will see it. Ensure that every aspect of your concession business puts your best foot forward.
A clean stand with professional-looking display and design is more appealing to customers.
Keep your stand clean. Nothing deters customers more than a dirty-looking booth. An unclean booth gives the impression that you do not care about your business. Take a few minutes several times a day to make sure that the outside of your booth is wiped down and free from any large stains. Make sure that clean towels are available at all times so you can quickly clean up any spills that occur throughout the day.
Display your food in an appetizing way. If the food has already been made, create a large space at the front of the stand to display the products behind clean sneeze guards. When the customers can see exactly what they are getting, they are more likely to buy. If you are making food to order, make sure that you add a little bit of flair to the process. Put the charbroiler near the front of the stand, so customers can watch as flames lick at freshly cooking meat.
Make sure your food is served in an appealing manner. Once your food leaves the booth, it does not stop advertising for your stand. It is amazing how far a few extra garnishes will go when it comes to making a positive statement about the quality of your concession stand. People are much more likely to ask about lemonade with fresh lemons than they are about a cup filled with ice and some sort of beverage.
Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid
Now that you have seen all of the ways in which you can market your concession stand, there are several ways of promoting your booth that are frowned upon in the industry--or out-and-out unethical.
Hawking: This is the act of calling out to members of the public whether in the form of promotion or joking. It is extremely disruptive and will likely cause people to shy away from your booth rather than visit it.
Spreading out: By placing extra items over your space, such as chairs, sandwich boards or unnecessary tables, you cause clutter to the area and negatively impact your space, and your space neighbors’ space.
Extending over the line: When vendors set up in a manner that makes their booth jut in to the path of festival attendees, they interrupt the flow of traffic and prevent exposure of neighboring booths.
Menu expansion: This term refers to the practice of offering more items than you have on your approved menu. It is frowned upon to sell more than what is listed on your menu. Many concession events have strict policies in place about duplicate menus so there is less competition for similar items. Menu expansion is a complete disregard for the rules set in place by the festival committee that allowed your concession stand into the event in the first place and may get you kicked out of the event.
Stealing recipes: Of course, vendors learn from other vendors, so it is likely that some may have similar items on a menu, but becoming sneaky and rooting through your neighbors trash to look for discarded containers of a “”secret ingredient” is simply stealing. This is one of the fastest ways to become ostracized from the concession community.
There is the right way to do marketing and the wrong way to do marketing. By taking the time to ensure that your stand has great signage, quality product, winning customer service and exemplary presentation, you can avoid the pitfalls of poor marketing practices.
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- Resources for Booking Venues for Your Concession Stand
- The Cost of Running a Concession Business
- Concession Fundraising on a Barely-There Budget
- Planning a Menu Fit for a Concession Stand
- Important Questions to Ask When Researching Food Concession Venues
- Cart or Trailer: Making the Right Decision for Your Mobile Business
- Choosing Equipment for Your Concession Stand
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