As the weather gets colder customers are on the lookout for something warm, cozy and comforting. While for some that might mean a flannel blanket and a few episodes of Roseanne, in the restaurant industry it adds up to one thing: soup. Technomic reported back in February that soup purchases outside of the home have gone up considerably from 2 years ago. Today, 61% of consumers order soup at restaurants at least occasionally, compared to 52% in 2010.
Knowing that soup is a great money-maker, most restaurant operators already have at least one option on the menu. But are your chili and soup offerings still sitting on the back burner, going un-ordered for weeks on end? Check out these tips and tricks to make soup a hot item on your menu.
According to Technomic’s study, 86% of respondents cite that a soup’s freshness is either important or extremely important when making a purchasing decision. For this reason, it is a good idea to advertise your soups as “prepared daily,” “made fresh,” or “made in-house.” Consider pacing a soup kettle or soup merchandiser in visible countertop areas to entice customers.
With workers working longer hours, convenience is key. If you have a grab and go section in your establishment, adding soup in a variety of portions is a great way to cater to this trend and the desire for warm comfort food at the same time. Keep carry out orders fresh and ready to eat with soup containers that are as friendly to your recipes and they are to the earth.
Plan your soup menu well in advance, and print up a soup calendar for customers to keep. This way, when customers have a short 30 minute lunch break, they can rest assured that they know what to expect when they come to you. Use write-on menu boards, menu roll stands or outdoor menu holders to get the word out on your soup du jour.
Consumers are still very cash-conscious in this post-recession economy. Offering a combo deal, such as a soup and half sandwich or soup and salad for a fixed price, appeals to the deal-hunter within all of us.
Customers today expect to have everything their way. A customer may want a small cup of soup to have with her meal, and if you only offer bowls she’ll probably just go without. Offering soup as a side, side substitution and entree alike will make for an increase in sales.
Hearty Side Option
Offering customers a mini grilled cheese, bread sticks or a giant delicious crouton along with their soup order increases the perceived value of your soup offerings and will encourage subsequent purchases. Short on space for adding items to the menu? Consider firing up the panini grill or waffle maker to make quick treats from the counter top. Learn more about the many uses for a commercial waffle maker and a panini grill.
Familiar and Unique Options
When it comes to soup, customers crave both. In the Technomic study, 73% of respondents reported that familiarity is important when ordering soup, while 53% are looking for something unique. In order to appeal to both of these groups, you could offer a variety of soups or a single soup that represents a twist on the familiar, such as spicy chicken noodle.
Emphasize Health Benefits
It’s no secret that consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious, and making more and more purchasing decisions based on health factors. Offer healthy soup options, such as low-sodium, low-fat or gluten-free recipes, to create a higher consumer interest in your soup program. Take these tips to heart and get ready to soup up your menu and marketing tactics for a busy winter season.
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