In a crowded market, restaurants fight for every dollar; however, they can’t always count on sales volume to drive earnings. That’s why it’s so important to maximize every sale.
“Today’s restaurants are facing increased competition, shifts in consumer behavior, and rising labor costs,” says Angela Wanous, brand manager at Litehouse Foods. “To thrive in this constantly changing environment, they have to be willing to evaluate their operations and incorporate new strategies to boost sales.”
One smart strategy is to upgrade existing menu offerings with high quality ingredients and entrees that customers will pay more for. Not only does this plan reduce the need for ordering and storing ingredients for many different dishes, but it also maximizes earnings from customers who are already in the store.
Restaurant leaders have to be strategic about the types of high quality entrees they offer. Choosing the wrong trend to follow could result in wasted product, while choosing the right trends and ingredients can make restaurants more profitable. Selecting a trend that appeals to a large segment of U.S. consumers can help restaurants ensure they drive sales.
One trend that offers big earning potential for restaurants is clean eating. Not only have consumers become more health-conscious and focused on the ingredients in their food over the last few years, but they are also looking for restaurants that serve more foods that fit their values and lifestyles.
Clean eating is especially popular among younger consumers. The NPD Group reports that millennial and Gen Z diners gravitate toward fresh foods with a healthy halo. Both age groups now control significant spending power, and attracting them will be a critical piece of brands’ long-term strategies.
Additionally, consumers as a whole are willing to pay more for items they perceive to be “clean.” According to a 2016 report by Nielsen, two-thirds of global respondents in a study, or 68 percent, strongly or somewhat agree that they would pay more for food and beverages that did not contain undesirable ingredients, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, and sweeteners.
Cleaner fare can also help drive customer engagement by creating trust with a brand, Wanous says. “Not only do ‘clean’ items cater to a growing trend, they also say ‘this brand values quality and they care about what they’re feeding customers’.” This gives restaurants the ability to drive sales by bringing in new consumers unfamiliar with the brand and creating repeat customers through brand loyalty.
There are many different definitions of clean eating, so each restaurant brand has to decide for itself which ingredients it will allow on its menu. Despite variations, there are a few commonly agreed upon principles. The most generally accepted criteria are that products contain no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.
Using this definition can give restaurants a starting point for identifying foods that need clean-eating makeovers and which can stand as they are on their menus.
Cleaning up your menu doesn’t mean getting rid of consumer favorites. Almost all existing dishes can eliminate these artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors by making simple changes.
Once less clean dishes are identified, chefs can boost the value of these items by changing a few ingredients. “Any recipe can be made clean by evaluating each component used in it,” Wanous says.
“A burger build is a great example to start with,” Wanous says. “Evaluate what’s in the bun, pickles, mayonnaise, and so on. If artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are used, it might be time to look for cleaner options.”
Make sure to capitalize on these clean ingredients by calling them out on menus and marketing materials. This helps consumers know the brand serves foods they can trust.
For more ideas on ways to clean up a menu, visit the Litehouse Foodservice website.