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HOW TO ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS TO YOUR BUSINESS

HOW TO ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS TO YOUR BUSINESS

Many cafes, pubs and restaurants rely heavily on customers visiting the business itself, so footfall is a key indicator that many business owners will regularly keep an eye on. With so many fluctuations in consumer confidence over the last few years, due to economic uncertainty, footfall numbers can be unpredictable. To grow your business, you need to be able to level out these changes and keep booking levels as steady as possible throughout the year. Quiet periods can be a challenge for any physical business, but there are several strategies you can try to boost your booking numbers. In this blog we share some ideas that we see our customers using to keep their footfall numbers up.

  • Get clear on the numbers: First off, you need to know exactly where you stand. Take some time to analyse your footfall trends for the last year and compare to previous years where you can. Have a look at whether there are any other patterns, past the obvious factors such as time of year, calendar events or weather trends. Are there any particularly busy or quiet periods that don’t seem to have an obvious cause behind them? Are they regular?
  • Review your promotional events calendar: With common quiet periods in mind, look at where tactical themed events could help boost footfall, past the obvious calendar events such as bank holidays. Does your business have a particular theme to its food, or interesting heritage that you could play on? You could read our blog on how to create a great dining experience for some more inspiration on this point!
  • Think bigger than individual bookings: For example could you host meetings, networking events, open days with a special guest, or workshops featuring local businesses? Offering free or paid workshops, demonstrations, or classes related to your products or services can be a great way to reach new customers and show off what makes you special. It’s also an opportunity to share more about what goes on behind the scenes. At Cooper Foods, we are are doing this ourselves! We are planning to offer some open days for some of our customers throughout 2024, giving them an opportunity to see how our specialist meat and fish teams put their skills into practice.
  • Encourage those hashtag moments: For regular customers that know and love you, consider what you can do to have them share their food experience on social media with their friends. Could you incentivise them to share a picture of their food with a particular hashtag which enters them into a regular monthly prize draw, for example? People buy from people, and word of mouth recommendations are still one of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your fingertips.

We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful and would love to hear how you are driving bookings from your customers.

    HOW TO RUN A THRIVING GARDEN CENTRE’S CAFÉ

    HOW TO RUN A THRIVING GARDEN CENTRE’S CAFÉ

    Alongside the backdrop of rising costs and changing consumer habits, we know from our conversations with our customers that Garden Centres face additional challenges when it comes to business growth. However, challenges can also mean opportunity, so in this blog we will explore four areas unique to Garden Centres and how they can present opportunities for your business to thrive.

    • Seasonality: Garden centre cafes are naturally busier during the spring and summer months, which can make it challenging to maintain profitability throughout the year. However with the rise of the all-year round marketing calendar, there are opportunities to ensure a steady flow of customers even in the colder months. Calendar dates such as Halloween, Blue Monday (in January) and Valentine’s Day provide an opportunity to get creative and come up with promotions and incentives or for customers to visit
    • Dependence on footfall: Garden centre cafes rely heavily on customers visiting the garden centre itself, so any decline in footfall can have a significant impact on your business. Planning your promotional calendar across the year and looking at your footfall trends will allow you to plan for quieter periods and understand when a promotional event could be helpful.
    • Maintaining the garden centre experience: Cafes need to balance the need to be profitable with the need to maintain the overall experience of the garden centre, which should be relaxing and enjoyable. Whilst some customers will plan a visit for a specific reason, many customers often visit with a ‘day out’ mindset, especially in the winter months when there is the opportunity to spend some time inside the warm! Consider how you can make your garden centre experience as inviting as possible to ensure a longer duration of visit, which could include a meal or hot drinks at your cafe.
    • Ensure you have the right suppliers in place: At Cooper Foods, we understand the importance of delivering delicious dishes to your diners, while maintaining your margins and upholding uncompromising quality. With our dedication to providing top-of-the-range high-quality food products, quick delivery and unwavering support, we are here to help your garden centre thrive! Click here to find out more about how we serve Garden Centres across the South.

    Are you ready to switch to a trusted, well-established, family-run food wholesaler?

      Contact us now to experience the unparalleled range of fresh, ambient and frozen foods to help your business boom! 

      EMBRACING THE RISE OF READY-TO-COOK FOODS

      EMBRACING THE RISE OF READY-TO-COOK FOODS

      In recent years, the food industry has witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of ready-to-cook foods for bars and restaurants. This trend has caught the attention of many establishments due to the potential to save time and cost, whilst maintaining quality. In this blog, we explore why this trend is gaining momentum and how you can make the most of it in your business.

      Firstly – it’s about time and cost efficiency

      One of the main reasons behind the increase in demand for ready-to-cook foods is that it’s a significant time and cost saving. With the rise in costs across the board, thanks to inflation, it’s a fantastic solution for many pubs, restaurants, hotels, schools and catering businesses. By utilising pre-prepared ingredients and/or partially cooked meals, you can streamline your operations and reduce the time required for food preparation. This allows you to serve your diners more efficiently; especially during peak hours. In the long run, it also increases customer satisfaction, which is a huge benefit for businesses.

      In addition to this, these meals also contribute to cost savings. By minimising food waste and optimising ingredients usage, you can significantly reduce your expenses. Eateries who have embraced the ready-to-cook options most likely will have reduced their overall food production expenses.

      “47% of the 10,034 food and beverage businesses surveyed by ONS said that suppliers, production or both had been affected by increases in energy prices in 2022. As a result of price rises in the industry – 18.7% had to change suppliers” – taken from FoodStars UK, a report published in June 2023.

      What this doesn’t tell you is if they were buying all the ingredients to make foods in-house or purchasing read-to-cook options. Either way, we know that businesses have had to reconsider ways in which to operate more effectively.

      Secondly – it’s about quality!

      Of course, we all want food that’s good quality, and contrary to common misconceptions, ready-to-cook meals don’t compromise on quality and taste. In fact, they often provide a consistent and reliable experience. Here at Cooper Foods, we invest heavily in research and development to ensure that our ready-to-cook range still provides high-standard, nutritional value food. We work hard to provide the best ingredients, so we know that everything on our menu will be top quality on your menu.

      The options

      If you’re looking for another reason to embrace ready-to-cook foods, it has to be the diversified menu options. You can offer a wider range of dishes without compromising on quality or increasing the complexity of kitchen operations! Are you after a mouth-watering dish containing the finest British beef? Fancy a truly tasty and fresh quiche Lorraine and salad? Treat yourself to a slice of Treacle Tart or Bramley Apple Pie. Whatever it may be – we’ve got you covered!

      These options and flexibility allow you to cater to various dietary requirements and accommodate the evolving tastes of your customers.

      Is it time to embrace ready-to-cook?

      We can see that the rise of ready-to-cook foods in bars, restaurants, cafes, etc, is driven by the desire for time and cost efficiency whilst maintaining high-quality standards.

      “64% of Brits say local places to eat and drink are important in building a sense of community” – taken from Open Table 2023.

      This is just one of many reasons to continue providing a great dining experience for your customers. The demand for a good range of food options is high, no matter your industry, so it’s worth considering how you can be on trend with ready-to-cook meals. By embracing these meal options, you have the potential to save money, increases customer satisfaction, and optimise your business operations – and, to gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving food industry.

        Head to our website to apply for an account if you’re not already a customer, or give our customer service team  a call on 01264 321050.

        HOW TO CUT COSTS WITH A CAPSULE MENU

        HOW TO CUT COSTS WITH A CAPSULE MENU

        Earlier this year we ran a customer survey and one of the biggest pieces of feedback we had from our customers around their current challenges was rising costs and not wanting to pass too much of this on to their customers. If you are looking at making cost savings in your independent pub, restaurant, hotel or catering business, one avenue you could go down it to create a ‘capsule menu’. Much like a capsule wardrobe, limiting the amount of produce but getting creative with how you use it can help you cut costs whilst still producing excellent dishes for your diners. Here are some tips on how to create a capsule menu:

        • Choose a theme: One route is to offer a limited menu that focuses on a specific cuisine or theme. This can help you to reduce your food costs by streamlining your ordering process and eliminating items that are not popular or that require a lot of preparation. With a bit of creativity this can still ensure an excellent experience for your customers, for example as part of a theme night of the week.
        • Use seasonal ingredients: As you well know, seasonal ingredients are often more affordable than out-of-season ingredients and diners are becoming increasingly discerning about the provenance of their food. Of course, seasonal ingredients are also fresher and tend to taste better too!
        • Keep it simple: AS well as keeping costs low by limiting the number of ingredients, simple dishes are often easier and less expensive to prepare than complex dishes. Ensure you use high quality produce and you can afford to let the flavours speak for themselves. Depending on your clientele, they may also prove more popular with customers.
        • Use less expensive cuts of meat: There are many delicious and affordable cuts of meat that are often overlooked in the catering industry. With a bit of creativity and culinary flair, these cuts can be used to create flavorful and satisfying dishes without breaking the bank.
        • Offer smaller portions: Do your plates come back clean or is there often a good few mouthfuls left? Offering smaller portions can help you to reduce your food costs without sacrificing quality. They can also help you to control portion sizes and prevent food waste.
        • Promote your capsule menu: Let your customers know about your capsule menu and why they should try it. You can do this through your website, social media, and signage.

        With a dollop of imagination and a pinch of flavour, you can create a capsule menu that is both delicious and affordable. Don’t forget to talk to your suppliers about what options are available to you, for example less expensive cuts of meat. At Cooper Foods, our friendly sales team are always up to date on what’s in stock and can advise you on the best options to suit you.

          Head to our website to apply for an account if you’re not already a customer, or give our customer service team  a call on 01264 321050.

          THE TECH ADVANTAGE

          THE TECH ADVANTAGE

          Whilst the restaurant industry has historically been slower to adopt technology and innovation, the pandemic and ensuing economic instability have forced many food businesses to think differently about what they offer and how they offer it. In parallel customers have changed their spending habits too! The good news is: embracing new technology doesn’t have to be painful, and there are many ways that owners of independent pubs and restaurants can use technology to their advantage. The opportunities for improving their operations are wide-ranging, from online ordering to inventory management. Here are a few of the most common and their potential positive impact:

          • Online ordering and delivery: According to statista.com, the market size of the global online food delivery sector was estimated at 770 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. By 2027, the online food delivery market is forecast to generate revenues reaching 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars. What does this mean for your business? Embracing a tech solution that allows your customers to order food and drinks from your restaurant without having to come in can be a great way to ensure customer loyalty, increase sales and potentially reach new customers too. Here at Cooper Foods we have recently launched online ordering to better support our customers to get exactly what they need, when they need it. Get in touch to find out more.
          • Point-of-sale (POS) systems: These systems can help you manage your inventory, track sales, and process payments. Whilst they do represent a significant investment of time and money up front, they will save you time and money in the long-run, supporting smooth operations and helping you make better business decisions.
          • Restaurant management software: Software such as this can help you with everything from scheduling staff to managing reservations. Managing reservations manually can eat into your staff’s time, but being able to automatically manage waitlists, waitlists and seating, can free up their time to focus on the customers’ experience. An added bonus is being able to collect things such as diet or dining preferences and contact data, to gain market insights or for ongoing contact to maintain a customer loyalty scheme, for example. All of these areas, and many more, can free up your time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
          • Marketing automation: This software can help you automate your marketing campaigns, giving you the opportunity to drive repeat bookings and automatically collect online reviews. . Online reviews are one of the most powerful ways to influence customer decision-making, so make sure you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a timely and professional manner!

          These are just a few of the ways that technology can help you streamline your operations, increase bookings and stay ahead of the competition.

          WHAT MAKES A GREAT DINING EXPERIENCE

          WHAT MAKES A GREAT DINING EXPERIENCE

          It’s no secret that independent pubs, hotels, and restaurant owners are currently under a lot of pressure. With rising food and staff costs, labour shortages and the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the increasing popularity of delivery and takeout, the challenges are many and varied. Also, according to a recent FSA survey*, consumer dining habits are changing, with many eating fewer takeaways cooking and eating at home more; buying items on special offer more; and changing what and where they buy to cheaper alternatives.

          These challenges are therefore making it difficult for independent pubs, hotels, and restaurants to do what they do best and thrive. However, there are a number of things that businesses can do to adapt and overcome these challenges. For example, focusing on providing high-quality food and service to attract and retain loyal customers, partnering with other businesses to offer discounts and promotions, or getting creative with their marketing and how they promote their business. One of the most effective approaches can be to create unforgettable dining experiences, which we will explore in this blog. Not only does this approach keep your customers happy and loyal, but drives new customers through your door with word of mouth and glowing online reviews.

          From our experience as food-lovers here at Cooper Foods, and conversations we’ve had with many of our own customers, here are just some of the things that can take a good dining experience and make it something truly special:

          • Good food, made with high-quality ingredients: It might sound obvious, but the quality and presentation of your food is everything to your customers. To create a memorable dining experience, ensure your food is fresh, well-prepared, and flavourful. Even if it’s a twist on a classic, your dish should be something your diners won’t get at home. This is one of the reasons our customers choose us to deliver their fresh meat, seafood, frozen and chilled goods. We work hard to source the best ingredients, so they don’t have to!
          • Excellent service:Exceptional service goes a long way, especially if there are any hiccups with the food. Ideally your waiting staff should be attentive, friendly, knowledgeable about the menu and able to make recommendations. Providing training for your staff on areas such as food intolerances and allergies can help you customers feel more comfortable to enjoy their time with you. According to YouGov, 2% of the British public are vegan (3% during January!) and 10% of the British population that follow a gluten-free diet. To support growing market demand for vegan and gluten-free options, we now supply 17 vegan and 40 gluten-free food products to our customers.
          • The right atmosphere: What kind of experience do you want to create for your diners? Consider whether your most loyal clientele prefer a relaxing atmosphere, with soft lighting and ambient music, or whether they prefer theme nights or live music. Find out what brings customers through your door and cater to their tastes, to ensure they keep coming back for more.
          • Attention to detail: A clean, well-maintained and nicely decorated dining area (and toilets!) cannot be underestimated. Your customers should feel immediately reassured when they walk in the door that they have made the right choice, booking a table at your establishment. Don’t forget comfortable chairs and easy access for wheelchairs too!

          We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful and would love to hear how you are creating unique dining experience for your customers.

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