It's no secret in the restaurant industry that lunch and dinner sales are down. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, recent studies show that people in the U.S. are actively choosing to eat more home-cooked meals than they did in the past, both for health and financial reasons. In order to compensate for this significant loss, restaurants must do everything they can to attract consumer attention at breakfast time, from offering innovative foods to raising the marketing budget.
Breakfast is the New Battleground
Breakfast has historically been the time of day when many consumers are in a hurry—rushing to get to work on time after morning errands like taking the kids to school— so they are often unable to prepare their own meals at home.
Likewise, because restaurants tend to charge less for breakfast foods than they do for meals at lunch and dinner, consumers can afford them more easily. Thus, even though consumers are shying away from dining out in the afternoon and evening, breakfast is still an active time of day in the food service industry.
In fact, NBC News reports that breakfast is the only time of day that showed an overall increase in traffic during May 2014.
Nonetheless, with so many different retailers competing for customers in the morning, it is still difficult for restaurants to increase or maintain profitability during the morning hours. Below are some strategies restaurants can use to build their profile and attract customers for this important meal.
1. Pay attention to the latest trends.
The way consumers eat breakfast on a daily basis is changing.
Because of increased nutritional awareness among United States consumers, for example, growing numbers of consumers have begun to avoid foods filled with sugar and carbohydrates, such as cereal. Americans are opting, instead, for new, innovative foods like Greek yogurt that contain more protein and other essential nutrients.
Thus, consumers are more likely to purchase breakfast from restaurants that offer healthier choices like yogurt, sandwiches and burritos with lean meats, as opposed to donuts, muffins and other pastries.
By keeping up with these trends and modifying the menu accordingly, food service providers can be sure that they are offering the foods that appeal most to today's consumers.
2. Take steps to provide a superior customer experience.
Consumers have a limited amount of free time— especially in the morning.
Restaurants that provide faster, more effective customer service will attract more business than those that fall short. For example, according to Help Scout, quick-service giant Chipotle reported a nearly 25 percent increase in revenue in spite of the recent economic downturn. And the chain owes much of this growth to its excellent reputation for low wait times, accurate orders and friendly employees.
3. Improve your marketing strategies.
Even after revolutionizing the breakfast menu and revamping customer experience, a restaurant cannot hope to attract new customers without effective marketing campaigns.
Unfortunately, because so many restaurants are currently vying for consumers' attention, rising above the noise can be challenging. To reach consumers effectively, restaurants should employ multiple marketing strategies tailored to their target audiences—paid advertisements, email marketing, social media and more.
Restaurants should also be sure that they are using all of the tools at their disposal within each of these strategies. Restaurants will, for example, see more success from social media marketing if they look for ways to engage consumers in conversation on social networks, as opposed to sending them unsolicited advertisements.
The battle for breakfast is on.
Rising to the top won't be easy. However, by revitalizing the menu to include more innovative foods, improving customer service and enhancing marketing strategies, restaurants can build their profile and attract more customers.