May 2007 Edition
Increase Sales With Impulsive Summer Items

Increase Sales with Impulsive Summer Items



By Michelle Ponto


Shorts, tanks tops, sandals and sunglasses - together these items mean summer is here and so are summertime foods, vacations and good times.  It's also a great time 

to increase your average cheque sales with extra summer items that your customers can't resist.


Using creative ways to entice your customers to impulse buys can dramatically increase your average sales.  Just adding a dessert or more expensive beverage to an order can generate an incremental $1 - $5.00 to the bill. And when multiplied by 50 customers a day, it works out  to an extra $1,500 - $7,500 a month.  


Maximizing Last Minute Impulse Sales


In the food service industry there are many ways to increase the average customer's total purchase.  The simplest way is to showcase grab-and-go items at the 

cash register.  Yogurts, fresh fruit and fruit salad can be pre-packaged in advance and displayed in baskets or in  a bowl of ice beside the cash register.  While muffins, brownies and cookies can either be individually wrapped or available under a glass cover for those who have a  sweet tooth. 


But you don't need to stop with food items.  One popular coffee chain promotes everything from CDs, to books, to ground coffee as impulse buys at their cash register.  While this might not work with your clientele, other non-food items may.  Lottery tickets, city maps, pocket-tissues, mints and other last minute essentials are good sellers and these items are non-perishable so there's no waste.  You never know when a customer coming in  for a quick drink might decide to take a little something extra with them.


Summertime items can include anything from lip  balm and breath mints, to bug repellent and sunscreen, depending on where you are located. If your food establishment is located by a park area, keep in mind  that your clients may be spending the entire day nearby  or may want items that are easy to pack such as bags of peanuts or potato chips if they are just "biking" through.


Another way to increase sales is to promote extra-value combinations such as a coffee and doughnut special or a soup and salad combo.  This works especially well in fast food or cafeteria style establishments. 


You can also increase the customer's total bill by adding a few higher-end beverages in your cooler section.  With the summer heat, many customers will be dropping in looking for something cool and refreshing.  As they'll already be browsing your refrigerator section, now is the perfect time to experiment with bottled frappacinos, green iced teas, mineral enhanced waters and other trendy beverages that retail higher than carbonated pop beverages.


Increase Food Sales the Full Service Way


Just because your customers are seated, it doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the season and your customers impulsive needs.  Plan your menu with a few specialty summer items and promote them to your staff.  You  might even want to have a pre-season employee party that features the new items in order to get your staff excited about the upcoming season or name the beverages after them such as Jamie's Raspberry Margarita.


A great seasonal item that can increase the average bill by a few dollars are summer drinks.  Mojitos are a popular choice right now and so are fruity drinks filled with crushed iced.  A way to entice your customer to try them now rather than next time is to feature a different summer beverage each night of the week. 


If you're not licensed to serve alcohol, you can still utilize beverage sales.  Innovative summertime options include fruit enhanced lemonades such as blueberry or cranberry lemonade, specialty iced teas and iced coffees. 


Drinks aren't the only impulse purchases.  Offering  your customers a salad or soup with their entr?e  for an additional $1.99 is another idea and so is offering fancy proteins to complement summer salads such as chicken  or shrimp skewers for an extra couple of dollars. Another great idea is to promote your dessert menu at the time of order.  This way your customers pre-order in advance before they fill up on the main course.


Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep your staff informed.  The more they know and understand the offers, the happier your customer will be and the more your summer sales will increase.





Tricks of the  Impulse-buy Trade:



A few tips to keep in mind are:



  •  Let the staff know what the combos of the day are before they start their shift. 


  •  Get them in the habit of recognizing what's on the client's tray so they can recommend the combo whenever possible.  For example, if the customer has a coffee and sandwich, let them know that they can get the soup and sandwich combo for just $0.50 more.


  •  If displaying items at the counter, make sure they look fresh and rotate the items to maintain quality standards.


  •  Remind the staff to keep the grab-and-go items at the register fully-stocked.  Many of these items are impulse buys.  The customer is not going to ask for them if they don't see them there.


  •  Inform your staff about the offerings, but also include them on your menu and on your specials board. If you are a full service establishment, you may also want to create table promos with tasty descriptions of your summer specialty items to tempt your customers before your server arrives.  The promos are also an excellent way to remind your server what's available and to have them promote the items to the customer in a non-pushy way.