It can be difficult to gather footfall, particularly in a post pandemic world, alongside the cost of living crisis we are all experiencing right now. We are all saving pennies where we can, so going out for a nice meal, a boozy brunch or just a cup of coffee and delicious cake may be the last activity on your list!
Footfall has decreased
Since COVID-19, footfall has not been the same. You might be reading that and saying, “Tell me something I don’t know!”. Unfortunately however, what you may not know is that recovery for footfall may not happen as soon as you think. UK Hospitality predicts that footfall will not return to pre pandemic levels until mid-decade. ‘It is estimated that it could take until at least 2025 for domestic and international visitor overnight numbers to return to the levels seen in 2019, with spending predicted to take until 2026 to surpass pre-pandemic levels.’ (Mayor of London).
So how can we begin to improve footfall?
We need a steady flow of footfall in order for our business to survive. But we need to explore new ways of how to do this and adapt them to suit your business.
Let’s get stuck into a couple of ideas!
Your Business Exterior
What are you doing on the outside to attract footfall? I mean this from an aesthetical point of view! Does the outside of your building look clean and tidy? Does it have a sign so passers by can identify who you are? You may even want to spruce it up a bit by painting the outside a bright colour or adding some decor like plants or even seating to invite customers to hang out.
Just remember, first impressions count so having that attractive and inviting look will be the decision whether customers come in or not.
Interior is important too
You may have mastered your business on the outside, but how does your interior look? Is it time for refurb? Nobody wants to walk through the door and be disappointed by torn seats or old style tables (unless that’s the chic look you’re trying to achieve), but you catch my drift. Even simple layout changes may spruce things up and keep it refreshed for those already loyal customers.
Branding is important
With such fierce competition today, especially in the hospitality industry, branding is important. This can be expressed in many ways, the physical and the social world. Once you identify clear branding for your business and stay consistent with it, it can be identified anywhere. Just think of famous brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike, you would recognise them from anywhere, between logo, colours and graphics!
Customers can be put off with a venue that has no clear identity, they don’t know what to expect. Especially Gen Z’s who have to let people know where they’re hanging out on their socials! You don’t need to go all out if it’s not you, you can always keep it simple and fresh but make sure it’s distinct.
What can you offer?
If you’re offering the same type of service, food and drinks that the operators two doors down with an exciting brand image are, then how do you expect to entice customers? Think creatively, try to offer a new experience for your customers; maybe create your own drinks and names for your drinks? Can you afford exciting meal promotions? Or boozy brunch with a difference? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what you would like to experience if you were heading out for a nice meal or brunch. Don’t be afraid to feel inspired by others too!
What is this you may ask? Well in simple terms, it’s about going out and enticing your customers in. You’re not confined to the walls in your business to attract. Host external events if you have the space, for example; fashion or charity events. Go out on the streets, hand out discount flyers or offer food and drink samples. There are ample ways to outbound your customers. You just have to get creative!
Get on social media
You knew it was coming, you need to join the social media revolution! Personally, if a friend suggests going somewhere to eat, the first thing I do is head to Instagram to check out the ‘vibe’. If I see nice pictures of food and drinks, updated menus and a good social media presence, we book it! Simple as. This might sound a little silly, but it’s how a lot of my friends base their decisions on where they go, so it’s definitely one to strongly consider to increase your social media presence if you don’t already. If you’re worried about professional pictures being out of your budget, your phone can do the trick! Or if one of your employees is half decent at taking pictures, leave them to it! They’ll love the added responsibility. Or even hire an intern with an interest in developing their social media skills.
Already on social media? Think about whether you are using it to your advantage, are you simply just putting up pictures and resharing tagged stories? Get more creative to increase engagement by creating videos, polls on stories or even engaging posts to get customers commenting and reacting.
Not many hospitality businesses offer discounts, especially smaller family run locations. If you do offer discounts, make sure to spread the word. Share it on your socials, create flyers and hand them out or even gather email addresses (which increases your contact list) and email them with daily offers!
This way you can keep customers involved and stay in the back of their minds more often, you never know the power behind a simple email! How often do you head straight to a website and start loading items in your basket when they email with a discount code? Guilty here!
Returning customers are your advocates, appreciate them. If you think highly of them, the feeling will be mutual and they will talk about this with others; word of mouth marketing is the most powerful of them all.
You may also want to consider customer loyalty cards as well, especially in hospitality these are considerably valuable to a customer. There are lots of digital options available today such as Stamp Me, so customers are not at risk of losing their physical loyalty cards!
Do you have more to offer?
Have you got other empty venues or spaces that could be put to good use? If you’re a coffee shop with another room separated with a door, would you reconvert to add in more seating or even take on pop-up shops (that could help you pay the rent too!). Perhaps as a restaurant, you have another room out the back that isn’t suitable for serving customers but could be refurbished into a function room for meetings or smaller events. There are many ways to use space to your advantage.
These spaces could develop into new services altogether, therefore increasing your reputation and commitment to customers’ needs.
Invest in your staff
Your employees are the first thing your customer sees as they enter. They are the face of the brand. How they speak, act and serve a customer is extremely important as it contributes to your brand image.
It is imperative that you train your employees to elicit the level of customer service you would like your customers to experience. Make them aware of the brand values and expectations, ensure they are trained up in all aspects such as service, rules, and philosophies. If you have different policies in place, make them aware and always communicate with them efficiently. This extends to social media too.
Re-evaluate your demographics
Currently, you are appealing to a downward market in the UK, it’s not easy.
Re-evaluating your business demographic will ensure that you capitalise on the ever-changing structure of the local population. Those that you once appealed to may not be as profitable as the market you’re currently in, make sure you’re keeping on top of the changes happening around you and always keep your eye on potential gaps in the market.
Speak to one of our business advisors today to find out how we can help you operate more efficiently, with better scheduling, improved engagement and productivity and whole lot more!
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