It's very important to ensure that your sandwich bar outlet projects the right image and that it maintains consistently high standards. And it's vital to let would-be customers know about your business and its key selling points.
The right image
It's vital that your sandwich bar projects the right image to customers. Everything about the way it looks and feels should be designed to attract new customers and encourage existing customers to keep coming back regularly.
It's important to make the outside of your outlet as bright and as attractive as possible. Try to make sure that signs are professionally made, clean and in good condition. Use colours, lettering and designs that you feel put across the right image for your sandwich bar. Bear in mind that things like keeping your windows spotlessly clean and the condition of paintwork can make the difference between a sandwich bar that looks like it's up and coming and one that looks old and run-down.
It can be a good idea to advertise daily or weekly specials on a board or sign outside your outlet. This will help attract passing trade and also show potential customers that you're open for business. You could use your window to advertise special offers, promotions and any services you offer - like outside catering. It's probably a good idea to place a menu card and price list in your window too. However, be careful not to clutter your window with signs and notices - it's good for business if passers by can look in and see an inviting and well-stocked sandwich bar.
The interior of your sandwich bar is very important. You can use the way you decorate and the fittings and fixtures you install to help create a brand image and a certain type of ambiance for your outlet. Think about how you'll display your products. This may depend on whether you offer made-to-order sandwiches, pre-prepared sandwiches, or both. For example, you could display a range of pre-prepared sandwiches, drinks and other products in a chiller unit and a range of fillings for made-to-order sandwiches in a chilled serve-over counter.
Think about how you can encourage customers to buy more from you. Don't overlook the importance of 'impulse' buys. You could place a rack of confectionery, cakes or muffins - or a basket of fresh fruit - next to the till. Talk to your suppliers about attractive point-of-sale materials. Encourage staff to ask customers if they would like any additional products to go with their sandwich, such as a drink or packet of crisps, and to draw their attention to any special offers like a 'meal deal'.
People have come to expect high quality standards and it's important that:
- your premises are clean and smart at all times, with a good food hygiene inspection rating from the local authority
- your displays and sandwich fillings always look fresh and appetising - it's essential that you remove any items that look past their best
- if you offer eat-in sales, you make sure that tables are cleaned between customers - tables with leftovers from the previous customer can be very off-putting and could well lose you business
Your staff play a very important role in shaping the image of your sandwich bar. Customers will expect them to be friendly, helpful, polite and efficient. It could be a good idea to have a staff uniform.
Remember that satisfied customers who have enjoyed their visit to your sandwich bar are likely to tell their friends and encourage them to visit your outlet.
Advertising and marketing your sandwich bar
Once you're happy with the way your sandwich bar looks, you'll want to make sure that as many potential customers as possible know about it.
There are a number of things you could consider doing to market and promote your business. You could, for example:
- launch your own website showing the range of sandwiches and other products you offer and listing any other services
- use online social media to raise the profile of your cafe and keep in touch with customers - you could use Facebook and Twitter to tell people about your latest menu and special offers, for example
- take steps to manage and take full advantage of your Tripadvisor listing
- advertise in local newspapers and directories
- have leaflets printed and deliver them in the local area - you could include your price list and highlight key features like special deals or Fairtrade products
- put up a board outside your outlet advertising daily or weekly specials
- have your logo and contact details professionally sign written on your vehicle - your vehicle can be a good advert for your business so try to keep it clean and smart to project the right sort of image
- participate in industry promotions such as British Sandwich Week
- join a trade association such as the British Sandwich Association (BSA) and have your details listed in their online sandwich and cafe finder directory
- provide some free samples, together with a price list and details of your range, to prospective customers for any delivery service you propose offering
- operate a loyalty scheme whereby customers have a card and receive a stamp each time they buy a sandwich or an equivalent product. When they reach a certain number of stamps, for example eight, they receive a free sandwich and a drink - this can help to ensure repeat custom
Almost all types of advertising have a cost, whether it's financial or your own time and effort - or both. You need to make sure that the beneficial effects of your advertising and promotional efforts are worth the time and money spent on them. It's up to you to decide which types of advertising and promotion work best for you - sometimes this is down to trial and error.