Monday 14 October 2019

Half-baked plan to try and attract customers by using fake aromas stinks


Maths zeros in on perfect cup of coffee. Stock photo: ADA
Maths zeros in on perfect cup of coffee. Stock photo: ADA

Problem solver: Feargal Quinn

Query: saw a great new piece of technology recently which created artificial aromas of bread and other goods found in a food retail environment. Should I install it in my convenience store?

Answer: Of all the crazy inventions I have heard of, this probably tops the list.

It is well known that hot fresh bread, rotisserie chickens, etc, in a retail environment really stimulates the taste buds and gets consumers buying.

In Superquinn our bakeries were the most successful in the country for decades. The reason was very simple - we had hot fresh bread throughout the day right up until close of business that evening.

Customers also enjoyed smells and aromas of the other production parts of the business such as the spices going into our freshly-made sausages, fresh juice being squeezed in our fruit and veg department, and so on.

Why would anyone need to fake these aromas in order to trick the customer into believing you are making fresh products? Excuse the pun... but I think the idea stinks.

I am sure some well-intentioned engineer came up with this idea, but if we have come to a point in retailing where we need to add fake aromas to things like fake news and a whole list of other misleading items, then it is a bad day.

Query: I run a cafe which focuses on great coffee, cakes and light lunch. While I am busy, I am struggling to pay the rent and rates and in desperate need of some advice.

Answer: It sounds like you have got quality on your radar and that you have put time and energy into sourcing great coffee, developing good recipes and generally running a professional operation.

You have done nothing wrong in that part of the business.

It is quite probable that the answer lies in your statement about 'light lunches'. I assume that is to mean sandwiches, wraps, etc.

Your problem is always going to be generating high enough revenue during this peak period between 12pm-2pm in order to sustain the business. I know several cafés where the quietest time of the day is between 12pm and 2pm, even though they run a superb operation and have the nicest cakes and coffee you could ask to find.

In order to run a successful café, you must have the ability to increase your average spend between 12pm and 2pm each day. That is where the high-value sales will come from which will help you to increase your overall weekly sales and enhance the margin also.

It is quite probable that the average spend for your total business at the moment could be €6 or even lower if you have a lot of people buying coffees only. Developing a substantial lunch-time offering could bring this spend close to €10 or more and that will make a huge difference to your business.

Obviously, if you have positioned the business currently as largely coffee, cakes and light bites, you will have to do a new marketing campaign to communicate your new message, but I have seen this done elsewhere successfully.

You should try and get some external help and there are several good consultants who specialise in this area.

You might even have a conversation with your Local Enterprise Office to see if they have a mentor who would have expertise in this area.

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