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A structured approach to raising footfall

Footfall: A Structured Pathway.

When the influences on your footfall are so varied, having a structured plan for improvement is vital. Not only will it save you chasing your tail, but it’ll ensure you focus on the actions that make the biggest difference to your most desirable customers.

Our Account Managers attended a workshop that outlined three components vital to the decision-process of someone choosing where to dine or buy from. Take a look at the model below; the proposal is that unless you are addressing all three components, you are leaving yourself open to a ready-made reason for your potential customer to go elsewhere. If you’re making strides in all three areas, you should be on the path to increased sales, price premiums and greater customer loyalty. We can help you to use the model to consider where most of your efforts sit, acknowledge what’s working and why, and identify the weak spots that are slowing down or preventing footfall.


Don’t be tempted to ignore weak need as though it were something beyond your control. It’s a big subject for another time, but recognise that perceived need is linked to value perception, i.e. ‘need’ can often be stimulated if the offer is made compelling enough. Desserts often face ‘weak need’, as we’re no longer hungry, perhaps we’ve already enjoyed the experience of eating out, and they’re generally viewed as an unhealthy indulgence. So, following that example, how might you increase need?

  • Emphasise the feel-good factor with messages akin to ‘Go on – you deserve it’ and ‘the perfect end to the perfect day’. Cliché and widely recognised, but building up an ‘emotional need’ is a trick we all love to fall for.
  • Take support from the rising healthy eating movement by tapping into the nagging ‘need’ on most consciences to hit the ‘5-a-day’ target, for example by promoting healthy desserts but with a luxurious twist, such as exotic fruit salads. Parents also welcome this approach, with the popularity of ‘hidden veg’ symbols on children’s menus being an admirable example of heightening ‘need’ to resonate more strongly within a customer group.
  • 3-course set menus tackle the buyers decision when perceived ‘need’ is stronger (still hungry, more of a treat to look forward to) and when the customer is weighing up overall value. Offering young children free ice-creams can be a smart move to ensure parents order something for themselves meanwhile.
  • An ‘after-dinner drink with mini-treat’ promotion or sharing desserts are increasingly popular compromises that tip the balance just enough.
  • Don’t flog a dead horse. If you’re having to try really hard, then question if you’ve actually found a way to free up wasted time. If they truly don’t need it, then neither do you.


Acknowledge how varied customer ‘needs’ may be (disabled access, gluten-free options, take-away dishes, extended opening hours, ample car parking, a birthday-party room?) … just stay sane by reviewing them only in the context of your top target customer groups – after all, you can never be all things to all men!

Remember: Needs can be both logical and emotional!



So, you’re confident you’re meeting a need, but chances are you’ve competitors who do too, so how do you become the preferred option? Promoting your differences is essential, as if your product or service can be easily substituted, then it all comes down to either price or belief (see next). Consider:

  • Practical differences: the products, services or facilities that your offer (all-vegan menus? Tea & Technology drop-in sessions? Live music? Mexican nights? Décor?)
  • Emotional differences: how does the ‘experience’ differ with you (from first glance, to visit, to follow-up contact, to how you trigger off good memories)? In what ways are you nurturing a bond with your customers? How is your business personality/brand different?
  • Tactical differences: what extra reasons are you giving someone for trying you or sticking with you? (VIP menu tasting nights? Discount coupons? Loyalty cards?)

With increasingly complex lives, our comfort zones are especially warm places to stay. To tempt someone to choose you, ‘need’ and ‘difference’ are often not enough – people want proof. They’re not simply going to take your word for it, not when the ‘general public opinion’ now means so much (think Social Media, Compensation-Claim-Culture, TripAdvisor and such like). But what does this mean for you?

  • People look for opinion approval and like-minded people. Many are increasingly seeking a ‘deeper meaning’ and attaching themselves to ethical or environmental movements. Promoting your values, marketing menu provenance, supporting community activities and providing a social hub is no longer soft-stuff
  • Accept that your brand is no longer what you say it is, but rather what your customers say it is. Even without words, a ‘checked in’ on Facebook or a friend’s ‘like or share’ can be very influential. Love it or hate it, social media can make a strong sway on belief (positively or negatively). Professional support is rarely expensive but can bring big benefits.
  • Imagine your business as a person – define who they are, how they look, behave and what they care for. Review EVERYTHING that may influence belief, from the way front-of-house staff speak, to your menu design, your choice of tea bags to the charities you support. Make it authentic and genuine – you’ll be surprised how many will open the door for that alone.

Quick Tip: Short on time or marketing budget? It’s usually more cost-effective to focus on returning footfall than new.

Here to support you

There’s so very much that influences footfall and our Account Managers know that no business is ever the same. That’s why you’ll not find them shooting in the dark with random ideas and there’s no exhaustive checklist of footfall boosters or one-size-fits-all solution here. It’s about us understanding you, your business and following a structured approach to improved footfall. Keen to get going? Give your Account Manager a call or tweet us @pdfoodservice.

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Author: Philip Dennis Foodservice
Philip Dennis pride themselves on their passionate and personal foodservice and business support. We regularly produce blogs to ensure our customers can make the most out of this seasons produce and trends.

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