Proper signage can help increase sales dramatically

By Diane Chiasson
Your signage is your silent salesperson, and should perform the same job as a salesperson does – sell your products!

Signage is one of your most effective merchandising tools, so it is important to ensure that your signage is not only giving your customers information about your products but also telling your customers to buy more. It should also tell your customers about your brand, your motto and what your restaurant stands for. Proper signage helps attract new customers and gets old customers to come back.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers these helpful ideas on how you can improve your signage to help you increase sales immediately:

1.  Signage starts outside

A good signage program always starts at the outside of your restaurant or foodservice operation. Whether your place is on a busy downtown street or a desolate highway, your outside signage says a lot about what’s going on inside. It can often be the determining factor as to whether or not a potential customer will walk through the door. Make sure your outdoor sign is clean, inviting and up-to-date, and is indicative of the type of food you serve. Also, make sure that people can see your sign from a distance.

2. Make it visible

You might like the combination of brown on black, and those colours might be part of your brand. However, potential customers would not be able to see your sign from a distance. Be sure to choose the right colours and fonts that make the name of your restaurant and the type of cuisine you serve stand out. If your branded colours are dark, use highlighting, borders or shadows to accentuate your signage.

3. The writing is key

Informational signage has the power to directly impact sales, so it should be well-written and concise. Put as much information on your sign as you think your customers need to know to make them want to order a particular item.  What makes the item so special that your customers must have it? Before you go to the printers, test what you’ve written. Show your writing samples to your staff, family or friends, and ask their opinion. Quite often, an outsider’s point of view is exactly what you need. However, don’t create special signage for every dish you serve. You do not want to overwhelm customers.

4. Moveable signage

Moveable or temporary signs are used for special promotions, demo areas, new menu items or to alert your customers about any worthy news you have. These signs should spell out the deal you are offering clearly, and are often more effective with photos or graphics that would grab attention.

5. “About Us” signage

Another type of signage that is gaining in popularity is one that tells customers a story about your operation, your philosophy or your mission statement. These “About Us” signs can be about your energy-efficient kitchen, your goal to source all your food products from local suppliers or the different charities to which you donate your profits. If your restaurant is a more fun or lively place, you can put funny anecdotes or stories about its history. Use relevant graphics to relay your point.

6. Permanent signage

Signage is not only necessary to help sell your products, but also to help direct the traffic flow in your restaurant. Ensure that all your permanent signage – signs that are used to mark specific areas that are fixed in place like restrooms, the kitchen, receiving department, etc. – is clearly marked. While these signs may not be promoting anything, they should still be cohesive in terms of logo, colour, graphics and design with the rest of your signage.

7. Proofread

Make sure that someone proofreads your writing, especially if English is not your first language. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on new signage only to find a glaring spelling or grammar mistake. If need be, hire a consultant or a freelance copyeditor to go over your work. If money is tight, barter a few free meals in exchange.


About the author:
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Toronto.  Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, or visit

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