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
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.
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.