From entrance to exit, signage, menu boards, display fixtures, posters, and graphics are an integral part of overall foodservice sales. When combined, these elements create a powerful visual communication system that welcomes, directs, informs, and motivates guests, while effectively projecting brand identity. If your dining environment isn’t accomplishing all of these, it may be time to make some updates.
4 Steps to Creating a Welcoming, Easy-to-Navigate Dining Space
1) Take a Page from the Fast-Casual Playbook
Many hospital cafeteria managers today need to compete with local fast casual restaurants and it helps to understand why these competitors are successful. Spend some time in your competition’s dining space. What kind of decor do they use? What about the furniture? What’s the overall ambiance like? Consider how these factors can translate to your space.
2) Stress Relief
The stressful hospital environment needs to deliver a much-needed emotional break for diners, whether they are guests or busy staff. Creating an inviting ambience– whether that’s relaxing, stimulating, or somewhere in between– can be crucial to ensuring a positive experience for diners and establishing repeat guests.
3) Point Them in the Right Direction
In addition to accurately representing your brand, visual communication systems are an important part of communicating pricing, products, and promotions to valued food service guests. “An effective signage system engages guests as soon as they enter the space, and guides them throughout their journey,” says Karen Hellriegel, Senior Account Executive at New Jersey-based Visual Graphic System (VGS), a full-service custom signage firm.
4) Stay Flexible
A great dining room system should allow for periodic customization. “A system that can be easily updated allows you to change menu offerings, promote limited time offers (LTOs) and seasonal promotions, and create on-the-spot specials to maximize inventory and high-margin items.” Better yet, updating your menu and display boards keeps your menu exciting for repeat guests.
A recent survey conducted by VGS indicates that consumers clearly favor restaurants that get back to the basics in four key areas: food, convenience, environment, and culture. Eateries that emphasize flavorful, quality foods served in comfortable, casual environments with convenient options will draw diners. If you want to compete with popular fast casual restaurants, it’s time to pare your restaurant and its offerings down to these key elements and commit to serving high-quality food, integrating convenience into your business plan, and getting clear on your brand. Then, ensure that you are accurately communicating your offering at the consumer level through your on-site communication system.