Finally! After all the drama and heartache of the Currie Barracks market having closed at Christmas time; it reopened in it's new digs this weekend! 4 foodie thumbs up from my kid posse and I today!
Love the new food-sit down area with a larger play area for toddlers AND big kids; this was the highlight of the trip for my 8 year old for the simple fact that the old market had a strict height regulation that boycotted all kids taller than a corn cob.
After we filled our reusable, shopping bags with fixings for an amazing dinner; the kids did another bounce through the play area and I sat and people watched ....and yes, analyzed the new joint.
I watched as people lined up at the various food kiosks and started head counts. Didn't take long to realize that the lineups were stacked in front of the kiosks that had actually posted their menus and prices and the kiosks with literally NO signage, NO brand, NO logo, NO menu, NO marketing whatsoever,.....were empty. I wonder if any of these businesses realized that opening weekend was kind of a big deal? I know, I know, you are all thinking Shi@ happens but this is where a good brainstorming session would have made all the difference! Especially knowing that the traffic was going to be monumental (yesterday’s counts were approximately 10,000 people alone).
Of course I see an outstanding opportunity to play “what if”. What if that happened to me? What if this happened to a client of mine; what would I do? What would I recommend?
Grand opening dates are announced for your new retail location and your sign company calls to tell you:
a) your new company sign will not be ready in time for the grand opening (or the 36,000 people that will be flooding the venue that Easter weekend)
b) your wall mounted, huge menu signage with all your items and prices will not be ready
c) your countertop branding signage, logo, brochures won't be ready....so..what do you do?
(Besides the obvious search for a NEW sign company!)..
Emergency Solution Suggestions:
a) Don't open! (unless mandated by the landlord, co-op or committee)
-this approach would be obvious if you know your quality of product or service is compromised in any way. If you have not received your key deliveries, your staff is not ready or your staff will not be capable of selling your goods without the signage and wall details. This would NOT be my first choice but it would be on the brainstorming list.
Why is this an issue? Think of the experience from the customer's perspective. They see a counter display with various exotic food dishes, no signage or prices. If your staff do not know the items thoroughly and are unable to actively and authentically sell your wares; those customers will walk away frustrated. Is it couscous? Is it quinoa? How much is the wrap? What does it come with? Not exactly a great first impression in farm fresh, "fast" food is it?
b) With computer technology at everybody's finger tips, there was no reason why some of the these "sign-less, menu-less" business owners could not have printed and laminated menu headers to place on their countertops or at the till. Laminating services are dirt cheap, in fact I bought a laminator years ago at Staples and use it for hundreds of projects.
c) Get a chalk board and wall mount it with your menu written on it, or maybe a sandwich board/floor sign with your "Plat Du Jour" proudly displayed.
d) Get chalkboard paint and paint the wall where the sign is going to be hung. If you are lucky; when the sign arrives, it may be large enough to hang right over top of your temporary fix; necessitating no further paint touch ups.
e) Using the laminated menu cards and taking it one step further, why not have a staff member out in front of the counter, animating the menu card and greeting customers? They can be cheerfully pointing out the fabulous food for sale! Just make sure they KNOW the menu inside out!
f) Call a company that makes vinyl banners. Standard widths are 22”, 34”, 46” or pay more for custom widths in whatever length you need. Full colour patches can be applied for photos and logos or choose full processed colour. It is even a good idea to have a standard one made with your business name, logo and nothing else. Keep it for emergencies just like this. Then it can be used again for trade shows, BBQ and outdoor events, sponsorship events and future openings when sign companies mess up!
g) Look at using a projector. Have it projecting your menu items up onto the back wall. It might take some wrangling to figure out the placement where it will not be blocked by moving staff.
h) Get food industry sign sticks or if no time, make individual little signs with popsicle sticks and laminated business cards for each food item on display in counter array. Print the name of each dish with the price, making it simple for the customer to navigate.
i) Print magnetic business cards with menu items and prices and place them on your metal food case or food bins. *Note: Will not work on stainless*
Essentially, there are many things that could have been done to save the experiences of these food vendors. I sat quietly, watching customer after customer walk away from these vendor stalls and truthfully felt bad for them. This list took 20 minutes of brainstorming; too bad they couldn't find that amount of time to save their launch profile.Luckily, I now have another handful of “what ifs” to add to my “what if” file!
Moral of this post?
Think outside of the takeout box. Choose a solution and then make it all look like an authentic, intentional twist on the market, food experience as opposed to the royally, embarassing hiccup it truly was!
PS. Don’t forget to send the bill for your band-aid solution for the missing menu and signage to your old sign company, it’s the least they can do! Bon appetit!
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!