6 Critical Questions to Ask When Creating a Winning Grocerant Strategy

6 Critical Questions to Ask When Creating a Winning Grocerant Strategy

Grocerants are a relatively young segment in the foodservice world. Many are still experiencing growing pains from the basics such as carving out space in a crowded retail setting, creating menu specialties and training staff. Thinking about menu strategies can fall to the bottom of the “to-do” list, but it’s worth moving to the top. Establishing your menu priorities begins with asking some questions that won’t just help create a menu, but will also guide your foodservice business model.

Here are some questions to clarify your grocerant strategy:

  • Has each menu item been prioritized based on its importance to your grocerant brand?
  • Do you have an action plan for how each menu item will contribute to the brand’s business performance?
  • Do you have details in place to execute the plan?
  • Do you have goals and measures to evaluate results?
  • Has the menu strategy been shared throughout the organization?
  • Is the menu strategy understood throughout the company?

As grocerants vie for more of consumers’ prepared food dollars, their operators need to go toe-to-toe with restaurants, especially those in the QSR and fast-casual segments. The most successful QSRs and fast-casual brands can answer “yes” to most, if not all, of the above questions. Grocerants can learn a lot by borrowing a page from their playbook.

The Future of Retail Foodservice

While sushi can play an integral role in a fresh, forward-thinking grocerant operation, there also are plenty of other ways grocers can turn their foodservice operation into a must-dine destination. Learn more at Progressive Grocer's Grocerant Solutions Summit.

Do Your Menu Strategy Homework

Getting to “yes” on the list of menu strategy questions requires some homework from all interested parties, but it’s time well spent. Here’s where to start:

1. Review your current menu strategy and results

Do the math. How many items do you offer? What percentage of sales does each item contribute? Where are best-sellers located on your menu real estate? How often do you change the positioning of your menu listings?

2. Establish your business objectives

Some examples: We want to increase morning coffee sales, we want to be known for nightly pasta specials, or we need to increase sales between the lunch and dinner dayparts. Once you have prioritized your objectives in order of greatest potential, establish targets and metrics for each.

3. Identify and prioritize your food platforms

Are beverage sales more important than sandwiches? How often do you sell a beverage with a sandwich? Are sides more profitable than desserts? How do your menu items work together and independently?

4. Understand critical weaknesses

Menu measurement and strategy can identify and correct weaknesses, such as knowing your slowest hours of the day and identifying your lowest-selling items. This step can also help you identify threats and risks, like having a competitor with similar or better menu offerings.

5. Recognize critical success factors

Track sales of best-sellers and signature items to measure what differentiates you from the competition.

6. Identify and prioritize key opportunities

Provide specific examples of how you will accomplish your most important business objectives. Examples: We will develop “combo” offers to grow check averages, or we will offer free coffee refills with bakery purchases during slow afternoon hours.

Knowing and sharing your homework will guide a menu strategy and create a unified vision that will help dissolve any cultural resistance within your organization. You might have individuals with their own ideas about the importance of a pizza topping or a weekly special. A menu strategy quantifies your grocerant goals and outranks any opinions and vested interests.

About the Author

Howland Blackiston
Howland Blackiston is principal of Westport, Conn.-based retail consulting and design firm King-Casey. Read More