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Examining Canadian F&B operators’ top business challenges

Seize Digital
Author: Sean Keith
Canada’s food and beverage (F&B) industry is dynamic, competitive and as diverse as its citizens. Dining out remains at an all-time-high for consumers – over 71% eat out up to 10 times per month. But F&B owners and operators are facing some persistent challenges.
To what extent these challenges affect operations will vary from business to business, but they are commonplace across the industry nonetheless. The good news is that many can be combatted by improving customer engagement and implementing loyalty strategies, both of which can also create new opportunities for revenue growth.
Our latest industry report, Changing Tastes & Flavours, reveals these challenges, which include fraud and the need to drive more repeat visits and per-visit spend. Outlined below are a few key strategies for F&B operators to tackle these issues and turn them into data-capturing, revenue-generating opportunities:

Tackling customer- and staff-related fraud head on

The age-old issue of fraud still poses many problems for F&B operators, from both a customer and a staffing perspective. Customer-related fraud occurs when diners use a promotional offer more than once. They may also manufacture fake vouchers or try to claim other customers’ rewards, which can have significant financial impact over time. This also holds true when we consider staff-related fraud, when employees approve expired or invalid offers, or fraudulently claim customer rewards for themselves. Not only does this negatively impact the business, it can also create tension between management and employees, or lower morale altogether.
While mitigating fraud might seem an impossible task, there are some tried-and-true solutions that F&B operators can leverage, including:
1. Unique IDs – When running a promotion, consider adding a unique identifier to every individual offer. This ensures the code is “burned” upon redemption and only by the person that “earned” it, which prevents customers or staff to continue using the same offer in the future.
2. Staff Rewards Programs – Demonstrating gratitude for effort or performance helps disincentivize staff from committing fraud. This can also improve staff morale, reduce high attrition and turnover, and help to retain trustworthy employees.

Multiplying repeat visits & per-visit spend

In an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, it’s no wonder F&B operators frequently cite driving repeat visits and increasing per-visit spend as a challenge. Our report shows that the right loyalty program can help address this: 29% of F&B operators say loyalty programs help acquire new customers, 17% say it increases footfall and per-visit-spend and 36% state their program encourages repeat business.
To increase repeat visits, operators can leverage the data provided by loyalty programs to better understand their customers’ preferences and behaviours. This enables operators to send more targeted and relevant offers on occasions that matter to them, such as half-price refreshments during a customer’s favourite sporting event or offering the chef’s table for celebrations like Father’s Day, when you know a customer often dines out with his family. This type of personalised customer engagement not only increases repeat visits, but it also creates more loyal customers - the ones who continue to come back time and time again.
Increasing customers’ per-visit spend can also be achieved by better understanding customers’ behaviors and identifying opportunities to “nudge” them toward additional purchases. One way to do this is to digitise and mobilise the loyalty experience, which facilitates data collection and gives operators greater insight into what their customers buy and why. For instance, if an F&B operator knows (by tracking loyalty program activity in combination with point-of-sale data) that a certain customer regularly orders a cocktail and an entrée, but never a dessert, they can present an offer of a half-price dessert to that customer either before their visit or while they’re on-premise, enticing them to spend beyond their typical limit.

Relevant and timely offers informed by a deeper understanding of customers’ mobile and digital behaviours are not only central to increasing per-visit spend, but also to better engaging with customers and driving deeper brand loyalty.
To learn more about how F&B operators can tackle these challenges, and gain actionable insights to drive your business forward, download our Changing Tastes & Flavours report today.