Off premise: A sweet sales strategy

Curbside, takeout and grab-and-go, third-party delivery. As consumers continue to prioritize convenience, off-premise options such as these have become a critical area of growth for restaurants. But as more restaurants get into the delivery game, how can operators differentiate?

One proven way is to promote off-premise sales of desserts, which are versatile and broadly popular across varied concepts, segments and dayparts.

For restaurants that offer delivery and carryout, dessert can be a significant sales contributor. According to Technomic’s 2016 Takeout and Off-Premise report, 17% of consumers who order delivery and 11% who order carryout say they also order dessert.

Also worth noting: When consumers visit QSRs, they get dessert to go 43% of the time, compared to 23% of the time at fast-casual restaurants and 16% at casual dining eateries, per Technomic’s 2017 Dessert report, making dessert one sweet opportunity.

Getting customers to buy in

A restaurant with off-premise dessert and pastry sales at its core is Beatrix, a neighborhood coffee house and restaurant with three locations in Chicago and part of Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) restaurant group. The concept is known for breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that are wide-ranging and healthfully conceived and has an extensive coffee and pastry bar with a strong takeout business.

Offering everything from banana bread and dark chocolate brownies to signature items such as Oh My! Caramel Pie and Tall, Dark & Handsome Chocolate Cake, Beatrix is a laboratory for studying the consumer sweet tooth.

Marc Jacobs, executive partner and divisional president of LEYE, offers the following tips for boosting off-premise dessert and pastry sales.

  • For desserts, taste is paramount. “It all starts with quality and flavor,” says Jacobs. “If it tastes great, it will sell.” And that goes for items with healthful credentials as well as indulgent treats. In fact, Beatrix’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie and Gluten Free Cream Cheese Coffee Cake rank among the most popular items overall, not just among healthy eaters.
  • It pays to target multiple dayparts. “We get a real early pop at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, from hotel guests and hospital employees,” says Jacobs. “Later on, it is absolutely a neighborhood destination. After work, on the way home, we see people ordering desserts for social functions.”
  • Sell the whole pie (and cake). “During the holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, we sell a ton of whole pies,” says Jacobs. “We run a special for our caramel pie or pumpkin pecan pie and we can sell 70 or 80 per day.”
  • Make it easy to order in bulk. The catering/to-go menu of Beatrix Market, a grab-and-go offshoot of the Beatrix restaurant concept, offers package deals such as a dozen assorted pastries for $40 and pies and three dozen cookies for $36. “We’re catering to the offices and the businesses in the neighborhood,” says Jacobs. “We also have families ordering bulk trays or boxes of desserts for showers, rehearsal dinners and receptions.”
  • Packaging is super important. “The package must secure and protect the item,” says Jacobs. “Nothing is worse than getting it home finding out that it has turned over in the package. We’re always looking at new packaging innovations and eco-friendly packaging options.”

By implementing these strategies to boost take-out dessert sales, operators may find a boost in interest from customers who want dessert but prefer to take it with them. Dessert is a great way to increase check averages, regardless of where diners indulge.

Cleaner label pies great for grab-and-go, off-premise

With a wide variety of pre-baked, pre-sliced and un-baked options, Chef Pierre® Fruit Hi-Pie®, Traditional Fruit Pie & Fruit Cobblers are great for grab-and-go and on-premise enjoyment. Now naturally sweetened, with no artificial flavors or colors, these pies appeal to the 72% of consumers that say food that has no artificial sweeteners is healthier*and the 61% that associate “No artificial ingredients” with clean eating. Operators and patrons alike love these desserts for their back-of-house convenience, taste and nostalgic appeal. Learn more here.

*Technomic Healthy Eating Trend Report 2017

This post is sponsored by Chef Pierre®