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Business Problem Turnaround: Moving perishable products before they go stale

May 3, 2017

This post is part of our Business Problem Turnaround series. Read the entire series here on the Clover blog, and explore for more better business tips and tactics.

For those in the QSR business—especially coffee shops—providing an assortment of baked goods and other perishables in a glass case up front is almost a requirement. Patrons have come to expect to be able to buy something sweet to nosh with their hot (or cold) drink.

While all food-based businesses have to deal with some spoilage, for those whose food products become less desirable after a single day (like bakeries or cafes), it’s important to employ creative strategies to ensure as much product as possible sells before it goes ‘bad.’

Set the scene

Having the right layout in your business can be the difference between selling out each day and selling nothing at all. In the grocery business, it’s popular to say “eye level is buy level,” and the same rings true for QSR businesses that deal in perishable goods. It’s crucial that if you expect to do a brisk business with perishables, you don’t overlook elevating—both figuratively and literally—the visibility of the product.

Also, it’s important to provide samples to introduce customers to products—both new offerings and old favorites. Remember, every customer might not know about your shop’s famous sticky buns, so be sure to sample them often. In addition to improving the customer experience (and avoiding the occasional ‘hangry’ outburst), having a little bite to offer at checkout can also educate your regulars about new products you’re introducing or entice them into an impulse buy of an old favorite.

Finally, science shows that scents can stir up powerful emotions and influence behavior. Anyone who’s caught a whiff of french fries outside a diner can attest. To ensure their mouths are watering by the time they reach the front of the line, try to have items that smell great in the stove to give your business a little olfactory boost.

Launch smart promotions

If you’re planning to move a whole day’s worth (or more) of perishable goods daily at your business, it’ll be important to come up with some smart promotions to do so.

While technology, like Promos, and social media can help get the word out, it’s important to craft promotions specific to the products you hope to move.

For example, try running a happy hour special specifically for perishable items, discounting them towards the end of the day to help them move. You might offer discounts for bulk pre-orders. Or, to improve business during off-times of the day, consider doing a two-for-one deal to bring in more customers during traditionally slower hours.

Make the most of the situation

Regardless of how well you design your store, and how great your promos are, some days you’re just going to have some leftovers. There’s no getting around it.

On the days you do have some leftover goods, have you considered up-cycling it into something else? For example, if you make bread, can you take the day-olds and turn them into gourmet bread crumbs or bread pudding?

Another option is giving the older products away and leveraging the occasion for goodwill. Partner with a food bank or shelter to donate leftover food, and support those you need in your surrounding community. Everybody wins.

[image: Bakery! By Vincent Diamante on flickr]