Jo Bruce looks at ways licensees can crack a breakfast offer.
Breakfast is a big opportunity to impress customers, and if punters are wowed with your offer then, they are likely to return for lunch or dinner — so it is a good way to generate increased customer loyalty and profitability.
As Ben Bartlett, food development manager for Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company, says: "Breakfast is an obvious business opportunity to win over new and existing customers as more and more customers are eating breakfast away from home".
With breakfast and brunch becoming more of an occasion in the UK, there is certainly an opportunity for licensees to grow breakfast sales, particularly at weekends. Pubs in bustling town centres may be able to offer a simple brunch menu seven days a week, but for many, breakfast may be more of an occasional opportunity such as when a farmer's market is on, when playing host to a monthly business breakfast, when running a breakfast offer for shooting parties or events, or even on New Year's Day to help customers nurse their hangovers.
If, however, you are serving breakfast, then make sure your offer is well promoted with descriptive menu cards, information on your website and outside banners and A-boards.
You may want to consider a breakfast loyalty card to help drive repeat custom, such as buy five bacon baps and get the sixth free, or a free Bloody Mary for every five full English breakfasts purchased.
You might also get staff to wear T-shirts on Friday nights promoting your weekend breakfast offer. Use incentives such as free newspapers or free toast for children to encourage trade.
Breakfast and brunch can also be a good way of driving wet sales of drinks such as Buck's Fizz, Bloody Marys and Virgin Marys, as well as coffees, teas, juices and smoothies, so make sure your breakfast menu also shouts about your premium drinks offer.
As James Rogers, owner of the Dog Inn, Grundisburgh, Suffolk, says: "Don't be rigid about what you can do at breakfast — flexibility earns you brownie points."
Omelettes are seeing a revival on pub menus and three egg omelettes are the perfect dish for customers to have it their way at breakfast or brunch. Offer an omelette section on your breakfast menu, with a choice of fillings such as ham, cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, local bacon or smoked salmon and charge per filling. Charge a premium for fillings such as smoked salmon.
You can also get customers' to trade up with their breakfast offer by offering an extras section. At Drake & Morgan's Parlour bar in London they offer the "Parlour Fully Loaded", which features eggs of your choice, sweet cured bacon, mushroom, tomato, grilled sausage, black pudding and toast (£8.95).
But customers can then pick from the extras section to upload further — an extra egg costs 75p, grilled tomato (£1), baked beans (£1.25) and black pudding (£1.25). This is a great way of giving customers more choice while getting them to up their spend.
Free tea or coffee
Claire Sullivan, marketing director at Unilever Foodsolutions suggests: "It is crucial for caterers to provide a breakfast menu that offers value for money alongside taste.
"In today's tough financial times, customers will need that extra bit of persuasion to part with their pounds as 47% of consumers list value for money as a top consideration when eating out of home. By offering a free cup of tea or coffee when purchasing a breakfast meal, or a loyalty card offering savings over time, caterers can create the perception of value."
Both Yates and JD Wetherspoon offer a breakfast bap deal that includes a coffee or tea. Many brands such as PG tips offer takeaway packaging, so licensees can offer a breakfast roll and tea to go.
Breakfast also represents an ideal opportunity for licensees to add personality to their menus. At Paul Merrett's Victoria in East Sheen, London, the offer includes the crazy weekend milkshake (£2). At healthy fast-food concept Leon the breakfast menu includes an "I Love England" bap, which is described as an "English breakfast in a bap. A great tradition made better". Also on offer is the "power smoothie", which is described as: "It won't help you rule the world. It's much better than that."
If you are offering boiled egg and soldiers, serve the egg dippers in soldier shapes or use a toast stencil to stamp good morning on your toast.
Have fun with your descriptions, as humour can help dishes to fly. It is also useful to include information about your ingredients if they are local as it will help convey an im-pression of quality and assist you in generating a good profit from your offer.
Breakfast isn't always about a fullMonty fry-up and many of your customers will be looking for healthier options. At Gordon Ramsay's York & Albany in Camden, north London, healthier options include detox juice, poached fruit, seasonal fruit and low-fat yoghurt with compote. Warm options include egg white omelette with herbs and grilled tomatoes.
Look at offering a range of fruit and herbal teas too. At the ETM Group's Empress of India, in east London, they serve freshly-blended smoothies including carrot, orange and ginger; mango, apple and mint; and apple, pear and cinnamon.
Another way of making your offer appear healthier is to switch to grilling or griddling rather than frying your breakfast items and communicating this in menu descriptions.
Goldilock's favourite is big news both in and out of home and is worth a place on any brekkie menu. Serve rolled porridge oats with golden syrup or fruit purée, or with honey, hazelnuts and banana. Kedgeree, grilled kippers, black pudding, granola, buttermilk pancakes and duck eggs are also popular.
Add a dollop of HP sauce to an egg, bacon and red chilli crumpet or add Heinz tomato ketchup to tangy tomato and potato waffles for some interesting options. Crumpets and vegetarian breakfasts are also worth considering.
Grub to go
Finally it is worth noting that there is growing demand for breakfast options that can be ordered and eaten in just a few minutes.
To capitalise on this opportunity licensees need to be armed with the right grab-and-go breakfast products such as croissants, pastries and muffins.
Bakery supplier Delice de France offers bel aux raisins — a flaky pastry croissant with juicy raisins — and muesli muffins, which can add interest to take-away options, along with more traditional products such as croissants and pain aux raisins. Also consider a breakfast delivery service if you have offices nearby.
Bring home the bacon
BPEX foodservice trade manager Tony Goodger believes the key to providing a satisfying and profitable breakfast is making sure you have the right variety of quality ingredients to set you apart from the competition.
Goodger suggests quality plain, smoked or Wiltshire cured bacon for breakfast offers rather than sweet cures, and a premium breakfast sausage, rather than something you would use in evening meals, which can dominate the plate.
He recommends shouting about the provenance of the bacon and type of cure, of which there are many regional varieties — if it is locally produced this can be a real draw for diners.
It is also worth offering black pudding, as this is a popular breakfast item that customers are often happy to pay extra for. If this is made by your local butcher or made in your region, then shout about it on your menu.
Bacon Connoisseurs' Week runs from 22 to 28 March and is an ideal opportunity for pubs to showcase breakfast offers. For recipe ideas visit www.porkforcaterers.co.uk
Bespoke breakfasts boost business
James Rogers, owner of freehold the Dog Inn in Grundisburgh, Suffolk, offers bespoke breakfasts on demand.
He believes breakfast is a lucrative way of drumming up extra trade and providing a value-added customer service — particularly important concepts during a recession.