Many of the food vendors had large, professionally done signs stating their restaurant’s name and printed posterboard menus. Most of the remaining food vendors had handwritten posterboard menus but no business information posted. What surprised me most was the fact that a few of the vendors has no signage at all! Not a menu board, nothing; they just relied on people wandering up to their stand, looking at the food and (hopefully) ordering.
So, which vendors do you think had the lines of people waiting for their food? Yep, the vendors with restaurant signs and menu boards, followed closely by the vendors with simple hand-written menus. Now, I’m not saying that you need to spend big bucks on professional signage but, for Pete’s sake, handwritten signage is better than nothing! If you don’t do off-site events very often and want to save money by making your own signs that is perfectly fine, just make sure that they are neat, legible and only feature 2 colors at most. A couple of the signs I saw were apparently done by a younger person who tried to jazz them up by making every other word or letter a different color. All that does is distract and annoy people just trying to read a simple menu so simplicity is key. If you’d like to have a sign you can change and reuse then you may want to get a write on/wipe off sign. This double-sided sign will be perfect for use at off-site events and also out on the sidewalk in front of your store.
Some of the food I purchased was from a sign-less booth, simply because there were some ethnic dishes that I never tried before. I also purchased food from a vendor with full signage. The food from both booths was delicious but unfortunately, I cannot go to the tasty ethnic restaurant. Because I don’t know the name or where it is located.
Moral of the story? Don’t be shy, promote yourself! Now, this doesn’t just apply to restaurants. Any business that is presenting itself also needs to promote itself. Let people know who you are and where they can find you after the event is over. A weekend festival may bring in some extra cash for you but appropriate signage (and cheerful, helpful employees!) will bring in future business, as well.