Signage is important. Whether it's a drive-thru window, a walk-up menu board in a fast casual restaurant, or even the sign above the door that lets passers-by know who you are, how you display things can have enormous impacts on the guest experience.
In the recent edition of Restaurant Development + Design magazine, Amanda Baltazar explored the importance of signs in great detail.
When signs are done right, the article explains, they can emphasize your brand, aid customer decisions, and unify your restaurant or foodservice establishment.
Does this only happen in restaurants, though? What about buffets?
The reality is signage in buffet services can be even more important than in brick and mortar establishments. For one, guests attending a buffet are likely to be in that space with that specific configuration for the first time (and likely the last). Restaurants, on the other hand, can rely on previous guests experiences and use the physical attributes of the space itself to help provide direction.
One way buffet service operators can help provide these types of directions is by using signage, and signage has multiple benefits.
This is the no-brainer. Have you ever been in a large ballroom for a buffet-style dinner? Perhaps it was a wedding or even an awards ceremony. Serving stations are set all around the periphery of the room. There are salad bars, a carving station, one even has made-to-order induction cooking stand serving as a pasta bar. Speaking of bars, there are three or four scattered around the room somewhere... but how do you know where everything is at in such an enormous room with so many people?
Operators have to go vertical. Consider tall signage that displays what is being served on that particular station. Add décor like a canopy that can add style, catch the eye, and even transport guests into creative experiences like an intimate, outdoor market.
Believe it or not, there are operator benefits, as well. When it comes to service, being able to provide a positive, hospitality-driven experience in a high-volume setting is largely dependent on efficiency. When too many guests gather in a small number of places, that's when service can really slow down.
By displaying signs throughout the buffet service to direct guests where they are looking to go, this can help prevent bottlenecking in particular areas of the event. Bars are a great example. If people enter all ballroom on one side of the room they're more apt to gravitate toward the bars closest to where they enter the room. If the bars on the opposite side of the room have high profile signage indicated there are additional bars, guests will inevitably migrate toward those other, less crowded areas.
Some tips for how your signs should look:
In the RD+D article, they provided some helpful tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of signs and menu boards.
Make sure fonts are large, legible, and easy to read. Consider the distance at which you'd like guests to be able to read what you're writing. If need be, consider several signs. One to pull them over to that particular buffet station; others to display what is being served.
Signage should also mimic menus. We read from left to right, top to bottom, so if there are different types of foods being served at the same station, put appetizers on the top left while mains or entrées should be on the right or bottom. Allergens or specific ingredients? Be sure to mention those, as well. Signs are a great resource for preventing allergic reactions. And be sure to keep menu descriptions short.
Mogogo offers add-ons that can help direct your guests to the right areas of your buffet service.
In addition to the sleek and stylish designs of Mogogo buffet solutions, they've also created a variety of add-ons that can turn your service stations into easy-to-find, intimate experiences. Download the Mogogo Buffet Solution Guide to learn more.