Hawker fare is well-known in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia is no different with its own spin on hawker culture. Even though Malaysia has seen significant modernisation and transformation in recent decades, its hawker stall businesses and their specialty food remains one of the strongholds of the Malaysian culinary experience.
Setting up a hawker stall is easy, but it may be challenging to be noticed from the rest, especially when competition out there gets stronger by the day.
Here’s some tips and ideas for your food business to get you ahead of the pack:
1. Aesthetic Presentation
Make your stall or store visually appealing by working on aspects of food display, presentation, and cleanliness. A hawker stall may be simple, but a bold signboard with a catchy slogan goes a long way in attracting attention. Bonus points if you manage to present your selling points to customers in a show, don’t tell manner! For food display, using light and proper casing to display ready food also helps appeal to passersby. Don’t be afraid to decorate it to add your own touch too!
2. Menu Planning
You’ve got your signature dishes, but what else? You can go for the ‘less is more’ approach by focusing solely on the recipes you do best, or you can opt for seasonal dishes to expand your menu without detracting from the bestsellers. Remember not to stretch yourself too thin by adding too many items to the menu! Not only that it helps with inventory control, menu planning can prevent raw ingredient wastage too.
3. Old but Gold Food Sampling
If your menu permits, consider allowing free sampling! It tempts customers into tasting your signature dish or popular items food, and you can let your recipe do the rest of the talking. Otherwise, walking from table to table hawking pre-packaged food may also do the trick. For instance, customers that may want dessert but aren’t keen on queueing for shaved ice may opt for cup jelly or puddings as an alternative. Selling otak-otak or kuih-muih? This same technique works too.
4. Local Advertising
Reach out to your local marketing by utilizing simple advertising methods such as flyers, brochures and other printed materials. These are quick ways to get eyeballs on your stall’s offerings, and you can even include a coupon to encourage purchases from those who got your printed advertisement. They are cost-effective, and help reach out to customers that may not be digitally-inclined but live within your service area.
5. Social Media Presence
Make sure you have a social media presence. Ensure you are on popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Posting high quality photos, behind-the-scenes of your business and customer reviews will help get you get noticed. If the food court you are working at has its own social media, request for a shoutout! You could even collaborate with neighboring stalls by mentioning each other on your social media. Don’t forget to utilize hashtags too to boost online visibility and help potential customers find your business.
You can definitely be as creative as you wish with marketing, but remember to be consistent with your branding. Planning your marketing strategy is just as important as planning your menu, because that gets customers tasting your yummy food and hopefully spreading the word by mouth!
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