Before you commit to creating and hosting a food challenge, make sure you understand that the work is NOT done after you develop the challenge and finally announce all of the details to your customers. Just like this website, maintaining the challenge after starting it will be easier and will take less time than creating it, but you will still have to put forth some additional effort to keep the challenge running smoothly and successfully. When you directly commit to starting a challenge, you are also indirectly committing to maintaining the challenge and keeping it going. Many restaurants that decide to end their challenge declare that “it lost its luster” as the reason for stopping it. Challenges do not just lose their luster and excitement. It may have lost it’s “newness,” but the problem is that the restaurant did absolutely nothing to keep the challenge going and just let it sit there, hoping that somebody would try it. If you don’t use it, you will most likely lose it.

Here are the main things that you will have to do to keep your challenge going successfully:

Keep the challenge materials in stock – This really only applies to challenges that involve custom parts like a specially made bun from the baker or a specially cut piece of meat from the butcher. If somebody orders your challenge, you don’t want to have to tell that person no, so you need to keep track and make sure that the challenge materials are in stock. Most eaters will hopefully call ahead for bigger challenges, but many people assume that they don’t need to if the challenge is not extremely large. You may get a few random people ordering the challenge just for fun, and it may ruin their opinion of your restaurant if you tell them no. People won’t order the challenge if they feel that they are an inconvenience, so make sure that you never have to turn people down, especially if your challenge is only 1 or 2 stars. Obviously, big groups need to call ahead though.

Keep your restaurant staff updated – I try to call well in advance before taking a challenge just to let the restaurant know that I am coming, and while I’m on the phone I usually try to confirm the challenge details just to be safe. I also called over 1,000 restaurants while putting together the updated list of food challenges featured on this website. It’s amazing how many people answering the phones at restaurants with challenges have no idea that they even have a food challenge at the restaurant. Many of the ones that do have to give the phone to a manager or read the challenge off the menu (something I already did on the website menu before calling). Keep your restaurant staff updated about your food challenge. When training new employees, make sure they know the details of your challenge too. If you do decide to end your challenge, let your staff know that so that they can let me know when they ask about the challenge. If you want people to call ahead, make sure your staff in charge of answering the phone knows the details that you are looking for. People can’t try your challenge if they don’t know about it, and it’s pretty hard for people to find out about it when your restaurant staff doesn’t even know about it. Make the effort to keep your staff informed and your challenge will get more attempts and will run a lot smoother, and your restaurant’s overall image will be much more professional too.

Maintain The Wall Of Fame – The easiest way to let your customers know that you have a food challenge is to have a Wall of Fame inside your restaurant. It amazes me when restaurants don’t have one because they are so simple to create and maintain. Then customers are able to walk by, look at the pictures, and they may even decide then and there that it looks fun so they want to try it. If 100 people have tried and they are all smiling, then they may want to be number 101. The more flashy your Wall of Fame is, the more people will check it out. Do you stare at a guy with a purple mohawk haircut with a neon yellow shirt or do you take more interest in the guy with a plain white t-shirt? Keep your Wall Of Fame updated with all of the pictures and/or names of the eating challengers. The more photos and names that you have displayed, the more inclined people will be to join in too.

Keep your social media followers engaged – I follow many different restaurants with food challenges on Facebook just to study their food challenge related posts and patterns. I do have a few favorites obviously, and the one similarity between all of them is that they post pictures of challengers almost every day to give their fans fun updates about how people have been doing. They post pictures of the fails, and then get hundreds of ‘likes’ when somebody actually wins. A big reason that people are trying it almost every day is because it is very reasonably priced, but another reason is because the restaurant makes the effort to take pictures and post about it every single day. How many people actually read your specials every day? “Not many” was hopefully your answer. It only takes a quick 5 seconds for somebody scrolling through their Facebook to see your post of a challenger with the remaining food left after he or she is finished. They immediately move on and keep scrolling, but you caught their eye just long enough to get your restaurant imprinted again in that person’s memory. Constant contact is a proven selling technique, and posting food challenge photos is a fun way to do that. People see all these other people doing the challenge, so they want to join in eventually too and take the food challenge themselves, or at least continue having fun following all the updates. Just a few minutes before and after whenever somebody takes the challenge will make a BIG difference to your customers and your wallet.

Keep trying to reach new people – If you only market your challenge to the same 500 people, well then yes your challenge is definitely going to lose its luster. To be honest your restaurant is going to lose it’s luster too if you only market to the same people. Keep trying to reach new people, and feel free to use your challenge as the “attention grabber” and “lead blocker” to get your name out there. As you read in Reasons To Have A Food Challenge, a well designed food challenge can put your restaurant “on the map” and attract a lot more new customers, but it won’t work unless you push it and make it work. A little extra effort can sometimes go a long way if you are working smarter and not just harder, but it won’t work if you don’t want it to be successful.

Hopefully after reading all of that, you can see that maintaining a successful food challenge isn’t hard or time consuming, but it does just take a little effort every now and then. Hopefully many of those things sound fun to you, such as posting on Facebook or updating the Wall of Fame. Would you prefer mopping and cleaning? Food challenges can do a lot for your restaurant, but just know going into everything that the effort of making it work never really ends. The more effort you put into the design though, the easier your challenge will be to maintain.

Thanks for reading why successful food challenges require attention and using!!

To go back and view other Considering A Challenge articles, click here.