When is business slow? Are there any creative ways that could help drive traffic during that time? When it comes to increasing business, a little creativity can go a long way. For example, if 3–5pm is your slowest time, consider offering a limited menu of small plates ranging from $3 to $5. This can be an easy way to get people in the door and is especially profitable if you can keep customers for dinner service.
As you gear up for the fall season, think about how you can expand your business. From creative menu LTOs to local marketing campaigns, there are a number of ways to help boost sales throughout the day.
Here are five tactics that can help drive traffic to your restaurant.
Customers recognize that if they don’t purchase the LTO now, it may not be available tomorrow. This creates a sense of urgency and is a great way to help drive repeat traffic. While holidays, seasonality and trends often influence LTOs, the concept of the LTO is really about showcasing something new and different.
LTOs can drive business by showcasing a brand’s creativity and openness to experimenting with new flavors and ingredients. In order to drive new business, you constantly have to come up with creative menu applications. Use this as an opportunity to experiment with local, seasonal ingredients and fresh new techniques. This is also a great way to see how the dish performs before adding it as a permanent menu item.
Many customers today are seeking better-for-you ingredients and healthier cuisine. In fact, 60% of consumers say they factor health into their dining decisions, with 37% saying they’re more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy options.1 Adding better-for you ingredients may even bring back customers. For example, 86% of consumers said they would return to a restaurant they previously avoided if they switched to organic chicken.2
Elevate your restaurant’s image by demonstrating your commitment to sourcing premium proteins like organic chicken, turkey and grass-fed beef without antibiotics, and working with local farmers to get fresh, seasonal produce. Look beyond your menu to share your brand story. Leverage your website and social media to drive awareness and tap into local media and community events to share your point of difference.
From social media to email marketing, make sure you are keeping your customers up to date with the latest news, menu items, promotions and events. Social media is a great way to directly engage with your customers. It’s also a good way to offer exclusive same-day promotions to your followers to help drive traffic. This rewards followers by giving them exclusive invitations to something they find valuable, thereby building a stronger relationship, and it encourages new followers who want to be in the know. Email marketing can be used to alert your customers to menu specials, promotions, coupons, events and more.
Unless you’re located in a touristy area, it’s safe to say the majority of your business is going to come from people in your immediate area. Create promotional campaigns that target various groups of people within a 15- to 20-mile radius. Are you located among office buildings? Consider offering lunch specials and happy hour promotions to drive local foot traffic. You may also want to offer catering services and even create special menus for business meetings and events. If your restaurant is in a more residential area, consider creating promotional menus and theme days like Monday dollar wings and Taco Tuesday.
If you want to drive traffic, it’s time to take advantage of the thriving off-premise dining trend. Delivery was one of the biggest factors that contributed to restaurant business growth in 2017.3 Therefore, it’s no surprise that 33% of consumers overall and 49% of those aged 18–34 say they are now purchasing food to go more often compared to three years ago.4 Convenience will continue to drive sales throughout this year with drive-thru, curbside pickup, delivery and catering.5 While there is a bit of planning that goes into off-premise dining, the return can be well worth the investment.
From menu LTOs to off-premise dining, there are a variety of ways to set your establishment apart and drive traffic this fall. Start experimenting with any of the five tactics to start strengthening sales this season.
Content courtesy of Perdue Foodservice
1Technomic, Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 2016
2Proprietary Perdue consumer study, Jun. 2017
3Griffith, Matthew, 2018 Restaurant Trends: Industry, Nov. 14, 2017, https://www.rewardsnetwork.com/blog/2018-restaurant-trends-industry/
4Technomic, Takeout & Off-Premise Dining Consumer Trend Report, 2016
5Baltazar, Amanda, 12 Full Service Restaurant Trends for 2018, FSR Magazine Food Newsfeed, Dec. 11, 2017, https://www.foodnewsfeed.com/slideshows/12-full-service-restaurant-trends-2018