It comes as no surprise that restaurants have had a difficult time over the past few months. Many are still challenged with a lag in guests returning to dine out, lowered capacities, and increased health and safety protocol even upon reopening.
These factors can make it difficult for restaurants to realize the same level of sales and profitability as before the pandemic; some consumers have less disposable income; others are more inclined to cook at home.
One way that operators can strategically boost sales and encourage guests to return is by creating targeted promotions. While seemingly elementary, promotions can go a long way in motivating diners and keeping your business top of mind.
1. Offer Seasonal Promotions
One of the most effective promotions right now will be something back-to-school related. Especially this year – with so much chaos and confusion surrounding the start of a new school season – parents and students will be looking for ways to make their lives easier. Keep convenience in mind when creating your promotions: offer discounts on weeknight dinners to make meal-time a bit easier for parents.
Offer a family-sized meal kit so that guests can assemble the dishes at home and have some interaction with the cooking. Alternatively, you can create a dinner-for-one promotion so that university students and the like can enjoy a meal without having to grocery shop or worry about food waste.
2. Host a Giveaway
Another great tactic is incorporating a giveaway into a promotion or just offering it ad hoc. Giveaways are a simple way to raise awareness of your brand and increase your follower base, at a minimal cost. On social media, you can give away a gift card and ask followers to like the post, follow your account and tag three friends in the comments. This will extend the reach of your post and promotion while building goodwill with your followers by giving back in a small way.
3. Leverage a Local Event
Connect with the community and its residents by creating a promotion in line with an upcoming event. For example, if there is a music event or movie screening planned, offer take-out dinner boxes or pre-show happy hour snacks and cocktails at a special price. Encouraging consumers to visit your restaurant, in the context of another event they may already have been planning to go to, will help to drive traffic.
This promotion comes back to convenience as well – people may not have considered where they will grab a bite before said event. With your promotion, you will do the work for them.
4. Reward Return Customers
There has likely been a base of loyal, repeat customers that have made up a significant part of your business over the past couple of months. Making decisions based on brand trust and loyalty, and supporting local have been trends throughout the pandemic, as consumers don’t want to see their favorite spots go out of business. Based on this, offering a promotion specific to return customers is a great way to express your gratitude and encourage their ongoing business.
Business will be unpredictable over the coming months, and operators will need to get creative with their offerings and value proposition. Launching thoughtful promotions that keep your guests top of mind will be an excellent tactic to increase sales going forward. We are living through a challenging time right now – a fun, convenient, affordable and appetizing promotion could be just the thing to encourage customers to choose your restaurant.