Why Restaurant Owners Should Optimize Their Menus to Capitalize on Game Day Sales

With COVID-19 guidelines restricting dine-in, restaurants need revenue from sporting events now more than ever. One way to capture more sales? Trim the menu. 

For many restaurants, major sporting events are a predictable and dependable boon for food and bar sales throughout the year. But with COVID-19 restrictions putting a damper on indoor dining, restaurant owners are scrambling to make the most of these timely moments through off-premise sales. In a world where restaurants are fighting tooth and nail for every dollar, no restaurant can afford to waste product or energy on menu items that aren’t selling. Brands that find success are channeling their time and attention on hero products and best sellers and scrapping the rest. But where to start? Turn to the POS.

Dig into the Data

For restaurants looking to capitalize on game day sales, the first step is to pull reports from the POS system. The sophistication of reporting varies widely between POS systems, but even a basic system will offer key data for analysis. To start, look at off-premise sales data from previous years’ game days to identify top-selling menu items. Then, take a hard look at the dishes that aren’t performing and make some cuts.

Brands that find success are channeling their time and attention on hero products and best sellers and scrapping the rest.

Cutting out superfluous dishes creates clarity and will help focus customer attention on more popular (and more profitable) menu items. Restaurant owners don’t need to be data scientists in order to gather useful intel from their POS system — even a cursory look at key reports should be enough to yield actionable insights. 

Consider Profit Margins

Regardless of how well a menu item sells, if it’s operationally difficult to execute or has low profit margins, it may be time to reconsider its value on the menu. On busy days, particularly during important game days, these dishes can slow down the kitchen and delay customer orders.

When considering which menu items to cut and which to keep, compare food costs and operational efficiencies (like ticket times) against profit to find the rockstar menu items. Then, tweak the menu to make these menu items shine. 

Sharpen the Focus

Most restaurant owners know which menu items are popular on game days and can travel well for delivery or carryout orders. Focus customer incentives and promotions on these menu items that don’t cause bottlenecks in the kitchen and are both profitable and popular among customers.

Oftentimes, fan-favorite dishes like chicken wings and appetizer platters will rise to the top. By honing in on specific items that resonate best with customers, restaurants will be better positioned for stronger game day sales. 

Get Creative

Restaurants don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to create enticing promotions that customers love. Oftentimes, something as simple as identifying popular menu items that are frequently purchased together and creating a “Game Day Appetizer Platter” can yield huge results.

Similarly, restaurants can create a simple twist to a menu staple as a way to drive interest. For example, consider launching a new chicken wing sauce or trendy pizza topping as a limited time offering. This allows restaurant owners to stick to popular and dependable menu items while also creating higher demand and interest around game days. 

The restaurant industry is still in recovery mode, but there are still key moments that can help drive sales. By digging into the data, evaluating profit margins, sharpening the focus and getting creative with new takes on existing menu items, restaurant owners can cut unnecessary menu bloat and bolster game day sales.