Most Important Rules for Restaurant Promotions

Know your customer

Before we dive into specific restaurant promotion ideas, it’s important to call out that no promotion is successful without first identifying, analyzing, and understanding your existing customers and your target market. Running a promotion that isn’t enticing to your audience is a waste of energy and unfortunately, it happens all the time.

Ask yourself: Are you located near office buildings? A stadium? Do your customers tend to be older or younger? Families? What motivates your customers: having an experience, trying new foods, or saving money, or something else? Figure out the answers to these questions and you’ll have a much easier time coming up with restaurant promotion ideas that encourages repeat visits.

Understand Your Business Challenges

Restaurant promotions exist to help restaurants overcome challenges unique to their business and encourage loyal customers.

While some operational challenges can be identified by chatting with your team members, underlying issues are best discovered by diving into the data and analytics from your restaurant point of sale

Platinum Point of Sale offers detailed reporting both in the cloud and on-premises relating to customer trends.  Our easy to use reporting can help you identify key areas to focus on, whether it be by:

  • Time of Sale – i.e. Morning, Afternoon, Evening – Per Product, Per Waitron, Per Section, Per Department, Per Guest
  • Holidays and Specific Date Ranges – Select any date range and easily sort your data or export to excel
  • Top Selling Items – Top selling Food and Beverage items to try determine consumer spending. Separate by Winter ,Summer, Autumn, Spring.  How about school and university holidays?

Is there a section of your menu that isn’t getting any love, or a time of day where your staff are idle? Set up discounts on those foods that aren’t moving, and try a happy hour during off-peak times.

Typically, people think restaurant promotions exist only to increase revenue, but a lot of successful promotions have a more “big-picture” aim: to generate press for the business, which can increase revenue over time.  Generating repeat business is key to sustain your business.

Marketing initiatives that exist to drive press can sometimes be more impactful for a business than revenue-focused promotions. This is because the brand awareness they generate extends far beyond the dollars and cents attributed to one promotional campaign.

Understand Your Margins

Lastly, as we all know, it’s important to know the margins of every menu item – both food and beverage. This helps you think up creative bundles of offerings that, together, give you the profit margin you’d like to get.   Platinum Point of Sale enables you to build and maintain all your food and beverage costings at a click of a button.  This enables you to make a quick decision on when and how to promote a specific item.

Restaurant Promotion Ideas

The best way to tailor promotions to your business is to write down your top 5-10 business challenges, and then write down the top 5-10 things that motivate your customers. Then, connect the dots.

1. Leverage a Big Local Event

Plan a promotion around a big event nearby, like a local sporting event, concert, or festival. This helps drive business and generates awareness of your restaurant to a much larger audience made up of all the people attending the larger event.

Examples: offer 5% off to people who have a ticket to a local rugby game, or R100 off any purchase before a concert that is down the street.

2. Holidays

Pick your favorite holidays and think of how your customers would want to celebrate them. This kind of promotion not only leads to more people coming in, but those who do will also be sharing, liking and tagging the post on their social channels.

Examples: Fathers Day trivia event, Best Dressed Competition for Christmas or Easter.

3. Loyalty Offerings

Offer your guests an incentive to keep coming back. The key is picking a high enough threshold for a free meal or a discount to make it worthwhile for you. Also, it’s extremely helpful to get your guests to opt in easily with the use of restaurant loyalty technology.

Platinum Point of Sale offers a great loyalty solution both closed based and on-premises to keep your customers informed on all offerings available.

Examples: For a coffee shop, offer guests to buy nine coffees and get one free or for every R1 spent you get 10c back in cash back.  

5. Get The Customers Through Your Door

Another surefire strategy is to heavily discount a section of your menu that’s filled with items that aren’t typically eaten by themselves – like sides, snacks, and soups. The thinking here is that someone will come in for the heavily discounted item, but end up purchasing a variety of other items before paying their bill. These promotions are often called the “get them in the doors,” because they’re used to get someone in to make their first purchase, and pushes them to buy more.

Examples: Discount nacho’s that’ll lead someone to buy beers, or offer a free first domestic beer that could lead to the person drinking or buying more.