Limited Time Offers: An Exciting Way to Boost Your Revenue
My apologies for the late post to start off this week — I spent last night stranded in Detroit, computerless, unable to do any research or writing for you all. But, fortunately, that’s alleviated, I’ve reached my destination, and — after thinking many negative thoughts about the airline industry’s relationship to customer service — I’m here with my Monday post.
Anyway, today I wanted to talk about limited time offers, or if you’re really into acronyms, LTOs. Limited time offers are a winning promotional idea for any restaurant — you have the opportunity to get customers in the door with a promotion, something of a draw, without necessarily having a “sale” or “discount” item. Deals are great, too, but you can only put so many things on sale — and only so often — without losing money. On the other hand, limited time offers can be profitable to your business in a number of ways. They’ll bring in repeat business as customers try the latest offer, or drive up excitement among those who are less familiar with your establishment. The novelty of limited time offers is attractive to customers who are often looking for a reason to choose one restaurant of many. If you offer something on limited basis, they’ll have reason to choose yours. Try these limited time offer ideas:
Testing New Menu Items
A limited time offer can be a great way to test run new menu items you’ve been considering. New menu items are exciting to regular customers, can draw in customers who haven’t been back in a while, and can give you an idea of whether or not the new item might be worth adding to your regular menu. Your new item might be something you’ve been considering for a while, something divergent from your restaurant’s normal theme, or even just a special sauce for your finger foods and appetizers. You get a test run without changing your menu — at least until you decide for sure.
Changes to Current Menu Items
You can also increase business by offering occasional limited changes to items you already offer: bundled items (burger, fries, and soda for one price, for instance), over-sized servings, and free refills are some simple LTOs that can boost business. These changes usually do involve reduced or combined pricings, but are more than worth it — occasionally — for the extra revenue from increased business.
Holiday/Season Limited Time Offers
Pairing certain offers with holidays, seasons, or sporting events — think Spring,Thanksgiving, Olympics, Super Bowl — can all increase business at certain strategic times of year. These offers can be for new or season items, or just combos and other changes to existing items that you pair with the event, day, or season.
No matter the type of LTO you decide on, there are a few rules to keep in mind. For one, try to make sure any new or experimental menu items fit into the range of food costs of your normal menu items. Also, if you decide to offer a bundle or increased portion size of something already on your menu, make sure you pick times strategically, so you’re making money from increased business instead of losing it from constantly marking your prices down. Finally, make sure you put some effort into marketing your LTO; there are ways to get the word out no matter the size of your establishment and the budget you have on hand for publicity. Get the word out and the diners in!
Trying a limited time offer now and then is a fairly safe way to bring in new and increased business, as well as offering incentive for return customers to come back. Done right, it’s a win-win!
I’ll be back on Wednesday with some more thoughts. Until then, contact us here.