7 Strategies to Increase Lunch Sales
Dinner time and weekends are usually popular times for restaurants but the lunchtime crowd can sometimes be a challenge. How can you get guests away from their desks and into seats at your restaurant? A Visa study found that Americans spend $20 a week getting lunch in restaurants, approximately $1043 a year. Brown bag and takeout meals were more expensive at $53 a week and $2746 a year. We know people are spending money on dining out at lunch but how can you make your restaurant top of mind? We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks on how to increase lunch sales.
Determine Your Target Market
Who is most likely to visit your restaurant during lunchtime? Students? Retired folks? Office workers? You’ll want to determine your target audience and adjust your strategy accordingly. Determining a target market helps craft your messaging and reach the right audience. It also helps save money since your approach will be targeted and not wasted on the wrong group. After determining your audience, you’ll want to create a marketing strategy.
For example, if your target audience is millennials, you’ll want your messaging to be personal and transparent. According to Entrepreneur, social media has influenced over 60 percent of millennials’ decisions. With this said, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong social media presence. Millennials prefer mobile over desktop so you’ll want your website to be mobile-friendly and visible on a reservation and waitlist mobile app. These are just a few ideas to help build your strategy of increasing lunch sales.
Some people will leave for lunch, others will eat at their desks or on the go. According to Toast POS, the average online ordering check size is 23% larger than in-store checks. Offering delivery and carryout makes dining with your restaurant more convenient for guests.
Before implementing off-premise dining you’ll want to consider several factors. Will you choose a digital ordering partner or do in-house delivery? Digital ordering partners will charge a commission per ticket but you’ll also be exposed to a network of diners on their app. You’ll also want to think about where customers will pick up their orders. Will you need a takeout station? What menu items will you offer and what packaging will you use? Menu items should be quick to prepare and preserve the taste if it’s not eaten right away. Packaging should be considerate of the food temperatures of the items. When you’re ready to start, make sure you’re fully prepared to launch an off-premise dining strategy.
Targeted Mobile Ads Around Lunch Time
Target potential customers in later morning hours with social media ads. You’ll want to use geofencing so that the customers you target are near your restaurant. Geofencing uses a GPS or RFID to create a virtual boundary, allowing the software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters and exits an area. Placecast found that 53% of shoppers visited a specific retailer after receiving a location-based alert. If you are targeting office workers, LinkedIn could be the best place to post your ad. For all other audiences, Facebook might be a good option. Your ad could include daily specials, coupons, or just a general reminder to check out your restaurant during lunchtime. Potbelly restaurants have found success with geofencing mobile ads. You can read their case study here.
Respect Customers’ Time & Reduce Ticket Times
Since most customers will only have an hour for lunch break, you’ll want to make sure you run an efficient kitchen that gets food out fast to your customers. Evaluate your menu and make sure you offer items with a ticket time under 10 minutes. You’ll also want to ensure you have the right technology in place and the proper employee training to improve your speed of service.
Deliver Coupons and Menus to Local Business
If you know that your restaurant is frequented by office workers, drop off coupons and menus at local businesses. If you offer catering or discounts for large groups, provide a flyer highlighting these offerings. You could even promote your restaurant on coupon sites such as Groupon to generate more traffic. Another idea would be partnering with local businesses. Most businesses like the idea of being able to offer their employees a discount at local restaurants and stores. This would a good way to generate traffic from business in your area.
For those looking to create coupons with some extra visual flair and branding, there are numerous free online coupon creators you can use. These are set up for those looking to save time and who want to create professional-looking designs easily and without needing tons of experience.
Ensure You Have Enough Lunch Time Staff
Long lines are one of the reasons people avoid going out to eat at lunchtime altogether. You’ll want to make sure you have enough staff to help handle the rush. If this is something you are having trouble determining, consider a labor management software. To get guests in and out quicker, think about a way to get their orders in faster. For example, some restaurants will have staff walk around with iPad POS tablets to take your order in line, that way your food is ready by the time you reach the beginning of the line. Increasing lunch sales is all about making the experience convenient and easy for guests.
Study Restaurants & Businesses That are Successful in Lunch Time Sale
Jimmy Johns and Panera have found success with their lunch sales. For example, Spoon University stated that to ensure orders are received ‘freaky fast’, Jimmy Johns only delivers to locations within a 2-mile radius of their restaurant. Jimmy Johns also offers an app that allows you to make a delivery or carryout order.
Panera offers ‘Rapid Pick-Up’ which is a pick-up shelf that allows customers to avoid lines. You can do this all online. There is also an option to order from your table. If you already in a Panera bakery-café you can order from your phone, pay online, and receive your order at your table without having to wait in line. Lastly, they also offer the option for delivery for those that rather avoid coming to the restaurant at lunch.
Peach delivery service delivers bulk orders to business and has helped many restaurants generate sales. Pay attention to what made these front runners successful and implement what fits into your restaurant.
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About the Author
Emily Wimpsett was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water-related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.