Restaurant Week is back. All over the country, guests are returning to old and new restaurants to try some amazing meals at a discounted rate. This year, however, is shaping up differently for many owners. Tons of food establishments are still struggling with labor and supply chain issues, as well as conflicts with the rising cost of food. And while these challenges are definitely daunting, there are plenty of solutions out there designed to help restaurants succeed.
With deep roots in the industry, we’ve helped clients test out a number of strategies so they can approach Restaurant Week with one goal in mind—to attract new customers. The best solutions always focus on providing a fulfilling end-to-end experience for both your guests and staff. We’ve developed five favorite strategies so you can start and finish Restaurant Week the right way.
1) Engineer a menu that shows off your potential.
Before Restaurant Week kicks off, make sure you craft a menu that’s friendly to your bottom line and customers. Even if there are other options for a good meal, the way you design your menu becomes a great way to stand above those competitors. You can even gain some extra profitability too, so be sure to engineer your items with the right mindset.
Think about your best sellers, their unique flavors, and how they become the most creative dishes that encourage guests to come back for more. Crafting a menu can even become a great opportunity to show off the creative talent from your kitchen.
Even though a special menu for Restaurant Week is important, you should also make sure your bottom line is in check too. Consider how profitable and scalable your special menu items are by using a cost/benefit analysis. That analysis will help ensure that you’ll break even or come out ahead by the end of the week. This can be done by calculating your restaurant’s food cost percentage alongside the cost of each dish, which is provided by reports and data from your integrated restaurant point-of-sale system.
2) Keep life easy with online ordering.
Even though consumer behaviors are always changing, you can count on online ordering as a reliable way to provide a solid stream of income for takeout and delivery. That fact even applies beyond Restaurant Week. No matter the time of year, online ordering helps you keep a steady pace for fulfilling to-go orders, all while still being able to serve that full dining room.
While there are a ton of options to help keep your stream of online orders strong, having the right integrated point-of-sale system could make a big difference in how you keep everything running smoothly in one place. Restaurant tech has come a long way in the last few years, and can now do it all, including throttling online orders, communicating accurate pickup times to customers, providing contactless payment and ordering options like QR codes, and so much more. Check out our blog post below to learn more about the best ways to implement online ordering for your business.
It’s important to remember that not all online ordering platforms are the same. Some third-party platforms will hoard your customer data so you can’t use it right away. Others usually charge up to 30% in commissions per order (and some even do both). Save yourself the headache and consider switching to a direct online ordering platform. Since you own the entire customer experience, you can build a stronger relationship with guests all while avoiding those nasty third-party fees.
3) Get a grip on your own marketing.
In this day and age where everyone’s using the fastest tech around, you can get one step ahead of their social media feeds by taking charge of your own online marketing, especially when Restaurant Week comes around. From email to text messages to all social media sites, implementing different promotional ideas across multiple platforms lets your customer base know the participating restaurants and the different discounts offered exclusively for Restaurant Week. First and foremost, make the most out of your online presence and claim your business page on different review sites. That’ll help you keep a strong grip over what’s seen when people first search for your restaurant.
Afterwards, you should definitely encourage guests to leave a review of your restaurant on different review sites. While there may be some negative ones, reviews generally help build your online business page. Plus, there are proven strategies that help you turn reviews into opportunities to maximize profits. Check out our Manager’s Toolkit to read the free playbook on using online reviews to drive operational improvements.
Don’t limit yourself by only marketing through social media and review sites. Try reaching out to event organizers so you can be included as part of their promotional opportunities. Media interviews and cooking demos are all great ways to garner a strong online presence, that basically act as effortless marketing in the long run.
4) Keep guests coming for the loyalty program.
Restaurant Week is a great way for new guests to discover your business. Of course, you already know that those loyalty programs for every occasion help guests get excited for the next opportunity to enjoy your food and become cherished regulars. Fine dining and table service restaurants are even embracing loyalty programs to keep the hype for good food going strong.
Like we mentioned a few times before, restaurants with a reliable POS system can even use loyalty programs to help collect much-needed customer data. With that data, you can discover which items are the most successful, all while your top guests are rewarded for their loyalty. That’s how Barbwire Barbecue, a food truck turned restaurant located in Kansas, got an accurate read on what is selling and boosted their profits.
5) Use tech to get more done in less time.
When your restaurant is at its busiest, especially during Restaurant Week, you’ve got to prioritize your time alongside your staff, or else you’ll fall further and further behind without the right tools guiding you forward. Maximizing your tech, however, will be one of the best ways you can get more accomplished in your day, all while putting in less effort.
Serve more guests than usual with an easy-to-use restaurant POS system that ensures order accuracy, improves your throughput, and even turns tables faster than ever. Most restaurant owners don’t even realize how their POS system could impact them during their busiest moments. That’s why we created a free guide as part of our Manager’s Toolkit to help you get more out of your work day with labor management software, and more.
Don’t stop with only speeding up guest services. You can easily streamline kitchen operations with Kitchen Display System (KDS) and turn more tables thanks to QR code ordering. Not only will these easy additions help your staff stay on top of orders, but they’ll also let guests place orders and easily pay with their phones without needing to stop anyone for the check.