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How to Plan Successful Restaurant Promotions

Some Ideas for Successful Restaurant Promotions

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Restaurant promotions can fail when customers walk away disappointed and with the impression that the deal they spent money on was bad, unfair or just not worth it. The key to successful restaurant promotions is using a deal to entice people to visit and still come out ahead, money-wise. Diners must feel they got a deal, and you must protect your bottom line. When both things happen, then restaurant promotions are win-win situation for both.

Clearly State Terms of the Restaurant Promotion Deal

Trying to make the terms of the deal sound better than they actually are is unfair and will not win you future business. It may hurt future business when unimpressed patrons accuse you of false advertising to their friends, family and coworkers. Communicate the terms of the deal clearly upfront. A coupon that simply says “2 for 1” on the front and then mentions everything that is not included on the back and in tiny, unreadable font is neither clear nor fair.

State when the offer is valid on the front of the coupon or advertisement. If the offer is not valid on Friday or Saturday nights, include this information on the front and in the same large font as other information.

Two Dinners for the Price of One

Two dinners for the price of one is a common restaurant promotion, but needs to be restated as “Two Entrees for the Price of One.” Don’t make people guess whether salads or desserts are included.

Early Bird Specials

Early bird specials bring in business before the regular dinner rush. State clearly on the advertisement that, “Early Bird is offered to diners who arrive at the restaurant between 4 and 6 p.m.” This protects you when customers arrive after 6 p.m. and ask for the early bird menu.

Automatic Gratuities for Promotions?

Please remember that your waiters and waitresses depend on tips to make up a large part of their income. Your staff will be much happier waiting on diners using promotions if there are protections in place. A good idea is to simply state in a readable font that an 18% gratuity will be added to the pre-discount sub-total. This means that people must tip on what they ordered, but not on the tax.

Maintain Boundaries with Restaurant Promotions

Remember the phrase, “Stick to your guns.” If you have done your part by communicating the terms of the deal upfront, there is no excuse for customers to walk in expecting to get a deal outside of those terms.

Invariably, people will ask you to break your own rules for their benefit. A restaurant owner or manager who can simply point to the readable rule on the front of the coupon or flyer is in a better position than the owner or manager who must search with a magnifying glass on the back of the coupon to find the rule.

Encourage business by offering deals. Communicate the terms of the deal clearly so that patrons know what to expect. Expect patrons to honor clearly stated terms, and do not make exceptions for folks who don’t play by the rules.

Written by: Beth Taylor

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