The Do’s and Don’ts of Running Restaurant Promotions

By ChowNowMar 8th, 2022

restaurant promotions

We know that saving money is the #1 concern for restaurant owners and managers everywhere. Facing notoriously low profit margins, it’s easy to shy away from the idea of selling your food for a smaller profit. In reality, running a promotion can not only help you stand out and be memorable, but it can give your customers an incentive to purchase more than they would have normally! Take a look at some of our “do’s” and “don’ts” of running restaurant promotions, designed to help keep your customers coming back for more.

Read our ebook, “Why Customer Data Is Critical to Your Restaurant’s Success,” to see how to use your customer data to create more compelling restaurant promotions that boost sales.

Read the eBook

Do this:

Keep your restaurant promotions simple.

restaurant promotions

I don’t know about you, but the discount code “123get50percent0FF456” wouldn’t necessarily have me reaching for my phone to place an order. The key to promo codes is keeping it short, sweet, and relevant. Is there a holiday coming up? Think “GREEN” for St. Patrick’s Day. Running a percentage discount? Try “25OFF” to be specific. The easier the code is to type in, the more likely the customer will be to use it.

Stay current and on-trend.

In this day and age, there is always something “trending”. Remember Pokemon Go? Restaurants that advertised as a “PokeStop” were suddenly flooded with hungry gamers. Don’t let your promotions run stale. Stay in the know and act accordingly! If there is a popular event coming up in your community or a trending topic that relates to your business, jump on it before it’s too late.

Run an Instagram contest.

An effective and creative way to market your restaurant is to run a contest on Instagram. Promoting a new dish? Try posting a photo of the item with clear and concise rules for the contest. Followers can compete with their own images and tag your restaurant to enter. The winner gets that new dish for free! The idea is to stay relevant and give your customers more of a reason to be excited about your brand.

Don’t do this:

Don’t keep your restaurant promotions secret.

restaurant promotions

Make sure that no matter where your customers look, they are aware of the promotion going on. Add the details of the promotion to your voicemail message. Enter the promotion into your POS system so it prints out on all receipts. Do you provide table service? Add a promotional card to all of your checkbooks. Does your restaurant have a mobile ordering app? Send out push notifications with the details. There are endless ways to inform your customers of great deals, it’s just a matter of you placing it there for them.

Don’t rush your customers.

Time is of the essence! Promote your next special at least two weeks in advance, since future party plans could involve a huge order from your restaurant. Promoting a deal with short notice won’t capture the intended audience in time for you to see the expected results. Especially if it’s a holiday or big event (e.g., the Superbowl). If customers are planning to place a big takeout order for a party, more likely than not they already have a restaurant in mind.

Don’t devalue your menu.

restaurant promotion food

We understand! You want to save money by giving away something that doesn’t cost you much, but let’s face it – by offering promotions that aren’t attractive, you’re not only devaluing your menu items but you’re wasting your resources by offering something that customers won’t care about. Would a “5% Off” promotion excite you if you found out the order minimum was $300? Exactly.

There are many effective ways to promote your restaurant that will increase revenue and create loyal customers. If you’re doing some of the “Don’ts”, don’t sweat it! It’s never too late to change those into “Do’s”.

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