Offering lunch specials is a great way for restaurants to attract a stream of steady customers. After all, who doesn’t like to save money while enjoying a great lunch? It’s also a way to entice customers who have been thinking about giving your restaurant a try.
There’s a certain strategy restaurant operators should follow, however, as when planning restaurant lunch specials. Here are four things to remember:
1. Keep it simple
Lunch specials should be uncomplicated, and quick and easy for kitchen staff to prepare. That doesn’t mean food should be overly simple or haphazardly placed on plates. But when planning restaurant lunch specials you should consider keeping “fussy” dishes that require multiple ingredients or intricate steps (slicing, dicing, chopping, stuffing, etc.) off the lunch menu. This can cause the kitchen staff to get bogged down and labor expenses to rise.
Another reason to keep it simple: Many customers perceive lunch specials as time-savers. Customers can become frustrated with complicated lunch menus or long waits that eat into their lunch hour. Focus on the quick, easy, and convenient to win their business.
2. Consider competitors’ offerings
No two ways about it: you work hard at differentiating your restaurant from the competition. So make sure you avoid featuring lunch specials that are identical to those available at as restaurants down the street.
Setting your lunch specials apart from competitors’ can be as simple as adding a twist or two. For example, if a competitor features a grilled chicken sandwich, consider a grilled chicken wrap with queso. Or if a competitor’s restaurant lunch special doesn’t include dessert, you may want to consider adding a sweet finish to yours.
3. Adapt to the time of year
However, no matter how tasty the menu item or quickly they can be ready for customers to enjoy, they won’t sell well if they aren’t seasonally appropriate.
To ensure maximum seasonal appeal when planning restaurant lunch specials, focus on foods your customers would normally enjoy at that time of year. No need to deviate from their tendencies toward comfort food in the winter and lighter fare in the summer. Also consider sourcing from local vendors and featuring their products, like fresh produce in the summer, cider in the fall or baked goods for the holidays.
4. Keep value in mind
Many restaurant owners believe that offering a discount in the form of lunch specials — or any specials, for that matter — will automatically boost their profits. However, that’s not the case.
Be careful not to allow lunch specials to devalue your restaurant. If they create the perception that your restaurant is experiencing financial difficulties, they may turn customers away. When the cost of restaurant lunch specials is abnormally low compared to competitors’ prices, customers may suspect trouble and avoid your establishment. Devaluation can also be compounded by cutting corners on ingredients. In any event, it should be avoided at all costs.
Planning Restaurant Lunch Specials that Work for Your Business
The lunch business can be a lucrative one, providing that you take great care in your approach to planning restaurant lunch specials. Practice simplicity, keep an eye on your competitors and the season, and don’t devalue your operation. Follow these rules, and lunch specials will fatten, rather than take a toll on, your bottom line.