Are restaurants benefiting from these weekly, sometimes daily deals?
It’s hard to resist an invite to feast on “all you can eat” wings on Wednesdays at the local bar or “half price pasta” nights at the Italian eatery where their sauce always leaves you licking the bottom of your plate. Restaurant’s promotions for reduced prices and endless appetizers on your favorite dishes is an incentive to going out on a weekday that you may typically spend curled up on your couch eating Ramen Noodles. We see why customers love it, but are restaurants benefiting from these weekly, sometimes daily deals?
There are several reasons that eateries decide to formulate a special menu, that go beyond the appeal of Happy Hour. According to Readers Digest, one of the main reasons restaurants have specials is to repurpose ingredients before their shelf life expires. For instance, if a restaurant over-orders less popular items, or has a large amount of ingredients that they are trying to use up quickly, incorporating those items into a meal to include in a specials menu is the perfect solution. Specials also give the chef an opportunity to use seasonal ingredients, as well as to be creative with new dishes and see how customers react. They also allow cooks to use more expensive ingredients that would be too pricy to continuously use in their regular menus.
When used properly, specials can be very beneficial for restaurateurs. An article from Decision Logic, stresses how offering specials lets you add variety and flexibility to your menu, without going through the hassle of changing the entire menu. It also can keep even the most loyal customers coming back as they’ll want to check out what’s new.
If you are thinking of creating a specials menu for your restaurant, here are some things to consider:
- What ingredients need to be used? As I mentioned, one of the main reasons specials menus are created is because chefs have ingredients they just don’t know what to do with. Determine which ingredients need to be used fast and incorporate them into a temporary dish. This will avoid any unnecessary waste.
- Keep it simple. There’s no need trying to impress diners with an over-the-top, fancy concoction you came up with. Create something simple and make sure it matches up with the prices on the rest of the menu.
- Promote. You know sometimes when upon being seating at your table, your waiter begins rambling off a seriously impressive and detailed description of all the specials being offering that day before you’ve even had a chance to choose between Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio? Yeah, they were trained to do that and it works! Make sure your staff relays the specials to each customer in the beginning so they know what other options there are besides the regular menu. Another way to get the word out is to write them on a menu board somewhere in the restaurant where it is visible, post to social media, and/or regularly update your website so people know to make the trip.
- What will these specials do for you? This is kind of the theme of this entire article, but it is super important to figure out before you go slashing prices and inventing a whole separate menu. You will better achieve your goal if you have a clear vision in what it is you are trying to accomplish. For example: are you trying to increase business on a slow Monday evening; use up food that would otherwise be wasted; or introduce new items before permanently adding them to the menu? These are all valid reasons to bring on a specials menu, just make sure you are clear first before doing so.
Bottom line is, specials really can enhance your menu, as long as they are used properly, efficiently and of course, when necessary.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.