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Food for Thought - Rapids' Blog
Limited Time Offers - What Are They Good For?
A limited time offer on your menu is really an up-sell presented in such a way your customer does not recognize it for what it really is.
It will work in an upscale restaurant, fast food restaurant, bar, or even a food truck.
Plan ahead, do it the right way, and there is a good chance that not only will your customers have no idea you are up-selling, but neither will your staff!
All the proof you need that limited time menu or bar offerings can work for you is McDonald’s McRib sandwich. Introduced in 1982, it just keeps coming back. It has even had 3 “Farewell” Tours, and still came back as a limited time menu offering.
Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst with the NPD Group explains, “Limited-time offers create excitement, they generate buzz and people know that they are only there for a short period of time, so they want to get them before they are no longer available."
Here are some tricks to get the most out of your limited time menu offers:
1) FOCUS ON ONE CATEGORY OR ITEM AT A TIME.
This might be a new entree, dessert, appetizer, cocktail, or new craft beer flavor. The product doesn't matter as long as it's delicious and memorable.
2) Build a back story around your limited time product.
For instance, your chef went out to an organic blueberry farm, and she was hooked! While Blueberries are fresh and in season, she is making this blueberry crumble served with her home made ice cream. Your customer now understands why this item is limited and so special before they even taste it. This can be true of a select wine, where the number of bottles you can sell are limited due to the harvest, or a cocktail made from seasonal fresh fruit. Make sure your servers know the backstory and tell it with enthusiasm.
3) Greet your customers with the idea they should be there for your limited time only product and then reinforce that idea.
For instance, it doesn't matter if it's a hostess at a server environment restaurant or the person taking the order at a window of a drive in, have them greet your customers with the idea they've come for the limited time offer. For instance, “Hi, are you here because of our ______________? We will only be serving it for another two weeks.” The next person that greets the customer needs to reinforce that idea. For instance, the server suggests the item again and then tells the backstory. It won't seem like you are up-selling, just sharing the story of how the product came to be.
4) Sample it!
It doesn't matter if it is a wine, entree, or dessert. Serve small samples. Your customers will love having the opportunity to taste it and, even if they don’t purchase it this trip, they will probably be back before the limited time offer is over to purchase.
5) Build your social media via “Limited Time Offer” reviews.
For those customers that bought your limited time product, hand them a paper survey card and pencil. It should ask for their email address for notification of new limited time offers, as well as ask them several questions about their experience: 1) Was it good? 2) Should it be considered for regular menu item? If seasonal, should we bring it back next year? 3) Any additional comments.
You should also ask them to go online and review you or to like you on Facebook and Twitter. You can then use those mediums to remind customers that the end of a limited time offer is almost here so they need to come in now to take advantage. Whether it be for increasing sales of bottled water, wine, beer, appetizers, guacamole, or desserts, this system works.