The Best Marketing Strategies For Restaurant Discounts

1. BOGO dining (Buy One, Get One)

The tried-and-true discounting strategy known as BOGO (or buy one, get one) is simple to use and calculate, and customers value the deal. Additionally, you can change the BOGO structure in a number of ways and still see the results in your POS system.

Buy one bowl of ramen, get one free: “Buy one bowl of ramen, get one free.”

Buy one sandwich, get the second for half price: this offer is for a single sandwich.

Buy one, get one [certain, less expensive item] free: “Free side of mac and cheese with the purchase of a steak.”

Purchase [Little spoon exclusive deals], receive [particular, discounted item]: With the purchase of two extra-large pizzas, Papa Gino’swill give you a free large pizza. More inventory is distributed thanks to this discount, which raises the average ticket size.

A excellent approach to determine whether your BOGO promotions are profitable enough to offset the expense of providing free inventory is to use the last option, where you need to make a larger initial purchase in order to receive a cheaper add-on.

You can rationalize trying out a more expensive BOGO campaign to attract even more new consumers if the promotion brings in a ton of new customers.

The ability for customers to save up to 50% off their entire bill makes BOGO discounts advantageous because they encourage repeat business.

Cons of BOGO Discounts: Depending on how much you give away for the “get one” portion of this bargain, it may not end up being financially advantageous over time. It is advisable to only apply this discount to menu items where you can afford to lose money.

How to Get the Most Out of BOGO Deals: Calculate the profitability of your products and choose inexpensive recipes to distribute. Offer the promotion for a brief period of time, then monitor the outcomes to establish a baseline for future promotions.

2. Package Deals

Combo offers, made popular by fast-food value meals, are advantageous to both the restaurant and its patrons. Most restaurants are eager to accommodate customers’ requests for a complete dinner by offering a mix of meals and a drink at a price that encourages a bigger ticket size while also saving the consumer some money. It is essentially an integrated upsell.

A combination can be found at any restaurant. You can change the title, offer, and presentation to fit your preferences, whether you market it as a combo, lunch or dinner special, prix fixe menu, or anything else.

Additionally, you may use combos to promote larger-sized meals for gatherings and parties. A big format dinner menu is available at Momofuku Ssam Bar in Brooklyn that feeds 6–10 people and costs $250. It features a cured and slow-cooked pork shoulder as well as numerous sides and sauces.

Combo offers are the best option for small gatherings or occasions that will feed more than a few guests but don’t nearly require catering.

Advantages of Combo Deals: They increase ticket sizes and are good for clearing out inventory in bulk.

Cons of Combo Deals: Your profit margin is more at stake the larger the combo.

How to Maximize Your Combo Offers: Be very deliberate about the ingredients you use for your combos, and if you see that your profits are declining, change the combo or the pricing.

3. Discounts Based on Time

For bar owners, happy hour deals are a thing of the past. A tried-and-true method for attracting the after-work crowd is to lower food and drink costs. No bar, then? Not to worry. Even if conventional restaurants don’t provide alcohol, the happy hour strategy nevertheless works for them. Additionally, happy hour food prices are significantly more significant to consumers than drink pricing, according to Technomic and Statista.

A happy hour menu can serve as a calling card for your restaurant, as it did for Giuseppe & Sons in Philadelphia. It’s not hard to understand why the location is popular given that it offers $5 cocktails and wine, $4 beer, and $3 nibbles every day from 5-7 p.m.

This discounting technique can also be applied to off-peak times, such as the hours between 2:30 and 4:30 on weekends, to balance out your busier and slower periods for a more productive workday.

Positive aspects of time-based discounts include their ability to draw in the popular after-work crowd and boost foot traffic during quiet periods of the day.

Cons of time-based discounts: Visitors may get used to paying less for food and only visit during these hours; why pay more for something they can get for less elsewhere?

The Best Ways to Utilize Time-Based Discounts During non-happy hour hours, provide a different, more upscale experience, and promote these full-price hours as perfect for dates and festivities.

A word of caution: Happy hour is forbidden in some states. However, in other instances, this prohibition only applies to alcohol and not food, so you are free to modify the prices of your meals and appetizers as you see fit. If you want further information, check with your local government.

4. Comps Based on a Percentage

If you want to issue percentage-based comps, you can do so whenever you like. Just make sure to record them all in your POS.

For instance, your establishment might have a policy stating that all firefighters receive a 20% discount on their meal or that friends and relatives of waiters receive a 10% discount. You might have a discount program for repeat customers, and your restaurant should have a policy that offers free meals to patrons who complain, return food, or wait longer than usual.

If a customer is dissatisfied, Ryan Egozi of the Florida-based SuViche Hospitality Group advises his managers to comp the entire dinner, not just the dessert or drink. In an interview for The Garnish podcast, he told us, “I’d rather comp $100 than $20, knowing that $100 is going to earn me back my visitor.”

Make sure you have a POS system with accessible and permissions-based discounted choices if this is a component of your restaurant discounting plan so you can always keep track of who, what, and why was comped.

Percentage-Based Comps’s Advantages It’s a simple method to express gratitude to certain groups and your regulars. Additionally, it might convince dissatisfied diners to return and try your business again.

Cons of Percentage-Based Comps: Too many comps will have a detrimental impact on your bottom line.

How to Maximize Your Percentage-Based Compensation: Make sure your crew is aware of your policies regarding discounts, and check in with your servers regarding any comps or discounts they may have given out after each shift.

5. Calendar-Based Specials or Discounts

Is your restaurant often slow on Tuesdays? If so, you might try to draw more customers and boost sales by offering a discount or a special with a profit-making pricing on Tuesdays.

Atlanta’s Lloyd’s Restaurant & Lounge excels at this. They run special promotions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to increase business: it’s snow crab night on Monday, prime rib night on Tuesday, and fried chicken night on Wednesday. They also hold a happy hour every weekday, as you can see.

Applying unique discounts for certain months or occasions can be a step further. You can attract in hungry customers who are wanting to celebrate if you provide calendar-based discounts, such as a special Super Bowl savings event, Valentine’s Day specials, or a Christmas-themed promotion for the month of December. Because people tend to pamper themselves on these occasions, these events also frequently produce greater ticket numbers.

Benefits of calendar-based discounts include their ability to increase sales during sluggish times of the week and year.

Calendar-Based Discounts’ Drawbacks Similar to happy hour, these discounts may make visitors less inclined to pay full price for the same products on non-holiday days.

How to Maximize Your Discounts Based on the Calendar: Make sure your customers are aware that limited-time deals aren’t always valid and that they are always welcome at your business. Think about sending them an email with a little discount for their subsequent visit, like 10% off. Excellent food and service are also important in this regard because satisfied customers will be willing to pay a bit more in the future.

6. Dollar-Off Rebates

Want to thank clients that spend a lot of money? Use a “Buy $X, get $X off” campaign to keep things straightforward. This tactic, which is common in pizzerias, is useful for persuading a family of four to pay more for the side of fries.

Consider providing a discount for large orders if your restaurant caters or hosts large events. The offer of $200 off banquet checks of $2,000 or more can draw people into your larger spaces and aid in the movement of merchandise.

Advantages of dollar-off discounts They encourage customers to put greater orders, which means you sell more.

Cons of Dollar-Off Discounts: The math may not always add up. Say someone was about to order $25 worth of food but instead sees a coupon for $5 off $30. They order something else for $5 to use the discount to take advantage of this. However, since they had already fulfilled the conditions for the discount, you had essentially given that customer $5 worth of meals for free.

Making the Most of Dollar-Off Discounts Create one-time or limited-time offers for these reductions, or set a high price threshold before the dollars are subtracted.

7. First-Party Savings

Customers who wish to place an online order frequently walk over to a third-party vendor, such as GrubHub or DoorDash, and end up spending more. However, if they direct their traffic to your own online portal, they get a first-party discount that may enable them to make a small financial gain.

First-Party Discounts Have Advantages It encourages them to use your online platform and can direct them there if they want to use contactless ordering.

Cons of First-Party Discounts: Restaurants occasionally can’t display their entire menu in order to maintain business margins.

Making the Most of First-Party Discounts Inform the public that it is there! One strategy to achieve this is to raise the prices of the meals on your third-party platform while sharply lowering the costs on your own ordering site.

8. Discounts on gift cards

Gift cards are like free money to the recipients! Restaurants might give gift card discounts that round up and provide more value than was previously offered to increase the excitement surrounding getting one. A $50 gift card, for instance, could be valued at $60.

Gift card discounts have the advantage of drawing attention to your restaurant and encouraging customers to sample new meals without having to risk spending real money on something they might not like.

Cons of Gift Card Discounts: It’s unclear how much money is actually on the gift card and how much money the customer will actually save over time.

How to Maximize Discounts on Gift Cards: Inform customers about the discounts they can use and the balances of their gift cards.

9. Birthday promotions

What could be better than a customer choosing to ring in the new year at your restaurant? giving them the chance to do so while saving money Offering birthday specials can encourage patrons to spend all of their special occasions at your restaurant.

Benefits of birthday discounts include the ability for restaurants to engage patrons and register them for loyalty programs and messaging. Restaurants can get in touch with customers about impending birthday discounts and other offers by using their name, birthdates, and other information.

Gift card discounts’ drawback is that they only occur once a year. Customers can stop coming to your restaurant when alternative offers are available if the only specials are offered on their birthdays.

Making the Most of Birthday Discounts Remind customers frequently about your promotions. Increase your communication one month and two weeks before their birthday to ensure that they remember your location as a prospective venue to celebrate.

10. Discounts at AARP Restaurants

When a restaurant’s foot traffic is down, offering AARP restaurant discounts could be a terrific approach to fill the gap. Seniors congregate and dine on their own schedules, thus offering discounts to attract them can eventually result in expensive events.

Benefits of AARP Restaurant Discounts: They can encourage seniors to visit restaurants at off-peak times. Seniors can also invite their families back for bigger get-togethers if they like the setting and services.

Cons of AARP Restaurant Discounts: Since these discounts take place off-peak, ticket prices may be lower.

How to Take Full Advantage of AARP Discounts: Keep AARP members informed of any elder discounts that could be offered to them. Then, keep them informed and inform them about options for sizable parties where they can have family reunions at a discount.

How to Maximize Your Discount Strategy for Restaurants

Every financial choice your business takes should increase sales and be backed up by solid evidence. To avoid just picking one of the aforementioned ideas and running with it, we advise you to go through the details of any discount proposal before you begin to promote it.

Use best practices in your restaurant POS system to make your restaurant discounts profitable and effective. This is relevant to both seasoned and inexperienced restaurateurs who require a checklist for operating a restaurant.

1. Keep an eye out for trends and track all discounts

Your bottom line will suffer if your cashiers, bartenders, and servers are too fast to give discounts. A feature that tracks who receives discounts and why should be supported by your restaurant’s technology.

For instance, if a percentage-based discount is routinely given to diners who have a poor experience, be sure you can take it a step further and find out what went wrong. Do servers squander food? If so, maybe you should reconsider your employee training. Is food frequently returned because it is too cold? To find out if something is amiss during cooking, check in with your kitchen managers.

There shouldn’t be a problem when discounts are used as intended. Realistically, though, this won’t always be the case. Keep a careful eye on your workers to keep track of blunders and areas of progress. By doing so, you can strengthen your personnel and prevent misuse of the discount protocol.

2. Automatic Rebates

Your staff members are just people. They occasionally order a large cheese pizza and a large pepperoni pizza without realizing that this combination is eligible for the “large cheese, large one topping for $14.99” deal.

When the consumer pays, they can see on their receipt that the combo discount that they had assumed would be applied to the item is missing. The consumer is then made to wait longer until the manager has to arrive and cancel the order (and feel a little cheap, maybe).

Ensure that any eligible discounts are automatically applied by your restaurant POS system. This will free up your servers and cashiers to concentrate on processing orders quickly and accurately rather than having to remember every single coupon code or combination deal.

3. Retain Original Authority

No POS vendor has the right to impose restrictions on the kind of discounts you can provide in your eatery.

You ought to be able to accomplish that if you wish to provide BOGO discounts and percentage-based comps. Because of this, we advise working with a restaurant POS system like Toast POS that has an open discounts function so you may create offers that are ideal for both your company and your clients.

Are you prepared to offer your customers the same amount of quality and value? Download a copy of our restaurant marketing strategy that you may customize after reading this guide on restaurant marketing.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller

Always underpromise and overdeliver!

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