New roadblocks and challenges are popping up each day for restaurant owners and operators amid COVID-19. As many restaurants across the country prepare to reopen, either fully or partially, for dine-in service, many business owners are implementing innovative marketing tactics and creative promotions that can help revenue to remain steady during these shaky times.
Take a look below to see how some of our own Rewards Network restaurant partners are testing unique strategies and initiatives that can ignite revenue during coronavirus.
Strategic discounts and promotions
Restaurant owners can utilize attractive offers and promotions to incite a spike in customer orders, while differentiating their business from competitors. For example, Melt Bar & Grilled in Canton, OH is encouraging gift card sales by offering an extra $25 gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card or a free $10 gift card when you buy a $50 gift card. Colombo’s Cafe & Pastries is also promoting gift cards, but with a slightly different twist. The Hyannis, MA restaurant paired up with a local politician to offer a $25 gift card to the fifth and 13th customer that placed an order on a specific day.
It’s a savvy idea to place current menu items on promotion that are low in cost but have a high perceived value in guests’ eyes such as appetizers, drinks, and desserts. San Shi Go, a Japanese restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA, is implementing this strategy by offering 30% off all sake, wine, and beer when customers place a food order. Taking this a step further, San Shi Go is also including a free new face mask when customers place an online order directly from their website. Tuesdays just got a bit more exciting at Killingtons Restaurant & Pub in Huntersville, NC. On Tender Tuesday customers can place a curbside pickup order for a family meal that includes 10 chicken tenders, fries, and a salad for only $30.
Goodwill and appreciation
Many restaurants are using their resources to support the groups impacted most during the coronavirus pandemic. Jackson’s in Long Island City, NY is partnering with Flag of NY to provide food to the frontline workers at Flushing and Jamaica hospitals in Queens, NY. Focusing on students, teachers, and other school district employees, the Wausau, WI restaurant, Wausau Mine Company, is offering 20% off of your entire bill for customers with a valid school ID.
Meal kits and virtual stores
With many people choosing to avoid grocery stores, restaurants are carving out a new revenue stream with takeout/delivery meal kits and online “grocery stores.” Hacienda de Mesilla in Mesilla, NM is selling “Grill at Home” packages that allow customers to create their favorite meals from arrachera steak and burgers to filet mignon and NY cut steak in the comfort of their own homes. Similarly, Plainview, NY restaurant, Coliseum Kitchen & Caterers, is offering grill-at-home kits that customers can cook and enjoy at home with their family. Another spot that’s tapping into the grill-enthusiast customer base is State Street Brats in Madison, WI. This restaurant is offering grill packs that include 10 signature brats and three cheese curds complete with free two-day shipping.
Taking a broader approach, Los Sombreros in Scottsdale, AZ has curated an online grocery store that sells prepared foods, cocktails, fresh produce, eggs, meat/seafood, and more directly to customers. Offering curbside pickup for orders on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, this establishment has made it quick and easy for their customers to purchase and obtain pantry and household staple items.
Use your social platforms to keep your followers informed of any timely news, new protocols, and ongoing promotions. Nurturing a fluid and engaging conversation between your restaurant and its customers is vital during unpredictable and quickly changing situations such as these. A Houston, TX restaurant, Harold’s, has launched a social media engagement campaign that asks followers to post an image accompanied by their established hashtag, “#lovethyneighbor” for the chance to win a $50 restaurant gift certificate. Recruiting the backing of other local restaurants, Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Burlington, NC is encouraging their followers to guess how many nails are in a jar from a photo they have posted. The top four correct/closest guesses will win a gift card to one of the participating restaurants. One tip is to check your local laws before promoting any sweepstakes or giveaway – most allow for just this type of promotion, but there are some nuances you will want to consider.
Creating new revenue streams
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an onslaught of hardships and challenges for the restaurant industry. To remain profitable and relevant it’s crucial to develop new and strategic ways to reach your customers and maintain steady sales during these unpredictable times. Don’t be afraid to test different promotions and marketing tactics from offering meal kits and frontline worker discounts to social media engagement campaigns and online grocery stores — unearthing what works best for your business is half the battle. Then, continue to build upon these findings to encourage spikes in brand awareness, new/repeat customer orders, and sales during COVID-19.
To discover more restaurant marketing strategies and tactics that can help your business during COVID-19, take a look at our free e-tool, “Coronavirus Era: 13 Restaurant Marketing Tips.”