Off Peak Hour Snacking is The New Gold Mine for Restaurants
Dining out used to mean you went to breakfast from 5 am to 9 am, lunch from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm and dinner from 5 pm until 9 pm. The off peak hours meant paying employees to clean and restock while no income was being generated. However, since the recession and one general economic down turn after another, people are looking for food bargains during off-peak hours. They are trying to save money by not ordering as much or by splitting orders, but they are still hungry. So what is happening is that people are likely to snack more often during the day. For the enterprising restaurateur there is good revenue to be generated by filling this need and these bellies. Here are some examples of how to generate revenue with off-peak sales.
- Create “to-go” snack bags featuring smaller versions of your popular dishes. They should be available as an impulse purchase or no waiting required.
- Any kind of finger foods, fruit salads or even pastries that will keep without refrigeration is a great way to keep them coming back to you for their snack attack.
- With 2 pm as the recognized snack hour, create discounts or snack specials from 2 to 4 pm.
- Design Happy Hour appetizers and snack specials to complement your drink specials.
- Create your own granola bars or trail mix bags and keep them by the register.
- Design self-contained; re-heat able meals that people can take to work or home.
- Reach out to local clubs or civic groups to use your establishment as a meeting place on the slow night of the week.
- Use frequent diner cards to reward your regular customers.
- Reward the regulars by covering their meal if they bring someone new on Monday or Tuesday.
- Coupons, “Kids-Eat-Free” Nights and other creative promotions will drive budget conscious diners to your tables.
Building off-peak business will take some marketing and good word of mouth. Use social marketing if you are not already. There are apps that you can subscribe to that send out messages to smart phones informing potential customers of your off-peak deals, discounts and specials. Make sure your servers get the word out to every customer about your snack bags or off-peak specials. Have a weekly competition among your servers for new frequent diner signups or specials sales to increase revenue. Your front-of- the-house staff is your sales forces so do not forget to train them and motivate them, constantly.
Once they know you have good snacks, appetizers and deals even during off-peak hours they will stop by for them even if they can’t stay for a regular meal.