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Offer These 5 Restaurant Deals to Attract New and Return Guests

Discounts, coupons and specials can greatly influence guests’ dining out choices.

With Americans feeling the pinch of skyrocketing inflation, cutting back dining out is often one of the first cuts people make to their monthly budget. However, many keep an eye out for restaurant discounts and specials that allow them to afford dining out more often.

“While 61% of people agree that rising prices are making restaurant dining too expensive, deals and incentives can spark an appetite for your brand,” according to “Appetite for Loyalty,” a report on restaurant customers’ preferences by Vericast, a marketing solutions company. “A good deal can help guests with dining decisions.”

More than half (54 percent) of survey respondents in the Vericast report say that coupons and discounts encourage them to try a new restaurant. Other factors that potential guests consider important include:

  • Applying coupons and discounts to save money (51 percent)
  • Using print ads to help plan restaurant visits
  • Looking for the least expensive meal options when planning their week

Coupons, deals and discounts “tip the scales on restaurant decisions” (47 percent) over recommendations from friends and family (46 percent), according to the Vericast report.

“The right deals can attract tons of new customers to almost any restaurant, whether you run a bar or pub, a pizzeria, a fast-casual restaurant, a fast-food franchise, or a full-service restaurant,” according to restaurant platform software company Toast. Fine dining restaurants can also offer discounts on a meal with several courses at a fixed price.

“To truly help your restaurant’s growth, you can’t just offer discounts for discounts’ sake — it’s vital that you choose the right discounting strategy for your restaurant,” says Toast. “Being too lax with discounting can quickly impact your bottom line, so make a plan, stick to it, and track the results through your restaurant point of sale.”

Below are five deals and discounts in addition to coupons that attract new and repeat customers to your restaurant.

Offer BOGO (buy one, get one free) deals

Everyone likes free food, so offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal on select menu items allows guests to sample new entrees and appetizers while spending less.

“A tried-and-true discounting method, BOGO (or buy one, get one) is easy to implement and calculate, plus customers see it as a valuable offer,” says Toast.  “Plus, you can make several modifications to the BOGO structure and still see the results of [the offer] in your POS system.”

Toast recommends choosing low-cost but profitable dishes for BOGO deals: “Offer the promotion for a limited time and track the results so you know the baseline for next time.”

Leverage digital platforms

Nearly half (46 percent) of potential guests surveyed for the Vericast report say they use the internet to save on restaurant dining. And 49 percent say they use their smartphone or another mobile device to shop for good deals at restaurants.

Showcasing your restaurant’s discounts, BOGO offers and other specials on your website and social media can attract new customers and remind regular customers to visit again.

“Invite local food bloggers or foodie influencers to your restaurant. Offer them free or discounted food in exchange for free press on their websites or social media channels,” recommends city restaurant guide Restaurant Clicks. “While offering free products may seem counter-productive, getting exposure online to a food-based audience can be great for business, especially if you’re just starting out.”

Showcase combo deals

Combining a combination of foods and a drink for one total price allows guests to save money while “churning through inventory” and can lead to a larger total ticket size, according to Toast.

Combos are basically a “built-in upsell,” says Toast. But keep in mind that the larger the combo, the more of an impact it can have on your profit margin.

“Be very strategic about what you include in your combos and adjust the combo or the price if you notice your profits dipping,” suggests Toast.

Advertise happy hour discounts

Restaurants with bars know how good deals on appetizers and drinks can bring in a crowd. But happy hour prices don’t have to be limited to cocktails, beer and wine deals. “The happy hour approach works for traditional restaurants, too, even if they don’t serve alcohol,” says Toast.

Offer specials on slow days

If Mondays are typically slower for business, Offer a discount or a special on profitably priced items every Monday. Satisfied guests will remember that daily special — maybe even making dining on that day part of their weekly schedule —  and potentially may even return on another day of the week with coworkers, family or friends.