Drive Lunch Visits via Restaurant Marketing

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Restaurants can change the current consumer mindset around lunch to get more guests in-restaurant during the day.

It’s no surprise that casual dining restaurant sales have been suffering for the last few quarters.  However, a number of restaurants are reporting that dinner sales have remained steady and in some cases have increased year over year.  The downfall for sales seems to be coming from the lunch day-part for many Casual Dining Restaurants (CDRs), but can restaurant marketing make a difference?

There are many factors contributing to lower restaurant sales during lunch: consumers have less time to go out and eat lunch, many consumers are trying to save money by packing a lunch regularly, there’s more of a focus on healthy eating.  While it may be a tough road ahead for CDRs, here are some steps for positively impacting your lunch day-part.

Offer Quick Options

Just because your restaurant is in the CDR category doesn’t mean you can’t offer quick options, especially at lunchtime.  Today, many people don’t get a full lunch hour during the workday and can’t go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant.  Give these consumers the option to order online and pick up their order when it’s convenient for them.

While many professionals may not have a lot of time to eat out, it’s nice for them to get out of the office for a few minutes and pick up something quick and easy to eat.  For those who don’t even have time for a quick drive to your restaurant, think about offering delivery or partnering with a delivery service company to meet the needs of even the busiest workers.

Reevaluate Your Menu

Most CDRs have already picked up on the fact that most people don’t want to eat a heavy lunch during the work week.  Make sure your lunch menu focuses on lighter options such as salads and sandwiches.  Also, consider offering smaller portions of some of your popular dinner items.

A double burger and large serving of fries may not be appetizing to someone who will need to go back to the office for 5 more hours, but a single burger with a side salad could suffice for most guests.  Also, forget about apps and drinks as there just isn’t always enough time to fit those in during a lunch hour break.

Offer Significant Lunch Deals

Aside from saving time by not eating out for lunch, many people are also saving money by packing a lunch during the week.  It is obviously going to be very cost efficient to pack leftovers for lunch rather than to go out to eat and restaurants need to keep this in mind when setting lunch prices.

Consider offering a salad and sandwich combo for half the price you would charge at dinner or a bowl of soup for just a few dollars.  While you may not make as much of a profit with these prices, you’ll be more likely to get butts in seats during lunch and help improve the lunchtime deficit.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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