It’s no secret that COVID-19 has caused the restaurant industry as a whole to lose out on a large number of sales. Between social distancing orders that limit capacity and the public’s newfound concern for health and safety, restaurant business has gone down.
Now, restaurant owners are finally getting used to operating under the new normal. They’ve begun to adjust to life under quarantine and have turned their attention to strategizing.
The objective is two-fold. They must boost sales in the short-term and recoup the sales that have been lost over the past several months.
It’s time for restauranteurs everywhere to begin taking a serious look at their promotions.
How Restaurant Operators Advertised Before
Promotions have not always been as integral to business as they are today. Before, they consisted of broad marketing strategies that went to wide audiences, hoping to catch a few eyes that may be interested. Think coupons printed in booklets, newspapers, and flyers.
This may not have been the most effective use of their marketing budgets. Customers don’t like to be bombarded with a bunch of advertisements for things they don’t necessarily want and are never going to purchase. They also don’t like to carry around physical coupons, which can easily get lost, stolen, or damaged.
The New Way to Promote
These days, promotions are strategic and targeted. They are personalized and are carefully developed to provide the most bang for your marketing buck. This paves the way for a much larger return.
They are also delivered to customers in more effective ways, cutting down on the clutter in their inboxes and meeting them where they are. Promotions are delivered on popular social media platforms and through commonly-used apps, rather than mailed or printed. Restaurants leverage hashtags like #tacotuesday and #winedownwednesday to promote to-go specials and cash in on common trends.
Many restaurants use their website not just as an ordering platform, but as a marketing tool to encourage customers to purchase add-on items through upselling prompts. They also target specific consumers using high-value loyalty rewards programs that motivate customers to order more often and encourage repeat business.
It Starts with Data
The best way to ensure the success of your promotions is to center your marketing strategies around hard data. You have to first understand your customers—who they are and what they want—before you can run profitable and competitive promotional campaigns.
With a high-quality POS system, this data is already at your fingertips. You can monitor customer behavior, identify trends, and leverage that information to tailor your promotions perfectly. You can understand exactly what motivates customers to purchase items, and which items they will be most inclined to purchase. That way, your promotions automatically become more profitable.
Take, for example, the group of regulars that come in for happy hour every Friday evening. If they haven’t been visiting your restaurant since COVID-19 first began, you can view historical data from your POS to see that they always ordered two rounds of drinks and shared an appetizer.
Now, armed with this data, you can offer a 2-for-1 appetizer special to-go on Fridays between 5 and 6 PM. Send this offer through your loyalty program, app, or via email, and you may see that your group of regulars returns. Even though they no longer dine in, you can still encourage them to order and host their happy hour from their homes.
COVID Makes it Critical
In times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to run strategic promotions to recoup lost sales. COVID-19 has prompted many customers to rethink how often they go out and what they spend their money on. They are looking for the most value they can gain for their dollars.
Most consumers are longing for the times before COVID-19. They miss the experiences they regularly shared and are already looking for creative, safe ways to recreate those experiences. By offering new and convenient ways for them to do that, you can satisfy these customers and help them (and you) find some semblance of normalcy in the chaos.
You’re not the only one that misses your customers. They likely miss your restaurant. They stopped visiting because of budget and safety concerns. The best way to bypass both these concerns is to offer discounts and promotions on safe services like delivery and curbside pickup.
Adapt and Overcome
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into everyone’s plans for the year, and it’s not looking like there will be an end in sight for quite some time. Rather than fighting against the new normal, it’s time for restaurants to adapt to it.
Your business doesn’t have to succumb to the pandemic. With targeted, strategic promotions delivered through useful online mediums, you can recoup lost sales and find a way to come out on top. You don’t have to say goodbye to your customers just because you can no longer operate your restaurant the way you are used to.
NCC is here to help. We offer POS solutions that provide you with a wealth of data to help you run better promotions. Let us help you recoup lost sales and overcome the challenges that have been thrown at you. For more information on the technology we offer, contact the experts at NCC today!