• Charles Caruana

7 restaurant promotion ideas to boost take-out & delivery

The small business world has completely shifted in the past year—but the restaurant industry has taken an especially hard hit. In the wake of pandemic-related restrictions (including limits on indoor dining capacity), restaurants have had to find alternative ways to serve customers and keep their businesses moving forward. For many restaurants, that’s meant pivoting to focus on takeout and delivery.

Takeout and delivery became the go-to (and, in many places, the only) way to enjoy restaurants in 2020—and the trend has continued into 2021. But takeout and delivery is different from in-person dining...and if you’re not accustomed to restaurant takeout marketing, you might be struggling to find ways to promote your business and drive orders.

1. Offer promotions before (and after) the rush

Friday and Saturday nights are prime time for takeout and delivery. But you can’t keep your restaurant moving forward if Friday and Saturday nights are the only times you’re filling orders. So, if you want to grow your small business and increase takeout and delivery orders, try offering special promotions during off-peak hours.

For example, if you find that you’re barely getting any lunch orders, you might create a lunch menu that features some of your most popular dishes at a discounted price. Or, maybe you find that business is particularly slow on weeknights. You might offer your customers free delivery on weeknights—plus a complimentary dessert to sweeten the deal.

You might not drive as much revenue on discounted orders, but if you’re offering deals during time frames where you have few (or no!) takeout or delivery orders, you’ll still end up ahead—because less revenue is better than no revenue.

2. Add your brand to every order

A well-known adage among chefs is, “You eat with your eyes first.” And in an era where photogenic food has never been more prevalent, expectations are high. When packaging food, make sure it’s easy for people to reheat and plate up without losing any of its visual appeal. The experience people have when your food arrives is crucial. Customized delivery bags and containers with stickers including phrases like “enjoy your meal,” can make a big difference when you can’t be there in person to say it.

Also, don’t forget to add a flyer, postcard or menu to every delivery bag with news of upcoming specials, offers, updated delivery details or even your business story.

3. Share often on social media (& share more than just food photos)

Give your followers and fans a taste of what you’re prepping in the kitchen. Sharing photos of your food not only whets their appetite, but it also helps them plan their meals. If you’re prepping a dish for later in the week, let people know what you're making, how you’ll garnish it, and when it’s going on the menu. And while many traditional kitchens frown upon using phones in kitchens, Johnny understands the value of sharing photos of his dishes on Instagram.

4. Offer delivery services

If you’re adjusting your menu regularly, updating third-party platforms like Bolt Food and Wolt can take up a lot of time. Making deliveries yourself, in the safest manner possible, can give you control over frequent menu updates and ensure everyone who comes into contact with your food follows your stringent health and safety procedures.

5. Create customer-specific specials

When given the option, consumers tend to choose businesses that cater specifically to them and their needs—and that includes restaurants. So, if you want customers to order takeout and delivery from your restaurant, try offering deals and menu items that speak directly to them.

For example, if you’re a family-friendly restaurant, offer a weeknight family-style take-and-bake option targeted towards working parents. If you’re a more romantic, upscale spot, offer a date night special targeted towards couples. Want to get creative with cocktails? Put some DIY mixology kits together to complement certain menu items...and let customers can shake things up at home.

6. Add limited-edition menu items

If you have a static menu, your customers know they can order whatever they want, whenever they want. And while that convenience is great, it doesn’t create any sense of urgency.

Instead, it can make it easy for customers to put off ordering takeout or delivery...which can very easily result in them not ordering at all.

So, if you want to increase your takeout and delivery orders, you need to create a sense of urgency. And one of the most effective restaurant takeout marketing strategies to create that sense of urgency is with 'limited time only' menu items. If there’s something new and exciting on your menu—and your customers know it’s only going to be available for a short period of time—they won't want to miss out.

If possible, have one or two limited-edition items on your menu at any given time. Keep them on your menu for a short period (two weeks to a month is a good target) and make sure customers know when they’ll be leaving the menu. This sense of urgency will inspire more customers to place an order and try the menu item before it’s gone, simultaneously boosting your takeout and delivery orders.

7. Incentive your customers to order again

If someone has already ordered takeout from you and enjoyed their food, chances are, they’ll be interested in (eventually) placing another order. Your existing customers offer the biggest opportunity to increase your takeout revenue. With a bit of effort, you can transform a one-off takeout customer into a once-a-week takeout order—and if you do that enough, you’ll have a steady stream of reliable customers to keep your takeout and delivery business moving forward.

The key to success with this strategy? With every order, give customers an incentive to come back. For example, include a “10% off your next delivery” coupon with every order, or create a rewards program (using the back of a business card as a punch card!) that offers a freebie after they've ordered five times.

If you’re going to offer coupons or punch cards to incentive your customers to order takeout or delivery on a more regular basis, make sure they’re on-brand. Include your logo and use your brand color palette on every item to make them visually impact and reinforce your brand identity.

I am here to help you to plan and boost your business - info@charlescaruana.mt

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