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These tips will help you drive sales and traffic.

7 Tips for Keeping Your Specials 'Special'

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How to plan for more profitable offers
By Angela Burke November 2016 Vendor Bylines

Daily specials are an effective marketing tool for driving traffic to your restaurant during the days of the week, dayparts, and seasons that are traditionally slow. But the problem is that many daily special offers are confusing and truly aren’t very special at all. The following tips will help you to develop a successful daily specials program for your restaurant:

1. Be Intentional

Gain a firm understanding of what you want to accomplish with your daily specials program. Is your goal to bring people in the door during slow hours or maybe to encourage trial of a new menu item? Be intentional about each daily special that you offer, and link your daily specials to your business goals. For example, if you know that Monday and Tuesday evenings are traditionally slow for your restaurant, that’s a prime opportunity for you to drive traffic with an appealing offer.

2. Check Out the Competition

Take stock of the daily specials that your competitors are offering. By doing some quick market research, you’ll identify the gaps that you can fill. So, if you notice that your competition offers Tuesday night dollar oysters, do not feel pressured to follow suit. It’s more than okay not to offer the same specials as everyone else. But if you do decide that and an oyster special makes sense for the goals that you’ve set forth, consider a different spin on it like a fried oyster po’ boy, for example. That’s how you keep your daily specials special.

3. Keep it Simple

Please do your customers a favor and keep your offers simple. Confusing or complicated deals are the quickest way to kill a daily specials program. Avoid confusion by clearly listing the menu item, its special pricing, and the timeframe when the offer is valid, as well as any other details related to the deal, such as “with purchase” items. State the specifics clearly on your printed menu and on your website. Don’t make your customers dig for this information.

4. Use Sparingly

Like any marketing tool, daily specials should be used strategically.Avoid discounting too frequently and diluting your brand with too many offers. Opt for just a handful of specials rather than ten of them. Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone. Instead of risking looking unfocused with a broad range of daily specials, create thoughtful and targeted offers that will keep your food costs low and align with your brand. At the end of the day, there’s no prize for the greatest number of daily specials offered.

5. Test the Market

Perhaps there’s a new dish that your chef or a new cocktail that your mixologist has been wanting to add to the menu. Give these items a trial run on your daily specials menu and test the market. From there, you can gain feedback on how the item is received by your customers and decide if it’s worthy of being added to your menu.

6. Engage Your Staff

You already know that your staff is a critical part of your restaurant’s longevity and they can make or break the success of your daily specials program. Ensure that your staff knows the ins and outs of your daily specials and is proactively telling every single customer about them. Create a bit of friendly competition amongst the servers for the most daily specials sold and reward the winning server.

7. Spread the Word

Stop keeping your daily specials a secret. Tell the world! Share today’s special every day on your social media platforms with tasty images and appropriate hashtags. Join all conversations that relate to your offering (e.g. #NationalOysterDay) and post your specials on local digital event calendars for added exposure. Don’t forget, your current customers want to know how they can get in on the savings, too. Email the details to everyone in your email database, hand out flyers, and communicate on-site with simply stated tabletop and bathroom signage. Basically, fully integrate your daily specials program into your overall marketing plan for successful communication.

Angela Burke
Angela Burke is the founder and CEO of Chef Groupie, a marketing and public relations agency supporting independent restaurants and small businesses within the food and beverage industry. Growing up, and long the Food Network, Angela would spend her Saturday mornings tuned into the cooking shows on PBS.