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Economy-Proof Your Restaurant’s Special Offers

When the economy took a downturn, you began offering incentives to get more people through the door of your restaurant. Or maybe you’re a patron who has taken advantage of one of these offers, such as TGIFriday’s $5 off a friend’s meal or Maggiano’s Little Italy’s buy one-get one pasta dishes.

A recent consumer survey reveals that only 10 percent of restaurant patrons expect special promotions to completely stop once the economy improves. The survey also indicated that 17 percent expect special offers to increase; 21 percent expect special deals to continue unchanged; and 51 percent expect special deals to slow but not stop.

What does this mean for your restaurant? Start thinking strategically about promotions that create loyalty among your patrons and also have the potential to boost profit margins once the economy recovers. If you’re not careful, you might just be feeding the unrealistic expectations of your patrons. Try one of these tips for a healthy bottom line:


  • Offer half-size portions at 3/4 the price of the full size, or some variation on that money-making theme.
  • Change your product mix. For example, serving small medallions of beef instead of an 8-oz. filet costs less for you.
  • Start a wine-pairing service, but use lesser known (and theoretically, cheaper) wines. Create themed dinners with wines from all over the world.

Source: 2009 American Express MarketBrief

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