According to a survey taken in 2012, two-thirds of Americans opt to buy lunch and don’t bring one from home. The average office workers spends $37 a week on lunch, which tallies up to a sizable $2,000 a year. If your restaurant is centrally located in a business hub, you have a prime real estate for a buzzing lunch hour. Below we reveal 10 effective ways to attract a lunch crowd, and boost your restaurant’s revenue.
1. Offer a Pre-Fixed Lunch Menu
The average office worker has one-hour lunch breaks. For the businessman that wants a proper sit-down lunch—but doesn’t have more than an hour to enjoy one—a three-course, pre-fixed lunch menu is exactly what he or she is looking for.
The menu should be highbrow, yet uncomplicated, with just two or three variations per course. Advertise your lunch menu as a “Power Hour Lunch Menu,” and include a brief description that explains how this menu is designed to take one hour to consume. You want to emphasize that this includes the entire dining experience, from sitting down to walking out the door.
Your guests will appreciate a menu that satisfies their cravings for a hot, prepared lunch. While they might not come every day, office workers in the area are likely to make weekly visits to your restaurant for such a satisfying and quick lunch. (And ideally with their coworkers!)
Remember: The price point must be fair, so the pre-set menu should not cost more than $20. Providing a heavy lunch isn’t necessary, either. Halve your regular portion sizes to accommodate the guest’s needs, your profit margins, and the kitchen’s cooking times.
- Offer a Lunch Special
For a daily flow of return diners, opt for a daily lunch special. This will be attractive to office workers in all income brackets. Every day, offer one or two lunch specials that are easy to prep for and even easier to churn out. And make it a price so good, it’s impossible to go elsewhere.
Since the lunch crowd is seeking alternatives to paper-bag lunches, they are looking for filling and delicious meals that are affordable. If you can keep your price range between $7 and $12, you will have daily regulars coming in from nearby businesses.
- Offer a Group Special
At least once a week, co-workers get lunch as a group. It’s typical for work friends to catch up or companies to major work meetings off site at a restaurant. In fact, group lunches are used as an office tactic to increase productivity.
Attract large parties with a special office group discount. It doesn’t matter how profitable a company is, a lunch discount is always desirable. Offer a percentage off the entire bill for a certain number of people, or offer a set menu. If you make office groups feel welcome at your restaurant, you will get return business from them.
- Offer Fresh Pre-Made To-Go Containers
Plenty of office employees eat lunch at their desks. Help them to eat a good quality meal with fresh, pre-made, to-go containers of your food. You don’t have to offer your entire menu; just a few items to get started with.
The snacking dining trend has led diners to be more comfortable with picking up small servings, so take advantage of this new way of eating, and offer easy-to-prepare to-go containers that take an employee through the day. In an effort to cater to these folks, try offering different combinations of healthy snack-sized options such as fresh fruit and veggie plates and protein-packed boxes.
Be sure to get the advice from your head chef; he or she will know which dishes are the easiest to prepare and which would taste the freshest if stored in containers. Display the lunch to-go- containers in an easy-to-see location in your restaurant, and be sure to add signage that directs customers to them.
- Offer High-Energy, Super Foods
As we have discussed before, super foods are all the rage right now. Nutritious foods are especially appealing to the younger dining crowd. If you’re restaurant is frequented by millennial workers, then this is a good lunch trend to grab on to.
High-energy super foods include filling vegetables salads with bases like beets, chickpeas, or quinoa, as well as rich smoothies. You might already be serving this type of food, too. If so, be sure to advertise it during lunch. You want people to equate eating at your restaurant to getting a wholesome energy boost that will get them through their busy work day.
- Deliver Samples
Are you new to the neighborhood? Have new items on the menu? Or do you have a slump in lunch sales? Then get out into your community and tell them you are there! Hand-deliver food samples from your lunch menu to every office and business in the neighborhood.
Not only is it an effective and endearing way to attract new clientele, you can leave behind menus and coupons in a place someone will see.
- Optimize Your Delivery Service
There’s nothing as alluring to the hungry—but busy—employee as a reliable, fast delivery service. If you haven’t already, set up a lunch delivery service. Not only will employees order for themselves, more likely than not, a group order for delivery would be placed. It could be that everyone is facing the same deadline or there is a large meeting that is running into the lunch hour. Be available by offering a delivery service.
- Offer Free Delivery to Local Businesses
Depending on the distance, you might want to consider offering free delivery to local businesses. If it makes sense fiscally and time-wise for your restaurant to waive delivery fees, then this would lure in more lunch sales day after day.
- Schedule the Right Staff and Boost Customer Service
The lunch crowd is more demanding than the dinner crowd; they have a limited amount of time to spend at your restaurant and are, in general, more stressed out. Your customer service cannot be lacking. Train your staff to be ready for the lunch rush hour. Friendly and speedy service will win over loyal lunch-crowd customers.
Also, take care to hire enough staff members during lunch. To get diners in and out in one hour, you might need more hands on deck.
- Market Your Restaurant
Plenty of restaurants fail because they do not market their new changes. How can you expect customers to know of your new pre-fixed lunch menu if you don’t tell them? The same goes for free office deliveries, and any other lunch promotion you start. Promoting your restaurant is essential, particularly in the beginning.
Train your servers to mention special lunch offers to all guests, use your social media, and print out flyers if you have the budget. The trick is to keep talking about it until your guests start talking about it for you. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing technique; all it needs is a push.
You get them for lunch, how about grabbing them after work, too! See how to have the most buzzing happy hour in town.