Want to learn how to increase lunch sales for your restaurant? According to a recent survey by Fooda, over 90% of Americans buy lunch instead of bringing one from home. Of these workers who buy their lunch, 63% of them will purchase from a nearby restaurant.
The average office worker 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, the 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.
Benefits of a pre-fixed lunch menu:
- Less time spent preparing food
- The faster ordering process for customers
- Easier to handle lunch rushes
- Less stress on your restaurant staff
2. 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 a filling and delicious meal that is affordable. If you can keep your price range between $7 and $12, you will have daily regulars coming in from nearby businesses.
Serve smaller portions during your lunch specials to keep costs down and attract more customers during the lunch rush. Most workers don’t want an overly filling meal for lunch, but one they can get fast and tastes great.
3. 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, and 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.
4. 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.
5. Offer High-Energy, Super Foods
As we have discussed before, superfoods are all the rage right now. Nutritious foods are especially appealing to the younger dining crowd. If your restaurant is frequented by millennial workers, then this is a good lunch trend to grab on to.
High-energy superfoods include filling vegetable 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 workday.
6. 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, but you can also leave behind menus and coupons in a place someone will see.
7. 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, but a group order for delivery would also 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.
If you can’t budget to hire and train delivery drivers, try partnering with one of the on-demand delivery systems. Getting listed on a delivery service such as GrubHub, DoorDash, or Postmates will boost your visibility to local office workers who utilize these delivery services at lunchtime.
8. 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.
Look at local businesses, and see which ones are close enough to offer free delivery. Print out flyers with menus and take them to the business office to inform the workers that they can get free delivery from your restaurant. Offering free delivery is a great way to boost lunchtime sales, but you have to use marketing tactics to let consumers know you are offering delivery.
9. 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 staff available with an all hands on deck approach. Look at your master schedule to get the most out of your employees, without cutting into the hours they request off.
10. Market Your Restaurant
Plenty of restaurants fail because they do not market their new changes. How can you expect customers to know about 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. Use social media to promote changes to your lunch menu for free, and get your customers to share your changes to their timelines. 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.