How to Make Restaurant Promotions Work for You

By Chef Matthew Silverman, Executive Chef & Co-Founder, Verve Hospitality Group | March 16, 2010

Imagine it is Tuesday afternoon and you have no one in your restaurant. What do you do? In a perfect world of having a loyalty program in place, it would be great if you could say that everyone who orders a bottle of wine in the next two hours would receive 50% off their meal in addition to receiving 1,000 bonus points towards their loyalty membership. Running these types of promotions today seems almost a necessity to stay current. The question is how do restaurateurs make these types of programs effective and brand appropriate, ensure that they reach the "right" consumer, and are not taken advantage of by consumers or employees.

Securing promotions
Promotions are great if they are not taken advantage of by customers and staff, but unfortunately there is no system on the market which truly puts an emphasis on making security a concern. For the restaurateur, this is a must as we are already giving something away. If the promotions are being taken advantage of, then the margin is reduced or lost completely. However, there are ways to mitigate this by setting certain security parameters, such as allowing the loyalty card to be only swiped once per meal period and limiting the amount of points that someone could accumulate in a day, etc. With every promotion comes some risk, so the best advice is to be aware of what is going on and review all available reports weekly.

Once a promotion has been established, the first thing would be to establish your target market. In the example above with the bottle of wine, wouldn't it be great if you could target people who come to the restaurants between 1pm and 5pm and order glasses of wine. By using a point of sale system with an integrated loyalty program, such as Agilysys' InfoGenesis, this is possible. Restaurateurs are able to dig into the details of what people are ordering when they come in and use their loyalty card. By having these systems in sync with each other it opens the doors for unlimited reporting and analysis. When restaurateurs know what their guests are ordering and when they order it, they will be able to customize their promotions. Restaurateurs are also able to track the success of specific promotions and roll them into new ones; slightly changing them to refine your message gets the most value for marketing and promotional dollars.

Spreading the word
Getting the word out to your consumer now is easier than ever, even in real-time. Utilizing tools such as Twitter (no matter how much people want to fight progression), gives restaurateurs a way to get an immediate message out to their consumer base and see results. Take a picture of a bottle of wine on the patio with your cell phone, type a short message (ie. "half of all bottles of wine for the next 2 hours"), and press send. In the matter of 45 seconds, the message is out there for the world to see. Now, more than ever, restaurateurs don't have to wait weeks or months to see whether their marketing dollars and promotions have worked. In most cases currently, operators don't ever know if they work or not. Now they have a way to find out what really works and what doesn't.

It seems as though there are so many different types of technology and methods out there that are designed to get the message out and determine who the message should go to, but until now there has not been a system that integrates all of these systems into one. If used correctly, these systems can really be a help to restaurants and businesses of all types and levels of sophistication.

From dishwasher to celebrity chef and restaurant owner, Matthew Silverman's career is as diverse as it is interesting. Constantly aiming for perfection, Silverman aims to continue his work as Executive Chef with Agave, the RoadRunner chain, and Vintner Grill in Las Vegas, while expanding his own portfolio of restaurants including Coa, Laurus, and Stomp in Danville, California.

comments powered by Disqus

ht events

2014 Restaurant Executive Summit