Using Daily Specials to Increase Traffic and Profit

menu specials

You have your basic menu and it seems to be popular with your guests. Your income is steady but growth has been slow. If that sounds like your then you might want to think about leveraging daily specials to increase traffic and profit.

Increase Traffic Every Month

Most restaurants can’t afford to change and reprint menus on a regular basis but adding one unique dish or combination of dishes that change daily is a great idea. It allows you to get the most mileage out of trends and seasonal food which makes it good business. Here are a few ideas to increase traffic each month based on the trends in the United States. If you are in another country then you would go by your own holidays and special days.

January

Just about everyone starts a diet in January. Adding low calorie, low fat, and/or low-carb dishes to the menu allows these guests to continue to enjoy your restaurant while being able to maintain their new healthy diet. There are all kinds of possibilities. If you are not familiar with the various diet trends a little Internet research should be able to provide you with the basics, techniques, and recipes that you need to know.

Change the dishes daily and make note of what seems to do well.

February

Generally by February diets are forgotten and people are ready for special desserts. Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s minds. Create a couple of special sweets that will entice guests. One popular way to serve desserts is to offer several small bites, just a tablespoon or two. A tiny chocolate cake, a dainty swirl of chocolate mousse, or a small tartlet offer diners a bite of luxurious sweetness without causing them to veer too far off the January diets that are still on their minds.

March

March brings the anticipation of spring. Now is a good time to add lighter dishes that utilize fresh, spring vegetables and citrus flavors. Fresh herbs, salads made with baby spinach, and other seasonal ingredients will be just right.

April

Begin to utilize more seasonal produce in your daily specials and advertise it as such. If you live in one of the warmer areas of the country you may even be able to use local ingredients. People are thinking about Farm to Table concepts now. Use fresh herbs, baby potatoes, tiny beets, and other typical Spring produce to keep up the excitement.

May

Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are two holidays to celebrate in this month. Why not consider adding a special fruit and cheese plate or a real tea menu? Fresh strawberries, citrus, scones, and other “girlie” menu items will satisfy your customers’ desire to take Mom somewhere special. Classic American foods like barbecue, fried chicken, pie, and potato salad are pretty much always a good bet for Memorial Day. Advertise ready-made picnic lunches, special Mother’s Day desserts, and Memorial Day foods to get the most profit out of this month.

June, July, August

Summer vacation! Throughout the summer months add specials that are simple, light, and family friendly. Offer items with tropical fruit flavors like mango salsa. Simple light foods and salads usually do very well.

September

Apples, Maple, and other fall flavors bring excitement to your September Specials. This is where you will  want to begin bringing back comfort food type items as well.

October

Pumpkin, hearty soups, and hot coffee drinks nearly always do well during October and through the rest of the year. Remember to keep up with what is in season locally, too.

November

During November you’ll want to begin gearing up for Christmas and the holiday season. If you want to encourage your customers to buy their pies and other special holiday foods from you then now is the time to add those special desserts to your rotation of daily specials. That way they’ll know how good those desserts really are!

December

With everything else that is going on you may want to discontinue doing daily specials for the month of December. You are sure to be busier than usual and there is usually enough chaos without adding to it.

Review Your Notes

Keep careful notes of what does well. You should begin to see a pattern of things that seem to trend at different times of the year. Maybe there is something that is always popular. Could you add it as a permanent part of your menu and remove another item that isn’t doing well?

Constant analysis of your traffic, your profits, and your customer’s comments will help you to maintain strong traffic all year. It keeps your menu from getting boring and predictable and keeps you on the cutting edge of trend and tastes. Doing something special every month is a way that you can create interest among your customers — something most chain restaurants can’t do. Use it to your advantage to create a unique experience that will draw new customers and keep the old ones coming back to see what you are going to do next!

photo credit: kthread via photopin cc

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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