5 tips for driving lunch traffic

Lunch has long been a challenge for restaurant operators, as many would-be customers choose to bring a lunch from home or don’t have time to stop in for a meal. But with a few strategy tweaks, menu revamps and maybe an added service or two, the midday daypart can thrive.

Consider these tips to see an increase in lunchtime sales.

Offer convenient, quick meals

One deterrent to dining in at a restaurant during lunch—at least during the workweek—is diners’ concern that they won’t be able to sit down, order, eat and settle the tab in their hour-long break. In fact, 32% of consumer say the reason they bring lunch from home/choose not to eat out for lunch is because it saves time, according to Technomic’s 2016 Lunch report.

For these diners, quick options are a must—they need to feel comfortable that they’ll be able to travel to the restaurant, eat and get back in time. Operators can devise a set lunch menu that promises a quick turnaround. Soups are a great option for these quick menus, as are personal-sized pizzas that bake up quickly, sandwiches or salads.

Combo offerings

Thirty-seven percent of consumers say that it’s important for the restaurant they choose for lunch to offer combo meals, according to Technomic’s recent Lunch report. With that many diners looking for variety in their midday meal, operators stand to benefit from putting together a lunch menu that includes combo options.

Offering a half sandwich or lunch-sized pasta entree with a salad or a soup side is the perfect way to satisfy these consumers. An entree-and-dessert combo can be an area of opportunity as well, as diners can take their dessert to go and eat it later.

Smaller-sized entrees

Consumers eat snacks for lunch an average of twice a week, and many diners simply eat less at lunch than they do at dinner. Offering different-sized options for entrees can be a great way to appeal to those who don’t want to have leftovers or want to pay a bit less for a smaller meal.  What’s more, this strategy doesn’t require additional menu development—operators can add a smaller “lunch-sized” option for each of their entrees and sell them for a bit less than the full-sized meal.

Flavorful and customizable options

Want to stand out from the rest of lunchtime competitors? Offer global-influenced dishes or customizable meals. For instance, a hot dog and fries is a quick meal for many lunchtime consumers, but adding a topping bar or putting a Sonoran dog (a hot dog that’s wrapped in bacon and grilled, then topped with pinto beans, cheese, salsa, onions and other condiments) on the menu can increase appeal. The same can be said for quick-service personal-sized pizzas—being able to customize their meal is important for 49% of consumers, according to Technomic’s Lunch report. What better way to customize a meal than choosing favorite pizza toppings?

Delivery and pick-up

Finally, making the restaurant experience as convenient as possible helps to drive lunch traffic. Offering delivery is one way to entice diners—particularly those who can’t leave the office but still want a delicious meal. Offering take-out for lunchtime is helpful, as well—50% of consumers say that takeout service is important for the times they want to order lunch.

Attracting lunchtime diners is all about making the restaurant accessible—from quick turnaround to smaller portions to delivery and takeout, making dining out more convenient is the name of the game.

This post is sponsored by Sugardale


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