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Springtime sports offer big opportunity to build delivery sales

Photograph: Shutterstock

Sports playoffs are good for the restaurant business. Just ask operators in Lawrence, Kan., who saw a sales spike of 48% on game days when the hometown University of Kansas Jayhawks played in the NCAA basketball tournament two years ago, according to customer transaction data compiled by Womply, a business software provider.

It’s not just the hometown restaurants that benefit from the playoffs, either. Nationwide, the tournament drives a 2.4% spike in sales at independent and regional chain restaurants. If a local team is in the running, the average increase is even higher, at 9.4%.

A sizable chunk of that incremental business will come through delivery, which gives operators the perfect opening to capitalize on the convivial atmosphere that sports playoffs encourage. Simply put, sports fans tend to be glued to their TVs, often with friends and family, ready to cheer on their favorite teams—and they don’t want to spend time in the kitchen.

That leaves the lane wide open for a slam dunk for operators. Given the demand is already there, it’s the perfect time to hone a strategy for stretching takeout and delivery checks with add-ons.

Pizza, ribs, wings, fried chicken and other fare are time-honored choices for sports fans. But because it’s a fun and convivial occasion, shareable appetizers and desserts are also logical categories to promote, especially for groups of friends and family who are following the action.

National restaurant chains have capitalized on the potential for a sales spike during March playoffs by promoting specials and running contests. But any restaurant can compete for its share of sports fans’ enthusiasm and dining budget. Here are some ways to post stronger delivery numbers during college basketball tournaments and other marquee sporting events:

Create combos and platters: Online menus can be daunting, especially for first-time users. By bundling appetizers, entrees and desserts, restaurants can make the process easier. Providing family-size platters of appetizers, entrees and assorted desserts is another. Offering a nominal discount creates a value proposition that will further encourage orders.

Show and tell: The sight of a gleaming pastry case stocked with rich desserts or a server delivering a tray of mouthwatering bar snacks can help drive add-on sales in the dining room. The digital equivalent of this is using compelling photos, evocative names and descriptive language that drives clicks, both within menus and on social media. Pop-up reminders during the ordering and checkout process are also effective ways to promote additional sales.

Pack it right: Keeping hot foods hot and cold food cold is a juggling act that requires the right equipment, thoughtful packaging and an efficient delivery system. Desserts that are individually wrapped, bagged or boxed help maintain their visual appeal and integrity.

Curate the menu: The last thing any restaurant wants to do is detract from its image by sending out food that arrives in less-than-ideal condition. Avoiding that potential sometimes means limiting delivery menus to foods that can withstand transportation without sacrificing quality.

Sports fans are hungry for their team to win—and they’re also hungry for delivered meals. Make the most of the moment.

This post is sponsored by Sweet Street Desserts

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