Struggling with shrinking same-store sales numbers? You’re not alone. Several recent headlines have called attention to the challenges that restaurants are facing with same-store sales figures. What follows are four road-tested tactics for getting people into your locations more frequently. The secret: Challenging your guests to choose your brand over your competition and then rewarding them for it.
Visit challenges come in all shapes and sizes, but they have three distinct characteristics. First, the challenge has to have an expiration date so it creates urgency for guests to act now. Second, the challenge should be attainable through guests making only slight modifications to their behavior. Third, it needs to be easy for guests to participate in the challenge. Simply visiting, making a purchase, and identifying themselves at the visit should suffice for participation in the challenge. Let your guest engagement technology do the rest. Asking your guests for any behavior beyond that will compromise results.
1. Customize the offer
Target the challenge to make the behavior relevant to individuals. If guests visit 3 times per month on average, try to get them to visit 4-5 times during the visit challenge month. For guests with an average visit cadence of 2 times for month, challenging them to visit 3-4 times is a reasonable change in behavior.
Rewards for completing the challenge should also correspond with the behavior achieved, as a one-size-fits-all reward may not make economic sense for the brand. For example, guests who reach a fifth visit could earn $15 off their next visit, while guests who reach a third visit may receive $5 off their next visit. Make the message and offer relevant to specific guests and watch the promotion drive the visits your brand needs.
2. Boost traffic—strategically
Inspire guests to visit your restaurants during your off-peak season or off-peak hours with a visit challenge. For instance, if you’d like to inspire lunch visits during the month of July, when many business folks are on vacation, launch a lunch visit challenge for that month. “Visit four times for lunch in July and get free desserts throughout August” is an example of a visit challenge that is designed to drive off-season visits.
3. Maximize menu trial
Use a visit challenge to inspire guests to try new flavors or menu items. Compel your guests to try a broader range of menu items by challenging them to expand their palate during visits within a fixed time period. Motivating the trial of new beers, yogurts, pizzas, burritos, or sandwiches can make great visit challenges. For example, trying a new sandwich in each of 4 visits during the month of May could earn guests an increasing multiple of points, sweepstakes entries, or other type of currency.
4. Create a promotional calendar
Tie a visit challenge to an event that is related to your brand. Sports-themed restaurants may coordinate it with the NFL season, inspiring guests to visit every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday during the season to qualify for a grand prize at the end. Other concepts may tie the challenge to Lent, such as having a “Friday fish and chips” visit challenge for the duration of it. Get creative by leveraging an event, holiday, or sports season that you know will resonate with your guests.