Need a sales lift? Lean on LTOs

Boost business with beverages to-go
October 30, 2020

LTOs have historically been a great way for restaurants to test new menu items and build incremental revenue.

Holiday season is upon us and with that comes several opportunities to capitalize on flavor trends made famous through the Fall harvest. Cranberries, pumpkin, cardamom and cinnamon are a few easy flavor profiles restaurants can incorporate into limited-time-offers (LTO).

LTOs have historically been a great way for restaurants to test new menu items and build incremental revenue. And with new pandemic restrictions across the U.S., they now can act as another way to connect with customers and use ingredients otherwise sitting on shelves.

There are a few best practices in regard to making any LTO a success. Below are a few guidelines for ensuring success:

  1. Make sure your LTO has a start and end date. This creates urgency and will work to drive people to try the item.
  2. Use ideas to create bundle or family meals, or to promote curbside/contactless pickup
  3. Use up items that may be lingering in your freezer
  4. Talk to your suppliers about special deals to create a LTO. Work together, collaborate with your suppliers to get innovative while still being cost conscious.
  5. Be aware of the calendar – the time of the month for each launch is very important. Limited income populations normally receive their monies at the start of the month and will spend more then. Make sure your LTO is available during that peak income period. You can also promote LTOs during holiday periods or times of year such as Back to School.
  6. Promote and advertise a LTO using social media. Use your marketing database to send an email or text messages. Use pop-up boxes on your online ordering site to drive awareness. If the menu item is especially colorful, use Instagram as a way to post images to your audience.
  7. Be sure to engage your staff to promote the LTO. Train them to be able to field questions about ingredients and portion size. For example, if something is made with pine nuts, be sure they can communicate that to allergy-sensitive guests.
  8. Focus on packaging. Even LTOs need to transport well to other locations. Make sure you have the right packaging to keep the integrity of the item intact.
  9. Make sure the price is right. Be mindful that many Americans are struggling financially right now so be careful not to overprice your LTO. Make sure your dollar amount meets your need to make a profit while also staying in-line with what your target customer base can afford.

Overall, while the pandemic has changed nearly everything for restaurant operators in 2020, LTOs are one area have remained virtually the same. So far this year, California Tortilla has launched a tofu LTO while Sonic unveiled espresso-themed milkshakes. The key leading into next year is to stay aware of flavor trends, develop something true to your brand and customer base, and have a little fun.

*Flickr photo by Mack Male

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