March Madness is right around the corner! With some of the biggest games approaching, most restaurants and bars are competing for the crowds. Proactively working to get customers in your door and then having your own game plan for success while they are there is key to winning during this busy season.
Follow these simple tips to boost your March sales and keep the crowds happy:
Create a buzz through word-of-mouth.
Starting weeks in advance, have every server tell each table that you will be hosting the specific events and all of the activities planned around them. Start asking guests where they plan to watch upcoming games, and personally invite them to join you at your location. Put out team decorations, balloons, and signs as soon as you know which teams are playing on upcoming dates.
Advertise, advertise, advertise.
Make sure that everyone knows that you are THE place to watch March Madness. Place table cards on every table. Put posters on the front door, in the waiting area, and in the restrooms. Advertise on your website and all of your social media outlets.
Raffle off prizes.
The chance at winning a 42” television, a sports jersey, or even free dinner vouchers can help with the excitement of the game.
Hand out gift bags.
Handing out gift bags lets your customers know that you appreciate their business, and it does not have to cost a fortune. Ask your vendors to donate free logo items for your customers; many companies won’t hesitate at the chance to market directly to your patrons. Think logo wine openers or stoppers from your wine vendor, or perhaps logo beer openers from a large manufacturer. Be sure to add a free appetizer or dessert coupon from your restaurant to get customers to return for upcoming games.
Offer game day specials.
Not only does this get more customers in the door, it can also help your staff. Sales will spike at first, then trickle down as the day goes on. Providing free chips and dip, nuts, pretzels, discounted appetizers, and drink specials that are quick and easy to whip together can stall food orders just enough so the kitchen does not get slammed all at once. Offer between-quarter specials as well as post-game to boost sales.
Consider beer buckets.
Beer and sports go hand-in-hand. Knowing that it will be one of your top sellers, consider having a manned, cash-only beer bucket to expedite orders and free up your servers’ time.
Promote take out.
There will be many guests who prefer to host their own parties but do not want to cook. Take advantage of this by promoting take out or curbside pickup. Take as many preorders as possible so that you are order, prep and staff properly. Assess your kitchen in advance. Can you prepare three large orders every 15 minutes? Or does it take 20? Offering predetermined time slots can help keep your BOH staff out of the weeds.
Have coupons on-hand for those turned away.
You don’t want to permanently lose a customer just because he/she showed up to watch the game and you could not accommodate the party. Have free appetizer or ‘$5 off your next visit’ cards available for those that you can’t seat so that they have a reason to come back another time.