How to Offer Food Specials Customers Will Actually Order


Customers are accustomed to restaurants offering food specials. Many customers like to get a deal, while others use specials as a way to try new dishes. Either way, there are different strategies to customizing your restaurant's specials to turn them into revenue drivers. Whether the specials change daily, weekly, or monthly, they can serve as an overture to gauge customer interest. Below are some angles to create enticing food specials.

Actual Discount

If your specials are being marketed as a combined package of existing menu items, make sure they are structured to give customers an actual discount. For instance, if a drink, cheeseburger, and fries are normally $11 when bought separately, offering them combined at $9 or less makes the combo more attractive to customers.

Customers don’t like feeling misled, so any attempt to use “specials” as a way to get more money from each ticket won’t be well received. At worst, you won’t record any sales, and some customers may get angry, if they feel taken advantage of. Ensure specials really are to the customer’s advantage.

Experiment With Best-Selling Items

Some restaurants try to put their worst-selling items on special, hoping they can move those items faster, but this doesn’t always work. Specials may bring more attention to menu items that are otherwise ignored, but they're not going to make those items sell as well as more popular dishes. When best-selling, customer-favorite dishes go on special, you may experience an uptick in revenue because customers will make a point of ordering when they wouldn't otherwise just to get a deal on their favorites.

It may seem counterintuitive to put your best-selling items on sale, but try offering a weekly or monthly special to see if the cost of the discount is offset by additional sales.

Try New Menu Items

Food specials are also a great way to test adding new items to your menu to see if customers enjoy them. This approach allows chefs to flex their creativity and culinary expertise while keeping the restaurant fresh and interesting to customers. If a low volume of specials is ordered, you'll know that the dish needs more tweaking or may not be the best addition for the restaurant. It may also be worth offering the dish as a special a few times, if you think it could be more successful with some tweaks.

Make it Convenient

Besides the discount, customers appreciate specials because they make ordering faster and easier. This is especially the case at lunch, when most diners have an hour or less to get their food. Try creating specials that are complete meals—including a drink and side(s)—for a set rate. This takes the thinking out of deciding what to order. Besides making it easier for the diner, it can also help servers and cashiers take orders more quickly because decision fatigue is lessened.

Specials are only a convenience when what is offered is actually attractive and practical to the diner. Don’t try to create complicated food specials if your target audience is businesspeople on the go. 

Food specials should benefit both the restaurant and the customer. Try to be both creative and practical with your specials, and you may see an increase in revenue while feeding happy customers.