It’s important for chefs and operators to meet customer expectations by keeping customer favorites on the menu, but it is equally critical to provide occasional limited-time offers (LTOs) in order to add interest, attract new guests, and capitalize on upselling opportunities.
Here, we speak to Rachael Girard, marketing manager for Blount Fine Foods, about why LTOs can be so lucrative for restaurants.
1. What are the benefits of offering limited time offers on a full-service menu?
LTOs are a basic item in your marketing toolbox that can be used to drive or spike traffic for specific reasons. For some operators, the question may be, “How do I drive business for the first six months of the year?” For others, it may be, “How do I generate excitement to boost sales during a traditionally slow season?” Whatever your reason, LTOs offer an additional way to increase sales.
2. How can seasonal LTOs boost traffic?
Millennials and Gen X love to lead the pack and introduce their friends to new things, such as a new or limited menu item at their favorite restaurant. If operators make a point of showing those groups—through social media and targeted messaging—that they embrace trends like seasonal and local flavors, younger customers will be more likely to purchase and return.
3. What are some examples of successful LTOs that you’ve seen?
At Blount, we have seen chefs use our chili base and add Impossible Meat to create a vegetarian chili. Soups and sides are always a great way to step outside the box because there’s less risk the customers won’t like it, and therefore less likely to go to waste. Something like our dill pickle mac and cheese is another great option, because it blends a very familiar and comforting dish with an unusual pop of flavor.
By creating a twist on a menu classic, or by introducing consumers to something completely new, operators can use LTOs to test market offerings, get feedback from customers, and increase interest in the brand.
4. What are some of the seasonal trends you expect to see for fall and winter 2019?
Of course, diners want all the predictable favorites, such as butternut squash & apple soup and pumpkin bisque, but they also like the surprise dishes like like lemon chicken orzo soup (a great flavor upgrade from stock-variety chicken noodle.
Something like Blount’s chicken kale & sweet potato soup also makes a great LTO because it incorporates highly seasonal ingredients that customers will likely be looking for. Mac and cheese is another very popular dish right now—no matter their age or diet, people love it. We are seeing a lot of chefs taking different flavors and making them their own, for example by adding pork belly or pulled pork to white cheddar shells.
5. How can restaurants best market their LTOs?
Restaurants should prioritize their social media outlets in order to promote their offerings—both limited and regular menu items. Using quality marketing support, like the high end photography and digital content offered by Blount, restaurants can really elevate their presentation of an LTO and let customers know what they’re offering.