While many restaurants find the lunch hour to be their most profitable, there’s oftentimes an equal number that find it to be one of their slowest hours. Restaurants that cater to high-end diners and sit down dining experiences often have a harder time attracting the lunch time crowd. This is typically because that crowd consists of busy professionals looking for quick service and an affordable meal.
If you’ve found that the lunch hour is particularly tough for you, there are several things you can consider to turn it from your slow time, to one that has your team hustling to keep up.
Offer a Lunch Time Menu
Your typical menu might not fit the lunch crowd’s needs. By creating a limited menu that’s only available at lunch time and relies on staples that are used to build your dinner time menu, you’ll be able to offer customers the quick ordering experience they need, without compromising on quality.
When building your lunch time menu, consider adding items that can be quickly made, travel easily, and can be eaten without utensils (or eaten with disposable cutlery).
The ideal lunch time meal is:
- Travels easily
- Is not messy (particularly important if a person has to head back to work or into a meeting)
- Is affordably priced
- Isn’t too big
Make Online Ordering Easy
Customers need to know that they can easily order from your restaurant without having to call in or wait in line. Online ordering is a great way to ensure customers can easily access your lunch time menu and put in their order.
eHungry is an online ordering platform that allows you to run lunch time specials and even offer customized delivery and pick-up up options including curbside pick-up and contactless delivery.
Run Advertisements Around Lunch Time
Around 10:30am people start to think about what they’re going to have for lunch. Even those who brown bag it are thinking about what they want to eat and are just looking for an opportunity to enjoy a meal out.
Consider running Facebook ads around the lunch hour that target people within 5 miles of your restaurant. Office workers might also be on LinkedIn.
Pro tip: Consider running tests with ad copy and images to see which ones are most effective on each platform and with each audience.
Focus on Efficiency
Efficiency is important throughout the day, but it’s particularly important at lunch time, when customers are in a hustle to get back to the office. The last thing you want is for ticket times to be so high that customers leave upset, hungry, and without food.
Aim for ticket times under 10 minutes so that customers who have 30 minute to 1 hour lunches can get their food and get back to work. Even if your target audience isn’t office workers, most retirees and stay-at-home moms have other things going on.
Bottom line: don’t leave customers waiting. Get them their food and send them on their way.
One of the easiest ways to get people to buy from you is to run lunch time promotions. You can do this by simply offering value meals around lunch time or creating individual promotional codes in your online ordering platform for specific businesses.
Office workers who know they get a discount at your restaurant will be more likely to frequent it on a repeat basis.
When it comes to making lunch time profitable, the key is ensuring you have the infrastructure to support the above initiatives. Your online ordering platform should be easy to use and offer the opportunity to customize delivery options and create promo codes. Additionally, you should have enough lunch time staff to make everything run as smoothly as possible. A lot of how your lunch hour looks will take shape over time and through trial and error. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll all be worth it.