The headline in Nation’s Restaurant News sums it up rapidly: May proves a cruel month for restaurant chains. And as the chains go, so go the independents.
With gas prices spiraling out of control, with delivery costs soaring, and with the inflated value of homes beginning to slump into reality, the realization than spending may need to slow down be catching on as a new lifestyle for many.
What does that mean for the restaurant owner? Are we going to be faced with millions of people never eating out again? Actually, that is highly doubtful. Dining out is no longer a special-occasion event, it has evolved into a routine of daily life. The key to success is marketing promotion, and menu development that will appeal to those who make eating out a habit rather than a treat.
The time has come to capture the taste buds of those diners looking for added value and flavor. Once the chains begin to slump it is only a matter of time before the independents experience the market shift. As disposable income shifts from the pocket to the savings account, it may become more difficult for restaurants to capture that cash with mere flavors. We are in a very special time. And, specials are what the chains will revert to by fall if business doesn’t bounce back by July. Now is the time to get the jump on the conglomerates by developing a special menu that can be quickly implemented as a welcome summer promotion.
You may want to include dessert, a cocktail, or an appetizer in a price package that appeals to value diners. And, if you think the promotion package is only a fast food or chain technique, think again.
At McDonalds it’s called a happy meal. At French restaurants it’s called Prix Fixe.
Develop a value added package. Promote it as a summer special. Use the Internet as a promotional tool and get the jump on the chains.