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Creating an Effective Discount Offer for Your Restaurant

In a landscape impacted by COVID-19, attracting customers to a restaurant is more critical than ever. Oftentimes, the fastest way to achieve this is through discount offers. In times of global financial hardship, any opportunity to save money will be welcomed. 

When used correctly, restaurant discounts will drive profits. Discounts turn curious passers-by into new customers and new customers into loyal regulars. You just need to ensure that you pitch your restaurant’s discount offers correctly.

Popular Restaurant Discount Campaigns

Before running a restaurant discount campaign, decide which model to adopt. There are many options, each with unique advantages and drawbacks.

Set Price Discount Vouchers

The idea of a discount voucher is simple – a customer presents a voucher, either on paper or on a phone app, upon receiving their bill, a set value – usually a percentage – is then removed from the final charge. Customers will always be drawn to the idea of a bargain. Just use vouchers sparingly. An omnipresent discount is less attractive, some consumers are also reluctant to use a discount voucher since it can be seen as cheapening a dining experience.

Discount vouchers are best used to entice new customers, convincing them to eat with you for the first time. A visitor that is unaware of the qualities of your restaurant will not know if your offer value for money, therefore a discount can convince diners to take a chance at a new restaurant.

Time-Specific Discounts

Consider the times that your restaurant is typically quiet and apply a price discount for a set period. This could be a daily Happy Hour, such as the lull between lunch and dinner custom, or a full day that is rarely associated with eating out, such as Mondays. This strategy can be an effective loss leader, ten customers paying 70% of a menu price generates more profit than five paying 100%. 

The same can also apply to a Buy One Get One Free deal. This discount can sell off excess produce that may otherwise be tossed, and customers feel that they are getting something for nothing. BOGOF deals remain hugely popular for this reason.

Holiday or Event Specific Discounts

Build a discount campaign for your restaurant around holidays or special occasions. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, for example, are busy periods in any restaurant’s calendar. These holidays also provide easy marketing opportunities. While you are likely to attract business anyway, a discount may make your restaurant preferable to your competitors and you can then turn these new customers into regulars.

When customers eat with your restaurant, take their information. A loyalty scheme is an unintrusive way to do so. This opens up bespoke marketing opportunities, such as discounts on the customer’s birthday. These small, personal touches can have a big impact on customer loyalty.

Marketing Your Discount Offer

A discount campaign is only effective if your customers know about it. On paper, discounts for restaurants reduce profit margins. To make a price reduction viable, you must increase the number of diners in your restaurant.

Rewarding Loyalty

Consumers have plenty of choices. Your responsibility is to convince customers to return to you, rather than give a competitor the opportunity to impress. Discounts attached to loyalty programs are a great way to do this. Customers expect to save money by showing loyalty. If you meet this expectation, you will retain business. You could print a discount voucher on the back of a receipt. This motivates customers to return. This can be vital, as return customers can exceed the value of their first visit tenfold.

Social Media

In the modern era, impactful marketing is conducted online. You need to reach the hearts and minds of customers through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Best of all, this marketing approach is free.

Hashtags are essential, piggyback on the prominent talking points of the day. Millennials and zoomers are likelier to encounter your restaurant this way than through traditional marketing channels. Snappmeal can help with your online marketing. Sign up for a one-month free trial and we will demonstrate how to attract a variety of new customers to your business.

Partnerships with Local Businesses

Consider partnering up with a local business or attraction. A trip to the cinema or theatre, for example, will often be preceded by a meal. Offer an incentive, financial or otherwise, to a local business. Ask if you can advertise in the program for a show, or on the back of a ticket stub, when doing so, you can include a discount voucher. In addition, ask your partner to promote your discount on their social media feeds. This way, you reach two disparate audiences with limited effort or outlay.

Reviewing the Results of a Restaurant Discount Offer

A restaurant discount campaign must remain financially viable. The purpose of a discount is a short-term loss that leads to longer-term gain. In addition, ensure your restaurant’s reputation does not decline due to a discount campaign.

Economic Impact

Ensure that a discount is not harming your restaurant’s bottom line. Check your ROI regularly and confirm you are speculating to accumulate. Avoid large-scale schemes such as Groupon, too. Expenses can quickly add up.


If you only attract business while offering discounts, something is wrong. A further discount campaign may attract footfall again but is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Remember, lots of customers do not always equal increased takings.  If you take on more staff to meet demand, and sell more stock at a reduced price, your overheads will exceed your incomings. Time-specific discounts, used sparingly, are effective. Constant underpricing leads to financial difficulty.

Reputation Control

Continued discounts, especially without providing variation to the offering, can harm your restaurant’s brand. Unending discounts can appear desperate, as though you are unable to attract businesses at full price. Some customers may only visit when a discount is available, this defeats the object of the policy. You want somebody to be impressed by your offering while it is discounted, then return – ideally with guests – to pay full price.

Mix up your offer. The shift from pure financial discounts to an added value model. This way, a customer still feels valued without growing suspicious as to your motivations. Snappmeal is here to help you with any needs surrounding restaurant discount campaigns. Get in touch to request a free trial. Together, we can ensure that your business continues to enjoy successful trading.

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Snappmeal Blog
Snappmeal Blog

By The Snappmeal Team

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