July 23, 2020

Why LTOs Are Important For Your Restaurant’s Success

Why Limited Time Offers Are Important

Your favorite co-hosts, Steve “Shamrock Shake” Roop and Chelsea “Pumpkin Spice” Clement, return for another episode of Littlefield SoundBites. This week, Chelsea and Roop talk Limited Time Offers (LTOs), diving deep on everything from what makes a successful LTO to how a restaurant should manage their LTO schedule.

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Why should you care about LTOs?

Plain and simple. LTOs can be a useful tool for your restaurant, boosting sales and generating excitement for your brand. They can also be vital when testing a new product. From different flavors to new dishes, LTOs are a low risk/high reward way to gauge customer interest. And, if you are lucky, your LTO may even have what it takes to make it in the big leagues and become a full-blown menu item.

LTOs can be a sales driver and excitement booster. So what is the recipe for LTO success?

Seasonal Trends

With the changing of the seasons comes new, unique flavor opportunities for your restaurant to capitalize on—think Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. Arriving every year in late August and dominating the drink market until well after turkey day, the Pumpkin Spice Latte may have started as a trend, but it has quickly become an early Autumn necessity. Seasonal trends will provide your LTO lineup with plenty of flavor firepower while keeping you in the conversation all year round.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

There is no worse feeling than that of missing out, especially in the age of social media. FOMO IS REAL PEOPLE. That’s why creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity around your LTO can be the difference between a viral hit and a forgettable flop. Take Popeyes Twitter conquering Spicy Chicken Sandwich, for example. For a brief period in 2019, almost EVERYONE seemed to be raving about the sandwich making it one of the hottest (pun always intended) menu items on the planet—and Popeyes played it perfectly the whole time. They took it away, they brought it back, they even “ran out” of chicken, but people loved it. And, more importantly, people desperately wanted to be part of the conversation. Often going to slightly ridiculous lengths just to get a taste of a fast food joint’s new sandwich.

Pricing

When creating an LTO, the trickiest factor to get right is, without a doubt, price. Do you charge more than normal relying on your unique offer to make the sale? Do you charge less hoping it’s a hook to get people through the door? Knowing how to properly price your LTO can be difficult. The key is to make sure you are offering a price that is in-line with the rest of your menu. You never want price to be a deterrent. And, by keeping prices in-line across the board, you’ll create a good balance. Speaking of balance…

Balancing the Schedule

A healthy LTO schedule is a well-balanced one. But what does that mean? As you determine the when and how often of your schedule there is one keyword you’ll always want to remember—limited. I mean, it’s called a limited time offer for a reason. And, for your LTOs to be successful, you need them to feel special. Resist the urge to always be offering.

Other things to keep in mind when creating your restaurant’s LTO schedule

LTOs should never be a crutch. You don’t want to rely on them if sales are down or you are struggling. They are to be nurtured as their own special thing and scheduled appropriately for maximum impact. The overall point of LTOs is to bring in new customers and test new menu items. Don’t lose sight of that.

TLDR

  • When done correctly, LTOs can boost sales and generate excitement for your restaurant brand.
  • The keys to LTO success are seasonal trends, a sense of urgency, correct pricing, and a well-balanced schedule.