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Getting Creative with QSR Sales and Promotions

You’ve probably done sales promotions in your quick service restaurant before — do any of these sound familiar?

  • Buy one entree, get one free!
  • 50% off at happy hour!
  • Get a free side with the purchase of an entree!

How effective were those promotions in generating new revenue, and did they go as well as you’d hoped? If performance was lackluster it’s time to get creative. Thankfully, QSR owners and managers can use data-driven decisions to find the right type of promotions for their restaurant’s unique customers… here’s how.

Test out limited time offers

McDonald’s is one restaurant that has had huge success with limited time offers, or LTOs. They’re a great way to try out new menu items and can be very effective at generating buzz. However, they are time consuming to plan, and you’ll want all of the data you can get.

If you have point-of-sale software that tracks inventory, sales, and other metrics, that data will be incredibly helpful when planning a limited time offer. For example, monitor your inventory data to see whether you can cross-utilize certain products and ingredients in your promotion.

Use social media for QSR promotions

Social media is another useful tool that you can use to plan sales and promotions. Try planning a promotion entirely on social media, perhaps only mentioning it on your Facebook or Twitter account.

This tactic not only fosters a feeling of exclusivity (which customers love), but it will also give you interesting and actionable information about how well your social media efforts are panning out. Simply tracking how many customers participate in the promotion is a great way to gain real-world insights into the impact of your social media marketing. This data will be less structured and linear than other data, but it’s still very helpful. If the promotion goes well, you now have another winning promo tactic.

Invest in technology that will help you create better promotions

Loyalty programs are an excellent way to gather data about customer purchasing habits, and you can choose from a number of different products and services to fit your exact needs. It’s incredibly useful technology that can provide you with mountains of data.

David Andreadakis, vice president of loyalty strategy for Florida-based Kobie Marketing, states,  “Loyalty programs give operators direct insight into what guests think about their menu items, staff, and overall quality of service before, during, and after the dining experience. And from this collected data, operators can even evaluate the company against key performance indicators to determine how their loyalty program impacts the restaurant’s reputation.”

All of this information can be even more useful when you’re trying to measure the effectiveness of a sale or promotion. But, ultimately, your profits are going to tell you whether a sale or promotion was successful. How many items or meals did you sell, and how many did you expect to sell? If your sales weren’t great, turn to your data — the reason is probably hiding somewhere in the numbers.

What has been the most successful promotion your QSR has run? How about the least effective promotion? Be sure to swap stories with other readers in the comments!


About the Author — Kimberly Bremner

At Envysion, Kim works with QSR and Fast Casual Restaurant owners to help improve their customer experiences, store operations and profitability by providing an optimized partnership. With over 10 years of successful experience in enterprise software sales, Kim has worked with a diverse range of clients to help them improve and grow their businesses. She brings value to many markets, including hospitality, telecommunications, education and the non-profit sector. Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Denver.


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