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How to Leverage LTOs at Your Restaurant

How to Leverage LTOs at Your Restaurant

Limited-time offers (LTOs) have consistently driven restaurant sales, helping businesses stand out, drive engagement and increase revenue. In fact, one survey found that 54% of operators see LTOs as a central part of their business.

As a restaurant owner, you might use LTOs to supplement your menu with on-trend ingredients, flavors and dishes to keep you relevant in the competitive industry. By leveraging restaurant LTOs, you can entice customers to try new items and keep them coming back for more. 

What Is an LTO? 

An LTO is a special promotion only available for a limited period. “Lettuce, tomato and onion” might be a common abbreviation in the food world, but on the business side of things, we’re talking about limited-time offers.

Restaurant LTOs are often implemented to introduce new menu items, test customer opinions, attract customers and boost sales. These promotions might feature a unique dish, discount or special deal not available on the regular menu.

Instances where you might use LTOs include:

  • Seasonal promotions: Introducing LTOs alongside seasonal trends or holidays can be especially helpful. For example, you might offer a specialty cocktail in the summer or a unique Valentine’s Day dessert. 
  • Your restaurant’s anniversary: Many restaurant owners use LTOs to celebrate milestones. You might use them to mark anniversaries for your restaurant or a staff member and reward loyal customers with limited-time specials. 
  • Menu testing: You might use LTOs to test new menu items to gauge customer interest before making them a permanent addition. 
  • Using up items: LTOs can also be a great way to sell inventory near expiration.

Offering LTOs during slower times of the day can also drive foot traffic and increase sales during off-peak hours. Happy hours are a common LTO used in the restaurant and bar industry, creating a sense of excitement so diners purchase drinks within a specific period.

Benefits of LTOs

Restaurant LTOs can boost your revenue, promote customer loyalty and allow you to try out new menu items. Here are just a few of the benefits you can experience with LTOs: 

  • Boost revenue: LTOs are often used to spike sales quickly. A leading market research organization found that LTOs could boost sales by up to 20%. LTOs can increase foot traffic, driving customers to your restaurant to try out exciting deals.
  • Increase customer loyalty: Successful LTOs drive customers back to restaurants and inspire them to spread the word. In fact, approximately 85% of consumers said they’d return to a restaurant and reorder an LTO they liked. Three-quarters of these responders said they’d tell other people about the LTO item. New flavors can change the entire experience for customers, giving them a reason to keep coming back. 
  • Explore new flavors and creations: Offering LTOs shows customers that you are innovative and want to appeal to their taste buds. Use LTOs to test new flavors or products without committing to them in the long run. Leverage the promotions to gauge your customers’ preferences and test the waters before adding them as full-time items. 
  • Increase social media engagement: Social media promotions make it easier for your followers to share your LTOs with people who wouldn’t have otherwise heard of your restaurant. You might use Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to promote your limited menu items and specials, which can help you increase your digital reach. 

How to Promote LTOs at Your Restaurant 

Try out the following tips to leverage LTOs at your restaurant:

Identify Your Goals

Create measurable goals you want to accomplish with your LTO, whether that’s attracting new customers, enhancing brand awareness or promoting a new menu item. Start with your brand as your guiding principle and go from there. Consider how long you will implement the LTO and how it aligns with seasonal trends or your business goals. Make sure you understand your target audience and tailor your goals to meet their needs and preferences. 

Emphasize Urgency

There’s a reason they’re called limited-time offers, so be sure to create a sense of urgency in your promotions. Communicate with your customers no less than a month prior to the LTO and emphasize that the deal will not last long. Set a defined date for the LTO’s ending time — this will cause customers to act urgently to avoid missing out. In addition to emphasizing urgency, you should limit the total supply to make the item even more exclusive and desirable.

While keeping a limited supply means you can price more aggressively to increase your profit margins, it can also help you save money on ingredients and marketing. 

Give Customers What They Want

Be sure to offer items and deals you know your customers will want. This can ensure they participate in the LTO and return again. To give customers what they want, gather insight through your reviews or surveys, understanding their preferences and favorite dishes. If your goal is to add new menu items, ask them for suggestions.  

You can also leverage social media to gain customer insights, whether you interact with them directly on posts or create polls where they can vote on potential LTO choices. This creates involvement and helps cater to each person’s preferences. After you’ve created your LTO, highlight how it is based on customer requests, making customers feel heard and valued. This can increase your customers’ interest in trying limited-time specials.

Be Unique 

Since most restaurants and bars have some type of LTO, you’ll want to make yours stand out. Come up with interesting dishes or drinks your competitors can’t emulate. Then, teach your staff how to upsell these offerings and watch your sales increase. This approach can also make the LTO more memorable for customers since the unique offering is tied to your brand.

LTOs should support your brand, balancing the need to deliver a fresh experience while reinforcing who you are. Find ways to make your LTO an extension of your brand. For example, if your brand is positioned as “the best artisanal spice blends in the city,” you might consider adding your signature spice blend to different chicken cuts as an LTO option.

Promote Local Partnerships

Promoting LTOs through local partnerships is a great way to attract new customers and bring the community together. Highlight the partnership on social media and other marketing materials to get the word out. Local sporting events, festivals and community programs also make ideal spaces to leverage LTOs and connect more meaningfully with your customers. You might even host events or donate a portion of the proceeds from the LTO to a local charity or organization. 

Partner With Feeser’s Food Distributors

Restaurant LTOs can help you gain new customers, increase loyalty among existing ones and boost your sales. The ultimate success of an LTO always rests on quality food and execution. From fresh and frozen foods to food service equipment, Feeser’s is your one-stop shop for the products needed for your next LTO. 

Our staff can also help you come up with ideas for your next item to make it a hit. From locally sourced produce and fresh-cut meats to ingredients from trusted national brands, we’ll supply everything you need to make your next LTO a success. 

To get started, browse our products or contact us today.