Summer LTOs: 5 guiding principles to count on
We're in the thick of it when it comes to summer heat, so QSR customers are seeking the big chill in their food and drink. That, in combination with the availability of a multitude of fresh produce from local sources, means tremendous opportunity for fast food brands on both the delivery and in-store fronts. And, in this particular case, opportunity is spelled L-T-O.
LTOs work well as a revenue enricher on so many levels, from meeting the changing demands for flavor from guests, to creating social media marketing and value-based opportunities with your brand's fans.
Whether making your LTO available for delivery, dine-in or takeout or all three, make flavor and appearance a top priority because both of those factors create the kind of customer cravings that bring new and old patrons to your doorstep even when it seems like it's just too hot to move.
In fact, for customers who actually do find it too steamy outside to go to a restaurant, QSRs with great delivery programs can entice customers through social media and other forms of online marketing, as well as coupons and other LTO deals that persuade loyal fans at home to lift just that one finger and punch in that online delivery order.
Here then, are five considerations to make sure whatever fresh summer LTO your brand innovates will spark some bottomline sizzle for your business:
1. Delivery LTOs:
Whether your goal is to move product, introduce new menu items or sample a few ingredients with your customers, LTOs created specifically for delivery not only broaden your traditional menu, but also can extend your customer reach. But, first make sure you understand the audience you're targeting, as well as whether they are mobile or in your store or both, then market accordingly to that audience.
2. KIS 'em:
KIS, otherwise known as Keep It Simple, should be your guiding principle in new menu item creation. Whether your LTO changes weekly or lasts all season, keep ingredients fresh and dishes or beverage simple because there's no bigger customer turn-off than a mix of confusing and combatting ingredients that your guests could not identify if their life depended on it.
3. Pour it on:
Do not forget one of the current biggest menu categories for enhancing order totals is beverages. So when you develop LTOs, think about refreshing ingredients like cucumber, watermelon and other seasonal coolers. QSRs can always offer mocktails, too, mixing more elaborate blends with some traditional favorites that smack of the more potent cocktails. Create beverage menus specific for dine-in guests that can be paired with edible LTOs or pair a beverage LTO with current menu favorites.
4. Hot commodities:
Keep an eye on current commodity pricing on things like cheese and other kitchen staples that are key to both menu item all-stars and less popular dishes. If chicken is over-the-top on the current poultry markets, try another more reasonably priced protein. Or when avocados run short, consider using white beans, hearts of palm or artichokes for a creamy texture that doesn't put a hole in your business account balance. Consult the commodities markets online yourself for inspiration, or call your distributor to review pricing, as well as alternatives for higher-priced ingredients.
5. Creativity counts:
Creative and inspiring summertime menu items can prompt customers to try something a little off their beaten paths, even though most diners do have a tendency to gravitate toward the tried and true. That's why it's always a good idea to mix a little of the "old reliable" and mild, with the unpredictable and even wild. This allows guests to stay slightly in their comfort zone, while dipping their tongues into the new and unusual, without much risk.
Andy Rosenbloom is a foodservice professional who heads up the Marketing Teams at Dining Alliance, Consolidated Concepts, Buyers Edge and other GPO Platform Brands. Andy’s insights come from the cross-section of the Operators, Distributors, Manufacturers, Service Providers and Trend-Watchers.www