Lunch typically lasts an hour, perhaps two. But what if it were longer? What if restaurants’ real estate and staff could be productive for four hours instead?
Step in digital menus. Restaurants can smooth the lunchtime peak effortlessly by offering customers discounts and complimentary gifts.
The issue is particularly pertinent in the City of London. Staff and property costs are high. And there are vast numbers of office workers on the floors above the restaurants. Persuading some them to move lunch forwards by half an hour with a free coffee could prove lucrative.
We at NextMenu are working on the concept with tablet-based menus.
Incentivising customers to come before 12.30 and after 1.30 has real value. Service is less stretched and the atmosphere is pleasant: quieter than busy lunchtimes but still not the mid-afternoon graveyard. Customers may well feel more at ease to order dessert or another drink.
So we want to lengthen our lunchtime. How do we go about it?
Today, a special offer requires design, printing EPOS modification and staff training. It’s an effort to try a special offer and a pain if it’s ineffective.
Tomorrow, the digital menu makes the process painless. The online dashboard will allow managers to switch offers on and off at will – just like scheduling a meeting. And with the level of data a connected restaurant captures, they will be able to see results what and what doesn’t with unprecedented detail and accuracy.
So if your early lunch discount doesn’t work, you can try a late lunch complimentary prosecco offer – without throwing away any leaflets. And If it does work, you can roll it out every day of the week – without printing any more leaflets.
While digital menus may not be for everyone, the increasingly digital-savvy young professional is unlikely to be put off. As the market continues to heat up digital menus may be the competitive advantage successful restaurants are looking for.