Everyone loves a bargain, so if you want to get more people through the door at your restaurant, a tempting discount remains one of the quickest ways to boost bookings.

The problem comes when you overstretch yourself and find that discounts are hurting your bottom line. And it’s a fine line to tread, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Today, we’ll look at some restaurant discounts that will bring you the best of both worlds; a way to increase sales that won’t hurt your profits.

Time-specific deals

Convincing people to dine with you during typically quieter periods of the day (or on slower days of the week) is far more achievable when you offer an incentive.

Discounts that apply only within certain timeframes, or on certain days, can be a powerful weapon in any restaurant’s marketing arsenal.

Lunchtime deals, for example, are a good way to win over office workers who are sick of pre-packed sandwiches or making their own and want something more interesting.

Likewise, if your restaurant is a little emptier on Wednesday evenings, this can be another opportunity to provide discounts to punters and tempt them away from a night in with a boxset. Remember – play your cards right, impress bargain-hunters and they’re more likely to come back and pay full price in the future.

Buy one get one free (BOGOF) deals

BOGOF might sound a little cheap if you’re an independent restaurant owner, but it remains a common concept throughout the retail sector and can be just as impactful in the restaurant biz.

The trick is to make sure that you structure your BOGOF discount in a way that doesn’t end up being costly for your organisation or lower its standards.

To do this, make sure cheaper items are free and limit the number of dishes that the deal applies to so that more affordable items are covered. Be sure to create clear, concise terms and conditions so that you don’t get caught out, too.

If you don’t want to go the whole hog and give something away for free, you can just offer money off a full price item. For example, you could give diners the option of getting a second main course for half price if they pay full price for the first. Often, it’s the gesture that counts.

Set menu deals

This is one of the most common forms of discounting in play at the moment, since with a set menu you can satisfy customers who want to experience everything your restaurant has to offer without damaging your margins.

Serving two and three course combinations, with relatively small price differences between each, will help you to upsell your larger meals, leave diners feeling content and also simplify things in the kitchen.

You can take things a step further and offer combo deals that apply to single dishes, following the same sliding scale in terms of price.

People like to feel as though they’re getting good value for money, which is exactly what a discounted set menu can achieve.

Percentage-off deals

One-time discount vouchers which provide a percentage-based reduction on the food bill can draw diners away from the big chain competition and into the arms of an independent restaurant.

You can promote this type of offer online, as well as using printed media to get the word out in the local area. Word will spread fast if the offer is particularly enticing.

Picking specific percentage discounts to offer customers that complain, or that are left waiting for their food because of a behind-the-scenes hiccup, can also be helpful during sticky situations and turn what might be disastrous encounters into positive experiences for everyone.

Wrapping up

You definitely need to plan your independent restaurant discount strategy carefully, but if you get them right, schemes like those above will help encourage more direct bookings and build a far more loyal customer base.