In the dynamic world of the restaurant industry, limited-time offers (LTOs) have become a popular strategy for driving excitement and sales. These temporary menu items often captivate diners with their uniqueness and exclusivity, leading to great success during their limited run.
Yet, when a LTO strikes gold and proves to be an overwhelming hit among customers, a critical decision must be made — should you add this successful LTO to the permanent menu?
While it may seem like an obvious choice to capitalize on a surefire winner, it’s not without its complexities and considerations. In this brief overview, we’ll explore the factors you need to look at when making this decision, helping you determine if transitioning a triumphing LTO to the permanent menu is the right move for your restaurant’s long-term success.
“I feel like we should add our last LTO to the permanent menu / bring it back next year.”
Riding the high of a recent LTO promotion that just drove a ton of traffic and social media buzz, you or your colleague might have said exactly that — or at least pondered about that statement.
However, this is a good point to take a pause, as this statement may be problematic for a few reasons:
LTO creation, testing, and marketing can consume a lot of resources for restaurants. It also can be a highly emotional and subjective process, as it’s often the culmination of the teams’ creativity, preferences, and hard work. It can be challenging to remain objective and let the data speak.
What’s more, sales numbers aren’t the only indicator of an LTO’s success. It’s important to combine that with guest satisfaction data, along with other metrics such as average basket size, return visits, incident involvement rate etc. to understand whether a menu item is truly worth bringing back or adding to the permanent menu.
Just because an LTO is selling well, doesn’t mean it enjoys the highest guest satisfaction. Sure it might be a highly successful marketing campaign that drew a huge crowd — but did they like the experience? Was the item executed well? What else do guests order it with? Are people who ordered the LTO more likely to recommend your restaurant to others? Are they coming back for a second time and trying your other menu items?
There are so many other data points you need to paint the full picture! In fact, your highly “successful” LTO might also be the reason why some guests aren’t coming back for a second visit — especially if it’s executed poorly or doesn’t cater to your demographics very well.
How to turn this “I feel” into “I know”
Before launching an LTO, make sure you add some questions specific to your LTO at the end of your guest feedback surveys (many restaurant partners are doing exactly this with their Tattle surveys, seeing completion rates north of 80%) This way you can get a good sense of not only the overall satisfaction of this item, but also its performance in each operational category, including flavor, texture, presentation, speed of service, accuracy, and more.
There are also some other metrics you should look out for. For example, the LTO’s incident involvement rate: how often is this item included in the order when guests are dissatisfied with their experience?
Another one is the average check size of guests who order this item: do they tend to be larger orders or just as a single item (which might be an indicator of whether they speak more to families, parties or just individual diners).
Also, you might want to track how many of your guests who order this item are return visitors or loyal customers and how many come from new traffic. To go one step further, how many return to your restaurants after visiting and ordering this LTO for the first time.
Our team would love to show you how the platform works for 200+ other restaurant brands including Chili’s, Hooters, Dave’s Hot Chicken and more! Or, you can watch a quick video to see how the Tattle platform works to generate all the insights you need to make the above decisions.
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