Every restaurant has off-peak hours. Whether you like it or not, things are going to slow down from time to time. That doesn’t mean you have to lose out on potential profits. You just need to break out your marketing cap and put together some creative promotions.

In no particular order, here’s our top 10 ways that your restaurant can drive sales during those pesky off-peak hours.

Happy Hour. Perhaps the definitive strategy restaurants everywhere use to boost sales during off-peak hours, Happy Hour is a tried-and-true formula. In fact, it’s so tried-and-true, that there’s a good chance you already have a Happy Hour menu. My recommendation, even if you already have a Happy Hour menu, is to consider which dayparts could be better served by its inclusion.

Daily specials. Another popular tactic, daily specials are commonly used to incentivize specific days of the week with deals on food or drinks. Think Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays, and so on.

Takeout discount. Off-peak sales don’t actually have to take place within the confines of your restaurant. Offering a discount on takeout can help net a positive boost in sales during hours when business is slowing down. For example, one strategy might be to send an offer targeted at customers just getting off work. It might go something like this: “Just off work? Swing by 4 – 7 PM and get 10% off any takeout order.”

Better loyalty rewards. If your restaurant has a loyalty program, it’s time to put it to use. Whether your loyalty system is based on points, number of visits, or something else entirely, this tactic remains applicable. All you need to do is offer improved rewards during the off-peak hours you’d like to improve. If you’ve got a point system, you can offer double points. If it’s based on number of visits, give your loyalty members credit for two visits.

Early bird specials. Similar to Happy Hour, early bird specials offer reduced prices at a less popular time. Where Happy Hour tends to focus on appetizers and drinks, early bird specials gravitate more toward the actual meal itself. The intention is to target people who like to eat earlier, but it can also attract customers looking to save a few bucks.

Target specific groups. Catering to different groups of people can attract boost sales by attracting different demographics. For instance, you could host a Football Night on Monday, pairing it with an all-you-can-eat wing promotion. Another might be Family Night on Wednesday, where kids eat free (with the purchase of an adult entree).

Coupon with receipt. This tactic can come in handy if you’re trying to improve sales for a certain meal (e.g. you have strong dinner sales, but want to give breakfast a boost). After dinner is over, you can leave a coupon with the customer’s receipt offering a deal on breakfast or lunch. Make sure your server points it out to the customer.

Weekly events. Food isn’t the only way to attract customers on less popular days. Weekly events such as karaoke, trivia, contests, live bands, and even cooking classes can give people a great reason to come visit your restaurant on nights they normally wouldn’t.

Private parties. For restaurants with the space available, consider having an option for private parties. Whether you’re renting the space out for a birthday party or a business meeting, once a private party has been booked, that’s guaranteed business for the given night.

Text reminders. Have a text club? Try sending strategic reminders to your customers when certain deals are about to start. A reminder that Happy Hour starts soon might be just what you need to get customers to show up for an impulse visit after work.

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What does your restaurant do to push off-peak sales? Let us know in the comments!

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