Happy hour is one of the most popular adult pastimes in America. Typically scheduled right after professionals get out of the office after 5 p.m., happy hours are an easy and affordable way for people to relax with coworkers or meet up with friends. And while happy hours have declined in recent years, the emergence of cocktail culture fueled in part by social media and the newfound popularity of bartenders are bringing back the happy hour to the fore.
In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, 1/3 of sales of alcoholic drinks can be attributed to happy hour and late-night specials. If your restaurant already has a wine, beer, or liquor license, this is the perfect time to turn off-peak hours into hot-selling periods by offering happy hours and using them to entice customers to stay for lunch or dinner.
Here are a few tips you can take advantage of this classic marketing strategy at your restaurant.
1. Offer happy hour during the best times
The hours before dinner are a great time to offer happy hour. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., many adults will just be getting out of the office and have time for a drink or two before they get home. Most restaurants have their slowest times right before lunch or dinner. Some establishments close at this time to prep for crunch time at dinner. By offering happy hour at this time, you don’t have to close for a few hours and can boost your revenue during the slow hours.
2. Offer happy hours at odd times
Many people in the highly coveted millennial market no longer have regular 9-to-5 jobs. This means you don’t have to stick to the regular 5-to-7 happy hour schedule. Research, in fact, shows that millennials are more likely to visit a restaurant if it opened late. And so late-night happy hours could be a way to lure more customers in.
3. Offer discounted drinks and food
Many guests aren’t after the unlimited drinks offered at happy hour. They go to happy hour because food is often offered at discounted prices. If you pair your drinks with a discounted menu, especially one that offers a premium item (like a shrimp cocktail) at a lower price, you can expect guests who are happier and more likely to shell out more for your offerings. Happy hour should make customers feel as though they are getting the most bang for their back.
4. Provide great entertainment
Restaurants aren’t just places for people to eat and drink. With so many restaurants popping up everywhere, you want to offer something that makes the experience unique and memorable for your customers. Whether you offer one free karaoke song for each happy hour customer, tabletop trivia tablets, or competitive bar games and tournaments, customers will be able to enjoy the experience more if you offer a variety of entertainment options.
5. Get your restaurant ready
Restaurant workers can relax and take a breather during the slower times of the day. If you’re going to offer happy hour, you must prepare your staff for the additional amount of work. Because many customers just got off work, they may need to destress and may be more demanding as usual. Also, ensure that all restaurants equipment, including the commercial ice makers like Manitowoc ice machines that pump out ice for cooling the drinks, are up to speed and can meet the new demand brought in by happy hour.