Never mind that most restaurant brands are short-staffed or without a culinary innovation department. Outside eyes—especially when it comes to seasonal, special, or limited-time offers (LTOs)—help any restaurant brand to create objectively better menus.

When you work with a restaurant menu development agency you get:

  • Insights free from bias
  • New pathways to better ingredients and ready-made products
  • Guidance informed by what has worked with other brands

Capitalize on your strengths by knowing your brand inside and out and then partner with chefs and marketing pros (like us) who know the industry. Together, we will check all the boxes.

The key word above is together. When you work with menu development consultants on a limited-time offer, you are not 100% off the hook. There’s work for both you and the restaurant consulting agency.

Topics In This Article

  1. Understand Your Restaurant Brand’s Audience
  2. Explore Seasonal Ingredients, But Be Careful With Local Ingredients
  3. Balance Menu Innovation With Profitability
  4. Limited Menu Rollout + Feedback Loop
  5. Choose Your Special Menus Far In Advance

Understand Your Restaurant Brand’s Audience

A well-executed limited-time offer menu adds elements of newness and excitement but also stays true to what your restaurant brand is all about. In other words, you have to encourage customers to explore new flavors while also making them accessible.

<< Additional Reading: A Limited Time Offer Strategy For Restaurants >>

Your job: Help your menu consultants understand the preferences of your target audience. Are they adventurous foodies or fans of comfort classics?

Menu consultant’s job: Innovate offerings and/or package existing offerings to meet the audience’s preferences. This will ensure satisfaction and get you repeat business.

Explore Seasonal Ingredients But Be Careful With Local Ingredients

Small, independent restaurants and local chains have the advantage of relying on fresh, seasonal ingredients. This appeals to many consumers, but it’s not a sound business decision for restaurant brands with seven or more locations, especially when those seven-plus locations are spread all over the nation.

Here’s why:

  • You cannot control ingredient quality from location to location.
  • Sourcing and logistics for one location is a big job. Doing it for multiple locations is pricey and time-consuming.
  • What is local and fresh in September in Texas may not be available or fresh in Maine at the same time. Obviously.

But that doesn’t mean a seasonal limited-time offer can’t capitalize on what’s commonly seasonal that time of year. In fact, you should! There are many suppliers who offer prepared, high-quality ingredients that will ensure you can showcase blueberries in May all over the United States.

Your job: Think beyond your local geography.

Menu developer’s job: Help you source ingredients and prepared foods to support the limited time offer menu.

various holiday desserts

These silly desserts are one way you could bring something special to your menu, but typically a successful LTO goes beyond the obvious.

Balance Menu Innovation With Profitability

While creativity is the point of a special menu, it’s essential to strike a balance between innovation and the bottom line. Intriguing flavor combinations are exciting, but incorporating familiar elements ensures that all customers find something they love.

Your job: Provide data to identify the best-selling menu items and most profitable menu items.

Culinary agency’s job: Find the right combination between what is trending — or better yet, about to trend — and your money makers.

Menu Rollout And Feedback Loop

Now the menu development and ingredient sourcing may be right on the mark, but none of that will matter if you don’t advertise the LTO well and train frontline staff on the seasonal offer.

At Food & Drink Resources, we offer marketing and training services to ensure this gets done. A lot of menu consultants will provide you with a list of recipe ideas and call it a day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we don’t offer the service in-house, we will connect you with other service providers who will fill the gaps. It’s to all of our benefit that your LTO is successful.

How will your local operators relay feedback on your restaurant brand’s special menus?

Additionally, feedback is essential. Customer input is valuable for moving forward. If certain dishes garner immense popularity, consider bringing them back next year or integrating them into your regular menu.

Your job: Find out what guests like or don’t like and use that data to make informed LTO and menu decisions going forward.

Menu consultant’s job: Some of the best restaurant consultants are equipped to offer quantitative and qualitative research services. FDR does. Learn more here.

Choose Your Special Menus Far In Advance

Menu development takes time. We’re talking 8-12 months to do it well. The best restaurant consultants are busy and need even more lead time to get you on the schedule. Your job is to plan, plan, plan!

There are many opportunities for a special offer including the typical seasons and holidays plus opportunities to put your own spin on a time of year like Dry January or Spring Break or Cancer Awareness for example.

Keep in mind that you don’t want a special menu for all the holidays and events in the world. That’s expensive and you will fatigue your guests that way. Not to mention your “special” offers would stop being special because you run them all the time! Instead, your job is to choose three or four times a year to focus on an extraordinary short-time offer.

Restaurant consultant’s job: Advise you on what types of seasonal menus will get you the most bang for your buck. Generate menu ideas and recipes that will make you and your customers salivate. Walk with you from ideation through the rollout and feedback stages.

What’s Next?

Now’s the time to consider your special menus for next year. Your first step is to contact a restaurant consulting agency that specials in limited time offers. Give us a call to see how we can serve you.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Food & Drink Resources blog. Here we talk about food trends, culinary innovation, and the work of our team.