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It’s all about the excitement of experiencing something new.
Restaurant LTOs offer consumers an opportunity to be part of a unique dining experience. When time is limited and the offer holds real value, customers respond by turning a slow sales period into an end-of-quarter winner.
LTO concepts have always been a part of business, but their implementation has changed. As a restaurant manager, you understand the impact of online branding, social media marketing and evolving consumer demographics.
The most effective LTO strategies are the ones that adapt to our ever-changing foodservice industry.
7 Winning Restaurant LTO Recipe Ideas and Concepts
Ask a customer about the meaning of LTO.
Restaurant guests who don’t recognize the industry acronym do respond to marketing that spells it out: a limited-time offer.
You’re promising them more than good food. You’re offering them the opportunity to be part of something special.
Your restaurant’s LTO might be a dish that isn’t currently on the menu. It can be an innovative take on a customer favorite. The best limited-time offers are the ones that don’t limit your options for bringing in business.
Consider these seven ideas for restaurant LTOs.
1. Celebrate the Seasons Locally
Do more than market limited-time offers during traditional holidays.
Give your LTOs local flavor by scheduling them around community events. Celebrate fall festivals with hearty limited-time-only soups, stews or gumbos. Partner with local charities to brighten up warm-weather business with cool summertime promotions.
2. Spotlight Seasonal Produce
Let seasonal vegetables and fruits serve as LTO food ingredients that inspire unique offers.
Warm up cold-weather customers with Brussels sprout pizzas and sweet potato pies. Bring those same dining guests back spring and summer with strawberry desserts and seasonal fruit smoothies.
3. Adopt Global Flavors
Renew excitement in your restaurant’s menu by refreshing dishes with exotic flavors from different cuisines.
Reinvent your best burgers as Australian pub food topped with fried eggs, or spice up healthy grain bowls with Tunisian harissa sauce. Even romaine hearts go global with LTO salad recipes from around the world.
4. Expand Your Brand
If your kitchen has a great reputation for serving the area’s best breakfast, expand on that with a mix of LTO specialty omelets. If customers love your barbecue brisket, give them a taste of smoky pulled pork tacos.
Often, a one-time-only idea can become the new star on a rotating limited-time-only menu.
5. Develop Healthy LTOs
Add guilt-free pleasure to the excitement of your LTO promotions.
Develop recipes that cater to health-conscious consumers with the promise of a unique dining experience.
Offer a series of egg-white breakfast wraps, veggie burgers or grilled chicken dinners. Versatile poke bowls are perfect for designing healthy LTOs.
6. Make It Delivery Only
Make more of your restaurant’s integration with delivery services by making your LTO available through deliver only.
This strategy elevates your brand’s profile on popular delivery apps and broadens your potential customer base. It’s a very effective way to debut or expand home delivery services.
7. Put It on a Coupon
Couponing isn’t just for groceries anymore.
Many restaurants offer LTO specials exclusively through coupons with options that include discounts, free delivery or the classic BOGO.
You don’t have to discount limited-time offers to bring in new business, but lower prices can boost sales through slow periods.
LTO Strategies for All Types of Restaurants
Whether you’re working on ideas for traditional restaurant, fast casual or QSR LTOs, the same strategies apply. Make every limited-time offer successful by following these basics.
• Simplify inventory control by developing quarterly LTO plans.
• Keep staff involved with LTO-specific training and taste-testing.
• Map out firm start and end dates for marketing campaigns.
• Start advertising at least 30 days before launching an LTO.
LTO Benefits for Your Foodservice Business
A limited-time offer gives you a marketing edge that generates new excitement about your restaurant.
Use it to bring in business with the promise of a discount, or leverage your LTO to highlight the best on your menu. Both tactics increase your visibility on a highly competitive foodservice landscape.
A good LTO also increases the chances of your latest dish becoming a social media star.
That’s the kind of promotion that picks up slow sales at the end of a quarter. It’s also a cost-effective way to build brand familiarity and convert it into invaluable customer loyalty.
Giving Your Very Best
Well-developed LTO strategies in your marketing toolbox make it easier to give customers your very best. It’s something you do every day as a restaurant manager.
It’s our pleasure to help.
We enjoy bringing you insider news, timely tips and menu inspiration. We’re also proud to be a nationally recognized source for the finest premium produce available. Here at Hitchcock Farms, we’re always glad to be at your service.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.