Meet Matthew Ling. Matt is the Front of House Manager for Rockplaza Restaurant Group, running three restaurants in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey: Mercato Tomato Pie, Noodle Shop & Bar, and Novelty Burger.
Since joining the team a few months ago, Matt has prioritized the important work—growing the bottom line by increasing profit margins and raising the average amount each customer spends per visit. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, but one of Matt’s strategies is especially effective: he leverages Clover’s monthly promo calendar for ideas on how to optimize the customer experience, keep them interested and grow sales.
Clover publishes a monthly calendar of oddball and lesser-known holidays a few weeks before each month begins. In this simple download, you can find tips for special promotions, helping you drive loyalty and strengthen employee morale.
We had a chance to talk with Matt about his experiments with special holiday promotions. Here’s some of the knowledge he imparted to us.
1. Establishing priorities in a new position
Before joining the management team of Rockplaza Restaurant Group, Matt was a longtime bar manager in the area. He was well aware of the challenges of running a bar/restaurant in downtown Newark, including serving a clientele that swarms at the lunch rush but is often absent for dinner. Similarly, the proximity to the Prudential Center arena, the 19,500-seat home to NHL team the New Jersey Devils, meant that whenever there was a game there was a huge rush of people with strict time constraints.
Matt’s strategy is to focus on foot traffic, and make the very most of it. In a single block, Matt told us, he has eight separate competitors, a mix of quick-serve and full-service restaurants. Figuring out how to separate from the crowd was crucial as he developed the restaurants’ revenue strategy.
He realized that creating simple promotions didn’t require huge amounts of lead time, but could affect real change on the bottom line, the loyalty of the customers, and the energy of his staff. While social media is important, his clientele is more likely to make a spontaneous decision on the street with coworkers than plan ahead. Matt realized this was an opportunity to experiment, trying different promotions to see what worked best.
2. Success with spaghetti
Matt decided to celebrate National Pasta Day on October 17th, in part because it was featured on our October 2018 promo calendar. He offered a 20% discount on all pasta dishes that day, and created special table toppers advertising the special. Matt then led a brief staff meeting where he incentivized pasta sales, and offered a $30 Visa gift card to the server who sold the most pasta dishes per hour during their shift.
Servers enjoyed the friendly competition, and Matt noticed a clear lift in energy and morale. He credits much of this lift to a simple change in routine—“It didn’t feel like a regular Wednesday.” Overall, this special boosted sales 28% above average for Wednesdays, a success from Matt’s point of view. It also helped increase the popularity of pasta dishes at Mercato, which have a greater profit margin than other items on the menu.
3. Planning for the future
Matt planned his pasta promotion just a week and a half before the event: it’s important to remember that you can experiment with specials even if you feel like you’re still focusing week to week.
There will be more promotions down the road for Rockplaza, and we hope you try some of them too. Take a look at our promo calendars, and see what could work for your business. Don’t be afraid to try something goofy (Mickey Mouse’s Birthday is coming up very soon) and see what happens.