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If you are like most restaurants, lunch is your slowest time of day. People are busy, and if they make time for lunch they hit the closest restaurant to eat and run. But you also know that if you get them in your door, they’ll be back. They’ll bring their lunch meetings to your establishment. They’ll invite friends to ‘grab lunch’ at your place. But how to get them there in the first place . . . . .

We have something you can do today that will get people in your door tomorrow – distribute business cards with an offer printed on them. Several of our clients have improved their struggling lunch hour with this simple action. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Determine what your offer will be. How about a free appetizer (or desert) with the purchase of an entrée? Other suggestions include a dollar amount off the entree price, or buy one entrée get a second for half price (don’t offer more than this – if you get into ‘buy one get one free’ or more than 25% off the entrée price you’re giving too much away).

2. Outline what text you need on your card (think minimum necessary information – it’s a small space!). Include your establishment’s name, address, phone and website. Don’t forget to list what hours and days the offer is good for (ie. “Good only between 9:30-11:30a.m., Monday-Friday”). If your goal is to increase business before your peak lunch time, have the offer end before peak hour.

3. Don’t forget to indicate that the card must be brought and turned in, in order to receive the offer. This will help you track the success of your campaign.

4. Here’s the fun part – design your card. (Want help with this? Our designers can work with you on layout, word choice, graphics, colors – we are here to help).

5. Define a ½ mile radius around your establishment in which to distribute your cards.

6. Decide who will hand out the cards. Want to get to know your neighbors? Hit the pavement yourself! Whomever you choose for distribution should be dressed business casual presentable – please no hoodies or torn jeans. Remember – they’ll be representing your establishment.

7. This may seem obvious, but distribute the cards during daylight! We recently heard of a pizza parlor sticking flyers in doors in a residential area at 9:30p.m. – the poor man almost had the police called on him. Again, probably obvious, but don’t distribute during dinner time either – try to stick with 9a.m.-3p.m. This is a good practice whether you are in a business or residential area.

Spending a few hours outlining and designing your cards, and a few hours distributing them can really increase your lunchtime business. For more information on planning, designing, using or tracking a business card offer strategy, contact us.

Written by Ola Ayeni, founder of eateriaTM, the first loyalty email marketing for the restaurant, beverage and food industry.

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