Restaurant Management: 5 Ways to Increase Lunch Sales

Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth was the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions from 2017 to 2021. As the previous Managing Editor for the On Point Blog, she ensured our audiences got the restaurant and delivery technology information and news that we're known for.

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Looking for new ways to increase traffic to your restaurant during a slow lunch? From specials and promotions, to social media, there are a few budget friendly strategies that can help. 

Between 11am to 2pm, there’s a big opportunity to attract business lunches, workers on their lunch breaks, and lunchtime catering business. If you aren’t doing anything to encourage that, you’re missing out. Try implementing any—or all—of the tactics below to draw in business diners. 


1. Offer a lunch special.

The cost of eating out everyday can quickly add up. Help local workers look past a bag lunch by offering a lunch special, or a combo deal. A good lunch—at a perceived reduced price—will bring customers back on a regular basis. 

Pizzerias can offer an affordable lunch option by selling pizzas by the slice during peak lunch hours. Market them relentlessly to your lunch crowd, and this tactic will work even in low foot traffic areas. Keep the slices fresh and simple, and think about displaying them to catch customer's eyes. Not only will this be a quick and affordable lunch for them, but your profit margin will be much higher selling slices individually and in higher quantities.

Speedy Tip
Speed is king at lunchtime! Most people only have 30 minutes for lunch, so embrace call ahead meals and master pre-rush prep. Save them precious minutes and you'll win a repeat lunch customer as a result.


2. Hand-deliver free food samples.

Take the time to personally meet your neighboring businesses by delivering free samples to nearby offices.

  • Plan to visit and deliver food to at least two businesses each day, just before lunch, and leave them with menus or coupons.
  • Encourage them to visit your restaurant, or order online.
  • You can even go the extra mile and present them with a special $20 free lunch ticket, and offer to take their order on the spot.

Continue this routine until you have visited every single business in your area, and then start all over again. People like to support people they like—by hand delivering free food you’re giving them a chance to get to know you and your business. 

Speedy Tip
It may seem intimidating to give away free food and incur food costs. However, you're not simply giving away food—you're marketing your business. 


3. Provide incentives for groups. 

Professionals love an excuse to meet up outside of their workplace! It’s pretty common for co-workers to go for lunch together, and it’s also typical for work meetings and discussions to take place off-site over lunch. There are a few ways to capitalize on this:

  • Provide a private space for meetings. This way they can enjoy their food and continue their work discussion.
  • Encourage larger parties by offering a special deal for groups of four or more. This type of incentive can lure-in groups of friends or associates looking for a meeting location.
  • Allow orders to be placed in advance. This saves them time so that when they arrive, their food is ready and they can get right to work.
  • Provide technology cords and hookups for presentations.


4. Offer free delivery to local businesses. 

When deadlines are tight, people tend to work through their lunch. Ordering-in to the office is common practice in large offices. Free delivery could help you win more of their lunch business. In the post Catering to Businesses and Organizations with House Accounts, we discussed a few methods for billing businesses, and how it can be different from residential deliveries. 


5. Post to social media.

Consider posting on Facebook or Instagram in the late morning with scrumptious pictures of your food. Post lunch deals and special discounts to be redeemed at lunch. Nothing makes someone’s stomach grumble faster than checking Instagram at 11am. We’ve covered social media best practices in a few posts, such as Insta-Love Worthy Instagram Tips for Restaurants, and Marketing Your Pizzeria on TikTok

Tap into the business customer base in your area with service and menu specials that cater to what they need during the workday. And watch your lunch sales and profits grow.

Posted on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 08:11 AM.
Updated on October 27, 2021 @ 8:36 PM PST.

Tags: Restaurant Marketing, Social Media Marketing

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