3 Steps to Make the Ultimate Happy Hour

Happy hour is an occasion that has been around since prohibition. Although not practiced in the same way, restaurants today use it to ease the lull of the late afternoon. Happy hour reflects its name and helps people to reboot after a long day. As  competition grows, happy hours are starting to change to meet the consumer need while trying to have an edge over other restaurants with a similar type of deal. How do you make the most out of your happy hour? We’ve got the guide to help.

Step 1: Develop a Happy Hour Strategy

A set strategy is the backbone to all successful happy hour events. Don’t just cut some prices at random. Having a strategy keeps things on track and makes it easy to pinpoint what is and isn’t working. Create a goal that you want your happy hour to achieve. This can be as simple as wanting to increase the number of new guests to your establishment or more specific like introducing your customers to a new dish or drink on the menu. Happy hour allows for experimentation with ideas that could be implemented elsewhere, such as featured items or daily specials.

Step 2: Think About your Customers

Who are you trying to target with this happy hour? Happy hour is prime for attracting new customers and building loyalty of your current guests. People come for the deals as well as the atmosphere. Customers want to socialize and unwind after a long day. Millennials in particular are searching for a spot that offers them a unique experience. Discounted items can only go so far, so make sure waitstaff is trained in both welcoming new clients, greeting familiar faces and making an impression that will go beyond when they leave. Happy hour offers a sample of your restaurant and you want your customers craving for more.

Step 3:  Make the Menu

This one seems pretty obvious right? WRONG. Well, not entirely. Creating a happy hour menu is an art. It’s all about finding a balance between food, drink, and the menu offered on a regular day. Happy hour offers many guests a first impression of your restaurant, so picking food and drink for a menu should have some thought behind it.

Happy hour automatically puts the idea in people’s heads that the drinks are going to be discounted. Try to choose drinks that people may not have the budget to get on a regular day. The two most popular categories being specialty cocktails and craft beers. Serving drinks that have a lower price than normal allows people to try things without feeling guilty if they dislike the beverage. It eliminates the risk of wasting money on a new drink they wanted to try. If customers do like the drink, you inspired them to order it regular price when they return. Restaurants can also take this opportunity to try different serving sizes if they’re not willing to discount a full beverage.

When looking at food, Full Service Restaurants suggest offering “foods that have enough profit margins to ensure a payoff.” If you’re making sales during happy hour it’ll help your restaurant as a whole. Restaurants should consider offering sample sizes to introduce people to a dish while saving money. This will help pull guests back in to try the main dish after their positive experience. Offer foods that will pair with a few of the happy hour drinks, making for the ultimate experience for the consumer. This can push sales if people are hesitating to buy a beverage with their food or vice versa. Try varying the dishes between light and heavy dishes, for those that are just stopping by before dinner and those that are planning on continuing their night after your establishment.