Coupons are everywhere – on your smartphone, filling your email inbox, and in the newspaper. You can’t escape the fact that we have become a couponing nation, and, for many businesses, this has worked in their favor, offering yet another way to bring in new customers. In the bar and restaurant industry, however, there are opposing points of view regarding the use of coupons.
Here is an overview of both sides of the argument to help you make an informed decision about whether or not your Pittsburgh bar or restaurant might be able to benefit from implementing a coupon system.
There are some business owners out there who absolutely refuse to participate in any type of coupon system…ever. The claim here is that it’s simply too expensive and their margins are too tight. As such, offering any kind of discount to customers would threaten an already minimal bottom line.
While this may be a very real reality for many bar and restaurant owners, keep in mind that maintaining a “no coupon” policy could be costing you business in the long run, as potential customers may choose to frequent your competitors’ establishments thanks to their unbeatable deals.
On the flip side, other business owners swear by “two for one” coupons and other similar specials. When you offer a deal like this, it’s true that you will need to provide two items for the price of one, but the additional purchases that customers make in conjunction with their “two for one” meal make up the difference, and then some. Additionally, the possibility of savings from using your coupon can drive in new customers who otherwise might not have visited your place.
That said, the initial cost of setting up this offer, whether you create the coupons yourself or pay for an online marketing campaign or to have it placed in a newspaper insert, is not cheap and must be considered when determining whether it will be profitable in the end.
If you do choose to participate, you’re essentially “all in,” because once you start issuing coupons, there’s no going back. Coupon customers who come to your place and are impressed will want to come back and be able to use another coupon. So, you’d better keep those coupons coming!
As with anything else in this business, the most successful coupon campaign will be systematic and properly recorded. For example, you may notice trends in the days of the week or times of day that your customers tend to use coupons. You should also be tracking how many coupons are issued versus how many are actually used.
You also need to be aware that offering certain types of coupons, including the “two for one” deal, may provide an avenue for theft and deception by your wait staff, which could cost you untold dollars. Even customers who use coupons may “take advantage” of the offer by ordering the bare minimum to be able to use the coupon and overloading with free extras like bread and lemons. These situations are unfortunate, but they can be managed with the right systems and training in place.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the decision as to whether or not to offer coupons for your Pittsburgh bar or restaurant may be general if you’re thinking of getting into the business is up to you and will depend on a wide variety of factors, including your location, profit margins, and customer base. If you’re not currently using coupons and are looking for a boost in business, this can be a great way to generate more business and fresh advertising for your establishment.
Contact us online or give us a call at (412) 369-1555 to talk to one of our experienced Pittsburgh brokers. We can help you get into or out of the bar and restaurant industry!