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What to Consider When Designing Value Meals

By Elizabeth Kelly

 “Would you like to make it a combo?” is a phrase quick service restaurants have drilled into the heads of every customer for generations. Encouraging customers to upsize their meal to include a side and a drink is a popular method of increasing check sizes. It works because customers perceive a deal, and ordering is made simple.

But combos and value meals don’t only work for quick service restaurants. Many full service, delivery, and fine dining restaurants offer their version of a value meal.

Create your value meal

When you design your value meal, work within your existing menu to keep your inventory simple. If you do pizza delivery, an offering of a 2-liter soda and a side salad or breadsticks with a large pizza makes more sense than fries and a fountain drink. Consider your market, and create a value meal that will appeal. For instance, if you have a lot of lunch business, consider a lunchtime special to speed order entry and drive add-on sales.

Choose menu items that are high margin. While it may be effective to offer a combo with your most popular item to increase check sizes, take the time to consider which menu items would offer the highest returns.

Follow naming conventions, such as “Lunch Combo” or “Combo #1”, or come up with something unique that matches your brand. HotBox Pizza offers “the duo.” which includes two large 1-topping pizzas for $22.99.  If your restaurant brand is high-end, be careful with how you name your packaged offers. Try “Happy Hour” specials or “Featured” menu items rather than “value” or “deal” language.

Full service and fine dining restaurants often feature meals and pairings throughout their menus. Make your featured meals and pairings interesting to grab your guests’ attention. Include a popular menu item, with high margin sides. Many pizzerias offer a Pie & a Pint, and The Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smoke House, a Vancouver restaurant, keeps things interesting by offering beer, bourbon, and bacon as a featured pairing.

Upsell through Add-ons

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Encourage your employees to suggest items to go with an order, or offer increased portion sizes, such as upsizing from a small to medium pizza. Make it easy for your staff to remember to ask the right questions by scripting the upsell into the order flow in your POS. Do you have wait staff? Consider equipping them with a mobile POS to use upsell prompts tableside.


Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!

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Tags: Restaurant Marketing, Value Meals and Combos

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