Creating Your "Eat Out to Help Out Menu"
The government is launching 'Eat Out to Help Out' discount scheme for August, giving people across the UK a 50% discount, capped at £10 per person, on meals out.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme would run from Monday to Wednesday each week at participating businesses. This scheme will be a great help, encouraging diners to come out on quieter days, but how does this work for the customer, and what does it look like for our businesses?
- Customers can get a 50% discount on sit-down meals and non-alcoholic drinks if they are eating in. Capped at £10 per person, per meal the scheme excludes takeaways and alcohol.
- Customers will only be able to get the discount at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs. Firms need to register, and the government will publish a list of participating restaurants, cafes and pubs on their website.
- The scheme will run on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.
- There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the discount.
- The discount is applied to the bill, and the establishment claims the cost back from the government.
- Crucially, the customer WILL be able to use the discount in conjunction with other vouchers. This is important because many restaurants already offer discounts early in the week. The government discount is applied after the other vouchers – so if you use a restaurant voucher, you'll get a 50% discount on the already-discounted price.
- Service charges are excluded from the offer.
- If you purchase a meal to eat it in but then take it away, the restaurant can still apply the discount.
But what about us and our businesses, what should we do differently?
The menu is key to this offer as we are sure to see an increase in customers, so the menus have to be achievable with the staff available. The menu can't be too complicated, and we want to move more people through the business at this time and create great food and offer excellent service. After all, we want diners to keep coming back after August!
Look at the expensive items on the menus, are you making a good profit on them? When a restaurant runs an offer, customers tend to choose high-end items like great cuts of meat or expensive fish dishes. Look closely at the high-end items and their profitability, ensure you are not in a position where at the end of the night sales are up, but profits are down.
It's a perfect time to re-engineer the menu and reduce the high-end meals a little. If you want to have a steak on the menu, have a look at a cheaper cut that will still be a great dish that you are happy to serve but one that will contribute more to your profit.
Look at the demographics of the customers coming in; you may be attracting earlier week or mid-week diners who are families. Make sure the menu is attractive to them; adults may love your menu but will be driven by what the children like to eat, so make sure the offer is robust.
You might also want to mix the menu up a little over one or two weeks. Work with suppliers on 'specials', that may sit on a 'specials board' alongside the main menu. Specials command a different price structure so have a potential for higher profits.
Upselling side dishes is essential—bread or olives on arrival, extra chips with the main. Customers are getting a deal so they should be more willing to upsell. Also, the scheme doesn't include alcohol and it’s at the start of the week; while people may not have a bottle of wine or extra beer, they may be more inclined to have mocktails, water and soft drinks - be sure to include these in your offer.
Control portion sizes, it's the same theory of upselling that applies to desserts and coffee. Younger diners love ice cream and parents may share a dessert or have a coffee to finish. Many great desserts are available pre-prepared fresh or frozen that are portion-controlled for cost and labour.
'Eat Out to Help Out' looks like a grand scheme to boost your business at the start of the week. Do some simple menu planning and budget analysis to take full advantage and hopefully reap the benefit long after the scheme has finished.
We’re certainly looking forward to #EatOuttoHelpOut scheme. Registrations are now open through these links: