All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.3


Limited-Time Offers (LTO’s) can be an important part of a restaurant’s appeal to patrons as well as a strategic tool to stay current with trends, fend-off competition, and improve the bottom line.  In the prior section (THE SOLUTION), we offered guidance for developing a team, determining items, crafting a plan, and getting feedback about your existing or new LTO program.  In the coming section, (IMPLEMENTATION), we will review launching the LTO to FOH/BOH (and other locations) and determining adjustments for LTO programs.

Launching the LTO to FOH, BOH and Other Locations.

Knowing how testing will be done allows the next big step… launching!

Often, operators blame implementation and execution as the reason their LTO program isn’t successful. Because you’ve planned and tested prior to launch, you are more prepared for the launch. Though this is true, anticipate common pitfalls before they occur. The most common pitfalls involve…

  • training back/front-of-house.
  • executing properly.
  • raising customer awareness.
  • encouraging sales.
  • wasting product.
  • placing the item properly on the menu.
  • distributing efficiently to all locations.

LTO Challenges

Select up to five challenges you face during the post launch.

Train and prepare your staff to combat most of the common pitfalls of implementation. Focus on both the back-of-house and front-of-house, as they are each important in making the program a success. Check out these methods of communicating with your staff.

LTO Training (BOH)

How does your organization typically train BOH/FOH on new food items being added to the menu? Select all that apply.

LTO Training (FOH)

How does your organization typically train BOH/FOH on new food items being added to the menu? Select all that apply.

According to mid-sized operators, they train their back-of-house staff with…

  • in-person training sessions.
  • guides on handling and preparing the item.
  • staff sampling.

According to mid-sized operators, they train their front-of-house staff with…

  • in-person training sessions.
  • selling/position suggestions.
  • staff sampling.

Of equal importance is the promotion of your LTO item. Oftentimes, this part of the implementation can be challenging, especially if you are more comfortable in the kitchen and not the front-of-house. Establish the level of promotion the item will need and the budget available. This will then allow you to determine what you can include in your promotion plan. You may realize that you can promote the item by simple word-of-mouth, social media posts (Instagram Worthy LTOs), and upselling. Choose from these promotion methods…

  • In-store signage
  • Digital marketing items
  • Menu callouts
  • Menu inserts
  • Training front-of-staff to effectively promote item
  • Table-top collateral
  • Local publications
  • Sidewalk/store-front signage

Determining Adjustments for the Next LTO

Once the program is over, it is critical to review and adjust.

An LTO program can be profitable, efficient, and deliver excitement and uniqueness to your brand image. This success will be achieved after going through the cycle a couple times and making adjustments. After the completion of each LTO item, it is key that you reflect on the experience and capture specific positives and the negatives. When making this assessment, look at things like…

  • effectiveness of the planning process.
  • profitability of LTO items.
  • process adjustments to address bottlenecks.
  • challenges to selling.
  • reducing complexity.
  • methods and approach to testing.

It is also important to determine if/how an LTO item will return. Decide whether it will become a permanent menu item, a seasonal item (pumpkin flavors), or an in-and-out (one-time feature)? When making the decision, be sure to account for the goals of the business.

Using this outline will help you create and implement a new LTO program or to adjust your current LTO program to be stronger. Tell us how we can help you take the next step.


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All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs)

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