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All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.1

The Opportunity Limited-Time Offer -- We’ve all heard the phrase before but what exactly is an LTO? Why are LTO’s important? What can an LTO do for your restaurant? How do you plan an effective LTO program? How do you train staff to execute the program properly each time? Follow this blog series to discover what you need to consider while crafting, implementing, and adjusting your existing or new LTO Program. What is an LTO? A Limited Time Offering (LTO) is an item added to a menu for a short time frame. It should be planned and have a specific purpose. It is like a Special, but it is not discounted in price. It is also like a Feature, but it is not a signature item. LTOs are time-bound to reinforce the notion of being unique and fleeting, which is motivating to patrons. Utilize an LTO when the following is needed... Representation of seasonal, competitive, on-trend, or locally-relevant flavors. Balancing business in the offseason. Reinforcement of the restaurant brand/origin/roots/difference. Broadening appeal to new patrons, new occasions, new day parts. Creating a sense of urgency (change patron habits, induce more frequent visits). Testing ideas for future offerings on an ongoing basis. The most successful LTO programs are developed with specific goals in mind -- goals that support the overall business objectives. It is important to outline the goals of an LTO program before you start. In the industry, there are five types of LTO concepts in which help to craft goals of a program. Five Types of LTOs are: Broad Appeal > Engage Core Guests Re-imagined Heroes > Engage Core Guests & Drive traffic Emerging Flavors & Trends > Drive New Traffic Diet Centric Niche Item > Drive New Traffic Novelty Item > Generate Buzz It is key to remember that there is no “right” answer when choosing an LTO concept. Each concept serves a purpose, and it must be decided which concept will best support the menu develop and brand strategy. Additionally, it is important to allow the process to unfold for development, testing, implementation, and assessment. Creating a program that utilizes three or four LTO items a year allows you to react and adjust operationally. It also allows your patrons to experience the special offerings a few times. This helps to unlock the full potential of the Limited-Time Offer for your team, the business, and your valued patrons. Who can benefit from an LTO Program? If you have interest in an LTO, here are factors to consider if it’s right for you.= Essentially, any food seller can benefit from an LTO program. From single-venue food trucks to large restaurant operations with multiple locations and national accounts, including a variety of menus and service models. Think about it -- Starbucks offers Pumpkin Spice Lattes only during the fall season. Taco Bell has a revolving door of LTO items that cycle out monthly. The consistent theme in these examples is that each operator follows an LTO program, not just a one-off item or event. Though the approaches are different, each program benefits the operator’s menu development and brand strategy. If you can do the following, you can benefit from an LTO program... establish goals for the program that connect back to business objectives. obtain new ingredients that are not currently on the menu. use infrastructure to hold new inventory. train front-of-house and back-of-house staff. promote the new item (verbally, with signage, on the menu, digitally). Whether you are looking to increase sales, give your current patrons something to look forward to, entice your future patrons to visit, or to boost your profits, an LTO program can be your solution! Why should you choose an LTO Program? Once you realize that you can develop an LTO program, consider if you should. Perhaps you have tried an LTO and found it to be complicated.  According to Restaurant Business Online,

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All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.2

The Solution 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 OPPORTUNITY), we defined LTO’s, gave an overview of the benefits, and outlined reasons to choose an LTO program.  In the coming section, (THE SOLUTION), we will offer guidance for developing a team, determining items, crafting a plan, and getting feedback about your existing or new LTO program. Creating an LTO Development Team Now that you have decided you should develop and LTO program, it’s important to include key people. There are many benefits of an LTO program, and once program goals are outlined, it’s time to gather your team to determine the right LTO items for your operation and patrons (current and future). When starting this process, you need to ensure that you have the right people involved. This allows for assurance that the program is feasible and that there is buy-in across the board. When making menu changes, be sure to include the essential players: chefs/culinary team, menu committee, operations team, and marketing team. Determining LTO Items With the right people involved, now comes the food part! After you’ve assembled your team, it’s time to create some exciting, tasty ideas. Bring forward any recipe ideas developed by you or your team. Reach out to multiple sources for inspiration, including suppliers and vendors. Industry research shows that the Key Themes from 2020 Best-in-Class LTOs were: Items with Brand Mentions Items with “Rich” Mentions Pumpkin Lattes Items with Chocolate or White Chocolate Mentions of “Sweet” or “Sweetened” Plant-Based Meats Berry Beverages Items with “Fresh” Mentions Beef Dishes Spicy Handhelds Coffee-Based Drinks “Melted” Cheese Mentions (Source: Technomic Ignite, “30 Best-in-Class LTOs for 2020,” 2021) While developing ideas to meet trends or to simply be a bit more creative, consider the following for inspiration... new items/flavors/sauces from suppliers like Litehouse. seasonal items (for holidays and for regional/special events). recipe ideas you’ve been considering for your ongoing menu. items that are "outside of the box” and have emerging mass appeal. connection with future items in your LTO program. global cuisine. plant-based alternatives. ideas/suggestions developed by vendors. When describing your LTO item remember these Do’s and Don’ts: DO: Give enough detail to differentiate and inform. Weaker Example: “A ¼ pound patty, American cheese, pickles, mustard, and ketchup on a sesame seed bun. Stronger Example “Freshly prepared, hand-pattied, 100% ground beef stuffed with shredded cheddar and topped with bacon-onion jam. Served on a toasted bun with crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles and Duke’s mayonnaise. DON’T: Get too specific or forget to describe the taste. Weaker Example: Bite-sized rounds of diced potatoes and melted American cheese covered in breading. Stronger Example “Crunchy outside; gooey cheese & warm potato inside. (Source: Technomic Ignite, The Five Types of LTOs, April 2020) Crafting an Effective LTO Plan With recipe ideas explored, now comes more of the business side. It is critical to outline goals for your LTO program and ensure they are aligned with your overall business objectives. After your LTO concept is set, you’ve explored and selected an item to start with, you’ll need to ensure the plan will be effective. In order to craft an effective LTO plan, you need to: understand patron preferences. develop recipe concepts. select a supplier to provide distribution and consistency. calculate raw food cost and patron price point to determine gross margin (use patron price point calculator). understand preparation and handling differences. determine marketing methods to be used. assess execution feasibility and quality. plan timing and duration. Getting Feedback from Patrons and Employees When goals and price points set, it’s time to outline testing. Even with strong planning, the real success of an LTO program will be determined when it is live and in action. Before you launch your new item into a busy Saturday service, you need to test the execution and work out any kinks. Testing provides insight from both patrons and employees. With this information, gauge the anticipated success of the item/program success before launching on a larger scale and investing in marketing spending. Before starting the test, determine the metrics and parameters for the testing cycle. Outline your biggest concerns (execution, taste, promotion, etc.) Order a variety of samples from suppliers. Perform taste tests with staff and some patrons. Get images of the ingredients/item for marketing (Check with vendors for this.)

All About Limited Time Offers (LTOs) 1.3

Implementation 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.

Entree Salads that Deliver

In the age of off-premises dining, restaurants need to develop salads that can go the distance. A colorful salad tossed in a flavorful dressing and topped with some crunchy bits can be a satisfying meal when served at a restaurant. But take that same salad, stuff it into a plastic to-go container and ship it across town by car or on the back of a bicycle, and the result is likely to be an unappetizing jumble of limp lettuce. With the majority of restaurant traffic continuing to occur outside of dining rooms, according to the latest research from Datassential, operators need to reimagine how they prepare and package take-out and delivery meals—especially entrée salads. Ingredients that Go Just about any food—from fresh greens and pickled vegetables to hearty proteins and warm grains—is fair game in a salad these days. However, not every ingredient travels well. Here are some things to consider when building salads for take-out and delivery: Choose robust lettuce. Romaine, a top green among consumers, is sturdy enough to travel. Other greens that are popular and hold up well include spinach and iceberg. Save more tender greens, such as mesclun, Little Gem or Bibb, for dine-in dishes. Cut to order. Versatile avocado and crunchy apple are among the top fresh fruits many consumers enjoy in entrée salads, but both tend to brown quickly once exposed to oxygen. To prevent browning, cut avocado and apple one at a time as needed. Separate the crunchy bits. Croutons, tortilla chips, wanton strips, nuts and seeds are among the crispy salad toppings popular with consumers. To avoid losing the crunch, send these items on the side. Consider composed salads. Offer such selections such as a Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad with tangy, smoky, and spicy grilled corn tossed in Jalapeno Ranch dressing  that can be prepared in advance and hold up well over time. Dress to impress. Classic dressings remain popular, but many consumers are interested in tossing their salad with bolder flavor combinations, such as jalapeño ranch or Avocado Cilnatro Ranch. Whatever the dressing, prevent salad sogginess by packaging it on the side. Perfect Packaging It may not be possible to deliver salads looking the same way they’re plated on premises, but the right take-out packaging can ensure the integrity of the dish and create a memorable experience. It all starts with finding a container that fits. If the container is too large, the salad will slosh around. If it’s too small, ingredients will get smashed. For salads that contain ingredients such as cooked grains or proteins that are intended to be consumed warm, it’s also important to choose packaging that helps retain moisture and temperature. Hot foods that are not packaged correctly release condensation into containers, making for soggy salads. Rather than tossing ingredients together before packaging, some operators arrange them artfully on top of the lettuce in quadrants, and then put dressing in separate containers on the side. In fact, pleasing presentation is one of the most important attributes of an entrée salad for U.S. consumers.