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    3 Simple LTO Strategies to Help Restaurants Improve Margins

  • Sponsored Content May 16, 2019
    Haliburton International Foods

    Sponsored by Haliburton International Foods.

    Desserts may not be the focus of most quick-service restaurants, but they should be a priority. As dayparts continue to blur, the rise of snacking culture has also led to increased potential for dessert sales.

    “In recent years, desserts have been at the forefront of peoples’ minds,” says Robert LeSage, corporate chef at Haliburton International Foods. “Consumers want to finish a meal with instagrammable, dessert sweet snacks during any daypart—even sometimes in the place of breakfast. All-day dessert offerings can be extremely profitable.”

    NPD Group and Coca-Cola found in a study that snacking now accounts for 19 percent of all foodservice occasions, leading to increased sales potential. Additionally, Forbes reported last year that when Fazoli’s piloted snack offerings in two markets, both saw sales increase 2.5–3 percent.

    Yet adding just any dessert to the menu likely won’t drive sales. While fan favorites are important, consumers want to try something new. It’s important to spice up those sweet offerings to stay top of mind among guests.

    Here are some quick, cost-effective dishes that will help quick-service restaurants drive more dessert sales this year.

    1. Mini-Desserts

    With more consumers on the move than ever before, mini, portable dishes have become menu staples for restaurants. Desserts are no different. “People want a quick, small bite like a mini cupcake, cookie, or brownie,” LeSage says. “They are handy on the go. Guests can grab a snack and take it back to the office for later.”

    Additionally, due to lower calorie counts, smaller desserts make guests feel less guilty when they want to satisfy a craving. And those small sizes pay off for restaurants, too, LeSage says. Not only are guests still willing to pay premium prices for their snacks, but smaller portions earn restaurants bigger margins too.

    2. Nostalgic Offerings

    Desserts transport consumers back to childhood, and cashing in on this effect with nostalgic offerings can be a profitable strategy.

    “People remember eating Creamsicles or Twinkies as kids, and making desserts that remind them of their childhood favorites can help restaurants build emotional connections with consumers and help diners relive their childhoods,” LeSage says.

    Consumers will go back to a restaurant for a little taste of the past, and that's good news for restaurants, too. Most childhood favorites are incredibly simple to make. LeSage says the Creamsicle, is a perfect example. “It’s just orange and vanilla,” he says. “It’s easy and inexpensive for restaurants to create new takes on these childhood favorites, leading to high profit margins.”

    3. Add Ons

    When it comes to updating a dessert menu, it doesn’t get simpler than taking a fan-favorite and adding a simple twist. By offering add ons, such as caramel dipping sauce or raspberry toppings, restaurants can make something totally new to customers without complicating back-of-house operations.

    “We’ve helped chains create extremely successful desserts just by making custom ready-to-eat dipping sauces, fruit sauces, curds, or compotes that come prepackaged and work as simple add-ons to existing offerings,” he says. “It’s inexpensive, and it really doesn’t get any easier than that.”

    Sweet or fruity sauces can both be popular offerings, but LeSage says it’s important not to forget the chocolate. “It isn’t new, but chocolate is always popular,” LeSage says. “It’s always on trend and everyone wants it.”

    Simple yet popular dessert offerings can help restaurants drive incremental sales and draw in snack traffic. By choosing an efficient, cost-effective strategy, restaurants can keep their kitchens, guests, and financial teams happy.

    By Peggy Carouthers