Limited-time offers (LTOs) are an easy and low-risk way to keep your menu fresh and help drive traffic to your restaurant. They're also a great means for developing and testing new recipes that might go on to be added to your permanent menu. One of the best places to begin when developing your next LTO is with one of your most popular and versatile menu items—hot and crispy fries.
In this article, you will learn:
- The power of LTOs in helping drive traffic to your business
- Where to start when creating an LTO recipe
- Strategies for building a successful LTO
The power of LTOs
Limited-time offers are an effective tool to help operators drive traffic, boost sales and maximize margins for their restaurants. Research shows that the average LTO can help boost sales up to 20%,1 and 81% of guests are more likely to visit during an LTO.1 With 74% of consumers looking forward to new food and beverage trends in 2021,2 your business simply can't afford not to run regular LTOs to help keep customers interested.
Finding the perfect place to start
Menu items and ingredients such as cheese, bacon, burgers, pizza and desserts are all a good starting point for creating an LTO. They are versatile, always a crowd-pleaser and operators may have a lot of these items in their kitchen already.
However, when looking for an ideal foundation to build an LTO that's craveable and successful, consider hot and crispy fries. They're highly popular and profitable, and operators rank fries as one of the easiest sides to turn into an LTO.3 Fries are a versatile food that can serve as a platform for endless LTO creations, and they fit six of the top seven things operators seek when it comes to innovation,4 including:
- Maintain quality off-premise
- Lower cost
- Comfort food
Tips for building a successful LTO
When creating the right LTO concept for your restaurant, there are a few basic best practices to remember:
- To help drive revenue growth, consider focusing on one of the three levers of LTO success:
- Drive purchase frequency
- Lift checks
- Attract new customers
- Think about tying your LTO to a season, sporting event, daypart, flavor or even a food holiday, such as National French Fry Day on July 13, to generate buzz and be relevant to your guests.
- The average LTO lasts about four to six weeks, but depending on performance, could run as few as three days or up to three months.
- When using fries, selecting the right fry type is critical to your recipe creation. Consider using coated/battered fries that hold up well to topped and loaded dishes. Use specialty cuts, such as Twister® fries, for unique offerings and plate coverage.
- Be sure to price your LTO correctly to control food costs and maximize profits.
Perhaps the most important element of your LTO is its theme and determining what your guests will be most excited about. Here are a few suggestions to help inspire yours:
- 66% of consumers want a different twist on a classic menu item1 like fries. Try combining unexpected ingredients and creating new flavor profiles, including globally-inspired themes from Mexican to Asian to Cajun.
- 78% of consumers are interested in seasonal LTOs.1 Incorporate trending, seasonal flavors, especially those that hint at nostalgic comfort foods like savory sauces, melting cheeses and proteins.
- 41% of consumers say they prefer exclusive recipes they can't get anywhere else.1 Consider pairing fries with unique, premium ingredients and flavors like Nashville hot, Tajín®, turmeric, mango habanero and gochujang (the top trending flavors of 20212).
After you've developed your LTO, it's time to start creating buzz and encouraging guests to help spread the word. Three out of four consumers say they'll tell others about an LTO they love,5 so be sure to showcase your LTO on your menu, table tents and other in-store signage. Update your website and online review platforms like Yelp®, Google®, Bing® and OpenTable®. And share the news on social media with the latest details and updates to get your guests excited. You might even consider running local advertising and issuing press releases to media about your new LTO.
Limited-time offers are one of an operator's best tried-and-true tactics for creating a sense of urgency and encouraging guests to act now. They help motivate existing guests to return, while simultaneously attracting trial from new ones. And they're a perfect way to develop and create new offerings that may become permanent or recurring menu items. But much of the success of an LTO hinges on choosing the right element to start with. When creating your next LTO, consider partnering with Lamb Weston's versatile line of frozen fry products. For recipe ideas and more, visit lambweston.com/recipes.
- Datassential LTO Report, U.S. 2017
- Datassential Research, 2020
- Sysomos, 2019
- Technomic Foodservice Planning Program, January 2021
- Datassential Blueprint for LTO Success Report, 2017