Many businesses are starting to realize the benefits of expanding and modifying the times they are open and the services they offer — often called a “daypart” strategy.
Major national fast food brands often grab headlines when they expand into new times of day and menu items. Taco Bell decided to go head-to-head with McDonald’s for the breakfast share of stomach earlier this year, sparking what’s often called, “breakfast wars.” We’re also seeing more late night options to try and capture new business on both ends of the traditional lunch and dinner timeframe.
So how can expanding to new dayparts benefit your business? Here are a few considerations for daypart expansion:
Are you in an area that has lots of traffic during a time you’re not currently open?
If you’re near an office park, for Uexample, could a light breakfast offering catch the crowd as they arrive for work? If many of these folks already visit you for lunch, they might enjoy breakfast or coffee as well. Tip: ask your lunch regulars if they’d be interested in breakfast.
Would an expansion be a “big deal” or a “little deal?”
If you can add menu items without buying new equipment or finding new suppliers, your downside risk is fairly low. However, if you need to make a capital investment or spend lots of time looking for additional suppliers, your risk increases.
Does an expansion support and expand your brand?
Let’s say you’re a high-end, premium-priced restaurant known for your outstanding wine list. Quick-serve breakfast sandwiches probably won’t augment your core business, and it could even be damaging to the reputation you’ve worked hard to build. On the other hand, if you already make quick and easy lunches, adding grab-and-go breakfast and coffee could be an easy way to both increase sales and introduce new customers to your lunch or dinner offerings.
Start slow and measure.
You don’t have to expand with a complete early or late menu right out of the box. Start with a limited number of items and see how it goes. You can always add more later. One restaurant we visited doesn’t even offer food service before 11a.m., but it opens its doors for local co-workers. They grab some coffee from the shop next door and make it available on the honor system (meaning: no staff required) so people can use their WiFi and work from 8 a.m. until they open for lunch each day at 11 a.m. This simple, low-cost idea has helped them increase its lunch business substantially without adding any staff or menu items.
The simple way to look at daypart expansion is this: what could I do to more fully leverage my fixed costs (rent, equipment, WiFi, etc.) that won’t increase costs dramatically until the test proves successful?