The Art of the Limited Time Offer (LTO)

February 23, 2022 | 1270 Views

The Art of the Limited Time Offer (LTO)

Felicia White, CHT, Doctoral Candidate

CHART President-Elect | Director, Franchise Training | Scooter's Coffee

A successful Limited Time Offer (LTO) is like a well-orchestrated relay race. It takes everyone, and no one department is more important than another. Training is the “ready” – getting everyone prepared to execute the plan. Marketing is the “set” – inviting guests into the restaurant. Operations is the “go” – ensuring the guest experience.

Once you hand off the baton, however, you don’t stop running. You keep running for a period of time to ensure a smooth and efficient transition. Likewise, as you receive the baton, you get a head start by running beforehand so you can match the pace of the incoming runner.

You’ve got to have a great start, and you’ve got to have a great finish.

Here are some best practices to improve execution of LTOs:

1. Get everyone involved in the training.

Make sure team members, above-restaurant leaders, franchise owners, and support center or other corporate staff complete the training.

2. Customize training in your LMS.

If you have a Learning Management System (LMS) in place, utilize it to complete LTO training, and take it a step further by offering customized versions of the training. Consider having a version for above-restaurant leaders and corporate staff that goes beyond key procedures, is more informational than the restaurant-level version, and includes more specifics around the hands-on execution. Requiring corporate staff to take the training gives them insight into how an LTO is developed and executed in the restaurant.

3. Utilize incentives.

Have an incentive contest attached to the sales of the LTO, and have training completion be a part of the incentive requirements.

4. Communicate key training completion metrics.

Send out regular reports in mass regarding completion of the training. These reports “rack and stack” the directors and include reminders on when completions are due. This raises awareness on completing training and also creates friendly competition for completion. And in the case of an incentive contest, people know how they are performing. Take the reports to the next level by comparing sales and guest satisfaction to the training completion rates.

5. Use social media to make it engaging.

I’ve hosted bi-weekly Facebook live sessions which are dual streamed on Instagram. All staff has to do is like/follow your Facebook page and/or Instagram, and they will receive a notification when you go live. Cover training topics and reminders during these sessions, and use them as a way to build excitement around the launch of an LTO. Attendees can share best practices and get engaged in a fun way. I’ve used a software called Restream that allows streaming on both Facebook and Instagram at the same time, and multiple people on camera at the same time.

6. Strengthen your relationship with marketing.

The key to having stronger marketing execution is having a partnership between the training and marketing teams. Consider having marketing host webcasts to cover upcoming promotional information. Co-develop the content and dedicate a portion to operations.

7. Use integrated apps.

When I was with Church’s Chicken, we developed the Ops 360 system, which is a tool that combines three other proprietary apps. Each restaurant has a tablet that is referred to as the 360 tool. For the general manager, 360 routines are a set of interactive checklists which replace what you might be familiar with as a manager’s redbook. For above-restaurant leaders, the 360 app can be downloaded to a personal device. This app has alerts and follow-up information from the 360 routines, and adds multiple visits that the above-restaurant leader can complete when visiting restaurants to follow up on items such as food safety and speed. For operations excellence coaches, the app is used for restaurant visit follow-up on a continuous improvement plan. These action items are automatically uploaded into the daily routines for the general managers so they can follow up in their routines for each day part.

8. Train for when you run out.

Guests are understandably disappointed when the promoted offer is not available! Train what to do when you run out of the product. Have a back-up item based on a staple product, and proactively change signage as you near depletion of your LTO.

9. Enlist low-tech ideas with operations.

An old idea that is new again is to set up a phone tree where each person in the restaurant support center, along with corporate field staff, are provided a list of restaurant phone numbers and above-restaurant leaders to call prior to the start of the LTO to follow up on preparation and after it has started to follow up on execution. Conduct Mystery Shops with a 3rd party vendor to gain insight into execution and guest experience. Incorporate non-LTO items for the mystery shoppers to check as well. These may not be scored, but give insight into execution in other areas such as COVID safety practices.

You’ve got a clearly defined time to make the most of your LTO. I hope these tips help you to Get Ready…Set…EXECUTE!

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