To Offer Happy Hour Specials or Not

Restaurants need to be created and offer some type of happy hour deal and than dazzle them with awesome service and quality and turn that customer into a happy customer.

On a Saturday, I was walking on the boardwalk with my Fiance and looked at my watch and it was exactly 5:00 pm. Cool, its happy hour, I said. We walked up to the first restaurant with an outdoor seating overlooking the ocean and asked what the happy hour specials were. They gave us a look like we were crazy and then said “It’s Saturday, we don’t offer Happy hour on Saturday’s.” We were surprised, or should I say stunned. Why? Read on. We walked no more than 100 feet to the next place on the boardwalk, asked the same question and got an affirmative response, and was escorted to a nice seat on the corner of the bar where we could see the beach and watch passersby. We then proceeded to have 2 drinks each, appetizers and then split an entree. The total bill was about $70.

We gave up our seats to people waiting, and there was a waiting list for dinner. We walked out past the first place we went to that did not offer a happy hour, and we peaked in to see that they had plenty of tables available and no waiting list.

So why didn’t the first place want our business? Was it that they could not afford to entice their customers to come in for a few dollars off a few drinks and appetizers? Did they not think people would get hungry and order more food and turn the cheap drinks into a healthy check? Liquor costs are less than 30% of the prices, so even drinks at half price are still making the restaurant a profit. With food costs a little higher, but still less than 50%, offering cheap appetizers for a couple hours again does not hurt the bottom line.

The key is service. And the key to service is attitude and responsiveness. If you bring in a couple for happy hour and they get great friendly fast service and enjoy themselves, they will more than likely want to stay and purchase more food and probably make a night of it. But, if you don’t get a chance to impress the customers, by not inviting them in with an attractive happy hour special, you have zero chance of turning that customer into anything else.