The famous expression originated by the American Navy back in the days to describe their entertainment period and then linked to consuming alcohol before dinner time is everybody’s favourite in our current era.
Why is it famous?
For many reasons, most importantly because it usually indicates the end of a working day.
Another reason to love is the discounted deals that pubs offer to their customers.
Why a happy hour?
Why would you want to sell with discounted prices?
The answer is simple here.
Boost sales through increasing traffic
For your own benefit. Happy hour usually takes place in the dead time of the day where sales are usually slow, and few people are coming in to your restaurant or pub or even bakery.
Happy hour actually creates needed traffic and boosts sales that were otherwise low during a specific time.
The equation here lies on the volume it generates and on how much your staff can upsell customers during happy hour.
Attract new customers
No doubt that your happy hour will attract consumers that may turn into loyal customers even outside the happy hour time frame if they enjoyed their experience.
It’s a chance for you to advertise your happy hour to get recognized by target consumers and turn them into regular ones if you innovate and be creative.
Is happy hour for everybody?
Happy hour is not restricted to bars or pubs that supply alcoholic drinks. You can also apply it at your restaurant or bakery and you can suit it to fit your own slow times of the day or night.
For instance, you’re a bakery where your slow times are between 4 pm and 9 pm. Make a happy hour during these times and discount your bread and baked products.
Make sure to discount your most perishable items that won’t be sold the next day such as croissants and cakes.
If you are a restaurant that sells sandwiches and things get slow after 7 pm then offer a 30% off your sandwiches and salads that would be perished by the end of the day.
I know a lot of chicken roasters places that waste unsold chicken after their peak working hours because of a low traffic at nights.
Wouldn’t it be smart to do a happy hour every day between 9 pm and closing on the remaining unsold chicken?
First you’re reducing waste, second you give your customers a happy treat on your slow moving hours. No?
What about a vegetable and fruit store? Happy hour is also doable.
Usually people shop for their vegetables and fruits in the morning when they’re freshly received. These items are highly perishable.
Enable daily happy hour on your vegetables section and let your customers benefit from the shopping at night. Why waste them while you can offer them at discounted prices?
You can create bundles for customers after 7 pm. For instance, with every bunch of parsley, you get one free bunch of mint.
It will bring more traffic to your store especially from those who are driving back home.
This way you make a lower profit with higher volumes instead of the very low sales you were getting during your dead time.
You can even create happy hour on different times of the day. Let’s say lunch time to bring traffic to have lunch on their breaks in your restaurant at affordable prices and in the afternoons on alcoholic beverages and some appetizers.
Keys to a successful happy hour:
Know your customers
Look at your POS reports to track your customers’ purchasing patterns and selling items’ categories/departments in order to identify items you need to promote.
If your clientele prefers cocktails over wine, target the cocktails.
If salads and cold sandwiches should be fully consumed to ensure great taste, discount their prices.
Never forget to train your employees to upsell customers even during happy hour.
The customer will still regard it as happy hour and he tends to spend more on certain items because he knows he is saving on other ones.
Train your staff for happy hour
No matter how attractive your happy hour is, it’s still not enough without a well-trained staff.
The staff should be ready for busy afternoons or busy nights.
They should be trained to upsell items on the menu with smart techniques.
Let them suggest pairing discounted items with non-discounted ones for example pair a drink with an appetizer, a dessert at the end, a croissant with a coffee, doughnuts with a beverage.
Your staff should always be welcoming and friendly with exceptional customer service skills in order to drive these customers back in.
No customer will come back to benefit from the discounted prices if he will be dealing with unprofessional or rude staff.
Play with your menu
Create a smaller version of your main dishes that are customers’ favourite with a bigger portion of side dishes.
If you have a specialty plate that customers love, let’s say pasta, chicken or salmon, encourage them to order more from your restaurant and order it as smaller version from 5 to 7 with a discounted price.
Offer them smaller versions of burgers, mini tacos or create a sampler plate from different appetizers.
Create happy hour menu where you offer certain drinks and appetizers or sandwiches for a discounted price.
30% off 2 appetizers, 1 salad and 2 sandwiches with selective drinks such as beer or margaritas.
If you’re a pub don’t forget to include some of the non-alcoholic drinks in your happy hour to please everybody.
Timing of the happy hour
Usually the ultimate time of the happy hour is from 5 till 8 but opt for different hours depending on your business.
Choosing the time is very important as it adds traffic to the rest of the day that is not included in the happy hour as the article proclaims.
You might create happy hour for a whole day like taco Tuesday or maybe offer a 20% on pizza or pizza slices for Wednesdays.
Create ladies’ night specials and offer certain cocktails or wines usually consumed by ladies from 8 till 11.
If you are a restaurant that sells sandwiches opt for late night happy hours like 11pm till 2 am especially to people who work late as nurses, pharmacists, security guards...
Who said a happy hour is only for the afternoon or nighttime?
If you’re a coffee place, make happy hour from 8 till 10 am to encourage people going to their work to pass by and grab a bite and a cup of coffee.
Entertain your crowd
Think to create a nice environment for your crowd.
Play an important football match on your screens, invite a band or karaoke will attract a bigger crowd, again depending on your customers and their preference.
Measure and track happy hour outcomes and performance
Happy hour is not one rigid thing to follow.
You can always play around with it, experiment and alter what is not right.
You might find out that you need to change the hours or change the menu options or the discount amount or what to discount.
But, how to know where is the problem?
Simply always track your performance meaning your POS software will track sales during happy hours and your profit margin.
Not monitoring your performance will cause failure of happy hour.
Happy hour is everybody’s favourite and it will be your favourite if you know how to roll it.
So, plan for it, execute it and monitor it for optimal results.