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While the retail world braces for the electric embrace of Black Friday and the annual Christmas shopping rush, the restaurant world has something else on its mind. And — it involves a “pigskin,” team spirit, and raw competitive energy. Sure, you may not admit to being a fan of such a testosterone-filled sport (though chances are good you love the game). However, if you’re a restaurant owner, you’re certainly a fan of…football fans. That’s because they love football as much as they love good food. In this article, we’re going to show you how to boost restaurant sales during football season.

Ok, maybe you already have football fans figured out. But, what if you don’t? Forget about throwing a Hail Mary; you’ll need to get proactive and make sure your restaurant has a gameplan.

From wings to beer, here’s everything your restaurant needs to enjoy the best football season ever.

A Short History of American Football

Football has been a part of American culture for well over 100 years.

Of course, we could start talking about sports like episkyros (an ancient Greek ball game) and its influences on modern football. Or — we could dive into cùjū (an ancient Chinese sport), supposedly the earliest form of football in the world. However, we’re going to stick with more modern influences and keep this short-and-sweet (we’re here to talk food, after all).

That said, American football is an offshoot of soccer and rugby. The latter is said to have originated from the Rugby School in England. Then, English schoolteachers believed that rugby taught important skills, such as teamwork, courage, ruggedness, and unselfishness.

Both Canadian and American football originated from rugby football. Classic American rugby was popular in the United States until 1879, when a man with a plan created the game of American football. That man’s name was Walter Camp — a.k.a. the “Father of American Football.” He was a Yale football coach.

Meanwhile, young men in Princeton were already playing mob-style football games with their hands and feet in the early 1800s. This type of football was called “ballown.” Harvard University was also playing a similar sport, though its version was so violent that game days were referred to as “Bloody Mondays.”

Walter Camp took both styles of football, combined them, and created some of the classic football rules we know so well. They include setting the number of players to 11, standardizing the field size, and making below-the-belt tackles illegal.

America’s Favorite Football Foods

In his later years, Walter Camp wrote treatises about how the American businessman could leverage diet and exercise to combat the strains of the modern workplace. Camp despised diet trends, however, and many of his papers advised following a regular, healthy diet. His famous “The Daily Dozen” was a set of calisthenic exercises aimed at improving the physical and mental health of office workers.

Like Walter, football fans tend to stick with the classics. Let’s look at some statistics from the last SuperBowl game.

In total, American football fans consumed:

So, what does this mean? It means that fans love chowing down on classic American fare when they watch the BIG GAME. Of course, you can still serve gyros, pasta, or spring rolls. However, you’ll want to feature the classics heavily: You’ll be surprised how easily they help boost restaurant sales during football season.

Want to go out on a limb and make more money? Try football-oriented LTOs to get fans through your doors.

Ok, we admit that sounds a little too good to be true. After all, thousands of restaurants tried just that at the last SuperBowl, and many ended up operating at a loss. Here’s why: People didn’t want to leave their houses during the game.

Unlock Football Season Profits With Online Ordering

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the online ordering craze shows no signs of stopping. Over 60% of Americans order takeout once-a-week, and over 20% of Gen Z does it three times a week. However, during football season, online ordering goes from a profit lever to a profit differentiator.

The most loyal fans won’t want to miss any of the action on the way to your restaurant. During the last Superbowl, Minnesota restaurants lost out on significant profits simply due to traffic and game-time anxiety. Some restaurants like Spoonriver — which was located just blocks away from the Superbowl itself — saw 75% dips in their regular weekly profits.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to win during football games, you need to deliver. 48 million Americans order takeout during the Superbowl. That’s a fact.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “What’s the big deal? Over 100 million people watch the Superbowl! There’s still plenty of room for restaurants who don’t offer online ordering.”

However, consider this: Superbowl is all about having everyone over for a great party. Think about how many of those food orders will be for large groups of people. Also, not every football fan is going to slave all day in the kitchen to get a good party going.

In short, you’ll need to leverage online ordering to win during the football season. Fans want to watch the game, not traffic lights on the way to your pizza place.

The 9Fold Method to Boost Restaurant Sales During Football Season

7 Tips To Help Your Restaurant Score a Touchdown 

Boost restaurant sales during football season with the right deals.

1. Create Football-Themed LTOs

Remember those food groups above? Use them to draw in the crowds. Make some BBQ chicken wings or gourmet cheese pizza during local game days. Ok, we know: you don’t normally serve either. However, they’re easy to cook up and infuse with your own creative flair. Have you ever noticed the pizza at Chinese buffets? Try creating your own with unique toppings.

Do you run a Thai restaurant? Make a shredded crab and shrimp pizza. Are you a vegetarian place? Make an all-organic veggie pie with vegetables and alternative proteins. You don’t have to set aside the basic elements of your own brand. However, you can leverage tradition to your benefit. It makes people happy!

2. Offer Discounts Related to Football Wins

We’ve talked at length about the raw power of discounts. 9 out of 10 consumers actively use coupons, and 40% of those coupon users feel great when they use them.

Luckily, football gives you plenty of ways to leverage coupons. Make certain types of pizza 50% off when the home team wins, or provide a 10% discount on wings for every touchdown. Or, you can just stick with conventional game-day discounts.

3. Throw a Tailgate Party Online AND Offline

42% of tailgaters spend over $500 on tailgate food per season. Wouldn’t it be great if they spent some of that at your restaurant?

To make it happen, throw your own tailgate party. Cook up some food, offer some beers, and sit back while your cash register gobbles up all those delicious dollars. Want to double the impact? Promote your tailgate online and let people order your tailgate delicacies there.

Everyone loves tailgate food. However, not everyone loves driving all the way to your restaurant on game day.

4. Tap Into The Excitement By Offering Pre-Game Specials

The biggest barrier towards higher profits will likely be post-game competition. Everyone wants a slice of that football pie. Still, why wait until after the game? Think about pre-game specials.

Did you know that 71% of Americans wish restaurants would serve breakfast all day? So, fry up some tasty bacon, and call it pigskin bacon. Team it with sausages, golden French fries, and peas. That can be your pre-game special at 25% off.

5. Play the Game On a Gigantic Screen TV 

Sure, you can serve pre-game and post-game specials. However, let’s not forget about the game itself. Invest in the largest big-screen TV you can afford, so football fans can watch the game at your restaurant.

Be sure to serve plenty of beer and snacks. Did you know that football fans drank about $1.3 billion dollars worth of beer during the last Superbowl? Serving up some cold brews and delicious fare during game time is a great way to create loyalty, bring in some extra money, and give you an edge over the competition.

6. Hold Fan Contests 

Who’s the biggest football fan in your city? When you find out, give that fan some free food and advertise it on your social media channels.

Creating fan contests can help the community rally around your restaurant. Here are some theme ideas:

  • 75% off your largest order of wings for the person who sports the best gameday facepaint
  • Free beer for the person who wears the team colors best
  • 75% off a meal for the person who can remember the most important game statistics
  • Free dinner for the person who knows the most facts about the home team.

There are many types of contests you can run. So, get out there and start experimenting!

7. Cater to Fantasy Football Fans

Don’t forget about the fantasy football fans! Did you know that 59 MILLION Americans play fantasy sports? That’s about 20% of the population. So, fantasy football-themed specials can score big at your restaurant. That said, the real power of fantasy football lies in draft parties.

When a group of friends starts a fantasy league, they often hold a draft party with pizza, wings, and beer to kick the event off. This practice became even more commonplace after “The League” (a TV show about fantasy football) exploded in popularity a few years back.

Dave & Buster’s, Hooters, and Bailey’s Sports Grille all have draft party specials. Why not join the party?

Learn From The Winners AND Boost Restaurant Sales During Football Season

1. Buffalo Wild Wings

Remember those 1.3 billion chicken wings we demolished during the Superbowl? The bulk of those was consumed at this restaurant. Buffalo Wild Wings knows football. Last season, 16 million fans celebrated Football Sunday (at least once) at their local Buffalo Wild Wings (or B-Dubs) restaurant.

This wing spot also understands the power of fantasy football. Last year, more than 30,000 draft parties were hosted at B-Dubs restaurants around the country. And, Buffalo Wild Wings even hosted its own fantasy league — Blazin’ Fantasy Football — which saw over 250,000 people sign up for the event.

While those numbers are impressive, it’s the small things that keep B-Dubs at the forefront during the sports season. Earlier this year, everyone went a little crazy during the NCAA March Madness tournament. Not one to let a national craze go to waste, the marketers at B-Dubs did a little research and found out that vasectomies increase by 30% during March Madness. So what did they do? They put their heads together and created the Jewel Stool. That’s a custom-made barstool with an apparatus for cooling the (ahem) family jewels after an operation.

So, maybe the marketers went a little overboard. However, attention-to-detail and unique campaigns are what set Buffalo Wild Wings apart from the competition.

2. Pizza Hut

In the past, Papa John’s may have made it onto this list. Today, not so much. After John Schnatter — the former CEO of Papa John’s — blamed the NFL for its poor pizza sales, Pizza Hut secured multiple key NFL deals, making it the defacto pizza giant during football season.

Pizza Hut is dominating sales and continues to leverage smart football-season strategies to its advantage. Not only does the chain release localized coupons featuring home teams, but it has also created some absolutely amazing activations.

For starters, the pizza chain is the first brand to have virtual NFL naming rights. The Pizza Hut Stadium will also host the 2020 Madden World Tournament (millions of players competed last year). Games like Hut Hut Win are poised to draw in even more users this season.

But, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Pizza Hut’s domination in the online ordering sector, as well. Currently, Pizza Hut is testing out a cubby system for pizza in big cities, and it’s going “all in” with the Pizza Hut mobile app.

“A big part of our mobile strategy is delivery. We are extremely passionate about that. If you can do delivery on time, that’s great. If you can do delivery well, you can probably do carry out and other things too” — Artie Starrs, CEO of Pizza Hut

How 9Fold Can Help You Boost Restaurant Sales During Football Season

Do you want to score big time this football season? If so, you’ll need an online ordering system that can handle high-volume sales, give you the power to initiate your own marketing campaigns, simplify the ordering process, and provide you with customer-centric options (such as coupon and discount setup and control).

Sure, you can put your restaurant up on GrubHub or UberEats. However, you’re going to pay 25% per order, AND your restaurant will get drowned out by pay-to-win restaurants who know how to play the game. To win, you’ll want your own online ordering system.

Want to learn how we can give you powerful online ordering capabilities without the added fees? Contact us to schedule a free demo today! 9Fold serves restaurants in all 50 states, so we’re ready to roll wherever you are.