Implementing Restaurant Discounts

by | Sep 22, 2020

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After the enormous success of the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out Scheme, many clients asked us for advice about implementing discounts when the scheme came to an end. Restaurant discounting is a huge subject, with lots of different strategies and targets, but here’s a relatively comprehensive guide.

Times are tough for most operators, so the first questions to ask yourself is what you are trying to achieve – ie how many extra covers are you looking for and when. I’ve always hated giving discounts to everyone that comes through the door (with the exception of the first week or 2 after a launch), but with lots of seats to fill it’s something we decided to do for my restaurant in Clerkenwell. After much deliberation and research into what our competitors were doing we went for 25% off food and drink, lunch and dinner with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays up until the end of October. We are promoting this offer on social media (paid and organic), email newsletters, A Board Posters, flyering as well as on the website). But smaller restaurants can go for a more targeted approach, which could include the following:


You don’t need to use the Opentable reservation system to promote your restaurant on their network. They operate a commission only marketing platform which means you only pay for the people which actually visit your restaurant. There are all sorts of ways of getting extra covers through Opentable including promoted results, bonus points and straight discounts.


With Bookatable you do need to use their reservation system in order to make use of their marketing capabilities, which is what we have done.


Timeout sell offer vouchers on a commission basis. Therefore these need to be set menus and set deals rather than a percentage off the final bill. But they do want some very good deals in order to really push.

Discount sites

There are lots of discount sites like and Groupon, they can generate great sales but with poor margins. The offer will stay on sites like Groupon long after it has expired so when people put your restaurant’s name into Google the Groupon link will still show up – not a good look!

Taste Card

I’m sure nearly everyone who runs a restaurant is familiar with Taste Card. In my experience they can help generate quite a few bookings each month with no initial outlay.

The beauty of using Opentable, Bookatable, Timeout, Group On etc is that your existing normal clientele don’t know you are running offers and will pay full price. However those customers that go from deal to deal will help to create a busy restaurant with an atmosphere but will have no loyalty to your brand!


Vouchers can be given out to existing customers for discounts at certain times of the week, to generate trade at your quietest times. They can also be handed out as fliers to local business and at local transport hubs.

Targeted Discounts

Pricing in some restaurant can be thought of similar to that of airlines. On any given flight there’s a wide range of pricing which customers have paid for the flight. However it can be a bit completed for staff to manage lots of different discounts. That said you can set up different discounts at targeted groups. These will include certain local businesses, NHS staff, students, OAP’s.

Set Menus

Set menus have always been my go-to discount, as although they open to everyone they don’t damage the brand and you can limit portion sizes to make more margin. They also focus the marketing effort on the dishes served rather than a % discount.

Get in contact today to discount which discount strategy will work for your restaurant.