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Ready for Some Football? Kicking Off a Profitable Season



Are you ready for some football?


While the retail world braces for Black Friday, those in the restaurant game are about to enter the most profitable time of all – the NFL Football Season. With the preseason in its final quarter and the regular season kicking off in less than two weeks, it’s time for restaurants to suit up and create a winning game plan.



There will be 272 regular-season contests in all, with the first one set for Thursday, September 7th, with the Super Bowl-defending champion Kansas City City Chiefs facing off against the Detroit Lions.


(Speaking of Black Friday, there will be a game this year on the day after Thanksgiving for the first time, making for quite an opportunity for restaurants to capture a wider audience than ever.)


While not every restaurant caters to gridiron enthusiasts, there’s no doubt that every game day is an opportunity to score big profits for restaurant delivery.


So huddle up with your team and devise a plan for converting devoted football fans into fans of your food.




Brief History of Professional American Football

  • In 1869, the first official game of American football was played.

  • In its early days, the game was played more like a soccer game with rugby rules.

  • The first game was between Princeton and Rutgers.

  • Walter Camp, known as the ‘father of American football,” revolutionized the game.

  • Then known as the American Professional Football Association, the NFL was officially created in 1920 with 14 teams.

  • The first AFL-NFL World Championship Game was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1967. Broadcast on two television networks, the game saw the NFL’s Green Bay Packers defeat the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35–10.

  • In the 70s, the NFL was growing steadily year by year, eventually expanding to 32 teams.

  • The name “Super Bowl” first appeared in 1969, as did the use of Roman numerals.

  • In 1970, the Packers faced off against the Chiefs in the first “Super Bowl.”


How Restaurants Can Prepare for the NFL Blitz

Everyone wants a slice of that football pie, but planning is critical when it comes to creating a winning game day strategy.


Gearing up for the blitz of fans and patrons, preparing staffing, inventory, menu changes, specials, and marketing are all daunting tasks for just one event, but with the season stretching from early September into late February, throwing a Hail Mary and just hoping for a profitable season is a risky play.


If you stay ahead of each week’s schedules, (especially that of your home team) and prepare ahead of time, every game day can be a victory.


Creating a Winning Playbook

Teamwork is Everything

Your restaurant’s location can significantly affect business when the hometown team plays. Depending on which day or night your home team plays, your team must be well-rehearsed.


Monday and Thursday night games are normally broadcast at 9pm Eastern Time, so be sure to plan accordingly, staffing up at the hours leading up to kickoff. For Sunday games, the starting times of the games are 1 p.m., 4:25 p.m., and 8:20 p.m. Eastern Time.


If you offer take-out and delivery, be sure your back-of-house operation is well-staffed before the game all the way through to half-time. For restaurants that televise the games, not only should both your front-and back-of-house be fully staffed, but they should also be well-trained. The best defense for a sudden surge of customers and orders is a good offensive line. Schedule your first string and mix in the less experienced staff to shadow the experienced pros so you’ll have a strong second string backup crew throughout the season.


Above all, teamwork is everything.


Prepare To Tackle The Food Blitz

When a customer visits your restaurant to watch a game, chances are they’re not there just to have a drink or two. A game can last as long as four hours.


Large groups will be ordering food at various times during the game, all by different people at the table. This can cause an inexperienced server to feel the pressure. In busy times, a server needs the speed of a running back, shifting from one table to another with the finesse of a quarterback, prepared to make calls on the fly. To make sure no one drops the ball (or fumbles a platter of food), be sure your staff is highly trained in accommodating the game day rush. By all means, this is not a time to send rookies out on their own.

Incorporate Tech Into the Game

A mobile POS helps set up a game plan and increase revenue for the upcoming football weekends. A good mobile POS allows the server to take control by taking the order and passing it to the back-of -the house into the waiting hands of the chef.


A mobile POS that manages food inventory can also send alerts when stock is low and can even automate reordering. During the game, a POS system can also eliminate flags on the play by letting the server and the customer know when an item is out-of-stock immediately. It also equips the server with a wealth of knowledge to handle all kinds of customer inquiries about specials, food allergies, and ingredients.

And if a large surge of orders causes a restaurant to run out of an item, a manager can make a quick menu change.



Pass the Ball to Customers

Tableside ordering allows the server to engage with the customers more frequently as well. Because this process cuts order times in half, it leaves time on the clock to get more orders in before the game ends.

Dine-in mobile ordering puts far less stress on restaurant staff and allows guests to order on their own devices. The servers and the runners view the orders in real time and deliver the food and drinks faster.


For football fans, the best feature of dine-in mobile ordering is the open ticket. If a group wants to order more wings, or they now decide on that burger or a drink, all they have to do is pick up their mobile device and add to the initial order they placed.


With the power in the customer’s hands, there’s no delay of game trying to flag down a server. And when the game ends and fans finish, a contactless payment system allows customers to take care of their bill without waiting for a server to deliver the check.



Create Crowd Pleasers

To draw in the crowds, consider offering menu items that serve larger cheering sections. Make some spicy chicken wings or gourmet pizza during local game days (even if you don’t normally serve them) and don’t forget the drinks. Team-themed beers in the team colors are always an instant win!

Tie Discounts to the Game

Score extra points by offering special promotions related to the game.

  • Offer two-for-one drinks every time the home team scores a touchdown.

  • Hold a raffle where guests have to wait until the end of the game to collect the prize.

  • If the team loses the game, and many fans have already given up, offer all hold-outs a coupon for the next home game for being true-blue fans.


Throw a Pre-Game Online Tailgate Party

Everyone loves great tailgate food, but not everyone loves driving all the way to your restaurant on game day to pick it up.To drive online orders, throw your own tailgate party offering group specials as early as three hours prior to kickoff.

Hold Fan Contests

Creating fan contests can help the community rally around your restaurant.

  • Reward the person who sports the best game day face paint with a coupon for a Free Meal for Two.

  • Free beer for everyone who comes in a team jersey.

  • Free drinks during the next home game for guests who can remember the most important game statistics.

  • Hold a guess to score contest and reward the guest who comes closest without going over with free dessert for a month.



More Strategic Moves to Consider

  • Let your customers know about these events via in-house signage, table toppers, menu inserts, and social media starting now.

  • Run ads using geotargeting to reach potential guests that are near your location.

  • Use Hyper Targeting to connect you with customers specifically interested in football.

  • Use geofencing to identify customers near your business or your competitor’s business and send them your football promos.

  • Make sure you have a presence on all of the top review sites including Yelp, Google, and Trip Advisor. Other sites like Opentable, Zagat, and Zomato are also great free marketing tools.


What Americans Crave on Any Given Sunday

Make sure the odds are in your favor by knowing what your customers will be craving. Score extra points by offering these top ten fans favorites.

  1. Mozzarella Sticks

  2. Boneless Wings

  3. Chips & Salsa

  4. Caesar Salad

  5. Pepperoni Pizza

  6. Fried Pickles

  7. Chocolate Chip Cookies

  8. Philly Cheesesteak

  9. Egg Rolls

  10. Curly Fries


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By Eileen Strauss



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