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Increase sales with back-to-school-and-beyond promotions: Making dough with Diane

Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Marketing annex diane chiasson marketing week

Increase sales with back-to-school-and-beyond promotions

Back-to-school season suggests a busier time for most families and a return to more regular business for a pizza restaurant. There are many quick-service and fast-casual restaurants that are working hard to promote to elementary schools, high schools and the more lucrative university market, and this is why you have to work harder to bring students and families back to your pizzeria.

There are plenty of ways to attract students, parents and teachers to your pizzeria, and below are a few ideas that will help you maximize your sales:

Social media – As you know, an excellent way to get promotions right in front of students is by using social media. Social media marketing is free unless you boost your posts for a few extra dollars, and social media has proven to be a remarkably effective way to promote restaurants. Students always search for pictures of food and therefore you should take some great snapshots of your weekly special and post it on your website, Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media venues.

Special coupons – Plenty of high school, college and university students will be looking for easy and affordable meals, and they will likely make a repeat purchase from a pizzeria that offers student “combo deal” discount coupons.


You should team up with your area colleges and universities and set up a booth during special events or simply ask them to distribute your coupons menus or flyers.

Many restaurants are getting students in their doors by offering free appetizers, desserts or beverages, and you may consider offering a standing discount to those who bring in their student ID. You may offer free coffee coupons with a purchase of a breakfast or some after-school treats. You could also offer coupons to students who can demonstrate perfect attendance. You should think about launching a promotional campaign that will provide students who come into your restaurant with free drinks coupons during Halloween season and throughout the month of November when they purchase any entrée.

Student lunch special – You may have a lot of local competition from other restaurants and chain restaurants, but if your pizzeria is near a college or university campus, there is nothing better than creating and promoting a student lunch special. Put together a few combos at a special price and market these “student lunch specials” on your website, social media sites and flyers. You should also add your daily special to an outside sign to encourage students and their friends to try your food.

Be thoughtful – You should also think of parents who would love to enjoy quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of regular family life. Consider offering a “parent’s day out” lunch or dinner special or “buy-one-get-one” (BOGO deals) parent meals.

Designate a family night – Parents want their kids treated special and vice versa. You should focus on sending a message that you are a family-friendly restaurant, and you may want to look at designating one night, such as Tuesday, as a “family get-together” promotion. This will encourage your student community to meet with their parents once a week at your restaurant and spend more time together. The best way to promote this with moms is to focus on giving them a break by not having them to stress over cooking and
cleaning up and allowing her to enjoy a free evening with her family. Train your staff to upsell every chance they get, offering appetizers, desserts, beverages and sides to go along with your meals.

Be generous and considerate – What about these teachers? Who can forget the hard work they do inside and outside the classroom? You should have some promotions geared directly to teachers and their families. You can offer them a free beverage or appetizer simply by asking them to show you their teacher’s badge. Parents or students could come in and purchase a “special teacher treat” coupon set at a special price that they can offer their favourite teachers as a gift. You could also have a designated “teacher day or evening.”

These are great opportunities for your business to reach out to parents, students and teachers, and in doing so to greatly increase your sales. It may also encourage students and parents to interact and bond with each other outside of a classroom

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping food service, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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