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Sports Restaurants Strategize Sales for Off-Peak Season

Sports restaurants disclose their plans for maintaining customer traffic and sales after the height of the sports season.

Sports chains such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, Wingstop, The Tilted Kilt and Wing Zone are often busy as bees during the early months of the year, what with the Superbowl and NFL playoffs. The usual big-draw events drive up their guest counts as well as take-out and delivery orders, shooting up sales and profit into its peak.

These restaurants, however, realize that whatever momentum they gained in the first quarter need to be sustained, seeing the need to come up with menu strategies and promotional plans that would keep traffic going and soften the impact of high prices of wings these days.

Wingstop, which is based in Richardson, Texas, was able to increase its same-store sales by 10.5% on the first quarter of this year, mainly with the help of the chain’s main crowd-puller, pro football. Now that pro basketball is entering the postseason, the chain intends to apply whatever marketing philosophy they have on the oncoming Major League Baseball.

Focusing on Singles and Doubles

The chain introduced its latest Louisiana Rub flavor and is currently benefitting from the customers’ interest and incremental traffic, along with the brand’s new smartphone app. They’re now in the process of tweaking their combo meals, testing out different price strategies on their menus in superior menu covers to balance off meal value and the rising cost of chicken wings these days. They do have a lot of other promotions in line. “We aim for singles and doubles—we don’t really go for one great idea that would be the be-all, end-all of our sales strategy,” said Andy Howard, Wingstop’s chief marketing officer.

Flavors

Another sport restaurant chain is now focusing on flavor. Wing Zone, which is based in Atlanta, benefitted a lot during the “wing season” last September till April this year, but now realizes that they should act fast to maintain the same sales volume through the coming summer months. They launched their latest branding initiative called “Flavorholics Unite,” involving the chain’s Facebook fans and encouraging them to vote on renaming their current 17 wing sauce flavors.

Mild sauces are now called “Tame,” hot sauces are called “Hot Shot,” and the teriyaki sauce was named “Tokyo Dragon.” The main part of the promotion was letting the customers order any flavor from their wide array of menus, in elegant menu covers, for no extra cost—and the move gave a large boost to the chain’s sales of sandwiches, burgers, shrimps and salads.

Media weight

Hooters, on the other hand, is looking at repositioning as they shift from their focus on college basketball tournaments and football to the pro-baseball season. They are, after all, the only national chain that was able to take on Direct TV’s baseball fan package, Extra Innings, which broadcasts all Major League games systemwide. This move also comes with new menus, combos and special offers, topping it off with media weights to remind people of what they offer.