You may have heard, but football ratings are way down. Since most of our subscribers rely on football to deliver relief from an all too slow summer, this is really bad news. Although, it doesn’t mean you don’t have weapons to combat the fading NFL ratings and their impact on your sales. Maybe it’s time to see the traffic softening as an opportunity to be more creative in your efforts and increase check averages.

Sure there are fewer guests, but if you stabilize your traffic for football, you can then increase it by driving guest spending with smart programs. We know the season has already begun, but there is no time like the present to get rolling. So, here are three fun ways to drive sales during football and fight back against any reduction in traffic:

Sell More Wings

Frank's RedHot 24 karate gold chicken wings

Sure you already sell a lot of wings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell more. How, you ask? Scarcity. Yup, less is more. The fun here is you offer a special wing flavor only on game days. This is far easier to do with the great sauce flavor profiles from a partner like Frank’s RedHot. Their Flavor Tool has a slew of great recipes like Thai Herb Sweet Chili Wings, Island Honey Garlic Wings, Fiery BBQ Hoisin Glaze, among others.

Once you have chosen your sauces, match them up in a bracket format. Think of it as a Sweet 16 of Sauces. Each week, guests vote on their favorite by buying the flavor they prefer. After the first round, you do the same with the four winning sauce recipes, etc. until you crown a champion flavor.

College football is a great target for a wing promotion like this and you can take it a step further and pair your wings with beer while offering some cool prizes for your guests in the process.

This is a fun way to get guests engaged over the entire season and to entice them to spend on a high profit item. It is also a promotion you can run anytime during the season, and it isn’t disruptive, because you already know how to run a great wing program. Rather, you are just using that infrastructure to invite guests to engage and spend more while visiting.

The Play That Pays

Sports Bars Pays That Play Policies

Have you ever wondered what the odds are that someone will return the second half kickoff for a touchdown in an NFL game? Well, the folks that provide event insurance definitely do. In fact, you can purchase insurance that will pay if a specific play happens at a specified time in a game. For example, if the home team returns a punt for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, then everyone’s drink tabs are paid.

So, what’s your risk? The insurance for a $5,000 Play that Pays policy is about $175. That means with a 30% COGS for liquor, you break even up to about $16k in tabs (unlikely to ever be your live tabs). You can purchase as much insurance as you estimate your costs will be, plus profit, and have almost no risk.

The aim is to entice guests to stick around and watch the fourth quarter. If a game is a blowout, there still may be several chances for the Play That Pays. You can imagine how your place will look every time your local team receives a punt in the 4th quarter — total and complete excitement.

Server Incentives Work

Incentivize sports bar staff to sell more

When you are running a program like the Best Wing Recipe Competition we referenced above, you have to get your team on board. As we have emphasized many times in the past, incentivizing your staff to sell is a best practice. So have at it. Contests are fun and your staff want you to offer them. It keeps things fresh and servers love to compete. Prizing can be simple rewards like shift meals, prize kits, or choice of selection. It all helps.

During football it’s crucial to maximize every revenue period. Servers need to be encouraged, but not forced to execute your tableside sales programs. By using the carrot of rewards you turn selling into an aspiration, rather than frustration. After all, you’re all in it together and they know their performance matters. So, it doesn’t hurt to include them in the rewards.


By no means are these the only ideas. There are no limit to the number of ways you can encourage guests to increase their spending when they visit. The only limit is your imagination. If you have a great idea, please share it in the comments below and we will add it to this blog and credit your genius. Have a great football season and grab all the sales you can along the way.