March Madness basketball

March Madness in Restaurants

March Madness begins this year on Selection Sunday, March 12th. With games running Thursday through Sunday until April 3rd, restaurants will likely see an increase in sales during this period of time.  Customers flock to restaurants and bars to watch teams play for the college basketball championship. Michigan’s own Spartans and Wolverines are on the bubble, but likely candidates for the tournament this year. March Madness gives customers the excuse to get out, enjoy great food and watch basketball, regardless of their team’s outcome in the tournament. Restaurants must prepare for this increase for the month of March.

When catering to your customers during March Madness, remember that all ages will come out to root for their team. Ages ranging from children to adults to the retired will be out eating while enjoying the games.  According to the National Restaurant Association, 20% of viewers plan to watch March Madness at a restaurant or bar. However, this has nothing to do with a customer’s favorite team. This implies that basketball viewers will watch the games all through the tournament, regardless of their team’s success. Fans will more likely choose the restaurant based on the size of televisions and options on the menu.

What to Serve for March Madness

Customers want to eat food that does not take much work. Fans will want to focus all of their attention on the game. Looking away from the tv for just a few seconds runs the risk of missing a big play. Serve your customers food they can eat with their hands. Pizza, wings and nachos are great options for finger foods. When watching these games, fans tend to eat without nutrition in mind. Any sort of fried food tends to grab the attention of the basketball fan. Also remember to have plenty of drink options. While customers will likely order alcohol during the game, beer is the most popular. Beer sales increase by 20% during March Madness.

Remember that some customers may leave your restaurant upset because of the outcome of a game. While you always want your customer happy, your restaurant can win from a team’s loss. Both pizza and dessert sales increase after a fan watches their team lose instead of win. When a customer appears upset from the games result, offer them your dessert menu.

Customer retention for March Madness

Since March Madness runs several weeks, make sure your restaurant is one that customers will come back to every week. Start by holding a tournament challenge the day of Selection Sunday. By posting these brackets, as well as who is leading, at your restaurant. Customers will want to see where they stand, therefore urging them to return every weekend. In addition, give the top 3 a prize. Let the winners choose between gift certificates, dinner specials or other restaurant prizes.

Customers are also more likely to return to a restaurant if they know there are food and drink specials accompanying the game. In fact, this accounts for why almost 35% of March Madness customers choose a specific restaurant.  Most importantly, make your customers feel welcome.  Encourage your customers to wear and support their favorite team, making them feel right at home. Especially in Michigan, encouraging March Madness viewers to support the Spartans and Wolverines will likely draw a crowd.

This month, remember that your restaurant will likely see an increase in sales for March Madness. Customers will likely flock to restaurants that have great deals for the games, in addition to available tv’s to watch the games. Serving easy finger food, great beer and dessert options will keep your customers happy. Regardless of the team they support, remember that March Madness is a win for restaurants everywhere.