Football season is a golden opportunity to boost your restaurant, pub, or bar sales with both on-premise and delivery sales. NFL and college football traditions run deep in American culture, and hospitality venues that are able to appeal to fans can benefit throughout game season.
Let’s dive into some of the opportunities football season offers pubs, bars, and restaurants, and we’ll even pass along some actionable promo ideas.
Special DoorDash promotions to celebrate game day
Looking for a win? Because of higher anticipated interest in delivery during this period, promotions are ideal to run during football season. In 2024, we gave DoorDash Promotions, specifically Discount to New Customers or Discount to All Customers, a big boost. DoorDash amped up promotions from February 9th to February 11th, 2024, to help restaurants go long on football season.
Here’s how it worked:
From February 9th to February 11th, 2024 when a DashPass customer used a promotion you’re already running, we’re gave them an even bigger discount (50% more), totally on us. That means your customers saved more — and you’re getting more visibility in the app — at no cost to you.
This applies to all Discount to New Customers and Discount to All Customers promotions. To qualify, you just need be a small business (75 stores or fewer) in the US, DashPass eligible, and have any of these sports fan favorite dishes on your menu: pizza, chicken wings, cheese sticks, beef, chicken tenders, burgers, fried chicken, tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas, french fries, burritos, and chicken nuggets.
How to participate:
Already have a Discount to New Customers or Discount to All Customers promotion running? No need to take any action — your promotions will automatically receive the value boost if active during this period. Additional promotion funding will be determined based on your existing campaign and may vary. Merchant marketing fees will remain the same as contracted.
If you hadn't set up a promotion in the Merchant Portal before February 2nd, you won't be eligible for the additional value for DashPass members. However, any promotion set during game day can boost order volume without any additional DoorDash support.
Football is big business for the hospitality industry
Talk to almost any restaurant owner in the United States, and they’ll tell you football is not just a sport — it’s deeply entwined with their livelihood. NFL and college football games connect communities, bringing fans together to eat good food and share an exciting experience (such as yelling at the television together).
With the right planning, restaurants and bars can tap into this momentum and build their own loyal following of fans. Treat each game like a mini holiday by creating tailored menus and offering NFL- or college-themed football promotions to help boost sales.
Football season is a major driver of traffic and revenue for many bars, pubs, and restaurants, including sales for dine-in and delivery orders. In 2023 alone, the estimated consumer spending on football’s biggest weekend in the US was $16.5 billion. To get a piece of this pie, restaurant operators can make football season work to their advantage — and that starts with brainstorming football promo ideas.
DoorDash is putting significant financial resources into football season promotion, including a major custom game day ad, and merchants should be prepared to get into the action.
Ideas for NFL and college football promotions
To make the most of big sporting events, you’ll want to start the season off strong by implementing creative football promo ideas. These can range from online advertising to iconic restaurant or sports bar menu items. Here are four strategies to get the ball rolling:
1. Social media marketing
Social media is an open forum for your promotional content. It’s also a great (and free!) way to spread necessary information, like a change in your menu or which games you’ll be playing on TV. Create buzz for your venue by posting across social platforms and sharing team-specific content and countdowns to game days. Whether you’re a huge pub or a small sports bar, the social media strategy stays the same: Keep a consistent posting schedule, publish quality content, and stay on-brand. See the Restaurant Marketing Calendar & Toolkit for detailed strategies you can try.
2. Menu specials
Special menus create hype around popular events and give you the opportunity to showcase themed dishes. Just be sure to update DoorDash with your limited-edition menu. Here are a few restaurant, pub, and sports bar menu ideas:
Theme your menu after your town’s college football team or mascot
Name dishes after famous players or football-related terms, like Scrimmage Sliders or Touchdown Tacos
Help your takeout customers bring the tailgate party experience home with shareable menu items such as beer specials, appetizer platters, or barbeque favorites
Offer game day discounts on high-margin dishes
For delivery menu tips during football season, take inspiration from other successful game day menus, and don't hesitate to explore specialized appetizers, themed drinks, desserts, and more. A thoughtfully designed football food menu attracts fans, improves the game day experience, and can be used in your promotional content.
Promotion leading up to a big football game can help build hype while placing your venue squarely in the minds of your customers. Try hosting NFL or college football trivia events before big game days to soft-launch promotional dishes or delivery menus. You can also offer trivia questions and prizes through your social media accounts to encourage engagement and promote upcoming offers.
4. Offer giveaways
Nothing gets fans more involved than free swag. Host a contest or a giveaway during football season to drive restaurant sales. Your contest prize can be as simple as free chicken wings or a team jersey, as big as a big-screen TV, or as feel-good as a donation to a charity of the winner's choice. Buy one get one free (BOGO) offers are always popular at restaurants. DoorDash partners can run Promotions to target customers with enticing offers like $0 delivery or discounted items.
Preparing for game day delivery orders
The additional volume of takeout and delivery orders during a busy event day does have the potential to sideline your kitchen, but don’t stress. You can streamline your menu and improve efficiencies by only offering the best-selling, most efficient, and most profitable items. Prioritize dishes that are quick to prepare and easy to package to keep your kitchen running smoothly
A few hours before the game starts, we lower the availability of our menu for third-party delivery. This enables us to cook in larger quantities with less variables, resulting in faster order fulfillment. We also challenge our team members to not turn off or slow down third-party delivery — often this is a knee jerk reaction that is not good for the business, and can be avoided with proper planning.
Here are a few more tips on handling the influx of game day delivery orders:
Streamline your menu and improve efficiency by only offering the best-selling, most efficient, and most profitable items.
Train your team on DoorDash prior to a big game day
Keep avoidable cancellations low with easy-to-execute and easy-to-prepare orders
Avoid missing or incorrect orders paying extra attention to the packing process
Add menu photos before game day, which can help boost sales. In fact, menus with item photos can get up to 44% more monthly sales, based on an April-June 2022 DoorDash study of over 15,000 small restaurants.
If you have a tablet and are getting overwhelmed with orders, use the Busy Kitchens feature to add more prep time to each order If you don’t have a tablet and get so busy you can't fulfill orders, you can temporarily pause deliveries in the Merchant Portal and resume them as soon as you’re able to handle the increased volume.
How to increase delivery order size during football season
When you’ve got a busy night ahead of you, you want all of your ticket sizes to be as substantial as possible. Here are a few ways you can increase your delivery order size:
Guess what pairs well with a big game? A cold beer. By offering alcohol delivery alongside your menu, you can bump up those delivery order sizes — and your profit margins. Plus, alcohol orders don’t have to be prepped by your kitchen, so it’s a surefire way of increasing ticket sizes without strain on the line.
It’ll help to boost customer satisfaction, too. The last thing someone watching the game at home wants to do is head out on a beer run during the second quarter. Check your city’s alcohol regulations, and sign up to offer alcohol delivery on DoorDash.
Minimum order size promos
Encourage larger food orders by offering discounts or free items when customers hit a minimum order size. Promotions like this are easy to set up — DoorDash partners can simply log into the Merchant Portal and navigate to the Marketing tab to launch a campaign.
Give fans the gift of not having to plan by putting together a football party package of game day appetizers or meals. Bundled deals have the advantage of letting your kitchen staff better anticipate orders and create large batches of menu items.
Football season is a super opportunity
The massive popularity of football brings a major opportunity to drive restaurant sales. From menu optimization to special offerings to increased promotion, restaurants can up their game for greater customer engagement and revenue.
Ready to sign up with DoorDash? Try Marketplace to offer pickup and delivery to football fans in your area.