Best Ways to Attract Customers and Prevent a Summer Restaurant Slowdown6 min read
Restaurants and eateries located in tourism hotspots tend to thrive during the summer months. Venues located in less prominent parts of town, however, could experience a slowdown.
Seasonal slowdowns are nothing unusual in the restaurant industry. Luckily, various strategies can be employed to attract new clients and ensure profitability.
Researchers have long found out that weather affects the volume of customers and the quality of their experience. In the study, 14 weather factors were examined independently of other criteria contributing to the quality of the client experience. Unpleasant weather (rain, cold, intense heat) made people cranky and much less likely to enjoy their meal.
Controlling the dining environment is one of the ways to drive clients to your restaurant during the summer. Below, we take a look at some of the best strategies any restaurant owner or manager can implement during the summer to get passers-by to visit their venue and become loyal customers.
Spruce It Up for the Summer
Patio dining and comfortable outdoor seating can boost restaurant revenue. You can do numerous things to create a beautiful and enjoyable outdoor space for your customers:
- Create an urban garden
- Plant greenery around the perimeter of the patio to create a separate dining space
- Offer rooftop dining under the stars
- Use water creatively to make the space cooler (fountains, water mist systems)
- Offer chic urban sidewalk seating (patio umbrellas are a must)
Statistics show that such efforts will pay off. Comfortable outdoor seating can increase restaurant revenue by an average of 30 percent. The investment required to create an outdoor space will yield a high return on investment and you don’t have to carry out a complete overhaul to get the desired results.
Remodeling the interior to make it cooler is also essential in the summer heat. Ceiling fans, greenery, vases of flowers and proper ventilation will bring the summer inside without making your clients hot and bothered.
Enable Effortless Online and Self-Ordering
When people are hot and uncomfortable, they will be even less willing to wait a long time to receive service. Technology comes to the rescue. The introduction of the right tech solutions can reduce interactions with restaurant staff members and ensure a quick and efficient service.
Self-ordering is easy, readily available and it puts the customer in charge. When you install a self-order kiosk, you give clients the chance to explore the menu, order and receive their service in a timely manner.
In addition, you can benefit from increased online ordering during the summer. People who are too hot to go out and dine at a restaurant may still want to enjoy your high-quality food. Online ordering and ordering options through mobile apps can keep the level of orders high in the summer heat.
Statistics show that revenue from the online food delivery segment will reach $107,438 million in 2019. The compound annual growth rate will remain high, at 9.9 percent by 2023. Statistics also indicate that U.S. consumers prefer online food ordering. It’s the method of preference for 52 percent of people.
The introduction of the right system will provide a fast and reliable service your clients will love. In addition, it will collect valuable data about client preferences to help you enhance service quality.
Offer Summer Promotions and Loyalty Programs
Attracting new clients during the summer is a great idea. Rewarding your loyal clients is even better. There are dozens of games, sweepstakes and promotional programs you can launch during the summer:
- Tasting events (especially if you launch a new summer menu)
- Free desserts or an amuse bouche for loyal clients
- A reward program that has clients collecting points with each visit – the points can then be turned into a reward of preference
- An app-based or an online reward program that allows clients to check progress
- Earning a free meal after a specific number of paid visits
- A referral program that rewards people who bring friends to the restaurant venue
- Free food delivery for loyal clients
You can base the reward program around summer specials, ice cream and conveniences people may enjoy during the hot summer months.
Once again, the technology you use at the restaurant will help you collect data about your loyal clients to base the promotional offers and loyalty programs upon.
Partner Up with Local Tourist Attractions
Bringing tourists to your restaurant is one of the easiest options for keeping the volume of transactions high during the summer. Referrals from local hotels, entertainment venues, bars, museums, art galleries and amusement parks can be invaluable.
Get in touch with the owners and the staff at these tourist venues. Discuss the possibility of offering a discount to their guests. If possible, feature brochures and menus on the reception to get tourists exploring your offerings.
Local retailers who service foreign clients can also be a great help.
Craft a Special Summer Menu
The food you offer during the summer will also determine whether people will visit the restaurant often. Some reputable, well-established restaurants feature the same menu year-round. They, however, are missing on the opportunity to bring something new, fresh and exciting to the table.
A few great choices you may want to include in a summer menu (depending on the type of cuisine you offer) include:
- Cold soups and appetizers
- Local and seasonal ingredients
- A wide selection of salads
- Lean proteins (fish, chicken)
- Seafood (especially if you have a source of fresh fish and other types of seafood in the area)
- Smoothies, lemonade, iced tea
- Homemade ice-cream
- Beer, especially if you can start offering refreshing craft beer varieties
Don’t underestimate the power of seasonal menus. Once you launch yours, do an online marketing campaign to reach a bigger number of people and advertise the new offerings.
A Few Other Ideas
You can do numerous other things to bring people to your restaurant this summer:
- Offer pet-friendly seating options
- Host special events and offer summertime entertainment (live music)
- Offer seasonal hours (depending on the volume of orders, you can decide to reduce operational time in the hot months – if you do, announce the information effectively and let your current clients know)
- Launch new products/limited edition offers to test them out in the summer and attract new client demographics
- Hold pop-up events in different parts of town
- Organize themed nights like a wine tasting night, meet the chef night, etc.
- Host fundraisers and become engaged in social causes
Restaurant slowdowns can be difficult to deal with but they could also provide excellent growth opportunities.
Summer is a great season for new product launches. You can also offer new services like summer parties, live music nights or even catering. If these are met favorably by your regulars, the time may be right to modify or even expand restaurant operations and turn the test services into regular offerings.
Occasionally, you will experience slow days. Think about optimizing staffing and operations during this part of the year. Some of your efforts may not pay off. In that case, you’ll have to focus on reducing expenses in order to survive.
Summer can be a wonderful time for your restaurant if you have a strategy in place. The sooner you start conceptualizing your plan, the better results you’re going to get. Rely on information about the clients that you’ve been collecting year-round and you’ll definitely make the right choices.