Mondays and Tuesdays are the quietest restaurant days of the week, according to Shoes For Crews. Meanwhile, sales are typically slow in January when consumers are feeling the post-holiday pinch and September when the kids return to school and the summer holidays have left a hole in the nation’s pockets. As a restaurant owner, this can be worrying news as a dip in sales can make or break a business; but fear not, as these tips will keep customers coming through your doors and your sales sky-high all year-round.
Offer a freebie
Consumers, including diners, love receiving freebies, so it makes sense to offer some great freebies during your quietest periods to lure customers in. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, either, as research shows that most consumers prefer to receive 25% more of something rather than 25% off.
For this reason, consider giving a free side, free drink, or even a free dessert with every main meal purchased. Another great way to entice diners into your restaurant on slow-business days is to offer a free kid’s meal with every adult meal. This is a very successful method for restaurants, including Back Yard Burgers, Denny’s, Holiday Inn, and Jason’s Deli who all provide free meals to youngsters on various days of the week.
Give a special discount
Discount codes are frequently given to diners to award them with 25% off their food bill when they spend $50 or similar. A great way to encourage people to dine with you when it’s quiet is to limit the time the voucher can be used for and state in the terms and conditions that they’ll only qualify for the discount when the voucher is presented on a Tuesday, for example.
There’s no need to be concerned about your profits taking a dip by giving tens of customers a hefty discount as evidence suggests that discount coupons encourage people to spend more than they otherwise would have. In fact, 63% of people say that they’ve bought something they didn’t want or need just because they had a coupon for it.
Keep your doors open
It can be tempting to close your restaurant business during quiet periods to avoid paying out on wages, heating, electricity, and other day-to-day running costs. However, this can be detrimental to your business as research shows that if a customer turns up and you’re closed, they won’t come back.
Instead, it’s wise to stay open and think of cost-cutting methods to reduce your losses. Rather than offering a full menu on Monday, you could simply have a grazing or snack menu available so that people who still want to dine in your restaurant can enjoy an afternoon out with you.
Another option is to open later than you do during busier periods. If you decide to do this, make sure you give plenty of notice to your customers and that your hours are clearly posted outside your restaurant, on social media, your website, and on your Google listing.
When your business is closed, it’s a good idea to utilize the downtime. As you’ll already know, keeping a restaurant clean is a round-the-clock job, but you can enhance the hygiene of your business by having a professional cleaning company regularly tend to your premises.
They will keep everything clean and sanitized to prevent bacteria from spreading from surface to surface. The benefits of cleaning during the day rather than when you close in the evening is that less lighting is required which will keep your costs down, you can be on-site carrying out day-to-day tasks at the same time, and passing customers will see you’re committed to cleanliness which will impress them and persuade them to book a table with you for later in the day when you are open.
Hold an event
Holding various types of events that reach out to different types of clientele is an effective way to boost your restaurant’s sales at even the slowest times of the year. A morning event to consider is one just for parents and tots as this will turn your restaurant into a social hub that attracts those most in need of social interaction.
Simple breakfast and brunch foods, along with tea, coffee, juices, and snacks are recommended for this type of event and you could even invite special guest speakers along.
Quiz nights and special themed nights always go down well, and as people love to get in the team spirit, it’s common for multiple rounds of drinks and endless bar snacks to be purchased during this time.
Other events that work include coffee and cake afternoons, curry evenings, and chef experiences where individuals can have a go at making some of your most-loved dishes themselves. If you do opt for this route, make sure you have the appropriate Restaurant insurance in place and Special Events insurance for your guests to use your tools33 and machinery, and in case there’s an accident on-site.
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Hire your restaurant out as a meeting space
Off-site meetings are becoming more common as some workers find it difficult to book a meeting room at an appropriate time. Research suggests that workers spend an average of 27 hours per year trying to find a meeting room. As many businesses run 9-5 Monday to Friday, turning your restaurant business into one that accommodates meetings is a great way to get more people through your doors on quieter days of the week like Mondays and Tuesdays.
To show you’re serious about welcoming local businesspeople into your restaurant for meetings, have a dedicated space just for these individuals and make sure it’s away from your family dining area. Having the option to pre-order food and drinks is wise, as is having it ready on arrival as this prevents the meeting from being interrupted partway through. You could also offer a discount to local businesses who hold regular meetings in your restaurant, to encourage them and their colleagues to continue heading over to your site for their meetings.
Making sure you offer food and drinks that consumers want, especially at certain times of the year, is the key to staying busy all year round. For example, 45 million Americans go on a diet every year, with many of them starting their health kick in January. So, to ensure you cater to these people’s needs, you need a menu that offers lots of tasty but low-calorie options.
In January, there’s also a growing trend for plant-based food. The UK’s ‘Veganuary’ phenomenon has started gaining momentum in the U.S. over the past few years and it’s looking like it will grow in popularity over the coming years too. By offering up lots of satisfying vegan dishes in your menu at the turn of the year, you’ll please locals that are trying out Veganuary and British travelers who are visiting the area.
It’s inevitable that your restaurant will go through quiet periods. But rather than accepting that this a natural part of your business, it’s best to take action to boost your restaurant sales figures as much as possible. This means thinking outside of the box and offering your customers some new and exciting things, along with utilizing some tried and tested tricks of the trade.
Author Bio: Amy Fletcher is a freelance writer and researcher with a keen interest in business management. In recent years she has written for various online magazines, journals, and blogs. When she's not writing she enjoys long walks with her daughter and two dogs.