What to do now to prepare yourself for Summer, and better your business now
The foodservice industry is perhaps one of the industries most effected by seasonal changes. During the summer people are more likely to eat out at restaurants and cafes, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. During the winter, fast food and quick service venues may thrive, but often dine-in restaurants experience a slump as customers head home to the comfort of their couch.
During the cold winter months (or, indeed, the summer months if your venue is in a snow town for example) restaurants should assess their strategies – from marketing and menu development to staff – to ensure they are making the most of the low-season and not losing money. So, what can you do now to prepare yourself for the high-season while also creating demand in the low-season?
One of the first things to consider is if your restaurant could incorporate delivery options into its menu. With third-party apps like Menulog, Uber Eats and Deliveroo doing the delivery and marketing for you it’s easier than ever to expand your reach in the low-season. A restaurant that offers quick delivery may experience a constant flow of business and then even increase visitors when the weather warms up again and your delivery customers come out of hibernation.
Although your temptation may be to increase demand by incorporating themed nights or specials into your weekly plan for your venue, you really shouldn’t try to create demand when it doesn’t exist. Instead of scrambling desperately to entice new customers to your venue, you should position yourself to take advantage of your already loyal base of regular customers. Regulars often have routines that involve visiting a restaurant at a certain time of the week – ensure you are catering to them. Then, focus on making newer customers regulars as well.
Of course, part of keeping your customers coming back for more is the experience they have while in your venue. Efficient, well-trained and personable staff are the key to every venue’s success. Although you may have to cut down on staff hours during the low season, it is also a great time to work on training them up to become even better when the busy season rolls back around. Invest in them now to reap the rewards in a few months. Happy, well trained staff are more likely to hang around (and treat your customers well).
When it is busy, often you are so run off your feet making sure everything is running smoothly that you don’t have time to consider trying a new product or altering much loved menu items. The low-season is a good time to experiment with new stock orders and figure out how they can be incorporated in to menu items to save you time or money (or both). Have you considered frozen items that take up less space in your kitchen? Or pre-baked bread so you can serve it straight from the oven without having to get up early to bake your own from scratch? You can still serve tasty rustic breads without the effort with products like Speedibake’s Soft Turkish rolls for example. These are all options you will have time to play with in the low-season and perfect before the crowds come flooding back.
Although it is easy to consider the low-season an unprofitable time for foodservice businesses, savvy restauranteurs know that this is the time to perfect their staff, menu, stock and new processes while the pressure is off. Incorporate some of these into your low-season strategy and reap the rewards when the crowds return.