5 Tips on How a Restaurant Can Combat Holiday Season?

We’re coming to the end of the summer season now — which can be a challenging period for the industry!

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, in some cases you may find that business has slowed and bookings reduced.

With people jetting off abroad or hitting up festivals, eating out can be one of the first luxuries to take a hit. Many restaurants find that bookings are few and far between as the height of summer arrives. Don’t worry there is plenty that can be done to cut back costs, attract business and utilise this time to plan for the future — let’s explore!

5 Tips

1. Temporarily cut down on menu options

Why? It’s a quick and simple step to take to reducing costs whilst not compromising your offering. This will straight away reduce your food purchasing costs but it also has a bigger impact by reducing staff costs.

If you bring your mains from 10 options down to 6 you will have fewer food costs, less kitchen prep time so fewer staff on duty — all saving you money.

Of course you must consider what to remove and there is never a harm in crunching some numbers, but go with the obvious choices — cut menu options that aren’t popular or don’t return a high margin.

2. Alter your opening hours

It’s straight forward and there is no shame is shutting your doors on your slowest day of the week if the return isn’t higher than the cost. If you want to remain open cut back your operational hours, we’ve seen restaurants save thousands by closing an hour early or opening an hour later.

Where to start — look at your slowest days and look at the times when bookings are low. Let’s say Monday to Thursday there are limited bookings between 5:30–6:30pm and the same for 9:00–10:00pm and you incur losses over these times.

Open from 6:30pm from Monday to Thursday, announce it on digital media e.g “New August Summer Hours for much needed rest :-)”. If you typically have 3 servers on service for these 4 days costing £6.70 an hour you’ve straight away saved £20 a day, £80 a week and £320 a month. Close an hour early also and those savings double and that’s just servers.

Reducing costs with no negative brand impact and freeing up funds that can be put aside for a rainy day or into customer acquisition and marketing campaigns.

3. Host events in the business

Feeling the tumbleweed on a Tuesday night during your restaurant’s off-peak season? This could be the perfect time to host an event or two!

Using digital media as your open invite, create a once-off or series of unique events that bring people into your space with tasty food and entertainment. This can work especially well if your restaurant is international cuisine, allowing you to educate customers about the background and relevance of popular dishes.

Know some up and coming local musicians? Hosting a weekly session gives both them and your business exposure — with some guaranteed Instagram stories from friends and family attending at least!

Always encourage guests to tag the restaurant and event hashtag in posts, and don’t forget to share a few snaps yourself!

4. Social Media Offers & Competitions Drum Up Excitement

There’s nothing like a social media competition or exclusive offer to get people clicking. If bookings are drying up, you can put some energy into engaging with loyal and potential new customers with a nice payoff for your business.

Giving away a simple dinner for two, or a free starter mid-week, may not seem like a good way to make money — but we’ve analysed hundreds if not thousands of social media competitions and the vast majority of the time restaurants see an uplift in business due to the brand exposure of a good social media competition.

You can tailor these competitions to achieve different objectives — new Facebook Page likes, likes & shares, email opt-ins, or bookings. The power is in your hands so make sure you choose the rules to suit your needs.

5. Utilise this slow period to plan ahead

While we’re still in the Summer months Christmas is slowly beginning to creep up and as it’s the most lucrative time of year for the industry you need to be prepared.

Get your Christmas offering in order; define your hours and get them on your website, will you be offering set menus? If so add them to your website. Have staff taken their holiday days? You don’t want staff on leave during the busiest time of year! If you cater for large groups how do you plan on attracting them?-Leverage this time to plan and maximise the busiest time of the year.

Now you have to think about how you are going to share your Christmas offering and attract bookings — Now that you’ve reduced costs and freed up some budget you can begin to look at your marketing options to generate Christmas bookings and promote your offering.

That’s just an example of Christmas, it’s not to say you can’t work on campaigns and offers to maximise the September period when the kids are back to school and the summer is over.

Conclusion

There is a lot that can be done in a short time frame to help with slow periods, a few operational changes can save money which can in turn be used to drive new and repeat business for your restaurant. Not everyone feels the pinch this time of year but the above isn’t just relevant to slow periods. It can be applied at any time to increase your business performance. Don’t wait, take action!

What’s next?

Next week we will be exploring the importance of email marketing for restaurants and how to rebuild your list after the introduction of GDPR.

Socio Local — Restaurant Marketing Experts