Winter is coming. How to keep your restaurant in the green during the winter months.
As a business owner or operator you’ve got the ability to control most things in your restaurant, however, the weather is out of your hands. While summer encourages alfresco dining and long lunches, cooler weather makes customers shelter at home, snuggled under a blanket with Netflix and take away.
So, with Jack Frost knocking at the door it’s time to prepare for what traditionally is the quietest period on the dining calendar. Here are a few tips that will prevent your restaurant from slumping into a state of wintry hibernation and keep it buzzing through the colder months.
- Target specific audiences. Filter your electronic customer database by dining date, and target diners who booked with you last winter. Make them feel special by tailoring your message specifically to them, inviting them back to enjoy your new wintry menu or winter special. You can use tools like MyGuestList to help manage your communications more effectively and target the right kind of customer.
- Create dining incentives. Restaurants are generally busy on weekends so it’s important to try and fill weekday services. Devise a yield management strategy to encourage diners to eat out during the week. Offer wintery lunches or weekly evening specials, set up a recurring trivia night or hold a series of wine evenings – anything to make you stand out and get more bums on seats.
- Capitalise on group bookings. Group bookings and functions are an easy way to fill your restaurant and generate revenue. Ensure you have an attractive functions package and let people know about it. Advertise on social media and think about connecting with local businesses to them know about your function and group capabilities.
- Focus on corporate clientele. Regardless of the temperature corporates need to socialise all year around. Make your restaurant easy to access by enabling online bookings. Online platforms are often preferred by corporates as they can reserve a table quickly (without a phone call) or instruct their PA to make a quick booking on their behalf. Once you have them in your restaurant treat them royalty to turn each diner into a repeat customer.
- Be an early bird. With fewer daylight hours available customers dine out earlier. Try opening up 30 minutes earlier during the winter months in order to capitalise on those customers who are looking to grab an early evening meal. Consider a ‘happy hour’ special to entice people through your doors.
- Warm things up. When the wind is howling and there’s frost on the car, diners want something cosy and comforting. Warm up your decor with a few candles, some new hearty menu items and some snuggly rugs. Make your restaurant a comfortable haven from the cold.
- Be street smart. If your doesn’t generate much revenue during winter then you need to be sensible with your finances and broader business operations. Examine spend, annual leave and staffing to ensure you’re being smart with your money.
- Winter is coming. The cooler weather is inevitable, so why not use it to your advantage. Think about seasonal activities that you can capitalise on: Christmas in July, end of financial year, winter
solstice. Create a bespoke menu or promotion and advertise it to your database. Get creative and have some fun.
Dimmi is the nation’s largest provider of online restaurant bookings backed by the world’s biggest travel review company, TripAdvisor. Dimmi offers R&CA members reservations management software, a profile on their iconic website and app, marketing exposure through partners such as Qantas Restaurants, Good Food & American Express, yield management solutions and the business intelligence needed to support growth.