While it doesn’t get much slower than lockdown, no restaurant can sit idle and not plan for the future. While we fully expect a surge of customers visiting The Stone Grill once lockdown ends, there will inevitably be periods of quiet.
It is those periods we turn our attention to today.
What can restaurants do to attract customers once that initial surge has subsided and things begin returning to normal?
Here are a few ideas.
Parties and events
If you have the space and the amenities, hosting birthday parties, graduations, sweet sixteens and other events can all keep the money coming in. If you have the right kind of venue, you should have a pool of companies, families and individuals all wanting to celebrate something.
The good thing with parties and events is that there is something for every time of year!
Most of us have seen those little cards coffee shops used to give away. Buy a coffee, get a stamp. Get ten stamps, get a free coffee. It was basic but it worked. Restaurants could do something similar.
Buy five steak dinners, get a free drink or visit five times and one person eats free. Whatever type of loyalty program you want to introduce, they are relatively cheap to set up, free to promote on social media and can be very effective.
You could also use a similar reward program for referrals. You can use social media to promote bring a friend, refer a friend by email or something else. Offering some kind of enticement for someone to refer a friend and you should see fast take up of this kind of offer.
That would be especially true if you used social or an app. Then it’s effortless for someone to refer a friend and easy for you to add them to your email list at the same time!
If you have a bar as well as restaurant, offering happy hour with a difference could work wonders. Rather than offering cheap drinks, why not offer half price entrees or unique tasters?
Make them only available within that happy hour time period and make them worth coming out for and they would be a powerful inducement.
Not the cheesy Abba nights or Hits of the 70s nights, more food themed. French cuisine night, tapas night, burger night, steak night, barbecue night and so on. Whatever would fit your target audience without alienating your regulars.
Use a little imagination and you can do a lot to attract trade during traditionally quiet times. Just avoid cliches and the traditional styles of doing things and you should attract a whole new audience, young and old, from all walks of life.
The more interesting and unique you make it, the more attractive it will be!