The summer holiday period is undoubtedly the busiest time of year for the hospitality industry. Many other businesses shut down over the Christmas break so the number of potential customers flowing into local restaurants, cafes and other eateries expands significantly.
As a foodservice operator there’s no better time to think about how you can capitalise on this busy season and maximise the number of patrons that visit your business. Updating your restaurant is essential almost every time the season changes, but especially so in the warmer weather. Let’s take a look at six ways you can increase sales during summer.
1. Offer Summer Discount Deals
This is pretty straightforward: everyone likes a bargain, so one of the most effective ways to attract patrons to your business is to drop your prices. Easier said than done though, right? Well, this doesn’t have to be across the board. Think things like free refills on cold drinks or limited time two-for-one offers on main meals. Extended happy hour deals are always a winner if you serve alcoholic beverages, and maybe consider including some ‘mocktails’ for those who don’t like to imbibe.
The key here is balance. You don’t want to cut into your profit margins by offering staggering deals all day every day, so a good way to approach this kind of thing is to look at times when your business is typically quieter, and aim to draw in more customers by offering them enticing discount deals during these periods.
Another way you might reduce the impact on your bottom line is to offer special prices on menu items containing fresh ingredients that keep for shorter periods of time in the hotter months. By introducing promotions on these items you can cut down on waste at the same time you increase sales.
2. Freshen Up Your Menu
Drum up excitement with some fresh and interesting summer inspired menu items. From speciality drinks that incorporate delicious seasonal fruits, to light and nutritious salads that are as much a feast for the eyes as they are the taste buds, there’s plenty of ways you can get customers excited to visit your restaurant, cafe or bar.
If you primarily serve pizza, for example, you might consider spicing things up with a delicious antipasto platter loaded with grilled vegetables, seafood, olives, cured meats and cheese. The added bonus here is that you’ll probably have many of these ingredients on hand from pizza toppings.
There’s no need to completely reinvent the wheel, but patrons will almost always favour lighter, more refreshing menu items in the hotter months. A cold gazpacho soup will sell better (and be easier and quicker to prepare) than a thick, hearty beef stew in the middle of summer.
3. Do It For The Kids
Many businesses shut down over summer, but all schools across the country close their doors, leaving thousands of parents looking for kid-friendly options across the holiday period. By offering a kids menu at a low price point, you can ensure that the entire family gets what they want while encouraging parents to spend just that little bit more on their own meal.
Kids are full of energy, so it’s also a good idea to consider some activities you might be able to introduce to keep them occupied while parents, friends and older siblings relax and enjoy their meals. Colouring books and crayons are an obvious first choice for a simple and inexpensive addition to almost any venue. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you might think about hosting kid-focused events like face painting or even kid’s bingo.
4. Spread The Word Online
It used to be that being ‘online’ simply referred to having your own business website, or at least signing up for a free Yellow Pages listing, but these days the online world is a much more complex place. There’s numerous ways to promote your business online so to keep things simple here’s two elements that will have the most impact.
First and foremost make sure your business appears correctly on the king of all search engines, Google. If you haven’t already, head over to the Google My Business portal, register your business details and your venue will start appearing in search results and on Google Maps when locals search for nearby eateries. There are a number of ways you can improve your results here, but one immediate way to boost your profile over summer is to add any limited time offers, meal discounts and special events to your business profile so they appear next to your listing in search results.
Secondly, you’re going to need a social media presence. Like it or not these days patrons frequently share their dining experiences with others on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You’ll want to encourage this as every post gets shared with your patron’s friend lists, exposing your business to more and more potential customers.
Facebook is useful for curating customer reviews, communicating directly with patrons (happy or unhappy, there’s value in both kinds of communication) and promoting your discount deals and special events. Instagram is a much more visual medium, so this is where you’ll want to spend a little time each week building up your own collection of imagery by sharing photos of your summer special menu items. Promote your social media accounts with physical signs around your venue and encourage visitors to tag your business in their posts.
5. Head Outdoors
if you’ve got an outdoor space that can hold additional customers when the weather’s nice, summer is the perfect time to make full use of it. Review your seating and decor, and think about what you might be able to improve. New plants, flowers, vases and cheerful umbrellas are some things you might consider to breath new life into the space.
If you don’t have an outdoor space, consider how you can increase air flow and create a light, breezy atmosphere indoors. Maybe it’s ordering some colourful tablecloths, perhaps it’s a new tabletop drink sign with your new summer beverages. Even a vase with a new flower arrangement each week for your ordering counter can bring some much needed summer cheer to your establishment.
6. Chill Out With The Right Refrigeration
There’s nothing better on a hot day than cooling off with an ice cool drink so the last thing you want to do is to disappoint thirsty patrons by serving them lukewarm beverages over summer. Now is a good time to take a closer look at your refrigeration equipment and ice machines to make sure everything is working as it should. This includes thoroughly cleaning the units inside and out and checking components like the condenser coil and air filters to make sure they’re in good condition.
If any of this equipment is under-performing or you just don’t think it’ll be up to the task over summer, it might be time to invest in some new fridges or ice machines. With flexible finance options like Silver Chef’s Rent-Try-Buy you don’t need to cover the full price of this new machinery up front, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you think it’s time to upgrade. While you’re here, take a look at our full range of commercial refrigeration by clicking the link below.