Having amazing peak periods with filled tables and happy customers is fantastic. But making sure you don't lose all those profits on your slow days is an arduous task and one of the biggest struggles for restaurant owners. And, unfortunately, more and more eateries are now choosing to close during their slow days in order to cut costs and increase profits overall. However, research shows that if regular customers turn up to eat and you're closed, they're often frustrated and not likely to come back again.
So, don't give up the battle just yet. Try and fight through those tough days with some inspirational tactics. We have compiled some helpful ideas and tips which could help your restaurant stay afloat during the slowest restaurant days of the year. Our ideas are:
- Consider Delivery Options
- Create Specially-Targeted Events
- Try Cutting Costs
- Create Offers And Promotions
But before we dive into these ideas, when are the typically slow days of the year for restaurants?
The Slowest Restaurant Days Of The Year
Day of the week
Most studies and reports from other restaurant owners say that the slowest restaurant days are Mondays and Tuesdays. The social suggestion is, then, that most people are feeling too tired and are suffering from post-weekend blues to consider going out to eat on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Month of the year
September is generally referred to as being the slowest month over the whole year. Families are trying to get themselves and their children back into the school routine and therefore don't have the energy to eat out very much during this month. And, of course, the summer holiday is usually a big expenditure for families, whether through time off work, paying for childcare providers or going on trips. So, many feel they need to tighten their belts during September.
A big thing to consider is not to take these findings at face value. Each restaurant is different as their context is unique - location, menu, price and customers etc. Your business might be within a big student hub, meaning daytime sales are unusually good, whereas Friday and Saturday nights are lower due to students preferring to go to pubs and clubs on those nights. You should trust your own traffic and the revenue you're drawing in on different days over the generic restaurant findings. Do your own research and trust yourself.
There is a growing trend of restaurant quality food to be delivered. So much so that startups like Deliveroo are booming. Consider taking advantage of this trend and mitigate your fixed costs of opening in quiet periods by operating a delivery service.
You could just do this solely during the quiet first few days of the week when people are too tired to get dressed up and sit in a restaurant. But would love being able to order from a restaurant they know and eat at home, in front on the television, in their pyjamas and catching up on the latest box sets.
Image source: Birmingham Updates
Consider the type of people you do get visiting your restaurant in non-peak times and target them with events. For example, you might get a good amount of mothers and toddlers. So, you could create parent and child events on those slow days such as a mother and baby brunch, a toddler cake-eating afternoon event or anything similar to get that demographic through your door.
Image source: Flickr
During your slow days, go over your books and find out what you need to get rid of during those times to stay cash positive. You don't want to be wasting your peak time profits on funding the slow times and then not having a good turnover at the end of your financial year. So, you need to find ways to reduce expenditure during your restaurant's slow periods. Whether it's through cutting down your menu or the amount of staff you have on shift, you need to cut every expense possible, but don't go mad as to ruin the experience for customers.
Look at historic earnings for your off-peak times. Work out your costs for that time and try to reduce the costs to the point that you're breaking even at least, if not cash positive. That way, you can enjoy the earnings from your peak times and not funnel those funds into unneeded off-peak operations.
Coming up with promotions which are limited to your off-peak days, say Monday to Thursday, is a great way to incentivise visits during those times. It might seem counterproductive to give items away for cheaper during times when every penny counts, but if it gets more people through your doors, it's definitely worth it.
A good way to combat those uneasy feelings for offers during these times is by only offering promotions for items with greater profit margins. For example, alcohol usually gives better margins than food. It might seem really risky but it really does help improve the number of customers dining at restaurants. In fact, this study found that 8 in 10 consumers will visit a restaurant in off-peak times, only if they receive a discount. If you provide good food and service, they might just end up coming back during peak time, too.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to off-peak promotions is to make sure you promote to current customers during your peak times. Little ads on the tables or putting out a pavement board with your offer on is a good strategy. Whatever you decide to offer, it's not going to work if people don't know you're offering it. So make sure you plug it everywhere you can.
All of these ideas provide fantastic inspiration to turn around those slow days. However, none of these ideas will help much if your restaurant is unsafe. Ensuring the safety of your staff is paramount to the smooth running of your restaurant. Whether its waitstaff, chefs, hostesses or even yourself, you all need to be protected from slips, trips and falls, which are the most common workplace injury in the UK.
Are You Protected Through The Slow Days and The Peak Days?
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