Every restaurant has those “slow days” where the once steady stream of customers has slowed down to a mere trickle. For larger restaurant franchises, they can afford to have some slow times, but for a smaller restaurant, a good day and a slow day can mean the difference between paying rent and your suppliers on time or not. One of the biggest marketing tools to combat this is to offer discounts, but when you are already toeing the line, it seems a little counterproductive, doesn’t it? When those slow days strike, why not try some of these marketing strategies out?
Reach Out to Local Groups
You can introduce your business to a number of potential return customers by being the host to some of the local clubs in your town. This can be something small like the book club to something more established like the Rotary Club. Often, you can make yourself more appealing by offering small discounts like free drinks, but for many clubs it is enough to ask them to support a local business in order to get them to pay a visit.
When they do arrive, be sure to offer them an area with enough privacy to conduct their going-ons. They will certainly appreciate the special treatment.
Live music doesn’t just bring people in, particularly family and friends there to support the band, but it causes people to linger. They stop and enjoy a second cup of coffee, maybe a dessert, because they are intrigued by the music. There are likely plenty of local bands looking for a place to get their sound out there, too.
Dabble in Take Out
You don’t need to put your entire menu as a takeout option, but it has never hurt to create a takeout dinner or lunch option that comes packaged up and ready to travel. Consider packing up your best selling dishes or creating something new and easy to eat specially for the promotion. It won’t entice people to stay, but it may convince them to return later for a proper sit down. This can be particularly lucrative for coffee shops where people often don’t come for a full meal, but do find that they would like some lunch to travel with their coffee.
You know how every fall businesses go a bit batty with the pumpkin spice? There is a good reason for that. People like pumpkin spice, yes, but they take advantage of it because they can only get it in the fall. It is the same reason the Shamrock Shake and McRib are so popular at McDonalds. Seasonal promotions can be something as simple as putting out the pumpkin spice muffins in fall to something more complex like creating your own McRib-type product. Whatever your seasonal product is, it has to be good and something that people will wait for once it is gone.
If your local area has even a small foodie culture, special tasting nights can mean big business, particularly if you can procure artisan ingredients cheaply. Whether it is wine, cider, coffee, or cheeses, people (particularly foodies) like to try new things and will pay just to attend. You can also ally yourself with local artisan producers who may offer you a discount if you represent their brand.
While all these little tips to combat slow days can be effective, sometimes you can try them all and not have much success. Running a restaurant is a battle and occasionally an uphill one. However, providing your product is good, the people will come. Sometimes they just haven’t discovered you yet.