There’s nothing worse as a restaurant manager or owner than looking out at the floor and seeing an almost empty restaurant. Those empty tables means an even tighter profit margin for the week or month, which could mean trouble down the road. Developing a strategy for filling up your restaurant during the slower hours or days of the week could be the key to your overall success.
Here are are 5 pointers to keeping your restaurant full throughout all your open hours.
1. Identify low points in traffic
The first step to developing any strategy is figuring out where the weak points are. Take a dive into your POS (Point of Sale) system to determine when the traffic is slowest. Note what day of the week and what time so you can better plan and understand your traffic.
2. Do your market research
Do your guests typically order a coffee with their meal? What is the most popular menu item that keeps bringing people back to your restaurant? Find out what people love and make an offer out of it. Caution: before you go applying discounts to popular items make sure you do your due diligence. Calculate the cost of those items and what number you can not go under in order to still turn a profit.
3. Run targeted specials
If you are breakfast restaurant consider running an Early Bird Special for those super early risers from 6am-8am, before the rest of the world is probably even awake. If you are open all day and need to boost your mid-morning or mid-afternoon, consider a happy hour. Happy hour doesn’t have to involve alcohol; it could be any type of discount. Maybe it’s $1 off any beverage or discounted popular menu items.
For these specialized offers don’t over fret about over discounting. If you’ve already done your number crunching and research from step 2, you should be ok. You can bet that those guests coming in for the specials will come back at other points in the week for full price menu items, spread the word to their friends, or order off the regular menu even during your “happy hour.”
4. Host business meetings
If you have particularly slow Tuesday mornings and have a room for meetings in your restaurant, reach out to local businesses for them to have their meetings with you. Being the monthly meeting spot for a business not only means filling your restaurant during slow hours but also means guaranteed monthly business. Win win!
5. Community outreach
Consider also reaching out to schools or local organizations. Taking a peek at Meetup.com is a great resource for this. Is there a book club, knitting group, Mommy & Me, or Spanish language group that could meet at your restaurant? Again, that could be not only another touchpoint in your community but also weekly or monthly guaranteed revenue.
Making sure your floor is full isn’t a totally daunting task. Break up these pointers into a To Do list and do one a day or week. Dive into your POS, crunch your numbers, develop offers, and reach out to your community. 4 steps to getting you closer to your goals.