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Make the Most of Your Restaurant Business during a Slow Season

Business can fluctuate and unfortunately the restaurant industry is not immune to slow seasons. When the economy is prospering, customer numbers remain steady or increase. Moreover, seasonal changes can have an impact in the restaurant business as well. For instance, during the hottest days of summer or the winter’s frigid temperatures may discourage patrons from visiting your restaurant which can have a drastic effect on your revenue. As difficult and sometimes hopeless as the circumstances may seem, there are ways to keep business running its course even when it come to a standstill.

Update your Restaurant Layout

You can also use this situation as an opportunity to make improvements such as updating your seating layout plan and interior design. Try looking for a reputable commercial furniture manufacturer to help you with your seating needs. Now is the time to step up your game and shine. Renovating your place during this period can work to your advantage as you won’t experience a heavy financial loss if you need to close your restaurant for a couple of days. No matter how trying things may seem, all hope is not lost. Dry spells are not everlasting and business will resume its normal course as before.

Form a Partnership with Local Businesses

Back in 2011, small businesses accounted for approximately $989.6 billion dollars in revenue as there are nearly 28 million small businesses in operation, as reported by Forbes.com. As a restaurateur, you can partner with other small and/or local businesses to develop a strategy that increases revenue and gain capital and flexibility for your dining establishment as recommended by The Company Warehouse. While some owner may find this daunting, reaching out to other businesses can be a win-win situation for you and them. Networking may be tedious at the beginning but the venture may be worth it at the end and therefore worth a try.

Respond to Online Reviews

Bad weather is not what’s only deterring patrons from visiting your restaurant. Lack of customer satisfaction can hurt your business’s character. With social media channels like Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, people can easily submit feedback about your services which may not always be in your favor. It takes courage and maturity to respond to complaints with gratitude and professionalism. Resisting the temptation to respond with indignation towards a negative review that is false may seem impossible. If you are sincerely committed to improving the reputation of your business, it’s best not to be angry, vengeful or single out specific reviewers. Nor is it better to ignore negative feedback in general. Online reviews, especially criticism, should be handled with care and diplomacy. In-store complaints should be dealt with in the same manner. The best way of doing so involves a lot of apologies and empathy.

Include Vegetarian Options in Your Menu

That doesn’t require you to remove meat based dishes from your menu to cater to people with certain food preferences. Nor should you have to. With more people who are becoming health-conscious, providing a minimum of 3 vegetarian options can be just enough to salvage your business during a slow season. Vegetarianism is becoming popular, trendy and cheaper. Healthy dining is fashionable. Consequently, restaurants that don’t offer a meatless option are alienating a large segment of customers. Here are reasons for you to include vegetarian friendly dishes in your menu:

  • Vegetarian options are inclusive of everyone. People who are more carnivorous can enjoy such dishes and their vegetarian/vegan counterparts will have something to eat at your establishment.
  • It’s cost effective insofar that you gain revenue whilst saving money by not only purchasing produce that is affordable but will be utilized as well. It’s easy to create dishes with ingredients you already have.
  • They offer fun challenges to the kitchen staff and a pleasant change of scenery at restaurants.
  • You earn brownie points, especially when you think outside the box to offer something unique and creative to patrons.
  • With vegetarian options, you can possibly attract long-term customers who are more likely to dine at your restaurant more frequently.

Trim the Excess Fat

When business is stagnant, the last thing you want to do is spend more money. In such harrowing situations, restaurant owners are more inclined to make cutbacks from reducing labor costs, eliminating dishes that are no longer ordered, to only investing in high quality restaurant chairs and restaurant tables you won’t have to replace for a while. Even when you encounter a slump, your business hours should remain consistent so your customers will know when you are open for services and when you are not. But if you believe that reducing the hours of operation will have a positive impact on your restaurant, then it should be done. But if you should decide to change your schedule, inform your customers by updating your website to reflect new hours, use third party websites to showcase those hours, and stay consistent with your decision.

Predict Ahead of Time

Before you consider thinking of a new marketing strategy or building a promotion, you need to know when to anticipate slowdowns. Sometimes they are unpredictable and can strike at any given time. While many restaurants depend on the seasonal nature of holidays and vacations to boost sales, slower periods can make it more difficult to accomplish such endeavors. The last thing most restaurateurs want to do is make investments, especially when they are not generating revenue. According to Sky Blue Local, 61 percent of restaurants nationwide have noticed a decline during a holiday or a major event. In some instances, fast food chains can thrive while dine-in restaurants tend to suffer. If and when you should encounter speed bumps, you can take steps to increase sales or minimally keep them at a steady rate during a slow season. Doing so takes some persistence, patience, creativity and perhaps leaving your comfort zone if necessary.