The colder months come with a decrease in foot traffic. This can be tough for any retail business, including restaurants. Fortunately for us, there are quite a few trends that make it possible for restaurant operators to keep warm through the winter. Here are 3 easy ways to attract business this season, no matter what’s falling from the sky.
1. Warm Up
Many restaurant operators update the menus to include seasonal specials every few months. This ongoing practice is a great way to keep guests engaged. Even your most loyal fans will be consistently surprised and impressed by your latest creations. At this time of year, give them something to look forward to with dishes that warm them up from the inside. It might be too late for pumpkin spice lattes – so why not serve up minty hot chocolate? If you run a bar, you can offer any number of hot, boozy drinks, from hot toddies to Irish coffee. For restaurants, this is a great time to dish up soup, chili, or even shepherd’s pie. Comfort food gives your guests a reason to come in; great service gives them a reason to stay.
2. Take Out
Perhaps the best trend for restaurants in areas like the Northeast or the Midwest, where winter can be a real menace, is the uptick in online ordering. Your guests might get so cold they don’t want to go out to a restaurant or even a grocery store. This is the perfect opportunity for you to deliver. Connect with guests through a loyalty app, and make sure your website is easily searchable for new customers. It’s especially lucrative to add a feature where guests can order online directly from you, instead of going through a third-party app like GrubHub.
3. Deal Them In
For restaurants that still see some foot traffic, deals are a great way to attract new business. If you run a café in a shopping district, for example, consider putting specials of the day on a chalkboard just outside your door. For guests who find you online, limited-time offers (LTOs) are another great way to attract immediate business. Create a sense of urgency, and customers will find reasons to come to you.
4. Something to Celebrate
January and February are long, dismal months in the cold. From New Year’s to Valentine’s Day, there’s not a lot going on. This can leave your guests with nothing to do, and few reasons to venture out into the cold. Why not throw a party? Celebrate MLK Day in style. Host the local knitting club. Invite a band to play. Any reason to celebrate during this time of year is a good reason to host a large group of people. Not only will they be delighted to see each other after so long; they’ll also be happy to spend the money they’ve saved since the holidays. Everybody wins!
It might be cold outside, but restaurants have always been powerful community gathering spots. If you can encourage guests to have fun during these difficult months, then you’ll have a long list of loyal fans by the time the sun returns.