Food is seasonal. Everywhere in the world, but especially in places like the Midwest and the Northeast of the US, restaurant guests have different tastes at different times of the year. You probably wouldn’t run a special on hot apple cider in July – but in October, you can bet it will be a very popular drink. The summer is a great time of year to build lasting relationships with guests. They’re out and about, they’re excited to try new things, and if you can catch their attention now, you’re more likely to keep their loyal business when the cold comes rolling in.
For the next two months, your restaurant has the opportunity to celebrate warm weather while building lasting relationships with guests. These strategies will boost your bottom line for the rest of the summer, and keep you (and your guests) warm throughout the year.
When we think of holiday parties, most of us picture Christmas or New Year’s. But the summer is a great time to celebrate anything, from birthdays to Labor Day weekend to your business’s 5-year anniversary. There are a number of ways to stage a successful summer party at your restaurant. You can work with professional event planners and promoters to bring in brand new guests. This strategy is the most effective way to connect with new clients, but also the most expensive option. You may also offer an employee a bonus to plan a special event – whether it’s a baseball game night or a couple’s engagement party. Writing a special menu is a great way to make partygoers feel important – even if you’re just re-naming your regular dishes. A little creativity goes a long way. Remind your guests that you want to celebrate the events that they care about, and they’ll think of you the next time they’re planning a group outing.
‘Tis the Season
Most restaurants offer a seasonal menu. Whether you’re serving up fresh vegetables or sweet summer cocktails, this is a great way to get guests in your door quickly: they never know how long you’ll offer a particular dish. Take your specials to the next level by sharing pictures of them on your website and social media accounts. Phrases like “while supplies last” build in urgency and excitement. If you can cycle through a few hyper-seasonal dishes before the end of the summer, you’ll keep your loyal guests coming back for more.
In the warm weather, everyone is out at the beach, going on road trips, trying new cuisine – and taking pictures of every moment they share. This is the best time of year to mobilize your fans on your behalf. Offer incentives to guests who take pictures of your food, check in at your restaurant, or simply share your posts online. “Take a picture of your dessert, and get a free sundae the next time you come in!” These low-overhead, high-visibility strategies keep your loyal fans excited to interact with you, both online and in person. Even better, they boost your brand and encourage new guests to come in.
As summer draws to a close, be sure you review the success of your warm weather strategies. Which dishes were the most popular? How many likes did you get on social media each week? With proper analysis of your sales data, you can make informed decisions in every season.