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While the new year is a great way to adopt new ideas, inspire motivation, and plan ahead, it is also an incredibly difficult time for restaurants. The next big holiday for the year is Valentine’s day, and most customers are making promises to themselves to save more money, eat healthier food, be more active, and potentially stay in instead of going out. These resolutions are not only a challenge for your customers but for you as a restaurant owner as well. So how do you turn slow period into an opportunity for growth ? Let’s take a look:

Add New Restaurant Promotions

Offering discounts are not the only way to promote your restaurant. . Do you have live music? Is there a popular trivia night during the week customers could attend? Have you always wanted to run a competition but couldn’t find the time to make it happen? Try diving into some other “non-food” promotions to increase customer engagement with your restaurant’s brand. Consider hosting a cooking class at your restaurant, highlighting one of your easy and most favorite customer dishes. You might even want to add a special night once a week that showcases a menu item you don’t normally have (i.e. burger night with a different topping each week or make-your-own pizza night). New promotions will generate fresh conversation and focus more on you as a company and team instead of just your food.

Develop Creative Partnerships

Now is the time to team up with nearby local businesses to get customers ordering your food. Non-restaurant businesses are also taking a hit to their sales because customers just spent the  past few months buying gifts for the holidays. Most customers will be investing in a local gym or some new “health” routine to boost up their fitness at the beginning of the year. Considering offering a free salad or 10% off select healthy items specific to those gym members. Ask the gym if you can put the partnership promotion in their new member packets as an extra way to market and promote the deal. Again, customers are looking to get in shape and spend less at the beginning of the year, so support their goals by alligning  with businesses that are applicable to them.

Time to Deliver

No one really wants to go outside when there’s 6 inches of snow on the ground. With delivery still on the rise for restaurants, having it as part of your day-to-day routine will be key. Restaurants are increasingly turning to food delivery as a way to overcome stagnating traffic.

Food delivery sales have grown 20% over the past five years while restaurant traffic has flatlined. You want to keep the experience with your customers as positive as possible, so bringing the food to them instead of waiting for customers to show up at your restaurant is a better strategy.

What is Your New Year’s Resolution?

Instead of trying to avoid the healthy proactiveness of your customers, join them in their mission. Add menu items that will embrace their goals – and increase your menu’s item prices. Avocados, kale, citrus vinaigrettes, quinoa, gluten-free options, meat alternatives – all of these items are worth the investment if it means you can convert customers. You have no reason to suffer through your customer’s changes. The shift towards healthy options is only going to grow with each passing year. Currently, 74% of millennials said they’d choose one restaurant over a similar restaurant based on the healthy options offered. If you already carry many of these items or healthy options, promote them. Make them front and center on your menu – online and offline. If you need to rename the dishes to attract more customers, take the time to do so.

Vow to Become More Active, Too!

Stay active online. Just because your customers might be ordering less does not mean they are less interested in you. According to Sprout Social, 75% of people purchased a product because they saw it on social media. Of that percentage, 60.7% needed to see a post 2-4 times from the company before making a purchase. When months are slower, more restaurants are competing for the same customers. So, marketing efforts have to increase in order to grab the attention of a smaller customer pool. Take the time to nurture and beef up all of your restaurant marketing including social media, newsletters, and overall online presence (responding to online reviews, updating website photos, etc.)

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