The winter holidays are behind us, the excitement of the New Year has settled in and here we are in February.
After all the holiday excitement is over, the inevitable slump arrives. Credit card bills start rolling in, spending is slashed, and New Year’s resolutions are focused on fiscal goals. Given this, restaurants can expect a dip in sales from January through March.
But not all hope is lost, restaurants can overcome the post-holiday slump by being proactive and creative including these 6 tips that will help you survive this temporary dip in sales.
Reward gift card purchases. Everyone loves something for nothing. Offer a free $10 gift card with the purchase of every $50 card. Not only will your guests find the perfect gift for a friend or loved one, but they now have a reason to return!
Give your staff a pep talk. Set expectations with your staff so that they have a heads up of what to expect based on previous years’ data. What is the typical drop in sales? When did business pick up again? Inform everyone that this is a typical pattern in every restaurant and there is no need to panic. Keep your eyes on the big picture. You don’t want a temporary situation to put a dent in your moral or drive out your key players. Be honest. Be patient. And most of all, be encouraging and let them know that it will get better.
BE CREATIVE IN THE NEW YEAR
Offer New Year’s Resolution dining alternatives. Like most of us, many customers may be looking to cut a little holiday cheer from their waistline. However, they may not associate your brand with healthy options. Be sure to use your social media reach to make diners aware that they can come back without spoiling their weight loss goals. If your restaurant does a lot of catering or take out, be sure to include a printed flyer listing seasonal menu items along with their order.
Create a seasonal menu. Not everyone is on a diet after the holidays. Try a seasonal menu with warm, flavorful options that use low-cost seasonal items. When it’s cold outside soups, stews, and chili are always a big hit and are usually easy on food costs. Mom’s meatloaf or potpie is also a budget-friendly option that brings comfort for those feeling the post-holiday blues. Reminding diners that these selections are available for a “limited time only” may encourage people to try these new items.
Partner with local businesses. No matter how determined people may feel to cut back on going out, special occasions will always prevail. If you are located near a movie theater, bowling alley, escape room, or venue of this type, contact them to see if they are interested in partnering to promote each other’s businesses. Agree on something that is beneficial to both parties, such as patrons receive a discounted entrance to the escape room when they present a valid receipt from your restaurant. Likewise, the escape room customers receive a free appetizer from your restaurant with a valid receipt from the escape room. Chances are, they are experiencing the same post-holiday slump and would welcome the chance to get more guests in the door. Win-Win.
Focus on other holidays. Before the end of March, we’ll have the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Each day leading up to the Super Bowl is a chance for you to run game-day specials. Promote fan favorites and advertise take out specials, which are always a big hit. Simultaneously, or immediately as it’s over, begin pushing Valentine’s Day date night menu and specials. Valentine’s not your demographic? How about an anti-Valentines girls’ night out or boys’ night out package? Perhaps a Corned Beef and cabbage or Sheppard’s Pie and a Guinness special for St. Patty’s Day? Consider using low-cost promotional strategies such as table tents, flyers, window signs, and social media to promote different offers and specials to make the most of your efforts.