Because the food industry tends to run in cycles, most restaurants and bars expect there to be slow periods. Some years, however, the slow periods are tougher than others. How can your establishment stay afloat, even in the leaner times?
To answer this question, here’s a look at some top tips to help restaurants and bars survive slow months. Whether you are dealing with severe weather, local health crises, new competition, or some other unexpected factors that are hampering profits, these practical strategies can help you cope.
- Research the economy. Before strategizing about how to grow business, you need to know what is preventing it. Research the local market. Is this slow time caused by something specific? Is it an unprecedented crisis, or will it happen every year? How are other neighboring businesses being impacted? Answering these questions can reveal if you are dealing with an isolated or ongoing challenge, which can help you know how to respond.
- Cut costs where possible. One way to increase profit margins when business is slow is to cut costs. Where and how can you automate everyday tasks, for example? Could a POS system make staff more efficient and lower the man-hours needed each day? Would tableside ordering expedite service and mitigate some labor costs? Perhaps you cut business hours slightly or shut down on the slowest weeknights. Consider simplifying the menu to rein in expenses. Whatever the case, cutting costs can make a company leaner and more efficient, better able to handle slow seasons.
- Find creative ways to draw customers. Some slow seasons are inevitable; others are a signal you need to boost marketing efforts. Determine how you can take advantage of this time. What are some creative ways to reach out to potential customers and draw them to your establishment? Could you plan fun events that make people want to patronize your restaurant or bar? Everything from trivia nights to karaoke to live music can be effective. Are you also taking full advantage of social media? Have you partnered with other businesses in the area to cross-promote services and help one another boost sales? All of these promotional ideas may generate enough interest to keep you afloat until business picks up once more.
Every restaurant and bar experiences lulls in business from time to time. To better manage these changes, be proactive and use the tips above. For more information on surviving slow months as a restaurant or bar owner, take a look at the accompanying resource. In it, you will find a clear breakdown of promotions to try, financial tips to remember, and operational strategies that can make a difference for your establishment.
Author bio: Dana Krook is Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, a POS solutions provider for restaurants. She focuses on sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success.