Summer months mean trips to coastal towns and vacations for city-dwellers. With 58% of Brits planning travel abroad during the summer months, city restaurants can have a harder time selling seats. “Restaurants in the city should really take advantage of this slower time,” says Stefano Potortí, managing director of Sagitter One, a U.K. based hospitality consulting firm. “If you have a clientele that’s city based then you have a bit more time in the summer months because people go away.” While it’s tempting to sit back and enjoy the summer slump, Potortí says that it’s imperative that restaurant owners spend this time wisely. “The promotions that you create right now are crucial to the success of your restaurant,” he warns.
Take advantage of the summer months by revamping your restaurant’s marketing efforts with these five tips.
One of the keys to attracting diners is to stand out when you post to social media or do any marketing, Potortí says. “You always want to be creating content that grabs attention but you can try something different during the summer since you have a bit more time,” Potortí says. Instead of posting a picture of a special dish, maybe post a picture of raw product and share information about where it comes from. Share an article link to a story about one of your producers, or share a little bit of history about your restaurant that your followers may not know. All of this stays in customer’s minds and communicates why you’re different from your competitors.
Analog marketing can also be a creative outlet. “Don’t forget that flyers are always a good way to market and when you have some extra time you can get creative with how you use them,” Potortí says.
Always Include a Clear Call to Action
No marketing effort is complete if it doesn’t include a clear action for a potential customer to take, says Potortí. “The action can be retweeting or responding to a post or coming in for a specific special.” Creating a clear call to action, and having customers take that action, also lets you know that your marketing efforts are working. “It’s important that the reader of the post knows what they need to do next.” An example could be offering 50% off of Prosecco on a rainy day, he continues. “Give customers an incentive to come into your restaurant.”
Have a Conversation with Your Followers
“Since you have the time, reply to the comments that guests leave on your social media,” Potortí says. Starting a conversation with customers encourages them to interact with more of your posts in the future and may even clue you into what they want to see. One of the best things you can do is talk to your customers so they know there’s real people behind your restaurant account. You can also encourage followers to use specific hashtags and post pictures of their meal to draw other guests in.
Get Staff Involved
Since things are a little slower, get your staff in on the marketing action. “People want to see behind the scenes stuff and they want to see what you do.” It also creates a more human connection to your restaurant. Before a shift starts, have your staff get together for a selfie and post it to your social media accounts. It shows that your team has fun and it creates a more human connection to your restaurant, Potortí says. “People may even come in and say hi.”
Don’t Give Away the House
While it can be tempting to offer a lot of discounts during the summer months to attract customers, Potortí says that discounting too much sends the wrong message. “You never want to give the impression that you’re desperate for customers,” he says. Instead, offer discounts on items with low profit margins and encourage sales of other items with higher profit margins. “Offering a discount on food items is always a clever move because it encourages guests to come in and they’re likely to spend money on drinks which has a higher profit margin,” he explains. “It looks like you’re giving stuff away but you’re not.”
Ultimately, the summer slump can be a great time to reinvigorate your restaurant’s marketing efforts and gear up for the busy fall and holiday season. When done properly, it offers another way for restaurants to interact with their regulars while attracting new guests.