Food service

Turning your quiet days into busy ones

It’s inevitable that you will have quieter days in your outlet – it’s how you can fill these quieter times to boost sales and make every day a busy day.

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It’s important to understand your customers and think about your location – to start with, it may simply be trying out different activities to see what works well – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. If you’re near a university, then what you do to boost your business should be different to another outlet that is near to the local gym. Read on to find out our view on how to pull more pints (or soft drinks!) and turn the sleepy times in your outlet into busy and bustling ones.

Give your customers a sensational experience every time they visit and they will have no choice but to return.

Make mid-week offers work for you

Offering promotions are a tried and tested way of getting customers through your door, but what kind of discounts should you be offering?

Offer mid-week standard discounts and upload them to your social channels to encourage your followers to come to your outlet – this can be a good way of encouraging customers to visit more frequently in your quieter times. Meal deals can be a brilliant way of getting customers not only to come in, but also keep them at your outlet for longer and therefore encourage them to spend more – this bridges the gap between a pub or bar and a full service restaurant.

A mid-week standard discount at certain times may also work for you and your customers. Perhaps try a 20% off deal for all food and bar snacks ordered between 5-7pm on Mondays – Thursdays. You know your business and your customers better than anyone so it’s important that your promotions are those that people will engage with.

Think about offering bar snack and drink pairing deals to encourage upselling at time of buying. Maybe a Pepsi Max and Grab Bag of Walkers Cheese & Onion? Or a pint and pork scratchings? This will encourage people to spend a little more to get a snack along with their drink. The options are always expanding and snacking throughout the day is on the rise – make sure a grazing menu is available at all times, even when your kitchen is closed for standard meals.

A little up-front research and test and learn techniques will help you determine what works best for your establishment. Try a simple feedback form to engage directly with your customers and understand exactly what they want when they visit. This could also work well on social media. Put out a tweet to ask your customers their needs - a good way to start driving a two-way dialogue and show that you really care about them and what they want.


Be the hub of your community

Be the hub of your community and make it the place to go for local groups. Use your location as an asset. Offer these groups somewhere to meet after their activities and they will keep coming back and become regular customers.

Offer local businesses the space for lunch time and day time meetings. Consider creating meeting packages for customers including food and drink options so they are fully catered for during their stay.

Have you considered putting on events in the week for these groups? For example a charity coffee and cake morning which can be linked with an already established charity event e.g. Macmillan Coffee Morning. Read on to find out more about putting on your own events for the wider community.

Putting on your own event

Considering your customers, it may be that putting on your own events will be the most effective at making your days busier. In the summer holidays, many parents take time off work to be with their kids during the week – so take advantage of the good weather (fingers crossed) and put on sports days, hire giant games like Jenga or run low-level competitions for kids and their families to win money off their next visit.

Is your aim to improve your week-night footfall? How about putting on a carol singing evening in December to encourage Christmas spirit and get people coming into your outlet for a longer period of time. You can offer mulled wine or cider and Christmas inspired snacks or mocktails to encourage upselling. Or in the spring/summer, put on your own evening gin/beer festival with a local brewery or distiller, or run your own bonfire night and fireworks in the autumn with sparklers and hot-dogs to create excitement among your customers.

Quizzes are a good way for all outlets, however big or small, to become a central hub in your local community. Host a quiz night on the night that is typically your quietest and see your sales instantly boosted. Quizzes can encourage a diverse audience to visit, which may also encourage them to visit at other times of the week too.


Top tips for running a quiz at your outlet

  • Make sure you get a good quizmaster – engaging, funny (and also firm!)
  • Ask a variety of questions so that all of your customers feel included/catered for – there is nothing worse than going to a quiz and not knowing any answers
  • Get a visible scoreboard in your outlet – this will encourage people to visit again and again to see if they can become the leader or better their score from the previous week
  • Arrange regular breaks to allow people to go to the bar/order drinks throughout (after all, you are putting on this quiz to boost sales)
  • Try hosting a theme night – make sure the theme is fairly universal to cater for your audience, but could you do a Eurovision themed quiz night the week of the competition?

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