If you read theNew York Times, and believe it, the worst is over. And they are not the only ones claiming that the economy is on the upswing. All economic indicators are reflecting the same news. And, if the good news continues to be published, spirits will soar, pocket books will open and your customers will begin to return on a more regular basis.
This won’t happen tomorrow, but you will notice throughout the coming months that business is picking up.The timing couldn’t be better. Tax season is over, the good news is becoming more predominant on the Internet and in print, and spring is here. Those three things all equate to a busier time.
In preparation for this you need to do more than just wait for your customers to show up.
Here are ten steps to take to ready yourself for a busier season ahead.
1). Make sure your menu is fresh and creative. You don’t have to change everything on the menu, but make sure you have some creative new items that are favorably priced. Highlight special desserts that are attractively creative.
2). Freshen up the restaurant. Have you painted lately? Are the floors polished? Are the tables and chairs fresh and clean? Make sure your chairs are off the floor when the floors are mopped at night. If they remain on the floor the bottom two inches of the legs are usually stained or water marked. Also, when they are placed on the table, make sure they are upside down, seat to table top. Driving by a closed restaurant with the dirty leg bottoms on the table top is a disgusting site.
3). Staff needs to have a pep talk and refresher training. Those slow nights destroy a staff. Begin your pre shift meetings, have a quiz, and begin to talk about service and professionalism.
4). Uniforms? When was the last time you changed the shirts, aprons, or look of your dining room uniform? In slow times nobody wants to change the look of their uniform. Yet, a simple change in color, style or material equates to huge change for your dining room.
5). Wines and alcohol should be more reasonably priced when your customers return than they were before they left. Analyze your drink prices and begin to look for reasonably priced wine.
6). Advertising is no longer cost prohibitive. Begin to advertise your specials and other events to your customers through emails, digital newsletters and blogs.
7). Give each waiter an allocation of complimentary desserts, appetizers or cocktails and have them use them on old customers or new customers they think will return.
8). Make sure you thank your customers for coming when they leave. If they haven’t been to your restaurant in a while they will ask themselves why they have stayed away so long, upon leaving.
9). Bounce backs are a great way to advertise and entice your customers back. Place a card in the check presenter offering a complimentary drink or dessert on their next visit.
10). Have fun. It will show to your customers. It has been a very difficult time. If you are still open you deserve a round of applause. Many owners didn’t survive, or do as well while the news was dim. Make sure your customers see you smiling. They want to enjoy themselves and seeing the staff enthusiastic and appreciative will be an open invitation for them to return.