Appealing to Off Peak Customers
A great way to maximize the profitability of your restaurant is to appeal to customers outside of your peak times.
Although many restaurants find that they take the majority of their money during the lunch and dinner sessions, there is plenty of profit to be had between these periods. This is especially the case if you stay open before and after lunch but are not often very busy, as there are plenty of people that like to spend their money at these times – you just have to make sure you appeal to them!
Parents and ToddlersMany parents with young children are looking for something interesting to do in the mornings and early afternoons that is not too expensive but relatively stress-free. Stay-at-home parents often like to get out of the house and have a break, so meeting friends for a coffee or going alone with their child to read the paper and have a change of scene is very popular.
In order to appeal to these customers, you need to offer good coffee, a range of teas and perhaps some more fancy hot drinks like hot chocolate with whipped cream. In the summer, iced coffees and milkshakes are also popular, and can be made quickly and easily by waiting staff rather than paying your chef to stay on outside of service. It is perhaps worth setting some ground rules – no children running around, or keep the door shut at all times – and having a play corner that may be packed up before the dinner service.
Home WorkersPeople who work alone from home are a growing breed, and one which enjoys a little time outside the home during the working day. In order to appeal to these customers, good coffee, unobtrusive music and free WiFi is a must. You don’t have to have the WiFi in every area, or you can just have it available at certain times, although you may as well offer it to all customers as it is fast becoming expected, especially where coffee is served in the day time.
You will need to be careful that people who are only going to buy one cup of coffee and make it last for four hours to use your WiFi aren’t taking up a valuable lunch time table, but if they’re your regulars you may decide it’s better to bite your tongue.
Passing TradeIf you are in a popular tourist or shopping area, or perhaps near a cinema, you can get a lot of passing trade which is worth capitalising on – make sure you have your menus (with prices!) clearly on display, including any special offers and the day’s specials. You could offer a cup of coffee or tea and a piece of cake in the mornings and afternoons for a set price, or pre- and post-theatre suppers.
A great way to appeal to passing trade is to make sure your restaurant looks welcoming – sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many places have their doors shut with no sign that it’s open, or with curtains closed. Have window boxes or hanging baskets, with the door open if possible and suitable music at a pleasant volume.