Many restaurants will face some form of offseason, a predictable period when business drops off for weeks or months. When it is because the tourists have gone home or the cold weather is keeping customers away, these slow periods can damage your restaurant’s bottom line.
Surviving and even thriving during the low season is possible, but it’s more difficult if you just try to wing it. Use these strategies to plan ahead and keep your business humming, even if it’s not full.
Always set aside savings
It’s much easier to endure slow intervals if you prepare for them by saving yearlong. Aim to put aside a part of your restaurant’s earnings monthly or week, and stockpile it in an interest-earning savings account. Next, if you’re trying to break even in the offseason, then you’ll have that cash handy to help you get through it.
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Make necessary cuts
If you anticipate that money will end up tight, it may be smart to make some cuts to reduce operating costs during your low season. 1 tactic is to temporarily remove items from the menu to curtail the amount of components — especially perishable ones — you will need to buy. Just be certain to not remove any signature items that would cause regulars to stop coming. Also consider temporarily reducing staffing and even hours to accommodate a slower business season.
Use intelligent funding approaches
If your cost-cutting and rainy day fund aren’t sufficient, consider getting some sort of small-business financing. While merchant cash advances are remarkably well known in the restaurant industry, they can be extremely pricey. Loans may be a better bet, but conventional loans throughout the U.S. Small Business Administration are difficult to qualify for and take weeks. Not sure how to get a business loan? There are a great deal of online alternative lenders, such as Kabbage, OnDeck, Funding Circle and Lending Club, offering faster and more readily available loans and lines of credit (however they’re pricey if your credit isn’t great). Credit cards may be an additional means to survive the offseason, but try not to land in a spiral of debt which you can’t escape from.
Stay active online
Your customers use social media yearly, so continue using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few other accounts to advertise your company and build excitement about the next year. Use these outlets to talk about upcoming specials, enticing photos and videos, customer reviews, polls and even contests to maintain customer attention. While you’re at it, why not try email marketing and blogging, too?
Get smart with advertisements
Try new marketing strategies to boost business. If tourists are your regular customers, why don’t you begin to advertise your restaurant to locals? This is also a excellent time to experiment with specials. If you don’t supply a happy hour, consider starting one to lure in budget-minded guests throughout the offseason. If your bar or eatery already has a happy hour, you could try promoting fresh food and beverage specials to bring in new faces. It’s even better if you can start promoting these new specials before the slow season strikes in an effort to keep interest high. Get creative and think of other events or services you could offer for extra income, such as cooking classes, food delivery or buying specialty foods.
If You’re out of choices, shut temporarily
If you’re hemorrhaging cash by trying to keep your operation running through holidays, it may be best to shut for several weeks or even a month or two. Since you won’t make money in this moment, at least you might be able to stop the bleeding. If no income is not an option, consider providing catering and private events during this period
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