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How to Drive Incremental Traffic During the Slow Season

Bar Management, Restaurant Operations - August 11, 2017 Written By: Sculpture Hospitality

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Unless your restaurant is located in a busy summer vacation destination, July and August can be notoriously slow months. People are busy traveling and enjoying the weather with backyard barbecues instead of eating out at their local restaurants. While you might not be able to drastically increase traffic to your restaurant, there are some steps you can take to bring in more patrons during this slow season.

 1. Invest more time and money into digital marketing efforts.

If you have been putting a half-hearted effort into promoting your restaurant and reaching out to existing customers, this is the perfect time to steps things up. Using mobile apps and email campaigns to engage with customers will help increase brand visibility and make it more likely that they will stop by for a meal. You can also tap into the power of social media to advertise specials, promote events and communicate with potential customers. 

2. Create an incentives program.

An incentive program shows customers that you value their business and want them to keep coming back. I can also be used to go beyond simply offering rewards based on dollars spent and create a more pleasant and convenient experience. Today's tech savvy consumers have high expectations when it comes to service. That is why the modern incentive programs include extras like the ability to make reservations from a mobile app or schedule to have take-out ready at a certain time. People like to save money, but they also value their time and appreciate anything you can do to improve their experience. 

3. Find ways to create a more personalized experience.

Again, effective marketing is about creating an experience that fosters brand loyalty. Your restaurant patrons don't want to feel like they are being ushered in and out of the restaurant as quickly as possible. Instead of just providing a meal and some drinks, why not create a more personalized experience.

One example is to start a weekly "Meet the Chef" event where people can ask questions, watch a demonstration and perhaps try specialties that aren't on the regular menu. This is the perfect event to advertise on social media and other digital marketing tools. Plus, it creates an experience that is full of conversation, learning, tasting and much more. If your customers have a good time, you might find that this weekly event starts filling up quickly.

4. Include communal tables.

You may have already noticed that many restaurants are introducing communal tables into the dining area. This seating style is "particularly appealing to Millenials, who look for restaurant destinations that can accommodate  their desire to socialize, graze and linger." More and more people are heading to restaurants to eat on their own. In fact, 46% of adults eat alone. While there are a lot of factors behind this trend, it is an important change for restaurants to acknowledge. Communal tables allow single diners the option to interact with other people or to sit and do work on their laptop without feeling rushed to give up their seat.

July and August will probably always be slow months in the restaurant industry, but you don't have to simply sit back and try to hold on till September rolls around. You can be proactive about combatting sluggish sales by increasing and improving your marketing efforts and trying to find ways to create a unique customer experience. Remember that in today's competitive markets, providing excellent customer service isn't enough. A superior customer experience is what will drive traffic to your restaurant and build loyalty.

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