For some in the restaurant industry, the beginning of fall marks a time when they take a long, deep breath. They look forward to recovering from the busy days of summer and the slight respite before the holidays near. Others go full throttle into marketing, bringing in new and returning guests through ingenious advertising. And then, there are those who use this time to focus on the many things they rarely have time for during the other 10 months of the year, such as organizing and assessing the latest technology.
If you’re a restaurant owner, operator, or manager, you’ll undoubtedly be able to see yourself in one of those off-season categories. Let’s explore each one a little closer to help you make the most of this time of year.
The Deep Breather
Ahh. The busy days of summer are somewhat behind you, and the coming holidays are still far enough away to avoid night sweats and tremors. If you’re a deep breather, you’re undoubtedly thinking about relaxing on the patio, taking some time to enjoy your favorite unrelated work activities, or maybe even picking up that musical instrument you’ve been wanting to learn for the last decade.
Did someone say vacation? Here are a few of the popular hotspots for inspiration. For the outdoor enthusiast looking for autumn leaves in all their splendor, Maine’s Acadia National Park offers 47,000 acres of brilliant yellow, orange, and red hues on the changing aspen and maple trees. Too small? How about exploring the 300,000 acres in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming?
Of course, those in the restaurant industry are always interested in experiencing another’s take on excellent dining. According to OpenTable, some of the top “Exceptional” restaurants in Bar Harbor, Maine, include the Mediterranean concept, Copita, and Havana for Latin American fare.
Then there are those restaurant operators who simply want to relax on a beach with a mai tai or mezcal-spiked Baja mule in hand. La Paz offers some of the best beaches in Mexico and a world-renowned spot for responsibly swimming with whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean. A restaurant in La Paz that made five stars on TripAdvisor is Casamarte: Oyster Bar & Grill.
For breathtaking beauty, consider Praia do Sanco, Brazil, consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world.
The All-In Marketer
It’s easy to neglect marketing, particularly the high-demand social media kind, especially during peak periods. Now’s a good time to take an in-depth look at all your social media accounts and digital presence. Is your Google Business Profile up-to-date? How about your Yelp pages? Make sure photos demonstrate the best you offer in food and aesthetics, the information is relevant, and your menu is easy to find. A Harvard Business School study found a 5 to 9% increase in revenue correlated with an additional one-star on Yelp.
The top social media platforms for restaurants include Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Some restaurants are even using Facebook in place of a company website. Make sure you’re regularly posting and engaging with potential or current customers.
According to Toast, 34% of restaurants have a full-time employee managing social media accounts and overall restaurant marketing. Additionally, 67% utilize paid advertising on social media.
The Organizer and Planner
Then there are those who take this time to reorganize and look into technology upgrades they didn’t have time to investigate during peak periods. The biggest consideration is where to start. Meet up with your most productive staff and analyze every area, considering what you need, what you can let go of, and how to make it more efficient and functional. Common areas to tackle include storerooms, walk-ins, side stations, bars, break areas, and the office.
The amount of technology available for restaurants today can be mind-boggling. From AI technologies that reduce waste and provide a personalized customer experience to the latest integrations in POS and restaurant management systems, it’s enough to go back to pen and pad (a time many of you don’t remember).
Today’s integrations use analytics to predict future demands and provide accurate inventory counts. Implementing this one technology can significantly reduce food costs. When considering the many options, the most important strategy is looking at your operations and determining where they could use the most support. Is it scheduling? Consider labor management software. Is it keeping up with inventory? Then, inventory management software is critical. Maybe it’s connecting with and personalizing the customer experience—think customer relationship management software.
Integrating these new systems during off-peak season gives you and your staff the opportunity to learn the ins and outs. As The Byrds sang many moons ago, “To everything, there is a season.” Taking advantage of your off-peak season can set you up for success now and well into the future.