Fall is right around the corner with its cooler weather and homemade soup. But, for the restaurant industry, bidding summer adieu can be a major bummer because all of that sunshine and free time is good for business.
Tourism is up and more people are enjoying outdoor concerts, sporting events, and festivals — things that work up an appetite and encourage you to eat out. One Morning Consult poll found 62% of respondents said dining out with friends was the summer activity that they were most excited for.
As August creeps into September, restaurants likely felt a sense of dread — which is completely understandable because September can be tough. Many restaurants note this month is the slowest month of the year. With schools back in session and vacations done, many people are committing to a new routine, which often includes dining in.
Don’t throw in the towel just yet, though. There are several ways to transform that September slump into a business boon:
Introduce some seasonal menu items
Embracing the seasonings of the season can do wonders to boost sales during the fall. Look no further than Starbucks, which each year, sells about 20 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes and their customers spend $1.14 more, on average, when they’re ordering this fan favorite. It’s clear there’s demand for fall in a cup.
It doesn’t have to be coffee, though. Our friends at Lazy Dog leaned into fall by incorporating seasonal ingredients from farmers, ranchers, and growers into their menu. Their customers enjoyed some season-themed additions like a goat cheese + pepper jelly appetizer and lamb shank pot pie.
Boost your social profile
Everyone and their dog has a social media account, making this the perfect channel to meet consumers where they are. Facebook may have taken a tumble recently, but 72% of consumers use Facebook users’ shared comments and images to make restaurant or retail decisions. Use social media frequently and strategically so you can get traffic in the door.
Some tips include to maximize your presence:
- Showcase your food with high-quality photos
- Bring your brand to life through witty captions
- Share behind-the-scenes videos in Instagram stories
- Encourage customers, influencers, and employees to use a branded hashtag
- Include your website’s URL in your profile (and fill out your bio!)
Really looking to make the most out of fall? Add some seasonal décor to your restaurant and post about it on social. Include some popular hashtags, like #autumn, #fallvibes, and #spooky.
Host a contest
People love a good contest. Tuesday celebrity-themed trivia? We’re there. The best Instagram caption gets a free dinner? Fetch us our keyboards. A great way to acquire new customers and boost your social profile is through a single-use offer code, such as “get one free side item when using the code, FALL2022.” When you offer a coupon offer, 67% of consumers are more likely to check out your restaurant for the first time.
When launching a contest, consider your goal. If you want your Facebook followers to reach that coveted 2,000 mark, craft a post saying your 2,000th follower gets 2,000 points added to their loyalty account. Maybe you’re looking for more audience engagement? Have your followers post a caption for a dish, and the most creative wins that gift card. You can have a lot of fun with these challenges so let your ideas run wild. A little bit of contest spending — whether that’s time or money (or both) — now will have larger gains later.
Focus on your existing customers
Smart businesses are always eyeing new opportunities, but maximizing your existing loyal customers can really pay off. A repeat customer spends 67% more than a new customer. Your customers keep coming back because you have built that trust with them. Plus, a repeat customer is likely more keen to try that new appetizer on your seasonal menu. That’s what we call a win-win.
Looking for ways to keep them coming back? Make your customer service top notch, personalize each customer’s experience with tech, create loyalty programs, and most importantly, continue delivering some stellar food.
Spooky season is here so try out some of the above tactics to September-proof your business. Business may be so good you don’t even have time to watch Hocus Pocus!