Off-peak hours are those awkward times in the day or early evening when there are barely any customers. These hours can be expensive for food businesses since kitchen and wait staff will be paid for their time regardless of the amount of work. Here are 5 tips on how to make the most of the off-peak hours to increase restaurant business and profit:
1. Offer Restaurant Deals
Everyone likes a good deal, making offering restaurant deals one of the best ways to increase restaurant business during typically slow hours. Offering discounts such as “happy hour,” prix fixe, or business meals during hours projected to have low restaurant traffic can draw customers who enjoy good restaurant deals.
2. Throw Special Restaurant Events
Businesses do not have to be “concept restaurants” in order to offer concept meals. Loyal customers won’t want to miss out on special events such as a tasting menu. When held during off-peak hours, special events are a great way to increase restaurant traffic and allow the chef to show off his/her culinary skills through creative food. A tasting menu is also a great way to try out creative food ideas to see if they are worth adding to the restaurant menu.
3. Offer Take-Out Food
Off-peak hours are often in the middle of the day, during the week, when most adults are at work and most children are at school. The inconvenience of having to rush through a restaurant meal can cause a decrease in restaurant traffic. Rather than switching the concept of a restaurant to be gourmet fast food, other approaches can be taken to offer customers a quick meal. Offering take-out food in disposable containers or, better yet, offering food delivery, are great ways to profit from working customers during off-peak hours.
4. Take on Catering
Catering in-venue events can increase restaurant business by providing concentrated numbers of diners in one shift (during the event). Guests of the event may even become loyal customers of the venue, if they are impressed by creative food and culinary skills of the chef. Whether a catered event involves individual plating or buffet-style service, components of the meal will have to be prepared in advance. Off-peak hours, when service is slow, are an ideal time for kitchen staff to get ahead on food preparation for events.
Sometimes the amount of off-peak hours can be cut down by restaurant marketing. Customers are attracted to venues with a nice ambience and kitchen staff that has at least satisfactory culinary skills. However, if they do not constantly receive gentle reminders about the venue, they may not think to choose it as a place to dine when dining out. Restaurant marketing can help increase restaurant business during off-peak hours by serving as a reminder that the venue is open for service. Off-peak hours are inevitable for any food business. However, by strategizing how to make the most of those hours, businesses can prevent any negative consequences that quiet hours might have, and be as efficient as possible during these times.