Make no mistake: every business has slow days.
Whether it’s Mondays, Tuesdays, or just that awkward afternoon period where people rarely come in. It’s easy to feel helpless, like there’s nothing you can do about it…
Thankfully, that’s not the case!
Below are six ways to increase traffic, increase revenue, and increase profit for your restaurant even on its slowest days.
These tricks worked like a charm at my ice cream shop, and hopefully they help you out just as well.
1: Host Other Peoples’ Events
The number one way to fill up your space is by hosting events!
This was not only super effective for bringing people into our shop, it also helped us build relationships with businesses around us and exposed us to new customers.
So how do you go about hosting an event?
Seek out Professionals In Need of Space
Usually when you host an event at your venue, you’re not the one doing the heavy planning. You’re simply letting other people who need space to run a class or hold a meeting during your slow periods.
For example, say there’s a calligraphy artist who has 3k followers. They would love to have the opportunity to teach, but they might not have an ideal open space.
They wouldn’t want to teach people how to draw and write calligraphy art in their personal apartment or at a cramped Starbucks!
Reach out to this calligraphy artist and propose the option to come and teach a class in your dining room. The majority of the time, they’re going to take that offer because it’s a free space. Why not?
Events Will Expand And Diversify Your Community
When people host an event at your shop or restaurant, they’ll promote the location on their social media. Now your business is being featured to the calligraphy artist’s 2-3k followers!
Even if only 10-20 students show up for the class, it’s an opportunity to sell your products and create new loyal customers.
You can even offer students a combo price, or something special to encourage them to experience your product. They will likely post pictures on their social media that feature your food or beverage offering for more exposure.
We find this strategy super helpful at 720 Sweets, because it doesn’t just help us fill up space, it builds our community and business network, so everybody wins. We try to host three events every single month!
Find local artists and other local professional that can complement your business. Reach out to people in Facebook Groups or on Instagram to offer your space free of charge for best results.
The private event will bring customers into your business and be free advertising, so why not?
The second way to get more people through your doors on slow days is to collaborate with other businesses, chefs, or foodies.
At 720 Sweets we collaborated with a gourmet marshmallow producer to create a special marshmallow flavored ice cream that became an amazing hit product.
We also retailed their marshmallows at our shop for a limited time, which also produced a ton of hype and revenue.
Cross Promoting Brings More Exposure
Why do we want to do that? Like event hosting, cross promotions are a win-win.
By collaborating with other companies we’ve been exposed to a new customer base. We’ve turned those slow days into profitable ones by limiting a launch to specific days, or even hours when we really want to target traffic.
Many chefs do pop-up restaurant features! This is a great way to cross promote if you run a sit-down restaurant.
Think Outside The Box
Be creative when you brainstorm collaboration options. Just try different things, even if they seem wild.
There’s really no downsides, but you will benefit tremendously if they’re successful!
3: Support a Local Team or Organization
The third way to bring more customers into your restaurant is to back a local team or organization.
For example, I’m involved in a multi-sport league with a couple thousand different members each season. 720 Sweets backs them by providing promotions and discounts, and in turn they promote us to the entire organization!
When they promote us, players bring their families into our ice cream shop. Every season, we tell them to visit for some free ice cream and they spread the news.
Once again, they expose our brand to a whole new demographic.
So find a local team or organization that you like and support. This extra exposure really adds numbers to your loyal fan base and in turn brings more revenue to your restaurant.
4: Run A Promotion
Running promotions is nothing new… just think about Happy Hour!
Restaurants realized that the time between lunch and dinner was slow, so they created a way to bring people in with half-priced drinks and appetizers.
Obviously, this was a great idea that has worked well for hundreds of businesses.
Create Your Own “Happy Hour”
Think about your specific restaurant concept. What kind of a deal can you offer your customers that other restaurants can’t?
Figure out your slowest time period or weekday to target with your promotion.
For example, this really well known Korean barbecue place, Gyu-Kaku, offers their own late night happy hour.
Even though they’re not making as much money that day, people still visit to eat. When customers like their experience, they’ll come back on another day and bring their friends and family!
5: Host Your Own Event
We’ve already talked about hosting events for other suppliers, creatives, or businesses. Now it’s time to host your own!
Things like trivia night, karaoke night, sports games watch parties -all these different types of events provide your customers with more value!
For example, people really enjoy having live music. If there’s space, bring someone in to play live music on a Monday night! People will come have a beer, a plate of food, and enjoy the live music.
If you can host these events on a regular basis it creates regular customers and becomes part of their experience.
My wife and I love going to this specific Indian place, not just because of their food, but because they have live belly dancing performance every Monday night!
We basically eat out every night, so when we choose where to eat, aside from wanting to eat Indian food, we always go back for the entertainment.
Find something to offer your customers that fits your demographic. Give them that reason to come in on your slow day.
6: Cater Events
The sixth and final way to increase sales during your slow days is to cater for local professionals.
Specifically, professionals who have weekly or monthly meetings – people who work in the bank, work for charities, for different organizations that are in charge of buying, catering, or hosting events at various places.
At 720 Sweets, we got to know the branch manager of the bank right next to us. Now they order from us every single month, because we have a really good relationship.
Now this monthly revenue is able to offset our slow days!
So many businesses need catering! You just have to go out, build those relationships, and offer your service!
Start Early And Start Now
There you have the six best ways to increase sales for your restaurant on the slow days. These are the secrets that worked for my business. I really hope you find tremendous value in them!
As you can see, it all comes down to community. Whether you’re hosting events, supporting teams, or catering for businesses, take that time and put in that effort to build meaningful relationships because it helps out everyone!
Now it’s up to you:
Be super creative with your collaborations and promotions to help yourself stand out from the crowd.
Which one of these tips are you going to start with? Do you want to collaborate with other brands and business? Or maybe go the other route and host an event yourself. Either will work! But remember, your business isn’t going to grow itself. The earlier you take action, the more money you’ll save.
If you want to learn more about marketing your business, this link here has many more great articles and resources!