Are you experiencing a winter business slump? When the holiday season ends, customers seem to quickly trade hot chocolate for green juice and stretchy pants for workout leggings. They adjust back into work, school, better spending habits, and tidying up the home. Whether you experience a winter with below freezing temperatures or a San Diego winter with 75 degree sunny days, many people have retreated back home to healthy, home cooked meals to maintain their New Year’s resolution fitness goals.
But despite all this, there are still a few sure-fire ways to bring in customers during the slow winter months with strategic restaurant marketing.
1. Create a menu with lighter, diet-type friendly items
Without fail, we all attempt to make healthier choices when the new year kicks off. Whether it is veganuary, low carb diets such as keto, or even whole-30, now is a perfect time to tailor your menu or to market which menu items can be easily adapted to fit these lifestyles. Customers will feel like they can still enjoy themselves and maintain their goals while enjoying time out with friends and family.
2. Use other winter holidays and national events to drive traffic
We know the major holidays happen over November-December, but there is plenty of opportunity to continue celebrations in the following months. From bar specials or catering incentives during sport events such as Super Bowl Sunday and March Madness, to Valentines Day, which you can stretch to an all-week, fixed-price menu for those looking for a romantic night out but wanting to steer clear of the crowds. Don’t forget the wine pairing!
3. “We miss you” emails with incentive
If you have yet to set up a system to collect customer emails, now is the time! An easy tactic during this time of year is to send a reminder to former customers that you would love to see them back in. With a simple, added-value offer such as a free appetizer or dessert, this is an easy tool to get them back in the door during slower months.
4. Restaurant Week
Typically during the months of January or February there will be a local restaurant week celebration taking place in your city. Sponsored by the Restaurant Association or local tourism board, this is a wonderful opportunity to create a prix fie menu to showcase your best and most inventive dishes. This week brings new diners looking for an affordable way to try new restaurants, and you can capitalize by assuring they get your upcoming calendar of events, or sign up for your email list during their visit.
5. In-Restaurant events
Another incredible tool to draw in crowds during slower months is to host in-restaurant events to drive traffic. This could be a tasting and pairing with a local spirit distillery, a chef’s special night, trivia night, or a fundraiser for a local organization that ties with your community. Be sure to focus on targeted advertisements (usually social or digital) and event listings beforehand.
Above all, make sure to start the year with goals that are both attainable and practical for your restaurant. Layering these activations on top of your overall goals will be a sure way to boost sales and experiment with new promotions.