Don’t let harsh winter weather impact your sales. While many operators anticipate a drop in sales during the winter months,1 it doesn’t have to be the slowest time of the year. With a little creativity and some extra effort, you can attract customers with seasonal offerings, winter weather promotions and an elevated to-go service.
Check out these four tips to drive sales this winter!
1. Give the Menu a Makeover
Lure customers in from the cold with a seasonally inspired menu that features classic comfort food with on- trend ingredients like apples, Brussels sprouts and winter squash. Be sure to keep your best sellers and signature items on the menu while updating seasonal specials like hearty stews and pot pies. Updating your menu with in-season ingredients and holiday-inspired fare such as roast turkey with sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce can create a nostalgic appeal for diners. By combining a variety of flavors and quality ingredients, you can pay tribute to the foods Americans love while elevating them into more-sophisticated contemporary dishes. For example, combine seasonal flavors with classic dishes such as a pomegranate maple glazed roast turkey with sweet potatoes and pears, chicken pot pie with root vegetables, braised short ribs over mashed cauliflower or flavorful stews like hearty pumpkin chicken chili.
2. Highlight High-Value Menu Items
Don’t forget to highlight high-quality ingredients and where they come from. Research shows that premium ingredients can influence purchases. For example, one-third of all consumers think sustainably sourced and organic ingredients are very important in their purchasing decisions.2 When it comes to meat consumption, today’s consumers, especially millennials, consider animal welfare and sustainability as well as the absence of antibiotics, hormones and preservatives as major factors when choosing what and where to eat.3 Telling customers you source organic apples from a nearby farm or that you’re committed to serving antibiotic-free chicken and turkey can help set you apart from the competition. After all, you may find that being transparent with your customers could result in higher profits.
3. Take Advantage of Takeout
Colder weather and darker days may lead people to opt for grab-and- go offerings more often. Take advantage of to-go sales with takeout menus, proper packaging and special promotions. When it comes to takeout, making sure the food reaches your customer in the same condition in which it left the kitchen is often the biggest challenge, but shouldn’t be a deterrent from offering to-go orders. Test the packaging and make sure it travels well, maintains the integrity of the food, doesn’t leak or break and keeps the hot food hot and the cold food cold. With so many restaurants offering takeout service, you may want to consider partnering with a third-party delivery service like UberEATS, Seamless and GrubHub to increase sales opportunities.
4. Leverage Digital Marketing
In order to be successful, you must be ready to adapt to generational and technological changes that are shaping the way consumers engage with restaurant brands—from social media to digital marketing.4 It’s crucial to have a digital presence; this includes an easy-to- navigate website and engaging social platforms. Social media offers you the opportunity to get the word out about your operation while also helping build your brand and communicate changes, special promotions or LTOs. Facebook is a must for all restaurants, because of its built-in reviews, messaging and media-sharing capabilities. Instagram and Snapchat are where your customers are most engaged and most likely to venture in-store when they see, share and mention your restaurant. Meanwhile, use Twitter to strengthen your brand voice and Yelp to provide social proof and support your online image.5 Content can include anything related to the restaurant that is of interest to your consumers, such as new menu items, seasonal promotions and even social responsibility. Email marketing is another great way to keep your restaurant top of mind, especially during the winter season. Encourage guests to sign up by offering exclusive email promotions and discounts.
From seasonal flavors to third-party delivery services, there is a variety of ways to set your establishment apart and drive traffic this winter. Try these five tactics to help strengthen sales this season.
1 Hicks, Cody, Bad Weather No Match for Mobile Marketing, Turnstyle, 3/1/16
2 Nielsen, We Are What We Eat, 1/20/15
3 Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, “Study: Restaurant Patrons Want Menu Transparency for Meat, Poultry,” 6/16/16
4 Packaged Facts, Foodservice Marketing Trends in the US: Technology, Mobile and Social Media, 6/29/15
5 Leborgne, William, Meals, Media and Marketing: Which Social Platform Is Best for Restaurants, MomentFeed Blog, 8/3/17