Summer is an excellent time for restaurants to be in business. People have come out of their winter hibernation and are ready to spend their money on social experiences. But it’s also a tricky time for restaurants to be in business. You can’t automatically expect to get more patrons simply because of the season. You need to attract them to your restaurant and convince them that they should be spending their money there and nowhere else.

And this all comes down to unbeatable marketing tactics. Summer is about Instagram envy and experiences worth dressing up (or down) for. If you’re not sure how to turn that insight into a successful seasonal marketing campaign, you can borrow liberally from our hot tips.

1. High temperatures, low prices

This one’s a no-brainer. The easiest way to attract droves of patrons to your restaurant is by slashing your prices. Think day-long happy hours, free refills on lemonade and the like. But be careful not to hurt your profit margins with these promotions. A day-long happy hour deal is a great idea when done occasionally but financially, it’s unfeasible as a daily offering. It’s also wise to let your stock influence your specials. Fresh ingredients keep for shorter periods in the hot months and you can get rid of them quicker by putting them in dishes and drinks on promotion.

2. Put the new in menu

It’s exciting when a restaurant has a new menu. It feels like a relaunch on a smaller scale. You can introduce a whole new menu or make your seasonal menu supplementary to your main offering. The risk with new menus is that they sometimes aren’t the big hit you expect them to be. It helps to find the inspiration from your patrons. What are they always asking for that you don’t offer? It might be beneficial to run a survey or finally go through that mostly ornamental suggestion box you have at your front of house. Give the people what they want and they’ll keep coming back all summer long.

3. Put yourself on the map

It’s common for tech-savvy patrons to search for “trattorias near me” instead of looking up your restaurant by name. This means that you have to optimise your restaurant’s Google searchability. There are a few approaches you can take to achieve this. You can invest in Google Ads, claim your listing on Google Maps, or optimise your website’s SEO so your restaurant ranks highly in organic Google search results. If any of this sounds foreign to you, consider enlisting the help of a digital marketing specialist or take an online course for some basic training.

4. High days and holidays

Don’t forget to maximise on every holiday that occurs throughout summer. Even the not-so-real ones. Did you know that 2 January is Buffet Day or that 22 January is Hot Sauce Day? People will find any excuse to celebrate, and you can use this to your advantage. So have a look at the calendar and find the days that you can celebrate as fun occasions. If it fits your restaurant’s image, you can even host themed nights where patrons are encouraged to dress up. You can provide live entertainment and charge a small entry fee.

5. Those who can, teach

Foodies dream about recreating their favourite dishes from the restaurants they frequent. An interactive cooking class is an excellent way to help them do this while driving more people to your restaurant to add an extra revenue stream. Keep it small and intimate so you can give each pupil individual attention.

If your restaurant has a sommelier, you can even offer an informal course on wine or host wine tasting evenings. Make-ahead meal prep is huge among time-saving and penny-pinching millennials, so that’s another skill you can offer as a class. You’ll be surprised at what ordinary people are willing to learn from you.

For more tips on how to keep business booming, rain or shine, download our informative guide, Secrets to a Successful Restaurant.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst