During peak hours, there’s a high possibility for restaurants to make double or even triple the amount they would at any other time of the day. It’s evident that the average consumer will be more likely to leave the house or work towards these periods.
But then, there are off-peak hours: the dreaded periods when your restaurant is less likely to lose a dollar than make a few. For years, it’s been common practice to close during those times. By barring the doors, costs have been saved across the board – from labor to operations.
What if we told you it’s possible to turn those off-peak hours into profitable hours? Well, here are a few steps 9j how to.
Start Serving Small Plates during Off-Peak Hours
Modern dining behavior is partial to small plates. The recession can be seen as having changed the meal landscape for dining establishments. To save money and be cost-efficient, consumers became less observant of the traditional three meals. Having to be more fiscally conscious has drawn diners to smaller portions and plates, as well as to special pricing. Consumers are less full after a smaller meal, leaving them more likely to snack throughout the day at odd hours.
In 2019, no hour is off-limits when it comes to food consumption. The acceptance of small plates has turned off-peak hours into hopping hours.
The beauty of snacking is that it can take place at any time of the day. As a restaurant, appealing to this side of consumer behavior is only to your benefit. Below we show you how, without interfering with your regular menu.
Late morning—or early afternoon, depending on whom you’re talking to—is a premier hour to serve breakfast-themed meals. Light meal options such as egg sandwiches, fruit bowls, or small chicken-salad sandwiches are ideal at this unusual mealtime. If there are many businesses nearby, think about offering simple small plates that are easy to take to go, such as trail mix or bite-sized offerings.
Between 2 pm and 4 pm were once the loneliest hours for restaurant staff. But today, they’re popular snacking hours. To stimulate off-peak traffic in the middle of the afternoon, offer discounted prices on select items. One of the advantages of the snacking phenomenon is that diners don’t expect—or want—a full menu. This frees you from feeling compelled to offer a huge selection of dishes. Service will be faster, and your kitchen will be relieved during the relative downtime.
Happy hours are a great way to reenergize your early evening hours. Between 5 pm and 7 pm, professionals leave the office and want to unwind somewhere. They’re looking for great prices, small plates, and tasty appetizers.
Because happy hours are more about socializing than meals, orders tend to be placed continuously throughout them. Happy hour menus should feature discounted prices. Consumers will not attend a happy hour on a regular basis if it doesn’t feature low prices.
Additionally, happy hours are a great way to entice guests to stay for dinner. Of all the off-peak hours to resuscitate, this one offers the opportunity to make the most profit.
As my sister says, “Nothing good happens after 11 pm” Actually, we disagree. Late-night dining is arguably the most satisfying of the day. It’s when diet inhibitions get tossed out and replaced with cravings.
The late-night, post-dinner dining crowd is different from your usual diners. Typically, this group is young (between 18 and 24) and visiting a late-night dining spot to extend the night. To be the most appealing, your menu needs to offer fun and affordable choices. Slim down your regular menu, offering just appetizers, small plates, and easy foods that can be shared in a group. For entertainment, offer board games and play lively music.
If your late-night dining crowd is older, you can use the hour to present paired-back versions of your chef’s plates. Offer options for a well-balanced meal, in addition to small, shareable plates. You won’t need to entertain this crowd with games, but you should consider the overall ambiance. Dim the lights and play music. Word will soon get around that your restaurant is now a night-owl destination.
Do Your Market Research
Whatever ever your strategy may be, there’s no denying the importance of proper research. You need to understand what your guests like and what keeps them coming.
For example, you could observe if your guests typically order coffee with their late morning meals?l, and work on creating off-peak coffee specials.
Find out what your customers love and make a special out of it. It could be a discount offer or a special combo, or both. You’re free to get creative and come up with ways to capitalize on your customers’ preferences.
Run Targeted Specials
Are you a breakfast restaurant? How about running an Early Bird Special from 6 am. – 8 am. for those super early risers. You’re already cashing in before the rest of the world is probably even awake.
Specials could involve various times of the day; the idea is to get as creative as possible. And specials don’t necessarily have to equate to discounts; sometimes, it could be simply be trying out something new, a new recipe or food and wine combo and try it during your off-peak hours.
Every successful restaurateur looking to incorporate new and fresh ideas in the business uses off-peak hours to enact such ideas.
You should know that these periods account for one of the best ways to make guests happier, which translates to improvements in your overall profit.
Host Business Meetings
Are you having a notoriously slow Tuesday mid-noon? Why not create room for guests to host meetings in your restaurant? You could start by reaching out to local businesses with special drink offers when they use your space for meetings.
Being a monthly meeting spot for various businesses not only means filling your restaurant during slow hours but also translates to guaranteed monthly business.
Be Consistent with Your New Programs
Building up your off-peak hours requires time, marketing (think: a website and social media), and consistency. As you get started, you’ll learn which menu options work and which don’t. Adjust accordingly, but don’t make too many changes too often. If you’re inconsistent, you’ll risk turning away potential regular customers.
Service is more important than ever, so don’t view off-peak hours as a relaxed time for your staff. Train your FOH staff to be attentive, courteous, and friendly. Also, consider who is best suited to work each time of day. For instance, select energetic staff members to work happy hour and late-night hours.
When you start serving off-peak crowds, focus on their needs for that time of day. If you correctly satisfy their cravings, you’ll have a profitable business strategy in place. Plus, you might convert these diners into regular customers for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.