What’s the average Tuesday night like at your restaurant? If it’s anything like most establishments, you probably make just enough to cover your overhead for the night. In other words, it’s not exactly rush hour.
Getting customers in on a weekday night or mid-afternoon takes some skill. You’ve got to give people a reason to go outside their ordinary routine to visit your establishment. Usually, that means offering something beyond great food and exceptional service — like a special promotion or event.
Many restaurant owners opt for the simplest route: offer a two-for-one night or a free app. Of course, discounts always have their place — these kinds of promotions are easy to implement and have a long-lasting appeal. But they’re not exactly the most exciting thing on the promotional menu.
If you’re ready to mix it up, you’re going to have to get more imaginative. So if you’re looking for a fresh new way to fill those booths, look no further than these six suggestions.
1. Establish Yourself as the Go-To Venue for Meetups
“So where are we going to meet?” If you’ve ever run a social club or group before, you know how hard it is to find a great venue. Groups and clubs are always looking for welcoming spaces for their events, and grateful members are usually ready to purchase food and drinks as a token of their thanks. Reach out to groups in your area, like your local HOA, book clubs in your neighborhood, or a nearby college life office, and see if they need somewhere to meet up. Bonus: groups tend to meet on weekday nights — in other words, off-hours in the restaurant business.
2. Plan Themed or Event Nights
Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day . . . Not for restaurant sales, anyway. But there is one way you can encourage sales without flooding parking lots with coupons: plan a unique theme or event night. A few ideas to try are wine tastings or beer pairings with specials on particular bottles, TV watch parties where you give customers a chance to catch up on the latest episode of their favorite cable shows, or a hot pepper eating contest with some of the world’s spiciest peppers. Use your imagination and focus on the fun, and you’ll have your restaurant full on those dreaded slow hours.
3. Turn Tuesday Nights into “Show Time”
Entertainment and dining go hand in hand. Booking a musical act is an old mainstay in the restaurant business; people always like a little background music while they eat. However, you don’t have to take the conventional route. Hosting a comedian or a speaker to deliver their own personal TED talk is a unique way to satisfy your customers’ appetite for fun without the official lounge act.
4. Become the Hottest Co-working Location
Three o’clock may be a dead time for your restaurant, but for remote workers and entrepreneurs, it’s business as usual. And those workers need somewhere to set up shop — preferably somewhere with coffee, snacks, and a great Wi-Fi connection. Get your cable internet provider to soup up your wireless internet and make sure you have plenty of outlets. The area’s remote workers will love you.
5. Open Yourself Up for Corporate Functions
Businesses have a variety of needs that can be serviced by restaurants: staff lunches, special functions, and client dinners. Use your networking skills to rub elbows with corporate leaders, and they may reward you with tons of weekday business. Not sure how to meet business leaders? Try joining a networking group or connect with your local chamber of commerce. Just make sure you can deliver a consistent, polished dining experience since corporate customers will be dining to impress.
6. Plan a Service Industry Night
Guess who’s not at work during restaurant off hours? Your area’s service industry employees. For waitstaff, cooks, bartenders, and other restaurant team members, Monday is usually the start of their weekend. Offer deep discounts for service industry employees who can show you proof of their employment in the industry, and you’re sure to build a loyal following among the restaurant community. As a benefit, you’ll also connect yourself with a pool of local talent. So who knows, you may even get a new server or two out of the deal!
You don’t have to limit yourself to these ideas. Your imagination’s the limit when it comes to restaurant promos. So get ready to pump up your employee schedules — you’re going to need all hands on deck to handle this crowd!