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Restaurant: Days of slow business

Discussion in 'Starting your journey' started by kate_r, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. kate_r

    kate_r Member

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    Hi

    I know this can be a vague question, but for casual restaurants, typically how many days of slow business (e.g., 20% less sales than same day in previous week) would the owner experience before they start feeling uneasy and the need to get things moving? Would throwing out 30% off discounts after experiencing 3 days straight be a bit of a knee jerk reaction or a kind of sensible optimisation?
  2. Dave - FS Concierge

    Dave - FS Concierge Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi @kate_r,

    I'm not a restaurant expert, but I would expect your business to be highly volatile, and could be affected by public holidays, school holidays, a nearby office closing down, or a million other things so 3 days probably doesn't mean anything at all.

    If it were me and I was concerned I'd try to "get things moving" in more sustainable ways during those down times. Rather than throw out discounts (short term) I'd think about how to make the shop-front more eye-catching, or where a strategically placed sign might help, or simplified menu, or better lunch meal deals (just random examples) or other ideas that may help in a more permanent way.

    Just a couple of thoughts for you while waiting for some restauranty people to offer their experience.

    Dave
  3. bpsadmin

    bpsadmin Member

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    Hi Kate,

    I agree with Dave.
    But would ask my customers what they want to see, or look at connecting with a like minded business and bouncing off each other like if you used organic produce to create relationships with local growers or not so local you promote there business and they could do the same.
    Become a pickup place for there goods to create foot fall.

    Just a idea

    Good luck

    Andy
  4. Zava Design

    Zava Design Renowned Member

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    If there are specific days of the week that are slow come up with some sort of theme or similar for those day(s) (eg, "Taco Tuesdays" that many bars have arose from that), obviously that fit in with your restaurant type.
  5. steve201

    steve201 Active Member

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    Hi Kate

    I’m an accountant / financial advisor whom has a lot of hospitality industry experience in business like boost juice , coffee club, subway, etc.

    The common theme in their success was a sense of community and belonging created by the owners and staff.

    What community do you represent in your business life?

    Gimmicks and discounts don’t work, it’s about value add.

    Steve
  6. Pixelbay

    Pixelbay Member

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    Hey, you could run a Facebook ad campaign targeting people with a birthday coming up in your area and offer them a free meal or entre or sonthing fit their bithday. This will get the birthday boy/girl in the doors with friends and family who will buy food and drinks.
    I’ve done this for clients in the past and it has worked very well (you will end up with a waiting list if your service and food is on point)

    I hope this helps,Nate
  7. m4engineers

    m4engineers Active Member

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    ... in this instance great food and value for money. It's all about them when they interact with your restaurant.

    If they don't know you exist you don't have a business, so throwing out discount may be a good strategic move only if you know your end game. Ask yourself what is the lifetime value of your diners? Do you expect them to come in once or keep coming thereon? Either way it's all about your food after their first visit.

    Few years back, I got a discount voucher to a newly opened Malaysian restaurant in Perth CBD. The food was authentic and reasonably priced. Over the next six months we returned to dine there five or six times, but each time we noticed the servings were becoming less. They closed shop after two years, what went wrong?

    ... I was attracted to that restaurant because it was so hard to get 'authentic home cooked meals', in my children's words "as good as mummy's cooking!" The next question; what is your unique value proposition that will keep them coming?

    Just me few cents for now. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  8. bb1

    bb1 Renowned Member

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    I would be asking myself why aren't people coming back to my business. A restaurant unless in a tourist hotspot will live on return or word of mouth custom, why aren't you getting this.

    Is it the food, the wait person, the manager, the décor, the ????, is it just in the wrong place with poor research before startup.

    If a business starts to throw out 30% off discounts to get custom, they are desperate, and they are on the way out, and time to shut the doors before going out with the bank giving you a push.
  9. m4engineers

    m4engineers Active Member

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    Two ways to look at it.

    The first is described aptly by your good-self. The second is being strategic. For any business to be sustainable, one must be able to acquire new customers at the lowest possible cost, and discount is amongst the most cost effective tool available to the marketer.

    What is more important than getting customers is keeping them. The second and subsequent sales will be the critical success factor, and is key to your long term business success, you need to trigger this response "This is a great restaurant!"

    We recently dined in a restaurant, before we finished; my wife was already planning for her next visit with the family. Happy New Year to you and all.
  10. Philip Stephens

    Philip Stephens Member

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    Coming in late here, I realise, and not familiar with the business, but a big discount is not the way to go. If the problem persists, try something that requires a spend for a gift... "Buy two coffees and get a Blueberry muffin".

    Discounts encourage people to wait for discounts. I live in Launceston, Tasmania, and a BIG local store have sales almost every month. I NEVER go in there to buy anything unless there is a sale. If it is not on sale today, it will be tomorrow.

    Pavlov's Dog.

    Enjoy!
  11. Paul - FS Concierge

    Paul - FS Concierge Administrator Staff Member

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    @Zava Design 's idea is a kind of in-between approach - for slow times, you can offer off-menu items that are packed with value for the customer.

    In that way you are not setting customers mindsets to discounts but are competing hard during slow times.
  12. El Arish Tropical Exotics

    El Arish Tropical Exotics Active Member

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    I don't think there is enough information provided in your thread for anyone to give you sound advice.
    Have you just taken the business over from someone else and are jittery about a drop? Have you just started up a new business and are nervous about the ups and downs? Or are you slowly tanking and wondering how you can attract business?

    You mention "casual dining" but can you elaborate on your opening hours and menu? Where are you located and who is your main clientle? Are you in a business district, shopping centre, in suburbia, a tourist area?

    The answer to your question needs to be tailored to the specifics of your business and who you are/should be catering to. Business area catering to breakfast and lunch? Think about allowing customers to order and pay online so all they have to do is pick up. Have ready made things available so they can grab a meal on the go. In the burbs? Think about advertising in the local school newsletters with a coffee and sweet for moms doing drop offs. It's in your slow time and it'll be easier to sell them on coming back for a full meal. Close to touristy areas? Backpackers love cheap food but get sick of burgers, pies and fries. Think about a plate of the day that is cheap and filling and is premade like a curry. Any leftovers can be made into pies or wrapped in filo the next day. Shopping Centre? All those employees have to eat so think about doing a "club membership" where they get 10-15% off certain meals or a free drink, etc

    That's just off the top of my head, obviously you need to customize to your situation but I just wanted to throw out a few examples. There are a million ways to value add that will bring customers in, quality is the thing that will bring them back. A 30% discount is just crazy town. In 20 years of working in restaurants both here and in New York I've never ever seen anyone do it, probably because that's your entire profit margin. But more importantly it screams "I'm desperate, don't know what I'm doing and don't really think my food is worth the price I'm selling it for".

    Good luck and remember what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
  13. bb1

    bb1 Renowned Member

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    Exactly, but from @kate_r initial comments, they had the customers initially, but then lost them, so she needs to look at why they didn't come back, no point drag in more one time customers with zero profit margin, who wont return again. Fix the underlying problems, before bringing in more customers.

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