Five Ways Restaurants Can Prepare for Summer

The last of the snow has finally melted away and the days are turning warmer, which means summer is just around the corner.  For business owners, particularly restaurants, it’s time to start preparing for this busy season.

Longer days bring bigger crowds enjoying leisurely meals; and those bigger crowds present an opportunity for restaurants to attract new patrons. If you want to capture new customers and boost your revenue this summer, now is the time to start preparing. Not sure where to start? Here are five things – from marketing your establishment’s offerings to payment technologies – you can do to ensure you’re summer ready:

Get the Word Out

Summer can be a make-or-break time for many restaurants, so it’s important to get the word out as early as possible. There’s no better avenue than social media — especially Instagram.

As food pictures continue to dominate the Internet, you should not only share your own meals on your restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, but also encourage customers to do the same. According to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend the equivalent of five days each year looking at pictures of food on Instagram; 30 percent said they’d avoid a restaurant if they had a bad Instagram page. Another tip? Seek out coverage from popular, local food-based Instagram accounts — see if they’ll feature some of your finest and most photogenic meals/cocktails.

There are countless other small tasks that will help to market your restaurant or make you more easily discoverable. Consider registering your establishment on Apple Maps to increase your chances of being found in relevant searches. Also try to make your Yelp presence a positive one.

Get Your Staff Ready

Sometimes, a seasonal rush means hiring new staff — for restaurants in vacation areas, it could even mean hiring an entirely new staff. However you find your new summer employees, it’s important to start looking early to make sure you’re set well ahead of time (… after all, the proactive early job seekers may be the best employees.) But don’t forget: equally important as finding good employees is planning and preparing employee training with your restaurant processes and equipment.

Optimize Your Technology

Wait time plays a big role in customer satisfaction. Restaurants now have new technology options that can vastly speed up checkout, and the time to explore this tech is now, before the busy season hits.

Pay at the table, for instance, is growing in popularity throughout the US, and can massively cut down on restaurants’ payment processing times. Ninety-three percent of restaurants usually have some wait time, and at the busiest times customers typically wait 30 minutes. Using pay at the table to turn over tables faster will make a huge difference in those times — it could cut them by nearly 20 percent.

You also need to have intuitive, easy-to-use tech, too, so that new summer employees can quickly familiarize themselves with it. Wait staff should concern themselves with remembering customer orders, not remembering how to enter them into your system.

Move Outdoors

Many restaurants have an outdoor space that can hold additional customers when the weather’s nice. If you don’t have an outdoor space, there’s other ways to move beyond your four walls: pop-up shops, food festivals, food trucks and more are all great ways to expose your brand to new customers. And if you’re using mobile technology, it not only can enable pay at the table that makes outdoor dining easier, it can enable remote checkout in areas like food trucks, too.

Prepare the Summer Touches

Whether it means adding gazpacho and refreshing cocktails to appease seasonal tastes, or opening windows to evoke a patio feel, it’s important to make sure you’re ready to appeal to customers’ season-specific mindsets.

Keep your menu fresh and interesting by updating it with summer-inspired specials. Make sure you have your plans laid out for both food and décor. Determine who your distributors will be, and be ready to make the changes over the coming months.

So while it may still be cold, it’s time to prepare for the warmer weather. Get started soon, and be well on your way to a very prosperous summer.