With increased talk of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the rise of the Delta variant, restaurant owners are still adapting their dine-in operations to keep up with the times. As a part of this process, many operators have once again turned to outdoor dining as a lifeline to help recover lost revenue and make customers feel at ease. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report, 70 percent of consumers reported they would likely take a table outside if the conditions were right. With colder weather right around the corner for many parts of the country, now is the time for restaurant owners to utilize their POS technology to maximize outdoor dining profits and capitalize on the end of summer season.
Here are some of the ways restaurant owners can leverage a holistic and data-driven POS system to optimize their outdoor dining operations.
Actionable Insights Gathered by POS Data
An omni-channel POS system can play a large role in maximizing an outdoor patio’s potential through data-driven actions. For example, data gathered by a POS system can help to create tailored, efficient floor plans, allowing restaurant owners to better utilize outdoor space and increase ROI. The system can also help to streamline front- and back-of-house processes to increase employee workflow and production efficiency, as well as customer capacity requirements, allowing outdoor orders to be handled quicker and with better service.
Additionally, POS insights can help restaurant owners identify their top-selling seasonal items based on customer data and adjust the menu accordingly. Owners can also review sales trends from previous years to determine which items attracted the most attention per season and then create an exclusive menu with specials that specifically attracts customers to the outdoor seating area. For example, while summer specials may lean heavily on refreshing spritzes, oyster specials and light salads, cold weather patio specials should emphasize warming cocktails and hearty soups.
Customized and Tailored Promotions
Beyond just rolling out new, outdoor-friendly menu items, operators can also utilize their POS system to create calculated promotions by first determining where to implement price cuts without negatively impacting the bottom line. Analyzing inventory data can help restaurants distinguish which items cost the least amount of money to prepare and incorporate those findings into the creation of patio-friendly LTOs or promotions.
From there, restaurant owners can leverage their POS-integrated loyalty program platforms and mobile apps to ensure those promotions are getting in front of the right customers. This will not only drive more guests, and sales, to the restaurant but also specifically encourage outdoor dining because of the specialized menus.
Overall, outdoor seating can be an effective lifeline as the restaurant industry continues to recover from the pandemic and, with proper precautions, can extend well into the early winter months. With the right POS system, restaurant owners have an invaluable tool to help drive outdoor sales and maximize revenue long past the summer season.