Last Updated:
July 17, 2024

Tips to boost sales in seasonal restaurants

Maximize profits with seasonal sales! Attract customers and increase revenue during peak seasons with actionable tips for restaurant owners.
Tips to boost sales in seasonal restaurants
Bogdan Patynski
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Your restaurant's sales can fluctuate significantly due to the change of the seasons. It's important to understand how seasonal changes can impact your sales.

Running a restaurant is the most overwhelming, yet fulfilling job. As a restaurant owner, you are constantly dealing with multiple tasks at any given time. From training staff to ordering supplies and equipment, to keeping a close eye on your cash flow, you are working relentlessly to ensure your restaurant is operating smoothly.

These are internal influences that you have full control over. But what about something you can’t control, like the weather? Your restaurant’s sales can fluctuate significantly due to the off-season. That’s why it’s important to understand how seasonal changes can impact your restaurant and come up with ways to maintain your business’ success during those months.

Here are some tips to set you on the right path to seasonal success!

The Seasonal Challenges of the Restaurant Industry

The seasonal changes have a significant influence on the businesses in the restaurant industry. This is due to the inevitable seasonal changes and off-season that restaurant owners experience every year. In fact, this impact varies based on seasonality (i.e. customer numbers may rise, remain constant, or even decrease due to a variety of factors). 

As a consequence, many businesses are compelled to increase their marketing strategy efforts, reduce inventory levels, or adjust staff levels in order to remain competitive.

Factors Affecting Restaurant Demand During Seasonal Changes

Seasonality is a fact of life for businesses, and regardless of the economy, there are always seasons when business is slow and others when it's busier than usual. However, in the restaurant industry, seasonal changes occur for a variety of reasons. The following are the top three factors that will have an impact on most restaurants throughout the year.

Seasonal Holidays and Special Occasions

Major seasonal holidays, such as Christmas and New Year's Day can have a significant influence on restaurant sales. According to a survey, more than 60% of restaurants suffer from decreased traffic. This is because customers are less inclined to eat out since they spend time with family, cook meals at home, are on vacation, or give money during this season. 

However, this is not the case in all situations. Other restaurant businesses may see a significant increase in sales as some corporate business throws large annual parties and families choose to go out for a unique holiday meal experience. Fast food chains or casual dining restaurants may also have large traffic as customers are more likely to pick up a quick meal while shopping and other activities before and after holidays.

Summer is the perfect time to thrive

The summer or warm seasons are often the busiest for the restaurant industry. This is partly the result of an increase in tourism in many places since people like to spend more time outdoors when the weather is nicer. Restaurants near or in busy hotels may see a rise in business during the tourist season since the hotel sector also experiences a rise in business. Additionally, summer is a perfect time for restaurants to host outdoor concerts and other enjoyable entertainment events, which is likely to lure patrons and boost revenue.

A decline in the Winter Season

The ability of a restaurant to prosper throughout the winter could weaken. Customers could feel less tempted to visit restaurants during the chilly winter months, especially if they have to contend with snow, ice, or extremely low weather. Half-empty restaurants and a decline in food sales are caused by fewer patrons.  But for restaurants that provide speedy delivery can have a steady flow of business as more customers may opt to place orders over the phone or online and have their meals delivered to their homes

Seasonal Changes Unrelated to the Weather

The weather may not always be significant for the seasonal sales of the restaurant businesses. Here's an example, businesses in the cities or towns that are located close to colleges or universities and mainly serve the student population could see strong sales during the academic year but decline at the start of summer break. 

How to Increase Sales During the Season: Combating Seasonal Changes

By definition, seasonal sales are any period of the retail fiscal year when a company's client traffic and conversions are above average, resulting in increased sales and profit margins. This seasonality occurs on a regular basis, whether it's every year, every quarter, or on other predetermined occasions. 

We've outlined several methods on how to boost seasonal sales throughout the year. 

1. Establish a clear goal for the season

Many companies have acknowledged that they don't spend enough time developing seasonal goals. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the most common one is that they've been spending more time focusing on other aspects of the business.  Restaurant owners could miss great opportunities if they don't have a specific approach during seasonal changes. For this reason, establishing seasonal goals is essential in developing strategies to achieve potential sales revenue for the entire year. 

The season should be defined by your brand

Seasonal branding is a form of branding that involves modifying your brand identity for a set length of time. This doesn't mean you're rebranding entirely. Decorations help to create a holiday spirit which is essential for attracting customers to your site. Updating how your restaurant "looks" to fit the season (i.e. putting Halloween decorations) while keeping the core branding. 

Keep the changes to a minimum, to make it easier to revert to your core identity when the event is over. 

2. Ensure your business can handle increases in demand during the holiday seasons

Hire seasonal help

Before diving in, you should take a step back and ask yourself a few questions. It is to figure out if you need extra help during that time or not. These questions include: Are we busy at the same time every year? Is there enough time to train new employees?

Once you've decided that your business does need seasonal workers, you'll need to go through the hiring process. It is because you are only hiring for a short time, and it would be a waste to interview and train someone who doesn't work out. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for new employees:

  • Keep your expectations and job description clear
  • Look for someone with a positive attitude and a good work ethic
  • Start the hiring process before the season changes
  • Look into referrals from your current staff
  • Consider financing for supplies

In order to run your restaurant successfully during different seasons, you should consider hiring new employees (based on how busy you might be), change your menu accordingly, and invest in an inventory management system. All of this, of course, requires a good amount of working capital. There are banks and other traditional financing institutions that will provide you with the business loan you need to cover these expenses. But their application process is usually slow and tiresome. That’s why online lenders like Lending Loop exist! As the first peer-to-peer lending platform in Canada, Lending Loop offers fast, easy, and affordable loans to small and medium sized businesses. Also, before applying, ensure you have a good business credit score and can afford to repay the loan on time.

Keep track of your inventory & manage it

Although the holiday season is known as a peak period for restaurants and pubs, having a strategy in place will make your company run more smoothly and effectively. With the holiday rush, you'll want to make sure your restaurant or bar provides a personalized and hassle-free customer experience.

Managing your inventory is essential, so you don't run out of supplies mid-service. It would help if you began collecting data. It would help if you took your inventory around the same time and day of the week. It ensures that all data is accurate and reliable based on your needs.

Taking inventory isn't easy but necessary. There's a lot of work involved, so there is software to make the process easier. WISK has an excellent inventory management system with menu costing and ingredient-level tracking. This tool can accurately predict inventory needs, optimize food and drink prices, create deals, and more.

At the same time, your restaurant should be equipped with alcohol (make sure you have your smart serve license!) to meet customers’ needs. Now, the question is, how much liquor do you need? There is a relatively easy formula to figure out how much alcohol your restaurant has previously used, and how much you need to order for the future. But, who wants to do all the calculations manually? The answer is no one. That’s why our bar and inventory management software will help you manage your restaurant and beverages more effectively.

Build Off-Season Hype: Develop a Perfect Holiday Menu 

This may seem like a daunting task but it will pay off once the season changes. You might even think you will lose customers, but you won’t. As long as your restaurant is delivering the same awesome experience throughout the year (with the seasonal variety offered) you will most likely even gain new patrons!

All fresh produce for consumption changes as the season changes. So you can play around with seasonal offerings. For example, bell peppers are for summertime, squash is for fall, and spring is known for artichokes. Once you change the menu, train your staff on why some changes were made and what they are. This way they can upsell and answer any questions your consumers might have about the new dishes. And lastly, market your new offerings! This can be done either through social media posts, websites, word of mouth, or front window displays.

Tips to Boost Seasonal Sales

What are seasonal promotions?

Seasonal promotions are changes in your marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) that reflect the current demand for your product or service. For example, a restaurant might offer a special menu for Valentine's Day. And a hotel might offer a discount for stays booked during the off-season.

Why Are Seasonal Promotions Important?

Seasonal campaigns are a great planning tool for your marketing calendar. You may excite your customers with

more personal ideas and unique creative offers across your sales funnel with well-planned marketing initiatives.

1. Get your preparations right

The holiday season is a crucial time for boosting sales and bringing in new customers. Holiday sales can make a big difference to your bottom line, so it's important to get your promotions right. The peak season dining is all about celebrating, so your menu should reflect that. 

Offer holiday-themed dishes and drinks that will get diners in the spirit. Plan your holiday menu in advance. This will give you time to source the best ingredient and come up with creative dishes that will excite your diners. 

Make sure your staff is well-trained and ready to handle the holiday rush. This is especially important if you're adding new menu items or running special promotions. 

2. Increase Your Brand Awareness

The degree to which people are able to identify and recall a company is known as brand awareness. Seasonal promotions help drive affinity to your restaurant brand by offering a memorable experience to your patrons. 

Let your audience know that you offer discounts, freebies, and other goodies, especially during holidays and that you'll stay top of mind.

3. Word of Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is an essential part of driving sales and growth. And during the holiday season, this form of marketing can be even more effective. Take the time to reach out to your existing customer base and let them know how much you appreciate their business. This will go a long way towards ensuring that they remain loyal customers for years to come.

Repeat customers who have remained loyal are more inclined to recommend items and services to their friends and relatives.

Remember that word-of-mouth marketing is a year-round effort. While the holiday season provides a great opportunity to get people talking about your business and customers coming, it's important to maintain that momentum throughout the year by consistently providing quality products and excellent customer service.

4. Choose the right marketing channel

When choosing the right marketing channel, customer engagement is key. You want to make sure that your target audience is reached in a way that encourages interaction and promotes your brand.

There are many platforms to consider when promoting customer engagement; one size does not fit all when it comes to marketing purposes. Evaluate the customer base, you can then consider the marketing goals of the campaign. What message do you want to communicate? What call to action do you want customers to take?  

Run a Google Ads campaign

Google Ads can be an effective way to market products or services to a wide audience. You can use this tool to promote seasonal sales or special events. You can create ads based on location, age, gender, and interest for products or services and target new customers with seasonal promotions. 

Consistent Organic Facebook posts

There are a number of marketing channels that restaurants can use to boost sales, and one of the most effective is Facebook. By posting consistent, engaging content on their page, restaurants can reach a wide audience of potential customers. And, because Facebook is a free platform, it's an especially cost-effective marketing tool.

When creating Facebook posts, it's important to focus on quality over quantity. A few well-written posts that promote your restaurant's product line or upcoming events will be more effective than a large number of generic posts. It's also important to mix things up and post about different topics on a regular basis. In addition to promoting your restaurant menus and seasonal promotions, you can also post about relevant industry news, interesting facts about your product line, or fun events that you're hosting. 

Always keep your content fresh and exciting to maintain a strong following on Facebook - and ultimately boost sales revenue for your restaurant.

Facebook Ads

Restaurant owners often use Facebook ads to promote flash sales, busy season products, and other seasonal promotions. 

Facebook ads are a powerful marketing tool because they allow restaurant owners to attract customers by targeting a specific audience with laser precision. For instance, restaurant owners can target people who live in a certain city, who have engaged with their page in the past, or who have shown interest in similar products or services. 

Additionally, Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, making them an attractive option for restaurant owners looking to reach a large number of potential customers.

Instagram posts and ads

Running Instagram ads and posts can be a restaurant's best friend when it comes to marketing and driving sales. By using the stories feature, restaurant-goers can be enticed by flash sales or limited-time offers, which can be a great way to boost seasonal products and sales during slower periods. 

Additionally, restaurant owners can use Instagram to share behind-the-scenes content, announcements, or new menu items to create a sense of FOMO and encourage customers to come in. And because Instagram is all about visuals, it's the perfect platform to show off restaurant interiors, decor, and cuisine. 

Improve your SEO for holiday traffic

One way to improve your SEO for holiday traffic is to create a landing page on your website specifically for your restaurant's seasonal promotion. This landing page should be optimized for relevant keywords as well as include a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages customers to make a reservation. 

In addition, your website's overall design and user experience (UX) should be taken into consideration when creating a landing page as this can also affect your SEO ranking. Once your landing page is created, make sure to promote it through your other marketing channels such as social media and email marketing. 

Send out  marketing emails

Holiday email marketing campaigns are often one of the most effective for seasonal promotion. By sending out periodic emails with special offers such as a flash sale, discounts, and limited edition items, you can keep your audience engaged and provide customers with an incentive to visit your restaurant more often. 

Additionally, email marketing can be customized to target specific audiences and sales funnel, making it an especially powerful tool for increasing restaurant holiday sales. 

Use testimonials and evaluations from delighted consumers to inform your audiences about the quality of your seasonal items and sales. Include them in your email marketing campaigns. Customers who see that people just like them enjoy your products and services are much more likely to buy from you. 

5. Create a strategic timeline 

As a restaurant owner, you are always looking for ways to increase your revenue and keep your business afloat. 

One way to do this is to create a strategic timeline that takes into account seasonal changes and events throughout the year. This will help you to build anticipation and excitement around your restaurant, and ensure that you are able to capitalize on year-round sales. Year-round, special events provide another opportunity to drive traffic and boost sales.

Create a real-time marketing strategy efforts to build your brand more effectively and reach your target audience. This will create a sense of urgency that encourages them to visit your restaurant site. Running discounts promotion during a slow period can help jumpstart sales while promoting a new menu item during peak times can help drive traffic. 

6. Spoil the most profitable customers

As the weather begins to cool and seasonal changes take effect, many restaurants begin to see a decline in revenue. 

One way to increase sales during slow times is to focus on your most profitable customers. If you have a good relationship with your existing customers, you may acknowledge opinions expressed by them about your seasonal offerings. You can use this feedback to make adjustments to your menu or create a limited-time offer that will appeal to their taste preferences. 

7. Create restaurant product bundles that make sense

Restaurants can increase revenue by creating seasonal product bundles. This could include, for example, a holiday-themed bundle around recognized holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. Customers are more likely to be attracted to restaurants that offer seasonal product bundles because they appear to be more in touch with the current season and trends. 

Furthermore, by seasonal product bundles, restaurants can move inventory that may not be selling as well during other times of the year. For example, a restaurant could create a summer bundle that includes items such as a seasonal salad, lemonade, and iced tea. 

8. Review past seasonal trends and competition

As any business knows, seasonal trends and competition can have a big impact on holiday sales. Take a closer look at the demand for your product or service, the methods your rivals use to advertise during certain times of the year, and data from your own company to see whether there are any growth possibilities.

For example, if you notice that sales tend to drop off during the off-season, you can develop and focus on seasonal promotion or offer that targets that timeframe. Or, if you see that your competitor's seasonal promotions are driving significant traffic, you can evaluate your own product or service offerings to see how you can better compete

Succeeding During Off Season

The holidays are a fantastic opportunity to capitalize and focus on increased consumer spending and propel your business forward, allowing you to achieve your marketing objectives and reach new heights.

But during off season it can be difficult for some businesses. It's critical to consider how your company may meet the demands of consumers in order to fulfill its goal during seasonal changes. 

The key to succeeding during the off season is to be strategic. By taking into account the ebbs and flows of customer traffic, you can create a plan that will help you increase sales when business is slow.

Implementing these seasonal sales strategies can help your restaurant thrive year-round, allowing you to see your ROI grow as you tap into new revenue streams and build customer loyalty.

So don't let the off season get you down - with a little bit of effort, you can succeed in spite of it.


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