Ah, the post-holiday winter months. The time where temperatures seem to plummet, resolutions are made, and restaurants face a seriously slow season. Customers are less likely to dine out during the months that plague their cities with ice, snow and overall chilly temperatures, especially when they’ve spent the last few weeks capitalizing on all that the holidays have to offer. Keeping a steady flow of business can be difficult during the upcoming slow season, so it’s important to brainstorm a few ways to attract new customers and retain your current ones. Take a look at these five tips to boosting sales during the approaching slow months in the restaurant business:  

Run Special Promotions

Your restaurant might already run weekly or monthly promotions to get customers in for some reduced price fare. Now’s the time to think outside the box and up your promotions game. Patrons love a good deal, and promotions will give guests the extra push to bear the cold and leave their homes. Consider hosting events like cooking classes with your restaurant’s chef or paint and wine nights. With the Super Bowl and various sports games coming up in the next few months, there is a great opportunity to show your restaurant’s spirit (and flat screens) by hosting a game night event.  

Start Before the Slow Season

Don’t wait for the Super Bowl to roll around to start planning promotions. If customers are already familiar with your thrilling trivia nights, Wednesday night deals, etc. they’ll be more encouraged to choose your establishment for a fun-filled outing when they decide to step out and brave the cold. While there’s no way to avoid the post-holiday blues, restaurants can gear up by thinking of ways to ensure their customers have a warm and comfortable restaurant to kick back in all through the rest of winter. Start planning now.

It’s All About the Delivery

Your customers might not want to leave their bed on a chilly February weekend to visit your restaurant, but that doesn’t mean they can’t indulge in your delicious menu. Publicize your restaurant’s delivery menu this slow season with special deals. You can even curate a thoughtful delivery menu filled with cozy comfort foods perfect for a snowy day. Delivery menu items can be incorporated into the season’s holidays. Think of a “long weekend lunch special” for Presidents Day weekend or a BOGO pizza promotion for the March Madness basketball tournament. Since your kitchen will be slower anyways, it could be a good time to experiment with new recipes! As always, don’t forget a mouth-watering photoshoot to show off new dishes on Instagram. 

Rewards Programs

Likely, your restaurant already has a rewards program. Those slow months are the time to capitalize on them! Rewards programs can come in the form of point systems, loyalty punch cards, or referral programs, and are essential to increasing customer retention. Customers who have gained perks through rewards programs are more likely to visit a restaurant since they have freebies or discounts to take advantage of. A little bit of snow is no reason to turn down a half-priced bottle of wine, right? Remind repeat customers of their loyalty program perks by sending e-mails or texts that your restaurant is waiting for them to take advantage of their benefits.  

Help Customers With Their Resolutions

Did the holidays really happen if you haven’t concocted a plan to spend less and eat healthier starting January 1st? Many Americans use the new year as an excuse to reign in their spending and modify poor eating habits, but that doesn’t mean your restaurant needs to fall off their radar. Help customers achieve their new year’s resolutions by offering low-calorie or healthy options on your menu. Take advantage of “Dry January” by mixing up some alcohol-free cocktails to assist customers with staying on track. For diners who want to get healthy and save money, try partnering with another business for an exciting cross-promotion with an emphasis on fitness. For example, customers can get a free 10-day trial at a gym you’re partnering with when they try your new superfood salad. Make new year resolutions more fulfilling than just saving a buck on nachos or guzzling celery juice. 

Don’t let the post-holiday blues get a hold of your restaurant in 2020. Maintaining a steady flow of business and sales takes a little extra effort and creative promotions. Additionally, be sure to pay attention to your staff’s morale! Just as customers may experience a decreased urge to visit your restaurant, it can be difficult to show up to work every day when the temperatures drop and business is slow. As the new year rolls around make sure to pay extra care to your staff’s wellbeing. Your employees are important too!