Summer is fast approaching, and it’s the busiest time of the year for many restaurants. This is due an increase in tourism in many cities, as well as warmer temperatures that entice locals to venture outdoors.
Operators should start preparing now for when business heats up. That means making sure food menus are on-trend with current cravings, getting creative with cocktail and mocktail offerings that are refreshing, updating and cleaning the restaurant where needed, making repairs and ensuring front and back of house staff are ready to cook and serve.
Here are five ways restaurant operators can boost customers’ summer dining experience—and increase sales.
1. Network with local hotels
The first thing many tourists do after checking in to a hotel is ask the concierge where they can find the best meal in town. Visit local hotels and befriend the concierge with a sample of treats from the restaurant or offer them a free dinner. These hotel staffers have enormous influence in making local recommendations.
2. Dine al fresco
Summer outdoor dining is always a popular way to attract customers. Many diners simply appreciate the view as they enjoy their meal, especially if a restaurant overlooks a riverwalk, the ocean or another natural wonder, and if the weather is nice, eating outside is the preferred option for many patrons.
As temperatures rise, so do the risks of food poisoning. Keep outdoor dining safe by following a few easy steps:
- Do not don’t leave food outside in hot weather (90°F or above) for more than one hour to prevent growth of harmful bacteria.
- Have sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer stands placed in convenient locations for those customers who don’t want to visit the restroom.
- Make it a habit to clean tabletops between each seating and service areas with a multi-surface sanitizer, as well as sweep the floor to prevent unwanted “guests.”
- Keep all perishable foods kept outside refrigerated below 40°F.
- Avoid preparing food outdoors—all food prep should be done in the kitchen.
3. Host special events
Hosting a special event is a great way to engage customers and pack a restaurant. There are plenty of special events that can be put on without breaking the bank, such as wine tastings, food tastings, cooking classes, guest chef appearances, live music, charity auctions and trivia nights.
4. Upgrade the online presence
Online marketing is extremely important for all restaurants because it has a huge influence on the way consumers make dining decisions, particularly when it comes to tourists. Most people will visit a restaurant’s website before making a reservation, so it needs to be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly and offer all the key information (hours, location, menus, specials, events). Plus, it should be updated on a regular, if not daily, basis. Online marketing also needs to include maintaining Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Overseeing online marketing should the responsibility of a brand marketing manager—not the chef or service staff—who has an understanding of all the inner workings of the operation.
5. Focus on cleanliness
A restaurant cannot live alone on the quality and flavor of its food. Consumers say that cleanliness of the dishware and overall restaurant cleanliness are the most important attributes when choosing where to dine, according to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics. Also, cleanliness of the restaurant’s exterior, entryway, hostess stand, floor, windows, bathrooms and kitchen or prep area are all far more important to consumers than whether the restaurant is kid-friendly, offers healthy options or has affordable menu prices.
To help meet customer expectations and make cleaning easy and safe for staff, especially with outdoor dining, try using a multi-surface one-step sanitizer and cleaner designed for restaurants, such as PURELL® Foodservice Surface Sanitizer. The fragrance-free sanitizer is formulated for food contact surfaces with no rinse required and has a rapid germ kill time that eliminates norovirus, salmonella and E. coli in 30 seconds and hepatitis A in 60 seconds.
The PURELL® brand also offers touch-free floor stands and PURELL® Wipes that allow operators to create a custom hand-hygiene solution, which are perfect for outdoor dining areas and gives operators the freedom to move and position a dispenser where it’s most needed. Plus, the stands can be personalized by adding a logo or a message, which can reinforce a brand while also promoting well-being.
Customers love dining al fresco. Keep them as safe outdoors as when they dine indoors with PURELL® brand products.
This post is sponsored by GOJO Industries, the inventors of the PURELL brand