4 Techniques Real Restaurants Use to Offset Slow Days

By: Caroline Price

6 Minute Read

Oct 02, 2019

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Slow days min

Your restaurant is buzzing every weekend. Fully staffed; tables turning over like clockwork. 

But mid-week can feel a little… lacking. Lonely. Sparse. And the place is… well, not exactly buzzing.

You aren’t alone: this is a nationwide problem, with data showing that the slowest days of the week are Mondays and Tuesdays, with mornings and early afternoon being the least profitable times of day. Our research shows that nationally, Mondays bring in 54% less revenue than Saturdays, on average. 

Specifically in Denver, Toast research shows that the most popular time of the week for restaurants is Saturday at 8 PM, based on our recent data from the 2019 Restaurant Success Report. 

4 ways Denver restaurants are successfully offsetting slow days

So how do you attract customers to build momentum during the week so you’re not relying on the revenue generated during those epic Saturday nights? We checked out three restaurants in the Denver metro-area – Old Town Putt, a bar and mini-golf course in Fort Collins, CO, Tapateria in Colorado Springs, CO, and Park Burger in Denver, CO – to learn about the specific techniques they use to drive business on traditionally slow days. The following ways to increase restaurant sales are also great to lean on during slow months, seasons, or really any slow period in your business. 

Read More: The Ultimate Checklist for Following The Restaurant Health Code

1. Partner with other local businesses, apps, or organizations mid-week.

Like most mini-golf courses, Old Town Putt has a lot of open-air green spaces, and  they use them to their advantage on slow days. They regularly partner with local businesses, schools, and organizations to run yoga classes, field days, company events, and more. These special events increase Old Town Putt’s brand awareness by encouraging new customers outside their traditional mini-golf audience to come by for a yoga class and – once they’re there – stay after for post-workout mimosas and drinks. 

Besides renting out their space to local organizations on slow days, Old Town Putt has found success partnering with other companies in the food and beverage space and offering their customers or members limited time offers (LTOs), discounts, and freebies to drive visits. They recently partnered with Tab Hop (a member-only subscription app that gives customers their first drink free at partnering bars) and ran two LTOs for Tab Hop subscribers: a drink on the house, and a mini golf contest where the winner had their full tab paid for by the app. 

Similarly, Tapateria in Colorado Springs partnered with Black Bear Distillery to host a Tuesday night special spirits dinner with an elaborate five-course menu and specially crafted cocktails. The event gave both brands a chance to expand their reach and introduce themselves to new audiences: Black Bear fans had the opportunity to experience their favorite spirits paired with Tapateria’s menu, while Tapateria fans could enjoy new creations from a team they know and love paired with cocktails from the masters at Black Bear.  

Read More: 5 Restaurant Community Involvement Ideas to Help You Give Back

2. Time your email marketing offers, incentives.

Timing is everything in business and in email marketing. To encourage mid-week visits, send your guests an email at the same time and day mid-week, every week to announce a special event or special mid-week-only dish. Give it a fun name if it fits with your brand, like the Working Week Special, Everyday Entree, or Wednesday Crudité. 

At a recent event geared toward restaurant managers – Food For Thought: New York City – our speakers explored how data can improve your restaurant operations, and lead to stronger relationships with guests. This applies across the board: Building and collecting restaurant CRM data can allow you tailor these email specials directly to your customers’ interests. . 

Instead of sending a generic, across-the-board discount, segment a portion of your customers who have ordered a specific dish or drink more than once and offer them a discount on said menu item to incentivize a mid-week visit. Integrated CRM systems, like the one available to Toast customers, can help you better target your customer marketing efforts and drive repeat guests by providing the essential data and segmenting tools you need to craft targeted marketing campaigns.  

Read More: Restaurant Technology Trends: 3 Ways CRM is Impacting Hospitality

3. Make your online ordering ridiculously easy.

Research shows that digital orders at restaurants have grown 23% annually since 2013. Online ordering is projected to triple in volume by the end of 2020 — and the average online ordering check size is 23% larger than in-store checks.

What does the shift to off-premise dining mean for you? It means that restaurants like yours must adapt operations to meet the requests and demands of guests and consumers. Optimizing the discoverability and usability of your mobile and online ordering platforms is one of the easiest and best ways to capture off-premise sales, especially during those slower weekdays when many diners would prefer to grab and go. 

Make sure your online ordering system is noticeable on your website and social media channels, as well as easy to spot in your restaurant in the form of bathroom signage, on-table placards, or a card attached to guests’ checks. Having clear signage for where to pick up online orders – such as self-service shelves or specific counters – can also make the process even more seamless and convenient and may draw the eye of guests dining in your restaurant who didn’t know you had take-out available.

Denver-based Park Burger does this well: They feature online ordering prominently on their website and make it super convenient for third party delivery vendors to pick up orders when they stop by Park Burger, as well as for customers who are popping in to get their take-out order.

Read More: How Online Ordering can Increase Check Size by 23%

4. Create a regular mid-week mini-event.

Eatertainment is all the rage. Millennials are 74% more likely to spend money on an experience over a material object, which has led to a 4x spend increase on ‘experiences’ in the past few years. This phenomenon is what we now know as the experience economy. It just so happens that in Toast’s 2019 Success Report, guests ranked “upcoming events” in the top three things they want to hear about from your restaurant in loyalty/rewards program emails.

Give your guests something to add to their calendars. Old Town Putt offers specials and discounts throughout the week, as well as weeknight happy hours and events throughout the week. Every Tuesday, Old Town Putt also hosts a weekly mini golf competition, where they offer free food and drinks to the winners. These regular events give guests an event they can work into their weekly schedules.  

Their “Sunday Fundays” also bring business on slow Sunday afternoons, through corn-hole tournaments, BOGO offers and drink discounts. 

Read More: 10 Restaurant Promotion Ideas You'll Wish You Thought of Earlier

Slow day? No way

Maybe every weeknight can’t be as popping as a Saturday night. But with a little creativity and inspiration, you can turn your restaurant into a midweek destination for local patrons, as well — just like these Denver restaurants have. Give these approaches a try, and you, too, will repel slow-day slumps forever.

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