Long warm days and cool nights are officially here. Summer has started, and restaurants have dusted the cobwebs from their patios in anticipation of the busy season to come. The warmest season of the year should see your profits rise like the heat index, so here are some creative ways to keep your establishment sizzling all summer long.
Join the Party
Summer event calendars are full of events and festivals from May through September, and a quick look at Eventbrite will show you that most of these festivals are centered around food and drink. There are a plethora of opportunities to host or sponsor these events, and each event offers something different. Sponsoring these festivals tends to provide a triple threat: an increase of your brand awareness, exposure to more customers, and networking opportunities for your team.
Worried about determining ROI from your sponsorship? Make sure your social media game is involved! Share on your own social media, engage with the events’ accounts, and leverage that hashtag to get in front of new audiences. Check-in with Facebook, live Tweet, share those #foodporn pics on Instagram and Snapchat all the fun!
Give them mini-vacations
With the heat of summer, can come the heat of envy as some head off to summer camp or vacation rather than school or the office. Stuck in town during your busiest season? You’ve got plenty of company so create some “stay-cations” instead! Choose a few nights or afternoons, go big and make it themed (who doesn’t love a luau or silly karaoke), or make it simple – music, lights, maybe some misting fans, a special menu item and themed beverage. Do something out of the ordinary! Set up a small bar or serving station outdoors to interact with your customers or invite some of your chef friends for a friendly competition to see who makes the best burger. People constantly keep an eye out for events and things to do to break up the work week and light up their weekends.
Give your customers a good answer to the question, “What did you do this summer?”
There’s a TON of hype around the 2016 Olympic games including the return of golf, the un-retirement of Michael Phelps and the last time the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, will lace up his shoes. National pride around the globe soars during the Games so build on that by offering special themed menu and beverage for different countries or events. Become the go to space known to be showing the games for a specific country or sport (hell yea handball and rhythmic gymnastics!) to rally faithful supporters in your city to return night after night. Have fun with promotion ideas and you’ll find your bar stools full all August long.
Highlight Cool Refreshments
When it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk and the air feels like bathwater, any beverage prefaced with “ice” in its name will be relished with pleasure by your customers. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, June is the highest production month year for ice cream and production stays strong through August with a spike during July (National Ice Cream Month). As they say, "If you make it, they will come!"
While sticky fingers from a dripping ice cream cone is a sure sign of summer, a survey commissioned by Baskin Robbins found that 70% of respondents prefer to eat ice cream from a bowl. Be sure to offer a frosty treat for your customers to top off dinner or take for the walk home. Get creative with flavors like strawberry balsamic basil, unique ice cream sundae toppings like peanut brittle or candied ginger, or keep it classic with ice cream sandwiches. And let people know about your sweet treats, especially during July!
Another thing that involves ice? Cocktails. Happy hours are HUGE during summer, especially during the work week when a cool beverage is a pleasant way to cool down at the end of the day, so make to offer tempting reprieves from the scorching heat. We’re thinking a fruity cocktail?!
Not every restaurant or bar has outside seating, but if you do, you know how in demand it will be. Make sure you let your customers know your patio or rooftop is open through your social media and keep places like Eater or local bloggers in the loop too. Maybe even offer them a drink on the house if they’ll share it with their networks. Dining al fresco is a treat, especially for city dwellers who often don’t have outdoor spaces of their own.
Remember, don't get heated over missed orders. Summer is already hot enough, so use BlueCart for your ordering and remain chill.