The unofficial start to summer & the official start of the food service busy season!
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Summer fun (for everyone)
Solstice? We don’t need no stinkin’ solstice. Summer starts with Memorial Day weekend, right? If you’re in food service summer often offers increased business. But it hardly ever means “summer vacation” for folks in the industry. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the season as much as civilians do. Here are some tips to boost summer fun for owners and customers alike:
The out-of-towners’ special
I was recently in Chicago and learned that Illinoisians (yep, that’s what people from Illinois are called) who spend summers out of state are often referred to as FIPs – f*%king Illinois people. Hopefully not by the business owners whose revenue increases every summer. I say you should welcome out-of-towners with open arms and even a token of appreciation – maybe a custom dessert or souvenir trinket for the kids. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in a world where businesses live and die by online reviews and social media mentions, every little bit of extra effort can pay big dividends.
Jump on the bandwagon
So what if the state fair is hundreds of miles away from your location? Get in touch with them and see what (possibly free) promotional materials and/or collaborative programs are available. Likewise, connect with whatever local event or program might be happening. There’s strength in numbers (and in shared hashtags). And as I mention above, it’s a possibly free or low cost way to be part of something bigger (that is, somebody else has already footed the bill to promote the event). For instance, if your city has a summerfest, offer a “summerfest special,” take a picture of it, add the group hashtag (e.g. #CITYNAMEsummerfest2018) and post on Facebook and Instagram.
Rebrand your menu
Do you have items on your menu that are natural summer matches? Highlight them (even if you offer them year ‘round) with a menu insert or table tent. Grilled items, picnic favorites and portable dishes (for a real picnic) with seasonal names (Summer Veggie Kabob – seriously, it isn’t any more complicated than that) or a fruity sangria added to your wine list sell surprisingly well during the summer if you bring them to customers’ attention.
Except for the wait staff that gets the patio section, your staff is stuck indoors all summer. Treat them to summer-themed uniforms. I’m not suggesting a complete overhaul. A new t-shirt in multiple colors can be enough to brighten moods and your décor over the summer. Don’t forget the kitchen crew!
Summer goes fast, winters are long and life is short. Remember when you couldn’t wait for the end of the school year because summer was so incredibly fun? Bring some of that back for yourself, your staff and your customers. I guarantee you won’t regret the effort.