Foodservice operators and the industry as a whole take a big hit as a result of severe wintry conditions. Especially so in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest where people are less likely to go out in snow and ice. 75% of surveyed restaurant owners report that changes in weather result in at least a 10% sales decrease. Despite harsh weather, many operators refuse to let the tough climate months keep them down. Desperate times call for creative measures. Here are some things operators are doing to keep business afloat during the BIG chills.
A number of operators have opted to give out “crummy weather” vouchers to keep sales afloat during the cold months. Some operators have even seen an increase of foot traffic as a result of handing out vouchers or coupons. SPIN! Pizza, in Kansas City, found success with the vouchers and are looking to expand to more year-round warmer locales (soon to open a location in Huntington Beach, CA).
Or take a cue from the hospitality industry. In 2008 the Venetian resort in Las Vegas priced rooms based on the desert temperatures. Happy hours temperatures anyone?
Less Walk-Ins, More Deliveries
Between new deliveries options like GrubHub or foodservice operations adding delivery options, getting food at home has never been easier. And in bad weather, it’s very popular. Operations that do not offer delivery may be missing out on increased sales. Delivery folks may be missing out on higher tips. GrubHub reports during the height of the Polar Vortex, tips increased in areas by 24%.
If you’re in a major metropolitan area or tourist center, chances are bad weather causes travelers to go the room service route and not venture too far. If your operation relies on tourists, consider a consistent local marketing approach.
No matter how many Doppler radars there are, predicting the weather is difficult. Staffing is also. If your operation is flexible with job functions, the opportunity to ramp up delivery staff is a huge benefit.
We invite you to join Kitchen Conversations! Tell us what creative strategies you have tried to keep your restaurant busy and profitable during bad or less than ideal weather. We’d love to hear from you too!