Eating out of doors in early Spring? Have British diners gone mad? Yes – and they’re delighted to be doing it. So if you’re one of the lucky restaurateurs with outdoor space it’s time to make the most of Alfresco April.
Many already have a dining patio, and others are quickly repurposing outdoor areas; some councils have relaxed restrictions to make life easier. You’ve probably already considered some sort of cover from the British weather, carefully measured out your social distance space, and polished the cutlery…
And with indoor still shut for a number of weeks, you can get your season off to a good start by maximising the revenue from outside dining by taking these 6 important steps.
1. Let everyone know you’re open: Seems obvious? Maybe – but don’t leave it to chance. Consumers are going to be spoiled for choice, so use all your channels (website, social media, email marketing) to reach out digitally and welcome them to your new alfresco experience.
2. Maximise your table turn: OK, it’s probably going to be chilly, even if you have installed chic patio heaters. But that might not necessarily make people move on swiftly when their meal is finished.
Encourage swift table turn by providing your serving staff with mobiles or handheld devices to enable tableside ordering and payment, courtesy of your restaurant EPOS software. No delays or unnecessary waits – orders go direct to the kitchen, and payments are made in a convenient jiffy. Next customers, please!
An increasing number of operators are also using self-service well, allowing customers to order via tablets and kiosks.
3. Seat them well: With limited spaces available, you need to make sure every table is utilised to perfection. Restaurant EPOS software provides a graphical seating plan in real time, so there are no errors and no delays with guest management. It also means you can manage the expectations of unseated customers by letting them know how long they will need to wait.
4. Online booking: Take bookings 24/7 and provide your customers with the most convenient way to make a reservation; an enormous asset whether you’re serving up outdoors or indoors.
Many restaurants have developed a takeaway and delivery revenue stream during the lockdown, and are probably planning to continue – so online access to this is crucial for the same reasons mentioned above. But whether you’re serving out of doors or for delivery, it’s a good time to make sure you are offering dishes that are right for the situation.
5. Customer loyalty: Once they’ve enjoyed their alfresco experience, make sure they come back again with targets email campaigns. By capturing important data, restaurant management technology provides you with the detailed knowledge to reward them by offering something they will genuinely enjoy.
6. Maintain great control: That captured data helps in so many ways: improving stock control by highlighting top-selling dishes, identifying how many staff you need at any time, and even reducing the chance of staff fraud by providing an insight into operations that leaves no room for wrongdoing.
Restaurant EPOS software provides comprehensive reports online into all aspects of your operation, whether you are a chain restaurant group or a solo operator. It minimises head office role duplication and keeps your finger firmly on the pulse of the business.
You can’t do anything about the rain…
But there is plenty you can do – with the help of technology – to control and streamline your operations and make the most of this step back towards normality.
It’s not possible for everyone – as many as half of restaurants and pubs do not have a suitable outdoor space – but as celebrated restaurateur Mitch Tonks told Big Hospitality magazine recently, for many it’s a good opportunity, and he plans to keep a big focus on it even when indoor opening begins.
“The pandemic has changed the way the public think about outdoor dining,” he says. “They have rediscovered public spaces.”
So let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather in Alfresco April – and use technology to get ready for the return of the hardy, hungry British diner.
Learn more about boosting your business with restaurant EPOS software: