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What strategies to use during low seasons of a business. Especially in a restaurant.

With low sales, should I prioritize paying debts (suppliers)?

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Mwajuma hi. Before slow seasons is planning time, starting with a review and adjustment of your business plan. Some tips you may want to consider for difficult months: reduce operating costs, keep key staff, evaluate to change open hours, mantain web marketing, include home delivery, offer promotions (i.e.: discounts, birthday benefits, free drink cards, referral points), adjust the menu (i.e.: test new specials, discontinue low demand items), use magnet events (i.e.: happy hours, open mic, contests, live entertainment), offer your place for family parties - business meetings/events, have cable sports and give discounts during important games, etc, etc. Talk to your vendors about your ideas & efforts and ask for their support. As you can see there is more than one road to Rome. Have success.

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Miguel's mention of events sparked an idea ... how about a week-long food festival with competition between every participating restaurant in town, ideally part of a cultural or social celebration. Scoring could include Critic's Choice and People's Favorite awards, plus food type or style niche's. Get the city fathers or tourism officials to help recruit mystery celebrities to pop in randomly so that eating out offers a chance to spot or even engage a celebrity. Hire a celebrity chef to rotate through 5 different restaurants during the week - maybe the chef could create a signature dish for each place. "Co-opetition" (collaboration with competitors) can help "all boats rise together."

Bonus idea: Transform your restaurant into a pop-up experience once a week during slow season. Perhaps your loyal fans would enjoy their favorite food in an unusual location, and new people would be exposed to your menu that may not have normally considered your normal location.

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As a Restauranteur and a Caterer, I strongly recommend you look into your Supply Chain.

Supply Chain involves all the activities that contribute to giving values to your customers.

It involves purchasing, transportation, delivery, procurement, services and all.

In looking into it, consider a strategic food costing to eliminate wastages to the least minimum.

Also, in this season, think of being innovative without spending much, it could be bringing a young pop singer that everyone likes in your neighborhood to come sing while everyone eat, drink and have fun.

He gets more fame while you get more sales.

We call it shared income.

In all, avoid increment in cost and make use of your best team.

Report McDaniells Ayinde's answer

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Hello Miguel, Mark & McDaniells, Thank you very much for your recommendations and contributions. I am taking some steps to adjust to the situation but sure will include some of the recommendations here. Regards, Mwajuma

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Miguel, I am absolutely considering cable sport. It has come to my attention nowadays people love watching football, especially local football so there is good business when big clubs play.

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Mwajuma, BOGO (buy-one-get-one ... sometimes many) and similar strategies leverage influencers with loyal followers. For example, you might emphasize your sports angle with free meals for sports celebrities (plus their agents/handlers). Maybe sponsor sports skills clinic events for special children, followed by a reception at your restaurant. Celebrities attract other guests, including people watchers and paparazzi. Check whether you could legally sell popular sports teams jerseys that include your restaurant website.

Report Mark's answer

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As Mark Cuban said, sales cures all, but meanwhile do keep communicating with your vendors even when you have no good news. Go the extra mile, maybe find an alternative way to help them get something they need besides your payment. Offer to deliver free chef-made meals to their home, cater their parties at cost, whatever it takes - your vendors make it possible for you to earn customers.

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Hi Mwajuma, I think the first thing you need to do is to try and analyse and identify why the season is low. What is/are the factor(s) responsible for the low season. Then you can come up with a strategy. Consider for example inclement weather during the rainy season could make most customers decide to stay indoors resulting in low patronage. In this case, you may decide to introduce home delivery service using dispatch rider. You can also come up with special menu suitable for the weather e.g. Hot Peppery or Spicy meals (possibly native).

Another strategy you may explore is Leveraging on Digital/Social Media marketing - create awareness about your business (Restaurant) and your products (meals/menu). Create video contents as well as share testimonials from your satisfied customers. Doing these, will help attract more customers that can help you stay afloat even during low seasons.

You will need to cut down on production cost without compromising quality.

It might also be productive to run a promotion during such a low season.

Source for more outdoor catering services or delivery like offering catering services at event.

And very importantly offer excellent customer service and motivate your staffs to do same. That will keep them coming even in stormy weather.

*And for your Suppliers, please try as much as you can, not to owe them but if you unavoidably must, there should be an understanding between you both. It should be base on agreement and you are expected to keep to the terms. As such please don't agree to any condition you know will affect you. Suppliers are the Lifeline of your Business.

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