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Avoiding the winter slump: what quick-service restaurants can do to stay profitable

If you operate a restaurant at a popular ski resort, early winter might be your peak season. For the rest of North America, however, January and February are known as “slump” months for many businesses. Consumers typically spend less after the Christmas holidays and tend to stay home more if it’s really cold. For these reasons, restaurants may have to make some adjustments in January to avoid seasonal depression.

Here’s what fast-casual and quick-serve restaurants can do to boost revenue this winter:

1.Optimize staffing

Overstaffing during a slow period is a serious problem that cuts deep when it comes to revenue. To avoid having too many or too few employees working at once, try using a staff scheduling app like 7shifts.  We recently partnered with 7shifts to empower restaurants with sales performance insights to make efficient, more profitable labor decisions. The seamless integration combines real-time sales data from MYR with the scheduling and labor management tools in 7shifts without the need for manual uploads or spreadsheets.

You can also streamline your staff payroll by using the MYR Punch Clock feature. Using the digital time clock reduces managerial costs, and provides much more accurate payroll – avoiding occasional mistakes that result in overpaying or underpaying your staff.

2. Switch to seasonal hours

To avoid losing too much to payroll costs (and to give yourself a break), consider reducing your open hours during the slowest times. It might not be the right move for every business, but it could reduce the chance you’re paying too many employees during a lull season.

If you do this, keep in mind to update your hours on Google, your website, social media, etc. You wouldn’t want anyone to show up expecting you to be open!

3. Create a cost-efficient winter menu

If a business is slow, consider cutting down your menu, and offering low-cost seasonal items. Food-wise, this could mean selling more potato or rice-based dishes that have a higher markup. Consumers have become used to seasonal menus based on local produce, so offering a winter menu is both on-trend and can be more cost-efficient.

4. Use social media to drive take-out business

If you live in a cold climate, chances are the mere thought of venturing outdoors is unappealing for a lot of consumers. Team up with a 3rd party delivery app, or create your own branded mobile app to make takeout that much easier. The MYR Online app gives quick-service restaurants the chance to create their own custom branded app, allowing for more customers to interact with them over mobile. It also cuts down on wait time, as customers can pre-pay for their orders.

5. Introduce “Happy Hour” promotions

A ‘happy hour” special doesn’t have to take place from 5 pm to 7 pm. Depending on your business, you can drive traffic during any slow period. For example, a cafe could offer a deal on coffee and pastries before 8 am, or a burger place could offer free fries after 9 pm. Whatever the promotion, enticing customers to come at less popular hours can work year-round.

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