For many consumers, enjoying outdoor dining is among the top perks of summer weather. This is good news for restaurant operators: By some estimates, the forecasted return on a $200,000 investment in a patio could total seasonal sales of $500,000. Even a smaller outdoor seating area is a “win-win” on the customer and operator sides alike; those guests who would rather dine elsewhere without a chance to do so al fresco will patronize your establishment, and by accommodating more guests, you’ll increase your revenue and gross profits. But no matter the size of your outdoor dining area, your restaurant POS system is a great tool for maximizing its potential to yield big financial rewards. Let’s discuss three ways to make this happen:
Create Customized Summer Menus
Heavy dishes that are reminiscent of winter are the last thing most people want to eat during the hot summer months—especially if they are seated outdoors. Instead, devise, and add to your restaurant POS system, summer menus that feature lighter dishes and cold selections. Incorporating seasonal produce, cheeses, and other food from local farms and suppliers works well. It will attract patrons to the flavors they probably have been noticing at farm stands and markets. Offering menu items that evoke nostalgia and enthusiasm for summer are a good bet, too—think fresh corn, watermelon, barbecued meats, chicken, or fish.
Consider turning some of your most popular cold-weather dishes into summer fare. For example, if data from your restaurant POS system shows that customers couldn’t seem to get enough of your signature blackened steak last winter, devise a blackened steak salad and put it on your seasonal menu. If diners went wild for a certain fish dish, try to create a cold version and pair it with seasonal vegetables. You get the idea.
One important caveat to remember: Don’t risk dampening diners’ enthusiasm for your outdoor seating area and the great customized seasonal fare to be savored there by running out of ingredients. Instead, leverage the inventory management component of your restaurant POS system to track inventory status, as well as to generate re-orders when quantities have decreased to pre-set levels.
Promote Summer Specials
With so many restaurants attempting to attract customers to their outdoor dining spaces, it makes sense to maximize the appeal of your offering by augmenting your summertime menu with tempting seasonal food and drink specials. However, don’t just discount items on a whim. Instead, use your restaurant POS system as a tool to determine where to tout price breaks without causing either your bottom line or customers’ excitement to melt away. Review your sales from last summer to determine which beverages, appetizers, and other items attracted the most attention during that season, then look at the inventory management module of the restaurant POS system to pinpoint which items cost the least amount of money to prepare. A combination of this data will make it easy to pick the best candidates for this season’s discounts.
Harness Mobile POS
Diners don’t want to wait longer for their food and beverages just because they’re sitting outdoors, in an area that’s far removed from the POS. And the al fresco dining experience—as well as your restaurant’s reputation as a great place for outdoor dining—can be easily compromised for customers if the added distance also leads to longer wait times for meals or drinks. Incorporating mobile POS capabilities into your restaurant POS system eliminates these problems because orders can be taken tableside and transmitted directly to the kitchen. Kitchen staff can begin to prepare some elements of each order—for example, appetizers and beverages—before customers finish telling servers what they want, speeding the delivery of these items to the table.
With mobile POS, patrons also enjoy the added convenience of paying their checks right at the table, without taking the time to go indoors to do so. You can even sell food and drinks “to go” directly from the outdoor patio, thereby serving more customers and helping yourself to increased sales.
Offering outdoor seating is an effective means of keeping summertime sales sizzling. And with your restaurant POS system as an ally, you will no longer be limited by the four walls of your establishment.