As soon as the temperature gets above 60, you’ll have customers lined up to enjoy eating and drinking in the fresh air. Foot traffic will also increase, with potential customers walking by your restaurant while they enjoy the warm weather. The change in seasons is the perfect time to make sure the outside of your restaurant is doing a good job of inviting people in. Take a look at these restaurant marketing tips for spring:

Outdoor Signage: Do It Right

Follow these tips to get the biggest bang for your outdoor signage buck:

  1. Update signs with the seasons. When window displays are stagnant, they become invisible to customers. Keep it fresh and in theme with the new season.
  2. Go big or go home. Use graphics that are visible from the parking lot and the street. Large images with bold colors, shapes, and messages will work best.
  3. Take a walk, look around. Go to the outer edges of your parking lot, and even across the street, and look at your store. Where do your eyes naturally go? What do you see? Where are the best opportunities to market from the street?
  4. Stay true to your brand. You (and your corporate bosses if you have them) have worked hard to establish a strong brand. The idea of outdoor signage is to get attention, but be sure you stick to your brand guidelines throughout the process.
  5. Advertise seasonal food and drink specials. Use signage visible from the street to market your seasonal specialty drinks and food items. (See below for a free poster offer!)

Patio Dining: Prep to Please

If you have an outdoor dining area, or if you’re considering one, use this checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

  1. Provide ample shade. Ensure awnings and umbrellas are in place and adjustable to protect guests from direct sunlight throughout their stay.
  2. Offer patio specials. Promote spring and summer specialty drinks to your patio dining guests.
  3. Plan ahead for weather emergencies. Have an emergency plan in place to keep guests safe and dry during a sudden rain shower or severe weather event. Put it in writing and train your staff to be prepared to react in an instant.
  4. Keep it locked down. Wind-proof your tables, chairs and utensils wind-proof. Use napkin roll-ups so strong winds won’t blow utensils away and anchor furniture with sandbags or metal weights.
  5. Power up. Make sure electrical outlets are waterproof, and be sure you have enough of them to accommodate your outdoor POS systems, outdoor buffets, chafing dishes and lighting sources.

Marketing: It’s What You Do

Remember, marketing isn’t just one thing you do, it’s making everything you do work together. Window displays and an appealing patio dining area are single elements of your overall marketing strategy. Whatever you’re marketing outside, make sure you’re marketing inside, too. Don’t pique your customer’s interest in a special, only to have servers fail to recommend it.

Spring Training for Your Restaurant

The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is based on Service That Sells!, a restaurant training philosophy developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more.