Almost every restaurant owner will tell you that Monday and Tuesday evenings are the hardest to fill. Of course, your restaurant may be different – your challenge may be lunchtimes or the winter season.
* Find evening classes or interest groups which meet on your quiet day and invite all of them to your restaurant with a special offer. If possible, go in person to invite them.
* Advertise one of your quiet nights as a special taster session. Diners are offered the option of trying new dishes which chef is developing. Invite your customers to fill in “tasting cards” as they go along. Remember to let everyone on your list of e-mail addresses know about this great event.
* Offer discounts
the families of your staff who dine on quiet evenings. Give them a great meal and they will be proud to tell all their friends about the restaurant at which their auntie, daughter or Dad works.
* Offer a special menu available only on Monday or Tuesday. Try to include genuinely interesting and not just cheap dishes.
* Develop a loyalty card scheme. Make the loyalty points worth more on Mondays and Tuesdays.
* Offer an “all you can eat option” to fill tables. Make it fun e.g. all the chocolate cake you can eat. Collect pictures and contact the press with stories from your “All the Chocolate Cake You Can Eat” evenings.
* Run a promotion where you put all of the bills from the evening into a hat. The first one pulled out gets a refund on all of the main courses from their table (up to a maximum of 4). Diners do not need to stay to win but set a time for the draw and many will stay a bit longer to find out the result. Remember to offer them drinks whilst they wait.
* Find out who influences people to come to your restaurant e.g. the staff in the tourist office, taxi drivers and offer them special Monday and Tuesday deals.
* Offer a meal for two on a specific day of the week as a prize for a competition for your local radio station or newspaper. Remember to follow up by contacting the press with your story about the winner.
* Offer regular customers a reward if, on a Monday evening, they bring in a friend who has never eaten at your restaurant before.
* At quiet times ask a member of staff to hand out copies of your menu in the area surrounding your restaurant offering an instant discount to customers who walk in for a meal. Works especially well if you are in an area with lots of restaurants. Many people will come to the area without having made a final decision on where to eat before they get there.
* Approach local groups with special offers e.g. parents who attend toddler groups with their children, football teams, Neighborhood Watch and encourage them to arrange a group meal perhaps on a Tuesday.
* Develop good relationships with key suppliers by inviting them and their family members in for a free meal at quiet times.
* Set up a special loyalty club e.g. the Tuesday Club.
* Offer a meal for two during a quiet period as a prize at a local fete.
* Target price sensitive groups e.g. students with special offers on quiet evenings.