Has your eatery’s ambiance grown a bit stale? Or maybe you need a few new recipes for success when it comes to promoting on social? Here are a few fresh ideas to consider mixing into your restaurant in the coming months.

Let's get dishing.

1.    Leverage rebates for updates

If you're looking to update your ambiance with new lightning, upgrade equipment in the BOH or even refresh your health and safety measures, it might be worth checking your utility company’s website first. Some utility companies like National Grid actually have a small business–specific marketplace with rebates on equipment ranging from LED lightbulbs you can find at big-box stores to high-efficiency convection ovens.

Fun fact: Not only is lighting a big part of your overall restaurant ambiance, but it also typically makes up 50% of an energy bill for commercial buildings. LED and CFL light bulbs use 75% less energy – saving you about $200 a year for every five lightbulbs you change. So don’t sleep on this upgrade!

2.    Get those seasonal specials on social

Okay, we know we don't need to tell you to add seasonal recipes to your menu. Buuut you may not know how big of a social media opportunity this could be for your business. See, seasonal menu item features are one of the top pieces of content that restaurant followers DM to their friends or share to their Story.

For best social media results, our marketing pros recommend creating a straightforward feature of the new menu item AND capturing some creative videos, such as your chef plating the dish or your bartender mixing up fresh ingredient after fresh ingredient. Don’t forget to add some vibey seasonal music to the video! And all the better if you show some decor in the background matching the season aesthetic. Make your followers want to teleport to your restaurant! Their shares are what get new eyes on your brand, so the investment is totally worth it.

*Bonus points* if you let your employees come up with the seasonal menu item(s). This will boost morale and get them even more excited about making something outside the regular menu. Let those skills shine!

3.    Consider a new recipe for good communication

Gone are the days of sending shift reports, new menu items and HR forms through email or texting out schedules. Comms on multiple platforms get messy, so consider a restaurant management app like Homebase that lets you communicate with your team in one place.

Homebase is a huge time-saver for management – automatically alerting staff about their upcoming shifts, notifying them of any open shifts available to pick up and giving them the ability to switch shifts with other workers (with manager approval). Managers can also send messages to the full team or to select team members to communicate any shift notes.

What we specifically love about Homebase is that it has a feature where employees can shout out another employee who went above and beyond that shift, and the whole team (working or not) will see it. We love this because as we're sure you know, an employee feeling seen for their extra effort or positive attitude can go a long way!

Beyond great communication, you can have employees clock in and out right on the app and manage/save your payroll, HR forms, etc., all in one place. No more forms getting lost in emails and employees struggling to contact others for shift switches. It's a beautiful thing, we know!

4.    Build a stronger relationship with your community

Working with local farmers and vendors is a GREAT way to get fresh, affordable and on-time product. Plus, it's really attractive to customers for a variety of reasons. Some will love that they're eating fresh. Some will love that they're supporting the local economy. And some will even love the thought of local farmers picking these ingredients for them. Having servers highlight these partnerships and writing menu descriptions that include "Locally sourced from Smith’s Farm" are smart ways to generate appeal and justify your prices.

Partnering up with nearby businesses is a best-of-both-worlds scenario, as you each have the opportunity to gain new clientele. Consider collaborating with a nearby business by throwing an event or hosting a collab giveaway. If you've never done a collab before, we challenge you to try one in the upcoming months. It can be as small as taking a percentage off the bill when a customer shows a receipt from a local boutique. Talk about major community points right there! (You're welcome.)

Participate in community events. Provide a special coupon at some of your area's most popular festivals, sponsor a school event or even consider featuring a few menu items at your farmers market. Does your area host a restaurant week? Be the one to start it!

5.    Don't let employees 86 the vibe

So it's a few hours before you close, things have slowed down, and you're ready to head out – putting responsibility into the hands of your manager to finish up the evening. Here's what you might not be seeing but could be paying for:

  • Too many employees still on the clock with not enough to keep them busy.
  • Employees starting closing responsibilities early, like polishing glasses at an open table FOH or even bringing out the mop.

This can be a total turnoff to guests – making them feel rushed and burdensome to staff. Ensure you have managers who know when to send overflow staff home and are keeping a welcoming environment all the way through to the closing time you advertise.

Monthly team meetings also really matter. With constant staffing changes in this industry, it's just good to have a monthly reminder coming from the owner about the restaurant's expectations. Ideally, this would be done in person, as it can turn into a two-way conversation where staff can ask questions and relay things they've noticed. New staff may have no idea that what they are doing isn't acceptable or what you're trying to achieve. These meetings can ensure everyone is aligned and, therefore, assure there are no excuses for 86ing the vibe.

All right, we hope you've found a few new ingredients to mix into your restaurant. Let us know if you need a taste tester, okay? Especially when it comes to that seasonal special!

The content of this page is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.