How restaurants with large outdoor spaces can maximize profits in the summer

How restaurants with large outdoor spaces can maximize profits in the summer

By Patrick Bobrukiewicz, director of business development, Rosnet

Most restaurants can depend on fairly predictable sales fluctuations throughout the year with higher traffic on some days, lower on others. In the summer, the game changes — especially for restaurants with big patios and outdoor spaces. It's no surprise that as soon as the temperature warms up people flock to the open-air sections of a restaurant, but it's also hard for restaurants to best prepare for this influx of customers in a single section of the restaurant.  With the use of technology, restaurants have a better chance at maximizing efficiencies in seasonal spaces and don't catch themselves in a position of being overwhelmed.

Bump up staff in target areas

Restaurants typically have certain areas of the space that are meant for different seasons. Whether that is a patio or a beer garden or an indoor/outdoor section, make sure to increase that staff that is covering this area. If it's a nice day out in a four-season market, assign more servers to the patio areas as those will naturally fill up quicker than the inside air-conditioned space. Restaurant operators should also look at traffic trends — do more people show up for happy hours and sit outside for a few drinks after work? The amount of staff should reflect these trends.

Look at the service model

Most restaurants have typical table service with a bar component. On holidays or in the summer when more customers are visiting the space because the weather is nicer, opt for a more volume driven model where you get carded at the door to speed up bar service while maintaining compliance. You can also opt for an "all you can drink" model that will greatly impact your staffing needs. 

Manage staff availability

The summer is a great time to hire additional staff to meet the influx of customers. Bring in seasonal employees and even offer incentives for college-age employees home for the summer to work at the restaurant when you need the extra hands. When holidays are on the horizon and you are going to need all-hands-on-deck block off certain days so that employees are not able to request them off.

Forecasting for the season / weather

Utilize forecasting tools to predict sales from summers past. Was there a certain beer that flew off the shelves or are people opting for a crisp white wine during the hot summer days? These forecasting tools can shine light on ordering trends that help operators properly stock their inventory.  Run p-mix reports from the last four years and see how your mix shifts — this information will be vital.

Cover photo by iStock photos. 

Topics: Restaurant Design / Layout

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