empty tables restaurant offseason winter

It’s common for businesses to experience a quiet period at some point during the year.


Unfortunately, the offseason can be a particularly difficult time for restaurants and caterers, with declines in sales hurting cash flow and profitability.


This means that if you want to survive off season, you’ll have to find ways to cut costs, increase revenue and attract customers. Here are some tips to help you weather offseason.


How to survive

Manage income and expenses accordingly

It’s imperative to stay on top of finances throughout the year. Conduct a precise analysis of your income and expenditure, and then draw up a forecast for the offseason.


Once you know how much you’ll need to cut costs during the offseason, you can start devising a suitable survival strategy.


Save during high-season

Putting money aside during peak season can remove some of the financial pressure during slow periods. Aim to save at least 10% of your gross annual earnings to tide you over during offseason.


Manage inventory

Save money during off season by reducing your spending on perishables, buying in bulk and buying seasonal produce. This may mean that you’ll have to tweak your menu to include seasonal ingredients and products with a long shelf-life.


Reduce labour costs

In order to survive offseason, you need to manage and reduce your labour costs. Rather than having a large permanent staff, hire additional shift workers and part-time employees when needed during the busiest period of the year.


Manage your hours

If you’re in the restaurant business, consider cutting your opening hours during offseason to reduce electricity, water, inventory and labour costs. Figure out which days and times you’re busiest, and stick to these hours so that you don’t lose out on business.


Make sure you clearly announce and advertise these change of business hours ahead of time for all your customers.


How to thrive

Offer discounts/promotions

Many people choose to host their events during offseason to save money, so consider offering off-peak specials and promotions to attract business.


Experiment with dishes

Use the extra time during offseason to experiment with dishes. This is the perfect opportunity to improve your dishes and develop new ones.


Also consider introducing a menu in offseason that features warming, hearty dishes that people want to eat during cold weather, such as soups, pies, stews, roasts and warm puddings.


Host events and cooking classes

If you’re in the restaurant business, consider hosting “events” such as themed nights, or adding a performance element to the dining experience. Both caterers and restaurants can earn some extra money by offering cooking classes during offseason.


Focus on social media

Social media is one of your most valuable marketing tools, so make sure that you stay on top of it throughout the year. Use these platforms to entice your regular customers and attract new clientèle by posting pictures, plugging your discounts and specials, publishing reviews, running competitions and drumming up hype for next season.


Reassess your strategy

In order to run a successful business, you need to be adaptable. Use the extra time to reassess your business to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your customers.


Take time to read customer feedback online, and take note of what’s working and what needs to be changed to increase customer satisfaction.


Use the time to train staff

The offseason is the perfect time to focus on training your staff. Take this opportunity to do team-building exercises and improve the service that you provide to customers.


Use self-storage

Consider storing your outdoor furniture, outdoor lighting, braai, spit roast and other equipment that won’t be used during winter in self-storage for the duration of offseason.


Storing what you don’t need during offseason will reduce clutter and ensure that your furniture and equipment remain in good condition for next season.


Ideal self-storage with XtraSpace

xtraspace self storage space

At XtraSpace, we offer clean, affordable self-storage units in sizes ideal for storing excess restaurant and catering equipment, furniture and supplies during the offseason.


Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.


Get a quote