When I began bartending a decade ago, I remember big shopping days like Black Friday and New Year’s Day were absolutely bananas every year. We couldn’t sling drinks fast enough to the nearest person balancing their wallet and five bags filled with presents for loved ones. Sadly, as online shopping increases, customer presence in malls decreases. This decline in brick and mortar traffic directly impacts the bars and restaurants located in malls. How can restaurants adapt to the new mall restaurant landscape?
If you aren’t tracking your sales numbers, you’re doing your business a severe disservice. When are you busiest? Slowest? Are there particular seasons when sales are rising or declining? Your data will give you the most accurate way to benchmark the health of your business.
This data will also help you schedule wisely and keep proper inventory pars. It’s important to have a discussion with your staff about what the changing trends mean for your bar/restaurant, especially how that might change their work schedules.
My current employer includes updates on how the holidays will affect schedules, transportation, etc. in our scheduling emails. This steady line of communication is necessary for team cohesion and setting the right expectations. As with any relationship, communication is key.
Part of what makes bars and restaurants appealing is it’s a meal and drink away from life. So make sure to remind your customers why they should visit your establishment.
Try implementing a holiday special (or three). Change the way you target your customer base as well. Everyone is using mobile devices to search for you, so make sure your ads complement this behavior by including a location map. Customers have even less patience for getting lost these days, so help them find you and your awesome holiday specials.
While you may have less feet on the ground in a mall, word of mouth is still as strong as ever. If you don’t have a large budget to advertise your restaurant, remember that happy customers will always talk about a good meal.
Social media platforms like Instagram are great ways for people to share their experience with others. Make sure you have your own social media presence and use it the right way to showcase your establishment.
There is one reliable constant in life: the world is always changing. Your business has to adapt. You might even find that your original bar or restaurant concept may no longer be working. In these situations, you need to identify where the conflict is and sort it out—whether it’s location, the hours you are open, or the menu.
Malls, and the bars and restaurants within them, might not be going away forever. There are people who still like to try on clothes, hang out at the bar, and have a place to escape. However, we have to rethink what the guest experience is like now and understand where it is headed to survive.
How have you adapted to the changes in shopping season? Let us know in the comments.