April showers bring May flowers - and warmer weather - which means patio season is back!
But don’t let preparations get you stressed. We’ve got you covered with these reminders.
If you offer outdoor dining, this time of year is an exciting time for your business. Outdoor dining has the potential to increase your revenue by 30%.
And don’t expect the demand for outdoor dining to slow down due to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. Customer demand for patios remains steady - OpenTable found that 82% of diners want restaurants to continue to provide and increase outdoor seating options.
While warming weather is great news for your business, rising temperatures can also mean rising stress levels, because opening your patio adds another layer of organization to your labor and restaurant operations.
You may be overwhelmed by factors you haven’t thought about since last summer - like outdoor cleaning, replacing furniture and training your staff on weather plans - in addition to your day-to-day operations for your indoor dining room.
But don’t let patio preparations loom over your head - we’re here to guide you through your spring set-up checklist to make sure you have everything covered.
And if you’re a keener who’s already started your preparations, use this checklist to make sure you didn’t forget any of these steps to set you up for success.
1. Check outdoor furniture and tableware for damages
After almost a year in storage, it’s a good idea to check your seasonal furniture, tableware and any other outdoor decor like candles and table settings for damages. Are any of your table bases or chairs wobbly? Any umbrellas ripped? Any cracked glassware that needs to be replaced?
Doing a complete inventory and damage check on all your patio materials early will ensure you haven’t missed or forgotten any fixes from last season, and give you time to make any repairs or replacements before you get these items out on the floor for guests.
2. Clean up your space (and set up to keep your space clean)
If your patio space was buried under the snow, chances are there’s a need to clean up salt and leaf stains, in addition to any caked litter that has accumulated. Getting a good power wash and deep clean in now will ensure your outdoor space is presentable come May.
It’s also a good idea to prepare for the cleans ahead by setting up your matting system. A patio means more guests walking in and out of your restaurant. You may have your winter mats out - but here’s your reminder to put those salty ones away (after a good shake out) and replace them with your spring matts so you continue to keep the weather outside of your restaurant this season.
3. If you need to hire, start looking for candidates now.
Opening your patio means more tables for your staff to manage. Whether your patio adds another section to your seating chart, or three, chances are you will be looking for additional employees during this season.
With the ongoing challenge of labor shortages in the industry, the sooner you get your job postings up, the better prepared you will be for when the busy season really picks up.
The good news is that now is the perfect time to start looking for potential candidates and hiring, with many students soon to be home from school looking for seasonal positions, and others looking to change up their role to work outdoors this summer. And no need to stress over interview questions - check out what you should be asking candidates here.
4. Review your plans for unpredictable weather
From chilly nights, to heat waves, storms and downpours, spring and summer weather is notorious for having it all.
Review your plans for these weather conditions with your staff in advance, so they’re well briefed before it happens on their shift: Are there certain tables that can stay open in the rain? Do you have blankets for nighttime? How many tables are out of the sun? When are the conditions severe enough to close the patio?
You’ll want to ensure that you have answered these questions for your staff, and that they can provide these answers to your guests to facilitate a smooth dining experience.
5. Open your reservations for large parties
Set yourself up for success all summer long by opening and promoting large party reservations, starting now! According to RestaurantDive, Customer’s online searches for outdoor dining options have increased by 292% over the past two years - so chances are diners are already looking around at where they can book in early for their summer celebrations.
You can get a leg up on competitors by being an available option for large party summer reservations, in advance of summer's arrival!
Consider opening your reservations on your booking platform of choice, and having your staff make mention of this to your guests.
Importantly, start promoting your summer offerings and reservation opportunities on your social media to cultivate excitement and business visibility as we head into the warm weather.
We hope you enjoyed this patio prep checklist!
And if you need help saving time as things heat up this season... visit notch to see how you can run the most efficient operations, saving you time and money - all year round.