What to do when business slows down

OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create the How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage, so follow along and download the whole guide here.

When you need more diners, first identify when you need them. Then boost your presence across certain websites and platforms to reach a new, hungry audience.

Most restaurants experience the up-and-down shifts of demand as they evolve. But there’s plenty you can do from a marketing perspective to reach new diners and re-engage with those you already know.

“This is something that we work at,” says Vanessa Green, of Melbourne-based restaurant group Apples and Pears. “There’s definitely an opening buzz, and then it dips down.

You’ve got to keep something going all the time.” She recommends focusing on ongoing marketing campaigns, inviting different bloggers and press to come in at different times, and constantly sharing different messages. “Talk about the chef. Talk about the food. Talk about the wine,” she advises.

“I worked for a guy in the nightclub industry who stayed open on Christmas Eve—the guests hadn’t left town, they had to go somewhere. That stuck with me. A dead period for me means we’re doing something wrong, not that people don’t exist.” When Klein does notice a lull at his restaurants, he likes to use social media to promote the restaurant or special dishes, and spend extra time with customers. “We do what it takes to make sure people are still talking about us,” he says. “This way, when they do go out, they think about us.”


“You have to be smart with the tools that you have, not just deciding you’re going to pay for someone to help. If you put your mind to it there’s plenty of things you can do inexpensively.” —Kristy Frawley

Frawley employs similar thinking at her restaurants. “Just last night it was quiet, and we were talking about what we can do. We’re going to adjust our times in OpenTable, and looking at doing some special dinners once a month. We’ve just started brainstorming, but there’s a lot you can do.”

“OpenTable is a great resource because it has huge numbers of followers and people making dining choices based on what they find on the platform,” Andrew Cameron, owner of Apples and Pears. With five different restaurants in three cities, the team must stay on top of each individual restaurant’s offerings. “We make sure that any new content or offerings at any of our restaurants are up to date on OpenTable,” he continues.

This ensures that guests searching for a reservation at a place they may not be familiar with have all the latest information about your offerings.

Want more tips? Download the guide and visit page 28 for more.