Unlocking Off-Season Success: Como’s Guide for Restaurants and Retailers

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Today, we embark on a discourse concerning the distinctive challenges posed by off-season lulls and the precise methodologies through which Como can catalyze flourishing amidst such circumstances. 

1. Diversify Your Offerings

During off-seasons, consider expanding your product or service offerings to appeal to a wider audience. For restaurants, this could mean introducing new menu dishes or hosting themed culinary events to attract food enthusiasts beyond your usual clientele. Similarly, retail stores can diversify by stocking complementary products or introducing limited-edition collections to pique interest and drive foot traffic. For example, during the off-season, when attendance tends to be lower, Disney World diversifies its offerings by hosting special events like the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival and the International Flower & Garden Festival. These festivals attract food enthusiasts, garden lovers, and tourists interested in experiencing the parks in a different way. Disney World also offers discounted hotel rates and vacation packages during off-peak times to attract visitors who may be looking for more affordable options.

2. Optimize Operational Efficiency

Use off-peak periods to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Evaluate staffing levels, optimize inventory management, and fine-tune workflows to minimize overhead costs. An integrated BI tool, utilizing machine learning, can quickly provide the data for operators to make informed decisions. By running a lean operation, restaurants and retail stores can maintain profitability even during slower periods and be better prepared for peak season. For example, during off-peak periods, Walmart adjusts staffing levels based on customer traffic patterns and sales forecasts. They utilize workforce management systems and data analytics to optimize scheduling, ensuring that the right number of employees are on duty to meet customer demand while minimizing labor costs. Additionally, they also focus on inventory management and leverage advanced BI tools and analytics platforms to gain insights into operational performance and make data-driven decisions. This helps businesses quickly identify areas for improvement and implement targeted interventions to enhance operational efficiency.

3. Leverage Customer Data for Personalization

Leverage Como’s tools to gather valuable insights about your patrons. Analyze purchasing patterns, preferences, and feedback to personalize marketing efforts and tailor promotions to individual tastes. Look at your top selling items for your core loyalty regulars then run a report to see what sells best with those items. Create LTO (limited-time-offer) bundles, backed by data, to increase average spending in those groups. Bonus points to do the same with your non-loyalty customers! Amazon utilizes sophisticated algorithms to analyze and understand individual preferences. This data is then used to personalize the customer experience, recommending products tailored to each user’s interests and purchasing patterns. Amazon also implements limited-time offers and bundled promotions based on these insights, driving increased spending and customer engagement. Whether it’s suggesting complementary items or offering personalized recommendations, they exemplify how leveraging customer data can enhance marketing efforts and foster customer loyalty.

4. Create Recurring Revenue

Make use of the cyclical nature of off-season revenue by embracing Como’s subscription models. Imagine a scenario wherein a restaurant crafts a “Summer Savings Club” package, affording subscribers access to exclusive events and discounts throughout the hotter months. Such initiatives serve to stabilize revenue streams while making customers stickier to the brand. Caraglio’s Pizza, one of Como’s customers, saw subscribers visit 48x more often than regular loyalty members in a 6 month period! 

5. Enhance the Customer Experience

Focus on delivering exceptional customer service and creating memorable experiences that set you apart from competitors. Train staff to provide attentive service, prioritize cleanliness and ambiance, and offer convenient amenities such as online ordering or curbside pickup. Your business can also elevate engagement via gamification. Injecting an element of amusement into the off-season landscape can prove transformative. Imagine implementing a “Treasure Hunt” initiative within your branded mobile app, prompting customers to uncover exclusive access, discounts or complimentary offerings. Retailers may similarly captivate audiences with a “Scratch-off” promotion, fostering excitement and repeat visits. 

6. Embrace Digital Marketing Channels

Leverage the power of digital marketing channels to reach and engage with customers effectively. Here are some ways to go about it: 

  1. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and email campaigns to stay top-of-mind and drive traffic to your establishment or website. 
  2. Use digital media gifts to offer exclusive access or a unique reward to entice customers to join your loyalty program; reconcile conversion with Como by embedding a Facebook Pixel ID or Google Tag in the gift. 
  3. Consider partnering with influencers or collaborating with local businesses to expand your reach and attract new customers during off-peak periods. 
  4. Leverage Como’s referral code system to segment and measure the success of those efforts in $$ vs likes. 

7. Offer Value-Driven Promotions:

Instead of solely relying on discounts, focus on offering value-driven promotions that incentivize purchases and drive sales. Consider bundling products or services, offering loyalty rewards, or hosting special events or workshops to create excitement and encourage spending. By providing genuine value to customers, restaurants and retail stores can stimulate demand and increase revenue without sacrificing profit margins. To take a step ahead, make use of targeted promotional campaigns facilitated by Como’s platform. Restaurants may offer limited-time “Warm Weather Cuisine” discounts for online orders, while retailers could institute “Summer-y Fashion Flash Sales” utilizing bespoke promotional codes. These initiatives resonate with consumers, stimulating demand during quieter periods. Domino’s frequently runs promotions such as “Mix & Match” deals, where customers can choose two or more menu items for a discounted price. They also offer limited-time promotions like “Carryout Specials” or “Weekday Deals,” providing value to customers looking for affordable meal options. Additionally, Domino’s implements loyalty rewards through its “Piece of the Pie Rewards” program, where customers earn points for each order placed online. Once enough points are accumulated, customers can redeem them for a free pizza. 

8. Community Engagement and Partnerships

Build relationships within the local community by participating in events, sponsoring charitable causes, or collaborating with neighboring businesses & schools. Use join codes where it makes sense to offer a unique on-going or one-time perk while creating a segment. Tailor communications to those segments to engage with customers beyond transactional interactions by hosting community gatherings, supporting local initiatives, and showcasing your commitment to social responsibility. By becoming an integral part of the community, restaurants and retail outlets can foster goodwill, strengthen brand loyalty, and cultivate a loyal customer base that supports them year-round. Starbucks partners with local community organizations and nonprofits to open Community Stores in underserved neighborhoods. These stores not only serve as coffee shops but also function as community hubs, offering meeting spaces for local groups, hosting events, and supporting charitable causes. Starbucks actively involves itself in local initiatives, such as youth job training programs and neighborhood clean-up efforts, demonstrating its commitment to social responsibility and community involvement. 

By implementing these strategies, restaurants and retail stores can navigate off-seasons with confidence, drive profitability, and position themselves for long-term success.

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