Eli Chait, founder and CEO of Copilot Labs, a San Francisco-based company that analyzes restaurant POS data to provide operators advice on effective marketing promotions, points out that every restaurant goes through weekly and seasonal cycles.
Chait says most operators know whether Friday will be busier than Monday, or if they should expect a busy December, but it’s much more difficult to follow other holidays and events and successfully gauge customer traffic patterns.
Chait reviewed sales data from five San Francisco restaurants to discover the best and worst days in 2012. After tallying and comparing the stats, Chait was surprised to learn that for all five restaurants, only one day was consistently busy.
Although Copilot Labs’ analysis is far from scientific, Chait published the following results on Inside Scoop:
February 14th fell on a Tuesday this year. For four of the five restaurants it was one of the top two busiest Tuesdays of the year and almost double the normal Tuesday sales.
Slow For All
- Black Friday
– No surprises here. Almost every restaurant expects to get a big hit to sales during Thanksgiving weekend. Some restaurants should not even open their doors on Black Friday. This was the worst Friday of the year for 2 of 5 restaurants, and among the worst five days overall for the other restaurants. Only one restaurant did more than 50% of their normal Friday sales.
- Superbowl Sunday
– None of these restaurants were sports bars, but we still did not expect them to take such a big hit on Superbowl Sunday. This was one of the worst three Sundays for all five restaurants we studied. Two of them did not even reach 25% of their normal Sunday sales.
- World Series
– On Saturday, October 27th, the San Francisco Giants played Game 3 of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers; first pitch was at 5:15pm. Restaurants had one of the slowest Saturdays of the year. What makes this a surprise is that the first, second, and fourth games of the World Series also started at the same time, and didn’t have nearly the same negative affect as the third game.
- Mother’s Day
– This was one of the top three Sundays at three of the five restaurants, but among the worst at one restaurant. All of them were open for brunch and dinner. The busiest restaurant more than doubled their average on that Sunday, but on the other hand, the worst halved it.
- Fourth of July Week
– This is a strange week for most restaurants, especially when it falls mid-week, like it did this year (Fourth of July was a Wednesday). All five restaurants were closed on Independence Day, and all of them struggled horribly on July 5.
In fact, it was the slowest Thursday of the year for two of five restaurants and well below average for the others. Oddly, July 3 was was one of the best Tuesdays of the year for two of the restaurants.
Based on their research findings, Chait claims single-day promotions and events should be a larger part of every restaurant’s marketing plan. A good event can turn a bad day for most restaurants (Halloween, for example) into the best of the year.
Chait suggests that becoming a customer favorite for a specific event such as Mother’s Day could have a much more powerful impact on sales than including Happy Hour for an entire month. “Don’t underestimate single-day events and promotions.”