Tips for Promoting Outdoor Dining at Your Restaurant

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Tips for Promoting Outdoor Dining at Your Restaurant

Tips for Promoting Outdoor Dining

Setting up an outdoor dining area at your restaurant, brewery or winery can help attract customers to your establishment. To get the best out of your investment, promote your outdoor dining area to established and new customers.

Here, we lay out how to attract customers to your outdoor dining area, the value of outdoor dining to your establishment and where to find the best outdoor dining furnishings.

Read the full article or jump to a specific section:

The Value of Outdoor Dining

According to Fast Casual, an outdoor dining space can boost your establishment’s revenue by as much as 30%.

Outdoor dining areas come in different shapes, sizes and forms. Sometimes, your outdoor dining space may be an established patio or a lightly furnished deck. It can also be a set of tables and chairs arranged on a sidewalk, a parking space or a rooftop fitted with canopies and umbrellas.

No matter how your outdoor dining area appears, it provides value to your customers and your business.

Boost establishment revenue

Outdoor Dining Benefits for Customers

Here are five advantages outdoor dining areas provide your customers:

  • Open view: During fair weather periods in spring, fall and summer, outdoor dining provides your patrons an open view to take in the scenery. This benefit is especially advantageous if your establishment is near a local feature, like a monument or mural.
  • Feel of nature: Eating outside provides a natural appeal to your patrons. For example, in an outdoor dinner in a garden, the smell of fresh vegetables and the aromas from the plants in your garden can put your visitors in tune with nature. Customers will also enjoy the time they get to spend in the fresh air, making them feel relaxed and welcomed.
  • Comfort: Outdoor dining lets guests comfortably walk around your property as they eat and drink. Your outdoor dining area may provide ample space for large groups to spread out in while still feeling connected, as well.
  • Better conversation with friends and family: Conversations are more spirited, engaging, free and enjoyable in outdoor eating areas. Your customers can talk at different decibel levels and engage in fun activities when they dine outside.
  • Better satisfaction: The open view, feel of nature, more comfort and more interesting conversation with friends and family all come together to make meals taste better and more satisfactory to your customers.

Benefits for customers

Advantages of Outdoor Dining for Your Business

Here are six benefits outdoor dining areas provide your establishment:

  • Flexible dining options: An outdoor dining space provides variety and flexibility to what you offer your customers. For example, if a customer doesn’t want to dine inside, they have the option to enjoy their meal in the open air, or vice versa.
  • Free advertisement: Outdoor dining spaces on sidewalks, patios and decks with branded umbrellas can provide free advertisement for your restaurant.
  • More customers: With free advertisement to onlookers, better ratings and customer satisfaction, as well as word-of-mouth marketing, more customers will be enticed to dine in your outdoor space. They may be taking a walk downtown when they see your establishment has open seating outside, which can lead them to visit.
  • Cost savings: Outdoor eating spaces may not require extra air conditioning, expensive furnishing or complex decoration to set up. This benefit makes outdoor dining an inexpensive way of expanding your restaurant space and capacity.
  • Ease of setup: Opening a restaurant outdoor space is often easy. At a bare minimum, a clean space around your restaurant — this can be a sidewalk, rooftop, extra parking space, patio or deck — a set of tables, chairs and canopies are enough to set up your outdoor dining space.
  • Higher bottom line: By expanding your restaurant’s capacity in a cost-effective way, you can raise your bottom line. Use the profit boost to expand your menu offerings or create even more outdoor dining areas.

How to Attract Customers to Your Outdoor Dining Area

When you’re creating an outdoor dining setup, you’ll want to make it as appealing to customers as possible. A well-designed dining area outside can help your restaurant attract more customers. Follow these tips for establishing your restaurant’s outdoor patio or other dining area:

Align Your Outdoor Space With Your Indoor Space

Consistency solidifies your brand

Ensure a consistent theme in your indoor and outdoor space. Consistency solidifies your brand and helps your existing diners get the indoor experience they know and love outside of your building. Here are some ways to let your exterior space reflect the interior:

  • Stick with the same color and design pattern inside and outside.
  • Use similar furniture and decor elements as you do for the interior.
  • Offer entertainment outside if you offer it inside.
  • Keep up the customer satisfaction you offer inside with dedicated outdoor waitstaff.

Offer a Mix of Seating

If it suits your restaurant’s aesthetic, you can offer different outdoor seating styles to accommodate different customers. Some visitors may want a high table, while others may like the outdoor charm of sitting at a picnic table. Make these seating options cohesive by choosing similar colors, materials and chair or table styles.

Offering tables of different sizes also helps you accommodate different groups. Whether your outdoor space hosts parties or intimate dates, having large and small tables will make your establishment attractive to all sorts of guests.

Allow Pets in Your Outdoor Space

For pet lovers, eating out and leaving their precious pet at home is a difficult compromise. Allowing pets and posting a sign that shows you allow pets in your outdoor space can attract the pet-loving segment of your customers to your outdoor dining space.

Allow pets

As a bonus, allowing pets in your outdoor space lets you entice passersby out for a walk with their dogs. They’ll see other customers with pets or your signage indicating pets are allowed, and they’ll appreciate that they don’t need to take their dog home before getting a bite to eat or a drink.

Add leash ties and water bowls outside to signify to dog owners that you have provisions for their dogs to make outdoor dining even more attractive.

Make Your Outdoor Space Pest-Free

Create pest free zones

Pests in your outdoor dining space can discourage customers from eating outside. Instituting regular pest control and fumigating your outdoor dining space can enable you to run a pest-free dining area outside. Try these methods to keep your guests comfortable:

  • Add fans: Outdoor fans will naturally blow away insects while also keeping your patrons cool outside.
  • Place bug zappers: Put bug zappers on the perimeter of your dining area to attract and kill bugs while keeping them away from customers.
  • Use herbs as centerpieces: Basil, dill, mint, oregano and parsley are just some of the edible plants that deter pests. You could also plant larger bushes in planters near your dining space. Adding these natural pest repellants will give your tables a pleasant scent that guests will enjoy over the smell of chemical pesticides.
  • Burn citronella candles: Instead of herbs, you could place citronella candles as centerpieces. If you’d rather keep the smell away from guests, put some candles around the perimeter of your dining space. If you have a tropical-themed restaurant, use citronella Tiki torches to suit your aesthetic.
  • Use lighting carefully: Because bugs are attracted to warm lights, try LED options instead. You could also install lights higher up to keep pests away from customers.
  • Use receptacle lids: If you have trash receptacles outside for guests or waitstaff to use, put lids on them to keep pests away.
  • Keep the area clean: Another way to control pests would be to ensure proper cleaning of your outdoor space at the end of the day. This helps to remove every food remnant or particle that may attract pests to your restaurant.

Protect Your Outdoor Space From the Elements

Outdoor dining spaces can be the rave during fair weather. But during hot summers or rainy and windy days, you’ll need adjustments to make sure your dining area outside is still attractive.

To make your outdoor dining space appealing during hot sunny days, install fans, shades and other covering structures to protect your customers. You can use canopies and umbrellas to provide coverage during rainy or windy days, as well.

Your outdoor dining space doesn’t have to close on cooler evenings, either. Install heat lamps to provide warmth during cold weather conditions. In addition to that, you can also provide fire pits during cold weather days. This can offer warmth to your diners along with that campfire feeling to spice up their experience at your restaurant.

If customers see your outdoor dining space has protection from the elements, they may choose your establishment over a competitor with no umbrellas, shade coverings, fans or heaters.

Add Fun to Your Outdoor Space

Consider adding live music or any form of entertainment to your service, especially in the evening or night, to spice up your restaurant’s outside space. Hire a local musician or comedian to show your commitment to your community while also drawing attention to your outdoor dining area.

If you have enough space, you can also add games to your outdoor dining area or patio. Cornhole and shuffleboard are popular options. With even more room, you can add features like a volleyball or badminton net, or get creative with giant chess or checkers. Brand these games with your establishment’s colors or logo for a cohesive look.

Add games

Enable Digital Ordering

Many patrons have gotten used to tech-based ordering, and some may even expect it. Enable QR code ordering and payment in your outdoor space. This makes it easy for diners to go through your menu, place their orders and make payments with minimal interaction. Customers also do not have to move from their seats to ask for anything. They spend more time enjoying their meals and having a good time with their friends outside.

This is also an advantage for your waitstaff. They do not have to run to and from different tables to take orders. Instead, they focus on getting meals ready and serving your customers.

Ways to Promote Your Outdoor Dining Space

In addition to creating an attractive outdoor dining space, some extra promotion can multiply the returns you get from investing in an outdoor dining space for your restaurant.

Here are some ways to promote your outdoor dining patio or space to get more customers dining and wining outside.

1. Create an Outdoor-Only Menu

To promote your outdoor space among your existing customers and patrons, add menu items that you only serve outdoors. When indoor patrons see that you offer an outdoor-only menu, they’ll learn about your exterior dining area. They may want to move outside to try the menu, or they may decide to visit again but dine outside.

You could also offer an outdoor dining special instead of an entire menu. Perhaps this would be a special refreshing cocktail that complements the summer weather. On cooler evenings, your outdoor-only special could be a house-made soup to keep patrons warm.

2. Create an Outdoor-Only Offer

Outdoor only offer or discount

An outdoor-only offer or discount can get more customers interested in eating outside. For example, you can put a 10% discount on your outdoor meal for one month after opening the area. When you get customers to try out your outdoor space consistently for a month, they may be sold on eating outside even after the discount is out.

3. Position Takeout Windows by Your Outdoor Space

Positioning a takeout window that looks out to your outdoor space will get more patrons and customers to know about this addition. You could also have a pickup counter window next to the outdoor dining area so customers getting takeout can wait near the space and see other patrons enjoying it.

This order pickup placement can entice visitors to give the outdoor dining area a try immediately or decide to eat out the next time they come. Seeing your outdoor eating space might also lead to word-of-mouth promotion with their friends and family.

Especially for outdoor spaces that are not visible to passers-by, this strategy will be very effective in promoting your outdoor space.

4. Host Events

You can host events in your outdoor space to give residents of your local community a feel of the exterior area.

Events can range from karaoke to live music performances or contests. Making it free to attend and adding a price for participation can help boost your revenue.

When attendees have a good time at your outdoor space at a scheduled, advertised event, they may want to come and pay a visit later. During the events, participants may also place orders to get a feel of the meal you serve outdoors, which can encourage them to become repeat customers.

5. Take Advantage of Public Events

You don’t need to host your own event to draw customers to your exterior dining area. Public events like sports games, carnivals or festivals are great ways to promote your outdoor space.

Theme your outdoor area to follow the theme of the event. You could also create dishes that align with the events to get more visits at your restaurant. For example, before a huge football game, create a football special at a better price to get fans who come to support their team to take a bite or sip before the game.

Your establishment may even be able to participate in public events. Open your patio for a community wine tasting, or use some extra outdoor space to host vendors for a local carnival.

Promote wine tasting

6. Talk About Your Outdoor Space on Social Media

Social media is a free tool to promote your restaurant’s outdoor dining space. Take it upon yourself, or assign a member of your staff, to consistently talk about your outdoor space on social media.

Share photos and videos of your outdoor space and your customers having a great time on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. These shares will help promote your restaurant and outdoor dining space to potential diners in your community and entice them to give your restaurant a try. They’ll see what your outdoor dining area looks like, which can make them feel more eager to visit.

To encourage your customers to talk about your establishment’s outdoor dining area online, make it aesthetically pleasing. An exterior brick wall with a light-up sign of your restaurant’s name can encourage posts that include your branding. A live plant wall is also a great backdrop for photos, and you can ask guests to tag your social accounts in their posts.

7. Talk About Your Outdoor Space on Your Google Listing

Your Google My Business listing is a great place to share photos and videos of your outdoor dining area with potential customers. When customers search for restaurants near them and you show up, or when potential diners view your Google listing, they can be enticed to try out your outdoor dining space.

8. Create More Content About Your Outdoor Space Online

In promoting your outdoor dining space online, content is key. Try to create as much content as possible for your outdoor space. This content can include email marketing or pages on your site. Create a specific landing page on your website about your outdoor dining area. Answer questions patrons may have before they visit, like whether pets are allowed or whether this outside space has protection from the elements.

9. Create a Press Release

When you first open your restaurant’s outdoor space, you can send out a press release to your local news media.

A press release helps build awareness and promote your outdoor eating space with readers or followers of the news agency in your community. Consider planning an event and inviting your local news outlet to cover the opening of your exterior dining area. Doing so will show your patio or other space accommodates multiple guests, who will all be having a great time at your restaurant’s event.

10. Use Advertisements

While there are free ways to promote your restaurant’s outdoor area, you could look into paid advertisements. Your options include things like billboards, paid social media posts, local radio and TV ads, Google ads or listings in your local paper. Include high-quality images of your outdoor space to show it off to potential customers.

11. Use Communities to Promote Your Outdoor Dining Space

Online and offline communities abound for almost anything on the earth. There’s no doubt there are online or local communities for restauranteurs in your city. There may also be different groups for different sets of people in your area, from schools to sports communities.

You can promote your outdoor dining space and outdoor dining offers in these communities. This can get more customers to come to your exterior dining area. Advertise an outdoor special the day of a big game, or promote your exterior space as great for families, depending on the communities you market to.

12. Train Staff to Promote the Space

Educate your staff on the benefits of your outdoor dining area and what it offers. Train your host to promote the outdoor dining area when patrons visit and request a table. Your staff can also suggest outdoor dining if customers call to make reservations, helping promote the area.

Be sure to go over details of your outdoor dining space with employees, like its hours or special menus if these differ from your indoor options. Staff can then be ready to answer customers’ questions.

Browse Bramsford Outdoor Furniture

Browse Bramsford Outdoor Furniture and Make a Purchase

One of the best ways to get more people into your outdoor dining space is to use the best outdoor furnishings. At Bramsford, we offer outdoor restaurant site amenities and furniture in a variety of finishes, styles and colors to suit your establishment’s aesthetic and attract customers. We offer products that are built to last, meaning they’ll withstand any weather condition and heavy use.

Browse our options and customize them to your needs, then check out right on our site.

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