Setting your restaurant up for success during the unpredictable winter months

Oct 5, 2022
min read

The changing weather affects everyone. Temperatures drop, snow and rain begin to fall, and summer clothes are put away as people prepare to ride out the cold months indoors (hopefully by a cozy fireplace!). Even businesses brace themselves for slower months – but is there any industry so dramatically affected by weather as the restaurant industry? We’d vote no; as winter creeps up, unpredictable weather can make restaurants painfully slow. 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prepare your business for the chilly months ahead. In this blog, we’ll share our top tips and tricks to turn any blizzard into big bucks. Let’s dive in! 

1. Install a reliable weather app

We know, we know, this one is obvious. In fact, you probably already have a weather app installed onto your mobile device. But it’s worth noting for those that may not have thought to download one – having the ingenuity of a weather app right at your fingertips is a great way to rid your restaurant of any surprises. 

With a reliable weather forecasting app, like The Weather Network, you’ll know if there’s an extreme cold front, thunder storm, or snowfall headed your way – information that is invaluable when making decisions about staffing. Managers can set alerts to be notified for any range of information, including temperature swings, cold alerts, and of course, snow. Most apps will update by the hour so you’re always on top of any changes that affect your restaurant’s area. 

Weather apps are especially useful for multi-unit organizations, as they have the option to follow multiple cities across North America. This means you’ll get notifications about the weather for all of your locations.

2. Implement a stellar communication plan 

So, you’ve got a weather app installed. You saw that the weekend forecast called for three feet of snow, and planned accordingly for a slower Sunday morning. But come Sunday morning, the plows are behind, it’s even slower than you anticipated, and will probably remain slow throughout the rest of the day… Now what? How will you adjust the schedule and notify staff promptly?

It’s paramount to have a communication plan in place for these unpredictable changes. Ensure you have an up-to-date contact list for all your staff readily available, so you can let affected team members know of schedule changes quickly. A digital copy of your list that can be live updated is best for easy access, but keep a hard copy handy in case there are any power outages. 

A smart tip is to consider using the “telephone tree”. That is, you call one employee and relay information, and ask them to pass it along to a few other employees. This helps to cut down your time spent contacting each employee. Of course, this method works best amongst a team with a high sense of trust – where managers trust the employees to relay accurate information, and employees trust each other in relaying that information.

However, the best way to ensure quick and easy communication is through restaurant scheduling software with team communications incorporated into the system. Software like Ameego gives you the power to instantly communicate with your team on snow days (or any day for that matter) with email/text notifications and a mobile app to easily view shift changes. 

3. Set up snow removal services

This is a tip not many restaurant management teams think of – but we promise, you will never regret outsourcing snow removal for your restaurant. Not only does clear access mean business for your restaurant, but it also relieves you from worries of a lawsuit due to unsafe conditions (e.g. slippery ice). 

Find a contractor to provide snow removal services, and make sure the terms are clear. Here are a few questions you can ask a contractor:

  • How soon after a snowfall or snowstorm will you have someone on site?
  • What parts of my property will be included in the service? (Ideally, they’ll take care of the parking lot and sidewalks, including prep such as salting and sanding.)
  • What are the rates? Monthly, or per visit?

Before hiring a contractor, it also helps to look for references or testimonials from commercial customers. If you share a street or parking lot with another restaurant, you might even consider splitting the costs of snow removal with them to save some cash. 

4. Make it fun, make it social, and make it sell!

Snow days don’t have to be bad days. In fact, they can be quite the opposite; just like in grade school when a snow day meant a fun time, the right preparation can make snow days a fun opportunity for your business. 

Here are a few tips to make the most of the chilly weather:

  • Post on social media to share that your restaurant is ready and open for business. Show a jolly front-of-house team, cozy interiors, warm and delicious food… whatever your restaurant has that can get people pumped about going out!
  • Do winter-inspired, limited edition specials. Perhaps it’s a warm steak pie for the -30• weather, a spiked hot chocolate, or a snow-inspired drink. Snap and share a picture to entice customers into visiting!
  • Get your team involved through competitions, like an ugly sweater competition. Not only does it engage your staff, but it gets a laugh out of your followers and customers. 
  • Decorate to impress, with winter or holiday decorations that spread a sense of warmth amongst the restaurant.

Do more with Ameego

No more spending hours on the phone relaying shift changes to the team. With Ameego, you get instant, easy team communication, plus One-Touch scheduling, time tracking, reporting, and more. 

To learn more about how Ameego can help your business, speak with our team today

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