Restaurant downtime is the arch nemesis of every restaurant owner and manager. In what seems like a heartbeat, an establishment that was just packed to the gills with people, full of conversation, and punctuated with servers rushing and a bustling kitchen is suddenly as silent and motionless as a library. Staff has polished the glasses until they gleam, not a dish is out of place in the kitchen, and you can hear the tick tock of the clock as you count down until the dinner hour.
What if there was a way to fill those tables during slow times yet not miss out on the dinner rush? There is an overlooked customer that expects little but can fill that dreaded downtime. Remote workers today amount to 37% of the workforce and that number is expected to exceed 50% by 2020. These workers aren’t tethered to a home, a cubicle, or any particular location. They can literally work from anywhere.
Remote workers don’t fit a particular mold. Freelancers, IT developers, University professors, bloggers, realtors, traveling salespeople—they can all be classified as a remote worker along with many, many more. One of the greatest challenges for remote workers is finding a space that is conducive to their work and their budget. Restaurants have the unique ability to capitalize on that opportunity.
Working from home is usually the first thought that comes to mind when you picture a remote worker. However that worker may have small children at home that make productivity challenging, they might need to visit various clients around the city or state and be looking for a place to stop over and check emails while they grab a bite to eat, or they might be social creatures who need background noise in order to focus.
If your restaurant can offer a table with room to spread out, WiFi, and a power outlet, then you could be their mobile office for an hour or so. Remote workers are unassuming when it comes to their needs and expectations—if you can promise a drink refill when they need it and reliable internet, then they can fill that 2pm-5pm void that had you gritting your teeth.
The advantage is yours when it comes to wooing this diner. Unreliable internet, a lack of space and privacy, along with too much background noise are all turn offs for those that work on the run. Advertise a quieter work environment, promise a secluded table or booth for conference calls, and offer drinks with a top to avoid any potential spills. Capitalize on the fact that these workers are already tech savvy: take to LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter to spread the word and offer specials that are exclusive to them. Research apps like OOOT–Out of Office Thinker that allow workers to make a reservation for a specific time window and get down to business. Conference centers, event planners, and hotel concierges can all be places to spread the word about your remote worker offerings.
Wishing restaurant downtime away won’t fill those empty hours. Think beyond the traditional and find the customers you’ve been missing.
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