|Adding a patio can be costly, but it is a one-time cost. Just be sure to factor off-season furniture storage into your projection. With creative financing options, you can pay off your patio in a year.|
“Many small businesses struggle to access the funds they need to grow,” says small-business finance expert Diane Capobianco, from iCapital. “If cash flow is tight and there is no savings to tap into, manageable funding arrangements are available for Canadian small businesses. Cash advances, for example, allow businesses to expand, then repay through a small percentage of each day’s sales.”
3. Run promos and events
Summer is all about fun – there’s no better time to entice customers with promotions and parties. Introduce a special summer menu or specialty drink. Tie in a sporting event with a promo (e.g. the FIFA World Cup). If you have slow periods, spice them up with customer incentives like Summerlicious-style prix fixe pricing or a great Groupon deal. (And don’t forget to track those promos and use them for next summer’s projections.) If there’s a baseball league that practices in your neighbourhood, sponsor them and invite them to celebrate (or drown their sorrows) at your establishment.
4. Staff smart
The trick to avoiding overstaffing and never getting caught under-manned is to revisit last summer’s files and calculate the number of people you needed every day. If you decide to put in a patio, ensure you’ve got enough people to cover it. Also, remember that hiring strong, experienced employees pays off; for example, an experienced cook will work faster and waste less.
So how do you get experienced summer staff when you’re dealing mostly with students, or part-time hires? Do everything you can to keep your best employees from year to year. There’s no better way to find dependable people than by getting the good ones from last summer to come back.
Finally, keep CRA rules in mind. Whether your summer staff are part-time or full-time, don’t put them on the books as subcontractors. It’s a classification that’s frowned upon by the CRA since it doesn’t involve deductions. All restaurant workers must qualify for T4s. So whether they work a day, a week or a month, they will be required to file taxes, and you are responsible for paying their share of EI and CPP.
By analyzing past costs and revenues, you can better predict this summer’s business. This will mean lower food and labour costs. If you aren’t already capitalizing on seasonal opportunities, consider making a change this summer: add patio seating and seize all the warm-weather opportunities you can.
About the author:
Liz Teodorini is Marketing Director at iCapital a hassle-free and flexible financing solution for Canadian small businesses. The company, which is committed to being Canada’s most caring and responsive loan-alternative provider, frequently publishes articles relating to small business finance.