In various countries around the globe, Muslims welcome Ramadan every year with joy. They fast in the daytime at the same time, gather at iftar tables at the same time, perform Qiyam al-Layl and pray to their Creator jointly. This creates a spiritual vibe that is felt by even non-fasting and followers of other religions, some of whom may sometimes be enticed by the idea of fasting from dawn to sunset as a personal challenge and a healthy way of taming themselves and enhancing their senses.
For restaurants and cafes, the societal changes in the way people dine out and order from restaurants pose a particular challenge, since most of them are around the time of the Maghrib and Fajr prayer calls. Additionally, a greater segment of people tends to stay up until after midnight to enjoy the benefits of Suhour and to find appropriate places that will serve the purpose of the holy month as well as meet their emerging needs.
Throughout the following lines, we’ll address some strategies that restaurant and café owners can use to be attuned to those changes, be prepared, and make the most of the giving season’s opportunities.
Ramadan Aura Preparation
Ramadan is not limited to changing the schedules and types of food, although it is required to provide a menu with dishes and beverages favored among those who are fasting. Attracting these customers, however, requires more than just that, such as providing proper decorations in the lounge, welcoming them, and showing interest in the holy month’s arrival, so fasters feel they are in a place that shares their joy and warmth with them.
At Maghrib, the call to prayer can also be played, so that hall-goers know it is time to break the fast and they do not have to rely on hearing the sounds of nearby mosques or looking at their phones to gauge this when they are in dire need of food. Allocating an indoor prayer room also helps to extend the seating time, since people can perform the Maghrib prayer on time without needing to leave the restaurant or return home.
Leveraging Past Experiences
If this is not your first Ramadan, then you have a wealth of data that can benefit you. Review prior Ramadans’ sales reports to learn about the most popular and in-demand items in each of your branches, and make sure to keep enough ingredients in stock to easily serve your restaurant and café diners, and use an advanced inventory management system to prevent running out of quantities just when you need them most.
You would also benefit from posting your feedback in a personal blog in which you review your experiences and reflect on your successes and failures as well as any creative ideas that you like about what other restaurants have done and wish to implement during the upcoming Ramadan season.
Offering Scheduled Ordering
Everyone hates to stand in long lines, and no one likes to wait more than thirty minutes for their meal. Now imagine if someone is fasting during Ramadan and hears Maghrib call to prayer! To avoid this as much as possible, introduce the feature of scheduled (pre-) ordering and entice people to use it through offers tailored specifically for it, thereby helping you to:
- Estimating the turnout ahead of time
- Preparing food items and quantities based on the number of visitors and their choices
- Providing faster services using your prior knowledge of customers’ orders
- Giving an improved experience for passing on that leads to more visitors and fans
Providing Efficient Delivery Services
Some may prefer to eat Iftar in their homes, or some institutions may contract with restaurants to provide Iftar and Suhour meals on their premises. This could exacerbate the pressure on restaurants and cafes to maintain food prepared efficiently while ensuring timely arrival.
Although your restaurant’s delivery team handles its tasks on average throughout the year, it may face a backlog of orders and crowded appointments unprecedentedly during Ramadan. Consequently, hiring additional temporary staff or subscribing to an outside delivery service provider would be needed to fulfill orders that exceed the capacity of the original staff of the restaurant to maintain the reputation and quality of service.
Activating Social Media Channels
Preparation of Ramadan atmosphere in the real world is completed when accompanied by related activities in the virtual world. Social media may even be the true gateway for people who visit restaurants and cafes during Ramadan since the virtual world will be their biggest platform to compete for the audience and engage with them to convince them to visit and repeat their experience.
Social media provides café and restaurant owners with a variety of marketing options that allow them to target their audiences based on the specific details they set such as country, region, age, interests, etc. at rates that are not comparable to what would be required for traditional advertising. Though these tools are widely available, mastering how to use them distinguishes successful restaurants that attract people from those that display low-resolution images or poorly-produced videos. Hence, make sure to work with experts to get the best investment return from your marketing campaigns.
May Allah accept from you, Ramadan Kareem!