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From dawn to dusk: Take advantage of the sunny sides of your outdoor area

Sunshine can make your outdoor area more inviting and bring you more business. At the same time, it helps to know exactly what you can offer your customers—and, as some guests may prefer to sit in the shade, the best way to protect them from too much sun.

Sunshine in your outdoor area: Opportunities and challenges

Sunshine is a money-maker in the outdoor catering segment. So it’s all the more important to make full use of your outdoor area from the first days of spring to late autumn. There are, however, a number of things you must consider. Even though your guests might like to sit in the sun as soon as the first rays appear, sufficient protection against too much of it is essential for good health and good profits. Both must be taken into consideration when planning your outdoor area. The same applies to special groups of guests such as children and smokers. The integration of sun protection systems into your weather protection plan creates overlap and saves you money.

Sunshine in your outdoor area: How to reap the benefits

  • Extend your opening hours to take advantage of all sunny hours. The extra effort is worth it even if it means having to take on extra staff. The most important factor here is planning the size of your team to avoid longer periods of inactivity and/or prevent long waiting times. Staff momentarily not required for service can take care of your outdoor area. There’s more to be done in the summer like keeping plants well-watered.
  • Sunny spots are particularly desirable when the sunshine is not yet or no longer intense, i.e. during spring and autumn, morning and evening hours. Set up your tables to make the most of the sunshine during times.
  • Create an exclusive summer & sun atmosphere. Deckchairs are ideal for this, as they can also be used with warming blankets for sunbathing when it gets a little cooler. Subtropical plants in tubs create a Mediterranean flair. Children’s wading pools are also a clever idea for letting your guests cool their feet. Provide sunscreen ‘on the house.’ Your guests will appreciate your gesture.
  • The especially attractive sunny spots in your outdoor area should be reserved for high-revenue catering. This could be an outdoor bar serving exclusive cocktails during Happy Hour. You could also offer a ‘grill-it-yourself’ option at peak times with tabletop grills for your guests. According to a survey conducted by ‘Bookatable,’ the restaurant booking portal, this is what 30% of interviewed guests would welcome. Both these specials are ideal to combine with the summer flair of the deckchairs.
  • You should make it possible for your guests to enjoy the morning sun and sunset. Unless it can be done automatically, all unnecessary parasols or awnings should be closed or retracted by hand.
  • Modern sun protection systems are generally multifunctional. Their shapes and sizes, whether triangular or oversized, make them eye-catching features for your outdoor area. Their fabrics’ range of colours also make them stand out. This enables you to coordinate everything to match your ‘corporate colour scheme.’
  • Use the large areas of fabric offered by your sun protection systems as projection screens. When it gets dark, you can create fascinating effects with moving patterns of light and colour or transform live music into a multimedia experience.
  • The logos and slogans of your sponsors and suppliers show which brands you serve. This also attracts more guests. You also could simply project the name of your establishment in a large size. Your sun protection systems then fulfil a double function.

Sunshine in your outdoor area: How to protect your guests

  • Flexible solutions like mobile parasols, pavilions, or retractable awnings can follow the course of the sun. Sun sensors ensure that they open and close at the right times. In the case of manually operated systems, it is advisable to set out a schedule indicating when your staff should open, adjust, or close them. 
  • Please consider that although the majority of your guests wish to sit in the sun when the season begins, they are more likely to look for a shadier place during the hottest weeks of the summer. Factor sufficient protection against direct sunshine into your plan.
  • Sun-worshippers will welcome a couple of sunny spots. Nevertheless, you should make sure to keep a mobile parasol that can be opened when needed close at hand.
  • Protect play areas for children against direct sunshine. Enable parents to enjoy the sun within view of their children.
  • At the start of the sunny season, pavilions or similar sources of shade can be quickly set up when needed and left standing. The natural shade of a feature like a pergola with growing plant cover is a practical option for guests wishing to get out of the sun.
  • If it’s not possible to install permanent sunshade or awning systems, e.g. due to preservation restrictions, you can always resort to mobile solutions. METRO offers a selection of cantilever parasols that take up little space without wall mounting and can be tilted and rotated.

Sunshine in your outdoor area: Make the right investments

Too little or unsuitable protection from the sun can make a big hole in your revenue. The same applies to not taking advantage of all the sunny spots you have. After all, according to a ‘Bookatable’ survey, 44% of guests expect restaurants to have an outdoor area during summer.

See if you can get your suppliers on board as sponsors. Branded parasols can show the name of your business alongside that of well-known products.

Further financing can be made available by cutting costs, for example by generating your own solar power with a photovoltaic system. In the best-case scenario, you could even be eligible for state subsidies. Your commitment to sustainability will enhance your image, generate loyalty among your regular guests, and guarantee you sustainably stable revenue.

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