The warm and sunny weather has been a bit late to show up in the UK this year, but it's all good because it means as the owner of an independent hospitality business you've got a bit more time to sort out your outdoor seating area for customers.
I'm diving straight into today's blog post, so here's 4 things to consider when buying outdoor furniture for your hospitality business.
1. Choose an outdoor furniture style that reflects the personality and ethos of your small business
It might seem an obvious thing to say, but when on the hunt for new outdoor furniture it's worth considering how the design and style reflects the personality and/or ethos of your independent business and not just whether the furniture is looks nice.
If you're the small business owner of a café that focuses on locally sourced foods and a sustainably designed menu (and interior), buying second hand or vintage chairs and tables would be a great way to showcase your conscious, minimal-impact business ethos.
On the flip side of that, if your independent business is a cool drinks bar with a clean-cut, minimalist aesthetic you should be choosing a style of chair and table that portrays this personality. I'm thinking the same chair style used throughout (possibly in just one colour), with high-end design and high-quality feel to it.
And on the mention of colour, powder-coated chairs and tables are an easy way to add your brand colours to the outside space. A lot of contract furniture suppliers are able to provide any RAL colour of your choice on certain powder-coated furniture products, so don't be afraid to ask.
2. Consider the material of the outdoor furniture in relation to where your hospitality business is based
The material and finish of the outdoor furniture should play a big part in your choosing and buying process. If your independent business is located by the sea or you're in a part of the UK that can get a lot of rainfall you'll want to to consider something like a lacquered or powder-coated finish to minimise any rust issues on outdoor furniture. It might be worth focusing on polypropylene chairs only for minimal maintenance and replacements.
If your outdoor furniture is going to be spending several hours each day, every day, on an uncovered terrace during the summer time it's worth thinking about materials that can be UV protected and don't fade or discolour in the sun.
Don't forget that some materials and colours can get super hot in prolonged sunlight - I'm looking at you, black powder-coated metal - or be highly reflective in direct sunlight which can cause annoyance and discomfort for customers. This is where outdoor furniture accessories are going to be your best friend (explained in Point 4 further down).
3. How you plan to store your outdoor furniture will impact what size and style to buy
If you're a hospitality business with outdoor furniture on a local high street that needs to be stored away daily, light-weight outdoor furniture is going to be your saviour when you (or your staff) have to carry it outside and inside, day in, day out.. So any heavy cast-iron table bases and the likes might be best ruled out.
Choosing outdoor furniture that can fold will help with easier carrying and storing each day. Another option if you're limited on storage space is stackable outdoor chairs - and it can be easier to carry multiple chairs this way. Some four-legged tables can also be stacked.
If you have a dedicated outdoor garden or outdoor dining area at your independent business you don't have to worry too much about the size or weight of your outdoor furniture since it won't need to be put away every day. You may find that material and finish choice, as mentioned in Point 2, is more important for you and the long term maintenance of your outdoor furniture if it only gets stored safely away in the winter months, or even stays out all year round.
With a large outdoor space you also have the ability to include some fixed/non-movable furniture such as booths, banquette seating and picnic benches. They're a great way to add visual interest as well as style and comfort to your outdoor area, encouraging more customers to dine and drink outside as well as spend longer (and more money) at your small business.
4. Outdoor furniture accessories will enhance the outdoor dining or drinking experience of your hospitality business
Outdoor furniture accessories or extras can be the icing on the cake for a great outdoor dining/drinking experience. Here's some outdoor accessories to consider for your independent business..
Parasols - the perfect British weather solution for when the midday sun can get unbearably hot, or when there's a sudden, unexpected rain shower whilst you're enjoying a pub lunch and pint outside in the summer. Just consider the base of your outdoor tables (pedestal bases mean you won't be able to have a table top with a central parasol hole), or go for an alternative option of a jumbo parasol that lots of covers can be placed underneath.
Outdoor planters are a great way to add colour and visual interest to an otherwise dull outdoor dining area or patio with lots of hard finishes. If your small business has an outdoor area at the front planters can be used to create an inviting first impression, as well as providing an element of privacy for customers seated there. Some outdoor planters are fitted with roller castors so they can be wheeled out during opening hours and moved in or out of sight when your small business is closed.
Another great way to add colour and soft textures to your outside area are seat pads and loose cushions. Try to use seat pads that are removable on loose outdoor furniture or booth/banquette seating so that they can be stored safely away during winter months - this also makes them easier to clean. There's plenty of outdoor upholstery fabrics to choose from that are waterproof for sudden rain showers and UV protected to reduce fading and discolouration in the sun.
And if you're a hospitality business that's open during the evening or has an outdoor space open all-year, blankets have become a very popular outdoor accessory to further boost customer comfort.
So those are my 4 things to consider when buying outdoor furniture for your hospitality business. You can also check out this blog post for some outdoor furniture inspiration and ideas.
If you're a small business owner looking for some ideas and guidance for your outdoor space, have a lil read of my interior design consultations. Or if you're wanting a more detailed approach to designing the outdoor area of your hospitality business, my full interior design service could be the perfect thing for you.
(Cover Image: Rooted Studio via Unsplash)