How Your Restaurant Can Capitalize on the Holiday Season

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With all the hustle and bustle of finding gifts and making sure everything is just right, the holiday season is busy for everyone. With your competitors trimming the tree and decking the halls, you’ll want to make sure your restaurant stands out. It’s the time in a year when people are looking to spend some serious money and there are a few things you can do to take advantage of every opportunity to attract them with fresh ideas and bring business to your restaurant. Of course you will do your best to provide memorable experiences for each one of them and strive to get new guests to walk through your doors. But how to do that?

These are a few tips to help you entice customers to venture out of the comfort of their homes this holiday season and bring their holiday spirit into your restaurant.

Thanksgiving

were-openStay Open
Every year more and more people are deciding to dine out for Thanksgiving. The National Restaurant Association predicts that more than 15 million people will eat out for Thanksgiving this year. Consumers don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking all that food and the massive aftermath of dishes and leftovers. This is where your restaurant can save the day by providing them with a stress free, delicious meal. If you decide staying open on Thanksgiving Day is for you, offer a traditional turkey dinner for the families looking for a home cooked meal without all the trouble.

Takeout Options

If staying closed on Thanksgiving is a priority, but you still want to take advantage of the holiday sales, try offering precooked sides that patrons can pick up a day or two before Thanksgiving. Customers will appreciate not having to cook more than necessary, and you will appreciate their business. They might even decide to make your side a new holiday tradition, and who doesn’t love repeat business? Offering takeout options is a way you can have your pumpkin pie, and eat it too.

chef-counter-bowlsHost a Food Drive

Another option would be to run a food drive. Have a designated area in your waiting area where patrons can donate canned goods for the local food shelter. To bring in even more customers consider offering a discount on food with a nonperishable food donation. Customers will take note of your good deeds and might consider becoming a regular at a business that cares for the community.


Host a Tips from the Chef Night

Another option owners might want to consider is hosting an event before Thanksgiving. Take reservations and on a specific night, serve your guests a Thanksgiving meal. Then once things have calmed down a little and the meals are served, have your Chef visit tables and be available for questions on how to cook that perfect turkey. Most people are intimidated at the thought of cooking a whole turkey themselves so they will appreciate the advice and personal attention. This offers customers not only tips from a professional, but a night out on the town.  Plus such great customer service will have them returning even after the holiday season is over.

 

Christmas

5285326369_3620ae8f34_oDécor

Decorating for the holiday season can really add to the atmosphere in your establishment. White twinkle lights are a simple touch that can bring some magic and wonder to an everyday setup. In addition to traditional decorations take advantage of some of the benefits of alternative designs. The Christmas tree made from champagne glasses decorated with lights, or different colored liquids in them will be an original and attractive decoration in your restaurant. It is also a conversation starter among guests.

Have your decorations ready to go from harvest into a holiday theme. Purchase your decorations ahead of time and then pick a slower day, perhaps during the week, to bring holiday cheer to your restaurant.

Having a cheerful holiday atmosphere could be a deciding factor in whether a business chooses your location to host their holiday party. If would be a shame to miss out on such an opportunity due to decorations.

Also be sure to promote your holiday wonderland on social media. People love to visit locations that have gotten into the holiday spirit and are sure to share their experience. More sharing equals more customers!

7875663010_c31969d2a5_kCatering

If you are looking to add catering to your lineup, now is the time. Many offices are holding holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and are looking for places to accommodate their needs. To meet their needs try to have veggie and vegan meal options available. This is an area that can often be overlooked but can be the difference between getting their business and being passed over.

It is also easier to train new staff for catering. Often people are looking for extra work during the holidays, seasonal workers can help manage the new part of your business through the busy holidays. It also can be helpful to your kitchen staff if you have a special holiday menu. If they have a general idea of what they will be cooking they can better prepare to accommodate the larger groups.

 

Offer Coupons

Do you have regulars who frequent your establishment? Let them know how much you appreciate their business by sending them a holiday card with a coupon inside. For example, a free dessert would be nice way to entice them in the doors and convince them to purchase an entree.

But be cautious, it is important to make sure the card stays a card and does not become an advertisement, as you don’t want to lose the meaning behind the gesture. By placing a coupon in the card it lets your guests know that you appreciate them and encourages return business. While a paper card is heart-warming, many restaurants with email programs can utilize a digital coupon and save on postage.

Another benefit of sending cards is that customers might talk about your card with friends, and word of mouth is the best advertising you can get (especially in the social network age.)

Coupons are also a great way to prepare for the lull that happens after the holiday season. When your staff takes the customer their receipt consider slipping in a few coupons that are good in January through February to encourage continued patronage during those slower months. Not only will they appreciate the gesture but also feel encouraged to return.

Give a Gift

Having gift cards available are a must for the holiday season. Many people are not sure what to purchase for that long lost cousin, or the co-worker they got in the office’s secret Santa. You can be there to offer them this viable option. It also works out great for a restaurant owner. About 72% of people spend more than the value of their gift card when they dine at a restaurant. Try to offer holiday themed cards to catch the eye of your customers.

Offering gift cards is also a great way to get first time visitors in the door and make them lifelong patrons.

Organize a Charity Dinner

5398146515_024b48dfaa_bSpread the holiday spirit by organizing a charity dinner in your restaurant. The holiday season is a time of giving and donations. During this season people are thinking more about others than usual. That’s why it is a great time to organize a charity event. Choose a cause that is close to your heart or your communities and inform people about the event through traditional media and social media. The media will be happy to promote such an event, especially during this time of year. Create a flyer, and use it as part of your restaurant holiday promotion.

Participate in a charity event by offering a certain percentage of the proceeds that night to go to charity. Invite members from the organization you have selected to add a personal touch. They’ll also help to promote your business and the event. You will be helping those in need and building a caring reputation for your restaurant, creating a win-win situation.

The holiday season offers many opportunities for promoting your business and thanking your customers for the wonderful year you’ve had. Don’t miss out because of a lack of planning. It is best to start advertising for these promotions 4-6 weeks in advance. By implementing unique promotions you can help your restaurant stand out from all the other deals going on during the season.

I wish you happy holidays and a bustling restaurant!

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From Restaurateur to Caterer: How to Add Catering to Your Restaurant Business

Start a Catering BusinessOne of the most common ways that restaurants increase their profits is by introducing catering to their overall business strategy. When people try and gush over your food at a catered event, they’ll be more likely to come to your restaurant for a meal, and your lines of business will benefit from one another. You already have a location, kitchen, menu, staff, and customers, so adding a catering business can be a positive change for your bottom line. Be sure to follow these tips if you’re considering this kind of venture:

Determine your level of service. Positioning yourself as a full-service caterer or as a pick-up caterer will establish the kind of business that you want to promote. Many wedding caterers distinguish themselves from similar businesses by setting up and decorating guests’ tables, providing waiters and bar tenders, and cleaning up after the event. Find out what other caterers provide to their clients, review their pricing, and then use that information to determine if your catering business fills a definite need in your area.

Location, location. Do you want to be an off-site only caterer, or would you like to also have an on-site area for guests? If your restaurant already has a banquet room or if you can set aside some space for a dedicated room, consider on-site catering. Bringing in groups of people who will be dining on a pre-determined menu not only gives you the opportunity to dazzle more people, but allows you to streamline your menu items and use certain ingredients for both your catering and restaurant menus. 

Create a catering menu. While drawing from the same ideas that are on your regular menu, your catering menu will likely not be identically the same as the one you use in your restaurant.

  1. First, think about the kind of catering business that you would like to have. Do you see yourself as a gourmet wedding caterer? Do you plan on serving sandwiches at corporate events? Is your niche more along the lines of home-cooked picnic food? Think about what image you want to project.
  2. Next, begin creating menu items that are similar to your restaurant meals. If you’re known for locally-sourced food, especially during the summer time, then you may be thinking of catering items that showcase fruits, vegetables, and starches or protein from your area. If you’re a coastal restaurant, that could mean a seafood-based catering menu with fresh-caught specialties.
  3. Finally, don’t forget your signature menu items. If your restaurant has a tried-and-true favorite, be sure to offer your best sellers on your catering menu, too. 

Allocate resources to maximize profits. Make sure that you review the food that you are buying for your restaurant and how that can be used for your catering, too. As we said above, your catering menu is likely to have the same flavor as your in-restaurant menu. But, you will also have to think of how much longer it will take to make large quantities of food and the additional staff you’ll need to cook and deliver the order, plus additional transportation costs if it’s required for your style of catering.

A catering business is a wonderful way to advertise your restaurant, and your restaurant is the perfect vehicle for promoting your catering. The two work hand-in-hand to increase your customer base and encourage loyalty to your business. Devise a business model that makes sense for your restaurant and let everyone know that you’re there to cater their next event!