Holiday Survival Guide: Restaurant Edition

alt The fervor of the holiday season is upon us with all of its festivities and reflections on another year past. The additional demands to our time and bank accounts during the season is another cause for reflection on what and who we value, and restaurants can either feel the sting of those demands or leverage them into new opportunities. Slimmer wallets due to holiday shopping, parties, and travel add pressures to personal budgets leading to fewer people eating out, and when customers do come in, they are dining on a budget. Restaurants try new things, from increased marketing efforts to seasonal menu adaptations, in an effort to entice customers to their restaurants. If you would like to keep your holiday season merry and bright, check out some helpful tips below.

Re-Connect with Regulars

The holidays are about spending time with those you care about most, and as a restaurant, that means your customers, especially your regulars. Check in with your regulars through a survey or conversations to learn what they love about the holidays and what you might be able to include or change to make their experience more enjoyable. How's your drink menu? How's your service? What menu items didn't quite hit the mark? Not only will this give you a better idea of where you are succeeding or where you can improve, but also lets you connect to the customer. Tip: Give a customer a survey after the meal and offer something (free appetizer, percent off of order, a small holiday treat) in return if the customer fills it out.

alt Ignite your Cocktails

Diversify your cocktail selections. There are infinite opportunities to play with the flavors, colors, and spirit of the holiday season behind the bar, or try pairing a cocktail with a festive dessert. Here are some holiday cocktail ideas.

How Many People to Expect

Our friends at Open for Business compiled stats from the holiday season in 2014. Below are the numbers comparing the week before the holiday to the holiday itself.

  • New Years Eve had business grow 272% from the Wednesday before.

  • Christmas Eve did 94% more business than the average Wednesday before.

  • Christmas had a 5% growth in business compared to the average Thursday before.

Promote Your Catering Business

The holiday season is full of parties, and it's a great time to bolster your brick and mortar business with a mobile catering operation as companies and private parties look for everything from no frills spared food and beverage to budget minded fares. Restaurants should work out the numbers, set a discount and fill in your availability in advance. Another helpful hint: create a catering page to your website and add pictures of past events you have catered.

alt Desserts

Sweeten your holiday menu with a fresh dessert list to feature the flavors and decorations of the season. Create a display that highlights desserts to indulge in and even better take home. You can even advertise it as “Santa approved cookies.”

Offer Family and Couple Discounts

Families and couples feel added financial constraints during the holiday season in order to save money for gifts, travel and vacations, so perhaps offering a discount can bring in more customers.

Gift Cards

A gift card is a great last minute gift idea and stocking stuffer. Restaurants want to get those gift card sales up. Open for Business has ideas on how to boost those sales.

  • Market Nationally- 70% of individuals buying gift cards live outside the restaurant's zip code.

  • Give Incentives- Create a deal that says "Spend X amount of money on a gift card and receive an additional amount"

  • Contact Companies- Open Table showed an example where a restaurant offered $5,000 worth of discounts for $4,000. Each gift card was worth $50 and the amount given out by the company increases new customer acquisition and business.

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A recent graduate from Virginia Tech, Matt Katz came to BlueCart as a young social media guru. When Matt isn't writing or putting together infographics, he can be seen running on the Georgetown canal!

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