Promote the Holidays at Your Restaurant

It’s almost holiday time. For restaurants, this means it’s the season of festive menu items and a welcoming atmosphere complete with roaring fires and the smells of home. With COVID-19 an ongoing risk for businesses, it’s important to plan in advance and get ready for what is sure to be a busy and unprecedented holiday season.

Restaurants are challenged to keep staff members and customers safe while still cultivating the kind of inviting environment that draws in the usual rush. Here are four tips to keep in mind for striking that perfect balance.

Menu

Winter is the perfect time to try out those seasonal desserts you’ve been wanting to make or that themed drinks menu you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Some restaurants decide to create festive names for their dishes or sprinkle in some new specials; others create an entirely new, prix fixe menu that offers seasonal options with local ingredients, making a truly unique set of choices that guests won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Don’t forget about off-premise sales. With the holiday season coinciding with the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, it’s very likely that customers are going to continue to socially distance themselves while they celebrate. This means an uptick in takeout and delivery orders—even more than usual, and this year has already seen a huge spike in those numbers. There’s always an increase in busyness this time of year, but online orders are likely to grow in particular because of the pandemic. Bolster your off-premise ordering channels now to avoid overloading your current system later.

Staff

If you’ve been running a restaurant for a while or have ever visited one in the winter, you know how busy it gets.  You might need to hire additional workers and train them to handle all of the usual workloads and then some. Prepare for the busyness that they will experience by getting a jump start on schedule. Ask in advance when staff members will need time off and let certain employees know if you’ll need them to work more hours than usual, so everyone has time to submit time off requests and you’re not stuck juggling schedules at the last minute. Flexibility will be key this year.

Consider hiring seasonal workers now if you plan to use them later so you have ample time to train them on the regular operations at your restaurant and they’re prepared for when it gets busy. You can offer referral bonuses or gift cards to employees who invite others. Take time to streamline the training process so your new hires fit smoothly into current operations too.

Now is also a good time to check in with your suppliers. They’re probably having just as strange of a time trying to figure out what this year will bring, and it’s important for you to know what their plans are so you can adjust accordingly if need be. Find out about their new business and delivery hours, but be prepared for COVID-19 to tie up the supply chain this year during rushes. Patience will most certainly be key.

Ambiance

The winter season brings a lot of sounds, sights, and smells that you’ve probably come to expect. Just because the customer experience is so different now, doesn’t mean that you can’t bring the same great vibes to your own restaurant. For example decoration can bring the same festive environment you’re trying to cultivate, as can the right music, smells and a generally inviting ambiance. You can also promote your restaurant’s seasonal changes and decorate at the same time by putting up posters and signs in the storefront or the sidewalk outside, so your holiday decorations spill out for foot traffic to see.

Promotion

Get the word out so everyone knows that you’re turning your restaurant into a holiday-themed hotspot. Promote the seasonal changes that you’ve been making on social media for your most loyal guests to see. Be transparent and detailed about the different festive but safe measures that you’re implementing in the restaurant, and make it clear what your new holiday hours are when you’re doing delivery, new menu items, and other relevant information. Social media is a great place to generate higher customer engagement by creating polls about what drinks people want to see added to the menu, their favorite holiday dishes, and more. If you do a monthly newsletter, now is a great time to make that themed as well and promote all the recent changes you’ve made, bringing the news straight to your customers’ inboxes.

It’s also the perfect time of year to offer gift cards. Guests will be looking for presents to get their loved ones, so you can promote special themed cards that work for them and also generate better customer loyalty for you: It’s a win-win. Since the market can be difficult right now, some restaurants are linking up with local suppliers and putting on co-hosted promotions, for example, if you and your alcohol vendor offer a sale on dishes paired with a certain drink.

Whatever your promotions are going to be, get a head start. This year is sure to be busy and strange. Make it easier on yourself with superior restaurant management tools. eatOS technologies are designed to lighten your workload while improving both productivity and profitability. Book a demo with us today and let us help you make the most of the upcoming holiday season.

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