Once thought of as a closed-door holiday, Thanksgiving now lures crowds of diners to their favorite restaurants. More and more, people are deciding to forego home-cooking for convenience, as they opt to gather with their friends and loved ones outside of the home.
Just last year, the National Restaurant Association’s online survey found that 1 in 10 consumers plan to dine out for Thanksgiving, while 1 in 20 will purchase a full holiday takeout meal for home celebration. (Source: National Restaurant Association, November 2016).
What this means for your – one word, PREPARATION. Now is the time to prepare your staff, your establishment, and your inventory to meet the demands of your coming holiday crowds.
Below are Foodservice Promo’s suggestions to help you do just that.
Start advertising: Begin marketing your restaurant as the place to be for Thanksgiving. Get the word out that your establishment will be open and ready to serve your customers. Promote any special menu offers, Thanksgiving amenities, to-go options, catering availability, as well as available banquet rooms. START encouraging and taking reservations NOW.
Use social media, online ads, word of mouth, flyers, mobile marketing, and email marketing as vehicles of promotion.
Tweak your menu or create a separate holiday menu: Offer the classics that are non-negotiable such as turkey (of course), stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Play on the “nostalgic” emotion.
One thing to keep in mind, though, stay true to the heart of your restaurant. For instance, if you’re a steakhouse, don’t stray away from serving what your restaurant is known for. Every diner is not going to want “holiday” food, so offer specific dishes from your traditional menu.
Plan to transform your restaurant using holiday décor: Remember, diners are opting to spend their holiday in your establishment; add festive, seasonal touches to your dining room. Holiday music, fall colors, gourds, wreath arrangements, smells of cinnamon and apple spice, are just a few ideas that will bring “home” to your restaurant.
Assess and plan to order more inventory than usual: Take notice of your historical holiday dining data and forecast the amount of inventory necessary to feed all of your diners. Think about the dishes that have sold well in years past, and carefully plan for new dishes you’ll be offering. While food waste is not ideal, you don’t want the issue of running out of food items, especially if your diners are requesting them.
Use free services like Foodservice Promos to find and download money-saving rebates to keep your holiday costs to a minimum. Just create an account and start downloading.
Prepare for the rush: Your staff is key to making the machine run smoothly. Without them, you might as well close for the day. Make sure you have enough staff on deck to handle the increase in dining guests. Again, consult your historical data and schedule staff based on your findings. Resist the temptation to overstaff, and be sure not to understaff.
Additionally, keep your staff happy. Employee appreciation is a must all year long, but it’s particularly important during the busiest time of year – the holidays, to ensure good customer service. Perhaps offer monetary incentives, gift cards, or even host an employee holiday party, either before or after the holiday rush.
Bonus – Offer a Thanksgiving promotion: Add value to your promotion instead of offering discounts. Meaning, offer a free glass of wine or champagne with the purchase of dessert; offer a 2 for 1 dessert special; or even a free dessert with the purchase of a bottle of wine or champagne.
Customers will be extra alert when it comes to mistakes, so it’s important to take the time to plan and carefully execute the plan to ensure your customers’ holiday is a holiday that you’d want.
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