As summer winds down, early fall is a great time to plan for a busy holiday season. Once again, we’re opening up our bag of seasonal tips and ideas…so you can end the year with even more jingle in your pocket.
First, take a quick look back at our 2014 recommendations. They’re still great ideas…so we thought we’d offer up something a little different for 2015, from small-scale suggestions to long-term changes.
Look back at the past
What worked for you last year? Which ideas didn’t? Your own experience might be the best opportunity of all! If you don’t already, get in the habit of keeping holiday notes so you can repeat your winners and re-think the losers.
Shrink your plates to multiply profits
From tired shoppers to family gatherings, the holidays bring a mix of customers. Take this opportunity to introduce your most popular or specialty items (including desserts) on smaller, shareable plates. This re-merchandising tactic lets new customers sample all of your best items while driving up overall check amounts.
Plus, small-plate items are a growing trend. If this tactic is successful for you, offer it all year long—just remember to mix it up for next year’s holiday season.
Tell every customer about your holiday services. Focus on what you do best, whether it be parties, menu specials or holiday décor. Post signs, menu notes and table tents and include messaging on bottom of each check to generate early bookings and awareness.
Do you do large parties or catering? Many of these services are best for businesses. So, advertise in local business-oriented media, including your chamber of commerce or regional trade publications. In addition to holiday parties, you could also offer to cater (or host) business meetings to introduce your restaurant to the community.
Build annual traditions. Connect with anyone who used your holiday services last year via email or even the phone. It’s generally easier to build repeat business than to start fresh.
Create a Facebook page
Now is a great time to explore social media as a business-building tool for the holidays and the entire year. We know deciding between, starting and managing multiple social media accounts can be time consuming, so here is our recommendation: focus on Facebook. There’s a lot Facebook can do for you, and here are a few way to get started:
- Post tasty-looking photos of your cuisine and/or ingredients
- Share your holiday menu and specials
- Introduce your staff with photos and not-too-personal details
- Show off your décor–before and after the holidays
- Post questions to your customers
- Alert customers to savings and promotions
- Invite everyone in your restaurant to “Like” you with signage, etc.
Set aside time (or assign one of your staff) to monitor your page and find other, complimentary businesses to “Like” and link to.
What about negative comments? Respond quickly and kindly, then connect with them offline. And remember to thank positive comments just as quickly.
Start today for a successful holiday. As your partner, we hope these ideas spark new opportunities, deliver new customers and a ring in very busy New Year.