While small businesses in the retail sector garner the majority of the attention when it comes to the “holiday rush,” restaurant spending is also trending upwards during the holiday season (at an even faster rate). Shopping and dining are natural pals, and as people enjoy more time off and families come together, the opportunities to dine out increase. Long story short: The holidays are an important time for restaurants. As a restaurant owner, here are some things you should know as we rapidly approach the busy season.
You Should Decorate (But Be Considerate to All)
Decorating for the holidays isn’t a must — but it’s pretty close to one. For the majority of people out and about during the holiday season, a restaurant whose halls have been decked is simply more inviting than one that isn’t so festive. It’s important to strike a balance, however, and refrain from going overboard. Your clientele is likely diverse, and you don’t want to be too pushy with your holiday messaging. If you want to put on a more neutral display, consider winter-themed decorations that don’t push a specific holiday. “When in doubt, a non-religious display, like snowflake cutouts, can be a little way to get festive without crossing any boundaries into personal beliefs,” says top food service apparel company Shoes for Crews.
Customers Expect Holiday Promotions
The holidays are no time to Grinch it up. Diners expect holiday promotions from restaurants, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t give them what they want. Some top holiday promotional ideas include special menu items, gift cards, special holiday dinners, and deals on group dining.
Don’t forget that the two major ways you’re going to circulate those holiday promotions are your social media channels and your website. Social media is important for marketing and engagement, of course, but it’s your website that is the true portal through which most potential and returning customers will see you. Before you get slammed this holiday season, do what needs to be done to improve your website. At the bare minimum, it needs to have an eye-catching but easy-to-navigate design, working links, and you should focus on putting all the pertinent info about your holiday specials front and center.
It’s Smart to Consider Catering and/or Delivery
Increasing sales should be at the top of your holiday checklist. From November into January, there’s a lot of demand for fresh, quality food at various parties, family events, and work get-togethers. Not everyone has time to cook for the various holidays during the final months of the year, and you can be their savior. It may involve hiring some extra staff, but the holiday season is the time to consider offering catering services (if you haven’t before).
Staff Up Early
Good holiday hiring practices for restaurateurs start with hiring a solid team of seasonal workers before the holiday rush kicks in. In other words, start staffing yesterday. It’s important to lock in people’s schedules early on (to avoid conflicts and no-shows) and to have at least one full staff meeting to strategize about holiday service (it can be much more stressful than regular service).
You Should Give Back (Publicly and Privately)
Not only will giving back to the community make your business look good, but being charitable is also the right thing to do. You should be generous with your staff (bonuses, throwing them a party, etc.) as well as with a charity or two that is near and dear to your heart. Paying it forward is never a bad idea for a small business.
Restaurant ownership is tough year-round, but the holidays can add an extra layer of stress to the equation. It also provides an opportunity, however, to grow sales, be creative, hire new talent, and boost your stature in the community. Remember this: Giving yourself ample time to plan is key. Happy holidays, and bon appétit!
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash