Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get started on plans for two of the restaurant industry’s busiest days – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Children celebrate their parents by taking them out for lavish meals, so this is your opportunity to increase sales and bring in future business with good word-of-mouth advertising. However, keep in mind a bad experience can also ruin your reputation. It’s important to follow a few simple rules to ensure your restaurant is able to draw in business and handle it well.
1. Start planning today
To put together a viable marketing plan for these upcoming special days, it’s essential to start preparing about two to three months ahead of time – which means now!
Decide on what specials you want to offer your customers, and begin promoting your offer inside your restaurant and out. Now is not the time to skimp on advertising. Start promoting these special days in your newsletter and blog, and on Twitter and Facebook. Put up posters and signs around your establishment and place tent cards on your tables. Talk to your local newspapers and radio and TV stations about giving your restaurant a plug in return for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day package. Start a direct mail campaign.
2. Offer a special menu
As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two of the busiest days in the industry, it’s important your restaurant still offers top-notch service. Consider creating a special set menu for each day, to take the heat off your kitchen. Make sure it is a menu your kitchen staff can handle. Customers are celebrating a special day and would hate to see it ruined by poor service.
3. Give incentives
Along with your special menu, add a gift as an incentive to draw more customers into your restaurant. For example, you could include a family portrait in your package. Work with a local photographer to set up a mini studio somewhere in your restaurant that would be non-disruptive to other diners. Have the photographer bring his or her own printer, so portraits would be ready by the time the meal is done. Be sure to include a sign of your restaurant somewhere in the photo for additional publicity!
Other ideas for mom include spa packages, flowers or chocolates. For dads, you could arrange to have coupons for golf packages, sports gear or even a free oil change.
4. Hold a contest for younger kids
Younger children may not choose a restaurant or pay for a meal, but parents might select a place that appeals to kids. You could hold an essay-writing contest where children can write a short essay on why they think their mom and/or dad is the greatest, or a drawing competition in which they can draw the best portrait of their parents. Determine a prize that would help bring that family back to your restaurant for a meal.
5. Set up crafts for little children
Entice families with smaller children by setting up a crafts table where kids can make a small gift – like a picture frame or an ornament – for their mother or father. Hire a few teenagers for the day to help supervise children, so parents also have a chance to quietly enjoy a drink before their meal.
6. Don’t overbook
Don’t get greedy and overbook reservations, or book large parties back-to-back. The worst way to start off a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day meal would be forcing your customers to wait for their tables. Consider holding special seating times to avoid this problem, and make sure you know exactly how many people you are capable of giving top-notch service to at a time.
7. Bring customers back
At the end of the meal, offer the guest of honour a coupon to encourage him or her to come back or pass onto friends. If coupons aren’t your thing, make sure you tell your service staff to invite guests back to your restaurant to try out the regular menu on another night.
About the author:
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.