‘Tis the season for holiday dining

As restaurant traffic revs up for the holidays, now’s the time for operators to focus on maximizing those revenues with a strategy that will take them through until next year. Creating unforgettable experiences is one way that restaurants can stand out from the crowd this season and work on building loyalty from their guests. But this can be a challenge with lower labour numbers and higher traffic, so how can operators maximize their efforts to deliver on guest expectations this holiday season?

Branch out

Many restaurants have added retail to their offering, allowing guests to buy branded items and signature products. These retail additions help build your brand as people see your logo and taste your flavours away from the restaurant – and they’re the perfect add-ons for someone looking to give a gift this season. Get creative in expanding your brand by adding retail items for your guests to enjoy.

Host events

This time of year lends itself to a multitude of holiday events, from date nights to themed celebrations. Focus on getting your guests in the holiday spirit with fun events, special occasion menus, live entertainment, and more!

Get your community involved, too. On top of hosting fun events, consider helping your neighbors raise money, collecting non-perishables, providing warm items, or donating a portion of sales. Choose a charity that you are passionate about and make a difference. Along with getting your customers and your teams feeling festive, you will also get to help out people in your community. This can bring in people who haven’t visited before, encourage more visits, and let people know that you are community minded.

Entice groups

People are looking to gather this time of year, to re-connect with friends, mingle with colleagues, or get together with family. Create an environment where people will choose your restaurant to gather this season.

If you’re looking to draw in businesses, put together a corporate menu for takeout and dine-in to appeal to companies wanting to host a work event. Spread the word to local businesses and on your website for companies interested in a venue or catering. For social groups, you might consider adding a happy hour to your roster as a way to encourage people to gather in the early dinner hour. If you are looking to attract more families, you might create menus that include family-style dining so guests can share with the whole table.

Be sure to keep staffing in mind as you try and attract larger groups. From the kitchen to the waitstaff, big groups can mean more work for your teams, so planning ahead is key. Think about your design, too. Creating separate sections for bigger parties can help simplify service, offer privacy, and keep noise away from the rest of your guests.

Streamline operations

As more traffic increases and expectations are heightened, avoid disappointing your guests by refining your operations. Research last year’s traffic to gauge your labour, manage menu items to make the most of your ingredients, lessen the burden on kitchen staff, and do everything you can to deliver exceptional experiences. When guests come to visit, they should not be able to tell that you are understaffed, your inventory is low, or that there are any issues at the restaurant. During this busy season, it can be tough to manage it all, with labour shortages, supply chain interruption, and inflation, but do your best to minimize any guest issues to stay ahead of the competition.

This means thinking about your staff, too. They are your front lines and need to be a priority, from their training to their well-being. Get them in the spirit by hosting team events, including them in the holiday decision-making, and scheduling in advance to allow for flexibility and work-life balance. The success of your holidays sales is highly influenced by your team, so take care of them and they will help take care of your business.

Manage expectations

Give your guests the information they need to enjoy your restaurant over the holidays. Closing on certain days? Communicate that to your guests on your website and on social media to avoid disappointment when guests arrive and find you are closed. It also means that if you are offering a holiday dinner or LTO with limited inventory, be sure guests know that. Avoid lineups by managing your reservation system, provide tickets for events with limited capacity, and keep communication at the forefront. Inform your staff, too, so they can answer guest questions and keep business running smoothly.

Your guests need to know what to expect so they can enjoy all that your restaurant has to offer this holiday season!