Fall is in full swing and people are out enjoying the crisp air, pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween decorations. For restaurant owners, however, it’s time to make preparations for the holidays. Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season, is also the start of a bump in restaurant business. The International Council of Shopping Centers reports 63 percent of shoppers out on Thanksgiving or Black Friday last year also stopped at a restaurant to enjoy a meal, and the trend is expected to continue this year.
Whether you run a quick service, fast casual or full service restaurant, these tips will help you get ready for the holiday rush.
- Rewind to last year. A good place to start when preparing for the future is to analyze how your restaurant handled increased traffic during the holidays in previous years. Analyze data and run reports to help you make decisions such as staffing needs and which promotions to run.
- Update your menus and inventory. If you are introducing seasonal dishes or a holiday-themed menu, make sure you include last year’s popular choices, along with some new options. Review sales reports to see which dishes and drinks were best sellers and whether they returned a profit.
- Advertise to the holiday crowd. Get the word out about special holiday promotions. Post the new menu on your website and promote it on social media so people know your restaurant is the perfect place for a festive dinner.
- Schedule and train. Devise a strategic schedule that ensures your most skilled employees on working at the times you anticipate will be the busiest. If you determine you will need more help to get through the holiday rush, now is the time to start looking for seasonal help and training them. If you are changing the menu, running special promotions, or putting new processes in place, make sure all employees are adequately trained in these areas.
- Prepare your POS system. Check all of your POS terminals and mobile POS devices to ensure everything is working properly. If you have made any recent changes or upgrades, such as EMV payment technology or digital coupons, make sure all of your regular and seasonal staff has been trained and is comfortable working with the system before they face busier shifts.
- Promote gift card sales. Gift cards are an easy go-to gift item and are also purchased as giveaways for company holiday parties. Gift card sales are a solid way to improve your bottom line, attract new customers and build brand loyalty. Advertise gift cards early to make sure they are included on holiday shopping lists.
- Party hardy. The month of December is a busy one for holiday get-togethers and corporate parties. Consider hosting an open house for nearby companies and other organizations that are looking for a venue to host their celebrations. If your restaurant offers catering, start promoting that now to be considered for holiday events.
Thoughtful planning now can result in a great holiday season for your business. Millions of Americans will dine out on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and many more will celebrate during the weeks that follow by dining out. Make sure you are ready to provide the great customer experiences they are looking for to make their holiday seasons memorable.
If you need help understanding how your POS system can prepare you for this holiday season, contact Leebro POS today!