Another round of drinks? Why not.
A nice bottle of Pinot Grigio? Absolutely.
Lunch on the company? Sounds great!
This spirit of indulgence that seems endless in December is the stuff of dreams for restaurant managers.
There’s no doubt this time of year puts everyone in a spend-y state of mind. So, while that’s taking place, let’s walk through a few ways to help drive profits even higher this quarter by simply doing what you already do, but better.
1. Upsell, upsell, upsell
You probably have stacks of these shiny, pretty plastic gift cards. To get them from that box behind the bar to the pockets of your customers, an engaging conversation between server and customer needs to happen.
The trouble is, mentioning gift cards to customers isn’t part of your servers’ routine, so they’re likely to forget about it. And the gift cards are likely to remain in that stack.
Something we’ve seen done incredibly effectively is giving the server a gift card to bring to the table at the same time as the bill to start the conversation in a natural and engaging way.
“Here’s a little treat for you! For every $25 spent on a gift card, you’ll get a $10 cash back card”
Now your customer is thinking about who they could buy a gift card for, and how much they’re going to spend.
Food and drink
Chances are, your servers are already stars at telling guests about food and drink features, and encouraging them to give it a try. The opportunity you have at the holiday season is to ‘gift’ your guests with new features via tasters to introduce them to seasonal specials and hopefully have them order it.
There are two ways we’ve seen this done really well during the holidays:
1. Offer tasters while waiting
Lunch, happy hour, Friday night — these are going to be a busy times during December, which means longer line-ups. Keep spirits up by bringing around a tray of festive alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for those waiting for a table. It’ll keep them happy and they’re going to go for a full glass once they’re seated.
2. Bring tasters to the table
Read your guests. Decide if they should have a shot glass of the fancy hot chocolate or that spiked eggnog and bring them to table without mentioning it first. To guests, it’s like this great little surprise that instantly boosts their experience. Bonus: it can lead to them ordering said drink special.
2. Build relationships and be the go-to for special events
We all know how lucrative big catering orders and events can be through the holiday season. But how do you get more of that business? How can you become top of mind for business owners throwing lunches and parties?
- Lean on your servers
These aces on your roster who tend to work weekday lunches know your regulars better than anyone. Remind these servers to mention catering capabilities and group bookings, and give them incentives to do it. If a guest shows interest, make sure you have a card or website you can show them with all the information and contact person.
- A strategy for managers
Get out of the restaurant and knock on the doors of a handful of small businesses in your neighbourhood—which may or may not employ regulars—and drop off a small gift basket. You can include items like a gift card, catering menu, or booking info. That in-person drop off (and the gifts!) adds a personal touch, and they’re likely to want to return the favour.
3. Mobilize the delivery team
The best way to encourage delivery orders is to do an outstanding job with delivery orders. People are entertaining or they’re out taking part in festivities. Some don’t want to cook or don’t have the time to, while others enjoy an order-in meal more than home cooked so these folks are just in need of the name of a restaurant that’s doing an awesome job of delivering great food.
Here are a couple of tips for pulling out all the stops with delivery and takeout orders:
1. Get a couple of extra people on the expo line at peak times to accommodate more to-go orders. We all know how easy it is for things to go sideways during lunch and dinner, never mind lunch and during the holidays, never mind lunch and dinner during the holidays PLUS deliveries. So, invest in the staff that can double and triple-check everything is there for every order.
Online restaurant scheduling software, like Ameego can be a big help this time of year for helping staff appropriately. The software has the ability to let you see meal count numbers at specific time windows from last December. That way you know exactly how many extra team members you need, and at what time to help you ride the wave that is the holidays in the restaurant business.
2. Add a few extra touches, like marking every box with what’s inside as well as any modifications (also triple-checked) since there are so many these days, and a nice little ‘thank you” message with a smile.
Now that you’ve got dozens more faces about to come in, make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for guests and staff!