10 Tips to Help Restaurants Get Ready for the Holiday Rush

November 16, 2023

With the holiday season fast approaching, businesses need to gear up and prepare themselves to handle the inevitable influx of customers. Thoughtful planning, strategic management, and a motivated team are essential to not just surviving but thriving during this busy time.

For restaurants, in particular, it's vital to prepare for holiday customers to avoid missing out on potential business. Therefore, it's important to take all the necessary measures to make the most of this opportunity. Here are ten tips that restaurants can follow to ensure they are fully prepared for the holiday rush:

  1. Prepare for the rush: When it comes to preparing for expected demand, simply stocking up on commonly used ingredients and analyzing past trends may not be enough. It's important to also ensure that you have enough supplies to handle any sudden increases in reservations, which may require a more detailed approach. This could involve conducting a thorough analysis of your inventory levels, identifying potential bottlenecks in your supply chain, and implementing a contingency plan for emergencies. By taking these steps and being proactive in your preparations, you can better ensure that you are able to meet the needs of your customers and maintain a high level of service even during times of increased demand.
  2. Tis the season for menu updates: With the holiday season fast approaching, restaurant owners can capitalize on the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills by introducing fresh and diverse meal options to their holiday menus. This can include holiday-themed dishes and drinks that are sure to delight customers. Research shows that 77% of customers either choose to dine in or order takeout/delivery from restaurants during the holiday season, making it a lucrative time for restaurant owners to offer their customers unique and festive dining experiences.
  3. Don't overlook the importance of email: Email newsletters are still considered to be one of the most effective marketing tools for restaurants. The ROI for email marketing is impressive, with every $1 spent resulting in $36 in returns. A restaurant's holiday newsletter should include all promotions, such as weekend catering specials, gift card offers, and limited-time deals. 
  4. Create a marketing schedule: It is essential to plan ahead to ensure marketing efforts are effective. One way to achieve this is by creating a holiday marketing calendar that outlines strategies and goals. Once a plan is in place, begin sending out emails/SMS/push notifications to customers and uploading posts to social one or two times per week. However, it is crucial to ensure that each marketing message provides value to the customer and avoids spamming them with irrelevant content. This is especially important since excessive or irrelevant messages can lead to customers unsubscribing from marketing lists. Therefore, it is advisable to tailor messages to the customer's interests and preferences and use clear and concise language that is easy to understand.
  5. Make holiday hours clear: Plan your holiday schedule ahead of time for both your employees and patrons. Make sure everyone is in agreement, and provide appropriate compensation to any staff members who work beyond the regular operating hours. It's crucial to inform customers about the business's operating hours during the holidays. Make sure to post your holiday hours well in advance on all available platforms, including physical storefronts, mobile apps, online ordering websites, and social media channels. This will help customers plan accordingly and avoid any inconvenience or frustration caused by unexpected closures.
  6. Harness the power of gift cards: Gift cards have several benefits, including convenience, flexibility, and ease of use, making them an excellent choice for both gift-givers and recipients. And research shows that almost 75% of consumers expect higher prices this holiday season compared to last year. As a result, many shoppers are opting to invest more in gift cards to manage their holiday spending. To maximize profits, restaurants must develop festive marketing ideas to promote gift card sales. This can include creating visually appealing ads or social media posts and offering a gift card with a minimum purchase. It's worth noting that almost 30% of shoppers' budget is spent in the last two weeks of November, and 78% of shoppers actively seek gifts during that time. Therefore, it's an ideal period to start marketing gift cards.
  7. Holiday catering offers: During the holiday season, it's a great idea to offer catering deals to your customers. To make the process seamless, you need to ensure that these deals are loaded onto your point of sale (POS) system and online ordering platform. This will allow customers to easily access and order from these deals, while also ensuring that your staff can fulfill the orders efficiently. Be sure to test the system thoroughly to ensure that everything is working properly before the holiday rush begins. 
  8. Staff recognition: Restaurant owners can benefit greatly from implementing incentive programs for their staff members. These programs offer a great way to recognize exceptional work and provide motivation to employees. In addition to incentive programs, holiday parties can also be a great way to boost morale and encourage bonding within the team. By fostering a positive workplace culture through these activities, restaurants can create a more engaged and productive workforce.
  9. Implement the right tech stack: Now more than ever, restaurant owners must prioritize the implementation of the latest technology to remain competitive and successful. From online ordering systems and mobile payment options to CRM platforms and marketing software, the right technology can streamline operations, enhance the customer experience, and boost profitability. Today’s diners expect convenience, rewards programs, and personalization, restaurants that fail to meet these expectations risk losing customers to their more technologically advanced competitors. 
  10. Appfront for your business: At Appfront, we simplify online ordering and personalize interactions to drive loyalty. Our dine-in package offers in-app payment and ordering methods, while our rewards system allows you to incentivize customers. Use our analytical tools to understand customer behavior and develop targeted communications via SMS programs, push notifications, emails, and more. 

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