Don’t just reprint last year’s menus, plus the same decorations and corny music! Plan for this to be the busiest, most efficient and profitable time of the year.
Prepare the Special Menus
Finalise the Festive Menus – it may be months away, but customers want menu and price certainty. Think about how to deliver a great experience with fewer staff – that might mean more self-service and product outsourcing. Review the range of menu styles and pricing – small, medium, large still works for pricing and range. Plus plenty of additionals and ‘menu modifiers’ for those ready to spend more – espresso martinis for the table?
Promote Gift Hampers and Vouchers for corporate customers, and as gifts for ‘friends who have everything’. Raffle one to bring it to everyone’s attention. Even a $20 voucher will usually be part of a larger sale when it’s redeemed. These are an ideal gift for an office ‘Kris Kringle’ party. Do you have a Gift Certificate Order Form on your website?
Offer Party Delivery Boxes – many corporates are still hesitant about large events, but they want to celebrate. An opportunity to sell ‘parties in a box’ with a wide variety of food and beverages, plus decorations and even music play lists.
Sell your t-shirts, jams and souvenirs like a real gift shop. Merchandise and display the items with smart signage – these are great for last-minute giving. Check how gift shops make things look exciting. When they’re paying, ask customers if they’ve handled all their gift purchasing – what could be better than jams, pickles or an apron? Males in particular need help with Christmas gift ideas!
Upgrade your Systems
Think ‘Revenue Management’, just like hotels. Maximise revenue on the most popular dates: key Fridays and Saturdays in December, or whenever you know is most in demand. Set a minimum spend for rooms or spaces, stay firm and insist on deposits. Create special deals to fill less popular times: these could be Sunday to Wednesday, or late November. On these less popular days, you could modify room hire fees or add package extras like a round of drinks or extra decorations – make the offer very clear and valuable. An empty room gives you zero revenue.
Upgrade your Booking System: is a book still adequate, or emailing PDF docs to be filled in and returned? There are excellent reservation and event management systems available, often linked to your POS. At a minimum have click-and-pay invoices to collect booking payments. People expect to pay online, and get annoyed if it’s not available.
Plan for the staff you need. Organise your regulars and standby casuals through casual employment services, and make sure everyone knows that there’s no leave in December. This is sometimes a challenge with juniors, who may be booked for family holidays. What about a special bonus for people who give 100% all through December? Everyone knows you’re making more money – a thoughtful bonus will create goodwill.
Push hard with Marketing
Make this the season of List Building. Gather a name, email, mobile number and basic preferences from all those new guests – do they want to hear about new wine, music or new food? Taking care with how you gather data at the beginning makes your list more responsive. Prizes are a great motivator for people to share their details.
Contact Previous Bookings. If you haven’t heard from them, phone, text or email – this year needs more aggressive marketing. If you don’t have someone on staff who is confident on the phone, ask a wine rep to do some part-time work for you – they know how to sell
Promote community spirit with a charity donation. Groups such as World Vision and Oxfam promote gifts that help builds live – school books, a goat or a water pump. You may like to organise a group donation from your business, with a customer contribution.
Consider your non-Christian customers. There may be a large number who don’t celebrate the religious festival, but want to enjoy time with friends – be conscious of the language you use. Fortunately, Santa has fairly universal appeal!
Prepare 100 Christmas photos, ready for non-stop posting on Instagram and Facebook. Maybe photos from last year’s festivities with a message overlay, and tempting food photos. You will be adding to these day by day in December, but a lot will be needed before that. This year, start building your Christmas photo library for use in the future.
Share some Fun – your ‘Top 10 Best and Worst’ Lists for the year – ‘10 life & death excuses why customers were late for a booking, ’10 Best Selling Cocktails’, plus ‘Most Popular Specials and Cocktails’ etc – keep it light and fun. And don’t forget the barista or chef’s blooper list – the disasters they’re prepared to admit!
Prepare a Christmas card or message for your regulars and suppliers by late November, letting them know holiday opening hours and special deals. If you have names and addresses, sending real cards is a nice extra touch – charities like UNICEF will print original cards very cheaply with your own message. Rea mail is now next-level marketing.
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