Bells are jingling, sleighs are sleighing, and the smell of crisp peppermint and freshly-baked cookies is in the air. That means the holidays are coming! Ready for the busiest time of the year? As a restaurant owner, it’s never too early to start thinking about boosting year-end sales. But why is delivery important — especially now that dine-ins are back in full swing? Let’s dig into it.
Restaurants see a decline of as much as 60% in business during seasonal holidays and major events. This is because your customers are most likely hosting holiday get-togethers at home. That doesn’t mean they aren’t spending on food, though. In fact, just last year, 4 out of 10 year-end events topped the list of the most popular holidays for food delivery. Even if it’s quiet out, you can bet customers are on a delivery app crawl for their favorite holiday spreads, and you’ll want to show up for it!
No need to panic if you haven’t started prepping to kick your holiday delivery up a notch. Hop on the holiday train and beat the rush with these 6 simple steps!
1. Let people know you’re open (and taking delivery orders!) during the holidays
Business as usual during the holidays? The first thing you need to do is to get the word out there. Put up a notice banner on your website, spread the word on social media, and take advantage of word-of-mouth. Many businesses are closed during the holidays, and customers likely expect your restaurant to be, too.
For those hosting gatherings and get-togethers at home, ordering food delivery is the best way to enjoy time with loved ones without stressing over food prep and after-meal cleaning. Because of that, extra brownie points will go to your restaurant if you’re open this holiday season!
2. Review last year’s delivery sales to plan ahead
The holidays can be fickle. One day, families are feasting, and the next they’re packed into a car heading home. The last thing you want is a pantry decked out with produce and a front-of-house full of staff when the rush is over.
Reviewing your order data from last year is one good way to gauge how busy you’ll get, how many staff you need on the roster, and how stocked your inventory should be. Finding out what your customers typically order during this time can also help you make a data-driven call on what promos work best. In short, let your customers tell you what they want this holiday season.
3. Create an inclusive holiday menu
Now that you’ve figured out the whole shebang of what works and what doesn’t with your customers, it’s time to get to the fun stuff: crafting your holiday menu! Think about how many dishes you will be adding to your menu and what you want to include. We’re talking about cocktails, desserts, pastries, roasts, and anything that screams seasons’ greetings!
Consider creating set meals for different customers, like a three-course set meal for couples or a family combo meal fit for ten. What’s important is coming up with an inclusive menu that caters to customers with different needs. Thinking about how you will cater to customers with dietary restrictions (vegans, gluten-intolerant eaters, etc.) is also worthwhile. When these customers notice that you’ve considered them in your menu planning, they’re going to order from you.
Now that you’ve got your holiday menu ready, what do you say about earning more revenue with the same kitchen, staff, and ingredients? Learn how Future Foods can make that happen. Our data-backed, fan-favorite virtual brands help your restaurant double down on delivery sales!
4. Run holiday promos
Holiday season or not, promotions are a great way of keeping your restaurant at the top of customers’ minds. Do them right, and you’ll be able to boost brand awareness and maximize your earnings. Working with your local delivery partners, run exclusive promotions to drive visibility and capture customer attention. You can also offer special discounts for in-house delivery and pick-up orders. That way, you save on commissions and have complete control over customers’ experiences.
Celebrations usually start before we can say “December is here”, so here’s an apt example with Christmas just around the corner. The “12 Days of Christmas” advent calendar is a popular holiday promotion idea that brands run to get customers excited and keep them engaged over the festive season. Some ideas for promotions that can help boost delivery sales include:
- Buy 3 get 1 to-go cocktails
- 10% off for take-out orders
- Complimentary dessert for delivery orders
- Three-for-two appetizers
- Free sides with family combo meals
- 15% off for pre-orders (which takes us to our next point!)
5. Encourage people to order in advance
Much like early bird tickets to a concert, giving special discounts to customers who order in advance can help you lock in sales before the holidays even begin! Limited-time offers also bring the benefit of stoking FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in customers, which can work in your favor! Social media is the perfect way to run this type of promotion, but don’t forget to pass the word around to your regulars, too!
Getting customers to place their orders in advance helps you make critical preparations ahead of the holiday rush. Once you know what to expect, this strategy will also come in handy when planning the trickiest task of all: your staff’s holiday schedule. Having diners place their orders in advance is a win-win-win for you, your customers, and your employees.
6. Prepare your team
Managing your staff’s schedule during the holiday season can be challenging. December is a tough crunch for everyone, with longer hours to work and fewer hands on deck.
Before the holiday rush, have a chat with your team to confirm their availability during the festivities. Incentives like holiday bonuses, scheduling flexibilities, and replacement leave can fuel your staff’s motivation to earn a little extra year-end cash, and make a great way for you to show your appreciation to your team.
If your restaurant is understaffed during the holidays, consider hiring a few part-timers or automating routine tasks with digital restaurant tech.
Thinking about how to double-down during the busy holiday season? Unlock new revenue streams and increase sales with Future Foods’ virtual restaurant brands today! Fill out the form below to learn more.