4 Tips to Help Your Restaurant or Bar End the Year on a High Note
The holiday season can make or break your business. Much like a retail outfit, the 6-8 weeks at the end of the year can account for a substantial portion of your annual sales numbers. From businesses and families holding holiday parties to people needing a meal while they’re out shopping, this is a time of year you and your staff can shine. We’ve assembled 4 recommendations that can guide help restaurant or bar drive up seasonal sales with a successful holiday promotion.
#1 Start Early
This might be the biggest obstacle for restaurants and bars, especially because it’s easy to get in the weeds with day-to-day operations and weekly COGS goals. But if you want your promotion to have any sort of success, you must plan early and often. This is a multiple-step process:
- Agree upon the idea. Whether it’s a holiday menu, a special night, gift card push, or something else entirely, you must have a clear idea for what you want to do.
- Set the terms and keep them. Changing things midstream is a recipe for disaster.
- Be prepared. Make sure you obtain the necessary supplies, produce, and materials in time for the promotion’s start date. And if you’re running a multi-week event, be sure your suppliers won’t run out midway.
The biggest one? You must start talking about your event at least 6 weeks before it starts. That’s right – you must promote your promotion, and you must do it actively. This one is so important it gets its own bullet later.
#2 Be Creative
Unless you’re an established business running a holiday promotion that’s achieved sustained, year-over-year success, you should not attempt a run-of-the-mill promotion. A generic seasonal offer won’t set you apart from your competitors, especially since they’ll probably attempt something to attract increased holiday traffic.
To be clear, this doesn’t have to be a full-court press that dramatically changes the identity of your establishment for 6 weeks out of the year. It could be a single new dish or drink, an event that lasts for a single weekend, or a targeted gift card campaign. The point is to try something interesting, do it well, and track the results.
#3 Prepare Your Business
We referenced this earlier in terms of buying what you need for the promotion well in advance of the event, but you also need to prepare your staff and facilities to ensure success. Your people must become advocates for the promotion, and your POS system must be updated with your holiday special. If not, you’ll lose sales from customers who weren’t pitched the item by their server, and your inventory and costs will be impacted because you’re not tracking ingredients properly.
And for goodness’ sake – if you’re going to have any sort of holiday promotion, please make sure your establishment look like it enjoyed holidays. You don’t have to go “Full Griswold,” but a few decorations and some light holiday music for 4 weeks will go a long way.
#4 Advertise Effectively
Here’s the big one: you must start advertising your holiday promotion at least 6 weeks before it happens. You need time for the details of your event to sink into the consciousness of your potential customer base, especially since many people have jam-packed holiday schedules.
There are several methods you can choose – radio, television, print, social media, direct mail, e-mail, public relations, pay-per-click, and more – but what matters is that you use what’s the most relevant for your audience. The marketing strategy employed by a family-friendly restaurant should be different than the one employed by the hipster-friendly dive bar. Determine the one or two channels that are currently most effective for your establishment, create specific advertisements about your promotion, and make a big push.
Ultimately, a successful holiday promotion will always be more dependent upon execution than ideation. Just like your restaurant in general, you can have the best concept in your neighborhood, but if you can’t realize the idea, that promotion will not work. Take time to create detailed plans so your staff and facilities are set up to exceed expectations – both for your customers and your sales numbers.