It’s that time of year. There are forests of sale-priced spruce trees lining the sidewalks, compelling me to thrust my nose into their fragrant branches, and I’m considering buying a pair of antlers for my cat. The Holidays are officially upon us.
The holiday season has historically been especially lucrative for the restaurant industry, and yet you might be wondering if the country’s dire economic situation will yield equally dire holiday sales. According to forecasters, however, restaurant spending should continue to climb throughout the year’s end and you can put those fears to bed. As if the holidays themselves weren’t reason enough to celebrate, now is definitely the time to kick up your heels and make the most of the season.
I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to boost sales and perpetuate this positively cheery trajectory.
- Seasonal menu items: Let’s be real: we all get a little excited when we see the cups at Starbucks go from white to red. It’s such a small thing, but it signifies the warmth that we associate with the holidays. Now is the time to create traditions of your own with holiday specials and seasonal menu items.
- Send Cards: In this modern age of Facebook and email and twitter, a hand-written note is a welcome novelty. It doesn’t have to be long or even especially personal: the very gesture of sending out holiday greetings to your customers will promote feelings of loyalty and goodwill.
- Sell Gift Cards: Gift cards make excellent presents and stocking stuffers. Keep a stack of them visible on the hostess stand or at the bar and make sure your staff knows how to issue and promote them.
- Hold a food drive: This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and to give back to the community. Choose a charity and offer a free drink or appetizer to anyone who brings a canned food item to add to your donation.
- Catering: Come up with a special holiday catering menu and send out copies to office buildings in your area. It’s also important to educate your staff about your catering menu and policies.
- Decorate: You don’t have to plant a big fat Santa on your doorstep, but little touches like lights and greenery promote feelings of warmth and nostalgia that can be so comforting this time of year.
- Spread the word: Use social media to announce to the world that you are celebrating the season in style. Tweet about your holiday promotions and send out emails with your catering and menu specials. Update your website with details about that awesome food drive you’re holding.
As always, I’d love to hear your ideas about holiday promotions and the clever ways you’re planning to bolster your holiday business. Please feel free to comment below!