Coronavirus still a main concern in the world, many hospitality businesses have been affected in their sales and growth. Others have been able to preserve profitability by adapting very well to the restrictions and offering quality catering and takeaway options. This can mean great sales produced by fewer staff, adding up to healthier profits and we want to ensure we can help make it an easy and profitable Christmas for your cafe or restaurant.
Understanding this may be the key to helping your business recover faster from the impact of restricted trading. Even if you’re in an area where restrictions have been lifted, the many months of changed conditions are potential sales that are now lost forever.
With Christmas only around the corner, people will be ready to celebrate the festive season after going through this pandemic. There are opportunities to ‘go with the flow’ of people having become accustomed to having events at home. This is the best time to either optimise your business for take-home opportunities or get ahead with educating your customers on the need to book spaces. This will help to make everyone enjoy, relax, and celebrate stress-free.
At Channnon, as commercial kitchen equipment providers have been around for over 60 years in the hospitality industry, we wanted to share you our hot tips and opportunities which we think can help your business get a head start on maximising trading and operating results from Christmas festivities for your business.
Update the Christmas Menus & Booking Options. In addition to the usual Christmas food and set menu options, there’s a new appreciation of what restaurants can sell beyond the traditional sit-down booking. If your business is only able to take smaller bookings due to the room capacity, think ahead in taking deposits for bookings – customers will have become accustomed to these firmer conditions from the pandemic. There is also an opportunity to create pre-made takeaway meals to send out for Christmas Eve or ingredient boxes for your customers to recreate their favourite secret recipe meals on your menu for their family on the festive day.
Track down previous bookings. If you haven’t heard from or seen your regulars, phone, fax or write to them – this year needs to be more personable with what everyone has gone through. Make this the season of list and relationship building with your customers and other businesses. Our hot tip is to use: The Silver Chef Guide to Finding Customer Contacts in your Cafe or Restaurant.
Put safety at the centre of Christmas events. Assess your risks and government regulations on events, crowd size and distancing. Communicate these to customers and event organisers. Have staff trained and ready to manage sign-in registers, table spacing and customer behaviour. Another hot tip to check out is the: Eventbrite Safety Playbook for Events is a very useful guide with excellent checklists.
Upgrade your ordering system: The pandemic has dragged most operators into the digital world! Now take it further with new menus and, if possible, a better website experience. Menu ‘modifiers and add-on items can make a big difference to the value of each sale – this is the new language of menu design. The good news is that most customers are now ready to order online and accept that there are stricter conditions for pre-payment and cancellations. Use the promotional options available with your system – they usually have options to contact existing customers via email or SMS, for special deals or reminders.
Prepare a Christmas photo shoot! Get your business or cafe ahead and ready for non-stop posting on Instagram and Facebook – go hard on your posts and stories! Set up a day to shoot a variety of Christmas subjects and use images from last year with a message overlay. Avoid stock photo cliches! Create the longing memories from previous years for your customers to not want to miss out on this event. Even think about taking photos of food or the hampers/vouchers you will have available during Christmas! The cameras on phones are just as good now and can be done easily, but make sure you have the right lighting. By doing this, you will also be building a photo library to use in the future!
Use Facebook advertising! Promote your Christmas specials, bookings and/or events. Make sure you target your local area and include your ‘Custom Audience’. This should include your customer database of emails you have on file from previous bookings as well as your subscribers from your newsletter list. Make these advertisements very specific and aimed at attracting party bookings.
Maximise revenue on the most popular dates. Key Fridays and Saturdays in December, or whenever you know is most in demand. Set minimum spend for rooms or spaces and try and stay firm – remember with the restrictions and higher demands your venue will have during these tough times, you need to look after yourself. Make sure you communicate this with your staff who take bookings, so they understand.
Find and connect with office party organisers. These guys are the hard-working co-workers in every office who arrange the farewell gifts/parties, wedding presents and the birthday cakes. Once they have booked, you may want to reward them with a small gift, drink, or voucher – treat them like your very best friend and of course for bringing your restaurant business!