Three ways to boost your restaurant sales this December

11/29/16 7:00 AM Natalie Appleton


Another round? Why not.

A bottle of the Malbec? Absolutely.

Friday lunch on the company? Sounds great!

This spirit of indulgence that seems boundless in December is the stuff of dreams for restaurant managers.

There’s no doubt this time of year puts everyone in a spend-y state of mind. So, while that’s taking place why don’t we walk through a few ways to help drive profits even higher this quarter by simply doing what you already do better.

1. Upsell, upsell, upsell 

Gift cards

Here you’ve got stacks of these shiny pretty plastic gift cards. To get them from that box by the hostess’s table to the pockets of your customers, something needs to happen. Not just the swipe of a credit card to pay for it. A conversation, between server and customer.

Trouble is, mentioning gift cards to customers isn’t part of your servers’ routine. So they’re apt to forget about it. And the gift cards are apt to remain in that stack. 

Something I’ve seen done incredibly effectively is giving the server something to bring to the table at the same time as the bill to start the conversation in a natural and engaging way. Like a chocolate that looks like a gift card.

‘Oh, what’s this?’

‘That’s a little treat for you.’

‘Looks just like a gift card.’

‘Doesn’t it? Our actual gift cards have some really pretty designs as well if you still have some Christmas shopping to do.’

Now your customer is thinking about who he or she could buy a GC for, and how much they’re going to spend.

Food and drink

Chances are, your servers are already stars at telling guests about food and drink features, and encouraging them to go for it. The opportunity you have at the holiday season is to ‘gift’ your guests with new features via tasters to introduce them to seasonal specials and spread the holiday cheer. And then have them order it.

There’s two ways I’ve seen this done really well at Christmas:

1. Tasters in the line-up

Lunches, happy hours, Friday nights, Tuesday at 2 pm—any time is apt to be a busy time during December friends are out shopping and work lunches get longer.

Which means longer line-ups. Keep spirits festive by bringing around a tray of virgin hot totties and spiked eggnog for those in line. It’ll keep them happy and they’re apt to go for a full glass once they’re seated.

2. Tasters at the table

wine taster.jpg

Read your guests.

Decide if they should have a shot glass of the fancy hot chocolate or that spiked eggnog and bring them to table without mentioning it first.

To guests, it’s like this great little surprise present that instantly boosts their experience, plus leads to them ordering said drink special.

2. Rub shoulers with catering and events crowds 

We all know how lucrative big catering orders and events can be through the holiday season. But how do you get more of that business? How can you become top of mind for business owners throwing lunches and parties?

  1. You can’t, but your servers can. These aces on your roster who tend to work weekday lunches know your regulars better than anyone. Remind these servers to mention catering capabilities and group bookings, and give them incentives to do it. If a guest shows interest, make sure you have a rack card or something you can show them what you can offer with flexibility, menus, etc.
  1. You can, but it means getting out of the restaurant. You may have to hustle a little, but it’s going to be worth it. Knock on the doors of a handful of small businesses in your neighbourhood—which may or may not employ regulars—and drop off a gift basket, like one of those chocolate gift cards, catering menu, booking info, maybe even a bottle. And a business card. That in-person drop off, and the gifts, adds a personal touch, and they’re likely to want to return the favour.

3. Mobilize the mobile order troops 

The best way to encourage delivery orders is to do an outstanding job with delivery orders. People are entertaining. They’re out taking in festivities. They don’t want to cook and they’re not minding their bank accounts, so they don’t need an excuse to order in. They just need the name of someone whose doing an awesome job of it.

Here are a couple of my personal favourite tips for pulling out all the stops with delivery and takeout orders:

  1. Get a couple of extra guys on the expo line at peak times to accommodate more to-go orders. We all know how easy it is for things to go sideways during lunch and dinner, never mind lunch and during the holidays, never mind lunch and dinner during the holidays PLUS deliveries. So, invest in the staff that can double and triple-check everything is there for every order.

Online restaurant scheduling software, like Ameego can be a big help this time of year for helping staff appropriately.  The software has the ability to let you see meal count numbers at specific time windows from last December. That way you know exactly how many extra bodies you need, and at what time to help you ride the wave that is the holidays in the restaurant business.  

  1. Add a few extra touches, like marking every box with what’s inside as well as any modifications (also triple-checked) since there are so many these days. And maybe throw in some of those chocolate gift cards. Ready those Sharpies!

Now that you’ve got dozens more faces about to come in, make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for guests and staff!  

For more great holiday tips read our post 7 Restaurant Survival Tips for the Holidays. And to start planning for an amazing 2017, download your free copy of the restaurant operator's kit.


Topics: Improving Restaurant Profit