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Cracking Christmas Tips For Restaurant Owners


9th August 2009


Few operators this year will be dreaming of a white Christmas, but plenty will be dreaming of making a profit. So how can you make sure that your Christmas and New Year is a cracker? (These puns are beyond my control!)

The big operators start their preparations in summer. And although they may not always seem to reveal all until the last minute you can be sure that the marketing team has been busy analysing the market and their competition right from the first wet bank holiday.

So how do you make the most of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’?

It’s simple – Plan, plan, plan, now, now, now!

Ignite’s top tips for a Christmas cracker (Sorry!)

  1. Check your diary and see which days the key dates fall on. This will have a big impact on trade. Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday this year meaning that many people will still be working. Make sure you’re ready for the after work revellers.
  2. Consider your geographical location. Major cities often ’empty out’ over the holidays as people return home for Christmas and New Year. Make sure your festivities start early enough to catch them before they leave.
  3. Start thinking about your rotas. When hiring new staff make sure they are available over the holidays. Don’t miss out on revenue because you’re short staffed.
  4. Christmas parties are great for boosting sales. Many offices start planning theirs in September so make sure you have a clear offer available by then. Enquirers will need to know how much you intend to charge per head, how many people you can cater for, what kind of entertainment they can expect and most importantly what they will be eating and drinking. It often takes months to co-ordinate a large company so be prepared to have many conversations about each potential booking. A good tip is to incentivise the ‘booker’ by rewarding them with a personal voucher redeemable in January or February. Few people can resist a freebie!
  5. Your staff are on the front line so make sure they know everything there is to know about your Christmas offer. Incentivise staff to secure bookings.
  6. Plan the party season with military precision. Make sure you keep a single bookings/enquiry diary and work out a system for showing that a date is ‘reserved’ or ‘booked’. Confirm each booking and take a deposit to avoid disappointment on either side. Remember that your venue may be able to hold several parties in one day so be sure to break down each session into ‘sittings’ to maximise your revenue and communicate this to anyone who makes an enquiry. (Clearing 20 drunk women from a table when you have another 20 waiting is no fun!)
  7. Create an offer that fits. Be realistic about your target market and create an offer that appeals to them. Christmas is about luxury and indulgence but many companies and people will be on a much tighter budget this year. Ask your customers what kind of Christmas they are expecting this year to help you decide.
  8. Atmosphere is free! Many people remember the atmosphere most of all about their Christmas party. Think of ways of creating a great atmosphere on a tight budget. Music, party hats and the odd free glass of mulled wine usually get people in the mood.
  9. Communicate your plan. Make sure your posters, menus, website and table talkers all communicate your plans effectively. Make it easy for your customers to find out more or make a booking. Consider adding a booking engine to your website to turn those visits into solid bookings, and remind previous customers about your venue with a branded email.
  10. A happy New Year! Give your customers ‘Christmas Cards’ with a January bounce back offer. And make sure you collect email addresses to market to them throughout the year (after all its only 354 days til Christmas)

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