Make Sure Your Restaurant Doesn't Lose Money This Holiday Season
Most restaurant owners know that the holidays can be a great time to make money or an absolutely horrible time where you lose money. Some experts estimate that over half of the restaurants around the country have a decline in their sales in November and December and some businesses lose up to 20%. That can be a huge problem, especially with most restaurants operating on incredibly tight budgets. The good news is that if you plan ahead and are careful during the holiday season, you can do your best to avoid being one of the restaurants that lose money. If you are careful, you can even make the holiday season profitable.
Open on the Holidays
Not all restaurants are open for Thanksgiving or Christmas but each year more and more people decide that they don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking on these nights. That means that they decide to take their families out to eat. If you open your restaurant on Thanksgiving or Christmas, you could end up making a lot of money. That is because people who don’t want to cook on these days will have limited options, making your restaurant look like a great idea. Just be sure to advertise your holiday hours so people know that you will be open and when. Otherwise, no one will show up and you will still have to pay your staff.
Offer Catering and Delivery
Some people don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking, but also don’t want to spend the holidays in a restaurant. These potential customers would rather you bring the food to them. That is why offering catering or delivery services can be an incredibly lucrative option during the holiday season. Even if you just offer the services for a few weeks, it can make a huge difference in terms of sales. Also be sure to advertise your catering services, pointing out that you can also cater holiday parties. This is a huge potential market as almost every company will have some sort of holiday party for their employees.
Have Seasonal Menus
If your restaurant will open on Thanksgiving, chances are that you will have a special menu that evening, but that isn’t the only night that you can make some changes. Customers love variety and eating foods that fit into the season. Because of this, it can be a great idea to offer a few seasonal items on your menu. Try adding a dish with squash in it, pumpkin pie or a pumpkin flavored beverage. As with everything else, if you are going to try something new to get the attention of potential customers, be sure to advertise it so they know what is available.
Look at Labor Costs
Even if the restaurant will be busy on Thanksgiving and Christmas day, chances are that the weeks in between these days will be fairly slow. If your restaurant is fully staffed during these times, it makes it incredibly easy to lose money. To help solve this problem, pay close attention to the busiest times and schedule your staff accordingly. You should also never be afraid to send someone home in the middle of their shift if it is a slow day. Remember, even one extra person to pay can be the difference between losing money and breaking even (or making a profit) on a given day. To keep staff morale up, try to rotate who you send home, but never send home the best server or chef.
Another great option to prevent your restaurant from losing money during the holiday season is to offer discounts or other promotions. The important thing when planning these, however, is to make sure that they will benefit the customer enough that they will make a point of eating at your restaurant while you are still making money. A good idea is to offer some sort of discount, gift card or small free item when someone makes a reservation. You can also offer these promotions if they spend over a certain amount of money. To ensure that the customers come back, make the promotional gift card or coupon valid only for a set period of time, which should always be the slow season that falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas.