It can be difficult for restaurant brands to stand out from the competition during the holiday season. Instead of falling into a generic rut, you want to come across as innovative, original and perhaps even a bit edgy. We get it – the standard gift card special offer has become a bit impersonal. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips from industry professionals – two veteran restaurant consultants, William Bender and Eric Norman, and restaurant & hospitality connoisseur (and Foodable Founder) Paul Barron – on things restaurant brands can do to stand out and reach the holiday guest.
- Provide a pre fixe menu or package for holiday patrons. Everyone wants good value. With a special menu package, guests can feel at ease that they’re getting more bang for their buck, which is especially nice when paired with a special occasion meal. Eric Norman, VP at MVP Services Group and co-host of Rock My Restaurant, says this could be catered to couples or larger groups and include apps, entrees, wine and dessert.
- FOH and BOH Briefing. Bringing both teams together for a pre-shift briefing on performance is essential to make sure both your front-of-house and back-of-house teams are on the same page, says William Bender, restaurant consultant, foodservice industry executive and co-host of Rock My Restaurant. Things can easily get miscommunicated, especially when an establishment is slammed, and it’s important to make sure operations are running smoothly to ensure the guest experience doesn’t decline because of it.
- Bust through the social noise. Paul Barron advises brands to think outside the box on digital platforms. Big brands with budgets to invest in advertising on large platforms like Facebook should do so. These highly targeted social sites get you in front of a plethora of consumers, especially Millennials and Baby Boomers, two generations that are dishing out the most when it comes to spending at restaurants.
- Seasonal menu items and drink selections. According to Norman, specialty cocktails and desserts are a way to step out of a typical menu and can show off the skills of the chefs and kitchen staff. Also, when you cater to the holiday crowd with seasonal items, there’s an opportunity to charge a premium for these menu items at higher profit margin.
- Video Storytelling. On mobile, social and digital platforms, not only do photos and video rank higher than regular content, but video is the perfect way to promote your brand’s message. For the holidays, connect with your guests by filming customer stories of what your restaurant means to them and what family traditions they’ve invested in your brand. The holidays are a perfect time to build these connections.
- Reward customer loyalty and social media interaction. “I know a lot of retailers do this around the holidays,” said Norman. “They reward customers (followers) who are shopping by providing specials to the customers who are engaging.” This is a great way to connect your guests’ real life experience with your brand to their social experience with your brand. Check-ins are also a great way to offer deals, and drives additional holiday traffic to restaurant locations.
- Always be a brand ambassador. This tip should be implemented year-round, but is extra important to remember when things get busy. Whether you’re FOH, BOH or on social, remember that you’re always representing your brand.
From culinary to operations to marketing and digital presence, the tips above are just a taste of what your restaurant brand can do during the busy season. The overall objective is to remain personal with your guests, streamlined in your operations, and rewarding with consumer engagement. Once the holidays pass, you will hopefully not only have more loyal customers, but new ones, as well.
Want more restaurant advice from Bill and Eric? Check out our featured Rock My Restaurant episodes below!