Mulled wine will soon replace Pumpkin Spice Lattes, let's focus on Christmas!
August is over and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are here, so I think it’s time we sat ourselves down and had a chat about the next real noteworthy season to start planning for… in the venerable words of Slade - iiiiiit’s Chriiiiistmaaas!
The Christmas period may still be a few months away, but those parties aren’t going to host themselves, and those big-spending family celebrations will need a venue too! So whether you’re focusing on full turkey dinners, or Christmas cocktails and canapes, it’s time to get serious about the season.
Let’s look at a few ways you can start prepping your restaurant to get ahead of the competition and get in the best position to grab those big bookings.
Know your audience
Without knowing exactly who your audience is, you’re going to look like a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades. Are you looking to cater for the big Christmas parties in the run up to the holidays, or is the intimate family Christmas dinner your main priority? Whatever your primary audience, make sure that you’re hitting the right notes and getting seen in the right places to get a fruitful return on your efforts.
Knowing your audience will also help you create your menu early so that you can advertise it. Catering for those bigger parties can be tricky, so a simple traditional menu (pre-ordered) usually works best. When catering for families it’s important that there are options for everyone, including the kids and the fussy eaters!
Once you know your audience, it becomes so much easier to market to your potential client base. Through tailored adverts, you can use social media to reach the exact people you’re looking for.
Market yourselves early
There are many ways to reach your target market, but this early we tend to be reaching out to the larger Christmas party audience. A good way to do this is with social media sponsored ads explaining that Christmas is only around the corner, and listing your best selling points and what your guests can expect if they choose to dine and drink with you! Getting your name out there early could save the headache of filling up tables down the road.
Know when you’re open
One sure-fire way to get an upper hand on the competition is to go against the grain. Many of the larger chains will close earlier around this time of year which is where you can exploit the gap to step in and save the day, for those wanting to eat a little later or on some of the days that most are closed on.
Furthermore, it’s a consistently-increasing trend for people to want to eat out on Christmas Day itself, with Eater even noting that independent restaurants that open up on Christmas and New Years Day can see a hike in profits of up to 50% on a normal day.
Know how to draw a crowd
This could be one of many things, a slight twist on your food menu, your special yuletide cocktail list, a live Christmas song/carol night, or even a competition - give customers a chance to experience something different.
A great way to increase interaction with customers and potential customers prior to visiting is running social media competitions; a popular one being 12 days of Christmas. This is where each day you draw a prize for someone that has engaged with a competition post the day before/that day. Prizes could range from free drinks, discounts, or even a full family meal on the house. The rule generally is to build up the quality of prizes, so that your engagement also builds over time as more people clock onto your campaign. But make sure you shout about this as it could lead to many more followers on your social media accounts, therefore more fans of your establishment who hopefully will become loyal customers!
Know your limits
Your team may be incredible, but can your usual staff rota cope with increased demand during the busy Christmas period? Make sure any holiday requests from your staff are dealt with early, or even consider putting a block on holiday at certain times (maybe not so popular). Also, be fair! If staff are working over Christmas, try to let them enjoy their New Year celebrations, or vice versa. If this is difficult with your current level of staff, don’t be afraid to hire in some temporary waiting or kitchen staff to help make up for the shortfall and keep your service and food quality at its very best.
Know where the line is
Festive, not tacky, is the aim of the game. Whether it’s a subtle hint at Christmas with floral decorations based around holly or mistletoe, or an all out winter wonderland that you’re going for, keep it tasteful! This will be one of the more Instagrammable parts of your business over the festive period, so make sure that it’s something that people will want to post online about - this is invaluable FREE marketing for your business, so take advantage while you can!
Share your top Christmas prep tips with us in the comments below! If you want a hand with any of your marketing in the run up to the festive season then give Really Social a call on 0203 984 8820 or email today.