OpenTable Inspires Giving With No Kid Hungry

The holiday season is a time of reflection and a chance to give back. And our partner, OpenTable, is taking advantage of the opportunity by partnering with No Kid Hungry. These efforts strive to end childhood hunger in the United States with the help of donations.

From November 27th-December 10th, diners can donate their OpenTable dining points to the cause. Every 100 points will provide five healthy meals to a child in need. Plus, OpenTable is matching up to 250,000 meals in order to increase the impact.

Does your restaurant use OpenTable for online reservation management? Encourage your guests to participate in the campaign by mentioning it in your restaurant. If you’re dining out yourself on or before December 10th, consider donating your points as well.

Last year, OpenTable and No Kid Hungry ran the same campaign; they donated over 1.25 million meals! Help keep the positive trend going by donating and encouraging participation from your restaurant guests.

How To

Diners can visit their OpenTable profile page to view their points and donate them to the cause. To learn more about No Kid Hungry, visit

8 Reasons Your Restaurant is Losing Money

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, we don’t have to tell you that restaurants run on the thinnest of margins. You’re already doing what you can to bring more money in: solid and intelligent promotions, good staff training for upsales, scaling prices to the “sweet spot” that maximizes profit without driving people away. That’s all well and good.

But for a restaurant to really thrive, you have to approach this problem from both sides. Too many restaurants have great income but are simply hemorrhaging money. Below, we discuss a few of the most common reasons restaurants lose money worldwide, and some simple ways to stop the bleeding.

1. You’re Not Online

Social media, promotion sites like Groupon, community pages, and your own website are absolutely essential to success with any business in this century. This is especially true of restaurants.

Since more and more people use the Internet to make a decision about where to eat each year, you’re leaving money on the table if your online presence isn’t at least as inviting as your front lobby. You’re also missing out on getting new customers through your door if you don’t post your menu and business information online. People want to know everything they can about your restaurant before stepping foot inside, so make this readily available.

The good news is you don’t need to spend much time or effort to make your restaurant website at least as good as your competition: poor online presence is sadly too common in the restaurant industry. If you go above and beyond expectations to make your website top-notch, people will take notice.

2. You Built Your Menu for You

This subtle rookie mistake makes for higher food costs, fewer returning customers, and a surprising number of back-of-house and front-of-house logistical problems.

If you designed your menu based on what you want to cook, what you like to experiment with, and what you want to be perceived as, you’re serving the wrong customer.

Instead, pay attention to what your customers actually order, even going so far as to ask online or in the house. Build your menu based on what people buy, simplifying your offerings until you reduce waste considerably while retaining more customers and leaving them happier than ever at the end of their meal.

3. Your Turnover Is Too High

Between recruiting costs, extra staffing during training, and the price of a new hire’s beginning mistakes, it’s clear that hiring a new employee is far more expensive than keeping somebody on staff long-term.

Sure, employee turnover is an endemic problem in the restaurant industry, but you can still do a lot of things to keep yours lower than others. A few examples:

  • Schedule well, both so you don’t have to keep calling staff in or out, and to accommodate their reasonable needs.

  • Work with each employee about how you will help them reach their long-term goals, whether those goals are inside your company, or something like finishing school and moving on.

  • Check in regularly with everybody about how things are going, not just with them but in how you can improve things overall.

  • Think about your company culture as part of the hiring process. Doing without for an extra week or two is less stressful and costly than hiring somebody who just isn’t going to fit for the long-term—they’ll ultimately cost you and your business more money than they’d bring in.

4. Your Inventory Management Needs Help

Most restaurants spend about 1/3 of their money on inventory. Of that money, the National Restaurant Association estimates as much as 40% is wasted. This happens in three ways:

Without proper inventory management, you can’t spot and stop food theft by employees (more on that in a bit).

Proper inventory management also stops you from accidentally ordering too much of an ingredient to use before it goes bad.

Finally, bad inventory management means wasting food at the end of the night. Finding the right inventory management system, training your staff on it, and using it reliably, is one of the most effective ways to reduce costs in your restaurant beginning this quarter.

5. You Have No Loyalty Program

Experts say it costs 5-7x as much to land a new customer as to sell to a repeat customer, and repeat customers spend 10-15% more each time they come to your store. And yet, most restaurant owners focus on bringing in new customers and communicating to the general public.

Establishing some kind of loyalty program, whether that’s online via an app or something as simple as a punch card, keeps those low-cost, high-spending customers coming back for more.

6. Your Employee Benefits Are too Chintzy

Okay, here’s the truth. Your employees are going to steal from you. It’s no fun that this is true, but nearly all of them will help themselves to some ingredients, or “forget” to write a friend’s meal on a ticket, or take home a cooking pan they like. There’s nothing much to be done about this on the macro, industry-wide level. But you can minimize  it by giving your employees enough benefits to instill a higher level of loyalty.

This is especially true with your employee meal policy. If they’re getting a generous enough shift meal, they’re not going to help themselves to one. It costs about the same, but (a) you know about it and can account for the expense, and (b) it avoids this “gateway theft” to more serious losses.

7. You Haven’t Invested in Tech

Or maybe you invested in the wrong technologies. Apps, electronic menus, automated payroll and hours tracking, online credit card processing, and simple grocery apps are all examples of ways you can turn a little early investment into steady savings month after month.

By contrast, throwing money into fancy kitchen gadgets, unnecessary front-of-house decorations, and similar extravagances do nothing for your bottom line. 

Ever watch one of those bar or restaurant redesign shows? They do wonders on a fairly small budget, using materials originally. If you want your front-of-house to have some pretty and flashy decorations, spend less and create more yourself instead of investing in the wrong kind of expensive tech. 

8. You’re Not Forecasting

Knowing approximately how many customers you’re going to have in a given day isn’t some sort of psychic talent. It’s a well-understood, scientific process the big chains have down to a science.

Without forecasting your throughput, you risk food waste or shortages depending on the day. Without forecasting monthly, seasonal, and quarterly trends, you end up having to put purchases on credit to keep things moving. Both of those cost money.

The good news is that countless blogs (including this one) and free or cheap apps now exist to help walk you through how to forecast, why it’s important, and where to focus your efforts.

Final Thoughts

It’s possible some of the items on this list are things you have well in hand. It’s also possible that so many are out of control that you’re not sure where to start. Either way, doing something is better than doing nothing. We recommend starting with the one that feels easiest and implementing it for one to two months before moving onto the next.

Then use the resources and money that step has saved you to both inspire and support your implementing the next. By the time you’re done with this checklist, you’ll have the extra resources to find even deeper ways to improve your operations, reduce your costs, and increase your profits.

About the Author: Allen Waters is a restaurateur with 20 years of experience starting and running a variety of food places, from a hot dog joint to a high-end French gastronomic experience, before transitioning into consultancy.

He now helps small and struggling restaurants by assessing their main pain points, helping them get out of the red and become locally successful.

December Restaurant Marketing Ideas

I know December is all about festive fun and holiday celebrations, but there are other ways you can market your restaurant this month as well! Read on for some ideas on how you can make your business shine this December (aside from the major holidays).

December 3rd – National Apple Pie Day

You can’t get more American than apple pie, and it’s the perfect time of year to celebrate the delicious dessert. Although many families enjoyed apple pie on Thanksgiving, the classic sweet never goes out of style. If you’re a restaurant with apple pie on your dessert menu, offer up a discount for the day. If you’re a bakery, you can also market an exclusive deal on apple pie for December 3rd. Mention the offering on your social media pages ahead of time and add it into a customer newsletter to spread awareness.

December 4th – National Cookie Day

Keep the dessert trend going by celebrating National Cookie Day on the 4th. Whether it’s chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or sugar cookie, diners will be delighted with your sweet discount. What’s better than one cookie? Two, of course. Promote a buy-one-get-one deal on cookies for the entire day.

If you offer catering or have a take-out bakery, you can even utilize this holiday to prepare for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve. Give guests 10% off holiday cookie orders if they place their order on the 4th. This will incentivize people to get their orders in early so you can prepare ahead of time to meet demands.

You can even host a cookie-centric event. People love immersive cooking classes and workshops, so take advantage of the hype. Get creative and host a holiday baking bash or cookie workshop for kids; this is great for your social media content and will show off your restaurant’s holiday spirit. Plus, you can charge an entrance fee and let guests take home a to-go bag of the treats they made- win, win for everyone!

December 21st – Winter Solstice Celebration

Friday, December 21st marks the official start to winter. Host a Winter Solstice Happy Hour; introduce new seasonal cocktails and food items to get guests excited about the months ahead. You can even make it more interesting with a “beat the clock” countdown; drink and food prices will start low and increase by the hour, inspiring people to get there early and stay late!

If you want to make an event out of the day, put on a Winter Solstice Party. Decorate your restaurant, give out prizes, and set up a winter necessities station with hot chocolate and cookies for guests to feast on. Play some cheerful holiday music to set the tone and let your guests have fun.

Consider raffling off a prize that includes winter snack essentials and a gift card to your restaurant. This is more great fodder for your social accounts and will get people excited about returning to dine with you to reap the reward.

December Donation Drive

December is the month of giving, so why not participate? Do some research to see which local charities and volunteer groups are in need. Toy drives are always happening prior to the holidays and are a great way to get involved while brightening up a child’s day.

Encourage guests to donate to your restaurant’s toy drive by advertising it on social media and your website. Post flyers around town and outside of your restaurant to spread additional awareness and mention the drive to customers.

Ask for an unwrapped gift for local children in need and set up a bin for collection. From there, watch the donations flow in! You can post about your progress on social media, thanking participants along the way.

Participating in charity work helps your restaurant build a stronger bond with your community and shows that you care about giving back. It’s what the spirit of the season is all about, so get involved!

December 31st – New Year’s Eve

On the last day of December ring in the New Year with a large crowd! Although only 9% of Americans plan to go out to celebrate, if you market it right, you’ll inspire partygoers to spend the night at your restaurant.

Consider creating a prix fixe deal, which is quite popular for NYE. This can include a buffet, champagne toast, and restricted open bar for a fixed cost per ticket. People in search of a fun time are willing to pay the price, but don’t price your tickets too high that they’ll choose to celebrate elsewhere. Consider your profits as well as the willingness of guests to figure out a sweet spot.

An upbeat playlist, delicious dinner options, and a party atmosphere will help to make the evening memorable for attendees. You can even incorporate party favors, a signature drink, and special one-night-only food items to make it even more special.

In Closing

If you get creative and pay attention to the holidays that aren’t the biggest celebrations, you’ll be able to find unique ways to market your restaurant in December.

The month is filled with holiday celebrations, seasonal spirit, and family-bonding, but there are also plenty of opportunities for your restaurant to draw large crowds. With strategic pre-event marketing and solid execution, you’ll impress guests and increase profits.

Increase Restaurant Sales With These Easy Tips

Running a restaurant is a tough business. The profit margins are quite thin and unfortunately, many new restaurants fail every year. There are even TV shows about it! So how do you keep your restaurant from failing? The top goal, of course, is to get as many people into your restaurant as you can. The more regular customers you have, the better your chances are to keep a consistent profit flow. In this blog, we give you tips on how to increase your restaurant sales, both offline and online.

Ask For Referrals

Your best advertising will always be your existing customers. If they’ve had a good time after a meal, encourage them to tell their friends and neighbors about it. It may be best to have the manager on duty do this task, as it may seem forced if a server does it. It has to sound like a sincere ask in order to inspire diners to spread the word. Most managers are quite happy when they see customers having a good time, so this may be easier than you think!

Some restaurants even encourage guests to leave a positive online review; this helps to boost your online reputation to entice new customers at a larger scale.

Increase Table Turnover

Table turnover is a delicate balancing act. You want to get your guests in and out as quickly as possible, but you never want them to feel rushed either. Increasing table turnover is more of a matter of making everything before and after the meal as efficient as possible. This may mean pre-assigning guests to tables, improving server speed, dropping checks off early at the table, and using a menu that doesn’t require lengthy explanation.

If a table is just taking too long because of the customers, offer them a free drink in exchange for freeing up the table. The loss on the free drink should be more than made up for by the extra covers.

Can They Find You?

One of the most useful tools in a restaurant’s advertising arsenal these days your their online and mobile presence. If you can’t be found easily online, hungry customers will go somewhere else to eat. Take a look at your search engine optimization. Check the following:

  • Are you registered for Google My Business and Bing Places?

  • Do you have a website that shows your location, menu, hours, and directions to your restaurant?

  • Are you registered and active on review sites like Yelp?

  • Does your website look impressive on mobile devices?

Hiring an SEO services company for a few months to work on your basic SEO can make a huge difference in your visibility.

You should also consider online menu management and how it can benefit your business. Companies like SinglePlatform get your menu in the places that matter online so you can be found by hungry diners searching for specific menu items or local businesses.

Social Media

Social media is now the second-best way of interacting with your customers and engaging the audience of your own. Facebook and Instagram are the platforms best for this. The point is to get a good conversation going with your customers so they’ll remember your restaurant and want to keep in the loop of what’s going on.

This means that you’ll want to post about topics like the latest specials, weekly events, and other goings-on at the restaurant. Photos of popular meals are always a good idea. When someone responds to a post, strike up a conversation and thank them for their interest.

As part of your referrals talk by your manager, you can also encourage people to like or follow you on your social platforms. This is crucial, as a low-traffic social media page doesn’t do much to grow your influence. The more people you can get to show their appreciation, the better.

Online Ordering And Delivery

Offering online ordering and food delivery is the new darling of the restaurant world. People love the ability to order a meal from their phone and pick it up on the way home or have it delivered. You don’t have to worry about filling a seat, just a to-go container.

To accomplish this goal, restaurants are using third-party delivery services, like GrubHub and DoorDash, that let them do deliveries without having to hire additional workers or get a company vehicle. Rideshare companies like Uber are also getting in on this. If there is a demand for delivery in your area, you might consider this as well.

Online ordering may not be appropriate for a fine-dining restaurant, but for that kind of a restaurant you might consider a mobile reservation system. This technology makes it easy for people to make a dining decision the moment hunger strikes.

In Closing

As a new restaurant, there are plenty of things you can do, both offline and online, to increase sales. All of the tips mentioned above will help to build a stronger presence for your restaurant in your community. Of course, once you bring new customers in, you have to impress them! Do your best to provide great food, an inviting atmosphere, and top notch customer service. By putting in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with higher profits.

About the Author: Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google

Incorporate These Key Winter Ingredients into Your Restaurant Menu This Season

The winter solstice is a month away, bringing cooler temperatures and a desire for more wholesome comfort food. A delicious hot meal is just as comfy as your favorite cableknit sweater. Are you releasing a winter-exclusive menu?

Introducing a new seasonal menu boosts profits, so you should consider them to bring in new business. Plus, the release of a new menu is the perfect opportunity to incorporate some winter-inspired ingredients. Maybe you’re not dropping a new menu, but simply offering some monthly specials to keep guests interested. Whatever the case may be, consider using seasonal ingredients that are fresh this time of year.

Today, we’re giving you some ideas on cold-weather items to incorporate into your winter restaurant recipes.

All Hail Kale

The kale craze has been going on for quite some time now, so you might not be surprised to see it on the list. But, winter ‘tis the season for kale, so kale your guests shall have! Kale is best when it’s rich green in color. The leafy green has a somewhat bitter component, which will add an element of diversity to any dish. Plus, it can be used in so many ways! Raw, baked, or sauteed, you decide how you’d like to incorporate it.

Kale is a bright addition to a winter soup, can be devoured as a snack in chip form, or simply sauteed with garlic and lemon as a side to any entree. Plus, it’s one of those most nutrient-dense food items on the planet! One cup of kale has just 33 calories, but 3 grams of protein and is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. If used creatively, kale will be the gift that keeps on giving at your restaurant this winter.

My Sweet Clementines

A clementine can add a pop of sunshine and sweetness on an otherwise chilly winter day. The citrus fruit is happily eaten solo by many, just peel back the skin and you’ve got a quick, healthy snack. But, when incorporating clementines into winter recipes, you may feel like you have a challenge on your hands.

Cut up a few clementines and throw them into a fresh spinach, goat cheese and walnut salad that will be perfect for health enthusiasts. Combine them with brussel sprouts, onion, and olive oil to create a vibrant vegetable salad. When it comes to dessert, you can use clementines to top a chocolate mousse or as part of a trifle.

It’s A Date

Date fruits are used in many dishes these days, especially vegan recipes. They’re sweet in nature, but that doesn’t mean they can only be used in desserts. Add a new dimension to your brunch menu by combining dates with oats and fruit, which will pair perfectly with a morning mimosa. When in doubt, wrap them in bacon for a deliciously savory and sweet appetizer. Or, get creative and combine them with the above ingredients to create a citrusy sweet kale salad. You can even offer a sweet end to the meal with date caramel candies.

In a Pear Tree

According to the 12 Days of Christmas, partridges hang out in pear trees this time of year, so why not pluck some for your menu? We mentioned comfort food before, and nothing screams comfort more than grilled cheese. Combine bacon, your favorite cheese, and pear between the bread to create an elevated version of the lunch classic. Pair the sandwich with a signature soup for the perfect combo. Roasting pork loin? Incorporate pears and potatoes to round out the meal. Or, create a dessert focused on the full-bodied fruit. Stick to the classic, like poached pears, or use the ingredient in a tart or a pie. How about a cheerful cocktail? Make your guests’ dining experience merry and bright by adding a pear martini to your drink list.

Don’t Take Pomegranates for Granted

Pomegranate season runs from October through February, making it the perfect winter ingredient. Pomegranate seeds add bright, crunchy bursts of flavor and are great toppers for overnight oats, puddings, and even ice cream.

Although pomegranates can be tough fruits to crack, they’re well worth the effort. They’re also a great addition to your cocktail repertoire to add a bit of holiday cheer. Pomegranate gin fizz anyone?

Spreading Winter Cheer

Winter is coming soon, and will last until mid-March (for some of us that’s a good thing, and for others, not so much).  Whatever your opinion may be, the winter season gives you plenty of time to introduce a new winter menu at your restaurant and advertise it for a few solid months.

With a new menu, consider incorporating unique ingredients that are fresh and in season. There are plenty of options to choose from, from kale to pomegranates, and many different ways to use each item. Get creative in your recipes and in the descriptions of your menu items to entice your diners and keep them coming back all winter long. Cheers!

How to Increase Online Delivery Orders for Your Restaurant

The success or failure of a restaurant has been typically pinned on its location. But as a growing number of customers are moving away from traditional dining to ordering food online through apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, factors like location and decor no longer play a central role in the success of a restaurant business.

Just how large of a factor do online orders play in a restaurant’s business? The proof is in the search. “Delivery near me” heeds over 1,500,000 Google searches every month! And people are looking for “restaurants that deliver near me” over 246,000 times per month, too.

Understanding what makes restaurants tick in this evolving online ordering trend is important to the sustainability and growth of your business. As long as your restaurant (or just your kitchen) is close to a high demand location, and can cater to these new delivery expectations, you can increase your business by incorporating an online ordering arm.

Below, we highlight advice on how to incorporate online ordering into your restaurant strategy, with considerations like consumer behavior, competition, and ordering app efficiency.

Understanding Customer Behavior

Restaurant owners who are just opening up to the online ordering trend tend to prefer building their own app or website. The reasons are obvious – having your own app gives you complete control of your operations. Also, it gives you a lot more insights into consumer behavior than relying on third party apps.

However, the decision to have a standalone app needs to be thought through carefully. Studies show that an average person uses just about 9 apps per day. Accounting for essential apps like WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and other messaging and media apps, the chances of a customer installing or using your app to order food is pretty slim.

While a native app may make sense for popular chains like Dominos, it is not necessarily the case for most other restaurant businesses. Collaborating with app services like DoorDash, GrubHub, or UberEats may be a better idea. With millions of dollars at their disposal, these food-delivery apps have already been fighting for market share and have been driving consumer behavior in the online ordering space. As a restaurant, you do not have to reinvent the wheel and may rely on these apps to grow your business.

What Makes Restaurants Popular Online

Word of mouth marketing has always been vital to a restaurant’s popularity. This has evolved into the present day where online reviews and ratings can determine the popularity of a restaurant.

Reviews – According to a study published by TripAdvisor, an astounding 94% of US diners read online reviews before dining out or ordering food. This is a challenge for restaurants since every app has its own unique ranking and rating algorithm. Understanding what online customers prefer and how they rate restaurants on an app plays a role in your visibility.

Photos – Visuals work wonders. In the culinary world, food photography has an impressive effect on restaurant publicity. Studies show that photos have a perceptible impact on 60% of US customers. Engaging visuals of the most popular dishes can create the right impulse for customers to buy your food.

Improving App Visibility

The online ordering space can be extremely competitive and merely having your restaurant listed on an app may not be enough. Even though every delivery app is unique, there are a few standard parameters that can be used to improve visibility on each one of them.

Sponsored Listings

If you are just starting out on an app, sponsored listings are a great way to initiate your marketing program. These listings are often displayed higher than organic listings and thus provide a restaurant with excellent exposure. This translates into higher order volume, more reviews, and thus a more sustained organic visibility. It’s then your job to provide the quality food that will inspire people to order from you again.

Omnichannel Marketing

If you are an established restaurant with active marketing channels, then using these platforms to push your online orders can work wonders. For instance, Instagram is a highly popular social media platform for food businesses. Studies show that hashtags like #instagood and #love tend to see higher likes than #food. A sustained campaign using these hashtags to promote your coupons and listing on a platform like Postmates or Seamless could get a number of new users to search for your restaurant on these apps while ordering food.

So how exactly does this help? A lot of apps use machine learning to understand restaurant popularity among various demographics. When a customer looks up for specific restaurants on the app, these restaurants are accorded a higher level of importance and this improves their visibility. In essence, while it may not be possible to use your other marketing channels to increase orders directly, you may drive customer behavior through these apps and this contributes to improved organic visibility.

Discount Marketing

Many marketers do not favor a discount strategy considering the low margin nature of the restaurant business. The intense competition among various restaurants in an app however makes it a necessity.

One way to make discount marketing work is by offering exclusive discounts on order frequency and volume. In a low margin business, this may seem like a waste of money. However, similar to sponsored listings, discount strategies help with increasing your order volume which brings in more reviews, and thus increased organic exposure. Even doing as little as offering a free delivery can help you get a leg up among the competition.

Investing in the Right Delivery App

As is often the case, budget and time constraints make it impossible to advertise and focus on various delivery apps all at once. Therefore, investing in the right app is of great importance. Certain factors can help you decide on the right app for your business. Check out our blog on online ordering options here.

Market Share

Apps with the highest market share tend to see the highest volume of orders. Investing your marketing resources on such apps could deliver high ROI. A McKinsey study found that nearly 80 percent of users stick to an online delivery platform once they sign up. Aligning with the market leader guarantees longevity with respect to client retention.

Speed of Delivery

On average, 60% of consumers cite delivery time as a key factor in ordering online. Food delivery apps constantly struggle with capacity utilization and route optimization of the delivery executives.

In addition to this, navigational training is another critical factor. An app that does not do these aspects well could routinely see food orders getting delayed. Overpromising and under-delivering is the worst thing you can do to a hungry customer. In essence, your restaurant could see dwindling sales or poor reviews due to factors outside your control. It is important to invest your marketing efforts on apps with quick and efficient delivery.

In Closing

Online food delivery is becoming an important component of the restaurant industry. The lower costs of operations here also mean higher competition. In a society where instant gratification is expected, and where options are aplenty at everyone’s fingertips, considering online ordering as part of your restaurant business is crucial. Use these strategies to help your restaurant build a presence on online ordering apps to increase business.

About the Author: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources.

Find Restaurant Success This Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’re most grateful for, to be with family, and to introduce the upcoming holiday season. It’s a notable time of year for many people, and some argue it’s their favorite holiday all year. The days following Thanksgiving have, in recent times, become part of the holiday weekend celebration. Black Friday is the largest shopping day of the year, followed by Small Business Saturday, which allows local businesses to shine.

As a restaurant owner, you have many opportunities to take advantage of these three days. Read on for ways to find restaurant success this Thanksgiving weekend.


Let’s start with the official holiday that will be taking place on November 22nd. Thanksgiving, besides being focused on family and friends, puts food as the focal point. Some families choose to serve a home cooked meal, but others opt to skip the fuss and dine out. It’s expected that 1 in every 10 adults will take their turkey day celebrations to the restaurant dining floor.

If you’re offering a Thanksgiving menu this holiday, you should already be making your customers aware of it. By now, you should have a solid list of reservations and should turn your focus to staffing, food supply, and the overall flow of the day.

Posting your Thanksgiving-exclusive menu online will help guests get acquainted with their options and ensures you’re reaching a wider audience looking to dine out on the day.

When it comes to the service on Thanksgiving, you should plan ahead and train your staff accordingly. If you have any specials for the day, brief all servers ahead of time. Get them acquainted with your holiday-specific desserts and drinks as well so they can upsell during the meal. Make sure you have enough people on staff to handle the crowds and plan for any last-minute call-outs.

Your guests have chosen to celebrate the holiday at your restaurant – and Thanksgiving is all about being grateful after all. Let your customers know that you’re appreciative of their business by giving them a little something extra. You can create take-home goodie bags for children or offer a discount coupon for the next meal. You can even serve a complimentary dessert to each table. Giving back shows that you’re thankful for the patronage and inspires customer loyalty.

If you want to get extra-creative, prepare your guests for their Black Friday shopping sprees by offering a to-go cup of coffee. If you have time, get some disposable cups with your restaurant logo on it to serve the coffee in. What better way to spread the word about your business than having customers as walking advertisements?

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, reflection, and of course, food. It’s a golden opportunity to make your guests that are dining with you on November 22nd feel welcome. Go above and beyond their expectations to make the holiday truly special.

Black Friday

Millions of people brave the cold weather in early morning hours to score some Black Friday steals. Although your restaurant probably won’t be opening at midnight like some of the big box stores, you can be the fuel to get shoppers through the mid-day shopping slump. In fact, the most popular shopping time on Black Friday isn’t in the wee hours, but instead at 4pm. Prime time for you!

Statistics show that 174 million people hit the stores during Black Friday weekend. As a restaurant, you can join in on the fun. Offer discounted lunch meals and BOGO coffee deals to delight hungry and tired customers. Want to make it more interesting? Host a “beat the clock” event, where your prices on select food and drink items increase at the top of each hour. Market this ahead of time on social media to inspire people to visit you.

Bonus Tip: Make sure your gift cards and other items for purchase are on display at your registers and hostess station.

Online Shopping

The truth is, more and more people are turning to online shopping to complete their holiday purchases. It’s much easier to wake up and walk to your laptop than to travel to a shopping mall! Although the official online shopping day is on Cyber Monday, the sales typically start earlier and earlier each year. In 2016, people spent $3 billion on online purchases on Black Friday alone!

This cyber-shopping phenomenon doesn’t have to hurt your business. The shoppers still need their fuel. Offer discounts on delivery or special Black Friday-only coupons to be applied to online orders. Delivering meals right to these shoppers doors ensures they won’t miss a beat (or a sale).

Small Business Saturday

Created in 2010 by American Express, the goal of Small Business Saturday is to give local businesses and purveyors a chance to shine. Big box, commercial chain stores take center stage on Black Friday & Cyber Monday, and American Express knew there needed to be a day to honor the thousands of small businesses that exist across the country.

As a small business owner, this is the perfect time to get involved in your community and take advantage of the day. Promote the hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday on your social media channels before November 24th and keep your followers informed on any offers or discounts you’ll have.

You may want to consider discounting gift card purchases (or adding an additional coupon to every gift card purchase), discounting any other items you sell at your restaurant (food items, cookbooks, swag), or donating a percentage of every meal to a cause you care about. It’s the perfect time to give back to your customers, and your community, while marketing your local business.

Get involved with other local businesses and find opportunities for a partnership. This cross-marketing effort can help you spread brand awareness and create a community alliance. Maybe a local boutique is hosting a sale on Saturday – be there to sell coffee and snacks to shoppers. You can also hand out free swag items, like pens or mugs, with your logo on it. This is a great way to keep your restaurant’s name top-of-mind.

In Closing

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and following the holiday is a weekend full of fun and holiday season preparations. You can make the most out of each day by planning ahead, getting creative with your offerings, and most importantly, showing your gratitude toward your loyal customers.

Creating an inviting atmosphere to dine in on Thanksgiving, providing the energy hungry shoppers need on Black Friday, and bonding with your community and fellow local businesses on Small Business Saturday, are all ways to find even more restaurant success for the holiday weekend.

Have any of your own unique ideas for the holiday weekend? Comment below!