5 Ways to Maximize Revenue Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day
By Thanksgiving, much of your restaurant holiday strategy is already in place. However, you can still implement several "quick wins."
Holiday season is officially underway, which means people are organizing travel itineraries, planning holiday parties, shopping for loved ones and booking tables at their favorite restaurants.
By this point, restaurants have already done the majority of their holiday planning, but that doesn’t mean it’s fully wrapped; there are still quick wins they can pull off between now and New Year’s Day.
On the heels of another challenging year, where the already thin margins of operating a restaurant got even thinner, these small but quick wins that maximize revenue go further than ever. For example, a restaurant may not have overlooked selling holiday meal kits, but it might be failing to maximize sales by not marketing them. The same could be said of a restaurant that is selling holiday gifts on-premises but hasn’t set up an online store to sell them 24/7.
To help restaurants maximize sales this holiday season, we compiled a list of five quick actions restaurants can take between now and the new year.
1. Use Promos Codes to Sell More Merchandise, Tickets and Takeout
Holiday season is a time for friends and family to come together, celebrate over delicious meals and exchange gifts to show appreciation for one another. Throughout the season, consumers are on high alert to find the best gift for their loved ones. All the while, businesses apply every marketing tool in their kit to make their gifts stand out from the competition.
One of the most popular, and most effective, of these marketing tools is sales discounts. Sales discounts come in many forms and can be applied across many marketing channels. For instance, restaurants can run a sale leading up to Christmas for apparel or cookbooks in their Merchandise Store or extend promo codes for Ticketed Events or Catering Orders.
Reign, a Canadian brasserie, promotes holiday catering packages on its website and uses pop-up alerts to notify visitors about its “Early Bird Promo.” If diners place a catering order before December 1st and use the promo code EARLYBIRD25 at checkout, they receive $25 off their bill.
Three types of discounts are commonly applied to restaurant promotions. The promotion above uses a percent amount, but restaurants should choose the discount type that best fits their needs. They can also discount a fixed dollar amount (e.g., $10 off a purchase of $50 or more) or offer free shipping/delivery.
After defining the discount type, the next step is for restaurants to set the preferred conditions of the discount. For instance, if a restaurant wants its promo codes to incentivize large orders like catering, it might set a minimum order total (e.g., $50 off when you spend $200 or more). Here are a few other limitations restaurants can set:
Limit number of times promo code can be used: This disables the code after a set number of redemptions, whether it’s only once or multiple times.
Limit discount to one item per order: Restricts any promotion discount to only one item per order. For example, if a diner orders three burgers and uses a promo of $5 off a burger item, only one of those burgers will receive the $5 off.
Restaurants should also set start and end dates for their promo codes. Setting a start date is valuable because restaurants can set it weeks in advance, giving staff one less thing to worry about before the promotion. Setting an end date — after which the promo code no longer works — is important because it creates urgency from customers. This ultimately drives higher order rates and more revenue.
Lastly, once the promo code is activated, restaurants need to get the word out. In addition to adding a pop-up alert to their website as Reign did, they can promote the discount on social media, add a post to Google My Business and send marketing emails to their customer lists. Remember to include the code name, promo conditions and availability date in all marketing materials, so consumers are fully aware of how and when to redeem the offer.
2. Use Guest Data to Optimize Marketing
Thanks to first-party restaurant technologies, restaurants have access to more guest data than ever. Third-party platforms like delivery marketplaces have spent years applying this data to customer acquisition and retention campaigns, but now the power is back in restaurants’ hands.
Guest data comes in the form of contact information (names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) but also vital details like order history and frequency. Order details allow restaurants to build rich, strategic segments out of their customers, while contact information allows them to reach those segments with marketing outreach.
For example, restaurants might use order frequency data to create segments for one-time diners, infrequent diners, occasional diners and “regulars.” One-time diners are less likely to order holiday catering, but a 25% off takeout promotion might incentivize them to try the restaurant again. “Regulars,” meanwhile, don’t need a promotion incentive to order takeout, but they make a great target for holiday catering. Using this data and the contact information on file, restaurants can reach these separate audiences with separate, tailored marketing messages.
Similarly, restaurants can create one segment of customers who purchased gift cards last year and another segment of customers who didn’t. Knowing that the first segment already sees the value of gift cards, restaurants can send them an email promoting gift cards that doesn’t include a discount. The group that didn’t purchase gift cards last year can get a similar email that does include a discount, which encourages them to purchase for the first time. This allows the restaurant to maximize revenue from both segments, rather than sending a one-size-fits-all promotion to everyone.
3. Turn On Automated Marketing & Loyalty Programs
With the busy season upon us, restaurants may be unable to give their undivided attention to segmenting diners and sending personalized emails. If only there was a way to automate the process and drive more orders in the process…
Thankfully, there is one.
Automated marketing campaigns send emails to diners on an ongoing basis without any staff upkeep. With BentoBox, this feature is simple to turn on through the backend of a restaurant’s website. Once turned on, diners automatically receive a series of marketing emails at intervals set by the restaurant (seven days after order, 30 days after order, 60 days after order, etc.). Restaurants only need to set the intervals once, though they can analyze performance and update the types of emails they send as they see fit.
Restaurants can also tailor automated emails to their brand with logos, images and personalized messaging for a more natural and engaging experience. Here are some examples of the types of automated emails restaurants can send:
Welcome Email. This campaign sends a personal thank you message from the restaurant's owner, chef or another staff member and can include unique features like a headshot at the bottom and personalized language that fits the restaurant’s brand. Call-to-action (CTA) buttons drive diners to take a preferred action (e.g., “Follow Us on Instagram!”).
7-Day Promo Email. This campaign sends an email one week after a diner’s first purchase, thanking them for ordering directly and offering a promo to order again (e.g., $5 off, 10% off or free delivery). Sending an email on the same day of the week as their first order increases the likelihood of them placing another order.
It’s Been 30 Days Email. This campaign sends an email when a diner hasn’t purchased in 30 days. This helps re-engage diners who enjoyed their last order but haven’t had the restaurant top-of-mind since that experience, especially if it includes an incentive like a promo code.
Because they have limited resources, small businesses often focus more of their marketing on new customer acquisition than on increasing lifetime value from existing customers. Automated email marketing is one of the new tools allowing small businesses like restaurants to address both types of customers. Another tool restaurants are using is digital loyalty programs.
With BentoBox's Loyalty Program, restaurants can recognize and reward their most loyal customers by gamifying the online ordering process. After a set number of orders or amount spent at the restaurant, diners enrolled in the program receive discounts or free items. As they progress through the program, they can also receive emails showing how close they are to unlocking new rewards.
Loyalty programs increase lifetime customer value and foster stronger relationships with those customers. Since much of the program is automated, these benefits do not come at the expense of staff hours, which are needed more than ever on other elements of hospitality. It’s a win-win for restaurants and their customers, and holiday season is the perfect time to set it up.
4. Offer and Promote Last-Minute Holiday Gifts
As the days get busier leading up to gifting holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas, people often find themselves scrambling to purchase last-minute gifts for friends and family. Restaurants have a unique opportunity to cater to these last-minute gift shoppers. After all, demand for restaurant gifts like gift cards is surging.
But it’s not just gift cards that restaurants can offer as a last-minute holiday gift option. For example, if someone you know gets their daily caffeine fix from Two Guns Espresso, you can buy them the coffee shop’s insulated camp mug. In addition to being practical, allowing them to drink their latte on the go, adds a personal touch that shows you know them and the businesses they support.
Restaurants may already sell merchandise and other gifts through their website, but many do not market them as proactively as they need to. This is important because, during holiday season, restaurants selling merchandise don’t just compete with other restaurants; they also compete with retailers, who market their holiday offerings very aggressively.
To stand out from that noise, restaurants need to get creative with how they package and promote their holiday gift programs. This is easier said than done, but restaurants can turn merch into a powerful holiday revenue stream with the right mix of creative marketing tactics.
For example, New York City restaurant Bubby’s curates holiday bundles and promotes them with beautiful photographs on Instagram. Each bundle includes a variety of merchandise like cookbooks, mugs, t-shirts and its beloved sour cream pancake mix. Creating bundles and baskets makes gifting easier for customers, and it encourages them to spend more because they're purchasing multiple products — similar to a combo meal or a prix fixe menu.
5. Host a New Year’s Eve Party and Sell Event Tickets
New Year’s Eve parties are a tradition that’s been celebrated for thousands of years. While some may celebrate in their homes with family, others will join large groups of strangers in city squares, link up with friends and coworkers in neighborhood bars or cozy up in restaurant booths with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Especially after last year, when in-person celebrations were largely canceled, restaurants have a great opportunity to host events for these partygoers. As restaurants consider all the ways to maximize profits this holiday season, hosting a New Year’s Eve bash should be high on their list. If you’re new to hosting New Year’s Eve parties, here are three types of events to consider:
New Year’s Eve reservations. Restaurants can open the books to limited-seating reservations, then promote the event with emails that make it easy to book a table. These evenings might consist of a prix-fixe dinner and a complimentary glass of champagne. Additionally, restaurants can sell tickets that act as a reservation for upfront revenue.
Private or semi-private buy-out. Private events often have high-profit margins, which makes them advantageous for restaurants. Consider closing off the evening for those who pay to rent the entire space out for the night. If restaurants want to keep seats open for the public, a semi buy-out, where the party is quartered to a specific section of the restaurant, is also an option.
Ticketed event. Restaurants can host a New Year’s Eve party where tickets function as a cover charge. Attendees reserve their spot at the function by purchasing ahead of time. This allows restaurants to obtain a guest list prior to the event to plan and prepare accordingly.
Once a restaurant chooses which type of event to host, success comes down to spreading the word and selling enough seats to make a profit. Emailing past customers is an effective way to do this, given that they are more likely to have a connection with the restaurant and want to go there for a special occasion. Adding a pop-up alert to the homepage of the website is another great way to attract interested parties.
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