“Cater” to Your Customers this Holiday Season

 In 8. Guest Bloggers, Catering, Menu, Of Interest, Operations

By Michael Attias

How important are the holidays to your sales mix? I know for many readers the combination of groups reserving tables and private party rooms for holiday parties, as well as full service catered parties represents a significant source of profits at year-end. Let’s examine some key areas so your year will end on a highly profitable note.

Holiday meals: Gone are the days of mom slaving away for two weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas. With both spouses in the workforce, your customers are trading slaving in a hot kitchen and baking pies for a low-maintenance meal in peace and quiet. If your dining room isn’t open on Thanksgiving or Christmas day, you might want to consider selling a ready to go holiday meal. Whether it’s your famous prime rib or roast turkeys for your customers, packaging a heat-and-eat holiday feast will bring you praise and profits from your patrons. You do not need to spend an arm and a leg to get this off the ground. Table tents, signs, banners and flyers as well as postings on Twitter and Facebook are low cost tactics to get the word out to your customers.

Home-based holiday parties: Your restaurant is probably famous for your share of dishes. From spinach & artichoke dip to pesto shrimp cocktail, you’re already making specialties your customers would love to buy. Make menus and sell these items at bulk prices – by the piece, pound or pan.

Party room rental: If you have a party room or take party reservations during the holidays, make sure to have your customers book early. Start by calling last year’s groups and offer them first choice of dates. They’ll appreciate that you’re looking out for their best interests and rebook this season. Review what they did last year and create a menu to wow them and benefit you.

Off-premise catered events: From sit down black tie dinners to office cocktail parties, more and more people trust their favorite restaurant to cater their holiday party. Direct mail is the most cost effective tool to get your dates booked. I am a big believer in targeted direct mail to get the sales message out. Every restaurant has a menu that translates to catering. A breakfast place can offer waffle and omelet bars, and a Mexican restaurant can offer fajita buffets complete with a chef grilling chicken, shrimp and steak on site. Be creative!

You work hard, so why not maximize your holiday sales with the bonus bucks catering will provide? Your customers will be catering with someone. Why not let it be you?

Michael Attias, the country’s foremost expert on high return, low cost direct marketing strategies for restaurants, speaks from experience in the trenches. He operated a close to $3 million a year restaurant in Nashville, Tenn., that he used as his marketing “laboratory”. He now helps restaurant owners increase their sales by adding or expanding a catering profit center through his company, The Results Group. You can download his FREE Report: Tapping Into Your Hidden Catering Profit$ and subscribe to his free e-zine: The Restaurant Marketing Minute at www.ezRestaurantMarketing.com.

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