It’s holiday season, the prime time to sell gift cards to your restaurant. Are yours set out in a highly visible display?
Just-released research from the National Restaurant Association reports:
Our research also found that 40% of consumers save their gift cards for special occasions while another 40% make use of them within a few weeks; only 20% use them right away.
Gift cards can bring out the big spender in your guests, too. According to our data, more than a third of diners will order more expensive food and beverages when a gift card is in the mix. In some ways, your restaurant gift card pulls revenue twice, once when it’s sold and again when it’s redeemed and they end up spending more!
“More than 90% of American adults say they enjoy going out to restaurants,” says Hudson Riehle, our Association’s senior vice president of research. “One in two American adults say they frequent restaurants daily. There are ample opportunities for diners to use their gift cards at the more than 1 million restaurant locations around the country.”
Want to see that stash of gift cards dwindle? Here are 5 tips:
'Tis the season to start preparing for family, friends, holiday shopping and holiday gatherings.
This is also the time to be sure your restaurant is front and center in customers’ minds during all things “holiday” this season. Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales:
Here are some holiday-inspired ideas in these four areas to increase restaurant sales:
Increase the number of new customers
How can you attract customers that don’t know you yet? Be where they are.
This is the season for holiday shopping – passing out menus or flyers in front of nearby stores could be a great way to attract hungry shoppers to your restaurant to refuel. You can work with local retail shops to offer a special for their customers. Customers can just bring in the flyer to receive a special offer.
It is also the season of holiday get-togethers, but don’t limited your thinking to family and friends. Most area businesses will have a holiday party or team lunches for their employees, whether it’s catered in or in-person. Send samples and catering menus to nearby offices or places of business, inviting them to try your restaurant for their holiday parties, lunches and dinners.
You can also have a “by invitation only” reception for local businesses to try your catering and check out your restaurant. This is a great way to attract new customers and book their parties.
The time may be right to try out targeted ads on social media. You can target based on interests and activities, as well as geographies, to find those employees in nearby offices or those planning to shop ‘til they drop on certain days.
And remember, Cyber Monday is a big day, you can still be where the shoppers are with online ordering and delivery.
Increase frequency with existing customers
Give them a reason to come back again soon.
Seasonal menus are a big draw. Offer something new and exciting for a limited time that customers can’t normally get at your restaurant, and be sure your staff is well-versed on the items.
Introduce a recurring, yet changing, theme for the holiday season (think along the lines of “12 Weeks of Christmas”). Each week leading up to the holiday can feature a different special, or a different reason to come back in, to try something new or to collect something new.
Be giving. Customers who bring in a new “Toys for Tots” or food drive donation can get an incentive that is good for the following week only.
Be sure that your restaurant is top of mind with customers and that members of the your dining loyalty program are reminded of what they can get when they dine with you.
Increase spend per ticket
Increase the visibility of your seasonal offerings to increase customer interest and spend.
This is the time to advertise gift cards – they make a great gift, they pull in new customers for you, and they increase spend at the time of purchase. Offer up a small gift card for free with the purchase of others as a gift to the purchaser, as well. It will get them to come back soon, too.
Seasonal drinks, from pumpkin spiced lattes to spiked hot chocolates, are a perfect add-on to any order. They are on trend, they look good and they smell even better. Be sure your servers know to mention they are only around for a limited time and there is visible signage in the restaurant repeating that.
Pass out free samples of a seasonal or warming appetizer while customers wait to be seated or wait to order. When they are the most hungry, it can tempt an extra order.
Be sure your dining loyalty program rewards bigger tickets: the more customers spend, the more they can earn.
Always remember to upsell: holidays are the perfect time to get the desserts flowing. This is also a good time to run a contest with your employees to push those items, they would certainly welcome the chance to win a gift card for their holiday shopping, as well.
Increase rate of table turn/flow through
Don’t risk a good customer experience, but be mindful of easily avoidable pitfalls.
Properly staffed and trained seasonal employees are a key to this success in the holiday season. Be sure they are in place and trained before the holiday rush for optimal service and efficiency during the season.
Utilize catering/party space properly for table availability during busiest time, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner time on Black Friday.
Does a seasonal express lane for carry-out make sense? Do you have enough registers or POS systems in place? Now is the time to evaluate, so you are prepared during the busy season.
Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales, but there are numerous tactics to utilize within each! Get creative this holiday season and get a plan in place before the season is upon us.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is pleased to announce the application period for its annual scholarship program is now open. The scholarships are awarded to individuals interested in pursuing a career in the culinary and/or hospitality industry.
Since the fund’s inception in 2009, the LRAEF has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to 233 Louisiana individuals to further their post-secondary education. While these individuals have experience in a variety of roles, in different parts of the state, they all share an enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the restaurant industry.
“Each year we recognize a remarkable group with incredible potential,” Julie Talbot, LRAEF Executive Director Julie Talbot. “As the demand for highly skilled applicants continues to be a challenge for independent restaurant operators, our LRAEF scholars will be well-positioned for a successful career in the industry.”
“I am so grateful to the LRA for their support,” said 2019 scholar Dustin Rockwell. “It’s a relief to have these scholarship dollars so I can focus on my education and not how I’m going to pay my bills from month to month. I’m looking forward to completing my education and getting back out into the workforce to serve my community to the best of my abilities.”
Another 2019 scholar, Brock Nichols, was even chosen to prepare and serve food at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
The 2020 scholarships include the Jim Funk Scholarship, LRAEF ProStart Scholarship, LRA Board Fund Scholarship, LRA CENLA Chapter Scholarship and the Louisiana Seafood Scholarship. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m., January 31, 2020, and scholars will be announced in early spring. Applicants only need to submit one application for consideration. For eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.
For more information, contact the LRAEF office at 504-454-2277 or LRAEF@lra.org.