Whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful, one thing is certain: holiday business is a boon to operators. Make a list, check it twice, and start planning right away to make the holidays nice for your customers.
Plan out the Holiday Season Food
"Be proactive," says Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, Colorado. "Be ready for holiday parties and restaurant buyouts. Push the culinary envelope and try something new and exciting."
Arrange for advanced purchases.
"If you serve turkey or prime rib, talk to your Shamrock Foods representative now about the supply chain, organization and storage," says Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant. "If you do a big holiday takeout meals program, start buying packaging supplies now."
Offer smaller, holiday focused menus.
"Consider serving a holiday menu for a week or two prior to the day," says Rodney Estrada, Shamrock Foods Branch Chef, New Mexico. "This will help control inventory and labor costs."
Run Holiday LTOs.
"Running a special for a limited time reduces waste, provides consistency and generates a buzz around something different and exciting," Estrada says. "This allows operators to take advantage of seasonal closeout items at typically lower prices."
Create holiday-meal bundles.
Time-crunched consumers appreciate convenience, especially during the holidays. Bundled meals for at-home dining and takeaway catering offer that, plus inflation-busting value grocers can't provide.
Use luxurious ingredients. Rich whipped cream and luscious eggnog from Shamrock Farms, for example, are holiday essentials. Eggnog – traditional and flavored – can be a key ingredient in signature French toasts, flans, creme brûlées, base sauces for apple pie and other desserts. And don't forget the drinks. "Use cream or eggnog as an ingredient in cocktails, nonalcoholic beverages, milkshakes and more," Hargrove says.
Create and cost-out all your holiday menus ASAP."Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, Colorado
Make sure you have the employees you need for the season ahead of the season.
Line up holiday help.
See if workers from previous holidays or summer seasons are available to return this season. Verify that your current staff can work during the holidays. Investigate how temp-staffing agencies may be able to help if you need it.
Lock in schedules.
"Set schedules well in advance of the holiday season," Maness says. Many operators have a "no-time-off" policy during the holidays. Let staff know well in advance if that's your policy.
Analyze guest traffic and sales from previous holiday seasons and staff shifts accordingly.
Let the staff know how much a profitable holiday season means to your operation's bottom line and how they benefit from it.
"Strategize when to buy to avoid the holiday purchasing rush of classic items."Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant
Run Holiday Promotions
"Use marketing to tell the story that it's cheaper and much easier to buy a completely prepared restaurant meal for your family than it is to drive to the grocery store, select everything, stand in line, get it home, cook it, feed your family, and then clean up," Hargrove says.
Get the word out early.
"Blast social media and websites with holiday-focused messages," Maness advises. Announce holiday menus, catering services, and private-party options.
Ramp Up Your Gift-Card Program.
Restaurant gift cards are highly popular with holiday shoppers and profitable for operators. Gift cards give you money up front, and many are never redeemed. Sell them in value bundles.
"Make sure your POS is ready for these transactions," Maness advises. "Dedicate an area or employee specific to gift-card purchases."
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