I really have a hard time with people who rush the holidays. You know the ones…they put the Christmas decorations up before Halloween. But if you’re a restaurateur or food company you need to plan ahead. And that’s what this post is about -- planning ahead for promotions to bring people in after the holidays.
As with any plan, start by figuring out what you’re trying to do.
Which group of customers do you want to reach most with your promotions?
What causes them to make purchases with you as opposed to somewhere else?
What most drives them in purchase decisions?
How will you decide if this is successful?
We thought we could get your thought process started with some ideas.
Hands on Fun
Add some items to your menu that are fun to eat and involve everyone in the process. “Make your own” nachos, fondue or ‘smores so customers are involved in their eating.
Baby It’s Cold Outside
Have customers enter their guess for when it will snow, dip below freezing, etc. Winners get a meal priced based on the temperature. Choose a temperature that’s sure to happen in January, but not every day so you get people into the restaurant but not so many it breaks the bank.
Change Up the Place for a Night
At our house we like to have breakfast for dinner. Think about turning your dining room into a hot breakfast spot that will bring in regulars and others wanting to try your new theme. It’s almost like a popup restaurant and offers a chance for a fresh look.
Wine, Beer or Spirits Tastings
Small wineries, crafter breweries and distilleries are all the rage in many parts of the country. Bring one or two in for special events where customers can sample and get meals created with the various drinks in mind.
Fresh is Best
We think of fresh produce as being available in the spring and summer but are there local products you can feature that are fresh in the wintertime? Are there any farmers or manufacturers in the area that can bring in new and repeat customers?
A Taste of Summer in January
Consider beach theme nights in the middle of winter when your staff and customers dress for summer. Offer a special menu of tropical drinks and summertime food.
Specialty Menu Items
Are you known for a special type of food? Dress it up for one night a week in a new way using ingredients your customers might not expect. Offer a free sample to customers one or two nights a week.
Themed specialty items
Do you have regular menu items you can dress up for winter so they seem new to customers? A tropic doughnut that needs a sprinkling of snow? Or even a tropic drink that needs to cool down a bit.
If you already have a successful loyalty program, offer customers double points if they come in on your slower nights and in January when you need to fill seats.
Friday Night Lights
We all get sadder in the winter when it’s darker and colder so brighten the place up a bit. Warm things up and bring people into the sunshine for some summertime foods.
What’s happening in your area in January you can use to bring people in. Community fundraisers. Athletic events.
Don’t forget delivery
When it’s colder out, many people don’t want to leave their homes to get food so think about adding a delivery service for nearby customers.
Whatever you do, make sure to market your promotions using social media, email marketing and other cost effective options to bring customers to your doors.