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While Thanksgiving is often thought of has a holiday for people to flex their home cooking muscles, not everyone wants to spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, the National Restaurant Association estimated that in 2013, 4 million American ordered a full takeout Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant. Another 14 million ordered parts of their Thanksgiving meal to be eaten at home.

If you plan on keeping your restaurant open on Thanksgiving, you can use the holiday as an opportunity to boost your catering orders by offering a complete Thanksgiving dinner menu. By following our guidelines, you can ensure that you’re don’t overspend on ingredients and have a smooth-running Thanksgiving day service.

1. Determine a Menu

The first step to streamlining Thanksgiving meal catering is determining a preset menu for your customers to choose from. You will want to limit the menu to help simplify the ingredient ordering,  as well as make the preparation process more efficient.

Turkey is often the protein of choice for Thanksgiving, but you could consider ham as an option, too. For side dishes, you could choose two or three that you already specialize in as part of a set menu. Or, you could come up with six or seven and allow diners to choose which sides they want. There are pros and cons to each. Set side dishes will keep things simple, but it might exclude potential customers who don’t like the dishes you’ve selected. Having more options means more ingredients and preparation, but it also ensures that there is something for everyone.

If your restaurant is non-traditional, don’t let that sway you from creating a Thanksgiving menu. The foodie revolution means that there are plenty of potential customers who want to enjoy a nice meal with their family and friends but don’t want the standard fare.

2. Set a Pre-Order Deadline

The best way to ensure a successful and smooth-running Thanksgiving day catering promotion is by requiring orders to be placed by a certain date. Be sure to include disclaimers about canceled orders, and require pre-payment to ensure you aren’t left with a bunch of meal that aren’t paid for and ingredients gone to waste.

By having a pre-order deadline, you can get only the ingredients you need ordered, and you don’t have to waste money by ordering too much. Additionally, you can make sure you have the right amount of staff scheduled on Thanksgiving to get the catered meals cooked and delivered on time.

In order to determine a deadline, take into consideration how much time you will need to get the ingredients ordered, how much notice you need to give staff, and how much time prepping the meals will take.

3. Promote Your Thanksgiving Day Catering Menu

Now that you have the major details worked out, you should promote your Thanksgiving menu. Take advantage of social media, include information in your restaurant, and announce the special offer on your website. Consider spending some of your marketing budget on running Facebook ads promoting the Thanksgiving dinner that direct people to your website’s online ordering platform.

You will want to start promoting your Thanksgiving offer early enough for people to include it in their Thanksgiving plans. For example, by the week before Thanksgiving, most people will likely have their meal planned and ingredients purchased, so you’ll want to start promoting as soon as possible.

4. Make Ordering Easy

If people are going to choose your catering option over preparing a Thanksgiving meal themselves, one of the main driving factors will be convenience. Keep that motivation in mind when you set up the ordering process on your online ordering system.

Include serving portions in your menu so your customers will know they are ordering enough food for their meal. Note if any options are gluten free, dairy free, or nut free to make it easy for people who have to keep food allergies in mind. Think about any questions your customers will have about the dishes, and do your best to answer those questions in the description.

5. Deliver Excellence

Thanksgiving dinner is a big deal for families, so if you are going to offer catering of a complete meal, you will want to do everything you can to make sure it is excellent. The food needs to taste good, it needs to arrive at the proper temperatures, and it needs to arrive on time. Work out the logistics before hand of how meals will be packaged and delivered. Since you’ve taken pre-orders, you can even map out a delivery route ahead of time.

Contact us today to see how we can help your business deliver amazing Thanksgiving dinners, and then people will be much more likely to trust you with their future catering needs.