Retailers in the United States famously extend their hours starting on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) through Christmas Eve. The idea is that the winter holiday shopping crush leads to more sales for stores, so retailers keep their doors open later.
There’s no reason why restaurants shouldn’t employ the same strategy. After all, shoppers get hungry and may not feel like cooking a full meal at home when they’re out and about tracking down the perfect gifts.
Do your customers know your establishment has extended hours during the winter holidays? If not, here are five ways you can market those hours.
Offer special dishes or special pricing during those extended hours. Consider holiday-themed and seasonal foods, such as egg nog, peppermint, gingerbread and the like. Customers love new and different things. When they see a special item, they may ask about it. At that point, your restaurant staff comes into play by suggesting these specials are available only from 9 to 11 p.m.
Discounts are another way to offer specials. Create discounts, such as 10 to 20 percent off, when ordering at a certain time or buying certain dishes. Families out shopping for the holidays may have young children with them. How about a “kids eat free” late-night special?
Restaurants are all about gift cards during the holidays. When you promote your gift cards, include a small blurb that says “Open later ‘til 11 p.m.” or something similar. When someone buys a gift card, put it in a small envelope that includes a small card that highlights the extended hours.
Leave a note on each gift card noting holiday hours. If you produce paper gift cards, a handwritten or typed note works great. For plastic gift cards with a magnetic strip, consider printing special holiday-themed gift cards. This may be a bit more expensive, but the rewards could be worth it.
Checking a gift card balance online offers another opportunity to tout holiday hours. A pop-up message, or verbiage above the blank to input the card number, is an easy way to get the message to customers.
Many restaurants have name tags for employees. Some national chains use pin-on buttons to advertise specials of the week or the month, such as the latest and greatest pasta dish or a fantastic bottle of wine.
Servers, kitchen staff and hosts can all wear buttons that simple say “Open extended hours. Ask me!” Your trained servers should be able to expound upon the extended holiday hours from memory. Much like a retail uptick in hiring for the holidays, servers at your restaurant should appreciate the extra hours, more tips and extra spending money for the holidays. Just make sure you give everyone the hours they want without spreading staff too thin.
Social media is a great way to get the word out, either through Twitter or Facebook. You can set up Twitter posts ahead of time and then release them every day. Facebook takes a little more work, but you have more interaction with that format.
Think about a 30-second YouTube video introducing more hours to your restaurant. Start by appreciating your customers for a successful year, and to celebrate you’re open an extra two hours per day from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. Start these marketing pushes in early November as soon Halloween ends.
Online ordering takes all of this marketing effort and wraps it up into a neat little package. Determine where in the ordering process you want to tout your extended hours. A banner or corner ad on your main menu’s page, with a different color scheme than the rest of the menu, creates a blast of information when your customers first log in.
Clicking on different menu verticals represents another way to present information. A small pop-up can appear for two to three seconds as your menu loads. The pop-up can say “extended holiday hours” and then list the hours. The pop-up doesn’t need to be up very long, and have a scroll that says “Loading selections” on it.
As your customer pays for the order, here is another opportunity to tout holiday hours. This can be simple green or red lettering above the “Pay Now” button or near the credit card information.
The beauty of online ordering occurs when you just set up this kind of system ahead of time and then you don’t have to worry about it. Social media takes more time because you have to monitor your Twitter and Facebook traffic. Printing buttons and training servers also takes time. An online ordering system does all the work for you while saving money.
There are billions of dollars, collectively, waiting to be had in the restaurant industry thanks to online ordering. Join the movement. Let Orders2.me get your online ordering system and menu up and running. You’ll be glad you did.