Christmas is both festive and hectic all at once – follow these nine tips to help give your business a boost during the silly season.

Tie down all the staff you need
Organise your regulars and standby casuals through services such as Sidekicker. What about a special bonus for people who work hard all December? Everyone knows you’re making more money — a thoughtful bonus will create goodwill for the coming months.

Upgrade your booking system
There are excellent reservation systems available that are typically linked to your POS.  At a minimum, have click and pay invoices to collect booking payments. People expect to pay online and get annoyed if the option isn’t available.

Think ‘revenue management’, just like hotels
Maximise revenue on the most popular dates and be mindful of key Fridays and Saturdays in December. Set a minimum spend for rooms or private dining spaces, stay firm and insist on deposits. On low-traffic days, create special deals such as zero room hire fees or a free round of drinks. An empty room provides zero revenue!

Make this the season of list building
Request names, emails, mobile numbers and basic preferences from all new guests — do they want to hear about new menus or special deals? Taking care with how you gather data at the beginning ensures your list is more responsive. Prizes are a great motivator for people to share their details.

Promote vouchers
Restaurant vouchers are an ideal gift for corporate customers or those who can’t decide on a present. Offer a complimentary voucher to bring it to the attention of diners — a $20 card will become part of a larger sale when it’s redeemed. Do you have a gift certificate option on your website?

Sell merchandise
A run of T-shirts or cups with your brand name is an effective way to market your brand for a relatively low cost. They not only make great gifts, but can help spread the word far and wide. Display merchandise close to the counter and direct customers to products when they’re paying. House-made pickles, jams and relishes are popular gifts for customers and are easy for the kitchen to make.

Promote community spirit with a charity donation
Organisations such as World Vision and Oxfam promote gifts such as water, clothing and food to help others. You may like to organise a group donation from your business with an optional customer contribution.

Consider your non-Christian customers
A portion of your customer base may not celebrate Christmas but still want to enjoy time with friends during the end of the year. Be conscious of the language you use.

Run a social media campaign

Create one-day drink or food specials that will draw customers in. Two for one drinks or a free side dish with a main course can make all the difference to an empty venue.

Image credit: Abel & Cole

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