Restaurant Management: Planning for a Profitable Holiday Season

By Tricia Hoy

The holidays are right around the corner, and your customers are already planning ahead. How do you grab hold of a share of your customers’ squeezed wallets and planned celebrations during this busy season?

According to a survey by Blue Sky Local, 61% of restaurants notice a decline in sales during a seasonal holiday, and the drop can be as much as 20%. That number is staggering, and too important to ignore.

The holiday season isn’t just the month December either; in the months leading up to Christmas, many of your regular customers will be spending their dollars elsewhere. And the doldrums can continue into January as people deal with the bills from their holiday spending. So what can you do to create a profitable holiday when your customers aren’t ordering as usual?

Change it up. Seasonal menu items and catering can be a big draw. Holiday calendars fill up fast with dinner parties, family get-togethers, and staff Christmas parties. Catering such events can be lucrative. Try offering your own party catering to boost profits and include some seasonal items like a Christmas treat pizza or a turkey and cranberry flat bread pizza.

Control costs during slow times with labor controls. Keep an eye on your labor reports in your point of sale system, and schedule accordingly. And throughout each shift, keep a close eye on Labor vs. Sales to determine when to send staff home. Labor is a major operating cost, and right-staffing helps you preserve your profit margin even when sales are down.

SpeedLine user? View our tutorial: Key Labor Reports


Build your own Groupon-style offer. The precautions there still apply, but by creating your own Groupon-style offer, you can eliminate the middleman and keep all the profit. Check out Secrets to running your own Groupon-style promotion for tips on how to be successful, and ways to use social media.

Bonus Tip: This type of offer can make an appealing holiday gift for customers to drive January sales too. Consider packaging the offer like a festive gift certificate.


Deliver. And market that you do. When life is extra hectic, delivery is a convenience most can’t pass up. Create a holiday menu with easy to prepare items that are good value for the budget-conscious, and consider a limited-time free delivery offer during the season. Use the customer database in your point of sale system to market the new campaign. 

Staying profitable when your customers’ wallets are already stretched can be a challenge, but knowing your customers and making strategic changes to your business can help keep your business in the black. How do you battle the holiday season slow times?


Posted by Tricia Hoy

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Tags: restaurant delivery, Restaurant Marketing

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