This article originally appeared in the Gordon Food Service Foodscape publication.
’Tis the season to plan for profitable holidays and beyond. After months of business uncertainty, it’s important to find ways your restaurant can support customers and add revenue.
The unpredictability of labor, costs and supply chain disruption has operators asking, “Is this our new normal? If so, how can we thrive in it?”
The answer is planning, says Angela Zguro, a New England-based Gordon Food Service Business Solutions Specialist. Preparing today makes your business more likely to succeed in future months.
Find new revenue streams
The path to success means rethinking menus and strategy, while still being creative, efficient and profitable. Start by adding revenue streams, such as holiday parties or events as ways to draw customers. More customers equals more money.
“It doesn’t have to be hard,” Zguro says. “Think about what worked well in the past and expand on that practice—use seasonality and local events for inspiration.”
Take the meal-kit concept offered during the pandemic a step further. You can cross-utilize menu items in strategic ways as “experiences to go.”
Create a complete “experience to go” with disposable plates, utensils, napkins and cups along with food and beverages. In fact, takeout/delivery alcohol can become at-home tasting kits or cooking with spirits. The holidays are a great time to impact the ticket average by adding beverages, including non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails or infused soft drinks and water.
You can also profit from marketing. Include your logo wherever possible and offer swag or a coupon that makes the customer want to return. Merchandise—shirts, hats or packaged products like dressings, sauces or spices—appeal to loyal customers.
Even gift cards add up, generating cash flow today and bringing customers back after the holidays. Make gift cards more appealing by offering $5 off for every $50 purchase.
Revenue generating meal kits
Put your spin on these meal kit ideas to boost sales:
- Date night. You assemble the ingredients and provide a recipe to create an interactive experience. Add value with a candle, tablecloth or flowers from a local shop.
- Event in a box. Combine meal or cocktail kits with decorations, trivia cards, music playlists, movie suggestions, etc. Help customers celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or a night with friends.
- Holiday themes. Create a buzz with menu options available only through holiday kits celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve.
Revenue flow and beyond
Building kits around in-house inventory helps revenue flow by limiting ingredients, inventory, waste and training. For the consumer, it offers new choices.
Something as simple as adding a new sauce to a dish can change the experience, says Chef Rachel Mazur, a North Carolina-based Gordon Food Service Culinary Specialist.
“A soup from the lunch menu can become an ingredient in other dishes,” Mazur explains. “A seasonal pumpkin soup can be the base of a pasta sauce, a topping for cheesy potatoes or even a pizza sauce.”
Get your staff involved whenever possible, she urges. “Lots of great ideas come from the front lines, which increases buy-in from the team, thus boosting morale and sales.”
Mazur and Zguro remind operators not to overthink things. It’s all about looking at what your operation does well, then adding a twist. Create a plan, execute it and build revenue while managing challenges.