How to Cater to the Holiday Rush at Your Restaurant During the Festive Season

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Rush

The year’s last holiday season, i.e., the Christmas and New Year are one of the most-awaited and well-celebrated occasions of the year. While people are eager to rush into hotels and restaurant with their loved ones to celebrate, restaurants, on the other hand, are one of the busiest places with the entire staff hurrying to get their duties done quickly. Though the holiday rush is likely to give your restaurant revenue and profits a surge, it can be extremely disappointing for your customers if they are not given fine services amidst all the hustle, and disappointed customers are the worst you could have for your restaurant, especially during the festive season. Read on to find out how to prepare your restaurant and manage holiday rush in restaurants.

Empower Your Restaurant Beforehand to Cater to the Holiday Rush

Fulfilling customer demands during the holiday rush should be your priority. To ensure that you are buckled-up for the holiday rush, here are the following things you need to take care of beforehand.

1. Sales Forecasting

The first thing that you need to do to prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush is to do the sales forecasting. Based on the number of customers you expect to visit your restaurant, you can make the rest of the decisions. One way to do this is to refer to last year’s sales report and analyze the historical data. If you want to do the forecast from scratch, apply this formula:

No of Tables x No of Seat x Average Ticket Size x Table Turn= Sales Forecast

Estimate the number of customers you’re expecting during a busy night and the table turnover. Also, keep an eye on the stock consumption. ‘Sorry, we’re out of this dish’ is a major turnoff for customers. Thus, it is advisable that you use a robust Inventory Management System that sends alerts and reminders whenever a particular stock item is about to be finished.

2. Hiring Seasonal Staff

Come December and the restaurants automatically see an upsurge in the number of customers. Especially towards the end of the year, when children and most adults are enjoying their winter vacations, people go out to enjoy and spend time with their family and friends. The Christmas Eve and the New year eve implies that you can expect a huge rush at your restaurant. The guests are likely to be more than on any of the regular days, which means that you might have to hire additional staff to manage the additional customers. If the service at your restaurant slows owing to your wait staffs’ inefficiency during the rush, it can blight the entire customer experience and ruin your brand’s image. Therefore, consider hiring seasonal staff to help you manage holiday rush in restaurants.

You should consider the demand by also determining the holiday plans of your customers. For instance, if your restaurant is located near a college campus, you should determine if the footfalls at your restaurant will drop due to the college shutting down. In such cases, hiring seasonal staff is not necessary, but if you have a restaurant located in an upscale market where people are likely to come from all around the places, outsourcing staff should be there in your game plan.

3. Handling Leave Requests and No-shows of your Employees

To manage the busy night, you need an army of staff with you. However, some of your restaurant staff could be looking for leaves or come up with emergency leave requests that might be difficult to approve. To prevent such a situation, ensure that you have already created the leave schedule for your staff before the festive season so that you know how you are going to manage work. Communicate clear expectations and instill a similar team mentality, so that your employees understand what is expected out of them. Do not hesitate to let your employees know of the pay-cut in case they plan to flee from work. You can also pay some bonus to your staff if it seems that there can be heavy traffic in your restaurant.
In case there is a request for emergency leave or other leave requests, instead of disapproving the leave requests and having disgruntled employees work, hire the required seasonal staff from a reliable source.

4. Managing the Restaurant Space

More people means a lesser space. If your restaurant can accommodate 50-60 people, and you have ten extra people standing outside your restaurant on a new year’s eve, requesting for a seat, it would be unpleasant to deny service to customers. While this is not a comfortable situation to have control over, if possible, you can try to create more seating space at your restaurant. You could perhaps change the seating layout, so that space could be created for a few extra tables to prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush.
Table reservations should be promoted in advance so that you know the expected crowd and customers don’t just turn up without booking for their tables. In case you do have to make your customers wait for a table, make sure you tell them the expected wait-time.

5. Preparing for Chaos

During the festive season, people are generally in a mood to celebrate, and customers tend to get rowdy after a couple of drinks. This is especially true in the case of restaurants and bars that host special events and parties. In such scenarios, be prepared for any disorder at your restaurant. A drunk customer can become unruly and disrupt the ambiance. You should prepare for such instances beforehand when you prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush. Thus it is always suggested to hire a few bouncers for the special events. This will help in fulfilling customer demands during the holiday rush without them having to face any issues.

how to prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush aditi dugar

Restaurant Promotion Ideas to Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Rush

The festive season also brings broader opportunities for you to establish a more significant connection with your customers and create a brand image they would like to be associated within the coming year. As the holiday season brings plentiful opportunities to market your restaurant, let us look at some interesting ways for the holiday promotion.

1. Decorate your Restaurant

There are so many ideas available for Christmas and New Year decorations that you can not miss out on your restaurant decor. Make sure your restaurant decoration is visible from outside, hence, decorate the restaurant entrance exceptionally well. Light up your restaurant, put up a Christmas tree, keep free Christmas muffins on all the tables and create a festive ambiance so that customers like the ambiance of your restaurant as soon as they enter the restaurant.

2. Use Your CRM Well 

As a part of your customer loyalty program, you can call or send texts to people who were there in the last New Year’s guest list. Contact them to ask if they would like to visit your restaurant this time around as well. All customers will love a warm invitation. This is an interesting way to customer relationship management and is bound to create a better rapport with your existing customers for customer retention.
You can also equip various loyalty offers to attract new as well as your last year’s customers.

Festive greetings should also be extended to your restaurant family which is incomplete without your customers. You can greet your customers over texts and email, and further invite them to your restaurant for the festive celebrations. Apart from expecting your clients to turn up at your restaurant, it also creates a good customer relationship and results in higher customer loyalty.  

3. Create New Menu Specials

Have unique dishes like steaks, roasts, fondues, caramel tarts, shallots, prawns, cakes, cookies and mulled wine in your restaurant menu. You can also create a separate Christmas and New Year special section in the menu. Find out how to create a restaurant menu design that maximizes your sales here.

4. Organize an Event as a Part of your Restaurant Party

Special nights are proven to attract crowds, and what better for a new year eve! You can also schedule special celebratory nights for every day for a week until the year’s end. Special musical nights and events are a fascinating way to captivate customers, as they promise to be socially exciting and fun-filled for people in the celebration mood and must always be included in your plan to prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush.

5. Gift Coupons and Freebies

The festive season is also a season of gifting, where various gifts are exchanged between families and friends. With changing times, there has also been a change in the overall gifting activities.
Shopping and gifting vouchers are the trending gifting options now, as they provide greater flexibility and options to the receiver.
You can have dining coupons at your restaurant as a gifting option in different denominations. The validity of the gifts cards should be longer, and special loyalty programs could be further added to gift cards.

Everyone loves receiving things that come free. Giving a Christmas cake at the time of billing or offering free wine to customers with their meal is like your Christmas gift to your customers. Try out these tips and prepare your restaurant for the holiday rush to make it the most profitable time of the year!

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Prachi is the Marketing Manager at Restroworks. In her current capacity, she establishes connections with key stakeholders in the F&B industry and serves as the host of The Restaurant Times talk show, "F&B Talks," tailored for the restaurant sector. With hands-on experience in international sales and marketing, Prachi has led initiatives in the LATAM and USA regions, contributing to the platform's global outreach.


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