One in ten people plan to dine out during Thanksgiving (probably to avoid the hassle of cooking). Others will rely on catering or boxed Thanksgiving meals for celebrations at home or at the office. That’s why Thanksgiving marks the beginning of holiday marketing for many restaurant operators, who have more chances than ever to capture business.
As Boston Market discovered, you can drive catering sales simply by offering Thanksgiving meals and sides to customers who need culinary assistance. “People…have less time now to plan Thanksgiving, and they are looking for solutions,” Boston Market CEO George Michel explained to Business Insider. “We provide a solution to busy people, and people who are nervous, or under a lot of stress. Cooking a turkey and presenting it to a group of 12—that is a lot of stress,” Michel added. People are so hungry for a solution to Thanksgiving that Boston Market’s holiday catering makes up 8 percent of its sales.
Even if you don’t have the time (or budget) for a major marketing push leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, there are simple changes you can make to your menu and marketing efforts to drive sales.
1. Design Thanksgiving Catering Packages
Design Thanksgiving carryout or catering packages that save people time in the kitchen. Tailor your offerings to the needs of your customer base. If you cater to the corporate crowd, for example, consider offering a mouthwatering Thanksgiving buffet fit for an office party. Or, if you’re targeting your regular diners, box up your most festive mains, sides, or desserts and have them ready to go. Better yet, offer to deliver the meals directly to their doorstep. Help your customers remove the inconveniences of cooking a Thanksgiving meal by doing some of the work for them.
2. Get the Word Out
Run a promotion throughout November to help get the word out about your upcoming Thanksgiving offers. Send every carryout or catering order out the door with a discount offer for your Thanksgiving catering packages. If you’re offering a traditional sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, encourage your customers to nab those tickets early. You can even promote your catering packages on ezCater to drive Thanksgiving sales.
3. Amp Up Your Fall Flavors
Diners love fall flavors. (Why do you think Starbucks’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is such a phenomenon?) Consider how you can use fall flavors in your own menu—and how scarcity might promote more sales for your restaurant. Make sure customers know they can only get your famed cranberry orange scones, or your charred sweet-potato tacos, by ordering from your Thanksgiving menu—and that you plan to run out of supplies quickly.
Wondering how to promote your restaurant on social media during Thanksgiving without getting lost in the noise? Use your social media platforms to highlight what your restaurant is grateful for. Maybe you’re a mission-driven café that only uses locally sourced ingredients, or maybe you’ve always had a meaningful partnership with another local organization. Demonstrate gratitude for the customers who connect with your mission, to inspire the warm, fuzzy feelings during a busy and often stressful time of year. And encourage your customers to share what they’re grateful for, too. They’ll remember that positive feeling when it comes time to place that big catering order.
5. Give Back
Encourage your staff to get into the spirit of the season. Use a percentage of your profits from a special Thanksgiving menu item—or from the weeks leading up to the holiday—to give back to a local organization that complements your own mission or brand. Highlight the partnership in your marketing materials online and around your restaurant. Your customers will appreciate that you’re giving back to the community. They may even want to help by ordering more catering!
Marketing a restaurant can be a challenge without the right support. Learn about how ezCater can help you grow your business.