The holiday season is a time of celebration and joy; it’s also a season of increased consumer spending. However, beneath the glittering lights and bustling ambiance lies a different reality for the restaurant industry. From snowballing customer expectations to increased operational cost pressures, operators are facing a delicate balancing act during this time—striving to deliver exceptional experiences while managing the characteristic challenges that come with the surge in demand.

We connected with Jenny Companion, VP of Consulting Operations at The Fifteen Group, to explore what’s at stake and how the industry can become more prepared to cater to the season’s influx of demand.

A Look Back and Ahead to the Holiday Season

The dining landscape has witnessed fluctuations in consumer behaviour. The initial excitement of returning to restaurants post-lockdown has dwindled, with luxury dining and travel experiencing a decline. Businesses are now faced with the task of adapting to these shifts and ensuring that their offerings align with changing consumer preferences.

According to Companion, the restaurant industry has faced unprecedented challenges in recent times, with the ebb and flow of COVID-19 impacting everything from sales to operational strategies. She says, “Despite having or receiving financial assistance, many restaurants haven’t adapted their models effectively, ultimately becoming their own enemy and leading their businesses to financial troubles in the near future.”

Preparing for the Holiday Season

With the holiday season on the horizon, the focus shifts to strategies for success during this crucial period. The season offers both challenges and opportunities for restaurant owners. Reflecting on the previous year’s performance, understanding what worked well, and identifying areas for improvement are crucial steps. “Planning early for holiday promotions, events, and menus is essential, with a focus on effective cost management and strategic promotion. This can help in making informed adjustments to drive sales and profitability,” Companion emphasises.

Companion outlined some of the key strategies to help the restaurant industry.

Inventory Management and Operational Efficiency

A recurring challenge in the industry is efficient inventory management. Establishments that fail to conduct regular inventories risk financial losses and operational inefficiencies. A proactive approach, including the use of technology and regular assessments, can significantly enhance operational efficiency.

Careful Costing of Offerings

One critical aspect often overlooked is the meticulous costing of offerings. Businesses should resist the temptation to offer discounts indiscriminately, especially during the holiday season when consumer spending tends to be higher. Detailed planning, recipe costing, and early promotion are essential to ensure a profitable and successful holiday season.

Staffing Strategies

Staffing during the holiday season demands a strategic approach. Recognizing the efforts of the team through incentives, rewards, or thoughtful gestures can boost morale. Additionally, businesses should address staffing shortages well in advance, leveraging both traditional and innovative recruitment methods.

Utilising Social Media for Marketing

In the digital age, social media plays a pivotal role in marketing. While professional management services exist, businesses can also empower their staff to contribute to social media efforts. Platforms like Instagram can be powerful tools for promoting holiday specials and engaging with customers.

Foodbuy is positioned to help you execute your plan

A strategic and forward-thinking approach is paramount in these times. Restaurants can position themselves for success by leveraging the expertise of consultative services that can provide valuable insights and actionable strategies to thrive in a competitive market. That is why Foodbuy is forming strategic partnerships with organisations like The Fifteen Group.

The Fifteen Group is a leading hospitality consulting agency, with over two decades of expertise in crafting concepts, creating indelible experiences, and building profitable operations for new and existing restaurants. They provide practical recommendations with a focus on increasing sales and optimization. The Group’s consultants serve as a valuable resource for those navigating the complexities of the restaurant industry.

For close to a decade, Foodbuy has been helping operators save money through strategic procurement solutions. Foodbuy’s aim is to provide a wide range of procurement and professional services to support operators’ overall business needs, including staffing, marketing, technology, insurance, furniture solutions and more. By partnering with organisations such as The Fifteen Group, Foodbuy is delivering on its promise to empower operators to gain more competitive costs and operational insights.

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