Delivery can help make up for cash shortages after the holidays.

Can Delivery Save Your Restaurant from the After-Holiday Hangover?

This strategy can help operators manage leaner months

The holiday season can prove to be highly profitable for restaurateurs. In fact, last year, the National Restaurant Federation expected restaurant spending in excess of $709 billion. With the steady flow of your usual customers, most casual and fine dining restaurants will also see an increase in private events.

Holiday shoppers lining the city streets and malls will naturally stop to eat (or indulge in adult beverages) while doing all of their holiday shopping. These ‘walk-ins’ bring additional revenue to restaurants unlike any other time of the year. During the holiday season, reported foot traffic spikes can be as high as 400 percent when measured across multiple retailers in different geographical locations. Unfortunately for the restaurant industry, an establishment’s ability to survive is all too often based on their ability to pull through the bad financial times.

How Does a Restaurant Survive the Post-Holiday Hangover?

If you talk to most consultants or read any industry blog, they are all going to suggest “smart marketing.” Giving your customers extra incentive to come visit your restaurant is great, but not really thinking outside of the box.

Another idea that is always floated around the hospitality industry is decreasing hours for the slow months of January and February. Decreasing in restaurant dining during these post-holiday hangover months can save a lot of money on labor and overhead.

But what about extending your delivery hours and marketing to loyal customers providing information about your delivery program? In states with cold, harsh winters, the days are short and your customers’ patience is even shorter, so offering them an option to enjoy their food in the comfort of their own home is a must. According to the National Restaurant Association, 60 percent of adults say they'd likely take advantage of delivery to their homes or offices if limited-service restaurants offered it. This sentiment is reiterated by,stating that during the cold winter months, customers might feel less compelled to travel to restaurants for a meal, especially if they are dealing with snow, ice, or freezing temperatures. Fewer customers trigger half-empty restaurants and a decline in food sales. By contrast, a restaurant that offers quick delivery may experience a constant flow of business because customers are able to order by phone or online and have meals delivered to their homes.

But Wait, There’s More

Most customers are now ordering online, which saves the added restaurant cost of print and postage to remind diners that the local restaurant can deliver their favorite foods directly to their front door. Customers want the appearance of a tech savvy restaurant when it comes to ordering food so ensuring that your online ordering platform and digital marketing are aligned is the key to getting over the post-holiday restaurant hangover. TheNational Restaurant Associationstates that the availability of technology options is an important factor when choosing a restaurant for nearly one-third of all adults and more than 40 percent of millennials.

Decreasing a restaurant’s dining hours is an obvious move in cost-saving. But did you know offering a delivery option during the slow post-holiday months is not only good for your establishment’s bottom line, but can also add a little extra money to your employees’ pockets? With the obvious increase in deliveries, your delivery personnel will see a natural increase in pay because of the larger volume of orders.

Your consumers will also be appreciative of the delivery person making that trip during the cold winter months. On average, employees who go on deliveries during the winter are tipped higher. Last year during the snow storm in January, New York City delivery people saw an increase of 9 percent in tips, according to CNN Money, compared to the city's year-round average. In Boston, tips rose 6 percent during the February 2 blizzard and gratuities jumped 12 percent in Chicago during the February 1 storm.

The only cure for the post-holiday hangover is to drive down bottom line costs by decreasing overheads, all while increasing top line profits by expanding your delivery service. Be sure to include an online option since the majority of your customers are looking for a tech savvy restaurant delivery solution. Increasing delivery options will also add a little extra cash for your team members, keeping them motivated during the cold winter months. 

Brian Duncan

Brian Duncan has over 12 years in the restaurant industry beginning his career in college working every job from dishwasher to server. Brian went on to work in food and beverage consulting focusing on international chains and consumer products. During his time consulting, Brain focused on creating efficiencies by using technology. Brian’s background paved the way to multiple tech startups, including Chowly Inc., where he now serves as co-founder and board member and is primarily focused on business development, sales, and marketing. Follow @Chowly_inc on Twitter.

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