Black Friday. For American retailers, the day after Thanksgiving can be an exceptionally profitable or nightmarish time of the year, depending on how well managers and staff have planned for the day. From advertising to crowd management, it’s likely the most stressful day of your staff’s year, if you let it become that.
But it’s not just retail shops that should be preparing for Black Friday. Restaurants should also be thinking of ways to profit from the sales rush. Shoppers get hungry, after all; they’ll be eying deals for lunch alongside their other purchases. Taking advantage of the shopping frenzy can mean big business for your restaurant, especially if your location is close to a mall or other busy stores. What follows are five ways you can make the most out of your business’ Black Friday traffic.
Entrée specials can be as simple as offering a special with an attractive price. Putting up signage outside your establishment about the special can be appealing to discount savvy shoppers walking by. If you normally offer power lunch specials on weekdays, why not offer it on Black Friday, too? Or offer Thanksgiving weekend-themed dishes like a Thanksgiving leftover-inspired soup! That kind of tongue-in-cheek special can help you catch shoppers’ eyes. Also, don’t forget appetizer specials – this can be a chance for weary shoppers to treat themselves to a great meal, as well as get the best deals.
A Well-Prepared Staff
Make sure you have enough staff on hand. If you plan to also be open on Thanksgiving, that might mean splitting your staff up between those working Thursday and those working Friday so that everyone has time to spend with their families during the holiday weekend. It’s important to set up a meeting with your entire staff before Thanksgiving to go over the schedule, discuss any special holiday menu items, and explain any changes to procedures compared to a normal shift. In particular, focus on turning over the tables faster if shoppers want to get in and out quickly instead of having a leisurely lunch. Talk to your staff about asking guests if they’re done shopping or just taking a break, what they’re in the mood for, etc. so that the server can suggest items and better accommodate the table. And don’t forget the positives, including how tips typically increase around the holidays, and thank your staff in advance for their hard work during Thanksgiving weekend.
The weekend of Thanksgiving is generally seen as the start to the holiday season. It would make sense that Black Friday shoppers would want to get into the holiday spirit, and for some people exhausted by the shopping rush, that’ll mean getting into holiday spirits. If you have holiday-themed drinks in mind (especially traditional warm drinks), consider introducing them on Black Friday. Hot Toddies, Hot Buttered Rum, or even the often sung about (but rarely tried) Wassail (a warm mulled cider, in case you were wondering) can be fitting additions to your beverage selection during the holidays. If you’re a café or lunch-focused restaurant, non-alcoholic peppermint coffees could also be appropriate to introduce.
Many guests will already be shopping, trying to check off a good portion of their holiday errands in one fell swoop. Offering special deals on gift certificates — an extra $5 to use on their next visit for every $25 in gift certificates you spend, for instance — can be a great way to tempt Black Friday shoppers. That extra $5 will encourage return visits from your guest along with the gift certificate that will bring in their friends or family members. If checks are paid at the cash register, add signage at the counter about your gift certificate options. If checks are paid at the table, it’s not a bad idea to have the servers mention it or include an index card-size advertisement with the check. But don’t forget to make sure your servers are properly trained on how to ring up gift cards purchases so the process goes as smoothly as possible on this busy day.
Social Media Marketing
Many Black Friday shoppers will be keeping an eye out on social media for the best deals leading up to and throughout the day. If you already use social media to promote your restaurant, consider tweeting about your Black Friday specials or put up a post on Facebook late on Thanksgiving evening. Then let your followers know the next morning that you’re welcoming Black Friday shoppers to take a break and eat a good meal. Make sure to mention your hours so the shoppers with tight store-to-store schedules can plan accordingly!
Want some more social media tips for your restaurant? Check out our list of when (and when not) to post: