by Manny Frangiadakis, AIF®, CPFA®, Co-Founder and Principal
Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year to dine out. That means restaurants have a great opportunity to attract new clientele and, if they provide a good experience, give customers a reason to come back. In today’s ultra-competitive world, that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re on a budget. So, how can a restaurant provide a good experience and remain profitable on one of the busiest days of the year? Here are five tips to implement on February 14th:
- Give a single red rose to all parties upon arrival. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that matter, and showing your appreciation to your customers for choosing your venue to spend their special day can go a long way. Find a flower shop a few days in advance and buy an order in bulk (restaurant-size dependent); the bigger the order, the cheaper it will be.
- Make sure you have some sort of décor or theme throughout the restaurant. You don’t have to cover the dining room in red and pink, but provide some sort of ambience. Set the mood for your clientele so they can truly feel that the day is special. This can be achieved by providing romantic background music, some rose petals on the tablecloth and a few extra candles — nothing that would break the bank or take away from profits.
- You can assume you are going to be dealing with a variety of clients spending different amounts. You want to know an easy way to lock-in profits and keep production levels high on such a busy evening? Offer a prix fixe menu in addition to your regular menu. For a certain price, offer your clients a bottle of champagne, an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. You will give those individuals that cannot afford the most expensive items on the menu a wonderful experience, and improve turnover time in the kitchen by being able to create items in bulk.
- One of the worst things a restaurant can do is make their clients feel rushed. Even though it is one of the busiest evenings of the year and, profit-wise, you’re hoping for high turnover numbers, make sure your wait staff understands that they cannot pressure clients to rush through their meals. This evening is just as much about the experience as it is about just getting something to eat, maybe even more. Let your clients determine when they are finished with their appetizers or entrees and when they’re ready to move on to the next course. Word of mouth travels fast, especially in this day and age, and you want what’s said about your business to be a positive.
- Last but not least, there will be plenty of couples who go out to dinner quite often, and Valentine’s Day might actually be more special for them spent in the comfort of their own homes. That does not necessarily mean that they want to be the ones doing the cooking. Make sure you allow for the option of takeout business; every order matters when it comes to profits, and you don’t want that business going elsewhere.