How to Survive Christmas Part Two: The Customer Experience

By Jennifer Coles    Date released:  19th November 2013

The Christmas season is already underway, and with any luck, you'll already have lots of bookings!

Hopefully, your advertising is getting people through the door, and all that's left is to make sure they have a great time when they arrive.

Something New

Christmas is a time when many people treat themselves, so make sure you've got plenty of luxury options on your menu. Consider adding additional fine wines and spirits.

When stocking up on catering supplies, you might want to add in options such as Aberdeen Angus Whole Fillet of Beef or Chef's Larder Premium Luxury Duck Liver Paté with Orange and Cognac Liqueur.

Generate excitement by offering new branded lines (such as Smirnoff Gold) and new cocktail recipes. You could offer optional add-ons (e.g.'Add a glass of Prosecco to your meal for just £4').

Value for Money

Whilst merry customers are unlikely to be watching the pennies as closely, it's still important that everything you offer is great value.

Scout out the local competition- what prices are they offering for Christmas? Make sure you beat them or offer better quality.

Great Service

Catering for Christmas parties can be challenging. You are likely to have large volumes of people, who may be drunk and rowdy or emotional!

It's a good idea to get as much information as possible as soon as someone rings up to book a table for an office Christmas party. Get accurate numbers, ask them to preorder from a set menu, and make sure you ask if there are any special dietary requirements. This will allow you to prepare thoroughly.

When customers arrive, set a tone of good service from the minute they walk through the door. Greet them warmly, quickly find their booking, and take them to be seated. If there's a delay getting them to their table, consider offering complimentary snacks.

From here on in, it's all about fast, efficient service, and personal touches. Ensure you have plenty of waiting staff, full capacity in the kitchen, and don't overbook your restaurant. Train your staff to deal with complaints quickly and graciously.

Create a positive experience by offering something different, whether you serve complimentary 'amuse bouche' between courses, or have a waiter set the Christmas Pudding alight on each table, creating theatre.

Jolly January

One great way to treat your customers is to offer them a voucher for a discounted meal during January. This is likely to go down very well, as consumer finances are stretched after Christmas, and it will also help to keep your restaurant full.

Even better, if your customers have a great time with you at Christmas, then return during January, it will encourage a sense of loyalty.

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