How to Use Promotions to Increase Sales During the Holidays

They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but that’s not always the case for restaurants.

With so much focus on retail shopping, it’s not uncommon for restaurants to actually see a decline in sales this time of year. Sure, there will always be holiday parties and catering orders, but it makes sense that many consumers—in the height of the holiday shopping season—are looking to cut spending in any way possible. Unfortunately, this could mean less takeout and less weekend dinners out with friends.

With a little planning and preparation, however, it’s possible for your business to get more customers in the door than ever this holiday season. We’ve done our research, and if there’s one thing that consumers are looking for this time of year, it’s a discount. As a restauranteur, this probably isn’t your favorite word, but hear us out; when implemented the right way, offering discounted items is more of a gain than a loss.

Why promotions work 

As consumers, we’re driven towards sales—and we just can’t help it. Studies show that receiving discounts actually makes us happier, and more than 40% of consumers admit they can’t resist making a purchase when discounts are involved. If this information is applicable all year round, you can imagine just how important it becomes during the holiday season—a time when consumers are spending the most. Being able to apply a small discount towards a meal makes dining out much more affordable and probable during this time.

So, what’s in it for you? If making your customers happy just isn’t enough, you might be pleased to hear that consumers tend to spend $10-$50 more than anticipated when redeeming a coupon. With proper targeting and promotion of your discounts, your business can gain lots of attention—resulting in more sales than usual, with much higher check sizes.

Ideas for getting started

Coming up with promotions might seem easy enough, but more often than not, we’re asked “What should I be offering?” or “When should I run my promotion?” We’ve highlighted some of our favorite ideas below that can be implemented by any business.

1. Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and beyond

Regardless of if you will be open or closed on Thanksgiving, it might be wise to go with the trends and offer a Black Friday themed promotion to make up for potential lost sales this week. There’s a pretty good chance that your competition will be offering some sort of promotion during this time also, so make sure you’ve got something to bring to the table too.

Our recommendation: Use the Promotion Generator to create a promo code for customers to use when ordering online. Allow the code to be redeemed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving all the way until the following Wednesday to cater towards your busy customers who just don’t want to do any more cooking—and will be sick of leftovers by Saturday!

2. Seasonal sports

In most parts of the country, the holidays and football just go together. If it’s not football in your area, it could be hockey, basketball, or something else—regardless, chances are pretty great that there’s a following for some sort of sport in your area, and we’d bet your customers probably all have one thing in common; they love watching the game on a comfy couch with friends, family, and food. Consider running a special takeout promo for your guests to redeem on game days exclusively.

Our recommendation: Offer 10% your entire takeout menu with code GAMEDAY10 when customers spend at least $30. You can also limit the promo to just certain menu items, like wings, sliders, spinach dip, etc.

 3. In-house exclusive events

Have you ever walked into a store and been given the chance to spin a wheel for a discount, or maybe you were handed a scratch-off that revealed an irresistible sale? This is a tactic that’s extremely successful in retail, and works in a restaurant setting too.

Our recommendation: Start by posting about this special holiday offer on social media to make your customers aware and get them in the door. Assemble your envelopes with various discounts—10% off, 20% off, 30% off, buy one entrée get one free—whatever you’d like to offer! After your customers pay for their meals, hand them a special tiny envelope with a mystery discount inside that goes towards their next online or in-house purchase. This way, you’ve gotten someone to make 2 purchases they might not have typically made.

4. Social media contests

Running contests on social media is another great way to get more eyes on your business too—especially when the lucky winner is given a prize. Create a contest of sorts on your social pages by asking followers to ‘like’ your photo and join your mailing list for a chance to win the prize of your choice.

Our recommendation: Since there is only 1 winner here, you’ll want to offer something pretty exclusive so that you get as many people to join your mailing list as possible. Consider something like a gift basket with gift cards and goodies from local businesses in your area, or take it to the next level and partner up with a local hotel for a romantic getaway for 2.

Additional tips for your promotions

  • Consumers are more likely to redeem promotions that seem to be exclusive to just them. For greater success, try sending personalized promotions to a segmented part of your email list. If you collect emails through Wi-Fi and can track the number of times your guests visit, try sending a promo to your most loyal customers—those who have visited 3-4 times in one month, for example.
  • If you’re not sure how much of a discount you can offer, take a look at your profit margin on each item for a better idea. An item that costs $3 to make would of course be much wiser to discount than something that costs you $8 to make.
  • Offering discounts can take some trial and error before you figure out what works best for your business—and that’s OK. Run an A/B test with 2 different promotions ($5 off $30 vs 15% off $30) on the same group of people to see which promo is redeemed more.
  • When are your slow hours throughout the day or week? Restrict your promotions to be used during these times only to encourage more people to order when they normally wouldn’t.

So, what promotions will you offer this holiday season to increase sales? Already have something in place? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

If you’re not already using our Promotion Generator and want to see how it works, reach out to us today.


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