Make time for your Christmas essentials

Posted on In Focus Dec 2011 - by Tandoori Editor
Make time for your Christmas essentials

Christmas is a profit-making time for restaurants, But not everyone gets it right. In his regular page, Ajmal Mushtaq tells us how to make merry!


The third quarter of year in the restaurant calendar is no doubt one of the most important times of year for us restaurant owners. This is the time to capitalise on the reputation you have worked hard to gain all year and take advantage of the extra spending by customers on Christmas works parties, family gatherings and last, but not least, the Christmas Day dinner. 
Despite knowing from fellow restaurateurs that Christmas is a time when you can not only be very busy with bookings that are topped to the hilt but as a result, you can make a decent profit – so many restaurateurs forget what’s best. 
Step back. Take time to think and put your thinking cap on. As this is such an important time of year, it is essential to get the pitch to your customers just right. Not just that, you have to get it right early on and that means you start planning early on – as in several months early. 
In this article of Tandoori, I explain the some of basic steps that Mushtaqs undertook in order to boost sales by 40% and raise the business profile during the Christmas period. The focus should be on creating a targeting plan with a mix of new and traditional ideas and take this to customers as early as possible to make the festive period as profitable as possible.
Christmas Decoration: make a statement
If you are serious about attracting big money this Christmas then it is imperative that your Christmas decor makes a statement. Taking out the 10-year-old tinsel and putting it up in a haphazard way just will not do. Instead, there are plenty of places where you can gain inspiration. For example, expensive retails shops spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on the latest Christmas decor trends. All you need to do is be inspired by their lead.  The current trend is ‘less is more’. This is great as it means you have to buy less, but it means you can afford to spend more on the quality.
Getting the menu just right
Getting the menu right is the next crucial step in attracting additional business during the festive season. The first step is to ensure you have a quality printed menu with professional design – this makes a great first impression. Next, the food – ensure you have a good balance of old favourites and dishes with a modern twist. Taking classics and adding your own modern twist with additional flavours is a great way of making your Christmas menu more interesting. Finally, improvement in the food presentation is a great way of adding the wow factor.  
Have a targeted marketing plan
The best way to take advantage over the competition is to start your Christmas campaigning as early as possible. By mid-October, your promotional activities should have gained full momentum and your marketing should be promoting Christmas parties, lunches and dinners. You should aim for maximum occupancy for the whole of December. A detailed marketing plan, that includes promoting your offering across a number of channels should help you achieve this. 
The perfect Christmas present
One of the most overlooked areas of Christmas sales is gift vouchers as Christmas presents. Last year, Mushtaqs sold £21,000 worth of gift vouchers in the week running up to Christmas. The aim for Mushtaqs was to have quality vouchers, with branded sleeves and a matching envelope. This package not only looks great, but also gives the buyer confidence that they are buying the perfect Christmas present.
Improved customer service
The final piece of the Christmas jigsaw is to ensure that the level of service is enhanced during the festive period. Customer expectations are naturally higher if they paying a higher price for your product so it is essential to raise the service standards in your restaurant. Extra staff as well as dedicated staff for large parties is just one of the ways the service is enhanced. At Mushtaqs, we dedicate one specific person for every eightpeople in a party. For example, a party of 24 will have three dedicated staff who are solely focused on this specific party.  
Maximising sales during the festive period should be a priority for your restaurant. By simply focussing on Christmas essentials, Mushtaqs are able to boost sales around the festive period by 40%. Having given you an insight into the Mushtaqs approach, it is fundamental that you focus on maximising business as well as delivering an outstanding yet valuable experience for your customers. 
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