As the holidays approach, our guests will be in a more festive mood. They smile wider, laugh louder and spend bigger. Take advantage of this “goodwill towards men” by offering more selections from the bar. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors in recent years, alcohol sales have been on the wane. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but fewer tables are enjoying the trifecta of pre-meal cocktails, wine with dinner, and a Cognac afterwards. “The business world just ain’t what it used to be” is a common lament among the old-timers on staff. That trend reverses some as we get into the holiday season. Guests are frequently dining with their families, many from distant parts, or with colleagues, celebrating the past year’s successes.
Few things say celebration like Champagne, and although it’s not quite New Year’s Eve yet, it can often be a great way to get a table in a celebratory mood. Specialty cocktails, be they innovations on classics or whimsical incorporations of seasonal ingredients and flavors, are another way to get your guest’s experience headed in the right direction.
Because people are already spending more money than they do the rest of the year, it is easier to piggyback on their elevated spirit and have your staff use both upselling and add-on selling techniques on the food and beverage side of the menu. Get extra side dishes on the table; convince them to upgrade their entrees. Now we are not saying to be pushy, but do educate your staff on persuasive methods for selling some of the big ticket wines that might gather dust after the holidays. Make sure they have the training to get your heavy hitters out of the cellar and onto the table. After all, a special occasion warrants a special bottle!
Also, after dinner drinks and desserts can provide a final boost to your check averages. If everyone is in a good mood, enjoying the company of their companions, they don’t want it to end. Encourage them to linger a bit longer over a Cognac or a specialty coffee or perhaps a delight from the pastry kitchen; folks who might otherwise demur are more likely to indulge this time of year. The holidays are always the busiest time of year for those of us in the restaurant business. Why not push the check average a bit–and make them the most profitable as well?