Valentine’s Day (February 14) will give restaurant revenue a much-needed boost— but how can you turn one night with customers into a rewarding, long-term relationship? Here are five ways to win hearts and wallets.
Most restaurants have their own twist on Valentine’s Day, such as romantic-themed menus and cocktails on the night, plus dimmed lights, candles and music. But there’s much more that brands can do to improve the customer experience, increase sales and turn occasional diners into frequent customers.
Here are three ideas to consider:
#1: Enable order and pay at table
There’s nothing that will “kill the mood” faster for couples than poor service, errors with orders, meals arriving late, or having to hang around at the end, waiting ages to pay. But there’s a danger this will happen if your venue is fully booked and staff are run off their feet.
Table service tech addresses the issue. It equips your team with a handheld device, ordering app and integrated payments. Orders can be taken accurately at the table and then sent to the kitchen in a single click, so chefs typically have around 8-10 minutes extra to prepare food.
Because your team can avoid endlessly returning to the terminal and kitchen, they typically have around 20% more time to spend with guests. That means staff can be more attentive and pick up spontaneous sales of additional items and extra drinks — as well as being on hand to take secure payments on the same device when happy couples wish to head home.
#2: Give out cards and gifts
Romantic couples like gifts and surprises. And occasions such as Valentine’s Day can be a great opportunity to launch a loyalty card or give your existing programme a boost.
But it’s even better if the card you give out includes something special that’s exclusive to your Valentine’s guests that evening. It could come preloaded with a small cash gift towards their next dinner, a free bottle of wine or another special offer — as long as it’s something they’ll recognise as an item of genuine value.
The best restaurant management systems let you create your own rewards schemes or connect easily with some of the market’s most popular programs, such as Como, 5Loyalty, and LoyaltyPlant. You can stay in touch, alerting customers to the latest offers with push notifications.
#3: Delight more customers
If you’re not fully booked already for Valentine’s Day — then it’s worth tipping off your regular diners that you still have a few tables left. But when the last spots are gone, there’s still room to squeeze in a few more patrons.
Consider a lunchtime Valentine’s menu, rather than disappointing people who call up or message you. Also, don’t forget that many customers could be equally delighted with a romantic dinner at home, available for click-and-collect or delivery.
So consider creating a special Valentine’s Day offer for these customers, with some extras included, such as luxury chocolates or a romantic-themed desert. You could even make this deal exclusive to your own website or ordering app — to give them a boost — and spread the word on your social media channels.
Remember, the best restaurant systems will inject your delivered food orders directly into your production pipeline and help you to manage your own drivers too, so you can stay in control.
So how did you do?
Did Valentine’s Day 2022 break records for your independent restaurant or chain, how much champagne was sold, and which dish proved the most popular or profitable?
It’s important to know — and next-generation restaurant tech will give you answers at your fingertips. All the revenue, costs and key performance indicators (KPIs)that matter are available from a system such as iiko. You won’t just imagine you had a great night … you’ll see the numbers on your laptop or through the mobile app, 24/7.
PS: Important dates matter in a marketplace where consumers are increasingly looking for standout experiences. Think ahead for Mother’s Day (the date it’s celebrated varies in different countries) and Father’s Day (dates also vary between countries). St Patrick’s Day (March 17) and other national days of celebration around the world could also present unique opportunities for restaurants.