Love is in the Air…

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. And there is nothing couples love to do more is celebrate this day of love by dining out.

As the second busiest day in the restaurant industry, it is important to promote your restaurant as the Valentine’s Day choice. If you are trying to compete with other local restaurants and just need that “something extra” to win people over, or if you simply feel that Valentine’s Day is just not your thing, here are a few ways that you can increase your sales:

Offer freebies. Everyone loves freebies! These do not have to be elaborate – perhaps a glass of Champagne, a single rose for the women, a complimentary dessert, or a small box of chocolates to take home. It’s the gesture that counts here – and there are many that will make your customers feel special.

Raffle off prizes. For something a little more exciting, you might consider a raffle. Prizes can be as simple as one lucky couple getting dinner on the house, a free round of drinks, or a coupon to return for dinner along with movie tickets. Just remember to consider the atmosphere that you’re trying to create. You may want to give everyone the option of being involved, or you may want to politely let one couple know that they’ve won as they receive their check – the same idea can be implemented in multiple different ways.

Augment your menu. If your restaurant is not a fine dining establishment, then you may have trouble attracting a Valentine’s Day crowd. Sure, your regular business is doing fine, but burgers, sandwiches and other finger foods may not be the desired romantic dinner menu. Valentine’s Day may be the perfect time to offer a fancier, one-day prix fixe menu or special. You can even go so far as to have a local musician playing romantic background music to complement your new menu. With all of the finer dining establishments filling to capacity with reservations, you are providing a viable option to those that are more comfortable in your restaurant. Small changes in your usual décor and lighting (especially the inclusion of candles) can help create a romantic environment.

Think outside the box. Let’s say you are a quick-serve restaurant or a specialty bar, and Valentine’s Day is just not your niche. Instead of trying to compete, why not appeal to singles, families, or the anti-Valentine’s Day group? There are plenty of fun ways to promote an “Un-Valentine’s Day” through offers such as food discounts or specialty drinks. A fun family Valentine’s evening with games and prizes is perfect for families with children and no sitter. This kind of playful attitude may just win you some return customers.

Promote gift cards. According to National Restaurant Association research, restaurant gift cards were the #1 most desired gift for men, beating out cologne, clothing and chocolate. Whether you are trying to get guests to dine with you on the actual holiday or not, there is still money to be made through gift cards. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! Promote gift cards on the tables, around the common areas in your restaurant, and on your social media sites.

Boost to-go sales. Even though Valentine’s Day is a huge day for restaurants, there are a lot of people who just are not willing to face the crowds, or who prefer a romantic evening at home. Couple themed take-out is a great way to appeal to this crowd. Promote specials such as “dinner for two” or “free shared dessert” with two adult meals.

Don’t miss out on this multi-billion-dollar holiday. Cupid or not, it is not too late to start promoting your restaurant as the Valentine’s Day choice.

Jennifer Day

Jennifer Day has over 16 years of experience in the marketing and communications field. Before joining the Ctuit Software marketing team, Jennifer previously worked at a major telecom company and was in marketing communications for a major point of sales (POS) manufacturer and software provider. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge on POS technologies, software and back office systems and the understanding of how they all work together to create a seamless customer experience while increasing profitability.