Mother’s Day, the busiest day of the year for the restaurant industry, is almost upon us. The annual salute to Mom can be a highly profitable (and stressful) affair for restaurant workers and managers everywhere.
The FoodTender team have all been there. We’ve worked on the front lines serving, cooking, and managing our way through several Mother’s Days over the years.
So, in an effort to help with this year’s onslaught, we’ve combed the web to collect a few ideas for making this year’s event a smashing success for your establishment.
If you’re offering the usual menu on Mother’s Day, you run the risk of losing those customers looking for something a little different for that special occasion. This is the time to run a special feature.
Decide on your special and start promoting it both inside the restaurant and outside. If you have an email newsletter, Mother’s Day needs its own edition. Spread the word across your social media accounts, update your website with relevant content (perhaps a blog post), and add a memo to the bottom of your receipts. Use every channel at your disposal to make sure frequent guests know yours is the place to be on Mom’s special day.
Many restaurateurs recommend going with a smaller menu for this occasion. The key is to focus on something that makes it simple for the kitchen to put out quality dishes in the timeliest manner. On the single busiest day of the year, try to streamline your offerings in order to take at least some of the heat off your kitchen.
A smaller menu for the day also allows the back-of-house to prep efficiently. Focus on a few easy-to-prepare dishes, like fresh salads, and simple appetizers. Try not to offer a special feature that puts focus on one particular station of your kitchen. This is inefficient on the best of days; it could prove downright catastrophic with Mother’s Day’s increased traffic.
Treat Mom Like a Queen
If you’re serious about making a good impression with Mom you’ve got to go above and beyond. A great meal and friendly service is very important, however, on this holiday, you need to take your guest experience to the next level.
Consider any of the following specials for moms:
- Free dessert
- Complimentary bar drink
- Chocolates after the meal
- Gift Cards and/or flowers
Depending on budget, you could consider hiring entertainment for the day. If you go this route, keep in mind volume and noise levels; not everyone enjoys live music while they dine. And be sure that whomever you hire to perform (bands, kids entertainer, etc) does not require much of your management’s time. You don’t need distractions taking management’s eyes off your guests.
Don’t Forget About the Kids
Where there are mothers there are children. So, be sure you’re prepared for an increase in younger guests. Few things make for an unsatisfying dining experience like a slew of unhappy, restless kids. It may be Mom’s day in the spotlight, but be sure to keep the junior diners happy as well.
Now is the time to make sure your toy box is stocked and ready to roll. Crayons and children’s placemats should be fully-stocked as well. If you’ve got extra high chairs and booster seats in storage, now would be a good time to dust them off and get them out.
The worst thing you could do is create excessive wait times, so don’t overbook. Management needs to be very hands on with the reservation book. Make sure you’ve got well-communicated limits on how many guests you’ll serve at what time. And make sure managers and hosts know when to stop taking reservations.
Keeping parties waiting, specifically those with reservations, is a recipe for disaster.
Consider holding set seating times to avoid this hassle. For example at brunch book tables for 11:00, 12:00, and 1:00, etc. It may be worthwhile to limit large parties.
Make the Wait Bearable
If people do have to wait to be seated, do what you can to alleviate boredom. See if you can free up extra seating in the bar area. Some restaurants prep some extra appetizer samples to be distributed in the waiting area. It’s a great excuse to push a new appetizer.
This one’s simple enough: make sure you have plenty of staff on to keep up with the day’s traffic. Also, be sure the Mother’s Day staff is made up of your A Team – the cream of your crop. If you’ve got brand new staff on, let them bus tables, serve as extra dishwashers, or help with expediting.
If you’ve created special features and new menu items for the day, be sure serving staff are able to discuss the particulars with guests. This goes back to starting your prep as early as you can. Be sure to have a quick pre-shift meeting with all staff before open and/or before the next rush.
Do Something For Your Staff
You should absolutely consider doing something special for your team. Remember, they’re spending a large chunk of their Sunday away from their own mothers and families. Free staff meals, free drinks (after close of course), small gifts. Whatever you can think of. And whatever you do, don’t forget about the mothers on staff.
Create a Great Guest Experience
Finally, here’s the part where we drop in a quick plug for another one of our posts, Create a Great Customer Service Experience in Your Restaurant. Maybe give that one a read before Mom arrives.
NOTE: A version of this post originally appeared on FoodTender.com’s Strategy Blog.