It's that time of the year again and the catering industry is well into the throes of ensuring that Christmas 2012 is a success.
This year, more than ever, success will depend on understanding your customers' needs. Consumers are looking for value for money without sacrificing the experience when dining out.
Including home-made options on your menus wherever possible is a really simple way to add value to your offer - for instance, buying in cuts of meat to finish with a recipe for your own delicious sauce.
If you are catering for larger groups over the festive period, buffet food can be an excellent way to save yourself time in the kitchen and gives you the opportunity to showcase a range of dishes with minimal fuss. Also, Christmas is the perfect time to upsell your wines, as customers will be looking for recommendations for pairing with food.
Remember, it doesn't stop with the food offering though - ensure that you are also thinking about the atmosphere. Make sure your team are experts on your menus to help deliver an excellent experience and don't forget to give some thought to the decor. The right crockery, crackers and tableware can create a truly special occasion.
Ultimately, you don't want your hard work and preparation to go unnoticed. Your staff can be your best ambassadors so make sure they are briefed on your offer and customer service expectations.
Consider reaching out to your target market through printed flyers, online marketing, a database e-shot or mailout, but also be aware of what your competitors are planning. Any communication should give your customers a reason to choose you over another establishment.
Christa Heydon, product marketing controller, 3663