Despite widespread festivity and cheer, the holidays are not a welcome time of year for some restaurants. Many families spend time together cooking at home during cooler months instead of venturing out and spending money on a meal prepared for them.

In fact, restaurant revenue has declined 22-45% during the post-Thanksgiving holiday period in the past few years. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for your restaurant, though.

Thanx Inc. CEO Zach Goldstein notes that despite the revenue drop during the holiday season, “restaurants that successfully combat the downturn focus on retaining existing customers.”

With the help of a POS system, restaurants can improve the customer experience and cut down on costs to survive the holiday slump.

Here are a few ways POS systems help restaurants to get the most out of the post-Thanksgiving period:


Staff Appropriately

Insights from a POS system can help restaurateurs make more informed staffing decisions during revenue lows. Data collected from the previous holiday season show the number of waiters, bartenders and kitchen staff necessary to run the restaurant efficiently.

During the winter, scale back the number of staff members to reduce labor costs. Fewer employees scheduled also means more tables and potential money for those that are working.

This will have a direct effect on the customer experience – incentivized servers often give better service to their customers.


Amp Up Marketing and Promotions

The holiday slump is the perfect time to test out marketing or promotional outreach efforts. Restaurant POS systems provide information about popular holiday menu items that could be used for a promotional event.

POS data can also be put to use for marketing efforts. After determining which companies or individuals hosted a holiday party at your restaurant in past years, reach out to see if they would also like to schedule an event for the coming year.

Customers will appreciate that you value their business and are actively fostering the relationship.


Prepare a Seasonal Menu 

Just because there may be fewer new customers coming in, doesn’t mean that a restaurant shouldn’t have some holiday cheer. 59% of customers are more likely to purchase a menu item described as “seasonal,” because they perceive it as healthier and more appetizing.

Coffee shops – take Starbucks, for example – have seen success with seasonal beverages, but many restaurants have taken a stab at integrating pumpkin flavors into their menus as well. Compared with four years ago, pumpkin is showing up on 53% more restaurant menus.

Prepare a seasonal menu with cinnamon, butternut squash, pumpkin or even peppermint flavors that will intrigue existing customers and provoke them to return post-Thanksgiving. Look at past years’ favorite holiday menu items to determine which are crowd favorites and which can be re-vamped for the current year.

If a seasonal item becomes popular, stick with it. Customers will appreciate seeing their favorite butternut squash dish on the menu year after year.


Keep Restaurant Inventory in Check

The slow season is the perfect time to fix any kinks in your service and stock restaurant items. Glasses, trays, silverware, linens and plate ware all get depleted during the busier months.

A restaurant POS system can provide data about previous ordering patterns and smallware stock to better inform future purchases. Your returning customers will expect a certain level of service, especially during the slower months. It’s important to have enough glasses and plates to not impede timely service for the kitchen or front of house staff.


Final Thoughts

The holiday season should be a time of cheer, especially for the restaurant industry, and implementing a POS system can help do just that. The ability to effectively adjust inventory and staff while pinpointing key menu items and marketing efforts allows restaurants to gauge their holiday performance.

And by being proactive, restaurants can keep customers happy and profits high without breaking their bottom line.

How does your restaurant prepare for the holiday slump?