With the Right Planning, Restaurants can Benefit from Black Friday, too

By: Corien de Jong

Restaurants aren’t known for big crowds waiting for their doors to open on Black Friday however, those crowds are looking for a place to sit and eat after a day of roaming the aisles.

People tend to think of retail stores when they prep for Black Friday, but the increased activity of holiday shoppers presents a delicious opportunity for restaurants to pull in new customers and cater to their regulars. However, the opportunity is lost without a plan because the proposition of drawing patrons does come with some obstacles.

While shopping mall-based restaurants see 300 to 400 percent more business on Black Friday than an average day, business declines for restaurants outside of malls. According to a Revel Systems study, restaurants do 34 percent less business overall on the day after Thanksgiving because consumers rarely go out of their way to eat, and instead, choose a quick, convenient bite while shopping.

Luckily, there are few simple ways to improve your chances of bringing in customers on Black Friday. First, these customers expect deals, promotions, and discounts. Therefore, pass out promotional information to customers during the weeks before Black Friday and tease special deals on your social media platforms ahead of time to create excitement.

For example, in past years, Red Lobster offered a buy one entrée and get the second free with a coupon from their Facebook page. Sonic rearranged their hours to accommodate shoppers, opening early and offering half-price breakfast burritos. California Pizza Kitchen offered a deal for folks looking to feed their favorite foodies – two $20 gift cards for every $100 gift card purchased, with the idea that the free cards would bring in new customers who spend beyond the $20.

Also, Black Friday shoppers spend all day on their feet and don't want to stand in long lines. They want to be seated quickly, and they want to be served just as fast, so they can eat and get back to shopping ASAP. This puts table-service restaurants at a disadvantage.

Therefore, whether you are a fast food establishment, quick casual, or table-service restaurant, use some version of a mobile order taker when lines get long. Then, you can take customer orders while they wait in line, and they will receive their food as soon as they get a seat. If you market yourself as the "place without a wait," you will draw more customers regardless of the day.

Finally, be festive by providing a bit of nostalgia and an opportunity for customers to take pictures and post them online, which, in turn, sells your brand. Holiday music, decorations, and menu items that support the season are a must on Black Friday and throughout the year.

Always keep your restaurant relative with the accompanying season and have limited-time offers of holiday drinks or appetizers. Moreover, consider offering these special holiday foods and drinks for free with the order of an entrée or full meal.

Black Friday shoppers want to begin the day with a quick bite, and after a long day of moving from store to store, they are very hungry. So, start early, go late, serve your customers quickly, and turn the day into a festive event with deals they’ll want to share with their friends and family. 

About Butts in Seats!

When it comes to restaurant trends and marketing, IMM knows what they are talking about. Gina Lee De Freiitas, President of IMM, and Corien de Jong, SVP Executive Creative Director, have more than 25 years of experience in the vertical. So when they talk about the tools, tips and resources your restaurant needs to succeed, rest assured they’ve got it covered.

Let's work together

Sign up for our newsletter

What are you interested in?

How to Increase Dining Traffic Overnight & Build Loyalty Over Time

The Retailer's Guide to Acquiring & Retaining Your Best Customers

Driving sales overnight to build brands over time