Where to find bigger restaurant profits on New Year’s Eve

Ah, New Year’s Eve. The night that looms large with visions of popping champagne corks, revelry, and lots of friends. Of course, that vision isn’t for everyone. Some prefer a quiet dinner for two, others just want a beer with friends and still others choose a small gathering with family.

For restaurants, however, it means one thing: profits.

The average check on New Year’s Eve is much higher than on an average night, and people tend to think about things well in advance. This makes it possible for restaurants to both plan ahead and be more profitable.

Bigger orders mean bigger profits

Overall, from morning to night, online order numbers on New Year’s Eve increase 14% but that represents a 56% increase in sales over similar days in December. These healthy totals are driven by a massive spike in large evening orders that are north of $75, while on a normal night the orders tend to fall below $40. 

There is the shift you’d expect with most of the activity moving later in the day. Morning orders start 43% lower than a normal day, and steadily pickup.   By midday order counts have reached typical levels; however, due to larger subtotals, the midday total spend increases 31% on New Year’s Eve vs. a “normal” day. The evening sees a modest 36% increase in order counts, but the larger order sizes translate into a nearly doubling (96%) in revenue. Latenight order numbers increase a modest 16%, but order size spike 71%.

There’s more good news for restaurants on the order and delivery bandwagon: the orders come in earlier. On a normal night, the majority of people order food when they want it. But for New Year’s Eve they tend to order in advance, in fact, we see a 75% increase in pre-orders and only a 7% increase in just-in-time orders vs. an average night.  Often those orders are two days out.

It’s all about the relationships

The challenge is getting heard, since the marketing around New Year’s Eve can be as loud as

New York’s Times Square at 12:00. But there are ways to stand out, and it stars with truly understanding your relationship with your guests and how you fit into their lives.

In general restaurants fall into two distinct categories, they are either the destination or a stop along the way. Beyond that, there are four distinct types of customer relationships:

  1. Celebrate together
  2. Private celebrations
  3. Celebrate at home
  4. Fuel up

Celebrate Together

Imagine heading into your favorite bar and hanging out with friends, ringing in the New Year. This is when you and your guests celebrate together. A great example is Duffy’s Sports Grill in Florida which invites people to celebrate as one big happy family.

Private Celebrations

These are small, intimate groups that will treat themselves to a fabulous meal at a fine dining restaurant. Here the meal and the experience are often the centerpiece of the night.

Celebrate at Home

This can run the gambit from a private night with just a few loved ones, to a raging party, but they all take place in the home and often rely on order and delivery. We find that the driving motivation here is making sure that they have enough food for everyone.

Fuel Up

In this case the restaurant isn’t the destination, but a stop along the way to a bigger night out. This could be the coffee place that helps with a jolt of caffeine or a stop to pick up a giftcard because you’re on the way to a person who has invited you to celebrate at home.

How can restaurants rise above the din?

Getting heard on New Year’s Even takes a bit of finesse. First, be honest with yourself about where you fit into their lives, then it’s about crafting customized offers and message that match your guests’ expectations. You also need to offer visual and dynamic messaging that fits the right situation. Many of our customers found that a countdown timer works well in different circumstances. For the Celebrate at Home crowd tap into their fear of not having enough food on-hand.  Message them that you are staffing up for the night with cooks, crew and drivers and remind them to order early, a trend we see in our Order and Deliver data. Consider offering a “order two days early so you pick your preferred delivery time” deal.

For those on the Fuel Up side of things it’s about having items like giftcards and gift pastries right near the register so they can become part of the grab-and-go aspect of the night.  If you’re feeding the Celebrate at Home you could give your best customers first choice as to their delivery timeslot if they order 2 days ahead. You can encourage prepayment so when the food comes to the door they don’t need to take time away from their guests.

The bottom line is that when you have a loyalty program that segments your customers, you can identify different segments and market to them accordingly.

Andrew Robbins

The Author
A product visionary and Paytronix's team leader, Andrew motivates us to be innovative, maintain focus, and serve our customers beyond their wildest expectations. He has earned engineering degrees and a graduate business degree from some of the nation’s most prestigious universities – Princeton, MIT, and Harvard.

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