The notion that everyone prepares a feast at home for Thanksgiving is no longer a very accurate one. Sure, a majority of Americans are still staying in and cooking to celebrate the holiday, but a significant percentage are looking to restaurants to either help out or prepare the entire feast for them.
This percentage is significant enough to at least think about keeping your eatery open on Thanksgiving if you’re the owner of a restaurant. It’s not any easy decision to make. You’re going to have to explain to your staff that they are going to have to come in on Thanksgiving and you’re probably going to have to pay them more for working on a holiday or even call some of your emergency seasonal workers.
But if you plan accordingly and put yourself in the position to make a lot of money this Thursday, it’s effort and time well spent. Still not convinced that working Thanksgiving could be worth it for you? Here’s why keeping doors open on Thanksgiving is a strategy that more and more restaurants are exploring.
More People are Eating Out
The National Restaurant Association has confirmed via surveys that the number of people who want to eat in restaurants for Thanksgiving is steadily growing. According to a recent survey, close to 33 million Americans will either eat at restaurants for Thanksgiving or at least order supplementary food from restaurants for their in-home celebrations. Overall, more than 15 million plan on going out to eat.
It does make sense. Generally, number of people who cook at home instead of ordering out or going to restaurants has been decreasing steadily over the years, so it’s no wonder that the same trend can be seen when it comes to Thanksgiving.
Choosing to eat at a restaurant is not only about the quality of the food, it’s about the convenience. Many people today choose to eat at restaurants because it gives them more time to focus on spending quality time with their relatives and friends instead of “wasting” more than half the day on preparing food and then cleaning up.
Projections say that these numbers are expected to steadily increase, which is why you should considering getting into the action right away. The earlier you establish yourself as a great local restaurant for Thanksgiving celebrations, the easier it will be to fend off the competition in coming years once everyone else decides to get into the Thanksgiving business.
Orders are Up as Well
The NRA survey also mentions that there are about 14 million people who will be ordering at least a portion of their Thanksgiving meals from restaurants, even if they still plan on eating the meal in the privacy of their own homes.
If you’re not ready to fully commit to keeping your restaurant running on all cylinders for Thanksgiving, it might not be a bad idea to start out small and simply keep the kitchen and delivery teams working to test the waters and see how it goes.
Tailor your menu so that it coincides with what people typically eat for Thanksgiving and see how customers react to your offer to cook instead of them. It’s also a good idea to ask customers to get their orders in at least a week ahead of time so that you can properly plan your schedule and know how many people who are going to need in the kitchen and working delivery or pick-up.
The Effects of Holiday Shopping
It’s not all about Black Friday, anymore. Thanksgiving is, in fact, the official start of the shopping season. This holiday weekend has become so important to retailers that many are offering huge deals on Thanksgiving, not even waiting for Friday to roll around. The aforementioned NRA survey also states that about 46 million Americans are going to dine out for Thanksgiving and Black Friday because it’s much easier to get their shopping done if they are already out-and-about.
So if you have a restaurant that is located close to some type of mall or retail center – and these days it’s hard not to be located near one – then you could be benefiting greatly from taking in the shoppers who are looking to eat out either before or after getting their shopping done. Of the consumers who were polled in the survey, almost 40 percent said that they would be visiting a restaurant on Thanksgiving Day or evening while getting their shopping done and 60 percent said that they would surely visit a restaurant while shopping on Black Friday.
According to retail giants Wal-Mart, 22 million shoppers visited their stores on Thanksgiving of 2014. A report from ShopperTrak that same year shows that Thanksgiving Day store visits increased by 27.3 percent compared to 2013. As you can see, not everyone is staying in for Thanksgiving anymore.
The statistics here all clearly show that if you are closed during any day of this extended shopping weekend, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be missing out on a whole lot of potential business.
How to Capitalize on It
Obviously, simply keeping your doors open isn’t going to immediately bring you a lot of business. So if you are ready to commit to working on Thanksgiving, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re doing so with a plan and a purpose.
If you do decide to work on Thanksgiving next year, make sure that you’re getting the word out. Get loud on social media about your Thanksgiving specials, hand out flyers and put up signs in early November letting your customers know that if they don’t feel like cooking this year, you’re ready to step in and make the turkey and cranberry sauce for them.
The sooner you start to plan your Thanksgiving Day offers, the better off you’ll be. Starting in early November allows you to get your feelers out and see if there’s enough interest out there to make it a profitable idea. It also gives you enough time to prepare your staff and make sure that you are going to have enough employees willing to sacrifice time with family and friends for an extra paycheck.