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Making Dough with Diane: Handling the holidays



Is your pizzeria ready for the holiday rush? The holidays can be extremely profitable but overwhelming for pizzeria operators. What can you do in the next few weeks to prepare your pizzeria for the inevitable rush of business? This year’s holidays will certainly feel a little different, but people are very eager to go out now and experience some of the familiar holiday treats your pizzeria offers. With planning, scheduling, pizza product development, merchandising, packaging, employee training, promotions, and delivery to curbside pickup, your pizzeria will be very busy until the end of January 2022. Here are eight quick ideas for handling the holiday season.

1. Review 2020, and plan from it
I am positive that you have your last year’s holiday sales. By accurately tracking and using past data, you will be able to create a realistic forecast. You will be able to configure promotions and staffing levels to ensure optimal productivity, staffing and service. These documents should be the most important papers that you need to review. You need to assess when you sold and how much you sold as it is the only way to predict what you need to order and make for this year’s holidays. You should get input from your employees, so they feel like they are part of the plan and eventual solution.

2. Schedule properly
Proper scheduling is vital to the successful management of your operation during the holiday season. Review your to-do list and schedule, high-priority and urgent activities, essential and accurate production, inventory and maintenance tasks, employee scheduling, and customer service. Avoid taking on more than you can handle. Understand what you can realistically achieve with your time and make sure to have enough time for essential tasks. Always add contingency time for the unexpected. Try to achieve a good work-life balance by having enough time for your family and friends, exercise and hobbies.

3. Make your guests feel at home with holiday decor
Remember that how you decorate your store or dining room for the holiday season will influence your customers’ buying habits. Make sure your location is inviting with a cheerful ambiance. Your storefront should be super clean and welcoming, and your store’s interiors encourage the upsell with fun and festive decorations, twinkle lights and holiday music. A bit of greenery and bows may be all you need. 

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4. Create a Christmas menu featuring food and drinks
Isn’t it the perfect time for changing up your menu for the holidays? Introduce or reintroduce the best-selling holiday menu items from all previous years. It’s a great way to entice customers to stop by to check out the new food and drinks. Make sure that you offer treats from other cultures. Have Diwali, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and even a New Years’ Eve theme for your goods. Make a variety of treats for each relevant holiday. You will create additional sales and make someone’s day. Don’t forget the classics in your haste to be original. Serve your special Christmas pizza with garlicky bread sticks or gooey cheese sticks and frosted mini cinnamon rolls to promote a festive mood. 

6. Promote gift cards and encourage gift-giving
The festive season is traditionally a time of higher spending. While there is a perception that gift cards are impersonal, they are among the most requested gifts of the season and are particularly popular among 18- to 34-year-olds. In addition, many gift card receivers will spend more than the value of their gift card once in the store. Gift cards are the quick and easy gift that everybody loves to receive. Place a prominent gift-card display at the cash register to encourage spontaneous gifting. You could quickly sell gift cards not only in your store but also online. Make gifting easier by displaying gift card options near your register and train your employees to suggest this is the easiest gift to give.    

7. Keep your staff happy
Are your employees in the holiday mood? The season is about happiness and merriment, so make sure your employees put their best foot forward throughout their shift. When you have adequately stocked and staffed your restaurant, your employees won’t feel overwhelmed. This will help them stay smiling so that they can better help your customers. As you know, being properly staffed is key to a great customer experience. Ensure that you have all of your staff members before your competitors scoop up the most reliable talent. Make sure that all of your seasonal employees are well trained: the better informed your employees are, the better the guest experience will be. 

8. Promote delivery and curbside pickup
If you have an online ordering system, delivery is another great contactless option. Your customers can place their orders without leaving their homes and without spending time on the phone. It’s wise to designate a curbside pickup area that requires as little contact as possible. Ensure your customers know the process for picking up their pizza and menu items before they get to your pizzeria.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative, revenue-increasing marketing strategies. Contact her at 416-926-1338 or chiasson@chiassonconsultants.com, or visit chiassonconsultants.com.