Canadian Pizza Magazine

Six ways to prepare for the holidays: Making Dough with Diane

By Diane Chiasson   

Features News Business and Operations Marketing holiday marketing marketing

The countdown is on! As a pizzeria owner, you have entered the most profitable time of the year. The holiday season offers a huge opportunity for pizza restaurants of all sizes, but the competition for customers has never been more intense.

Here are six things you should do to prepare your pizzeria for the holidays.

Before your jump into any planning for the holidays, review last year’s campaign to see how you did. Try to identify your previous successes or failures in order to determine areas where you can improve. You can then start planning special holiday menus, advertising strategies and flyers to give out to customers. It’s always a good idea to have something to hand out. You should post on a daily basis some great photos of your pizzeria’s products on Facebook and Instagram. Posting photos on a regular basis will remind your customers to order that special pizza or to check out a new deal. It will help get them through the door. Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is also a great place to get your seasonal message across. You can create a campaign targeting the holiday shoppers.

“Out of stock” means a lost sale. When it comes to holiday retail, one of the biggest mistakes a pizzeria owner can make is not having enough inventory to stock shelves or lacking some ingredients during the holiday season. A well-established pizzeria should prepare for an even bigger crowd than usual for the holidays, particularly during these peak hours. Trust me, it’s always better to have too much supply than too little!

The key to optimizing holiday sales is to start communicating with your customers as soon as possible. The bulk of your sales will likely come from your regular customers, but you certainly want to also attract new customers during the holiday season. By November, you should be ready to start promoting your pizzeria’s holiday offerings. Get in touch with all of last year’s customers who ordered special treats for their office, catering events or special functions. Be more active via email this season. Communicate your seasonal plans to your customers in your database using an email campaign or social media campaign, post signage throughout your store and make sure your website is up to date.

The winter holidays are a great time for community giving and charity. The holidays tend to bring out the best in people when it comes to lending their time, money or assistance to charitable causes. Get involved in your community to make the season brighter for those less fortunate. Donating unused food to a food bank or supporting a local shelter are great ways to support your community and demonstrate your brand values. Playing an active role in the cycle of food rescue is a great way to give back and check out the many local programs in your area. What about taking a platter of some special mini pizza treats to a nursing home or a senior living centre?

One of the most important operational aspects of being successful during the holidays is scheduling your staff effectively to provide the best possible customer service. If you want to offer quality service during your busiest season, you must hire additional staff and train them properly. The holidays are busy for everyone, including your staff. Will your staff be adequate for large holiday parties and increased business? It’s always a good idea to schedule more staff than you usually need. Start planning now if you need to hire additional people for your pizzeria before your competitors scoop up the most reliable talent. Many university students are home for the holidays and want to make some extra money before returning to school. To save time, call former employees who left for university and see if they will help you out during the holiday season.

Don’t wait until the holidays to decide you need a gift card for your pizzeria or online store. Your pizzeria will definitely increase sales with a gift card program. When you offer such a program, it brings at least two customers into your restaurant – the giver and the receiver. Your gift card program should include plastic gift cards as well as electronic gift cards. Let your customers give the gift of your pizza during the holiday season. Think about setting up a big display area at the front of your restaurant. Package each gift card in a box or gift bag with a bow and ribbons. Make sure you include a blank holiday card with the gift card. •

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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