The new year inspires people to try new things. Resolutions, even the ones that are forgotten within a month, are made meaningfully because deciding to change for the better feels good. The new year is a chance to get out of a rut, and the same philosophy can be applied to any business.

As the owner or manager of a restaurant, you might already have envisioned how things will go in 2019. What changes do you want to see made? What are your goals for the year? Whether they are grandiose visions or subtle changes, take the first steps towards realizing your concept by New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve activities bring huge numbers to restaurants and bars—if you take advantage of the extra foot traffic, you can bring the most attention to a new loyalty program, new menu, or other initiatives. Below we share three ways restaurants can benefit long-term from New Year festivities.

Introduce New Recipes to an Accepting Audience

Your reasons for waiting to release new recipes are sound, yet they might be holding you back. If you think, we have to wait for the perfect time to bring out new recipes, consider this: customers are anticipating some change to happen in their lives—it’s just the nature of New Year’s Eve. Customers are more open-minded right now, making it the perfect moment to bring out a new dish or cocktail (did you see the new restaurant trends for 2019?).

Introduce the changes as the 2019 Menu and write a brief explanation about the inspiration behind the dishes; doing so will engage the guests and pique their curiosity. Since your FOH is integral to the new menu’s success, give them a tasting session and make a bulleted list of details, including where the proteins and vegetables are sourced, which dietary trends it works with, or the cooking styles used. Having staff able to answer any question about the food gives the guests confidence to try something new and shows diners how much thought went into the changes.

If there are some tweaks that still need to be made and the dishes are truly not ready, you can still take advantage of NYE. Write a thoughtful announcement about the new dishes, sharing the inspiration behind the changes and expressing your wish that guests come back to try them in 2019.

Announcing the new menu by New Year’s Day plants the seed in customers’ minds, and through other marketing channels (like social media and email blasts), guests will be inspired to see the changes for themselves.

Build Powerful Unions with Other Businesses

The philosophy that there is strength in numbers is true, yet many restaurants either don’t know or ignore it. In practice, being unified with local businesses or organizations offers many benefits. There are many reasons to reach out to other businesses, but for New Year’s Eve, there’s no better time than to reach out to taxi companies, hotels, bars, and nightclubs. The cross-promotional opportunities are immense.

  1. In exchange for a recommendation from the concierge, offer hotel guests a discounted rate for their meal.
  2. Make a dinner and dancing combo with a local nightclub or lounge.
  3. If you expect to have late-night partiers, make an arrangement with cab companies to be readily available.

Partnering with these companies now will continue being beneficial throughout 2019.

Introduce a Loyalty Program and Gift Cards

Loyalty programs are wonderful for one important reason: return patronage. For your restaurant, bar, ice cream shop, pizzeria, or other types of dining establishments, start offering a loyalty program if you don’t already have one. It’s simple to set up and brings a constant flow of returning customers for months and years.

The psychology behind loyalty programs is powerful. By receiving recognition for choosing your restaurant again and again, customers feel valued and appreciated, which develops a sense of loyalty.Why go to a competitor when they are treated so well with you?

For a big bang, announce the loyalty program in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, and promote it on your social media channels.

In terms of the reward—you know your customers best, what kind of “reward” would they appreciate most?  For single-item restaurants, it can be that the 10th purchase is free. For sit-down restaurants, it could be a free glass of champagne or cocktail by showing their loyalty card. Another option: Send a gift card every three months to loyal guests. They can use it on themselves or give it as a gift (giving you a new customer to impress).

On their own, gift cards also bring back repeat customers. Even better, they can draw new crowds to a restaurant. Try out this promotion for the New Year: For one week, every guest gets a $10 gift card they can use any time in 2019.

Most restaurants and bars focus their promotions on just New Year’s Eve. This year, we suggest going the next step by setting up these three strategic promotions so that your restaurant can benefit the whole year.

Prepare staff to manage the holiday rush with a refresher training course