Mother’s Day is one of the biggest dining days of the year — and it’s just a little over a month away. Start planning now by opening your books and setting your systems up for success.
The first thing you should do is sign up for our Mother’s Day promo, which allows your restaurant to show up in searches related to holiday dining; gives you exposure on our dedicated Mother’s Day landing page; and promotes your restaurant to diners via email. Restaurants that take part in promos see a 38% lift in seated diners — and it’s totally free.
Here are a few tips to consider so you can make the most of the holiday:
Extend your lunch hours. Even restaurants that don’t regularly serve brunch may want to think about offering Eggs Benedict on Mother’s Day. Extending your hours on either side of lunch service opens up opportunities for more covers that you’ll want to take advantage of.
Accept larger parties. Last year, over 17% of reservations made on Mother’s Day were for parties of six or more (the average party size is two to four). Our team receives many requests from restaurants that want to show online availability for parties of 10 or more, though their OpenTable settings may be capped at parties of six. Contact your Account Manager or call 1-800-OpenTable to change your maximum party size settings and accommodate more Mother’s Day groups.
Tweak your floor plan. Accommodating larger parties may mean changing things around in your dining room or opening up patio seating to reservations. Work with your Account Manager (or call 1-800-OpenTable) to make new tables available online.
Try a credit card requirement. ERB customers can require a credit card for diners booking reservations during certain times of day and certain days of week, or even specific shifts. Fill out the form in Restaurant Center to sign up for our seasonal Mother’s Day promo, activate a Braintree account, and you can include your request for a credit card requirement there. That means if diners cancel their reservations within 48 hours of the dining time, you will have the opportunity to charge a late cancellation fee. You’ll protect yourself from no-shows — and if you’re worried about the fees being bad for business, our Restaurant Relations team recommends sending the customer a gift card to use at your restaurant later to smooth things over.
Confirm reservations. Incomplete parties can ruin your service. It’s best to call parties over a certain size a day ahead and give them a friendly reminder about the reservation, and ask them to call if they run into delays. If it’s your policy to release tables to another party when guests are late or incomplete, the worst time for them to learn this is in front of the host desk on Mother’s Day.
Give your Saturday night staff a break. Don’t expect the staff that worked so hard on Saturday night to show up bright-eyed for an extra-busy shift on Sunday morning. If you have enough staff, use a whole different crew; if you do have to bring the same team back in, break out the doughnuts and hangover cures and shower them with love and thanks. Mother’s Day brunch is not the right time to cement your reputation as a tough manager. In fact, this can be the best day to schedule yourself for the Saturday night close and Mother’s Day brunch — no staff member will be able to complain to you.
Streamline your menu. It’s challenging to serve a broad menu to a huge volume of diners; the kitchen may end up with one over-worked station. Consider offering a fixed or limited menu or a buffet so that each station is only working on two or three dishes per table.
Email your customers. Send an email blast to your diners using Fishbowl and let them know your plans for Mother’s Day service. It seems early, but already reservations are filling up.
Look to last year for trends. If you were open on Mother’s Day of last year, look at your reservation and cancellation report from the ERB on that day. See how you set up your OpenTable systems, and look at your POS system to see which menu items sold best. Use those reports to inform your decisions for this year, from your menu to table configurations. Were you completely booked? What were the pain points? How many covers did you do? What was the weather like? Read notes and logs to see what you can do better this time around.
Make a special holiday sheet. After reviewing last year’s results, consider making a specific sheet just for Mother’s Day, outlining your expected turn times and pacing, so you can avoid last year’s mistakes.
Photo Credit: Solage Hotels