High-volume days like the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day present exciting opportunities and unique challenges for restaurants—especially amidst the ongoing labor shortage. To maximize sales and meet the expectations of digital-first guests during peak times, brands must leverage digital solutions that simplify order management, streamline operations, and increase throughput.
It all starts with strategic planning. Get your team ready for the rush by following these best practices covering everything from menu optimization to order throttling.
Preparation is critical for ensuring you have sufficient inventory, staff, and resources for high-volume days—so start early. Expect an increase in on- and off-premise orders, and leverage historical data and trends to predict what’s coming.
With the ongoing labor shortage, it’s important to cross-train staff so they can easily switch roles during busy periods. This flexibility can reduce stress among employees and ensure guests’ needs are prioritized, despite a surge in demand.
*Olo Tip: Host users can leverage Shift Notes to communicate important information with employees before they start their shift (work assignment changes, Valentine’s Day specials, reservations made by high-LTV guests, etc.)
Paring down your menu to popular items and limited-time specials can help streamline kitchen operations and expedite order preparation. On game day, for example, think finger foods like chicken wings and crowd-pleasing dips.
*Olo Tip: Sync users can count on Olo’s listings management tool to automatically syndicate menu changes, holiday hours, and other up-to-date restaurant information across the web.
4. Online Ordering Optimization
Make sure your direct ordering channels are optimized to provide a frictionless guest experience and maximize revenue. A mobile-friendly design, passwordless login, and multiple payment options are just a few ways to boost cart conversion and repeat orders, especially on high-volume days.
*Olo Tip: Ordering customers can leverage upselling to increase ticket size and expose guests to new menu items.
5. Tech Integration
When orders are flying in from your website, app, POS, and third-party marketplaces, seamless tech integration is essential. Only when your restaurant systems share data in real time can you effectively manage capacity, prevent manual errors, and deliver an optimal guest experience.
*Olo Tip: For frictionless integration with zero data silos, use Olo’s 300+ partner ecosystem and download the Buyers Guide to Future-Proofing Your Restaurant Tech Stack.
6. Capacity Management
Set your brand up for success on high-volume days using any capacity management tools built into your online ordering platform. Order throttling, for example, can be a useful strategy for mitigating an influx of digital orders during a given period.
*Olo Tip: Ordering customers can take advantage of three throttling strategies to control how, and when, orders hit their restaurants: Orders-in-Progress Limits, Make Time Minutes Per Period, and Orders Per Window.
Enable guests to buy in bulk by creating catering packages for special occasions and a simple process for ordering. Use off-peak hours to prepare catering orders, boost efficiency, and maximize kitchen resources. And don’t forget about pack slips, which can help ensure you have everything you need for each order before handoff.
*Olo Tip: Catering+ customers can serve tax-exempt organizations and set up house accounts to reward VIPs with a streamlined purchasing process.
8. Delivery and Pickup Logistics
Ensure your order confirmation message provides detailed instructions so guests know where and when to pick up their order or when to expect their delivery. Establish dedicated pickup areas with clear signage inside your restaurant to prevent congestion and wait times. Lastly, optimize delivery routes to ensure timely service and foster a positive experience for delivery guests.
*Olo Tip: Rails users can solve operational challenges linked to high order volumes with marketplace-specific controls that allow you to disable individual marketplaces or pause all Rails orders. Dispatch users can manage delivery issues if they occur using Olo’s delivery rescue and automated guest refund features.
9. Reservations and Waitlist
Give guests the ability to join your waitlist or make a reservation with one click no matter where they search online. Offer direct booking on your website, Google listing, and social pages so you own the relationship and pay zero fees. Reservations and a digital waitlist can enhance the guest experience and reduce stress for employees.
Generate excitement in the weeks leading up to special events and holidays with promotions and discounts to encourage guests to order early and make reservations. Doing so will drive sales and alleviate pressure on employees. Leverage your website, app, social media, email, SMS, and digital advertising to spread the word and ensure your brand is top of mind when guests make plans.
What’s to Gain?
By embracing digital solutions, streamlining processes, and strategizing ahead of time, your restaurant will not only survive a surge in demand but come to welcome it.
Start by laying a strong foundation with seamless tech integration and online ordering optimization, putting your guests’ needs and desires first. Look for opportunities to boost employee morale and alleviate burdens such as tedious, manual work. Get ready to monitor analytics and feedback in real time. And lastly, be sure to review your data afterward to improve sales and the guest experience next go-around.
For detailed information about how your restaurant brand can more effectively manage high-volume days and maximize revenue during peak times, talk to our team of experts.
Photo Credit Priscilla du Preez from Unsplash