How Texting Can Help Save Thanksgiving for Restaurants
It’s become a cliche at this point in 2020: This year will be different than other years. And that's especially true for Thanksgiving.
As people try to envision a Thanksgiving closer to home that may be more low-key than celebratory dinners in the past, local restaurants can fill a void — and generate revenue — by creating bespoke Thanksgiving experiences for your customer base.
How the Power of Texting can Help Restaurants Engage with Customers for Thanksgiving ... and Beyond!
Whether it’s meal kits, takeout, or a socially distant in-house experience with Covid-19 restrictions in place, use texting to let customers know about plans. A holiday texting plan also provides opportunity to create engaging, interactive content and gives you the flexibility to adapt based on feedback.
A quick pulse survey sent by text doesn’t lock you into a plan — but can begin a conversation and allow you to quickly assess what page your customers are on. Enabling 1-on-1 Chat can also be a way to directly encourage comments about potential plans. For example, would customers feel comfortable dining in for a special Thanksgiving meal? Are there any precautions that would make them more comfortable, such as offering curbside pickup, contactless delivery, or temperature checks? It can also help you decide whether your customers would respond to a specialized Thanksgiving menu on the day of the holiday or may be interested in special events during the days surrounding the holiday.
Holidays can be great times to create even more engagement with your customers. A robust text message strategy for restaurants can be used to reach out to past customers in the form of surveys, contests, and coupons. Invite loyal customers to engage with your restaurant by launching a contest. Have people tag the restaurant or invite friends to follow the account for a chance to win a Thanksgiving package. Have a “Thankful Thursdays” campaign where you have a loyal customer code word for a portion off their bill or a free drink or dessert on the house. Your imagination is the limit with campaigns you can introduce.
Segmenting your contact list can also help you create a dynamic campaign that speaks to multiple customer bases. Gauge success by launching the campaign to those most likely to engage, such as your most loyal customers. Based on their response, you can then tweak and calibrate as you open up the program to your larger list.
You want to reduce the number of no-shows, minimize leftover ingredients, and make sure that your staff isn’t overwhelmed during the leadup to the event. Enabling 1-on-1 Chat prior to the event gives you a chance to respond to questions, set up a reservations system, and provide a way for customers to contact you if there are any errors or questions in a delivery or pickup order.
Texting is more efficient and less error-prone than depending on the phone alone. While you can always pick up the phone to work through a complicated question, staff can handle multiple text requests at once, and you can templatize responses so that the entire staff is on the same page when it comes to FAQs such as Covid-19 policies or menu items. It can also be a quick way to reach out to those with reservations. For example, is inclement weather making outdoor dining an impossibility? Let people know fast and share alternate plans, such as an option to pick up a packed meal to go.
Create Pop-Up Opportunities and Partnerships
From post-Thanksgiving specials to partnerships with local organizations, texts enable you to be nimble and share information quickly. Text can also be a great way to stress the "giving" element of Thanksgiving. For example, maybe you’ve created a partnership with a local nonprofit and are planning to donate proceeds or items to them for the holidays. Sharing this information with your customer base can encourage them to learn more about the organization, or give more on their own. These sort of partnerships anchor you to the community, and remind your customers who your business is and what it stands for — especially in these uncertain times.