The busiest day of the year for restaurants is coming up: Mother’s Day!

The National Restaurant Association completed a survey last year and found that 87 million adults in the U.S. alone planned on going out for a meal on Mother’s Day in 2018. The report also found that 34 percent of adults surveyed will dine out on Mother’s Day.

The National Restaurant Association also asked moms which gift they’d most like to receive on their special day. Here’s what they said:

  • 47 percent want a restaurant meal with family
  • 15 percent picked flowers as their preferred gift
  • 11 percent requested household or home décor items
  • 10 percent chose a restaurant gift card
  • 9 percent selected jewelry, and
  • 8 percent wanted to receive clothing or accessories

With that said, is your restaurant ready to handle the busiest day of the year?
There’s a lot that goes into preparing for this day, so we put together a quick list to help you stay on top of everything! 

1. Reservations

On Mother’s Day, restaurants can expect a steady stream of guests throughout the day, with higher volumes during brunch and dinner. A study done by Reserve found that in 2017, 46% of guests dined during dinner, with 7 pm being the most sought after time, and 41.5% dined during brunch, with 11:30 am being the second most desired reservation time slot.

Some things to consider when thinking about reservations:

  • How are you structuring the number of reservations you’re accepting during these times?
  • Is it a 50/50 split between reservations and walk-ins?
  • Are you spreading the reservation times appropriately so that you don’t overwhelm your servers and kitchen?
  • How many staff will you schedule? Will you have others on-call?
  • How will you fairly manage employees that want to take the day off to celebrate with their own mothers?
  • If you’ve maxed out your reservations, will you keep an ongoing waitlist in case there are any cancellations?

On Mother’s Day, most guests want to have everything planned and ready so that they can impress and pamper the guest of honour, mom. That means securing a reservation. It may be in your restaurant’s best interest to open up more tables for reservations than you normally do to ensure that you’re able to get as many bums in seats as possible. However, you’ll need to be smart about this. You don’t want to have 15 groups walk in at the same time, overwhelming your staff and likely hurt the overall guest experience as a result.

You’ll also need to think about how you’ll be taking in reservations and keeping track of them. Some options available to you include:

  • OpenTable
  • Yelp Reservations
  • Your POS system (does it have reservation capabilities?)
  • Having guests phone in and keeping an internal calendar

2. Spreading the word with social media

Social media has always been an awesome tool for restaurants looking to market their establishment and open up the lines of communication with their guests, both existing and potential. Social media channels are a great way to let guests know about specials, holiday festivities (in this case Mother’s Day!), and generally a great way to build a relationship with your audience. When thinking about using social media to connect with people looking to go out to eat on Mother’s Day, here are some things you should think about:

  • Using your Facebook and Instagram to get guests excited about celebrating Mother’s Day at your establishment
  • Planning a contest to give a special mother an extra VIP experience at your establishment.
  • Highlighting your specials or specific dishes. If you have more than one, you can get guests to vote on their preference (Ex. “Mom-mosas” vs. “Mom’s spaghetti”). Start early (if you’re fine revealing the surprise) for an interesting talking point with guests!

These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you want a more extensive list of marketing ideas, check out these 65 tips and tactics for effectively marketing your restaurant.

3. Do you have the supplies you need?

There are several ways to help you better forecast the supplies you’ll need. The last thing you want is to tell guests that you’ve run out of their favourites or the special of the day. Some questions you can ask yourself to help you better forecast your supply needs:

  • How much did you sell on Mother’s Day last year? Be sure to take a look at the days before and after the actual holiday, maybe a week buffer. Not everyone will be celebrating the day of and you need to be able to predict your weekly supply needs as they’ll be higher than usual.
  • Do you anticipate being busier or slower this year? When looking at last year’s sales (if you have them), check different factors that could have affected how busy you were including weather conditions, day of the week, new construction, and anything else that may affect getting people into seats to make as much of an informed decision as possible.
  • Not sure about your special? This is where previewing a dish on social media can help you out. This is far from an exact science, but if you’ve got a substantial following you can venture a guess as to how it will perform based on the anticipation of your patrons. Use this information to make sure you order enough supplies to meet that and a healthy buffer.
  • How many reservations do you have booked? Do you anticipate a lot of walk-ins?
  • Don’t leave your ordering until the last minute! With every restaurant looking for extra supplies, the possibility of shorts is much higher. So if there are any non-perishable items that you need, try to order them in advance (if your inventory space permits!)
  • Do you have a backup supplier? If anything were to happen, like getting shorted or your supplier is out of stock of certain items, it’s important

All in all, Mother’s Day should be a fun experience for your guests and a profitable one for your restaurant. Be sure that you take the necessary steps to set your restaurant up for success.

When guests leave your establishment happy, chances are they’ll spread the word and come back for more—plan accordingly and maybe you’ll even become their new yearly tradition.