The nights are drawing in and temperatures are dropping across the United States. Especially in the Northern States and Canada. People are eating more and craving comfort foods during the winter months.
With ordering takeout and food for delivery at an all-time high already, the cold winter months only exacerbate the trend – as most people are going out less in the cold weather. And with the holiday season fast approaching, there’s plenty of opportunities to boost sales by offering products and services that can be given as gifts.
Deloitte predicts that holiday sales will rise 7-9% this year, with ecommerce projected to grow up to 15% compared to 2020. So it’s set to be a bumper year for those food businesses that take the right steps.
We’ve put together a few ideas to share with your tenants this winter. If you are running a cloud kitchen with virtual restaurant brands yourself, you may find these tips helpful too.
Promotion Ideas to Make the Most of the Winter Months
Whether you are a canner, jam-maker, pickler, or a chef, caterer, meal-kit cook, or food trucker, producer, or kitchen farmer, there are never more opportunities to sell your wares than around the holidays.
And for virtual restaurant brands and ghost kitchen tenants, it’s also the busiest time of year for food deliveries. Here are some creative ideas and operational strategies to help you make the most of the winter months this year.
Create Holiday Boxes with Local Makers and Producers
Non-traditional gifts may be more popular than ever with supply chain issues making it harder to buy imported goods this year. Supporting local businesses is more than just a way to give a boost to the area’s economy, it may become a necessity.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- A Christmas basket filled with local products would make a great gift for a food lover
- Gift wrapped food and beverage items for holiday gifts
- Create a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner meal kit with instructions and trimmings
- Create gift vouchers that can be redeemed against future purchases
Not only will these products provide some winter revenue, they are a great way to spread the word about your business in the local community while also networking with other producers. A good first step would be to find out who is trading near you and attempt to forge a partnership. Search for businesses that complement your own offering, then reach out and figure out how you can collaborate.
Host a Holiday Cooking Class
A great way to spread awareness of your business while also making some cash is to bring your customers into the business and host a cooking class. This could be for one business in a shared kitchen, or an event for multiple businesses hosted by the kitchen itself. Which is another great way to meet other local producers and collaborate.
Think about the expertise you could offer that would entice customers to come and take an interactive class. Here are some ideas to kick off with:
- A baking class for holiday desserts
- Cocktail or mocktail making class
- Winter wine and cheese tasting
- Pasta making masterclass
- How to make your signature dish
For kitchen owners, think about how you can leverage and promote the talent within your walls. Could you organize a series of cooking classes showcasing the diverse chefs and producers that rent your space? Not only could this earn you a nice little bit of cash, it’s also a great way to promote your kitchen space and your tenants.
With supply chain disruptions impacting physical gifts, the gift of an experience is timely and exciting.
Offer Meal Delivery for Holiday Parties & Events
The holidays are a time for giving and also a time for partying. There’s plenty of opportunities to get involved with office parties and other end-of-year celebrations.
Now is the time to offer promos and discounts for businesses that book in their catering package early. This helps you plan ahead and make the most of the holiday catering season. And once you cater one party, you’re more likely to get in with other businesses nearby.
One way to make your catering offer enticing and to help the customer avoid decision fatigue – where they are so overwhelmed with choice and different options that they end up not purchasing – is to offer simple food and drinks packages at different price points.
Tailor your tiers to each holiday and make pricing straightforward and transparent. For example, you might offer a Christmas Party Catering Package at Standard, Premium, and Deluxe. Even better if you can come up with fun names for each tier that relate to the holiday in question.
Sell Employee Gift Boxes or Experiences
Sometimes bringing in a new revenue stream is as simple as repackaging your product or service in a clever way. Around the holidays, bosses and colleagues are looking for gifts for their co-workers (or members!). If you can get the right product in front of them at the key decision-making stage, you have a great opportunity for a boost in sales.
Consider running a promotion for meal kits, produce boxes, or gift sets and targeting it at local businesses. It could also take the form of a voucher for an experience at your kitchen space.
You can use traditional methods to spread the word, like leaflets through the door, or try your hand at online marketing and run a Google Ads or Facebook campaign and pinpoint your targeting by audience demographics.
Boost Holiday Sales with Coupon Codes
For virtual restaurants and other takeout businesses, a good way to capture new business over the holidays is with one-off promotions. Promotions could be geared around a specific holiday, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year, or it could be a limited-time offer to boost orders at quieter times.
Try to be creative and get into the mind of your potential customers. What are they craving at this time of year? What can you offer that will resonate at a certain moment and make your brand impossible to resist?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- New Year’s Day hangover special
- 10% off orders during Christmas week
- Buy one get one free on winter warmers
- 10% off Christmas Eve orders over $20
Streamline Your Menus for Winter
If you run a food delivery business, food truck, or virtual restaurant from a shared kitchen, now is the time to think about optimizing your menu for the winter months. Winter brings a preference for hot soups, comfort foods, and more calorific meals. A recent report by food delivery giant Grubhub suggests some of the most popular dishes this year are short rib rigatoni, corned beef and cabbage, and chicken biryani.
Take a look at your menu and consider dropping items that will be less popular during the winter. Then you can streamline your operations to focus on the big winter sellers.
If you have access to your sales data, analyze the hard numbers to figure out your best seasonal sellers.
Here are some winter menu ideas that will work for delivery:
- Soups, stews, and slow-cooked meals – hearty warming comfort food for the cold weather
- Festive cocktails – eggnog, Christmas cocktails using spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, warm spiced cider, mulled wine with brandy
- Winter warmers – spicy dishes like Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, curries, and spicy stews
- Nutritious dishes – winter salads full of roasted root veg, toasted nuts and seeds, and flavor-packed dressings or nutrient-dense bone broths
Get The Right Tech in Place to Make the Most of the Winter Season
Getting ready for winter also means getting your operations in tip-top shape for the busy season. Now is the time to get prepared so that you’re ahead of the game when the rush comes.
The first step for shared kitchen owners, ghost kitchen operators, and food businesses is to get onto The Kitchen Door and The Food Corridor.
The Kitchen Door helps customers find your shared kitchen and The Food Corridor has a wealth of resources, marketing tips, and support services to help you get your food business in front of more eyeballs.
The Food Corridor helps you manage your shared kitchen with ease. Automating scheduling, billing, and member management tools are all designed specifically for shared kitchen operators and our community is the biggest in the world so there’s plenty of like-minded people to bounce ideas off and ask questions to.