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Five Ways To Increase Private Parties At Your Restaurant

As the Holidays lurk around the corner, every restaurant is snagging its’ slice of the proverbial private party pie. Most private party planners have already nailed down a location for this season, however, there are always those that see the snow start to fly and panic that they have missed the boat.

That said, regardless of whether you are already booked for the Holidays, these five tips will ensure you increase your portion of private party business year-round.

1.) Make it easy

It’s no secret guests are doing everything on mobile devices these days that they used to do on their desktop. Unfortunately, typing a private party inquiry takes longer on mobile devices. Asking a customer to send an email to your business with their private party details is akin to asking them to add something to their to-do list and likely to result in some level of drop off in leads.

If you had to book a private room for a dinner for your boss, or research the perfect mingling space for a networking event, would you rather type out a long-winded email explaining your needs or fill in a few fields and the rest were drop down menus such as:

  • Event Type
  • Sit Down Dining
  • Cocktail & Appetizer Event
  • A Combination Of Both
  • I’m interested in:
    • The Main Room
    • The Rooftop
    • Not Sure

Make sure to have a separate private party page on your website for each of your private event areas clearly explaining how many guests each space can accommodate for a seated event AND a standing, mingling type of event (more on this in tip #2). This over-presence of private party related page titles, each with unique content will help your restaurant appear to be more relevant in search engines.

The key here is to gather the necessary information you need while making it very easy to submit your form. Here is a visual example:

2.) Have a Platter Menu.

More and more people are having “Rehearsal Receptions” and other, more sociable types of get togethers versus the traditional sit-down style of dining that limits guests to speaking to only the guests immediately surrounding their seat.

You should know how many guests could fit in each of your private rooms with all the furniture removed less a banquet table for your guests’ platter orders.

This means you need to have a menu of platters conducive to guests easily enjoying them on a small cocktail plate while mingling with other guests.

The investment in 20-30 oversized, nice porcelain platters to display on a banquet table is well worth the markup that can be charged on platters versus individual dinner entrees. Think: A $30 steak entree versus a $175 steak skewer platter with 25 skewers that took three entree sized steaks to compose the entire platter.

Look through your menu and see what in-house ingredients you already have to make bite sized appetizers or finger food for your platter menu so that you won’t be short on ingredients and can accommodate last minute bookings.

3.) Respond Fast.

Planning an event, whether it is a small gathering of 20 guests or up to 100’s of guests is stressful for a lot of people.

The key to this is templates. Yes, templates are boring. But hear us out.

You don’t have to commit a week to creating a template for every single private party inquiry you receive. But rather, every time you respond to a private party inquiry, take the time to write a comprehensive and detailed response including the details regarding the areas you think would work best for that inquiry and your pricing details and policies. Explain both the seated AND the mingling options for the areas you are offering so that the guest has choices to consider.

Then, copy that email into a word document and title it something easy to understand and put it in your customer response template folder (An example title would Baby Shower under 30 ppl Main Room or Mezz Room).

Before long, you will have a template for every kind of inquiry you can imagine, will be able to provide your guests with unparalleled turn-around time, and more likely than not, ALL the information they need because your template will contain more information than your competitors’ short responses.

4.) Lose the Bogus Fees.

Yep. That “Room Fee” is bogus and people hate paying something for nothing. “ But how will I make sure that we don’t lose money versus what we would have made in that space?” Good question.

Food and Beverage Minimums have become more commonplace and guests feel like they received something tangible for every dollar that they spent leaving them more likely to refer you to another potential party host.

A food and beverage minimum amount to be spent based off what you would normally sell in that space depending on the day of the week and month ensures that hosting your event has only upside revenue potential, and not the other way around.

5.) Have a Process.

The key here is to make sure that you are not the only person with the information your staff needs to host a successful event. Here’s a full-proof process that allows for remote planning and information collaboration.

Have two binders. One for the back of the house, and one for the front of house.

Have a dropbox account with the folder on your desktop in your back of house. This is where your event sheets will go every time they are updated.

Every time you book a new event. Create a new word document with the date of the event and the last name of the person hosting it (i.e. 07.14.17 Johnson).

At the top of the word document, have a “Last Updated” date so that everybody reading the chronologically placed event sheets in their BOH and FOH binders know if they need to re-read something they have already read because it has changed.

Have headings in each event sheet such as Name, Phone Number, Date, Time, Number of Guests, Food Details, Bar Details, Payment Details, Food and Beverage Minimum Requirements, and Other Special Notes.

For each new event you book, open one of these event sheets, change the information, and name it something new to save time.

Lastly, have your opening and closing managers check the dropbox folder for new event sheets you have saved in the folder throughout the day or remotely when you were offsite, print two copies (one for FOH and one for BOH), and move the event sheet to a folder within your dropbox called “Old Event Sheets”. This will prevent the next manager from reprinting the same ones.

This process ensures that all employees within the restaurant are on the same page about all upcoming events, and that the server/bartender tasked with servicing the event will have a physical copy of all the details at their disposal while running the event.

This blog post is longer than most of ours, but, it can make you some serious money for your restaurant if you follow through on all five of these tips.