Thanksgiving could be big business for restaurants

More Americans are choosing to dine out for their Thanksgiving meal.

The classic image of a Thanksgiving dinner is usually a scene that shows a family at home, surrounding a large feast of turkey, potatoes, casseroles and more. Whenever the holiday is depicted on TV or in the movies, this is the image the audiences usually see. And while many Americans really do enjoy their holiday meal at home, the number of those who dine outside of the house on that day is growing. In fact, from 1984 to 2006 the ratio of those who eat at home versus at a restaurant swung seven percent in favor of those who dine out.

With more hungry families dining out on Thanksgiving, restaurants should do all they can to attract more customers on the big day. That begins with taking a look at customer service and satisfaction. Mystery shoppers can provide valuable feedback to help restaurant owners pinpoint problem areas in their business and make adjustments as needed. Here are a few examples:

Improve order taking
On busy nights, it can be hard for waiters to remember what each person ordered. On Thanksgiving, it's all but guaranteed that waiters will get overwhelmed with large orders. Your mystery shoppers can see how well waiters actually remember orders. This feedback can help you develop a system for writing orders down or for helping waiters improve their memorization techniques. Tips Squared reported that some waiters prefer to use memory tricks to keep orders at the top of their minds - however when things are getting rushed and hectic, it can be more prudent to simply write the orders down.

Mystery shoppers can provide valuable information about your quality of service.Mystery shoppers can provide valuable information about your quality of service.

Measure speed of service
One thing is for sure - your customers on Thanksgiving day will be very hungry. A delay in service could easily mean angry or upset customers and they could cost your restaurant money. Before the big day, you can use mystery shoppers to provide feedback concerning the speed of your service. Armed with this information, managers can find the points where service slows down and then make adjustments until things start flowing smoothly again. This data can also be used for later training sessions when showing new hires - not to mention temporary seasonal hires - how best to serve customers and perform their other duties.

Test promotions
Sales aren't just for the retail industry. During the holiday season, you might be thinking about trying out some promotional items or deals. To get a sense of how these will work on a large scale, you can use mystery shoppers to gain valuable insight into the mind of the customer. You'll learn what they find appealing and even discover ways to better gain their attention amidst all of the noise of the season.

Thanksgiving is no longer an only-at-home holiday. Many people are looking to ditch cooking duties and have a nice meal out on the town. With the right preparation, your establishment can be prepared and ready to serve this hungry demographic.