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One of the best ways to increase revenue, grow your customer base, and stay busy as a restaurant is by booking private groups. Large parties of people like corporate events can be a great idea, we’ve put together eight tips to grow your restaurant with corporate and group bookings.

1. Appoint an Event Manager

Planning special events like conferences, receptions, or work dinners is a tough task. Your staff may just not have this skill set — it’s a specific one. That can cause problems if, for example, you take a large reservation and simply leave your staff to deal with the ensuing fallout. Much of the stress of dealing with a big group can be avoided by having a staff member whose job it is to help handle these bookings. That help might include putting together a more limited or prix fixe menu to streamline orders and help keep things running smoothly, or preparing a separate private room for the group. A good event manager will even throw in extra treats, like a surprise for the birthday girl, to ensure a positive customer experience.

2. Offer Catering Services

If you don’t have your own private space for large groups, that doesn’t mean you can’t serve them. For example, you could offer a catering service to local businesses. Make this clear on your menu and website, and spread the word by introducing your restaurant to local people and businesses. You can even offer ‘neighbor discounts’ to those close by.

3. Create Incentives to Fill Slow Nights

You probably have one or two slow nights each week, and these are the perfect opportunity to promote the group and corporate events. Create offers and discounts to persuade customers to book these nights instead of more popular weekend slots, and design special menus and added extras like music and entertainment.

4. Stay on Top of Ingredients

Making sure supplies are adequately stocked is always important, but especially so with bigger groups. To make sure they are, offer a limited menu to get a clearer idea of how many of each dish you’ll need, and reduce the risk of running out. With good planning and the right inventory management software, managing your ingredients becomes a whole lot easier.

5. Plan Ahead and Avoid the Rush

Rushing to prepare for an event in a tight time window is often a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, this is easily avoided by giving guests a cutoff time for booking an event, giving your team time to make sure they have enough ingredients and staff to deliver the best possible service.

6. Stay Up-To-Date with Local Happenings

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your community is a great way to find opportunities for group bookings. That upcoming sports event around the corner could be a chance to host post-game celebrations. Big holidays are always good to leverage, as are regional events. Reach out to corporations well in advance so you’re the first venue they think of when the time comes to make plans.

7. Close the Doors from Time to Time

Just because your restaurant doesn’t have a dedicated space for larger events doesn’t mean you can’t host them. Closing to regular customers once in a while on slower nights can be a good strategy. Make sure the price and the minimum number of guests are high enough to ensure you’re making more money than on a normal night.

8. Get Repeat Bookings

Repeat business is always welcome. If a group booked your restaurant for an event last year, it could be a good idea to get in touch and see if they’d like to do the same again. A simple handwritten card is a nice personal touch and can go a long way to securing annual business from happy customers. Securing regular corporate and group bookings can work wonders for your bottom line. Start with these tips and “grow” from there!