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Be mine

Everyone loves to receive this message on Valentine's Day. But foodservice operators need loyal customers every day.

Why not use marketing ideas from this holiday to make a long-term commitment to your customers?

Whether you've been marketing this special day for months, or you'll just go with the flow, here are some easy and last minute ways to make your guests' Valentine's Day dinners a little extra memorable. Then consider what you can do everyday to make sure your customers will "be yours" throughout the year.

Flowers

Fresh flowers do wonders for brightening up a table. Check your local flower mart or commercial florist for roses, tulips, Gerbera daisies, or anything romantic in just about any color. We purchased "seconds" when we gave long-stemmed roses to each lady who dined with us. See "A rose by any other name" for more on this idea.

Sweets
Most guests can't resist a little something sweet at the end of a meal. Feature a special Valentine's dessert to share with a split of champagne. And just for fun, give everyone a little treat. Head down to the store and pick up several bags of Valentine's candy for the check tray. Foil wrapped chocolate hearts, Hershey's Kisses, jelly beans or those wonderful Sweet Hearts with the messages delivered with the check are sure to win you a smile or two.

Throughout the year, make it a custom to include a small plate with a "signature sweet" with your coffee service. Miniature homemade sugar cookies, butter balls, or caramels are inexpensive and impressive. For a real head-turning presentation, check out novelty sweets from companies like Chocolates a la Carte at www.chocolates-ala-carte.com Sales of high profit coffees and other after dinner drinks will improve dramatically.

Little touches... lots of luxury
It doesn't take "white tablecloth" to make a guest's experience luxurious. Little touches like fresh flowers and hand lotion in the restrooms or a fresh bouquet in the reception area make a good impression year round. The same is true for your tableware. Paper products have amazing quality these days, and just make sure glassware, dishes and flatware are bright and clean. Add a flickering candle and you have a wonderful table for two... or twelve!

Smile!
Nothing goes further and costs less than genuine hospitality. Every day should be Valentine's Day when you focus on winning the hearts of loyal customers.

For an additional special touch, we've created four sweet Valentine's Day sentiments to present with each guest check. Download, copy, cut, fold, nestle your guest check inside and share sweet thoughts with your guests. Have a sweet one!

See also:
Visions of sugar plums

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