Advance Planning for Your Winter Holiday Dinner Crowds
All business owners are aware that the holiday season is the busiest time of the year, whether they own a restaurant, a store or some other business. Because it can be so busy, it is crucial that you start preparing well in advance; otherwise you will have a stressful holiday season and instead of making a profit, you may end up losing money. The good news is that there are some things that a restaurant owner can do in advance to help prepare their business for the crowds. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
Have Enough Supplies
If a restaurant owner isn’t prepared for the crowds during the holidays, it can be incredibly easy to run out of supplies, whether this means certain food items, containers for leftovers or simply running out of clean dishes and silverware. That is why it is crucial to plan ahead and be sure that there is plenty of everything in the restaurant. Start doing some calculations a month or two ahead of time and order any necessary non-perishable items (such as extra silverware or leftover containers) early. You should try to arrange larger shipments of the foods needed to make the most popular items ahead of time as well, just make sure they don’t arrive too early so the food won’t spoil.
Talk to the Staff
Even if a restaurant is fully stocked in terms of supplies, that doesn’t mean that the holiday rush will necessarily go smoothly. For a truly successful holiday season, including managing the crowds, the staff needs to be ready as well. Although restaurant staff should always have great customer service skills, it is a good idea to have a staff meeting to go over them again right before the crowds arrive. Tell the staff what they should expect from the crowds and what they should do if they start to feel overwhelmed. It is also a good idea to make sure everyone has the proper kitchen staff and chef wear for the upcoming holidays.
Hire Additional Staff
If the restaurant is fairly small or there are not a lot of staff to begin with, it may make sense to hire a few additional workers for the holidays. To get a better idea of how many additional people your restaurant will need to hire, be sure to ask your current staff about their holiday plans. Also, when hiring new employees for the holiday crowds, always make sure that they are actually able to work during the holidays; if not, there is no point in hiring them.
Extend Business Hours
If you think that your restaurant will get a lot more traffic than normal, it may be worth it to extend your business hours on certain days, such as those around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. This will prevent potential customers from leaving due to a long wait because people will have more options of when to go to the restaurant. When choosing the extended hours, remember to keep in mind when people are likely to show up to eat and how much staff you will need during those times.
Update the Website
Not every restaurant realizes it, but one of the most important ways of preparing for the crowds is to make sure that their website is up to date (if there is one). A lot of people will look for information on hours or menus online before calling to ask for a reservation. If they are able to find the information online, your staff will spend less time answering the phone, thereby giving them more opportunities to help the customers that are already in the restaurant. When updating the website, be sure to list any holiday specials or special hours.
A lot of people tend to get flustered when dealing with the holiday crowds and you don’t want that to happen in your restaurant. The best way to ensure that everyone remembers their daily tasks is to make little checklists and put them by every station. That way even if the staff is exhausted, they won’t have to think too hard to remember what they need to do. Don’t just do this for the staff; make yourself and the other restaurant leaders checklists as well. The key to getting through the holiday rush smoothly is to stay organized.