Advance Planning for Your Winter Holiday Dinner Crowds
As a business owner you know that the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. Whether you own a restaurant or a retail store, you can expect larger crowds than usual this time of year. And, while you welcome this because of the huge potential for increased sales and profits, it can also get quite busy and hectic. Therefore it is crucial that you start preparing well in advance. The following are some things that a restaurant owner can do in the months before the holiday season to help prepare their business for the crowds.
Have Enough Supplies
It is fairly easy to run out of supplies in a restaurant without the proper planning. Whether it be certain food items, cutlery, or even clean dishes, it is crucial to plan ahead and be sure that there is plenty of everything in your restaurant. Start doing some calculations a month or two ahead of time and order any necessary non-perishable items you may need such as extra silverware, food storage containers, napkins and take-away disposables. Arrange larger shipments of the foods you will need to make the most popular holiday items ahead of time such as turkey, pumpkin and so on, just make sure your suppliers don't run out of essential ingredients.
Hire Additional Staff
Whether your restaurant is small or large, it may make sense to hire a few seasonal workers for the holidays. Seasonal employees know that they are hired to work exclusively for the holidays, often during their own winter break from school, and can be great to rely upon if your permanent staff needs time off for the holidays. To get an idea of how many additional people your restaurant will need to hire, be sure to ask your current staff about their holiday plans and look at your data from previous years to see how many customers visited your establishment, so you can have an idea of what to expect.
If your restaurant kitchen is fully stocked with supplies, and you have additional staff on board, that still doesn’t mean that the holiday rush will 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 excellent customer service skills, it is a good idea to have a staff meeting before the holidays to review your restaurant handbook that contains everything a kitchen staff should know when working in a restaurant. This includes staff etiquette, how to deal with difficult customers, how to deal with allergies, etc. It is also important to let your regular staff and seasonal staff know what to do if they start to feel overwhelmed by the additional work and demands of customers. Lastly, making sure that everyone has the proper kitchen attire and chef wear for the upcoming holidays will boost morale and show professionalism on your part.
Extend Business Hours
If you anticipate that your restaurant will get a lot more traffic than usual during the holiday season, it may be worthwhile to extend your business hours on the days before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. This will enable potential customers to have a choice of days to dine at your establishment, rather than feel pressured or have to wait on long lines. When choosing to extend hours, figure out the best hours for this, and remember to post the information on your website and on social media. Make sure that you will have enough staff coverage during these times.
Update Your Website and Social Media Apps
Perhaps the most important way to prepare for the crowds is to make sure that your website, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts are up-to-date with all of your restaurant's relevant information. Include hours of operation, menus, and information on how to make reservations and how to order online.
The best way to ensure that everyone remembers their daily tasks is to make checklists and put them by every workstation. 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 kitchen staff; make sure that your managers and chefs also have checklists as well.
As you can see, there are several ways to plan in advance for what you hope will be, a busy holiday season. The key to getting through the holiday rush smoothly is to have enough supplies, enough staff, enough advertising and to stay organized throughout.