Whether you manage a restaurant that is part of a huge chain or have a smaller, family-owned establishment, the winter holidays should mean more traffic, publicity, and sales for your business. While people are out shopping, socializing, and sightseeing, they will also be dining with family and friends, many of whom may be first time customers at your restaurant.
Unfortunately, seasonal stress often hinders restaurants from providing their best dining experience as heavy customer traffic, under-staffing, and complicated logistics create a hectic, exhausting atmosphere. Don’t let these issues turn into frustrating situations for your customers and employees!
Here are 3 important ways you can equip your restaurant staff ahead-of-time to handle the busy holiday season:
1) Be Upfront with your Expectations:
Have a sit-down meeting with all of your staff to discuss scheduling expectations, staff responsibilities, upcoming events, and menu changes. Avoid issues with staff no-shows and time-off requests by clarifying early on how far in advance your staff should schedule time off and the consequences for sudden call-offs. Seasonal menu and drink items, as well as holiday discounts, should be announced far enough in advance for employees to memorize the details of those items and to prepare their work stations accordingly. Make an easily accessible cheat sheet for unexpected questions such as event booking details, medical emergency procedures, and catering requests.
2) Divide Responsibilities Effectively:
Make sure everyone’s responsibilities are clear and covered during each shift. You may want to pick a few team members to train in additional areas so that backups are readily available if someone is out unexpectedly. Incentivizing early reservations and online ordering through discounts or giveaways can cut down on the manpower needed to handle incoming orders and hosting duties, freeing staff to take care of other tasks.
Being adequately staffed will go a long way in alleviating the strain of serving a large influx of customers. Review your restaurant’s sales forecast and historical data to project how many seasonal hires you think you will need, and hire temp workers accordingly. Be sure to hire temp workers far enough out that they can be effectively trained, especially if some of your regular employees are taking extended time off. If possible, try to have an adequate number of seasoned employees working alongside holiday hires so that customer issues and questions can be resolved timely and smoothly.
3) Show Your Staff Appreciation:
Make your employees feel valued, and boost morale by providing Christmas treats, gift cards, cash bonuses, etc. Offer perks for employees working a lot of extra shifts or covering additional responsibilities outside of their normal role. Reward returning seasonal staff for their loyalty to your business, and reward your regular staff by giving them first pick when scheduling time off.
Remember, your employees are the face and heart of your restaurant. Give them the tools they need to be at their best so that they can reflect well on your business, drive sales, and create repeat customers. Holidays can be hectic, but they don't have to be stressful!