The winter holiday season is quickly approaching. I love the festivities of decorating, gathering with friends, and sharing family traditions. It’s also the busiest time of the year for most restaurants which adds another level of stress to an environment that already is acknowledged as one of the most stressful professions around. Working in a restaurant requires a lifestyle of servitude and hospitality. These high-pressure times necessitate the restaurant leadership to role model the positive behaviors they expect to see from their staff.
How, well the season goes for you and your team financially and mentally depends on whether you take a reactive approach or a proactive one. The following are systems that can help you to have an enjoyable and profitable experience:
Holiday Book: There is nothing that causes more anxiety for a new manager of a restaurant than to prepare for a holiday when they have not worked there before. They don’t know how many people to schedule or how much food to order. Having historical data can help with this. One tool they can use is what I call a Holiday Book. Every holiday I would have my managers create a record of the day and place it in a designated binder. Items they would include are copies of the employee schedules, notes on the guest traffic flow with recommendations if we needed to adjust the schedules for the coming year, what went well and what did not, food pars, if they ran out of any food items, and how well the specials sold. All of this information is invaluable for future planning.
Holiday Schedules: Prepare the schedule at least a month in advance and have the management meet with each employee to arrive at a schedule that works for the employee and the needs of the restaurant. Many times, this may mean that their family may have to make adjustment to their traditions, such as opening the presents on Christmas Eve versus Christmas Day or they agree to work in the afternoon to be home during the morning. If you make your employees feel like family during the year and help them to build strong relationships and attitudes toward their guests, they will be more willing to participate positively. In fact, many employees actually volunteer to work these holidays because customers can be extremely generous.
Premium Wage for Holidays. Being open on holidays is lucrative. It used to be only Denny’s or maybe a stray Chinese Restaurant would remain open on the biggest money-making holiday of the year-- Christmas, but now many businesses, particularly chains are keeping their doors open. To incentivize the employees to work, some restaurants will offer a premium wage of 1.5 times regular pay on these days. To help offset this cost, there are two strategies you can try. One is running a limited holiday menu with slightly raised prices that have easier to prepare and higher profit items on it or encourage your staff to suggestive sell additional items like a few more desserts or appetizers which