Having spent a combined 100+ years working in restaurants, our team understands the stress. The sick calls, the never-ending reservations and wait times, the intense prep before every shift, and four hours of sleep every night while you think about how you’re going to get through another 14 hour day.
But now that the holidays have passed take a couple minutes and assess: how did they go?
If you’re sitting there thinking that there are things that you could have done better, we would really like to help. Here’s how we think that you can rock the upcoming Valentine’s Day insanity that’s just around the corner (and every other tough day that’s ready to greet you in 2020):
Prep your schedule
A few weeks before a holiday or gong-show season (we see you patio rush!) hits make sure you have your ducks in a row. If you’re using restaurant scheduling software, make sure you’ve gone in and marked any black-out dates where you need as many staff as possible (all-hands-on-deck dates when your staff should not be taking time off!). For Valentine’s Day this obviously means blocking February 14th, but you may want to look at the Friday and Saturday evenings that are closest as well. Make sure you create the limit for the number of staff who can request those dates off to ensure proper staffing requirements.
If you’re using an old-school calendar in the back room or book to track time-off requests, make sure black-out dates are clear for all to see and talk about it in pre-shift so people’s expectations are managed.
You should also start asking if anyone wants extra shifts. Holidays are a lucrative time for servers to work and usually a time where people are spending extra money. A Fourth of July long weekend spent in the restaurant making extra cash, may allow them to take a longer holiday elsewhere. There’s a good chance a number of your team members are students who will want to pick up extra shifts which gives others the chance to take a much needed break.
If you’re using Ameego, get everyone to update their holiday availability through the app on their phone, or in the big black book if that’s your method.
A busy stretch can be akin to Friday lunch or Friday night happy hour every day for several weeks (no wonder you’re so exhausted!). That means you don’t just need more staff on shift, you need more stars on shift! We also like to call this having your ‘aces in their places.’
Before heading into a holiday or busy period, talk with your management team about servers and bartenders hired in the last few months who have been excelling. Could one of them be promoted to another skill level, or another area of the restaurant where they can have more of an impact on guests? Now’s the time to get them trained and ready!
Some scheduling solutions like Ameego, can help to ensure you have the proper balance of staff at different skill levels on every shift, and allows you to adjust that number on peak shifts, like Valentine’s Day dinner.
There’s a good chance you’ll need to fill out your roster after the holiday season in preparation for your next busy period. Students will be heading back to school, vacation time can eat up some great people in the winter, and burnout is real so some servers may be asking for fewer shifts.
To know just how many more bodies you’ll need on the floor for some of your big days, look at last year’s sales and meal counts, and determine a labour cost budget.
Pro tip: ask your staff if they have any experienced friends that they think would be a good culture fit to make hiring a snap!
While you're in the eye of the storm
Your schedule is prepared for this, but once the blessed holiday arrives, remember that schedule is filled with bodies, human bodies, who experience the highs and lows just like everyone else. Breathe deep and know that sick calls will happen, people will get stuck in traffic, and the odd server may show up useless after too many margaritas. Don’t stress, you’ve got this!
One thing to look out for is your stars and aces who tend to be perfectionists, who can take on too much over holidays - at home and at the restaurant. If you’re not using restaurant scheduling software, and staff are allowed to swap shifts without running it by you, keep an eye on who might be picking up too many shifts. It’s great to see the aces ‘taking one (or four) for the team,’ so to speak, but it’s your job as a manager to make sure they’re not overdoing it, especially in the face of the demands of the season.
One shift too many and happy Leslie the superstar may turn into Crabby Leslie the server from H-E-double-hockey-sticks and nobody wants that!
Just remember to keep it fun!
While you worry about Crabby Leslie, you may become Crabby Manager too. Just remember to breathe and know that everything in life is temporary.
You may also want to add scheduling software to your store to make everything a whole lot easier. Ameego is obviously an amazing choice and we would love to show you just how much it can do for you! Hit the button below for a free, no-obligation demo with a member of our client success team. We’ll get you on track for the best 2020 you’ve ever had!