Combating The Three Biggest Issues Restaurant Owners Will Face This Holiday Season
For most people, the holiday season means sparkly sequins, dressing up, and savoring special meals and moments with their nearest and dearest. But for restaurant owners like you, Thanksgiving and the weeks after will bring the kind of busyness you only see once a year. It’s a seasonal scramble of sellouts and shortages that will squeeze your staff from starting the shift to the last service.
The year-end rush also puts your restaurant in a prime position to drum up new devotees. Diners gathered for corporate celebrations, family feasts, Friendsgiving, and other festive fetes might like what you have to offer and leave hungry to come back for more.
With so much on the line, restaurant owners should seize the moment by strategizing ahead of time to guarantee a happy holiday season for everyone from the dining room to the back of house.
Stock Outs and Supply Chain Issues
Every table you turn from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day leaves you with a little less of the ingredients that bring your recipes to life. More than two years into the pandemic, you’ve already survived the massive supply chain upheaval that made out-of-stocks all too ordinary. As a busy restaurant owner, you can’t afford to disappoint diners with a deflating “sorry” when they ask to order one of your specialties—especially when free-spending revelers are looking to kick back and have a good time.
This is why inventory management software is a restaurant owner’s best friend. Your POS platform is bursting with rich data that can point you in the right direction for the hectic weeks ahead. Lean on your inventory reporting to get a handle on your ingredient-level burn rate and the trends that made your year. Also, zoom in on peak points throughout the year to get a better sense of how much product you tore through and figure out what’s appropriate to order for the crush looming on the horizon.
With this holiday season expected to look a little more like the all-out celebrations of 2019, pull up your POS data from three years ago to get a read on what this coming peak might bring. And if your POS isn’t holding onto that data anymore, calculate your year-on-year growth since 2019 to estimate the numbers for Holiday 2022.
Play it safe by ordering a little extra to account for all the unpredictabilities the holiday season will deliver. And be sure to get your orders in early—you don’t want to be waiting on pins and needles for a critical shipment putting your crowd-pleaser in jeopardy. Spread the love and bring new suppliers aboard. This gives you a better chance of getting everything you need on time with a diversity of vendors in your back pocket.
If your patrons are toasting to health, wealth, and happiness this holiday season, be sure their glasses never go empty by keeping all the good stuff in stock. Any restaurant owner serving drinks for the 21-and-over crowd needs software keeping tabs on the libation lowdown. It can tell you when the wine gets hot and how much champagne to hoard for the year-end ball drop and Auld Lang Syne.
Negative Customer Experiences
As a restaurant owner, having customers leave angry is your worst nightmare. But you can get out in front of disappointing customer experiences with POS reports shedding light on where things just might go off the rails.
Data from holiday seasons’ past won’t match up exactly with this year’s key dates, so use any of this intel as a general guide for when to expect patronage to peak. Crowds will swell on the weekends and after work, but prepare for earlier upticks as people clock off to kick back inside your four walls.
Look at front-of-house data to take the pulse on the customer experience. Make sure wait time averages aren’t spiraling out of control. Most people know they won’t be the only ones hoping for a seat at their favorite holiday table. But restless patrons are this close to becoming outraged Yelpers slandering your good name all over town.
Nip this in the bud by examining historical wait-time data to figure out the specific times and days when the antsy starts to set in. Maybe your rush comes on Christmas Eve, or perhaps it’s the post-work weekend kickoff every Friday like clockwork. When you know when the going gets rough, you can prepare by setting a staffing strategy that lines you up for success. Like a lot of restaurant owners, you might have to recruit some extra talent to handle the year’s busiest season. You can also meet the holiday rush head-on by reworking your seating arrangement to maximize capacity and make the best use of your space.
Keep a close eye on your reservation system to avoid overbooking this season. Historical data might show fewer reservations during the holidays as people make spontaneous trips to their favorite eatery or watering hole, leaving fewer tables open to book.
Use your CRM system to craft a compelling holiday marketing campaign. Restaurant owners yield good results using customer email lists to remind patrons about available gift cards, seasonal specials, and limited-time coupons that might entice them to return. Inventory data might inform some of your promotions and whet their appetite for a favorite if you’ve got plenty of stock on hand.
And don’t forget that accuracy matters if you want to leave guests satisfied. Kitchen display systems (KDS) show cooks orders as they roll in, meaning nothing gets lost in translation from the wait staff to the back of house. This speedy system puts food on tables faster and helps make the dining experience a delight.
Though your restaurant will be swamped this holiday season, help staff survive with their sanity intact. This is where your POS employee management module comes in. It has all the tools you need to mindfully schedule shifts while accommodating time-off requests. It also helps you maximize your available talent without running up colossal overtime costs. With most restaurant owners battling a labor shortage, you can keep your workers from jumping ship by finding a schedule that works for everyone and making extra shifts available for those hoping for a little more cash.
Have several big groups booked on the same weekend? Use your employee management module to call in the reserves you need to manage a crowd. The same system can auto-dispatch payments so workers seamlessly get their checks, can handle their own holiday to-do lists, and you’re free from worrying about payroll taxes and the letter of the law.
You can also support workers by installing kiosks that let guests order and pay at their own pace. Self-service kiosks allow you to do more with fewer staff and streamline ordering by firing orders straight to the kitchen display system.
Letting guests pay at the table via QR codes or mobile systems saves the few minutes wait staff spend flitting back and from a table to a fixed POS. Diners can pay when they’re ready and leave workers to attend to more pressing matters.
With the holiday season so close at hand, beat back the stress and chart a course for smooth sailing by preparing a game plan to thwart problems from labor to supply chain and everything in between. Contact the Reflection POS sales team today to discover how the right tools take the headache out of the holiday season.