Our Advice for a Successful Christmas

The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. Within it lies an opportunity to impress your customers and boost your sales. Providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom during the following months. Here’s our advice on how to make this Christmas a roaring success.


By this stage, plans for the festive period will already be in place. With seasonal staff recruited, menus written, and bookings taken, operators must now consider how to implement their strategy as effectively as possible. Doing so will ensure sales opportunities are maximised, and customers are provided with excellent service.

Push Premium Products

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to upsell premium products. With customers looking to indulge or celebrate in style, it is important to ensure your staff are pushing premium items such as champagne on arrival and top-shelf spirits after dinner.

In an increasingly health-conscious society, many customers will be looking for exciting soft drinks over the festive period. Findings from soft-drink producer Britvic showed 45% of consumers are set to buy more soft drinks during the festive season. A total of 37% also plan to spend more on soft drinks at Christmas than in previous years. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of soft drinks is a good way to do so. A premium offering of soft drinks will ensure that teetotallers, designated drivers, and people conscious of work the following day still feel as if they are treating themselves for a special occasion. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.

Communicate with your Staff

Alterations to rotas are inevitable during busy periods such as these. It is therefore important to communicate clearly with your staff, and keep them informed of any changes to their schedules. Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional workload and responsibilities. Regularly restocking fridges, wiping tables, and refilling ice buckets will lead to smooth service, and consequently enhance your customers’ experience. It is also important to recognise and praise staff for their extra effort during what can be an exhausting month. Thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keep morale high.

S4Labour issues notifications to alert staff to changes in the rota. Our HR Module also provides team members with access to an employee portal, allowing them to request holidays, and manage their own details thereby saving admin time. Find out more about the HR Module here.   

Communicate with your Customers

For many venues, communication with customers will already have taken place when taking bookings and pre-orders. Where possible, pre-ordering of food and even drinks is a great way to ensure your business gets stock levels right over the festive period. Advocating pre-ordering will also help the kitchen know what’s coming and prepare accordingly. The information taken from pre-orders should also be used to consider stock levels of sundry items such as candles, napkins and tablecloths. Pre-ordering will improve the efficiency of your front of house staff – with orders already taken, staff have more time available to help in other areas and upsell products. Encouraging pre-ordering will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service.

Applying a minimum spend is a good way to guarantee you get value for your venue space, in a period where it is at a premium. Minimum spend requirements should be clearly communicated with customers prior to their booking to ensure there are no surprises during their visit. Communicating with your customers prior to events will lead to a smoother service and happier guests.

Capacity Engineering

Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using the available space wisely can be a great way to maximise sales. Ensuring you have enough tables and rearranging these to meet demand is one way of accommodating more bookings. You should also consider how you split your site by bookings. This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue – how do you give people private areas? How many tables do you have available, and how frequently do you turn them?

Consider your Trading Hours

Extending the trading hours of your business can allow you to capitalise on increased sales opportunities over the festive period, with customers wishing to continue seasonal celebrations late into the night. Arrangements for staff to work outside of normal trading hours will need to be made, and any council applications to extend licencing hours should be submitted in advance of key dates.


The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.

S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.   

Improving your Sales Forecasting

With the festive season just around the corner, it is important for hospitality businesses to strategically plan for the increased demand during the weeks and months ahead. Accurate sales forecasting will ensure operators get the most from this busy period.

Accuracy is Key

Many businesses will under-forecast in order to keep labour costs low, and whilst coming in under your wage budget may seem like a positive, this ultimately leads to poor customer service and missed sales opportunities. With a large amount of business being driven by word of mouth and repeat custom, providing poor customer service is not sustainable. In contrast, over-forecasting in order to protect service levels will result in too many staff members being scheduled and excess spend on labour. The aim therefore, should not be for operators to beat their forecast, but rather get as close to it as possible.

Efficient Deployment

The most evident benefit arising from an accurate sales forecast is more efficient deployment of labour. Mapping labour deployment against sales forecasts will ensure operators always have enough staff on shift to deal with demand, but not too many to lead to staff standing idle. This will maintain a high standard of customer service, as staff will have time to provide every customer with the attention they deserve, while still working briskly. 

Stocking Up

Another benefit of producing a precise sales forecast is the positive impact on product ordering and supply. Having a detailed forecast of sales throughout the day and week will help managers avoid over or under ordering stock. Over ordering can have a significant negative impact on profit margins, with excess stock going to wastage. Similarly, under ordering can have a negative impact – if a venue runs out of stock and cannot provide everything offered on the menu, customer experience will be impacted. Forecasting sales accurately will provide operators with a good guide on the required level of products for the week. 


The benefits of accurate forecasting are clear to see, but how can we improve? 

Split Your Forecast

When it comes to forecasting, the devil is in the details. Accuracy can be increased by forecasting on a daily and hourly basis, as well as splitting your forecast into different revenue streams. For example, you may predict the same amount of overall sales on a Saturday and Sunday, however sales on a Saturday will typically be predominantly wet, meaning more bar staff are required in the evening. Contrastingly, for many operators, Sunday lunch service sees Sunday’s food sales the week’s highest, increasing daytime demand for kitchen staff. Operators who split their forecast by revenue stream will see the accuracy of their labour deployment increase.

Organise Your Calendar

Annual and one-off events can have a huge impact upon sales. The Christmas period is a prime example of this, with operators experiencing a large spike in sales caused by Christmas dinners, parties, and other bookings. However, during the months following Christmas, we would expect to see a drop in sales, particularly with the increasingly popular ‘Dry January’ trend making customers less likely to buy alcohol, highlighting the importance of forecasting by revenue stream. 

One-off events should also be considered. With a suitable promotion strategy in place, venues can dramatically boost sales by showing sporting events such as the Autumn International rugby matches or Pay-Per-View boxing bouts. Research carried out by MatchPint and Vianet found that on average an additional 22 pints of beer were sold per hour during the Mayweather vs McGregor boxing match in August.  Shrewd operators will react to this increase in sales by ensuring they have ample staff on shift at these times to keep up with the increased demand. Ordering may also need to be adjusted. With beer sales likely to increase during sporting events, operators will need to review their drinks forecasts and ensure they are suitably stocked up.

Factor in the Home

Hospitality businesses now face more competition from the home than ever, as a continually increasing level of entertainment is available to the public from the comfort of their living rooms. Use of delivery services is also on the rise, and with Deliveroo reporting a 611% revenue increase in 2016, there is an increasing tendency for customers to stay in on Saturday, and other, nights. In forecasting terms, it is important to factor in specific television events such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘The X Factor’. With roughly nine million people tuning in to Strictly and around five million watching The X Factor, Saturday night sales may take a hit during the running periods of these shows.

Turn to Data

Sometimes we need to look back before we can move forward, and while reviewing historical data may seem like a time-consuming exercise for management staff, it is a vital stage of forecasting and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, technological advances over recent years have led to analysis of data at the click of a button.

Assessing last year’s sales figures will provide information on how a business fared during the same week last year. This data is particularly useful when used in conjunction with your events calendar as you will be able to quantify the impact of an annual occurrence such as Freshers’ week in university towns.

Another key factor to consider is forecasts from previous weeks. By comparing previous forecasts to actual sales, managers will be able to see how accurately they have been forecasting, and make adjustments to their future forecasts accordingly.

Click here to find out more about how S4Labour can revolutionise your sales forecasting. 

Watch the Weather

It is usually important for operators to factor in the weather, as this will have a direct impact upon levels of sales for many sites. This can be considered on a seasonal and daily level – shorter winter evenings will cause a drop in sales, whereas an unexpected hot weekend could cause a sudden spike. S4Labour has a direct link to Met Office weather forecasts geo-located by site, offering users accurate and up-to-date information on which to base forecasts.

S4Labour’s intelligent system recommends the optimum staffing levels based on users’ sales forecasts. This takes the guesswork out of labour allocation and ensures accurate forecasting is translated into success. Click here to find out more about the impact S4Labour could have on your business.



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