Advice for a Successful Christmas

The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. It’s not just an opportunity to boost your sales, providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom and build momentum for the new year. 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 & Upsells


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. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of your list to interesting options is a good way to do so. Alcohol-free spirits are no longer seen as an expensive gimmick, they can provide a genuine taste of the party for those that maybe don’t have the choice to indulge in something a little more intoxicating. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.


Over the Christmas period, far fewer people are looking for an early night, so if you have dining guests, remember to brief your waiting team to offer everyone a coffee after dinner or even something a little stronger, before running the final bill.


Making sure your team are aware of upselling opportunities is essential. Students back to earn some Christmas cash aren’t just there to bring the festive cheer, they can be the difference between a party opting for an entry level bottle of fizz and your guests enjoying champagne at five times the price.


Communicate with your Team


Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional responsibilities. Allocating job roles and specific tasks like regularly restocking fridges, refilling ice buckets and topping up stations 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. Visibly thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keeping morale high.


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 drinks is a great way to ensure your business not only gets stock levels right over the festive period, but it is guaranteed sales, making your forecasts more robust and helping you better plan your labour requirements and planning.


Having a bookings policy in place, including pre-order expectations for large parties, will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service. Making sure your team have a heads up about big party numbers, timings and other details can both improve their efficiency but also allow them the valuable time needed to upsell and engage with the guests.


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 your 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. Make sure your guests are aware of how long they have a table or space for… of course the key is then ensuring you can deliver the experience they deserve without them feeling rushed. Your team need to be effectively briefed in booking numbers, specific requirements and any potential snagging points or bottle necks (we all know these are inevitable at some point when you’re running at maximum capacity, how well your team are informed can be the make or break of a tough situation).


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 (Temporary events notices) 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.


It goes without saying that all the tools you need boost your sales and reputation are already available in S4labour. SS4shiftsuccess from S4labour is a recently launched shift management and communication tool which gives managers the chance to allocate their team sections, job roles and specific tasks as well as briefing important information such as upsells, incentives and party booking details. The team can get all of the information they need for their shift through our App, ensuring nobody ever misses a briefing again.


Make sure you are getting full use out of S4labour to ensure your teams are scheduled for the optimal times during busy periods. This allows you to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business.

Tom Marshall is a former Brakspear GM and M&B lead general manager. He is our in house productivty guru with over 12 years expereince managing high profile venues.

Top Tips for Summer Holiday Success

School’s out for summer, and for our industry that means there are a host of opportunities for operators to maximise sales. Doing this well can provide an even greater boost to turnover at a time of year that typically sees the strongest trading, setting your business up for success into the autumn and beyond.
Here are our top tips to fulfil your site’s potential over the hazy weeks ahead.


The summer holidays bring golden opportunities to boost trade

Consider Your Deployment
The summer holidays are likely to mean changes to your trading patterns. No school means far more kids, and therefore accompanying adults, will be in pubs and restaurants through the week. This will be especially pronounced at lunchtime and early in the evening, with parents looking for ways to keep their children entertained. Demand for staff will be affected accordingly, and a greater emphasis on daytime shifts and early start times is likely to be necessary. It’s important to ensure that you are ready to make the changes to staff deployment required to meet this shift in demand, and that team members are prepared to handle any changes to their schedules.

S4Labour is innovative and intuitive web-based software that allows the hospitality industry to better understand their trading patterns, promoting optimal scheduling, reduced labour spend, and excellent service.

Busy Kids are Happy Kids
There’s many a pub and restaurant manager that knows the value of keeping children entertained to maintain a calm, welcoming ambience. Colouring books and crayons are a cheap and very effective way of doing just this. If you chose to go down this route in your site, it’s a good idea to ensure you have plenty in stock, and that staff are well trained in how to make their youngest visitors feel welcome and well looked after. Going the extra mile to cater for children can create a great impression with parents, encouraging valuable repeat business.

Consider Spend & Dwell Time
With soft drinks and small portions likely to be the order of the day for parents with children, it’s easy to get disheartened at low-spending tables. However, although they may not splash out on that high-end bottle of wine, families are also likely to have short dwell times. Considering spend in the context of dwell time shows that welcoming families can be a very lucrative move.

Capitalising on the opportunities a shorter average dwell time bring may require refinement of processes, including promoting efficient ordering and payment, and developing a summer menu that lends itself to a rapid style of service.

Attractive beer gardens are a surefire summer draw

Beat the BBQ
The biggest challenge for our industry over the summer holidays is convincing consumers to resist the temptation of buying cheap supermarket food and drink and staying at home. To compete, operators need to focus both on offer and atmosphere. Realistically, venues are never going to beat shops on price, so it’s integral to create a customer experience that is good enough to justify a higher price point.

It’s important that any outside spaces are more attractive than the back garden. This means that cleanliness, ease of access to the bar and toilets, and activities to keep children occupied are all important considerations. Special events like beer or cider festivals, live music, and family fun days can be a perfect way to draw the crowds, although developing wet weather contingency plans is always a shrewd move.

Driving year-round custom
The summer holidays can provide an invaluable revenue boost, but the best operators will be looking to use them to maximise sales into September and far beyond. Many parents, looking to keep their children occupied, will visit new pubs, cafes, and restaurants this summer. Delivering a quality of service and offer that will convert them from first time visitors to year-round regulars is a surefire way to boost the overall health of your business. Summer is a perfect chance to promote your business as the social hub of your community, bringing fantastic experiences to customers of all ages and walks of life. Succeeding in this is one of the very best ways to ensure your long-term profitability.

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