How To Avoid Festive Failure

How to avoid Festive Failure

Are you setting yourself up for Christmas Cheer or Festive Failure?

The festive season is nearly upon us, and while some hospitality businesses can expect to be really busy, others might hold steady trade or even be quieter than usual. Whatever you are expecting or hoping for, one thing is certain: it’s definitely not like the rest of the year!

To help get you and your team through it, the team at Floodlight have put together a handy checklist to follow, so we can try to prevent Festive Failure and make it full of Christmas Cheer!

To download a pdf version of this document with handy checkboxes, so you can send it to your team, print it out and keep track of everything, click here

Now, on with the ‘silly season’…

Three Weeks to Go: Lock in the Plan!

  • Check the calendar as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are both on Sundays this year, so there are some extra Bank Holidays on strange dates.  Check these links depending on whether you are in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada or USA.
  • Finalise your opening and closing dates – do your customers know when you are planning on trading? 
    • Check your licensing for Christmas Day and Boxing Day (and any other days in the period in case you have restrictions
    • Check your numbers for last year, especially for the interim period between Christmas and New Year to see whether it is worthwhile opening or taking a well-earned rest instead!
    • Make sure that your planned dates are updated on Social Media pages (a handy tip is to ‘pin’ the post to the top of your page so people will always see it).
  • Ensure that your customer bookings are secured, with deposits and festive menu food pre-order confirmations if required.
  • Check how your bookings are progressing for New Year (if you are planning on an event) and work out whether additional marketing effort is required.
  • Check in with your staff to lock in when people are available or away (and work out cover plans so you are prepared for the odd ‘nasty surprise’).
  • Ensure that your licensing and all other relevant documentation is in order (in Australia: your Development Application and Plan of Management), printed and available, and that all managers are aware of this.  Christmas is a favourite time for licensing authorities to pounce on unsuspecting businesses – bah humbug! Picking up a fine just before Christmas is not much fun at all, and they also have a habit of coming in and distracting you at your busiest time! For Australian businesses, make sure that all staff have their RSA cards on them and brief your team on RSA, noise and what to do if there are any security issues.
  • Understand your supplier delivery constraints, delivery dates and times, minimum or maximum order size.  What are their delivery days and constraints between Christmas and New Year (e.g. emergency orders only, maximum order size etc.).
  • Be clear on your backup plans in case certain stock runs low.
  • Make sure you have organised for extra change orders with your local bank if required (tip: they probably will be if you’re normally busy!).  Decide whether you need a larger float holding.
  • Make sure that you have the emergency contact numbers for air-conditioning/heating, plumbing, electricians, beer supply unit repair etc.  If not, find them, print them and pin them up!
  • Do you need to stock up on Christmas things which might sell out? Hit your local tat-emporium and mass purchase cheap Santa hats, never a bad idea!

Two Weeks to Go: Check the Foundations!

  • Keep an eye on stock and sales in order to react to sales spikes or slumps – did you sell 4 bottles of Fireball last night? What will you do with 30 extra portions of turkey if they’re not needed?
    • Now might be a good time to do a stock take to ensure that you have a clear and accurate view of your starting inventory.
  • How are things in the kitchen, is the portion size correct? Do the staff know the dishes?  Are there any issues which could be amplified when things heat up?
  • If you have any new casual staff, are they trained and performing up to standard?  Do you need to help them out, or assign them to jobs or shifts where they will be able to perform?
  • Plan out your final order schedule based on delivery windows, and try and make sure you’re not leaving it until the last possible slot.  What happens if your order of bubbles for NYE isn’t delivered?
  • Try and get the critical stock ahead of time so you don’t end up paying through the nose for emergency supplies!
  • Buy your staff Christmas presents… no matter how small it makes them feel special to feel that you care.

One Week to Go: Keep on Top of Everything!

  • Keep on top of your operations, and most importantly, keep communicating!
  • Keep on top of any booking changes or late cancellations, which can cost you big in wages!
  • Check your stock.
  • Check your banking.
  • Check your float.
  • Stay communicating with the team and make sure you know how is everyone doing – keeping calm and maintaining good communication is key to a fun and productive working environment.
  • Make sure that your staff know you’ve got their back – they will often have to deal with some pretty intoxicated people, which can be challenging.  Keep an eye on the customers and deal with any issues swiftly, confidently and professionally.
  • Wear your hats and keep smiling!

It’s Christmaaaas: Time to Eat, Drink and be Merry!

  • Nearly There! How is front of house doing? Are the Customers Happy?
  • Check stock – do you need an emergency delivery?
  • Do your final banking and float order
  • Keep an eye on any surprise quiet nights (they happen!) and give staff a welcome break to keep costs down and morale up
  • Have a fantastic Christmas with your family and friends!

The Other Side: and Relax!

This time of year can feel a little bit like the upside-down world in Stranger Things… if you’re open then enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere, and if you’re closed then take some important time to get some rest (and maybe even some sleep) and refresh.

  • If you have a moment to catch your breath make sure you’re updating your database with all the nice people’s emails who booked their party with you.  They’ll appreciate it when you send them an invite to a small ‘thank you’ event in January.  This looks amazing on social media and will all but guarantee they book with you again next year.
  • Make some notes for next year while it’s fresh. What went well, what didn’t, were staffing levels ok, did you make a profit, which suppliers were great, which suppliers were not etc.
  • If you have a few minutes free, have a think about any new technologies which you might want to try out in the New Year.  It’s the best time to kick off any change, so think about your Point of Sale (we recommend Kounta), Accounting (we recommend Xero), Employee Management (we recommend Deputy) and of course Floodlight Analytics to tie it all together and help you to quickly understand and improve your business performance.
  • Remember to switch off yourself, close up and enjoy the fruits of your labour, or at least plan for New Year knowing that the Festive Season went smoothly and hopefully profitably!
  • And finally, make sure that you close out 2016 with a bang, whether you’re hosting a party or not – 2017 is going to be fantastic….

Happy New Year from the Floodlight Team!