Posted on Monday, 18th November, 2019
Planning for Christmas holiday survival begins in July, according to hospitality consultant Ken Burgin. “You want to be ready and have customers thinking about their end-of-year party as early as August and you want to book your holiday for January. And tell people about it – put the Christmas menu on the website and print a flyer for the Café.” David Bitton locks in his Christmas produce orders and prices well ahead of time. “I don’t want to be paying double the price for prawns in December,” he says. Astrid McCormack has learned from experience that large equipment failures happen at busy times. “I get all the equipment serviced and do an inventory of our glasses and tableware, to make sure we have enough of everything.”
“People always book at the last minute and always want a Friday or Saturday,” says Bitton. “There are only so many of those in December, so we’ve got to make November look attractive.” Burgin agrees. “Those four to six weeks can represent up to 20 per cent of your turnover so be flexible and work that real estate,” he says. “You want your guests to feel welcome and comfortable so even when you’re under the pump, keep up that smile,” says McCormack. “It’s not forever and a bit of pressure can be good for team bonding.”
The smart way to approach the Christmas and summer holiday menu, says Burgin, is to build on your existing menu. “If you’re known for your Caesar salad, make a turkey version for Christmas,” he says. Bitton adds seasonal and luxe flourishes to his menu. Oysters might come dressed with vodka and lime granita and there will be a lovely golden burnished slow-roasted turkey. “You don’t want food that is too rich or that makes the customer feel too full,” he says. “We have a take home prepared food list that customers can pre order and collect on Christmas Eve,” says McCormack. “It’s full of all the good stuff.”
“The more organised you are the less stress there will be,” says Burgin. “Look after yourself: eat well, rest, sleep.” “Make sure that staff are well supported, that you have additional staff and everyone gets days off to recharge,” says McCormack. “And keep up that positive attitude.”
Neither Burgin or Bitton are fans of discounting. They prefer to add value, such as gifts or extra courses as an incentive. Over Christmas and New Year, everyone has gift buying on their mind, so have food products, ready wrapped gifts and gift cards on display in the Café and online. “Make it easy for the customer,” says Burgin. “Your gifts can solve your customers’ Christmas present giving dilemmas.”
Online ordering platforms such as FoodStorm streamlines catering transactions, says Burgin. It provides the customers with the tools to place, change, track, pay for and cancel orders. Like you, the online staffing platform Sidekicker works 24/7 and is a useful way to manage a pool of casual workers.