With the end of the year nearing, it won’t be long now until most Australian and New Zealand companies begin winding down, planning their summer holidays and organising what they’re going to do over the long break. However, while most people are winding down, hospitality businesses are gearing up for their busiest period of the year.
The ‘silly season’, as it is commonly referred to, involves non-stop christmas functions, large dinner bookings and end of year parties filled with celebration and revelry! With this comes strong potential for increased revenue in most hospitality businesses. It’s also a time when your staff need to be performing at their best and pulling together as a team to get through the heavy workload.
The best-run hospitality businesses plan out their staff rosters well in advance to cope with the increased demand over Christmas and New Year – here are a number of key factors to help you get your staff planning working like a well-oiled machine and help your business be “Roster Ready” before the rush:
- Plan your rosters well in advance
Best practice is to give staff as much notice as possible when they are needed to work. Good communication with staff is essential to fill out the rosters based on a regular template and plan a month in advance. You can then increase staffing levels based on known bookings and get a clear structure for the week.
Get off spreadsheets! – these only get you so far when you’re running a busy bar or restaurant and can actually cost you time later on when you’re trying to move shifts around and back-calculating wages.
In addition, planning your rosters gives you the advantage of knowing your costs well in advance – and hence the revenue targets for each shift.
- Deal with Unpredictability
It’s wise to compare revenue figures with those of previous years – this can be a great indicator for how things “might” go – but Christmas is a period where predictability can go out the window.
You won’t know whether people have plans to head out of town for the holidays. Or, maybe someone’s called together a last minute Christmas function and they urgently need a space to fit 50 people on one of the busiest weekends of the year! While most other holidays throughout the year people usually head off over the long weekends to escape the city, Christmas time is a season for increased nights out and spending.
Make sure your staff know when they may be called on at short notice to cope with unpredictable demand. Again, real time communications with staff is a real time saver when you’re an hour away from opening and someone has just called in sick.
- Casual staff
Many people come and go over this period. Young and old, students alike often return home over the holidays to work and seek out casual employment to earn themselves some extra cash.
Employing casual staff means that you often have an influx of fresh blood, all of which require skills and training. This can often be difficult especially when you know they are most likely to resign once the summer is over and head back to their studies and/or full time jobs..
It’s important to ensure you have the right tools the look after the HR responsibilities that come with employing casual staff. Not only do you have to maintain all the correct paperwork, but you need to be able to visualise where you’re going to be able to slot these people into your staff rosters. Many employees request holiday leave over Christmas so it’s imperative you know exactly where to slot your casual staff and when, whilst also ensuring your matching employee abilities with each shift covered.
- Employee holiday entitlements
For your payroll people, dealing with various public holidays scattered throughout the year is relatively simple to handle. But over the Christmas/New Year period, not only do you have a single public holiday to dish out employee pay entitlements for – within Australia and New Zealand you can have up to 4 public holidays within one week alone!
While most businesses have accounting and payroll systems to look after the numbers, at this time of year there’s a considerable amount of money going out of your business – especially because on the majority of those public holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years and the day after New Year’s Day) many places shut down completely. Hence, less incoming revenue!
You can only imagine the dreaded wage cost figure for that week if you haven’t planned it right!
FINALLY: Celebrate success!
Finally make sure you celebrate with your staff at the end of a long week of hard nights. The holiday period is a busy time for hospitality and it takes a lot out of your team – make sure you roster in a team night out one evening as well!